It was still the early morning hours when Devon awoke from a tranquil slumber, feeling more energized than she had in years. She enthusiastically turned over to face Danziger and noticed that he had kicked off most of the covers on his side of the bed, leaving him more or less exposed to the elements.
After first taking a long pause to closely observe his features, Devon finally whispered, "John, are you awake?"
When Danziger's answer was a succession of raspy snores, Devon carefully reached over him to gather the displaced blankets and attentively recovered him to keep him from catching cold. She smiled at how completely at peace he looked, despite the guttural grunts and snorts emanating from him every few seconds. Devon nestled against him and buried her face in his chest and was rewarded with John sleepily draping his arms and legs over her to edge her even closer to him.
As she enjoyed the warm sensation of Danziger's body pressed against hers, her skin tingled and her heart increased its beat as she recalled the recent memories which were still fresh in her mind. Indeed, the last few hours had been among the happiest of her life. She'd had lovers before, but this was much different.
There had been a tenderness to John's touch; a gentle, desperate quality to his voice as he'd whispered her name; an unspoken yet almost unquenchable need for him to give her pleasure that had been completely unexpected on her part. The intensity of their lovemaking was almost overwhelming to her. She had never experienced anything like it. Not with Shepard. And not even with Uly's father.
Devon stretched her neck upward and lightly kissed John's cheek before gingerly disentangling her limbs from his and sliding out of bed. She picked up the clothing which had been eagerly tossed to the floor the prior evening and laid the items across a nearby chair. She tiptoed to the closet, cringing as the wooden floorboards creaked with each step. After hastily dressing, she slipped her feet into the nearest pair of shoes and crept toward the door. She ever-so-gently eased back the lock and turned once more to check on John and was relieved to confirm that he was still in the grips of a deep sleep. She smiled affectionately at his slumbering frame and a large part of her wished that she could rejoin him in bed. But she understood that this wasn't possible. After all, there was much to be done.
The orange and lavender hues of the sun were barely visible beyond distant eastern mountains as True and Uly, their overnight bags slung over their shoulders, traipsed up the walkway to their house, anxious to find out what had transpired between their parents. The night before, they had peeked out of Yale's window to witness Devon arrive at their cottage. Over the course of the evening, with great anticipation, the two children had carefully watched and listened for any signs of trouble. Yet, to their bewilderment, as far as they could tell, there was no activity whatsoever in the house. No one had angrily stormed out. There had been no yelling nor was there the sound of furniture being smashed or cookware being tossed. Devon and John had never even bothered to turn any of the lights on.
It was only after several long hours of staring in confusion at their darkened house, and after Uly had openly accused her father of chickening out, that True had gladly accepted a dare to clear her Dad's good name. As True had entered the house and slinked up the stairs, even she had to admit that things did seem to be too peaceful. For a few fleeting moments, True wondered if Uly was correct and her father had indeed lost his nerve and had decided not to confront Devon about what he'd learned earlier that day.
Moreover, when she'd reached the bedrooms, she was a bit puzzled to find the door to her Dad's room left wide open and his bed empty. Conversely, the door to Devon's room was tightly shut. But True's worries were completely alleviated after she had placed her ear directly against Devon's door to see if she could detect anything to clue her in as to what was going on. She was thrilled to be rewarded with hearing the voices of both Devon and her father. Although she was unable to decipher the specifics of their conversation (she rationalized that the thick, wooden door had undoubtedly muffled the words beyond any distinction), she could easily tell that the pair seemed to be getting along just fine. They were probably talking everything out, True smiled to herself, overjoyed as she tiptoed back down the staircase and out the front door.
True and Uly had barely gotten a wink of sleep, staying up almost the entire night excitedly speculating about what sort of changes might be in store for their parents. The children's eyes had only just flickered shut when Yale awoke them to let them know that Devon had contacted him on gear and had requested that the two return home as soon as they could.
As they entered the house, the clinking sound of plates and the mouthwatering scent of food drew the young pair into the kitchen.
Upon hearing them enter, Devon turned and welcomed them with a cheerful smile. "Good morning," she said brightly as she set two more dishes on the counter.
True and Uly returned her grin, although theirs was a bit more reserved. "Good morning," they said in unison after giving each other a quick glance.
Something was definitely different. For one thing, since Danziger had been returned to them, he was usually the one to get them breakfast and to make sure that they were off to school on time. Devon was almost always either already gone or, at the very least, rushing out the door at this point in the morning. Of course, the children had fully understood that much of the reason for Devon's haste was because she was trying to refrain from spending too much time in John's company. But she didn't seem to be in much of a hurry at all today.
They also noted that Devon's hair hung loosely about her face and her clothes were a bit on the creased side. In fact, her shoes didn't even match her outfit. Stranger still, the gearset which was almost always an integral part of Devon's ensemble was nowhere to be found. Their eyes searched the surroundings until they located the equipment set off to the side, strewn across the top of her briefcase. And to their great surprise and delight, the children also noticed that right next to it was the cloth pouch which contained the VR chip of John, one of Devon's most treasured possessions. They hoped that this was a good sign that she no longer had any need for it.
Devon seemed to be oblivious to True and Uly's observations and, instead, her gaze focused in on their overnight bags. "Why don't you put those back in your rooms," she suggested. As the kids nodded their acceptance, she added, "But try to be as quiet as possible, okay?"
Devon's eyes fell on True. "Your father's still asleep," she clarified, desperately trying to hide the elated expression that crept across her face.
The pair flashed another curious look toward each other before they went upstairs to do as they had been instructed. However, they ground to an immediate halt when they reached their parent's bedrooms and could only stare wide-eyed at Devon's still-closed door. Additionally, True realized that her father's door was exactly in the same state of ajar as it had been the prior evening and his bed appeared to have not been slept in at all. And there was only one place that her Dad could be, True excitedly deduced. Obviously, the two had stayed up so late talking that he had accidentally fallen asleep in Devon's bedroom. This was good news, indeed!
Just as she turned to share this newest revelation with Uly, there was a sudden rustling noise followed quickly by the muffled clamor of footsteps coming from Devon's room. This immediately set the children in motion and they scrambled the short distance to their respective rooms and roughly dropped their bags onto the floor before hightailing it back downstairs.
As they rejoined Devon in the kitchen, all three of them involuntarily paused at the sound of the opening of an upstairs door and a few subsequent footsteps, presumably Danziger leaving Devon's room and going back across the hall into his own. True and Uly noisily plopped into their chairs at the breakfast table and continued to trade glances as they began to eat the food which Devon had set out for them during their brief absence. At the same time, Devon took a noticeable breath before attempting to concentrate her energies on arranging a fourth place setting for John and then filling four glasses to the brim with a nearby pitcher of juice. She then eased into her seat across from the children and began to eat her meal at a leisurely pace.
After many moments of silence, Uly felt it necessary to ask, "Aren't you gonna be late, Mom?"
"As a matter of fact, no," Devon answered pleasantly as she swallowed a bite of food. "I'm not going to work today."
Both children froze in place. "What?" they exclaimed, their mouths agape.
Devon was unfazed by their shocked reactions. "I've decided to take the day off," she explained in a nonchalant tone as if this was completely normal behavior on her part. Of course, the truth was that everyone in the room, not to mention everyone in the entire colony, knew that Devon never missed a day at the office.
"I've rescheduled most of my appointments and Morgan has agreed to handle the rest."
The sounds of Danziger lumbering down the stairs caused Devon to straighten up in her chair and her pulse to quicken its beat as she added, "And I've already called your teachers to let them know that you won't be in school today."
"Are you serious?" True blurted out in disbelief.
Just as the words left her mouth, her father appeared in the doorway wearing a guarded expression. Despite how well things had gone with Devon the previous evening, John still wasn't all that sure about what to expect this morning. It was second nature for him to always be waiting for the other shoe to drop. And his fears weren't exactly being allayed by the stunned faces of the children whose jaws were practically on the table.
"What's goin' on?" he asked cautiously, trying to examine Devon's features and failing because she was seated with her back to him.
"Mom's ditching work and we're skipping school!" Uly declared, his voice half awe and half excitement.
Danziger's eyes narrowed in confusion. "Excuse me?"
Devon looked over her shoulder in John's direction. Although the mechanic could see very little of her face due to the angle at which she was sitting, he was relieved that she appeared to be smiling.
"Actually, I thought that all of us could play hooky today," she announced.
Her gaze diverted briefly to the nearest window before returning to Danziger. "I mean, it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day. We could have a picnic or maybe we could go for a walk on the beach. Or we can just spend it sitting around the house."
She strained her neck even further in order to get a better view of John. It was important that she see his reaction.
"It doesn't really matter what we do or where we go," she expressed in a serious, heartfelt tone. "As long as we get to spend the day together as a family."
As that last, extremely important word lingered in the air for several seconds, John suddenly felt as though he'd forgotten how to breathe and it took him a few moments before he was able to regain the ability to exhale. Once that task was accomplished, he concentrated his efforts on something slightly more complicated like putting one foot in front of the other.
The couple never took their eyes off of each other as he closed the gap between them and took a place standing directly behind her. Devon slowly leaned her body backward to comfortably rest against the part of Danziger's stomach and chest that wasn't blocked by the back of her chair.
She briefly broke eye-contact and turned to glance at the now-elated children before arching her head back to remeet Danziger's intense gaze.
"What do you think, John?"
Danziger's face hovered just a few inches over hers and he stared at her in silence for several moments. At last, the corners of his mouth began to ease upward and it wasn't long before he was sporting an ear-to-ear grin. He lifted his arms to her sides and began to lovingly caress her shoulders.
"Best idea I've heard all mornin'," he beamed.
As he continued to look into her brilliant sapphire eyes, Danziger knew exactly what he had to do in order for his relationship with Devon to work... or what not to do, as the case may be. He would have to somehow manage to exist under the colony's collective radar. He couldn't make any waves or risk butting heads with any of the perceived upper class. Likewise, he'd try to stay in the background and never attempt to take on any responsibilities or appear to have any influence regarding how New Pacifica was run. By all intents and purposes, John would remain a Drone, a nameless face of no consequence. From the colonists' point of view, the only reason that he and Devon were continuing to live under the same roof was because Devon had developed a motherly affection for True. He would dutifully play this role to the best of his ability and, with any luck, the colonists would permit him to live in peace. And if the Blue-bloods still had a problem with him even after all of the concessions that he and Devon had made, as far as Danziger was concerned, they could all go straight to Hell.
As long as he and Devon kept their cards close to their vests and didn't reveal the truth, they could have a life together. He would finally have the family that he'd always wanted. It was almost too much for John to hope for. Almost.
At the very same time, Devon sighed contentedly as she enjoyed the sensation of Danziger's hands affectionately rubbing her shoulders and upper arms. For the first time since she'd been released from cold-sleep over two and a half years before, she truly felt alive.
Unbeknownst to either of them, Devon's head was filled with similar thoughts to the ones which Danziger was currently working out in his mind. Things were going to be different now. Devon knew from the moment that she had returned John's kiss that she could never- would never- go back to the way their relationship was before. And she was determined never to lose him again.
But being with John would require a delicate, prudent touch on both of their parts. Although they could be honest about their feelings for one another whenever they were alone or among the members of Eden Advance, they could never be so careless as to flaunt their newfound status in front of the colonists. Devon could never enter into a marriage contract with him, nor could they ever take the risk of having additional children. However, that was a small price to pay. Besides, they already had two terrific kids and that was more than enough for the both of them.
There would always be difficulties and speculation regarding her close association with John. Some colonists would assume that the Danziger family was yet another philanthropic cause that Devon had hitched her wagon to; one more example of her seemingly insatiable need to fraternize with "The Great Unwashed." Others would surmise that she had kept John around to serve as her concubine; a private indulgence afforded to society's wealthiest and most powerful members. And there would always be a few who believed that Danziger's presence in Devon's life had become so important to her that it had amounted to an obsession on her part. In fact, there were those such as Oscar Taggert who would remain convinced that John had become so vital to Devon that she had literally killed for him.
The salacious gossip would never cease completely. It would be the elephant in the room which no one dared address in their presence, but would be whispered about at length whenever they were out of earshot. But she didn't care about what was said behind their backs, as long as John wasn't turned into a scapegoat for any of Devon's supposed mishandling of New Pacifica's daily operations. In fact, Danziger would be kept out of all of the colony's politics and she would continue to do whatever it took to shield Danziger from the fray. That is, she would do anything except give him up. That was simply no longer an option in her mind.
They would keep moving forward. She would put her trust in John and in the other members of Eden Advance. But more importantly, she would learn to trust her own instincts again. She'd have faith in the Terrians, in the newly healed Syndrome children and in the future of G889. And she would have renewed faith in humanity.
Devon understood that life in New Pacifica would not be perfect, but she would do everything within her power to keep all of the promises which she'd made over the years, both to herself and to others. She would work tirelessly to ensure that there was a peaceful coexistence between the Terrians and the planet's newer inhabitants. And, at the same time, Devon would finally allow herself the privilege of being truly happy. She deserved it.
All she could do was give her very best. She hoped that it would be enough.
Only time would tell.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my offering as to why there was no Danziger in the episode "The Boy Who Would Be Terrian King" which had included a Future Devon, Uly and True. In fact, the lack of Danziger's presence has always bothered me, so I wanted to write something that would explain his conspicuous absence. In the episode, Adult Uly had informed Devon that she was visiting one of several possible futures of G889. So within the context of my story, it could be argued that Devon's visions of Adult Uly in peril were from the ORIGINAL timeline in which John had died before her resurrection and the colonization of G889 had eventually failed. But now that the future had been changed for the better, things could be different. Basically, what it comes down to is that I'm a diehard D&Der and I wanted to write a brighter possible future for my favorite couple. I feel better now.