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Story Data

Posted August 13, 2009

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Series: Eureka Moments

Title: The More Things Change

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the world is not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: PG.

Summary: One would think Dr. Fontana would know better than to denigrate an officer of the law to his face. 800 words.

Spoilers: Eureka post-3.13 "If You Build It..."

Notes: Trying to remain optimistic about the insertion of Tess Fontana into the show.

"So, what do you think, Sheriff?" Vincent asked, as he slid his lunch order onto the table.

Jack blinked, dragged out of his rambling worries about his daughter's health, and furrowed his brow at the Café Diem proprietor. "Uh-- think about what?" he asked.

Vincent nodded knowingly toward the other side of the room, where Allison sat across the table from Tess Fontana, newest pain in Jack's posterior. "About the latest addition at G.D.," he replied. "The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?" he added, with a wistful, half-quirked smile.

Jack nodded. He'd been watching people a long time; he might not be book-smart the way the residents of Eureka were, but he knew human beings, what they did, why they did it, and what they might do next, in a way few hard scientists ever bothered to learn. There was a reason he'd been a highly paid U.S. Marshal before he'd been hired to ride herd on this town, after all. He saw almost as much as the proverbial bartender did-- or the sole restaurant manager in a town full of hungry intellectuals.

"They were roommates back in college, right?" he said, thinking aloud.

"So I've heard," Vincent confirmed with a confiding air.

"I wonder, did Allison take up with Stark because Tess had already got her used to dealing with that level of ego, or did Tess pick up her habit of verbally lacerating everyone who might somehow compete with her after Stark started monopolizing Allison's attention?" Jack asked, in the same dry tone.

"Now there's a question," Vincent replied, nodding in agreement, before moving off to deliver the next plate in his hands to another customer.

Jack sighed and picked up his sandwich to take a bite, still watching the pair as they engaged in some kind of animated discussion, making points with spears of asparagus and waving forks. Probably about the signal, what it was apparently doing to the town's teenagers, and how they might stop it. They'd pretty much given up pretending that he wasn't supposed to know anything about the urgent Section Five issue du jour, thank God, but they still weren't telling him about the measures they were taking to deal with it in any kind of actionable detail yet; presumably, they were trying to maintain some faint degree of deniability, should Mansfield ever ask.

How the general thought Jack was supposed to do his job without all the facts at hand, he didn't know. Of course, the point might be that he didn't, since he had tried to fire him. Not that that would be much consolation if the world happened to maybe end as a result of Mansfield's tight-lipped behavior. Would it kill the guy to just get Jack full clearance and read him in on all the crazier projects waiting for their turns in the spotlight? That was where things always seemed to go most wrong, and one would think the Department of Defense would be interested in stopping that from happening.

Well, one would think a certain Dr. Fontana would know better than to denigrate an officer of the law to his face, too, and the whole town could see how well that was working out. At least in her case, he could make some kind of sense out of it; once he'd realized that Tess was simply trying-- and mostly failing-- to do the same dances of authority-establishment and Allison-marking that a certain other scientist had done before her, Jack had felt more sympathetic than annoyed. It was never easy to step into someone else's abandoned shoes, particularly ones the size Stark had left behind, and her task was made more difficult by being more on the cute, blonde, unimposing end of things rather than tall, dark, and sardonic. She didn't so much intimidate and inspire, as draw the eye and assault the ear.

Maybe it was that hint of insecurity behind some of her barbs-- and the genuine incredulity behind others-- that made her insults rankle less than Stark's had in the early days before they'd learned to respect each other personally as well as professionally. For all her jabbing at Jack, Tess seemed to view him less as beneath her, and more as if he were some strange invader from an alien world that she wasn't sure she liked the looks of. Kind of ironic for a communications specialist from S.E.T.I.

Someone really needed to show her around the world outside the comfortable realm of tofu-eating, lab-grown scientists she was used to, Jack thought, amused. Then he sighed, shook his head, and took another bite of his sandwich.

What did that kind of thinking ever get him in this town, other than heartache and trouble? You'd think even he would eventually learn.


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