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Story Data

Posted August 20, 2010

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Series: Eureka Moments

Title: Dreaming of Softer Places

Author: Jedi Buttercup

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

Rating: PG.

Summary: If only Jo's business was even half as interesting as the rest of the town's seemed to be these days. 800 words.

Spoilers: Eureka 4.6 "Momstrosity"

Notes: How much did I hate this episode? Let me count the ways. Title from an Alanis Morisette lyric.

Jo had checked off all but two of Eureka's Level 6 AIs on her list; she'd been assigned to look in on them to verify that there were no fresh problems after Zane's reprogramming, and had decided to end that little exercise in futility with a convenient stop at Café Diem. She wasn't sure how she would have known even if there had been something wrong, given how the problem had started. Seriously, who in their right minds had thought giving even the littlest, cutest robot in the world an attachment subroutine capable of bypassing or ignoring safety protocols, and then handing it out to a class full of teenagers, was a good idea? They were lucky Kevin's was the only one that had gone off script.

One had been plenty disaster enough. Why S.A.R.A.H. hadn't just copied her own emotional subroutines for Andy, rather than the EMO's programming, Jo had no idea. Even if she hadn't known the code could go viral, shouldn't she have known better than to apply something meant for a nonsentient cuddle robot to a decision-making entity that carried a gun without testing it first? Then again, the automated habitat had nearly torn the town apart with gravity anomalies in her efforts to crush the perceived intruder back when he'd been intended as Jack's replacement, so....

Jo sighed and rubbed at her temples, slouching a little in her chair. She eyed the list again, then decided she really didn't want to know and checked off both S.A.R.A.H. and Andy, sight unseen. She'd leave that conversation to Jack. It was his house and his deputy having an affair with each other. She was just the temporary houseguest; and besides, S.A.R.A.H. routinely circumvented any attempts to sanitize or security-check her system anyway, probably a hold-over from her original war-coding as first W.O.P.R. and then B.R.A.D. She'd listen to Jack before she'd ever even consider following Jo's orders, Chief of Security for the company that had built her or no.

Did Vincent ever have those kinds of problems with his AI? She frowned pensively at her cup, then took a cautious sip, checking to make sure it really was the two percent milk with whip cream latte she'd ordered and not the non-fat, Splenda infused blend Virtual Vincent had tried to foist on everyone the day before. She savored the taste a moment, then eyed the man at the counter again; she'd never have known he'd asked for a double to be constructed after his waitress went off to college if the latest disaster had never happened. His design was very, very good.

Vincent was fairly discreet about his dating habits, but she knew he wasn't a monk. Had his partner ever been curious about how fully functional the duplicate might be? Even as she formed the thought, though, she blushed, remembering Callister, and immediately wiped the speculation from her mind. What went on in Vincent's bedroom was his business, Virtual or otherwise.

If only her business was even half as interesting as the rest of the town's seemed to be these days. Or even half as interesting as café gossip seemed to think it was. Her life would be a lot easier in some ways if she hadn't filed Jack in the "older brother" box almost as soon as she'd got over him replacing a man she'd looked up to and taking the job she'd set her heart on, all at once. Moving in with him after Larry had destroyed her house had been easy and comforting, like moving in with family, nothing at all like the last conversation she'd had with her Zane.

She wasn't sure she wanted to know what the other Jo's relationship with Jack had been like, given how lurid the current whispered speculations were. There'd been a considerable gap between Zane's arrival in town and when Tess had shown up, after all, and if she hadn't been busy trading barbs with Zane.... Imagining that possibility was a lot like contemplating a long-term relationship with Taggart, though: territory best left unexplored.

Which left her... exactly where she'd been since Founder's Day: stuck in emotional limbo. There were times when she saw her Zane in this timeline's immature scientist who'd never learned to handle responsibility; but there were times when it was like he was a complete stranger, too. It wasn't fair to either of them the way her emotions were tangled up around him-- but there was nothing she could do about it.

Jo couldn't send him away, like Jack had Tess; or take herself any further away from him, as current Mayoral gossip said about Henry and his wife. And she couldn't just stop feeling, either.

The only way out was through. She'd just have to suck it up and continue to deal.


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