Dark & Light
by Maggie C.

Disclaimer: Earth 2 and the characters do not belong to me.

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Danziger couldn't do it, he couldn't shoot. True was too close. What if he hit her? Danziger lowered the weapon and didn't even notice Yale grab it out of his hands. What happened next ended his world.

Yale was trying to override his weapons aversion and fire at Gaal when he suddenly didn't need to anymore. The others must have released the Terrians, because they shot up from the earth and surrounded Gaal. The penal colonist laughed maniacally, because he knew the Terrians could not harm him with the necklace of Terrian bones protecting him. Then True grabbed it and ripped the necklace off Gaal's neck. It fell to the ground and disappeared into the earth. The Terrians began to advance on Gaal, and he, knowing he had only a few seconds left in this world, did the first thing that occurred to him, taking revenge on the person who had caused this.

He broke True's neck.

Alonzo heard True scream and then it was cut off suddenly, with a sickening quiet following until Danziger's own cry filled the bitter silence. He hobbled over and saw Danziger rocking True's still form in his arms, her neck hanging at an impossible angle. Alonzo knew there was nothing anyone could do, True was dying. Danziger cradled her close to his chest and was sobbing uncontrollably. The Terrians were still surrounding True and Danziger, although they had dragged Gaal into the earth. Alonzo made his way over to the Terrians, who were watching John and True with something akin to interest or curiosity. Alonzo was broken out of his thoughts when a Terrian pulled him onto the dreamplane.

//This one mourns her passing. Why?//

//He's her father, and he loves her. It wasn't her time// Alonzo thought sadly. //She's too young, it's too soon.//

The Terrian seemed to consider this for a moment. //She freed us, we will take her.//

Alonzo had no idea what he was talking about, but it was obvious from his tone that they were going to honor True in some way. He was about to tell the Terrian that John would not be convinced of that very easily when he found himself back in reality. He opened his eyes and saw the Terrians stun Danziger into unconsciousness and then extracted True from his arms and took her with him as the Terrians sank into the earth.

Alonzo stopped the others from going after the Terrians, futile as that would be. "There's nothing we can do for her anymore," he said quietly. "Let's just get John back to camp." Everyone understood what he was trying to say, focus on the living, not on the dead.

-------------------

When they arrived back at camp, Devon saw the unconscious Danziger and rushed to his side. "What happened?" she asked. She looked up and scanned all the distraught faces. She silently did a head count and came up one short. She looked up at Yale, fear shining in her eyes. "True?" she demanded. Yale averted his eyes and just shook his head. Devon looked to John, biting her lip so she wouldn't cry. "What happened?" she asked softly when she could trust her voice again.

So the whole story was told twice more, once to Devon, and then to the rest of the group, while Danziger lay unconscious in the med tent. No one could believe that the little girl was gone. Uly's cure had been a miracle, and now it seemed like fate had taken a life for a life, a child for a child. Everyone was in shock.

While everyone was still absorbing the bad news in the center of camp, Danziger was waking up in the med tent. He pulled himself up to a sitting position, feeling sore all over. //What happened?// he wondered, and then it all came rushing back to him. Gaal, and True . . . he covered his face with a hand and started crying softly again. Julia entered the tent after a few seconds or a few minutes, John didn't keep track. What was the point? What was the point of anything now? His little girl was gone. What was the point?

Julia approached John carefully. She pulled out her diaglove and scanned him. He barely acknowledged her. "John? I'm so sorry," she said. "Are you okay?" she asked, and then immediately cursed herself. //Of course he's not okay, what were you thinking!?// she berated herself.

"Okay?" John asked incredulously. "Okay?! Julia, how could you ask that? True . . . she . . ." he shook his head, not able to finish the sentence. "I am not okay!" he yelled through his tears. Danziger stood there for a few seconds as Julia fumbled through an apology, and then he pushed past her out of the med tent.

Danziger stepped out into the beautiful summer day. How could the sun shine so brightly on the day his world ended? It wasn't right; the day should be dark and dreary, not bright and sunny. He stood there, at the entrance of the med tent, lost in his thoughts, until Walman came up to him. Danziger turned to him, a blank expression on his face.

Walman began speaking, a little nervously. "Look, Danz, I just want to let you know how sorry we all are. I know how you must feel . . ."

"What?" Danziger asked quietly and intensely.

Walman didn't notice the expression on John's face, and so he just nodded and continued talking. "Yeah, look, everyone really liked True. We're all going to miss her." Walman didn't even see the fist that knocked him to the ground. Astonished, he looked up to see Danziger standing over him, an angry expression on his face.

"You have no idea what I'm feeling right now," Danziger said venomously. "You can't understand. She," his voice broke slightly, "she was my world. None of you," he addressed the people that had gathered around them, "can understand what I'm feeling right now." He stalked out of camp after scanning the assembled faces. No one followed him.

Except the one person who could understand what he was feeling, at least partially. Devon hesitated for a moment, and then followed Danziger away from camp to the edge of the cliff. She stood there and held her breath, afraid of what he might do. But he finally turned away from the edge and sat down on a nearby rock. "What do you want, Adair?" he asked, and Devon's heart jerked when she heard the . . . hopelessness of his voice.

She sat down next to him. "Were you thinking about jumping?" //Oh, wonderful choice, Devon, be blunt.// Devon braced herself to dodge the fist she was sure was coming her way.

John just turned and looked at her with an unreadable expression. He studied her face for a minute and then looked back at the scenery. "Yeah, I thought about it," he said. "Briefly," he added after seeing her shocked expression.

Devon swallowed, but she understood why he thought about it. "What changed your mind?"

Danziger shrugged, and looked at the setting sun. He didn't know how to explain it; he didn't know how to explain anything he was feeling at the moment. It was like he was feeling everything and nothing all at once. It didn't make any sense. But thankfully, Devon didn't ask for an explanation. She just sat there with him.

After a while, she thought of something he should know. Devon told him what the Terrians told Alonzo. She was expecting him to get angry, but once again he surprised her.

He just shrugged his shoulders. "It doesn't matter, she's still gone," he said quietly, his eyes filling with tears again. "Nothing matters, anymore." He stood suddenly and walked a few paces away. "What am I supposed to do now? She was my world."

Devon found tears stinging her eyes as well when she heard the pain in his voice. "You go on, Danziger."

He let out a short laugh, tears still flowing down his face. "That's a lousy answer, Adair. How am I supposed to go on?"

Devon walked over and placed a hand on his arm. "You just do. Look, I know I can't understand exactly what you're feeling now, but I've imagined it enough times that I think I have a pretty good idea. You're not alone in this, John. We'll all help you through it," Devon said, and then smiled slightly. "Besides, I think I'm going to need you if we're going to make it to New Pacifica."

"Yeah, like you need me contradicting your every decision," he said, trying to return her smile and failing. "Thanks, Adair," he said sincerely.

"Anytime, John," Devon replied. "I mean that." They stood there for a few more minutes. "Why don't we head back to camp?"

Danziger agreed and they headed back to camp. Most everyone was asleep when they got there, and John went right to his own tent after arriving, not saying anything to anyone, or even looking at anyone. Alonzo approached Devon after Danziger disappeared. "Will he be alright, Devon?" he asked.

Devon looked at the pilot. "I hope so," she said.

Over the next few days, everyone noticed the change in Danziger's disposition. He rarely spoke more than a few words at a time to anyone, and when he did enter into conversation, it was usually with Devon or Uly, and on occasion, Alonzo. He slept less and less until it seemed as if he didn't sleep at all. He buried himself in the vehicle's maintenance. The Transrover was in better shape now than ever because of Danziger's constant tinkering.

Then they found the body.

Baines and Walman found the pod with Alex Wentworth and Les Firestein in it soon afterwards. From their warning, it was decided that Baines and Walman should stay in quarantine until Julia knew what they were dealing with. Zero brought supplies of gear sets and soon, Les, Alex, Devon, and Danziger were conferencing on gear. Alex and Les explained the events leading up to the onslaught of the disease as best they could, and then Alex was hit by a sudden memory.

"John, you remember that time? It was True's fourth birthday, and all she wanted was a stuffed kitty, remember? We must have searched ever nook and cranny in Jupiter Station until Les finally found that woman who gave us that little brown one. True was so happy. Remember?" she asked, and then she cried out in pain.

Danziger's mind didn't register her cry of pain, though. He ripped off his gear and then walked off with tears in his eyes. Devon watched him go and almost missed Les' explanation of what the virus did to them. He must have sensed something was up then, because his next question was, "What's wrong?"

Devon bit her lip. "True . . . died," she said quietly.

"What?" Les whispered, horrified.

"How?" Alex asked.

Devon told them about Gaal, the Terrians, her son, and how it had all gone horribly wrong that day.

Alex had tears in her eyes. //Not True, not his little girl,// she thought. "Is he going to be okay?" she asked, now understanding Danziger's subdued attitude during the entire conversation.

"I don't know," Devon admitted. "He's . . . existing. That's all anyone can say right now."

"Can you get him to talk to us?" Les asked.

"Maybe," Devon said. "I'll try. And our doctor will find a cure for this thing."

"Just get Danziger to call us on gear," Alex said. Devon nodded her agreement again and they broke the connection.

-------------------

Danziger stared at the gear in his hands and then sighed. There was no getting out of this. He activated it and called his two friends dying in the escape pod. "Alex, Les," he said in response to their greeting.

Les and Alex shared a glance. Danziger's voice was practically devoid of feeling. Alex listened as Les prodded the story of what happened out of Danziger. She was surprised by the lack of emotion in his voice. It was as if he was trying to cut himself off from his feelings. The façade slipped, though, when he finished his story. "I should have left her on the stations, it's my fault." Alex could hear the guilt and tears in this sentence.

"Danziger, if you had left her, she would have been gone to you just the same," Alex pointed out.

"Yeah, well, I would prefer knowing she was alive back on the stations than having her gone from me forever here!" he yelled back.

"Danziger, look, you got through this when Ellie died, and you can get through it again," Les said.

"Are you kidding?" John said angrily. "This is a hundred times worse than losing Ellie. True was my daughter," he said. "You don't understand, there is no point to anything anymore."

He abruptly cut off the gear channel and left Alex and Les feeling frustrated and worried. Alex was so worried she called Devon Adair right away, even though it was the middle of the night. Devon got up and found Danziger sitting at the edge of camp. She breathed a sigh of relief. Alex had made it sound like Danziger was about to do something drastic, but he was just sitting, lost in his thoughts, staring at the stars.

"You nearly gave your friends a heart attack, you know," she said by way of greeting.

"I just didn't want to talk to them anymore," Danziger replied.

"Didn't want to talk to them or didn't want to talk about True?" Devon asked.

Danziger's face darkened slightly. "Both."

Devon sighed. What, was he going to try and hide forever? She was tired of this. "Tell me about her," she said.

"What?" Danziger asked, confused.

"Tell me about True, I want to know about her."

"You're joking," Danziger said, disbelief etched on his face.

"No, I'm not," Devon said firmly. "I want to know what she was like. What her favorite color was, what friends she had, what her favorite food was. Start talking."

Danziger glared at her. "Give me a break, Adair," he said and tried to walk away, but she put herself right in his path.

"Oh no you don't," Devon said. "You are going to have to face this sooner or later, and I'd much rather it be sooner."

He walked in the other direction and she followed him. "Come on, when's her birthday? Did she hate school on the stations, too? I'm not going to leave you alone until you start talking Danziger." He turned to glare at her. "And if you think you're going to get out of this by being stubborn, think again," she said. "I'm ten times as stubborn as you."

He glared at her and tried to walk away from her again. She stopped him, of course. "Talk," she ordered, glaring back at him. Then her expression softened. "Come on, John. What was her favorite outfit? Her favorite game? I already know she likes cats."

Alex's earlier remembrance about True's 4th birthday came to mind. He could still see the way her face lit up when she opened her gift and saw the stuffed kitten. She loved that thing. John turned away and squeezed his eyes shut, trying to keep the memories away like he had been doing ever since True died, but it was no use. They were all coming in a flood, birthdays, her first words, everything. He started talking and he didn't even realize it. He started telling Devon about all those moments that only other parents can really appreciate. John talked and talked, remembering all the moments that he would never have again. Devon just sat and listened, smiling at times, and commenting at others.

Much later, when he had finally stopped talking, John was surprised. Talking about True, remembering her, didn't hurt as much as he thought it would. It even almost helped to lessen the emptiness he felt inside.

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Danziger glared at the Dunerail. Damn that Grendler anyway. He sighed, this would have been just the sort of project True would have helped him with. John blinked away the tears stinging his eyes and focused on the Dunerail again. "Danziger, how's it coming?" He heard Devon's voice and raised his head to glare at her.

"Oh, that's how it's going," she said, reading the expression on his face. "I'll just let you get back to it, then." Devon made a hasty retreat.

John continued glaring until another person saw fit to interrupt his work. "Mr. Danziger?"

John looked up to see Uly standing there. "Hey, Uly."

"What did the Grendler do to the Dunerail?" the small boy asked.

"It broke the solar panel," Danziger replied, sliding under the vehicle.

"How are you fixing it?" Uly asked.

Danziger froze under the vehicle. This reminded him of True, always asking him questions about what he was working on . . . Slowly John pulled out from under the vehicle and looked at Uly's curious face. "You want to learn?" he asked.

"Yeah, I mean, if you'll teach me," Uly looked hopefully at the older man.

Danziger smiled slightly. "Sure I will, Uly. Why don't you hand me the number 8 wrench?" Uly looked at the box of tools for a long moment and then picked one out.

"This one?" he asked tentatively.

"Yeah, that's the right one, Uly," John said. The boy's whole face lit up and John's stomach tied itself in knots. This scenario was so familiar, but it was different. Uly's face was the one that lit up in pride, not his True-girl's. Her face would never light up like that again. John swallowed hard and focused on the task at hand.

-------------------

Alonzo sat on the cliff in his dreams, finally at peace with his role and his life here on this planet. He sensed the Terrian behind him and said, "It's okay, pal. I'm not going anywhere." The Terrian trilled, he was glad about that. Then the Terrian trilled again and Alonzo did a double take. "What?!" he yelled, jumping up from his sitting position. "What do you mean, 'the girl will be returned today'?!!"

The Terrian cocked his head, not understanding Alonzo's strong emotions. He trilled again.

"You healed her? How can you heal a broken neck?" Alonzo asked incredulously. The Terrian just looked at him quizzically. "Stupid question," he answered himself. "If they can heal the Syndrome, a broken neck should be a piece of cake." Alonzo was having a very hard time believing what this Terrian was telling him. "Why didn't you tell me this before?" he asked, and then answered himself again. "Never mind, I was preoccupied with other things, I remember." Alonzo shook his head in disbelief. "Why can't you heal my leg, then?" The Terrian trilled. "I'm not trusting enough." Alonzo thought for a moment, kids did seem to have the instinctive ability to trust a lot easier than adults do. "Well, that could do it." Alonzo sat down again. This was too much, True was alive? //Danziger's going to be thrilled,// he thought happily. //Everyone is.// He addressed the Terrian again. "Thank you," he said. Then Alonzo woke up with a wide grin on his face.

He hurried out of his tent and yelled, "Danziger!"

Danziger, walking across the camp, heard his name and his first thought was – what happened to True. Then he remembered painfully that he didn't have to worry about her anymore. He stopped and waited for Alonzo to tell him what was so exciting.

"Danziger, she's fine, they're bringing her back," Alonzo said breathlessly.

"What are you talking about, Solace?" John asked, confused.

"True, she's alive, the Terrians healed her, they're bringing her back today," Alonzo explained in a rush.

John turned whiter than white. "She's alive?" he whispered. Alonzo nodded. "She's alive?" he repeated shakily, his mind trying to grasp this new and unexpected miracle.

Devon walked out of her tent and saw Alonzo smiling widely and John looking like he had just seen a ghost. Going over there immediately, she asked, "What's going on?"

"True's alive," Alonzo said.

"What?" Devon exclaimed, loud enough to draw the rest of camp around them. Alonzo explained the whole thing as the Terrian had told him in his dream. He apologized to Danziger for not catching this sooner. Danziger just looked at him in shock. Devon was afraid he was going to faint. She steered him towards a crate and sat him down.

"John, are you okay?" she asked worriedly while Yale and Alonzo thankfully led everyone else away.

"She's alive," he said shakily. He couldn't seem to get past that point.

"Yes, she is," Devon said, trusting Alonzo's dream.

"Oh thank God," John sobbed in relief. His baby was coming back to him. He didn't know how, or why, but she was coming back. After a time, the flow of tears stopped and John waited impatiently for the Terrians to bring his daughter back to him. Then the waiting was over. A Terrian appeared with True and Danziger stood shakily. His daughter stood there for a moment, overcoming her disorientation, and then she caught sight of him and her face lit up. He hugged his daughter and she hugged him back, and even though he promised himself he wouldn't cry in front of her, John felt tears flowing down his cheeks.

"I love you Daddy," True said, her voice muffled against her father's shoulder.

"I love you, True-girl," he said, and his world began again.

// John Danziger //
I thought my daughter was dead, and I went through hell. But I was wrong. Alonzo met with the Terrians again and got a better explanation of what happened, but I didn't care. By some miracle True was returned to me, that's all I care about. Thanks to the Terrians, I have my little girl back in my life.