It's been a month since Venus, a month since Gamma, a month since they both nearly died; since Zoe should have died from her extended walk on Venus but didn't.
Zoe looks up at him as he enters the container where she is sitting on the floor in front of Gamma. She smiles as he stops beside her.
"Hey," she replies.
Zoe has only been out of bed for a few days and already she's spent at least half of each day in here. Remarkably her wounds healed, returning to healthy flesh far quicker than a normal human immune system should be able to. Mintz takes readings, makes faces, but Donner can tell he is not surprised. At this point it's hard to imagine how they could be surprised any more.
All of them are changing, Donner can feel it. He can feel it in himself now. He just hadn't been able to tell what it was before. Something is different.
"What is it, Donner?" Zoe asks.
Donner looks down at her. She's still staring at Gamma with eyes of love. It makes something twist inside him.
"I just knew you'd be here."
Her eyes flick up to him and she is smiling. "Yeah, well, everyone does. Not to hard to figure that one."
Nodding, Donner sits down beside her. Zoe and Donner sit in silence as Beta and Gamma begin to sing, whether to each other or the two people in front of them Donner cannot tell. Zoe's eyes do not leave Gamma.
"You never told me," Donner says suddenly just as the song stops.
Zoe laughs once. "No, I didn't. I took care of it."
It should be strange she knows exactly what he is talking about without any lead up but it isn't. It's been a month and they haven't talked about it, not while Zoe was lying in bed unconscious most days. A baby never had wasn't a conversation for when she was lying with burns all over her body. But they do need to talk about it.
She sighs, drawing his eyes, then actually looks at him. "And what would you have done if I had? 'Hey Donner, I'm pregnant and you're the dad!' What then? We'd have left the program, maybe got married, started a little family together in some house on a cul-de-sac?"
"I don't know..." Donner replies quietly.
Zoe glances at Gamma then turns her face back to Donner. She raises her eyebrows and he knows the expression on her face.
"You wanted to fly," Donner says.
"So did you."
Donner huffs and looks away around the container. Beta glows and turns as does Gamma beside it, just as mysterious and strange as ever.
Zoe still calls this new one 'their baby' sometimes. In fact the rest of the crew speak of it the same way in hushed tones when they think Donner is far enough away. He thinks there is just something twisted about that and he can't seem to look at Gamma. It makes him think too much.
"It wasn't an option then, Donner," Zoe continues suddenly, "at least I didn't think so."
"But you didn't tell me at all, even after, years after," Donner insists, his voice raising a little. "That time at the hospital, I carried you inside when you were bleeding and it was…"
"Donner." He doesn't know how her voice can still be so calm. "I made a choice and it's too late now. I can't take it back and neither can you."
Donner runs a hand though his hair in frustration. "Why would it do this to us?" Donner says, pointing at the two in front of them, "You know it was all them. I had a vasectomy after Mars and they reversed it. Why would they do that just so we could have a baby we couldn't keep?"
"Maybe they wanted to see what choice we would make?"
"Well, why was it up to them?" Donner suddenly shouts, standing up. "It was our lives!" Donner points angrily at Gamma. "What right do they have to play with our lives like this? You almost died on Venus getting Gamma! They were changing our lives five years ago! Now we're out here and they are still changing us. How can they do something like that?"
"Donner, calm down." Zoe stands up and puts a hand on his arm but Donner shrugs it off.
Perhaps it's been building this whole month while they've been slowly heading toward Mars. Maybe it was seeing Zoe lying half way between life and death on that bed in Mintz's lab. Maybe it's him suddenly having to deal with the reality of nearly having a child and not even knowing it until it's long gone. Perhaps it's just everything because Donner is so angry he can't even think straight.
He realizes this feeling has been building and he's been holding it back. He knows there is nothing he can do and that only makes him angrier. He's angry at Beta and Gamma, all of them. Most of all he's angry at the one he hasn't even seen yet; he's angry at Alpha because that was the beginning. Alpha was the start which brought them to Mars and took Sharon. All the way back to Mars these things have been changing his life and not for the better.
"Donner," Zoe's hand grips his arm jolting him back to the present and this time he doesn't shake her off. "You can't be angry like this."
"Because we are supposed to be here." Donner looks at her and her expression is so confident, so sure. "It's all been a lead up to now. Donner, I failed out of the program. I should be on Earth being a teacher or something but now I'm here! You had a vasectomy and that changed. Tell me it doesn't mean something."
"How are you so sure it means something good?"
She smiles at him. "I just know. I can feel it, can't you?"
Donner puts a hand over his face with a sigh. "I don't know. It all feels like a jumble like it's…"
'Like its going to be Mars again…' he wants to say.
"It feels like my head is going to explode," Donner grumbles instead.
Zoe laughs and Donner opens his eyes to see her gazing at him with a smile on her face. His mood lightens with her smile; she always looks so pretty when she smiles. Suddenly he's not so angry anymore.
"What?" he asks as she stares at him.
"Maybe you just need to let go a little, Donner." She puts her hands on her hips. "You can't explain it so you might as well just hang on for the ride."
Donner snorts and it's all levity between them again. "Is this your sage advice?"
"Post Eagle, Post Venus wisdom."
"Are you going to get a Venus tattoo now?"
She shrugs. "I might. Know any good tattoo parlors around here?"
Donner points to the alcove beside him. "I bet if you asked one of them they could find a way since they change everything else."
She smiles coyly. "Maybe."
They're standing very close together now. The banter feels like they are in Major Tom's with drinks resting between them. Donner wants to pretend for just a moment that they are five years back when it was different. It was still complicated then but at least it was a complicated he had some sort of grasp on.
"Zoe..." Donner begins but he doesn't really know what he's going to say.
Zoe decides for the both of them instead, leaning up, touching Donner's cheek and kissing him. It's effortless and his arms wrap around her where they are meant to be. She smells just like she used to up close. He can't believe how long its been without her lips against him. She tastes so good.
"Maddux," she whispers as they pull back and his eyebrows fly up at the use of his first name.
But this time its Zoe who doesn't know what to say and she just looks into his eyes. It would be romantic in any other place. Here it feels more like fate and even a bit like someone's plan. But, maybe, he finally needs to stop thinking so hard.
"I guess we're back to where we started," Donner says quietly, brushing some of Zoe's hair unnecessarily away from her face.
"I'm not sure we ever really left the whole way."
Donner laughs and kisses her again, hands smoothing the fabric on her sides. "I guess not," he says between kisses, still unwilling to let her go, "because I've never stopped wanting to do this."
They both laugh and suddenly they are kissing in a frenzy; pent up feelings and urges from years of pushing it aside let out all at once. She's so warm and he just can't get over how good she smells. She breathes against him and Donner realizes she tastes different. He doesn't know how he could remember what she used to taste like but it something noticeable, something that he can't really put his finger on. But her lips feel the same and her body pressed against him, round breasts and slight hips, are just as he always remembered. How had he gone without her for so long?
"I think we need to get out of here."
Donner blinks as Zoe speaks close to his face. "What?"
"Well, Donner, in case you missed this earlier, we are in a storage container with Beta and Gamma."
They both turn to look at the moving creatures, things, whatever they are, in their alcoves along the wall. It does sort of feel as though they are being watched. They slowly back out of the embrace and gaze at each other.
"So," Donner starts,"we're going to do this? I mean... we still have this unresolved history thing."
Zoe sighs. "Forget about it Donner. It's never going to be resolved anyway. We just need to move past it."
She makes a large motion with her hands in the air then swoops them onto her hips. Donner nods once. This new found self clarity of Zoe's may take a bit of getting used to.
"So, live in the now?" Donner says.
Zoe nods and takes his hand, motioning toward the door.
"And... and our baby?" Donner asks quietly.
He doesn't want to admit it's still bothering him. He doesn't want to say that he may have left, that maybe they could have had the baby. Now that they've stepped back into the ring together he feels like he has to let her know somehow.
"Maybe that's not over Donner," Zoe replies and Donner can tell she already feels what he's thinking. "We both had that dream so we've got something in the future for us."
"Because we had the same weird dream about you going naked out an airlock."
Zoe sighs and gives Donner a withering look. "Well, I would prefer to not have that part happen."
"Yeah, me, either."
Zoe snorts. "Thanks, Donner."
Then Zoe turns and walks to the exit. She stops at the door way and looks back at him.
"You coming?" She asks then grins in a playful manner. "We can get started on baby attempt number two."
Donner feels his eyes bulge and he laughs in surprise. "You know just what to say to a guy."
Zoe shrugs, the grin still curving on her face. "I have many talents."
Walking over, Donner takes her hand with a smile. "Don't I know it."
So, they have a history. There is pain and love between them, mistakes in the past and things they can't take back. Things are changing though. Instead of just the past they have now, right here.
Leaning down to kiss Zoe once on the lips, Donner walks out the door with her. It is a second try and Donner swears to himself that no matter Gamma and Beta and Alpha and whatever plans or motives those things have, this time he and Zoe are going to do it right. This time it will work for them both.