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Posted July 30, 2009
Series: Eureka Moments
Title: A Special Case
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: "So," Tess drawled. "What's the deal with you and Carter?" 1000 words.
Spoilers: Eureka post-3.11 "Insane in the P-Brane"
Notes: I've tagged ten episodes so far without getting jossed; this one might break my streak. But if that happens because they actually discuss any of these issues out loud on the show? \0/
"So," Tess drawled, toying with the straw in her diet soda as she studied Allison across a corner table in Café Diem. "What's the deal with you and Carter?"
She'd been friends with Allison for years, since before her first doctorate, and knew all of the older woman's little tells; knew the ways she reacted when she was interested in someone, and the signals she gave off when she wasn't, and her reactions to Carter didn't fit either pattern. It had Tess curious.
"What do you mean, me and Carter?" Allison scoffed, doing that little faux-innocent scrunch she did with her eyebrows sometimes. Like Tess didn't know her well enough not to fall for it.
"You'll like him once you get to know him?" Tess prompted her, raising her own eyebrows incredulously. "Not, uh, that I'm saying you're wrong--" she hastened to clarify, recalling the way her own opinion of the man had shifted over the course of one very chaotic Eurekan day, "--but you certainly never said anything like that about Sheriff Cobb."
Allison snorted a little at that, suppressing an amused smile. "Carter's a special case in a lot of ways," she replied.
No, she'd never said anything half so warm about Major Cobb, who'd been Army Intelligence before his posting to Eureka. Cobb had had clearance for anything and everything to do with Global Dynamics, which was why Tess had been so surprised to find out Carter didn't. What had Carter been before he'd come here? she wondered.
"Special case, how?" she pressed. "I mean, I get that he's a nice enough guy-- at least when he's not convinced you're being an idiot or playing the idiot himself-- and he's not entirely unattractive, but how do you get from hot guy with a badge that you mostly only see when things go wrong, to that indulgent little smile of yours?"
"My what?" Allison shook her head, blankly. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Allison, please," Tess prompted her again, unamused.
Allison stared back at her a long moment, expression falling into serious lines, then picked up her fork and started fiddling with it, randomly nudging loose bits of rhubarb around her plate. "There's no deal with us, not really. It's-- well, I know you hate it when I say this, but it's complicated."
"Because of Nathan?" Tess guessed, eyes dropping to Allison's rounded abdomen. She'd been invited to their planned second wedding, though she'd been unable to get away at the time, and had been one of the first people Allison called when she found out she was pregnant, but Allison hadn't been all that forthcoming on the subject of just how she and Nathan had come to be engaged again in the first place. Just a lot of creative cursing when he'd shown up in Eureka after their separation, followed by a refrain of 'it's complicated' any time Tess called her over the next two years, right up until the memorable 'oh my God, I just said yes-- again!'
And all that time, Carter had been here too, doing-- what? Not dating Allison, apparently. Kind of stuck on her, though, from the look on his face when he'd been so eager to try nudging her across the P-Brane. 'She felt me,' yeah. That was the face of a man who cared as more than just a colleague.
"Partially," Allison admitted. "I mean, I'd thought about it. And I know Carter thought about it, too; we danced around the subject often enough. The potential was definitely there. But it never seemed like the right time, and then-- well, there was Section 5, and what was happening to Kevin, and I couldn't talk to Carter about any of it, and Nathan was so supportive--" She trailed off with a sigh.
And that had been her biggest complaint about Nathan before; that he wasn't supportive, that he'd always put the job over their relationship. "And now he's always going to be between you," Tess said.
Allison chuckled a little, staring down at her plate. "In more ways than one," she replied. "They were almost friends by the time Nathan died, actually; Carter was with him when it happened. And given how he died-- well. For a minute there, when Drechmeyer had us all gathered here to prove his ghost theory--" She trailed off again, shaking her head, lips pressed tightly together.
"Damn." Tess reached across the table, gripping Allison's free hand. "It happened up at G.D., right? No wonder Carter seemed so spooked when we first realized no one else could see or hear us."
Allison squeezed back. "You want to know what he is to me?" she asked, quietly. "He's my rock, Tess. That's more important to me than any romantic relationship could be. Between him and Henry, I can still work in this town, even after what it's done to the people I love. I'll keep secrets from him, and impose on him, and give him impossible problems to solve-- and he'll give me that smile that says he knows exactly how far I've taken advantage, then figure it out anyway and help Henry implement a solution, just like he always does."
"His track record's that good, huh?" Tess smiled, trying to lighten the mood a little.
"It is." Allison smiled back, ruefully. "He's already overheard me talking about the signal, in fact; he'll probably ask you about it at some point, too. You know the routine, no confirmations or denials. Just-- don't block him too hard, either. He can be your biggest help when things go wrong-- but he can also be your biggest hurdle, when he wants to make a nuisance of himself."
"Sounds like the DoD should just suck it up and give him clearance," Tess snorted.
"You'd think so, wouldn't you?" Allison shook her head. Then her expression lightened. "So-- why so curious, anyway? Not entirely unattractive, you say?"
Tess blushed, cursing her fair skin. "Oh, shut up."
© 2009 Jedi Buttercup.