AUTHOR/PSEUDONYM: Meana (aka. meanarose)
EMAIL ADDRESS: firstname.lastname@example.org
RATING: G, maybe PG
FOCUS: Nathan Stark and Jack Carter
STATUS: new, complete (03/11/2008)
SPECIAL WARNINGS: None
ARCHIVE: At marshal_science (http://community.livejournal.com/marshal_science/), and eventually at my fic sites at http://sword.borderline-angel.com and http://romantic-intentions.com, otherwise ask first.
DISCLAIMER: This story is an original work of amateur fiction, and is written purely for private entertainment. This story is in no way affiliated with any organization that owns an interest in the show.
EPISODE SPOILERS: None in particular, but all of Season One just to be safe, and probably the first couple of episodes of Season Two.
SUMMARY: All you can do is take a step forward and hope someone catches you when you step off the cliff.
WORD COUNT: 1852 words
AUTHOR’S NOTES: Written for emralddraco (http://emralddraco.livejournal.com/), as part of the 2008 Fic Exchange at marshal_science (http://community.livejournal.com/marshal_science/), who wanted first time, Nathan smirking, oblivious or mildly protesting Jack and didn’t want angsting, established relationship. I hope I succeeded in giving you what you wanted. Also, I want to say a big thank you to my beta-reader Tasha. She caught a number of things that I missed in the editing stages.
Nathan Stark growled in frustration and barely kept himself from grabbing something and throwing it at the nearest wall as he watched Sheriff Jack Carter exit Allison’s office. His frustration grew as he saw the knowing smile on Allison’s face. She quirked an eyebrow in amusement and Nathan felt his frustration melt away as he collapsed onto her office couch and allowed himself to see the humour in the situation.
"That man is so... aggravating," Nathan finally said.
"You’ll get no argument from me," Allison replied. "He is, however, very good at his job and very good at being a friend."
"Unfortunately, at times," Nathan muttered then had the grace to look chagrined by Allison’s chiding look.
There was silence in the room for several minutes as Allison observed the distracted form of her ex-husband.
"How long, Nathan?" she finally asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Hmm..." was Nathan’s distracted response.
Allison smirked for a moment then sharply called her ex-husband’s name until he focused his attention on her.
"What?" he asked crankily.
"How long, Nathan?" she asked again, ignoring his attitude with studied practice. At his questioning look, she clarified her question. "How long have you been interested in Jack Carter as more than just a verbal sparring partner?"
Nathan stilled for a moment and looked back at her with the look of a child caught with his hand inside the forbidden cookie jar. He then forcibly made himself relax, before he smirked at her. "Whatever do you mean, Allison?" he asked with obviously insincere innocence.
Allison glared back at him. "You know full well what I mean, Nathan. Now give." Unable to help herself, a slight pout came to her lips.
Nathan could not stop the laugh that the look on her face evoked. Getting himself quickly under control, he looked at her seriously for a few moments and nodded his head decisively. Allison waited for his response as he stood up from the couch.
"I shall neither confirm nor deny your assumptions," he told her with a smug look. "In other words, Allison, it is, at this time, none of your business." He gave her a slight grin before walking out of her office door. Allison ground her teeth at yet another example of Nathan Stark obstinacy, before admitting defeat and returning to her work.
After leaving Allison’s office, Nathan found himself following the path that Carter had taken and exiting the Global Dynamics’ building. He took a deep breath before deciding to play hooky for the rest of the day. Heading to his car, he pulled out his phone and quickly sent a text message to the necessary parties not to disturb him before the next morning for anything less than an apocalypse. Finishing, he tossed the phone onto the passenger seat as he got into his car, buckled up and started it, leaving the Global Dynamics parking lot at a considerably slower speed than he normally did.
He used the time of his drive home to think about the sheriff and the effect the man had on him. Before he could come to any real conclusions, he was brought back to reality by the sight of said man standing by the side of the road talking on his cell phone. The two obviously flat tires on his vehicle made it obvious why he was hanging around in the middle of nowhere. He pulled to a stop behind him and got out of his car just in time to hear Carter finish his call.
"Thanks, Henry. Jo should be by soon to pick me up. Just give me a call when it is ready to be picked up. Hopefully you’ll figure out why it keeps giving me flats. I’ll leave the keys under the driver’s mat... It’s not like many people other than GD employees come this way after all. Bye."
"Carter," Stark greeted when the call had ended. His voice was carefully neutral.
"Stark," Carter responded with the same tone. The ringing of Carter’s cell phone interrupted anything else either one of them might have said. Nathan shamelessly listened to Carter’s side of the conversation.
"Carter here... Hey, Jo... Taggart did what? No, never mind, I don’t really want to know... You sure you can handle it? Okay, then. Have the report on my desk tomorrow and I’ll read all about it... Don’t worry; I can get Henry to give me a lift home... Bye." Carter hung the phone up with a sigh. "Sometimes I wonder about the sanity of the people in this town," he murmured almost too low for Nathan to hear, before turning back to Nathan. "Something I can help you with, Stark?" he asked.
Half a dozen responses ran through Nathan’s head before he could stop them. Every single one of them was highly suggestive and wildly inappropriate for the situation. "No, Carter, there’s nothing. I just thought I’d stop and see if you needed assistance." Before he could stop himself, he continued, "And lo and behold you require a chariot and I just so happen to have one." He indicated his car and waited for Carter’s indignant response. He was surprised, and even mildly disappointed, when Carter’s only response was a slightly lifted eyebrow before he grabbed his stuff from his truck and headed to Nathan’s car. "No comments, Sheriff?" he asked as he followed.
Carter merely shrugged his shoulders. "Who am I to ruin any fantasies you may have of being a dashing hero, Stark," he responded with a grin as they settled into the car and Nathan got it moving again.
"Indeed," Nathan murmured.
The car’s occupants were silent for the next while as each of them was engrossed in his own thoughts. Eventually the car came to a stop and Nathan turned it off. Carter looked up from his perusal of nothing, surprised by the sight in front of him.
"Hate to break it to you, Stark," he said. "But this most certainly isn’t my place."
Nathan briefly glanced at the building in front of them and then had to look quickly back when his brain registered what it was seeing. It most certainly wasn’t the bunker where Carter and his daughter had been living since they came to Eureka. It was about as far away from the bunker, appearance wise, as you could get. The house belonged to him and was more of a home to him than the house he lived in, in town. Only a few people in Eureka knew about it. It was his escape from life. It appeared, however, that his subconscious had decided that now was the perfect opportunity to ‘test the waters’ with Carter and that ‘home’ was the place to do it.
"Sorry," Nathan responded to Jack’s comment. "I hadn’t meant to come here at all today."
"It’s yours?" Carter asked.
"Yes, this is my home." At Carter’s questioning look, he clarified his statement. "This is the place I think of as home. The place in town is just a place to put my head. Only Allison, Kevin, Henry, and the real estate agent know about this place. And now you, of course." Stark took a deep breath. "Mind staying here for a few hours? I don’t think my conscious mind has a chance against my subconscious today, and my subconscious obviously wants me here."
Jack gave a brief snort of laughter. "You got beer?" he asked. At Nathan’s affirmative nod, he got out of the vehicle saying, "I guess I’m staying for a while. Think we’ll be able to keep from killing each other?" His tone was only half joking.
Nathan smirked. "I don’t know about you, Sheriff," he answered getting out of the car and leading the way to the front door. "But I am a mature adult and am quite capable of behaving like a civilized being." He couldn’t stop a smile when he heard Jack’s muttered comments to his remark.
He led the way into the house pointing to where Jack could put his stuff before leading them to the kitchen. He got them both a beer and then started grabbing ingredients for dinner. He was slightly surprised when Jack helped himself to a knife and started helping. Very quickly, they had a simple casserole baking in the oven.
The pair retreated to the living room to drink their beer while they waited for dinner. Surprisingly they found themselves engaged in a conversation that ranged over a dozen or so different topics with very little in the way of arguments. Nathan found he was unable to keep from lightly flirting with Carter and was delighted when he found that he was actually able to get Carter to blush once or twice. Dinner continued the theme of genial camaraderie.
It happened while they worked together to get the dishes done, before Nathan was to complete the aborted trip to get Carter home. He had been turning away from the kitchen island to place some utensils in the sink when he had found himself nose to nose with Carter who had been doing the opposite. Both men had frozen in surprise.
Nathan was the first to react. "To hell with it," he had muttered as he reached around Carter to dump the items in his hands into the sink. The fact that this pushed the two of them closer even as it trapped Carter between him and the counter was an added bonus. Slowly he pulled back enough to look in Carter’s eyes. Silently they stared at each other... determination in Stark’s eyes and confusion in Carter’s.
With purpose, Nathan brought his hands up to cradle Carter’s head even as he claimed the other man’s lips in a searing kiss. Carter was still with shock for several moments before reciprocating the kiss with a groan of acceptance.
"We shouldn’t be doing this," Jack murmured when they pulled away for air. He pulled Nathan back to him for another heated kiss belying his words.
"Yes, we should be doing this," Nathan countered fiercely when they came back up for air. "There is nothing stopping us from doing this," he said looking intently into Carter’s eyes. "We’re both respected members of this community and no one would begrudge us a chance at, perhaps, finding happiness with one another. Allison has already guessed at how I feel and doesn’t appear upset by it. The only real concern would be your daughter and how this would affect her and your relationship with her."
Carter seemed to relax at Stark’s words. Any remaining resistance seemed to drain from him. "Considering just last week she told me to get myself a girlfriend, or even a boyfriend," he said with a slight grin. "I don’t think she’ll mind."
"Boyfriend, huh," Nathan said with a smirk. "Is that what you want, Sheriff?"
"Let’s just take it a day at a time," Jack answered, leaning in for another kiss.
"Sounds good to me," were the last words heard for a while as the two men got to know one another a little bit better.