It was sitting on his desk. Innocent looking in green, shining paper, a red bow affixed to one corner. That in and of itself made Sheriff Carter suspicious. Nothing in Eureka was ever innocent or undangerous. There was always something waiting to explode, always something lurking around a corner. He blamed Fargo for that. He prodded it a few times, but nothing happened. With a shrug and a strange look from Jo he pushed it hastily into one of the drawers in his desk.
He’d deal with it later, right now he just wanted to relax on one of the rare days when the town wasn’t going all to hell. Besides, it was snowing gently outside, which was nice. Los Angeles never had a white Christmas. And he really did like Christmas.
And Eureka really went all out for Christmas, it was only December first, and already the place was filled with lights and wreathes and candy canes….the list went on and on, whomever was in charge of decorating Eureka for holidays liked Christmas, maybe even too much.
He entered Café Diem happily, ready for his second caffeine fix of the day. S.A.R.A.H’s coffee just couldn’t hold a candle to Vincent’s. The bell jingled merrily and he couldn’t help but smile. He really did love Christmas. He ordered a vinspresso and sat down at the bar to wait for it patiently.
“Ah, Sheriff, I was wondering if you received my gift yet? I left it on your desk. Green paper, red bow, can’t possibly miss it”, said a voice from behind him.
He turned to see Nathan Stark standing there.
“Uh…… yes, I haven’t opened it yet, but I did get a package on my desk that fits that description. Now I know not to open it. It’s probably something dangerous”, remarked Jack bitterly, the man just would not leave him alone. It was odd, and he couldn’t figure it out. The man just would not stop. He didn’t seem to take any hints.
“Well, Sheriff, I can assure you it’s nothing you can’t handle”, said Nathan with a huge smirk, green eyes twinkling like the lights outside. Jack’s coffee arrived and he quickly left, back to the safety of his office.
“He still hasn’t figure it out, has he Dr.Stark”, said Vincent with a sigh, “I think you’re just going to have to tell him. He’s not exactly the world’s greatest detective.”
The next day another present was sitting on the edge of Jack’s desk. It was larger than the last one, wrapped in iridescent, white paper and a green ribbon. A quick glance from Jack proved that it was in fact from Nathan. It joined the first gift in the bowels of his desk with a hurried shove. Jo watched curiously as he did so, and he frowned at her before returning to his much hated paperwork.
At least it was better than dealing with Nathan Stark’s most probably booby trapped gifts. Though the guy could wrap a gift very nicely. Jack’s usually ended up looking mangled. He sighed and started the next page. There was really too much paperwork in this science dominated town. He felt like banging his head against his desk, but resisted.
Jo would just tell the entire town that he was going crazy or something equally foolish. He did like his deputy, but she kind of did drive him crazy much of the time.
The next day there was another gift. This was turning into an unfortunate pattern. It too was from Nathan, and it too was shoved into his desk, though this time with some violence. It hit the gift that had come the day before and started to twinkle.
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, may your days be light. From now on all our troubles are out of sight.” Over and over and over again. Jack could feel a migraine coming on. This was obviously some sort of torture device that the scientist wished to visit on the poor abused sheriff. He massaged his forehead and had déjà-vu; he wanted to bang his head on the desk, again.
He finally relented and pulled all three gifts out of his desk. The last one was slightly squashed and still belting out the same tune line again and again. Though it seemed to be going slightly off key, which wasn’t helping the headache any. He opened the last one first in the hopes of figuring out how to turn the wretched thing off.
The paper peeled away reluctantly, as he tried to shed it. Now that he had resolved to open the thing, he wanted it done as quickly as possible, and with less noise. He swore the thing was getting louder. He managed to pry the thing loss and inspected it, and turned it off finally.
It was actually rather nice. A snow globe of the angel’s stadium from back home, with the figure of a be-winged baseball player in the familiar uniform of the Los Angeles Angels. He set it on his desk, it was actually really nice. The next one was quickly unwrapped, and he stared at it in wonder.
It was a jacket. A nice, expensive looking jacket of butter soft leather, the kind you saw at the mall and always wanted but never seemed to have enough money to ever buy. He petted it softly with a fond smile on his face that quickly turned into a frown. Why would Nathan Stark send him expensive gifts? It made absolutely no sense.
He didn’t notice the looks he was receiving from Jo as he frowned and stroked the gift. She grinned suddenly and quickly left with a quick excuse thrown behind her about retrieving coffee from Café Diem. He shrugged, only half listening to the feeble excuse. His mind was on other things, like the complex plot that this was turning into. What the hell was going on? Jo entered the Café and motioned Vincent over. Vincent walked over quickly looking highly interested.
“He finally opened the gifts”, she said, “I about did it myself when the music wouldn’t stop, but he did it. He’s close to figuring it out. You should have seen the look on his face while he was trying to figure out why Dr.Stark would send him gifts he would actually like.”
Vincent handed her the vinspresso he instantly knew she’d have order had she come in for something other than gossip. They whispered for several more and then she left to go back to the office, a pleased look on her face. Vincent quickly fished the phone out from his pocket and placed a call to Nathan Stark. Nathan picked up quickly.
“Dr.Stark, I thought that you should know that Sheriff Carter finally opened your gifts. According to Jo, he’s puzzling over why you’d send him gifts. I really think you should just go talk to him, instead of this whole charade”, he said. A shadow fell over him.
“Dr.Stark has to tell me what, Vincent? What Charade are you talking about”, said Jack, standing right behind him, looking furious.
Vincent froze. This was bad. This was horrendous.
“Fine, I’ll go talk to him myself”, said Jack angrily, “This whole thing has gone on long enough.”
He turned and strode out in a huff.
“Um, Dr.Stark…..he heard me talking to you, and now he’s coming to yell at you. I’m really, really sorry! I didn’t know he was right there”, said Vincent in a panic.
“It’s alright. It has gone on long enough, I’ll talk to him and tell him everything when he gets here”, said the rumbling voice of Nathan Stark from the other end of the phone. They exchanged quick good- byes and Nathan Stark sat back, waiting patiently for a certain Sheriff to come storming into his office any moment.
Sure enough he arrived a few minutes later, a look of concentration, confusion, and anger apparent on his handsome face. He knocked on the door and Nathan invited him in gravely.
“What’s going on Stark? First, you send me all these really great, expensive gifts, and then I overhear a conversation of Vincent’s that’s obviously about me to you, one that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But it obviously meant that you were keeping something from me. Something pretty damn big, and I want to know what that is right now”, he said angrily at Nathan, who was sitting there calmly while the shorter man ranted. He leaned back as Jack’s words came to a halt.
“That truth of the matter, Carter, is that I’m very attracted to you. I was trying to give you gifts so that you would think of me fondly instead of how you do so now. Obviously, that didn’t work, so now I’m trying the only approach that will probably work. I’m simply telling you how I feel”, he said softly, looking at Jack cautiously.
Jack looked startled and leapt from the chair and out of the room before Nathan could say anything else. He watched the Sheriff go sadly, and let his forehead hit his desk with an audible thump. It was not a good day to be Nathan Stark.
The Washer Lair
of Nano Knight and The Ninja
- A Time for Gifts