THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP

Author: Allison McDonnell

Rating: PG-13 (Adult themes, language)

Disclaimer: They belong to Amblin and Universal. 'Nuff said.

Timeline: On the way to New Pacifica

Summary: It's been one month since the events of 'Carpe Diem' and the games are afoot. Devon and Danziger have culminated their relationship, but are waiting until they reach New Pacifica to openly court each other. Unbeknownst to either of them, Baines witnessed the pair together and filled in the rest of the group (with the exception of the children). Alrighty then.

Author's note: Thanks to everyone for all of the positive reviews and emails that you sent me regarding 'Carpe Diem,' my first fan-fiction story. Several of you requested that I write a sequel, so ask and you shall receive. It's twice as lengthy as I had originally intended it to be (it kind of got away from me). As with the first installment, I've tried to keep the tone light along with a little bit of angst and depravity thrown in for good measure. I hope you enjoy it. As always, reviews/comments are very much appreciated.

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Chapter 1- Precipitation

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Voice of True Danziger:

"Things are going pretty well right now. School is still a royal pain, but Dad's been much better about all of those rules he made when we first got to this planet. Now, he's a lot more relaxed about everything. He doesn't check on me all the time to make sure that I'm safe like he used to. He even lets Uly and me go off and play as long as Bess or Zero are nearby.

I think that Dad is a lot happier, too. He smiles tons more than he did before we came here. I'm not used to him smiling very much except for when he's around me or back when Alex and Les were alive. I think that he wanted everyone to think that he was mean so they'd leave him alone. But now, Dad smiles when he talks to Devon. Sometimes he even laughs. It's kind of weird, if you ask me."

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Despite the thunderstorm that had raged through camp the prior evening, Devon awoke from a peaceful night's slumber. She lazily turned over to face the tent's opening and noticed the wet grass lining the mud stained edges of the canvas where the fabric met the ground. She reshut her eyes and blissfully remembered her dream; the same one she'd had every night for the past month. In truth, the images in her mind were better described as a memory; the remembrance of a recent night spent in the arms of another. It was the evening that Devon had abandoned her inhibitions and acted on her need to show John how she'd felt about him. And he had done the same, matching her every movement and desire along with surprising her with a few of his own. Since then, each and every night as she closed her eyes and the darkness claimed her, so did he. Her visions of their lovemaking, once in the water and once on the nearby hill overlooking the lake, played themselves on a continuous loop in her mind. Devon cherished each passionate moment as though it was a priceless gift; a treasure that was as pleasureful as it was irreplaceable.

Although they'd mutually decided to wait on a relationship until Eden Advance arrived at New Pacifica, sometimes it wasn't easy for her. Often the urge to touch him was almost too much for Devon to bear. And if it did occur, then there was real trouble. Something as innocent as brushing against his arm as they passed each other could open the door to all sorts of feelings, many of them primal in nature.

Devon had no idea if John was also suffering from these same bouts of inner turmoil. Privacy was a luxury that seemed to elude them both at every turn. Whether they were hiking across the continent, eating in the mess tent or seated around the campfire at night, the couple always appeared to be under the watchful eye of at least one member of Eden Project. If she and John decided to go for a walk around the grounds, someone would either insist on tagging along with them or would miraculously show up just as the two were about to enjoy a private moment. Because of this, the pair was forced to limit the scope of their conversations to strictly business and nothing more. And, although there had certainly been an infusion of playfulness in their more recent exchanges with each other, their interactions remained completely platonic.

Maybe it's better this way, Devon rationalized to herself as she rose from her bed and began to dress. Never getting the opportunity to be alone with Danziger enabled them to concentrate on getting the group to the west coast instead of selfishly focusing their attentions on each other. Plus, they still had the memories of their single, glorious night spent together as lovers instead of just co-leaders of Eden Advance. For now, that would have to be enough to sustain them.

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"Hey, Adair. Wait up," John called out to the leader as she made her way toward the meal tent for breakfast. He couldn't believe his good fortune that, at least for the moment, she was by herself. For some strange reason that he had yet to understand, he never got the chance to see her alone anymore.

Devon stopped to allow him to catch up to her. "Morning, Danziger," she said with a warm smile.

"Morning," he grinned. "Sleep well?"

"Like a baby."

He raised an eyebrow and quickly looked her up and down. "So, that storm didn't keep you tossin' and turnin' all night?" he asked, somehow managing to make the innocent question sound ripe with innuendo.

Devon glanced around to ensure that they were out of range from prying ears before deciding to drop a few suggestive hints of her own. "Not at all. I never have any trouble falling asleep." She intentionally lowered her voice to a huskier tone. "You see, there's this thing I do."

Danziger's head shot backward, caught completely off-guard by the unexpected turn in their conversation. He tried to gulp, but found that he had suddenly been rendered unable to swallow. "Uh, what 'thing'?" he finally sputtered out. Perhaps he shouldn't be hearing this.

Devon was amazed that she was able to stifle her laughter, especially taking into consideration that John's eyes were now twice their normal size and his pupils had all but disappeared. Yet, somehow she forged ahead.

"I think that Yale calls it 'guided imagery.'" She took a step closer. "I lie in bed, completely in the dark and push all of the stress and negativity out of my mind. Then, I picture an image that I find enjoyable. Something that relaxes me." She paused before whispering seductively, "And it's even better if it's something that has a rhythm to it-"

"Hey, guys, how's it going?" came the interruption from an overly perky Walman. He stepped in between the couple, but not before heartily slapping Danziger on the shoulder. Briefly, Danziger considered slapping Walman back, only a whole lot harder. "What are you two talking about?" the crewman inquired, acting as though he had no idea that he was intruding.

Danziger was still too caught up in Devon's description of her sleep habits to answer him, so it was left to Devon to manufacture a convincing explanation. "We were talking about insomnia."

"Oh, I never have that," Walman offered. "I use that 'guided imagery' thingamabob. You know, where you think of something relaxing... like a waterfall or something along those lines."

At last, Danziger rediscovered his ability to speak and turned to him wearing a deadpan expression. "I think I know exactly what you mean."

Walman took a few paces toward the meal tent and stopped when he realized that Devon and Danziger weren't following. "Well, aren't you coming? Breakfast is almost over."

The pair gave each other a long, pained look before reluctantly falling into step behind their latest self-appointed chaperone.

After a few moments of silence, John dryly murmured to Devon, "So, Walman falls asleep easily. Who knew?"

When the three reached the entrance of the mess tent, Danziger attempted to be chivalrous by lifting the flap to permit Devon first entry. Unfortunately, he didn't notice the large pool of rain that had collected in the canvas directly above the door. Just as Devon crossed the threshold, several streams of the displaced water splashed downward directly onto her head, soaking her.

"Devon, I'm," John halted his words when he was overcome with laughter at the sight of her; so much so that it took a few moments for him to catch his breath. "I'm sorry," he eventually was able to apologize between guffaws.

Devon didn't find her circumstance nearly as amusing as he did. "Yeah, I can tell by the sincerity in your voice that you're all broken up about it," she remarked, visibly annoyed as she rung out her hair.

Danziger was about to respond when he peered beyond Devon's water drenched form to see who was in the tent observing their conversation. He was a bit unnerved to find that, with the exception of Walman who was standing behind him, every member of Eden Advance was present. Moreover, all of them had turned to face the doorway and seemed to be eagerly awaiting his reply to the irritated leader.

The mechanic considered the best way to handle the situation and keep things from escalating any further. He finally opted for the casual approach.

"Aw, come on, Devon. It's just a little water," he shrugged. "Nothin' to get upset over."

She hesitated before coolly responding, "Really?"

Before John could answer her, Devon sprang into action. She stepped into the tent, leaving Danziger alone in the doorway and, with all of her might, she pushed upward on the canvas over the door where the reservoir of rain had gathered. A flood of water spilled over the edge and completely saturated Danziger, the sheer force of the flow almost knocking him to the ground in the process.

No words were spoken nor did anyone move a muscle for several seconds. The only noise heard was the dripping sound of liquid trickling from Danziger's sodden clothes. A breeze blew through camp and the mechanic shuddered from the sudden flash of cold. As he finally regained his bearings, John realized that Devon had been right all along. Being doused with dirty rainwater wasn't nearly as funny as he'd first thought.

"Aw, come on, Danziger. It's just a little water. Nothing to get upset over," Devon declared triumphantly.

John's lips barely moved as he mumbled something unintelligible under his breath.

"What?" Devon asked, leaning in toward him. "What did you say?"

He released a slow breath and met Devon's victorious gaze. She clearly had no idea what she was in for.

His words were spoken slowly as he growled through clenched teeth, "If I were you, I'd start running."

Now, it was Danziger's turn to act. The entire room erupted with a mixture of loud surprise and giddy excitement when the mechanic lunged toward Devon. The leader just barely staggered backwards fast enough to avoid the scope of his long reach. She ran further into the tent toward the closest folding table prompting Mazatl and Denner to scramble for cover, neither one of them willing to become an accidental casualty of someone else's war. The rest of the crowd fanned around the feuding pair, gawking at them as if they were watching a sports match where the teams had gone into sudden death. Devon briefly considered grabbing Morgan to use as a human shield, but thought better of it when she realized that involving the bureaucrat in their battle would only serve to inspire Danziger to become more violent. So, instead, Devon barricaded herself behind the table and made a feeble attempt to reason with the angry, dripping-wet man.

She inquired with a strained chuckle, "Come on, Danziger! Where'd your sense of humor go?"

"You drowned it," he snarled, making a wild dash toward the right side of the table, causing Devon to retreat toward the left to stay directly across from him.

Devon held up both hands in surrender. "Let's declare a truce, okay? No hard feelings."

"Nope. Not a chance," he said, bolting for the left side.

The leader matched his maneuvers and remained out of his clutches. "Please, John," she insisted, specifically choosing one of her more diplomatic tones. "We'll call it even and be done with it."

The mechanic snorted. "You got a lot of nerve pulling that crap."

"What? You deserved it," she exclaimed indignantly before the hint of a grin shone through. "Plus, that was payback for the time you threw that mug of water on me."

"Jesus, that was nine months ago, woman!" he said, exasperated.

"I was biding my time!"

"Uh-huh," he said as he madly lurched across the table, inadvertently sending bowls and utensils sailing to the ground and almost losing his balance in the process. Devon took this as her chance to escape and made a break for the exit. John could hear her peals of laughter as she sprinted into the filtered sunlight.

"See you later, Danziger!"

Unwilling to accept defeat, especially one with so many witnesses, John raced after her in hot pursuit. The onlookers anxiously piled out after them with True and Uly leisurely bringing up the rear. The two children briefly looked at each other and rolled their eyes, embarrassed by their parent's behavior. Adults can be so immature sometimes, both groaned to themselves.

Devon increased her speed when she heard the squeaking noise of wet boots quickly gaining on her. In an attempt to shake her pursuer, she made a hard turn toward the right with the intention of circling around the Martin tent and then heading back toward the safety of the crowd. She never made it that far.

The group watched in fascination as Devon, quickly followed by Danziger, vanished behind the tent, but failed to reappear on the other side. Instead, they heard a slight scuffle and then Devon's angry shrieks.

"Danziger! Dammit, John! Stop!"

The mechanic finally emerged from the shadows wearing a prevailing smile. The trophy signifying his victory was proudly hoisted over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

"Danziger, put me down!" Devon yelled as she continued to struggle against him.

The fuming leader could only see the ground behind her as she was paraded in front of the hooting and hollering spectators. She could also tell that Danziger's stride was now infinitely more confident than it had been before her capture.

I bet he's wearing a cocky grin, too, Devon supposed. Boy, was she ever going to make him pay dearly for this.

"Put- me- down!" she ordered as she squirmed in his grasp.

His tone was now jovial as he demanded, "Say you're sorry first."

"No!"

"Then, you're stayin' right where you are." Now, he was chuckling, which only made her angrier.

"I swear, John, you put me down this instant or so help me!"

Danziger stopped walking and asked with sincerity in his voice, "You really want me to put you down, huh?"

"Yes." Finally, he was listening to her, Devon reflected with relief. Now, if she could only persuade John to follow her orders. Well, there was a first time for everything.

"Right here?" he asked.

"Yes!"

"This very spot?"

God, the man is infuriating. "Yes," she commanded. "Put me down right here!"

John pretended to ponder his choices for a moment until a decision was reached. "Well, okay. If you insist."

Before she could react, Danziger slung Devon forward, catching and cradling her in his arms. Suddenly, her wriggling ceased. Devon had been so focused on winning their argument that she'd failed to recognize that this was the closest she'd been to John since their night at the lake.

As she turned her head upward to meet his stare, Devon observed the look of awareness in Danziger's blue eyes, showing her that he'd made the same realization. A few seconds passed before they were finally able to free themselves from the magnetic pull of their gazes. With expressions that faintly hinted at their underlying desire, they wordlessly reached an understanding with one another that, even if they were inclined to act on their temptation for physical contact, now was certainly not the time or the place to do it.

To that end, Danziger reinitiated the final step of his original plan. He relocked his mischievous gaze upon Devon's now subdued features and ever-so-gently lowered her to the ground... right into a large puddle of water.

Not too surprisingly, Devon's anger came back in full force. "Danziger!"

John jumped back before she could splash him or yank him in with her. He turned and lightly bowed to the cheering crowd, reveling in his triumph.

"I'm going to get you for this, John!"

Yeah, and your little dog, too, Danziger smirked to himself, quoting the line of a popular film-chip that included a melting witch that he'd seen as a kid. Sensing that the entertainment was over for the morning, he began to make his way back toward the meal tent.

"Where do you think you're going?" Devon called out to him while Yale gave her a hand and pulled her out of the puddle.

"Didn't you hear Walman?" he answered nonchalantly over his shoulder as he kept walking. "He said that breakfast is almost over."

"Hey!" she hollered, causing John to stop and rotate to face her.

"What?"

Devon knew that she should be furious with the mechanic. She should also be humiliated that she'd made a fool out of herself in front of the entire crew. But, strangely, as she looked at John, Devon wasn't feeling any of those things. She was having way too much fun to be concerned about the temporary absence of her dignity.

"Make me a plate of food, too, okay? I'm famished," she relayed without an ounce of hostility in her voice as she proceeded toward her quarters to change into some dry clothing.

Danziger was obviously unconcerned about his own soaked attire and nodded back. "I'll save you a seat," he smiled with a gleam in his eye before disappearing into the shade of the tent.

Both children tramped away to join their respective parents, leaving the remaining Edenites to huddle together and assess the latest developments in the unusual and sometimes downright bizarre saga of Devon and Danziger's (non)courtship of one another.

Bess grabbed Morgan's hand and blurted out excitedly, "I really thought they were going to kiss for a moment, didn't you?"

"Me, too," Magus agreed. "Did you see Devon's face when John started to put her down?"

"Hell, did you see Danziger's face?" Walman snickered. "There's no doubt about it, the man's crazy about her."

"Or just plain crazy," Morgan muttered.

As amusing as it sometimes was, Baines was getting tired of the pair's endless attempts to conceal their relationship. "Dammit, why can't they just admit that they're in love and get it out in the open already?"

"Yeah, they're making this way too complicated on everyone," Cameron complained.

The group momentarily broke off their conversation when they observed a newly outfitted Devon exit her tent with Uly and stroll toward the mess tent for her promised breakfast. Magus and Cameron quickly trotted away to meet the pair before they arrived at their destination, thus ensuring that they were present to witness all of Devon and John's interactions.

Walman wasted no time and also purposefully marched toward the meal tent with a mission of his own. There was no way in hell that he was going to stand idly by while Cameron put the moves on Magus. Walman began to lose his temper just thinking about it. Magus belonged to him and he to her. Well, sure he'd never told this to Cameron or even to Magus for that matter, but that part was irrelevant to Walman. What was important was that, whether she knew it or not, Magus had stolen his heart. And he'd be damned if Cameron thought that he could just swoon in and wreck everything that Walman and Magus had between them (or will have between them as soon as Walman gets the courage to admit to Magus how he feels about her). Yep, Walman reflected to himself, Cameron had better watch his step.

The other colonists (with the exception of Bess, of course) were oblivious to Walman's inner conflict as he strode away and disappeared into the dwelling with the other crewmembers. Instead, they continued to focus their energies on Devon and Danziger and restarted their conversation where it had been left off.

Alonzo folded his arms in front of him and said with a self-assured grin, "Don't worry, they're gonna slip up soon."

"We just have to keep monitoring them," Denner nodded.

Mazatl added, "Or keep them separated until one or both of them explode from the pressure."

"And until then, we get the added benefit of torturing them on a daily basis," Alonzo exclaimed with delight.

Julia declared confidently, "And judging from this morning's antics, I doubt they'll last much longer."

"Yep," Alonzo expressed with certitude. "It's just a matter of time."

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