13

Grieving Time

By Joan Powers

A/N This is a reposting of a story originally written in 1995. It is the first story in a series that was nominated for a Koba award for best continuous series. The story continues with "Stepping Stones", followed by "Boundaries" and finally "The Road Not Chosen".

This is my first attempt of any kind to write fan fiction, so forgive my goofs! I wrote this Tuesday after seeing "All about Eve". This is a speculation of what may be taking place with Danziger after the group leaves Devon in cold sleep. I'm very interested in your comments but please be kind! .

Type: Devon/Danziger angst

Summary: As new group leader, Danziger is forced to face unexpected obstacles, including his feelings for Devon.

Timeline: Post "All about Eve"

Rating: K+

(voice of True Danziger)

It had been a long two weeks, but thanks to my Dad we were still okay. After Devon was placed in cold sleep, everyone was very upset and scared. But not my Dad. He immediately took charge.

He gathered the group around and told us that we shouldn't be sad because there was still hope that Devon could be saved. He told us that Devon wanted us to move on to New Pacifica as a group and that he'd promised her he would lead the group and keep it together, as well as take care of her son.

Everyone seemed somewhat comforted by his statements. My Dad is a man of his word. I didn't much like the idea of Uly moving in on my territory, but then again, at least I have one parent, so I guess I can share.

We stayed around the grounded spaceship for several days attempting to retrieve additional information from the ship and its computers, while Julia tried to learn more about Devon's illness. Many were reluctant to leave, feeling we would be abandoning Devon.

I caught Uly visiting her in the ship in the middle of the night, talking to her and telling her he missed her. I was ashamed- it made me cry.

Strangely enough, Dad never once went back to the ship, sending others to collect information instead.

When we broke camp, it was with heavy hearts. But Dad encouraged us all and said that we would be back. That moving on to New Pacifica was what Devon wanted us to do.

Dad is a good leader. I'm so proud of him. But, I'm getting worried. He's not acting the same as usual. It seems the longer we are on the road, the shorter his temper gets. He's been short with me too. We've encountered some problems with the vehicles and Dad says he hasn't been sleeping well, but I think there's more to it than that...

XXXXXXXXX

Base Camp: 7 days after leaving the grounded spaceship.

Once again, they were at a grinding halt and had set up a base camp. This time two of the vehicles weren't functioning properly. While Danziger, Baines, and Walman battled with these problems, Julia utilized the time to study Devon's cell slides for what seemed to be the millionth time. She was examining the slides under her microscope with such intensity; she didn't realize that Alonzo was standing behind her until she felt his breath on her neck. Startled, she jumped up and turned about while Alonzo wrapped his arms around her.

"What are you up to?" he asked with a teasing grin on his face. This faded as he saw Julia's worried expression. "Julia, you're being too hard on yourself. You'll figure out what's wrong with her. You're only human - you can't do everything." He wrapped his arms tightly around her and held her close to him.

She began to sob tears of frustration. "I can't stand it. I wish I could do something." She had spent many nights crying herself to sleep in his arms over this situation. "I feel so helpless," she cried.

"I know, my love" Alonzo reassured her, as he kissed her cheek. Julia was a dedicated physician and it was tearing her apart that she couldn't solve this problem.

While the colonists were faring okay, Eden Advance just wasn't the same without Devon Adair. Alonzo himself had been attempting, without much success, to probe the Dream Plane to determine if the Terrians could help them.

In an attempt to distract Julia, Alonzo suggested, "Why don't we take a walk outside? The weather is finally getting warmer."

Julia nodded in agreement and after wiping her tears, she grasped Alonzo's hand and they exited the tent together.

Outside the Med tent, Bess Martin and Yale were sitting and talking while they worked on preserving some food. Julia overheard Bess saying, "Yale, I still keep looking for her. I turn to ask her a question and she's not there."

Yale replied, " It's a tough situation. Devon is not dead, but she is not fully alive either. It may seem premature to grieve, but we have suffered a loss." Julia and Alonzo immediately came over and sat down by the two. Yale continued, "We should talk about Devon, what we loved about her and what we miss. We all need to help each other through this situation."

Alonzo commented to Bess, "What you said about expecting her to be around is so true. After scouting ahead the other day, I was searching for Devon to tell her what I'd found. It took me some time to realize that she wasn't with us anymore."

With a concerned look on her face, Bess asked Yale, "How is Uly? He must be scared to death."

Yale responded, "So far, he seems to be okay. He's had several nightmares, but Danziger is holding true to his word and keeping a close eye on him."

"Speaking of Danziger, has anyone besides me noticed that he has been in a really rotten mood these last few days," Alonzo tossed in. The others indicated their agreement.

Bess cautiously suggested, "Maybe it's the pressure of being the leader? That's a lot of responsibility and it certainly wasn't part of Danziger's original plan." Though inwardly, Bess suspected something else as well.

"Maybe he's just concerned about the situation with the vehicles" Yale added, while he himself also had other suspicions.

Julia began to speak, "I really miss Devon's optimism and determination. She was always so confident and ready to go. She could get me motivated when I was down..."

As Julia continued speaking, Yale shifted his gaze from the group to see John Danziger walk by. He appeared to consider approaching the group, but when he heard Julia mention Devon's name, he immediately turned and walked another direction.

We're going to have a problem here, Yale thought to himself. Now what could they do to deal with it?

XXXXXXXX

It had been a long aggravating day. John attempted to wash all the grease off his hands. Damn those vehicles! After a day of tinkering, still no clue as to what was happening. And of course, losing his temper and yelling at Baines didn't help matters much either.

Danziger closed his eyes in an attempt to calm down and abate his frustration. He felt like banging his head against a wall, but what would that accomplish.

Get it together John, he thought. You're not going to get anything done if you keep this up.

He sat down to continue his efforts to relax. He slowed his breathing deliberately to will his emotions to simmer down. A voice intruded on him -

"Dad" True called enthusiastically, "Come look what I found!"

John snapped back at her, "Not now, show me later."

True looked hurt and began to turn away with her head held low. She was disappointed; her father didn't even look up at her. Concern filled her eyes. "Still can't sleep?" she asked cautiously.

"Yeah, True-girl, that's it" he replied, in a gentler tone. "Forgive me for being a grouch?"

True smiled and answered, "Of course, Dad."

XXXXXXXXXX

That evening Danziger walked about camp checking on security and the guard assignments.

You can never be too careful in this strange place, he thought.

As he approached the main fire where many of the colonists had gathered, Danziger decided he really wasn't in a social mood. Besides Baines was probably telling everyone about how John had chewed him out that afternoon.

Great, way to use your head, John.

He was exhausted but avoided preparing for sleep. He sat outside his tent and gazed up at the stars.

God, I hope I can get a decent night's sleep tonight.

A faint sound alerted him that he better check on the kids again. True was already fast asleep, tucked safely in her sleeping bag. She looked like a little angel to him. He kissed her gently on the forehead and reminded himself that he needed to spend more time with that wonderful kid of his.

As he approached the adjacent tent, he heard sobbing. Danziger braced himself, and entered, knowing what was about to happen. Uly was crying and Danziger put his arms around the child to comfort him.

"Are you thinking about your Mom again?" he asked softly.

Uly nodded and let John hold him close.

"You know she isn't dead, Uly, remember? She's still alive." Uly nodded again.

"I don't think you believe me, champ," John responded warmly. "Your Mom will come back to us. I promise you I will do everything I can to get her back. We'll find a cure and bring her back to us." John spoke with more conviction than he actually felt in his heart. But he couldn't let Devon's child lose hope.

"And do you think she would be proud that her son was crying every night about her?" Uly looked embarrassed. "I know it's hard, Uly. But we have to be brave - for her, that's how she would have wanted it - Right?"

They sat silently for several minutes, John holding the boy close to him.

Uly looked up at John and said, "I guess if my Mom can arrange to travel across the universe to save me, then I can be brave for her."

"That's a good boy," Danziger said with pride as he ruffled through the boy's hair with a hand and looked at those Adair eyes. John kissed his cheek and tucked him into his sleeping bag. "Gonna be okay?"

Uly replied, "Yeah. Goodnight Mr. Danziger, I mean, John."

"Goodnight Uly."

XXXXXXXXX

It was getting really late. Almost the entire camp was asleep in their tents. Danziger begrudgingly entered his own tent and lay down.

God, this was the absolute worst part of the day.

Thoughts and fears he couldn't control began to fill his head and kept him from sleeping. Each night seemed to be getting progressively worse.

What the hell is wrong with me, he thought. I've never had problems like this. With all the physical activity we get, that alone should knock me out cold.

Maybe he should get a sedative? If he could just get one good night's sleep, maybe his defense mechanisms would kick in better.

But then again, he wasn't a big fan of using drugs unless they were desperately needed. In addition, he didn't want to give the camp more to gossip about than they already had. Alonzo'd already accused him of hiding his feelings for Devon.

What did he know? What did it matter, she wasn't here anymore...and there were other more pressing matters to be concerned about. What were the dangers of this planet Elizabeth and Franklin spoke of? Were they all doomed? Could the Terrians help them? Was Uly the link? Would Devon want her boy to pursue this? And what about the vehicles? If he couldn't figure it out... but he would.

Got to stop thinking like that.

As he had told Devon a few months before, while she was confident and optimistic, he was a skeptic who anticipated the worst. Still, he usually had a much better handle on reality than as of late. Probably just due to a lack of sleep. His eyes closed and he dozed off.

Within an hour or two, he woke abruptly covered with sweat and his heart beating madly. In a panic, he repeated to himself - It's not real, it's not real, it's not realHe sat up, trying to calm down and catch his breath.

Ever since Devon had collapsed, he'd been having horrible nightmares about her. Within the past week, he'd been having two, even three of the dreams every night. In the majority of his dreams, as he approached her cold sleep chamber, Devon fell out into his arms - dead. In some versions, she was horribly mutilated and in one she was just not there at all!

She's not dead, John - she's not! Reality check here. Calm down.

The sight of her in that chamber caused him unbelievable pain.

Don't think about her. You can't do anything about the situation. Do not think about her. It doesn't matter how you feel about her. This is an area you don't need to think about right now.

He filled his mind with mundane details to try drown out the other voices in his head. As with prior nights, he slept fitfully, if at all.

XXXXX

While the others finished breakfast, True was busily checking out the Dune Rail to see if she could help determine the problem. Granted, she wasn't that experienced, but she had learned from the best. She slipped underneath to get a closer look as Walman and Baines approached.

"I'm getting sick of this garbage," Walman complained. "We've practically taken the damn thing apart and gotten nowhere."

Baines added, " Danziger's attitude doesn't help either. What is that guy's problem?"

Walman shrugged his shoulders, "I liked it better when Devon was here and he was bitching at her instead of us."

Baines agreed, "Have you noticed Danziger still looks for her? He'll call out her name and turn around to consult with her, and she's not even there. I think he's losing it. He cares for her more than he's willing to admit. If you ask me, he and Devon are..."

Walman saw Danziger approaching and abruptly motioned for Baines not to continue with this conversation if he valued his life.

"So what are you guys up to so far?" Danziger asked. He appeared distracted and unfocused.

"We've practically torn the whole thing apart," Walman explained, "What do you suggest we do?"

John rubbed his chin thoughtfully with his hand. Damned if he knew what else to try. It seemed like they had investigated every option. Danziger replied, "Let's do it again. Check every system".

Walman and Baines responded with groans and looks of annoyance.

"Come on guys, we have to figure this out and unless you have any better suggestions, let's get moving," John sternly advised.

"Maybe we should switch the systems that we check, " Baines suggested, "That way we may catch something one of us might've missed."

Danziger chose to take offense at Baines' remark and snarled, "Are you implying anything there?"

After his experience yesterday, Baines decided not to rise to the bait. He could tell that Danziger was tired and fighting with him would not solve anything. "No," he quickly countered, "You're right. We should stick with the systems we each have the most expertise with."

As Danziger turned to get his tools, Baines exhaled a sigh of relief and glanced at Walman, who gave him a look of approval. They set out to work.

Morgan had been observing this interchange between Baines and Danziger.

What is Danziger's problem? he wondered.

He had been irritable for the last few days and today he looked terrible.

A sudden movement near the Dune Rail attracted his attention and he saw True sneak out from beneath the vehicle and run off. Her face was pale. Morgan's curiosity was raised.

What was the little brat up to? This might be worth investigating. At least she could give the camp some suggestions on how to deal with her father.

He walked toward the direction he saw her heading. Sure enough, he could see her in the distance. He went after her.

XXXXXXXX

True had been running full speed and finally ran out of air. She stopped, gasping for breath. She was scared by what she had just seen - though not by the confrontation between Baines and her Dad, or even by Baines and Walman's conversation.

She sat on the ground and began to think. What was she going to do about it? Who could she trust? She was worried sick about her Dad and he wouldn't let her help him. He wouldn't tell her what was bothering him. But that had always been his way. What was she going to do?

She looked up and was startled as Morgan Martin approached her. "What do you want?" True asked in a somewhat nasty tone. Bess was all right, but she had never particularly liked or trusted Morgan.

"You saw something, didn't you?" Morgan accused.

As if I would share this information with him, she thought.

"I don't know what you are talking about," she casually responded back.

Morgan realized he would have to modify his approach. While Morgan had his flaws, he was good with diplomatic negotiations and this situation clearly called for these skills. Morgan sat down beside True and looked her in the eye. "True, let's be honest. Your Dad has been a good leader, but it quite clear that something is wrong right now. Do you know what it is?"

True chose to look innocent and shook her head.

Morgan tried another tactic, "True, I'm concerned if your Dad doesn't get help with his situation that eventually something bad will happen to him or the group. Remember, your Dad said that we're all in this together. We have to work together and help each other out."

True's resolve was weakening, "Dad won't tell me what's wrong, but I have some ideas."

"They're probably the same ideas everyone else has, that your Dad isn't dealing with his feelings about Devon Adair," Morgan responded. She nodded. "I'm worried that your Dad is becoming so distracted, he'll make judgment errors and endanger himself or the rest of us," Morgan carefully explained to her.

That did it.

"He already has," True said quietly, with tears in her eyes.

The kid looked so sad. Morgan asked, "What happened?"

"Please don't tell the others yet," she pleaded.

Morgan agreed, figuring how bad could it be.

"The dune rail transistor component" she took a breath, "That's what the problem is."

"Then why didn't...oh," Morgan figured it out.

"Yeah, that was my Dad's job. I was able to identify the damaged part within 15 minutes," she began to cry and tried to hide her face against her legs.

Morgan awkwardly sat by, he wasn't good at this kind of stuff. "Your Dad won't talk to you or anybody else?"

"No" True stated.

What could they do to make him confront the situation? Morgan could bring the damaged transistor component to the attention of the whole camp and announce that Danziger was endangering the camp by not dealing with his personal problems. Yet, that didn't seem like a very good idea.

Suddenly, the wheels in Morgan's mind began to race as he remembered the events of the last few weeks. It was a really long shot, but maybe, just maybe it would work. Now, if he could enlist True's assistance, they might be able to solve their problem.

XXXXXX

Morgan and True had made their plan and were preparing to execute it. True approached her father who was still working on the Dune Rail and told him that it was absolutely urgent that she speak with him immediately.

Baines and Walman, anxious to avoid Danziger's foul mood, encouraged him to spend some time with True and assured him that they would continue to be hard at work on the Dune Rail.

"What is it, True?" John asked.

His daughter appeared to be very serious, "Not here, follow me."

In silence, she led him to a very secluded area that was quite a distance from camp. True stopped and showed John the Dune Rail transistor component.

"What the hell is that doing here?" he demanded.

True interrupted, "Dad, look at this --- it took me 15 minutes to see it was busted! You missed it! Oh Dad, I'm scared. What's happening to you?"

Embarrassed and at a loss for words, he replied, "I don't know."

"Please tell me what's wrong," True pleaded.

"I can't" John said with sadness. He himself wasn't entirely sure what was wrong. He didn't dwell on situations he couldn't do anything about, it was better to be a man and move on with life.

"Dad, I have an idea about what's wrong," John's discomfort increased and he started to interrupt her, but she held her ground, "You don't have to tell me or anyone at camp. You just have to promise to do something for me, no matter how stupid it sounds. Please Dad."

"What is it?" John asked, his curiosity peaked.

"No, you have to promise first. And you have to go through the whole thing. It will be private. No one else will know." she assured him.

John had no idea what she was talking about, but he knew he'd made a big mistake in diagnosing that part and that the way things were going, they could only get worse. He agreed, "Okay, True-girl, What do you want me to do?"

"I want you to tell me about a place that is special to Devon," she asked.

What the hell was she doing? He didn't want to think about Devon.

But he had given his word. Anyone but his daughter, no way he'd do this. He paused to think,

"She liked the mountains by the winter camp at night. She liked to watch the stars."

God, it hurt just to say that. What was next?

"Wait a few minutes"

True scampered off behind a rock formation. She returned with Morgan Martin in tow with VR gear in hand.

What the hell was he doing here?

He started to confront Morgan, but True interjected with

"You promised, this is part of the deal."

John reluctantly acquiesced. True placed the VR gear on her father. Morgan began to explain,

"I'm not sure if this is going to work, it's not just a VR program. You may have to wait a while to get a response and there's also the possibility it won't work at all."

What had he gotten himself into?

"Once you're in," Morgan continued, "True and I will go away. No one will hear what you say or do. You are completely alone."

"Are you ready Dad?" True asked.

"I guess so," he replied and turned on the VR gear.

It was the scene he had described to True, the hillside by the winter camp at night where he and Devon occasionally went to look at the stars. It was quiet and still.

John wondered what old Morgan had up his sleeve. Despite himself, he found himself briefly smiling, remembering a snowball fight he and Devon had one night at this spot After a few minutes had passed, nothing changed.

Was this it?

He didn't understand.

Suddenly, it seemed as if a tear was occurring in the program - was it defective? He turned around to see - Devon.

Oh God, Morgan please don't do this to me.

This was really cruel. She looked so beautiful, just as she always did before she was sick. It was agonizing to look at her.

"John? Is it you?" she asked, looking surprised.

This can't be, he thought.

"John? The last thing I remember is seeing all of you huddled around me when I collapsed." She gazed into his eyes and asked with obvious concern, "Are you all right? You look awful."

This was too much. Danziger's emotions, which he had kept bottled up inside threatened to surface. He met her gaze and answered with great difficulty, as he acknowledged precisely what was wrong with him,

"I miss you, Devon." The floodgates burst open, and John broke down and began to cry.

Devon approached him and tried to touch his face with her hand but she could not - for she was not simply a part of the VR program. She sat by him as he cried and spoke softly to him,

"I knew I could coun..."

THE END

(When I originally wrote this, I naively thought the show could be renewed and the writers would fill in the blanks. My story is continued in "Stepping Stones", followed by "Boundaries" and finally "The Road Not Chosen".)