" You gotta promise me one thing...you're going to take care of Uly."
" We're all going to get through this, Devon. We're going to get through it together."
--Devon Adair and John Danziger, All About Eve
He walked through the deserted streets of New Pacifica. It was late but here and there he could see a light shining in a window or under a door. Absently he wondered what thoughts kept those people awake this night. He knew what was keeping him up. The same thing that had kept him awake every night for the past five years....Devon Adair. The days were easy to fill. There was always something to keep him too busy to think of her. More people here meant more things to break down. But the nights....they were different. No matter how exhausted or sleepy he was at the end of the day, he would lay there staring up at the ceiling until the cracks and shadows merged into an image of her face. So tonight, like every night, he made his pilgrimage to the center of town to check on her.
When Morgan first mentioned the idea of bringing Devon to New Pacifica, Danziger just shrugged it off as tactical political maneuvering on the part of the newly elected Governor. The hue and cry from the colonists to bring the Eden Advance Founder out from the wilderness was so great though, even Danziger was forced to bend to its collective will. But not before Danziger had been convinced that it was possible and safe to do so. There was no way he was going to be forced to look Uly in the eye and try to explain to him that his mother was lost to him forever. The boy was so convinced that his mother was coming back to him any day now. He would go on and on about "conversations" he had with his mother in his dreams. Sometimes John was worried that Uly was losing his grip on reality. Who knew what long term effects the Diggers "cure" on humans would have? Julia had eased his worries along those lines somewhat, when she said that Uly's dream conversations with Devon were all part of the human mind's grief healing process. That she would be more worried if Uly never spoke of Devon instead. She had given him a pointed look that he chose to ignore when she said that. He wasn't interested in any lectures on therapeutic bereavement.
Danziger finally reached his destination and stared at the white granite greco-pillared building that housed Devon's cryo-static chamber now. He was told it was modeled after a bygone earth structure called the Jefferson Memorial. It reminded him of an old fashion earth mausoleum. Devon would hate it, he was certain. He knew he did. How something could manage to look both garish and sterile at the same time astounded him. The only thing he liked about it was the simple quote that Yale had chosen to have carved above the entryway, "HOPE IS A WAKING DREAM." That he liked. It encapsulated the very essence of Devon Adair and her Eden Project.
Shuffling inside, he did his nightly ritual of picking up the various offerings that the colonists brought and set around the upright cryo-tube. This day's gifts included several stuffed animals, flowers, ribbons, rocks, pictures, letters, poems and even a no longer needed respri-tube. Carefully, he packed them all away into a bin except for Uly's red rag tied "Terrian staff." That remained, hanging on the door of the cryo-tube, guarding Devon as it always had since the boy had first placed it there. In the morning, Bess and Cameron would remove everything from the bin, preserve and catalog it all like they did everyday. When that task was done, he next checked every relay, every circuit board, every wire, and the power source. He had made himself an expert in Jupiter class mechanics, circuitry and nuclear power. Nothing dared to be left to chance. There was nothing else here to stave off death if this cryo-tube should fail. Danziger made it his job to make sure it didn't fail. That done, John wearily slouched down in one of the pew-like marble benches facing Devon.
"Well Lady," he mumbled sleepily, "what are you and Uly talking about tonight?" His voiced trailed off as his eyelids fluttered closed.
Danziger started at the sound of Uly's cry...and Devon's answer. Quickly he ran towards the direction he'd heard them. The where and how of his being in this eerily familiar place forgotten. Breaching the woods into a large open meadow, Danziger froze as he was attacked by an incredible deja vu. He stood there and rewatched the mother and child reunion like he did those many years ago, with quiet, parental empathy. Then Devon was looking straight at him. Somehow, he was standing right behind Uly instead of across the meadow where he had stopped.
"I never thanked you properly for what you did, or for what you were willing to do for my son."
Danziger just stood there staring at her slack jawed. Suddenly the world turned topsy-turvy and they were gone.
Danziger was lying flat on his back on a blanket. The heat was oppressive and there was a rock digging into the small of his back. Glancing to his right, he spied the Dunerail. Leveraging himself up on one elbow, he squinted at it through the glare. Something was familiar about this place...then it hit him...
"I felt like a school girl on her first date..."
Danziger turned and gazed incredulously at the smiling redhead.
"...What if he tries something? What if he doesn't try something?"
Danziger awkwardly stumbled to his feet and gazed nervously about. "Uh...we shouldn't hang around here. A couple of pissed off Terrians are going to come crashing through that cliff wall any moment now."
Devon reached up and gently captured his wrist forcing him to look at her. "Not this time." Looking at that smiling face, into those shining eyes, Danziger allowed himself to be drawn downward until he was kneeling on the blanket. Devon face was a mere few inches from his.
"Did you want to try something?" She whispered softly.
His heart was hammering in his chest. The sweat that slicked his palms and upper lip now had nothing to do with the heat. Swallowing the lump that threatened to choke him, he closed his eyes and leaned forward....
A splash of chilly water stole his breath away. Sputtering, he shook his wet curls like a dog and found himself standing in the middle of one of their innumerable desert camps. Devon stood in front of him wearing a smug, mischievous grin.
"I owed you that one."
Before she could run off, Danziger's arm shot out and caught hers in a gentle vise. Pulling her close so the others playing around them couldn't hear, he muttered, "What's going on here?"
She paused and held his gaze for a long while. Her smile grown bittersweet.
"Don't try to analyze it. If hope is a waking dream, then why can't a dream be a sleeping hope?"
"But whose dream is this? Yours or mine?"
"Does it matter?"
Danziger felt her slipping out of his grip as his vision swirled yet again, "Devon, wait!"
"Danziger, we don't have that much time."
Opening his eyes, he found himself propped up against a log in the wooded night. Devon was crouched next him on his left side. She looked up from her task and smiled encouragingly at him.
"Don't worry. I'm almost done."
Glancing down, Danziger watched fascinated as her whole hand disappeared into his stomach. Pain block or no pain block, he was still amazed he didn't pass out from the shock of that sight, then and now. Devon paused in her fishing expedition and chuckled softly.
"You know, this is the most intimate I've ever been with a man."
Her eyes lit up, "Ah-ha!" she exclaimed as she triumphantly extracted her bloody hand and the equally bloody, twisting worm bullet.
The worm bullet gave a high pitched whine, cutting off his words. Devon glanced from it to him, then back again.
"Ut-oh, time's up."
A blinding flash erupted from her hand.
Danziger blinked painfully at the sudden light from his gear set as it shone the image of Devon Adair into his eye. Disoriented and woozy feeling, he almost fell off the boulder he found himself sitting on.
"What the hell happened?" he rasped.
"I was really scared I was going to lose you and Baines. Even though I tried not let it show. You seemed so morose, so sullen. I was afraid you were giving up."
Before he answer, the world shifted again. A salt tanged breeze toyed warmly with his hair. The exotic rhythmic sound of the ocean's lapping waves washing back and forth across the wet sand whispered in his ears. He stood there and quietly admired the dual moonlit ocean dance under the starry night. He felt her presence beside him. A few aching inches away from him. Alonzo's spider addled but truthful words about Devon haunted him as he stole a glance at her. She too was staring out at the sliver dipped sea.
"Such a waste of a beautiful, romantic setting, wasn't it?"
Danziger willed himself to pull his hands from his pants pockets. Slowly, gently, so as not to startle her, he reached out and pulled her round to face him. Carefully he brushed aside a wind swept lock of hair from her face and secured it behind her ear. It suddenly didn't matter to him any more if this was a waking dream or a sleeping hope. Pulling her closer, he lowered his head towards hers.
Just before their lips met, he quietly murmured, "It's time to wake up, Devon."
A caressing nudge gently brought Danziger awake. He blinked several times trying to clear his sleep blurred vision. His deeply furrowed crows footed eyes crinkled even deeper as he smiled at the empty cryo-tube.
"Hey you, time to wake up!. You're missing the party."
Devon brushed back a lock of her gray streaked hair and bent down to wrap her arms around his neck. Kissing his temple, she then rested her wrinkled cheek against his and followed his gaze to the long empty cryo-tube.
"And what were you dreaming of?"
Danziger's hands crept up along her arms caressingly before replying with a smile, "Our first kiss."