Disclaimer: Earth 2 and all related elements, characters and indicia are trademarks of Amblin Entertainment/Universal © 1995. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Amblin Entertainment/Universal © 1995.
Author's Note: Okay, this one needs some explaining. I was staring at the timeline, and realized that in the two weeks between "Redemption" and "Morganite pt 1" Julia and Alonzo suddenly started sleeping with each other (and if you don't believe me, watch the earthquake scene in "Morganite" again. The second the ground starts shaking, Alonzo comes shooting out of one end, and she comes out the other, and he's putting his clothes on. I drew the logical conclusion.). Considering the fact that Julia doesn't actually remember their first time, and is probably damned embarrassed about that, there must be some awkwardness I can exploit for about 10 pages here. That, and I just think Eden Advance snapped back into the way things were a little too fast, and I realized I wanted to see them really think about the tumultuous week where their world turned upside down. And if they show wasn't going to give it to me, I was going to have to see what they did give me, and extrapolate. Hope you enjoy it.
After the Fact
by Tara O'Shea
Morgan woke to darkness, not knowing what had dragged him out of a sound sleep. He hadn't dreamed, at least, he didn't think so. For that he was glad, his subconscious was teeming with all kinds of things right now that would make perfect screamers of nightmares he was sure. But he was awake. And, he suddenly realized, so was Bess. He rolled over and touched his wife's shoulder gently.
"Go back to sleep, Morgan," she whispered, and as comforting as it would have been to do exactly that, instead Morgan came fully awake.
"Why are you still up?"
"I can't sleep." She shrugged, and wrapped her arms around her knees. He stroked her hair, but she didn't notice.
They had buried the Z.E.D. There was no proper funeral. Yale was still in the med-tent, recovering, and no one could come up with any words. Not the right words. So they had simply dug a hole, and filled it with earth and then dispersed. She had hoped it would bring some kind of closure. She was wrong. There were so many questions left unanswered.
But what kept her from sleep was the memory of Reilly, calmly telling Julia, who for as much as he knew had been completely loyal to him the entire time, that if she did not deliver the boy she would die running.
On audio, Bess had not been able to see his face. But she watched Julia. Watched the fragile young woman that only two days earlier she had knocked unconscious and wanted dead.
Bess had seen a lot in her life, a lot more than anyone, even Morgan, knew. She'd seen men and women kill and die for the simple things that most people took for granted. Food. Shelter. Death was not something new. But this... She couldn't imagine it. And yet she could, and that made it a thousand times worse.
It was guilt, keeping her awake now. And fear.
For her friend.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Morgan asked softly, and she shook her head. Reluctantly, he drew the blanket closer around him and drifted back to sleep. She listened to his steady breathing, and lay back down at his side.
But sleep didn't come to her that night.
Devon sighed as the sun slipped over the horizon, and pulled back the covers. She might as well get up. No one was going anywhere today, not until Yale and Alonzo were well enough to travel, and Julia had said that would take another two days at least. Modern medicine was wondrous, but it wasn't magic.
It was just as well. Their world had been turned upside down, and a little downtime was what they all needed.
Devon watched her small son asleep amid the tangle of blankets, and smiled. She needed to cut his hair, it was too long. He would probably kick up a fuss if she said so, so she debated it silently for a moment, and then realized with a shock that these were pretty mundane thoughts when you took into context the past few days. She had come face to face with a man who wanted to take her son from her. Granted, they had won. But it was a small battle, and she feared the war.
They were in a blackout zone, whatever that meant. How far it extended, she had no idea, but they couldn't stay here forever. The clock was ticking and they had to continue their journey. They would simply have to deal with Reilly when the time came, and worrying about it would only make it worse.
Alonzo leaned heavily on the crutch and slipped inside the med-tent where Julia sat updating gear reports. Her left arm still hung pinned to her side in the sling, and it seemed slow going. She looked up at him and frowned, and that made him smile for some reason.
"Hey you, it'll take another day for your leg to heal, what are you doing out of bed? Or didn't you learn your lesson, four weeks on crutches?"
"Easy, Doc. I just wanted to see how you were doing." Alonzo sat down beside her, and ran a finger down her shoulder. "How's your wrist?"
"Bone healer vaccine kicked it, I should be fine by tomorrow."
"How 'bout the rest of you? Is there a magic pill to make everything else fine?"
"I don't know what you mean." She stared resolutely at her data screen, and he carefully slipped a finger beneath her chin, lifting her eyes to his.
"Pretty eventful last six days. It's given me for one a lot to think about."
"Well, for one thing, I'm not sure I can sustain this relationship. I mean, it's taken us a crash landing, penal colonists, sadistic Councilmembers, addictive DNA, exploding worm bullets and psychopathic cyborgs to get us this far, I don't know if I can keep up the daily threat of death and destruction to keep this relationship on an even keel."
He said all of this with a straight face, and she smiled, but it was still wan. He drew her into a lopsided one armed hug, and she rested her cheek on his shoulder.
"John!" Devon called from across the camp as the mechanic slid out from under the Dunerail.
"What is it, Adair? I'm right in the middle of something here."
"Can it wait? I need to talk to you."
"That depends. Do you want to break camp tomorrow and continue, or do you want to wait another day? Either way is fine by me."
"That's part of what I want to talk to you about."
Danziger wiped his hands on his pants with an "okay, you're the boss" shrug that set off warning bells in his daughter's mind, and she watched him follow Devon back towards her tent. Uly sat down on a crate and began to unwrap a spirolina bar, and absently held another one out to True, who took it, her eyes still fastened on the retreating pair.
He was being awfully laid back. Normally her dad didn't react so well to Devon's interrupting his schedule, loose as it was. And whereas yesterday everyone had been wound too tight, in contrast today everyone seemed determined to get back to normal as fast as possible, pretending nothing had happened.
And a lot had happened.
"I'm glad Julia's back," Uly said conversationally, and the girl's attention snapped back to her lunch partner.
"I dunno, it's just good that we didn't have to leave her behind. I like her. Don't you?"
"I didn't like it when she chased me."
"Were you scared?"
"No," True said hastily, puffing up a little and then beneath the younger boy's scrutiny, deflated with a little sigh. "Yeah. What about you?"
"I was more scared when Yale got hurt. If Julia hadn't been here, he would have died."
"Yeah, you're right. And she told me she was sorry that she chased me, so I guess it's okay to have her back."
"I wish I knew what my mom is talking to your dad about."
"Me too," True's eyes strayed back to Devon's tent.
"What's all this about?" Danziger got right to the point, shoving his hands deep in his pockets and leaned carefully against the trestle table currently buried under layers of maps.
"I don't want to call a meeting, not yet, people are still too shook up. But I did want to ask your advice."
"The blackout zone. The Z.E.D., the Council, all of it." She threw up her hands, and then crossed her arms, compressing her lips into a thin line of frustration. "And I'm concerned about Julia."
"Look, the doc's proven about ten times over--"
"I know. And you know. But I wonder just how much the group knows. John, I don't want Julia to be ostracized."
"Devon, we left her behind." Danziger began to pace. "In case you haven't noticed that pretty damn well resembled 'being ostracized' and even if we were wrong, that's gonna leave scars. You have to give people time to mend.
"If you want to know what I think, I'll tell ya. I don't like the Council. They tried to blow me up, twice if you count Mr. Personality we buried yesterday. They went into Alex Wentworth's head and implanted a damn chip that killed her and Les Firestein, who happened to have been friends of mine for a real long time. And near as I can tell, they were all set to kill Julia just because she had a conscience. She's not a part of them, and I don't blame her, I blame myself for not seein' what was goin' on until it was too late."
"So now what? According to Reilly, we're in a blackout zone. They can't surveille us. But how far does the blackout extend? What is going to happen once they can find us? How am I going to protect my son? How are we going to protect ourselves?"
Danziger chuckled, and she glared at him.
"You don't need advice, Adair. You need an oracle." He touched her shoulder, making an effort to look solemn and failing.
"Thanks a lot."
"You're asking the wrong questions. Scale 'em down a little, and maybe we'll get somewhere. We defeated one Z.E.D., we can handle another." He shrugged.
"John, this isn't about Z.E.D.s. If they can find us, they can aim weapons at us. It won't be about how prepared we are, how well we can fight. We won't be able to see them coming."
"We don't know that. We've travelled almost a thousand klicks already, and no sign that they even have weapons to aim at us. We're talking about one guy here so far. One mean, depraved, sadistic guy. We can't count on anything he says as the truth, and I ain't getting all worked up on spec."
"So what you're telling me is to stop looking for answers, because there aren't any?"
"No, I'm telling you that worrying about it when you can't do anything about it ain't helping. That ship is coming, and we have to be there."
"Yale'll be fine," Julia said conversationally, drawing away from the comforting circle of Alonzo's arms. They had moved him that morning from the med-tent back to his own, and Devon had promised to keep an eye on the tutor personally, though Julia suspected it would be no chore. Yale doted on Devon like a daughter, and the affection was mutual.
"I still shudder to think what might have happened if we hadn't gotten the bullet away in time. It barely left my hand before it exploded..."
"But you did get to it in time. Julia, you defeated a Z.E.D. That's pretty major stuff."
"There's more of them out there."
"We'll deal with them to, you have to believe that."
"I don't know what to believe any more, Alonzo. Everything I thought I knew... How could I have been so wrong?"
"You were blind, that's all. They only let you see what they wanted you to see. It wasn't your fault."
"No maybes," he kissed her temple, whispering into her hair. "We're together now, that's all that's important. What's past is past."
She drew back, and he watched her get up and sit down on the cot, absently plucking at the fabric of the sling with her good hand. "Alonzo, I...I've been thinking."
"About... us. There are still holes in my memory, it was like a dream, a nightmare--"
"Not all of it was a nightmare, Julia," he said softly, and reached out to caress her cheek.
"I know," she looked up at him and he saw the pain written clearly on her face. He sat down next to her, the metal protesting beneath their combined weight. "I want to remember. It's like I was watching someone else in my body, watching from someplace far away, and I wanted it to have been me..." she had found his hand unconsciously, and he stroked her wrist with his thumb. "Does that make sense?"
"We took a step that we weren't ready for, but I don't regret it, and I don't want you to. Ever. Okay, so my male pride took one helluva shot--"
"Alonzo, I'm sorry--" she ducked her head again, wiping at her eyes, which were stinging from trying to hold back tears. Alonzo knelt on the floor at her feet, a little stiffly and she held back a doctorly protest to mind his healing leg, and looked up into her eyes, brushing her hair away from her face. She caught his hand, curling her fingers around his.
"I know. Hey, I know. And I was hurt, but I didn't know then, I didn't understand. And I want to make love to you. I want you to remember every second of it, I want to hold you in my arms and know that it's right."
"How do we... how do we start?" she whispered, and he stroked her cheek.
"Like this," he said softly, and brushed her cheek with his lips. An electric shock went through her, there was no other way to describe it, and she felt the blood rush to her cheeks as he kissed her eyes.
"Julia, are you busy--oh," Bess stood in the entrance of the tent, twisting a lock of brown hair. "I'm sorry, I'll come back later."
Alonzo sighed, and got to his feet. "No, it's okay." He smiled at Julia, and ducked out again.
"Can I... talk to you?"
"Sure. Of course you can, come in." Julia was flustered, and felt the blood rushing to her cheeks, but Bess seemed more embarrassed than she was. She sat down in the chair before the table, wrapping her arms around herself, and took a deep breathe.
"I came to apologise."
"Bess, there's nothing for you to apologise for--"
"No. No, there is. Ever since... I was all set to hate you, even after you saved Yale and Alonzo... because I was still so angry. But when we were on audio, and I heard Reilly..." The boy is mine. Deliver him to me, or you will die running.
Bess shuddered. "I was wrong, Julia. It was wrong to judge you the way we did. I was wrong, and I was blind. If anything ever happened to Morgan, I don't know what I'd do, and you got mixed up in all that fear and anger, and I want to say I'm sorry. It was really brave, what you did."
"I don't know about brave. I wasn't feeling particularly brave."
"Well, it was. And we all owe you our lives. I don't know if we can ever make right what we did to you, but I want to try. I want to try to understand."
"This means a lot to me, Bess," Julia said softly, and realised it did. It was like she'd been holding her breathe for days, and finally could relax.
Bess smiled, and her eyes flicked towards the rumpled blankets. "So... You and Alonzo." She raised an eyebrow suggestively, and Julia buried her face in her hands, groaning.
"Oh Bess, I was so stupid."
"What, you mean for waiting so long?"
Alonzo strode across camp, as fast as a man who'd been shot two days before could stride anyway, chuckling as he glanced back at Julia's tent, and shaking his head. He couldn't remember knowing a woman so prone to blushing as the doctor.
"Alonzo, wait a sec," Morgan called from his tent, and jogged over to the pilot. "Have you see Bess?"
"Yeah, she's talking to Julia."
"Oh." Morgan looked over at the tent, his smile disappearing. Alonzo's faded as well.
"What do you mean, 'oh'?"
"Oh, nothing." Morgan could tell he had stumbled onto dangerous territory, and he had no idea how to back out of this one.
"Nothing, huh? Maybe if we tied you to the transrover and dragged you a klick or two, you might be a little more talkative?"
"You, ah, heard that, eh?" Morgan flushed deep red, and stared at the ground, shifting his weight from foot to foot and watching the eddies of dust-like sand that swirled up to cover the toes of his boots.
"Yes. I did."
"Look, Martin, I'm not saying the past didn't happen. I'm saying we have to live with it, and learn from it, and grow past it. And that means putting behind us petty differences and misunderstandings, you got that?"
"Absolutely." Morgan looked the pilot in the eye. Alonzo laughed bitterly.
"I don't know why I bother with you!" he snapped, and started off, but the slighter man grabbed his elbow.
"No, I mean it. Don't look at me like I'm an idiot. I know I was wrong, we all do. But it's a lot to get over, and throwing stuff back in my face isn't going to help. I've done some truly amazingly stupid things in my life, like hitting that eject button in that pod with a man and his daughter banging on the glass screaming for help. And you know what? I was sorry then, and it took a long time for everyone else to believe that I was sorry, that I could change. But you did. You all did, and I guess if anyone should be willing to give Julia another chance, it's me. I'm sorry, Alonzo. I'm sorry I took things at face value, and I'm sorry you think I'm a worm for doing so, but cut me a little slack here, okay?"
Alonzo simply stared, openmouthed, as Morgan finished his tirade, and stood there, back ramrod straight, colour high and eyes flashing.
"Apology accepted." Alonzo finally said, and Morgan grinned.
"Good." He looked back at Julia's tent, and then his shoes again. "Good." he repeated, and hands in his pockets, went to go tell his wife what he'd just done. He had a feeling she'd want to know.
"Oh," Bess hugged Julia suddenly. "Honey, it'll be okay."
"How can you be so sure?"
"That boy is crazy about you, and you are just as crazy about him. So what if it's not your first time exactly? You can't be looking back when it come to this sort of thing, what's past is past."
"That's just what Alonzo said."
"Well, he's right. I'm right. You'll see." Bess patted her arm, and Julia smiled.
"I feel like, I don't know, a teenager. Except I never went through anything like this as a teenager."
"I bet you were a late bloomer is all."
"I'm beginning to think I'm a very late bloomer, as in I'm only just starting to. He's just so amazing, Bess."
"I remember when I first met Morgan, I felt exactly the same way."
"It's hard to picture." Julia said wryly, and Bess chewed on her bottom lip.
"I know he rubs people the wrong way, but . . ."
"I know." Julia smiled, and she really did. "When you love someone, you see sides of them no one else does."
Julia smiled as she ran the glove over Yale's chest. "You're just fine. By tomorrow, you'll be up and around as if nothing happened."
"Thank you," Yale grasped her hand and smiled. "How are you doing?"
"Fine." she glanced up at Devon, who was holding the old man's other hand between her chapped ones, who returned her smile. "I'm doing just fine." She unstrapped the glove, placing it in her kit bag, and was almost bowled over as Uly came barrelling into the tent with True at his heels. The little girl hesitated a moment, and Julia's smile felt tight suddenly. She'd apologised to True, it was all she could think to do, but she had a feeling it would be while before the younger Danziger would be able to trust her again. She rubbed her still healing wrist unconsciously.
Uly poked True with his elbow, and she tore her eyes away from the Doctor and grinned at Yale.
"Uly and I made this for you," she handed him a bundle wrapped in a scrap of cloth, and the tutor puffed up with pride.
"Let's see, whatever can it be?" he turned the bundle over in his hands, and Uly leaned on the bed.
"You have to guess!"
"Is it a house?"
"No," the boy laughed. "It's too small for a house."
"I see. Is it . . . a new wheel for the Transrover?"
"If Uly and I could make those, my Dad would be thrilled," True rolled her eyes.
"It's a memory box," Uly announced, and it was True's turn to elbow him. "ow."
"You weren't supposed to tell him!" True grumbled, and Devon laughed as Yale carefully untied the sting that bound the surprise. The children had taken one of the empty tins that held spirolina bars and painted two moons and a hill on the front, with smiling flowers.
"You can keep your vr programmes in it, and stuff." True explained, and Yale gave each of them a one armed hug.
"It's wonderful, thank you."
"Okay, patient needs his rest. Out you two," Julia shooed the children towards the door. "If you need me--"
"I've got my nurse here," Yale smiled, nodding towards Devon. "I'll be fine."
"Alone at last," Alonzo said into Julia's hair, feeling her sigh. The camp was lit by small fires and the occasional lumalight as people sat in groups of two and three, eating the mash Julia and Bess had concocted from tubers that grew in the clearing. It was a quiet night, the two moons slivers of silver against a tapestry of constellations that were finally becoming familiar.
"At least until someone decides they have a cut that needs looking at."
"I think every single member of Eden Advance has found an excuse to come see me today, I should be happy."
"How can I not be? I've got the best looking, most wonderful, fastest healing guy on the planet wrapping his arms around me. I feel like I can do anything." She pressed a kiss into his palm.
"Best looking, huh?"
She punched his shoulder playfully, and then leaned back, staring at the stars. "Morgan's been particularly nice, he even helped with dinner."
"Is that a fact?"
"You didn't . . . say anything to him, did you?"
She turned around and placed both her hands on his shoulder, briefly touching her lips to his. He buried his hands in her hair, and returned the kiss. For a long moment, they were the only two people in the world. Then the other 13 people in the world came rushing back with loud rattling of dishes, and nosily cleared throats, and a chuckle here and there.
"Hey, get a room!" Walman called from the nearest campfire, and Julia buried her face in Alonzo's shoulder as the pilot grinned.
"Mind your own business!" he called back, and using the crutch for support, stood. He held out his hand, and Julia took it, smiling shyly.
Bess watched the little scene play itself out with a glowing sense of pride, and she wished the couple well as they slipped off into the shadows in the direction of Julia's tent.
Morgan took her bowl, wiping it out with sand and a swatch of cloth, following her gaze.
"I hope those two are happy," he said softly, and Bess squeezed his hand.
"They are. And you know what?"
"They're givin' me ideas," she waggled her eyebrows and Morgan stacked the dishes doubletime, and kicked sand over the embers of the dying fire hastily as Bess ran ahead and crooked her finger in a timeless come-hither.
Devon looked out over the sea (okay, pond. There were only fifteen of them, afterall. Sixteen if you counted the 'droid) of expectant faces, and took a deep breath.
"I know the last week has been . . . Well, pretty eventful."
This understatement was greeted with a few smiles, and nervous chuckles, but the memory of Reilly and the Z.E.D. cast a pall over Eden Advance's mood.
"I think you all know why we're having this meeting. We have a choice. A fairly clear cut one, but a hard one none the less. We can stay here, in the blackout zone, which we know is safe, or we can keep going, and meet the colony ship in New Pacifica when it arrives. We don't know how far the blackout zine extends. It could be hundreds of kilometres, it could end at the edge of the mountains. We have no idea what's out there. But staying here, we run the risk of running out of supplies, and food before winter. There are risks on both sides of the argument, and that's why I think we should put it to a vote."
Danziger nodded his approval, and waited for the inevitable questions.
Perhaps not so inevitable. Everyone remained silent, and she fidgeted nervously.
"Okay, if no one has any questions, we can put it to a vote. All in favour of staying here?"
Of the bunch, only Baines raised a hand, and Denner punched him in the ribs. He grimaced, but lowered it nonetheless.
"Wow." Devon couldn't stop the small exclamation, and there was a smattering of laughter. "Okay, this seems moot, but all in favour of breaking camp and continuing?"
Fifteen--no, sixteen raised hands.
"True, one is enough," Danziger grumbled good naturedly.
"Okay, it's decided then. Julia?"
"Yale and Alonzo should be whole and healthy, fine for travel by morning, I don't see any problems."
"I think I was pretty whole and healthy last night," Alonzo whispered in her ear, and she pinched him. "Ow!"
"Um, before we break, I think there's something we'd like to say," Cameron stood, and Devon blinked, but gladly gave him the floor.
"Julia, I know you probably know this already, but well, I want to tell you anyway, on behalf of all of us," he glanced around and was met with nods and smiles. "We're real sorry about the way we treated you, and we're all real glad you're back with us."
Julia's blue eyes went wide, and she looked from the grinning colonist to the rest of Eden Advance. Her throat suddenly became thick with teras, but this time they were of gratitude, and she hugged Cameron spontaneously, unable to find words. The big man hugged her right back, lifting her off her feet, and when she let go there was a line forming, Eben, Bess and Denner right up in front. Devon couldn't help grinning, and felt Danziger's hand fall on her shoulder.
"Didn't take long at all, did it?"
"You were right."
"I'm always right."
"Don't push it."
Danziger backed off, grinning, and looked to see True wrap her arms around the doctor's neck.
"I'm sorry, Julia," the little girl whispered.
"Me too, kiddo. But everything's going to be just fine from now on. I promise I'll never do anything to scare you again. Unless it's for your own good."
"Deal," True laughed into Julia's shoulder, and the doctor straightened up, eyes bright. Alonzo slipped a hand around her waist, and kissed her hair.
"So, where to from here?"
"You mean in general, or did you have something specific in mind?"
"Oh, very specific." Alonzo grinned.
Devon watched them walk off, and smiled. A pretty tumultuous week, but they'd managed to pull themselves together pretty nicely. Pretty nicely, if she did say so herself.