Start of Something Good
Julia was disrupted from her work analyzing same plant samples by an argument between Uly and True. Leaving the med. tent, she came upon the two children fighting over a VR set. The day was gray and overcast, although it was not as cold as it had been.
"Give it back, it's my turn" wailed Uly.
"No, it's not! You just had a turn. It's my turn", True countered.
"Whoa, will you two stop arguing, I can barely hear myself think."
"No buts, Uly. Stop this fighting right now! One more word out of either of you and I am taking the VR away."
Instantly the children complied.
As she turned to head back to the med. tent, she spotted Baines and Walman arguing right near the tent. With a frustrated sigh, she turned around and decided to head into the dome to have a cup of coffee. She joined Cameron, Gomez and Eben, who were headed in the same direction.
Upon entering the dome, they encountered Devon and Danziger in the middle of an argument.
"The trouble with you Adair, is that you think you're right and I know you're wrong".
Before Devon could comment, Julia interjected. "You're setting a bad example for the kids. They see you two arguing and follow your example. They are constantly bickering."
Devon sighed and thought to herself /Well, we tried not to argue, at least not in public /
Danziger replied to Julia. "Come on Julia, they're our kids. They don't need to see us arguing to be argumentative. It's in their genetic make-up!"
This caused all adults to snicker. "You could be right, John" conceded Julia.
Danziger remembered his pact with Devon, but wasn't ready to let the subject that they had been 'discussing' be dropped. Turning to Devon he asked quietly, "So Dev, do you want to take a walk and continue our discussion?"
Realizing that unless they settled this, it would only simmer, she agreed. "OK, let me just get my gloves and let Uly know that I am going for a walk".
The two met up and headed out of camp. Every time that they thought that they had gone far enough from camp to continue their discussion, they ran into someone from the group. Bess and Morgan looking for some privacy. Magus relaxing on a rock. Mazatl searching for food. They continued for some distance before Danziger asked, "Do you think that we've come far enough?"
"Yes, I think we've encountered everyone except for Alonzo and Yale already. I know that you think that we should send long range scouts out to find a path but I think that it is too soon. The weather is so unpredictable. We don't want someone to get lost or stranded." Devon did not mention the disastrous trip to cargo pod 9. She knew that Danziger was still bothered by what happened with the Grendler but she also believed that John was not acting normally due to lack of food when he acted.
"Come on Adair. It's getting warmer every day. New Pacifica is not getting any closer. Besides, everyone is jumping down each other's throat. The other day, Cameron actually looked ready to take a swing at Walman".
This concerned Devon, Cameron was easy going and she knew that if he was starting to get anxious, it was not a good sign.
Danziger continued in a same what subdued voice "I know that you're worried that what happened with the pod will happen again but we've, I've learned my lesson. We won't go that far again."
"John, stop beating yourself up over this. No one blames you, any of you, for what you did. For what happened."
"Some do. I do. But that's not the subject at hand. The only reason I brought it up was because I didn't want you to let my mistake with the pod color your decision about scout trips."
"John, I think it is to soon. I am not going to agree to the scout just to prove that I am not afraid of a repeat of what happened with the pod."
"I'm not asking you to agree just to prove something. I'm asking you to agree so that we can find a path away from here. Devon, I'm not sure how much longer we can stay here before there is a major blow up. Come on, you and I have been trying to keep our arguments private but it's not working. We're frustrated. Everyone is frustrated."
"John, I'm not sure if sending scouts will solve any of the frustration we're experiencing."
"I think it will. Everyone will assume that we will be moving on soon. Everyone is bored, they want to continue your quest."
Devon thought about it for a moment. "No, it's too risky. The weather is still too unpredictable".
Just to prove her right, the skies that had been gray and overcast, suddenly opened into a deluge of rain. Within seconds the two were soaked. Grabbing Devon, Danziger started hurrying back to camp. Devon slipped and Danziger caught her before she fell. Over his shoulder, Devon noticed a small opening in the hill's wall.
"Wait, I think that there is a cave over there. Maybe we can sit out the storm." Turning they headed towards the cave. "Do you think that we'll fit?"
"Yeah, the opening is big enough". Upon entering, the cave opened up so that they could stand. At first it did not appear to be that deep. But to the left, there was a short tunnel that lead to a comfortable size area that was protected from the wind and rain. Various sized branches and leaves had blown into the cave so that they were able to start a fire. Realizing how wet he was, Danziger started to strip out of this jacket, outer shirt, boots and socks. He set these items out to dry. Devon had also taken off her jacket, boots and socks, but left on the rest of her clothes which were soaked.
Devon tried to raise camp on her gear but was unsuccessful until she entered the outer cavern. After notifying camp of their predicament and speaking with their children, they headed back into the relative warmth of the inner cavern. Devon, sitting close to the fire, started to shiver. Noticing the shiver, Danziger realized how wet Devon was. "Here why don't you take my shirt?" He started to peel the long sleeve thermal shirt off.
"No, I'm fine" Devon returned.
"Ya sure? Julia will kill us if you get pneumonia. "
"I fine, really. Besides, I've seen you when you're sick. You're not a good patient. Definitely don't want you to get a chill."
Grimacing her way, "Well, all right, but you know if you get sick, I going to tell everyone I told you so", he left his shirt on.
"I'm willing to take that risk."
After sitting in silence for a short time, Danziger went to the outer cavern and saw that it was still raining heavily. "Too bad we didn't have a pack of cards. We could kill some time playing poker."
"I don't know how to play poker", Devon said through chattering teeth.
"No, I don't know any cards games", she stated between shivers.
"Really, then we could have played strip poker." At Devon's alarmed look, he continued, "It's one way to get you out of those wet clothes before you get yourself sick and we have to haul your sorry ass half way cross this continent to New Pacifica". He shot her a stern look.
Trembling from the cold, Devon conceded "Alright, if it will shut you up, I will take you up on your offer of your shirt."
Danziger immediately stripped out of the garment, handed it to Devon and went into the outer cavern. Devon stripped out of her wet shirt and pulled John's shirt on. She hated to admit it, but she felt warmer already. Realizing that the shirt reached almost to her knees, Devon removed her pants as well. After setting her clothes to dry and confirming that she was adequately covered, she took a seat near the fire and let John know she was all set.
John returned, glanced quickly at Devon and sat as far from her as possible. Once again, silence reigned. Glancing briefly at Danziger, Devon started to feel awkward. She hadn't feel awkward around anyone since she was a teen. But then again, she had never been in a position like the one she was in now. Those fleeting thoughts about how attractive Danziger was for once refused to be pushed away. John was not exactly handsome but looking at his classic profile in the firelight, it was impossible to deny that he was attractive. The fact that he was without his shirt and she was able to admire how strong his muscles were only solidified the attraction. Devon was very aware that she was only wearing his shirt and her underwear. She searched her mind for something to talk about so that she could focus on something other then how good he looked when Danziger spoke.
"So how the hell did you manage to avoid learning how to play poker?"
"It wasn't taught, nor were card games encouraged at my school. I suppose that card playing was common at your school?"
"Never went to school. I have no formal education other then what I learned while I was in the army. That's not to say that I was never taught anything, just that it was informal. I know the basics and as I got older I was able to read up on stuff that interested me on my own. "
"Wow, I'm surprised. I just always assumed that you had some education besides your mechanical training. So what are some of the things that you used to read about"
"Hmm, let me think. It's been awhile since I was able to read anything just for the hell of it. Once you have a kid, there isn't a whole lot of free time." Devon nodded an agreement and Danziger continued. "Well, history used to interest me, not all of it but some of it. I also like to read about man's battle against the elements. To be honest until we got to this planet, I never realized how much an underdog that man was. I read about what was happening on earth when my grandparents decided to head to the stations, and saddle my kid and me with paying for their passage. Ya know, stuff like that. Surprised?"
"A little. So if you didn't go to school, what did you do with all your free time?"
"Worked. Ya know Devon; kids work in the quadrant. As soon as they are able they're expected to help out. Nothing to strenuous, things like polish things, pick up stuff, sort through stuff. I raised True pretty much the same way. Childcare is very expensive, and adds to your debt. So once a kid is old enough, you take them with you. In cases where there is two parents, they sometimes work separate shifts so that the kid doesn't grow up on a job site but that has its draw backs as well."
"Wow, I never realized that children had to work at such a young age. I guess I never realized how difficult it was for you to be a single parent."
"Come on Adair, all single parents have it rough. Sure, I had to worry about paying the bills, making sure I could afford food, especially formula, playing roulette with medical treatments but I was lucky. True was/is a healthy child. All your money and power and you still had rough. That's not a dig at you. I much rather have gone through what I went through then have your money and have a sick kid. Hell, I worried about True enough." After pausing a moment "So when did Uly's father leave? After he was diagnosed with Syndrome?"
"No, it was over before that. I didn't love him. He was an acquaintance, we moved in the same circles. After my father passed away, I was lonely. After we broke up, I discovered I was pregnant. At first I was scared, but then I realized that this was my chance to have a family. So I had Uly and I have never regretted it. Shocked?"
"No, but how did you know that you would love Uly?"
"I don't know, maybe I just needed to love somebody. But once he was born, I don't know, I was overwhelmed at how much I loved him. I hadn't realized just how strong the tie would be."
"Yeah, I can relate to that."
"How did you know that you would love True?"
"She was part of Ellie. Before she was born, just having a piece of Ellie made everything worth while. Once she was born that overwhelming feeling you were just talking about kicked in and I loved True for who she was. I have to admit though, all her great qualities, with the exception of her mechanical abilities; she inherited from her mother. She has her mother's spark, her intelligence, looks more like her too. Mechanically, she takes after me. Ellie was an good mechanic but I'm better."
"So where did True get her stubbornness. We established earlier that she gets her argumentative nature from you."
"Actually, she gets her stubbornness and her argumentative nature from both of us. The kid was doomed in that respect. I don't think that Ellie and I argued as much as you and I but we had our share. So does Uly know his father?"
"Not really. His father wasn't really interested in knowing him once he realized that impregnating me did not gain him control of Adair Industries." Devon paused and went on "You see, he never was interested in me. He just wanted access and eventual control of my company. He slept with me hoping I would get pregnant. When he found out I was pregnant, he assumed we would get married and I would turn over everything to him. He was a little surprised when I refused to marry him. So he left and avoided contact with Uly. "
"Come on Dev, you know you're not unattractive. I'm sure he slept with you for other reasons then that he wanted your company. I'm not saying the guy loved you or anything but he probably didn't have to forced himself to be with you"
With a laugh, Devon responded "Thanks, I think. I'm not saying it was an unpleasant experience for him. But my whole life, it seems that people have wanted to be around me because they wanted something. That is until we came here. I think that we all have a common goal here. Actually, two goals, first survival, second set up the colony"
"Yeah, we all want more or less the same thing. Are you suspicious of all your lovers? I mean Uly's father wasn't the only guy you were with."
"Why are we having this conversation."
"It's killing time. But seriously Devon, you don't think that men would only sleep with you because of what you could do for their careers, bank balance, status, I don't know what."
"No, I guess not."
"So, I take it for never went into a bar and just picked up someone or let them pick you up. They always knew who you were."
"I'm not in the habit of frequenting bars. And I am not sure someone would have tried to pick me up"
"Sure someone would. I probably would have tried."
"Thanks Danziger but I don't need your pity. My sex life is not a pitiful as it may have sounded. I sleep with men for my reasons; they sleep with me for theirs. No one got hurt."
"I'm glad to hear it. But I wasn't pitying you. I meant it. I'm not guaranteeing it but I probably would have tried. Not saying I would have succeeded but I would have tried. You know, not to brag, but I did all right with the women. I'm sure not as good as Alonzo but good enough that I would have had the confidence to try something on a woman like you."
"A woman like me. What is that suppose to mean"
"You know, outside of my normal encounters. Most of the women I knew where drones like me or inherited debt free and barely making it. "
"Uh-huh. Would you have tried making a pass if you knew my name?"
"Depends. Am I already on your project? Wouldn't want to screw up a good job. Who are the other women in the bar? How cocky am I feeling? How stressed am I? Sex is a great stress reliever. Where's True? How much time do I have? See it's hard to say. Maybe."
"Wow, I didn't realize how complicated it was. I just thought you throw out some standard line". Now would be the time to stop flirting with him, Devon thought to herself.
"You obviously know nothing about picking someone up. There is no such thing as a standard line. You have to analyze the situation, consider past success and failures. Move fast before the some other guy beats you to the punch."
"Uh-huh. Are you sure you don't have a degree or something?"
"Think it's easy. There is a art to picking someone up that should not be minimized."
"I wouldn't think to minimize it."
"Turn around. I show you how the approach can make or break you." OK, not the best idea, Danziger thought to himself.
"Just do it" Figuring it couldn't hurt, Devon turned around. Danziger is surprised but decides to continue. In this most obnoxious stagger, he said "Hey doll you lookin' for a good time". Despite herself, Devon laughs.
"See, that approach, obviously was not analyzed, and hence will not work. Now, you're a classy lady. A classier approach is needed." Danziger cautiously moves towards Devon. In a concern voice, Danziger asks "Ms., are you okay? You seem a little tense".
"Am I suppose to play along here." Don't let things get out of hand, she admonished herself.
"You can ignore me if you want. That is not an unrealistic response". Slowly Danziger moves his hands to Devon shoulder and gently begins to give her a massage.
At first Devon tensed but could not ignore just how wonderful Danziger's hands felt on her shoulder.
"Boy I was right you are tense. You need to relax some. Maybe I can help"
"I can see that this approach was probably more successful then your first attempt. But you really wouldn't do that to a complete stranger." Devon hoped that her voice sounded normal.
Danziger continued his massage. "Well, I'm a lot more likely to try the second approach then the first. You'd both have to be pretty drunk before that first line would get you anywhere." He could not believe that Devon hadn't moved away. He also couldn't believe how great it felt to touch Devon even in tame way.
Move away, Devon commanded herself. But somehow another voice was telling her to relax and that voice was the voice she listened to.
"This feels really good."
Danziger's massage grew bolder. Devon still did not move away or protest. Taking a chance, Danziger began to nuzzle her neck. Instead of moving away, Devon turned to face Danziger. The two continued to look at each other, neither spoke, both commanded themselves to move away. Once again, a hidden voice came to the foreground, what harm could one kiss do? Slowly each head moved towards the other. When they were a breath away, they stopped. Cautiously Danziger moved his hand to Devon's face. Leaning forward, he gently touched his lips to hers. Pulling back, he gazed into Devon's eye. Her emotions appeared to reflect his own. With a little more confidence, Danziger once again pressed his lips to Devon's. Suddenly, both were caught up in a wave of emotion. The kisses grew bolder; their hands began to explore one another. Any voice telling them to stop was ignored. Before they realized it, their clothes were gone and their hands and mouths were busy roaming.
Danziger suddenly stopped. Devon groaned, and thought to herself, he can't be stopping now. "Is it safe?" Danziger asked.
"Safe? Is the cave safe?" Devon was confused.
"No, is it a safe time. I'm not on suppressors."
After thinking for a moment. "Yes, it's a safe time."
"So, um, we either stop now or it is gonna be real hard to stop later"
Devon said nothing in reply. She was torn, it was a bad idea for them to become involved but she honestly couldn't bring herself to tell him to stop, it felt good, too good.
Taking her silence as a sign to continue, Danziger brought his mouth down on hers. Soon both were passed any reasonable thought. Their coming together was passionate.
Afterwards they laid spent in each other's arm. "What time is it" Devon suddenly asked. Both were surprised at how much time had passed. With a peek outside, they realized that the rain was beginning to slow down. If they didn't leave now they would be there all night and that might be a little hard to explain. Quickly they began to dress.
"So what do we do now?" Devon asked.
"I don't know. It's not like we can ignore what happened. To be honest, I would like to have it happen again".
"Me too. But what about the rest of the group. Do we tell them? I'm a little concerned with how they'll take it"
"I don't think we should tell them. If they guess or ask, I wouldn't deny it but I don't think we should volunteer anything. I mean, we are still going to argue and I don't want ever disagreement we have to be treated as a lover's quarrel. "
"Agreed". With that, the two headed back to camp. Once there everyone greeted them.
"So why did you two take go so far on your walk?" Alonzo asked
"Well in case you guys haven't realized, Adair and I have been trying to keep our arguments to ourselves. Lately everybody is jumping in on them and we don't want the group to split into two camp. So we walked until we didn't encounter anyone from the group."
"Did anyone notice that they weren't arguing?" Alonzo asked. A chorus of 'nos' rang out.
"So who won the argument?"
"You know we both had our say, the air was cleared, it is not a matter of win or lose" Devon stated.
"So Danz, you won" Walman stated.
"No, I guess Devon won this round. But I have confidence that in the end I will triumph. "
"What do you mean in the end, you'll triumph, the argument is over"
"That's what you think"
"That's what I know". At hearing the snickers, Devon stated "I can't believe this, we are arguing about whether our last argument is over or not."
"Do you think that's why no one realized that we had called a truce?"
"Did you two fight the whole time?" asked Bess.
"No" they said in unison.
Danziger answered "We talked about things. Our kids, my educational background.."
True interrupted "Dad, you don't have an educational background"
"I didn't say it was a long conversation. Oh yeah, I learned a shocking secret about Devon"
That comment peaked interest. Devon knew that Danziger would not tell about anything they had done or anything about Uly's father. She guardedly stated "I'm sure I didn't tell you any secrets, shocking or otherwise"
"You'd be surprised at what you let slip"
"Yeah, let us be the judge of whether it is shocking or not" Baines volunteered.
"Well, Devon doesn't know how to play poker or any other card game for that matter."
Danziger's poker buddies, Walman, Baines and Alonzo, gasped in shock. "What kind of schools did you go to!" Walman demanded.
'It's not that big a deal. " Devon stated.
"Did you teach her?" questioned Baines.
"Didn't have a pack of cards"
"Good Danziger cheats. Hey Devon, next time we play, we'll let you sit in" offered Walman.
"Thanks, but not thanks. I've heard your card games and I just as soon stay clear". She was referring to the often-heated discussions that took place while they were playing poker.
Soon everyone dispersed to get the evening meal ready. Danziger approached Devon, "So what do we do now?"
"Take it one day at a time. " Devon thought to herself, this is the start of something good.