Fic: Butterfly Effect (for [livejournal.com profile] eureka_tag)

Jul. 5th, 2010 08:54 am
serene_quill: (EQCFatSciFiUpfronts)
[personal profile] serene_quill
Title: The Butterfly Effect
Author: [livejournal.com profile] serene_quill
Pairing: past Jack/Nathan, Jack/Charles Grant, Nathan/Allison
Rating: R
Word Count: ~2200
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for all episodes from seasons 1-3.5, all Season 4 promos, and pretty much all speculation known to the fandom. Just saying, spoilers. Season 4 characters included. Slash. And no clue where some of this plot bunny came from. My guess is hell, or maybe Warehouse 13. They have the weird shit there, right?
A/N: For the [livejournal.com profile] eureka_tag Warm Up #2 Challenge. Thanks for the quick turn around beta read, [livejournal.com profile] gin200168!
Summary: Small changes in the past mean big changes in the future.



“I need you to look into this,” Jack says solemnly, sliding the file over to the other man. “Quietly. No raising any flags in DC or here in Eureka. And under no circumstances does Allison find out.”

Dr. Charles Grant puffs at his cigar, smoke adding to the hazy summer night air that pervades the station. He takes his time, continuing to puff lazy smoke rings as he reads, his frown deepening as he does. “Is this what… who… I think it is?”

“That’s what I’m asking you to find out,” Jack replies, steepling his fingers. “I need to know how the timelines deviate. You’ve got every detail I remember from how this particular timeline was before we went back in time. Hopefully it’s enough.”

“Huh.” This curious outburst is accompanied by an inelegant huff of cigar smoke. Grant lifts a page between two fingers, waving it slowly in Jack’s eyeline with a small smirk. “Not public knowledge, I’m betting.”

“No,” Jack agrees, shaking his head. “You’re the only person other than me privy to the information on that sheet.”

“You understand this makes me less likely to hurry to finish this task,” Grant frowns, tucking it back among the rest of the pages of the dossier. “I’m rather fond of our arrangement, Jack.”

Jack shivers a little under the too direct gaze, nodding his understanding. “That… arrangement,” he emphasizes Grant’s choice of words. “Ended a long time ago. I only included it for clarity sake. And to be frank, I have no reason for my suspicions other than a gut feeling. I haven’t even looked up the file.”

Grant sits back, his eyes scanning Jack’s face for a long moment. “Can’t bring yourself to look it up, you mean,” he suggests, and Jack shrugs.

“If I do it, there will be flags,” Jack reminds Grant, who tucks the file into his suitcase. He stands, leaning down to claim Jack’s lips in a quick kiss, before heading to the door.

“Do try to sneak into my bed before midnight tonight, Sheriff,” he calls behind him, then the door closes behind him with a slight bang.

*-*

Founder’s Day, 1946

Jack isn’t sure how they ended up here, but he can tell Henry has a good idea. “So how do we get home?” he interrupts Henry and Fargo’s debate impatiently.

“We can rig something up, but it’s going to take 24 hours,” Henry tells him, removing his cap and scratching at his head thoughtfully. “The real problem is how we stay off the radar and out of the timeline for that 24 hour window.”

“We can’t just stay here,” Jack tosses a quick but pointed look over to where Allison has tucked Jenna into the stroller, the baby sleeping remarkably peacefully. “Food, supplies, we’re going to need a way to keep ourselves alert for those 24 hours. And if we don’t know what’s going on around us, we could easily be busted. Illegal experiments in a military town?”

“Uh, Carter?” Jo beckons him over to where she’s been rifling through some crates. “Maybe there’s another way to stay below the radar,” she says, holding up surplus uniforms, both military and nursing.

“It’s not a bad idea, but we have to stay out of the timeline too,” Allison weighs in, looking worried. “We have no idea what could change our future… the present,” she clarifies, rolling her eyes when Jo and Jack trade looks. “You know what I mean. A slight change here could have a huge impact on our real time.”

“Relax, I saw that sci-fi movie,” Jack reassures her, already shucking his hoodie for the military garb Jo has handed him. He scowls when he notes that she’s made him a Lieutenant and herself a Captain.

“The one where the guy steps on the butterfly and dinosaurs end up surviving to modern times?” Jo puts in helpfully, grinning. “Loved that one.” Catching the look on Allison’s face, she hastily adds, “So, staying out of trouble, got it.”


*-*

Jack gets in late two nights later, surprised that Grant has waited up for him, a slim manila folder on his lap. “What did you find?” he asks without preamble, and Grant sighs, handing over the file.

“It’s what you suspected,” he tells Jack, shaking his head. “And more. Perhaps it was incredibly fortunate that Jenna Stark was pulled into that time hole with you. I doubt her existence would have continued otherwise.”

Jack stares at the information, eyebrows rising as he reads. “I didn’t expect this,” he says quietly, leaning into the touch when Grant squeezes his shoulder companionably. “I just figured another time, another place… but the same outcome, you know? I never thought…”

“You really didn’t,” Grant observes, drawing Jack gently in closer, his lips curling downward slightly. “I’ve been dreading this news, and you wouldn’t even let yourself hope.”

“It doesn’t change anything,” Jack manages to say weakly, and Grant chuckles, the sound a little bitter.

“Perhaps not tonight,” Grant agrees, drawing Jack into an edgy, needy kiss, a hint of teeth and roughness coloring the gesture. “We’ll see tomorrow, won’t we?”

*-*

“Thank god.”

Jack barely has time to process the relief in the man’s voice before the tweed suited geek is dragging him bodily away from Jo and Allison. “Keep your expression calm and come with me,” the scientist insists, weaving his way between Quonset huts.

“What’s wrong?” Jack asks, cop instincts kicking in. “I’m sorry, Dr--?”

“Grant. Dr. Charles Grant,” the man introduces himself briskly. “And it’s Miss Weinbrenner, my lab assistant. There was some sort of malfunction with an experiment in the lab adjacent to ours, and she’s been… well.”

He gestures Jack into one of the temporary structures, where Jack finds a young woman, no more than 20, weeping hysterically, a scalpel in hand, blood from cut fingers already staining her white lab coat. “Whoa,” Jack says, kneeling down so she’s on eye level with him. “Miss Weinbrenner?” he asks, wondering at the familiar name for a moment.

“I saw it,” she sobs, the knife arcing out wildly in her uncontrolled hand. “My son, destroying the universe. My Leo,” she adds, hands pressing to her abdomen suddenly.

“Are you pregnant?” Jack asks, and she shakes her head, brandishing the knife with a little more control now.

“No, but I have to make sure it never happens,” she insists, and Jack jerks to his feet, wheeling on Grant.

“Let me guess, they’re doing some sort of time experiments next door, the ones that spiraled out of control,” Jack says in a low whisper, and Grant nods.

“Several people are reporting seeing flashes of the future as a result,” he confirms, eyeing Jack suspiciously. “You know, I haven’t seen you around, and I would remember someone like you.”

“Like me?” Jack asks before he can check the words, and Grant gives him the once over, quite deliberately, making him grin. “Save it for later, Doc,” he teases the scientist, turning back to Miss Weinbrenner.

“There are better ways to handle this,” he says softly, not sure why he isn’t trying to convince her that she’d hallucinated the incident from his own past. “You’re hurting yourself.”

She looks down at her cut fingers, surprise at the sight of blood registering suddenly. “God, what am I doing?” she murmurs, handing the scalpel to Jack hastily, alarmed by her own reaction. “I’m so sorry, Lieutenant, I have no idea what got into me.”

“It’s all right,” Jack reassures her, helping her to her feet, trading a quick glance with Grant that the other man reads easily. For a brief, heart wrenching, moment, it reminds Jack of the rapport he and Nathan Stark had once. “You’ve got nothing to worry about,” he forces himself to tell Miss Weinbrenner, but she’s already shaking her head.

“No, Lieutenant, I won’t take that chance,” she starts to tell him, and Grant brushes him aside, giving him a suspicious look.

“Those visions have proven out so far, Lieutenant,” he says somewhat haughtily. “As you should be well aware.”

Jack can see theories forming behind the scientist’s eyes, and quickly decides it’s time to bow out. “Of course, Dr. Grant,” he replies neutrally. “If you have everything under control?” he adds, earning a dismissive nod, but the suspicion remains when Grant looks back at him, and Jack curses to himself as he follows the path back through the maze of Quonset huts, finding Jo waiting for him where he left the path. Allison, a good ways away, is purchasing milk.

“What’s wrong?” Jo asks quietly, and Jack sighs.

“I think our being here killed a whole bunch of butterflies,” he tells her. “Just showing up changed everything.”

“Maybe we’ll get home and everything will be fine,” Jo puts in hopefully, and Jack can read the worry for Zane in her expression.

Jo forgets his concern for butterflies when they arrive home and Zane sweeps her into a hug, having been worried sick about them. The concern is all dumped onto Dr. Charles Grant, who decided at the last moment to follow them all through the time portal, which has made Jack cranky and happy by turns.


*-*

“I’m looking for a Sheriff Jack Carter?”

The voice is the same; the soft spoken lack of ego is not. “I’m Jack Carter,” Jack finally manages to say, staring hard at the same but not same man standing in the entrance to the station.

“Nathan Stark,” the clean shaven, long haired, absent minded professor introduces himself, and Jack shakes the proffered hand, his heart sinking a little.

“Dr. Stark, I have a very odd story to tell you,” Jack says after an awkward pause, only able to start telling it when he remembers that there’s a chance that a very little girl might have a chance to know her father, even if he doesn’t recall fathering her.

*-*

It barely surprises Jack that this Nathan Stark, soft spoken mid-level researcher for a big bio-tech firm, embraces the chance to have his genes tested against Jenna’s and sits talking with Allison for hours, eagerly learning about a past that no longer exists, sharing stories and trying to determine when the timelines diverged.

He watches them through one of the infirmary’s large plate glass windows, surprised by the hollow feeling in his heart. There’s a spark in that room, and if Allison can get past how this man looks like another man on the outside but is someone else on the inside…

“Jack.”

He doesn’t turn, even when Charles slides his hands onto his hips, looking over his shoulder at the couple in the next room. “He’s not my Stark,” Jack explains, shrugging and making his shoulder bump Charles’s chin gently. “I look at him and… I’m not even attracted to him,” Jack remarks, shaking his head in amazement.

“Allison doesn’t seem to have that problem,” Grant observes, though his hands have curled a little possessively into Jack’s hips.

“She liked the softer, parental side of him,” Jack explains softly. “With me, it was the snark and banter and heat…”

“Explains a few things about us,” Charles remarks dryly. “We certainly have those. But it’s probably one other thing, Jack,” he says, tugging Jack around to face him, his gaze solemn. “You didn’t talk Leo Weinbrenner’s mother out of changing the future, but Leo Weinbrenner wasn’t what saved and shaped this Nathan Stark. You’re feeling guilty for a soul you imagine to be on your conscience.”

Jack processes that for a moment, the timeline never feeling so fragile and unsteady to him as it does just then. “But Jack, what if things had already changed by the time you met Miss Weinbrenner?” Grant says softly. “She didn’t see the near miss that claimed Dr. Stark’s life that you described in that file. She saw the end of this universe.”

“Yeah,” Jack replies, voice failing a little and coming out in a husky rasp. “But I didn’t stop her because I wanted him back.”

“So,” his lover says with a little grim humor in his tone. “The great Jack Carter is human after all. Shall we go home and you can find ways to try and make me forget I learned that deep dark secret?”

“Try?” Jack smirks, turning his full attention to the man in front of him, determined to ignore the couple in the infirmary. “I’ve fucked you so hard you’ve forgotten your own name before,” he growls, and Grant grins widely at this.

“I think you’ll find this time I’m going to be the one fucking your memory into oblivion,” Grant counters. “But it won’t be your name I’ll make you forget,” he adds with a dark chuckle. “It’ll be his.”

“Bring it on,” Jack invites, and he’s more than a little surprised to find he means it. Dr. Charles Grant may not be Nathan Stark, but neither is Nathan Stark anymore. Charles, though, is the kind of man Jack knows he could fall for, and from the eager way the scientist tugs him toward the exit, it doesn’t seem like he’ll mind doing his best to win Jack over either.

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