Carpe Diem: Chapter 3

Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine. They're Amblin's and Universal's. So there.

Rating: PG-13

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The sun rose slowly over the horizon beckoning the inhabitants of Eden Advance to address the new day. The camp began to come to life as the realization of another long walk lay ahead. Much of the crew had shuffled into the meal tent where Bess was cheerily dishing out a concoction of seasoned fruit. Baines and Walman strolled over to have a private word with Julia and Alonzo, although it wasn't long before everyone else was drawn into the conversation as well.

"I'm telling you that it wasn't us, okay?" Solace steadfastly denied, becoming slightly irritated at Baines and Walman's continued line of questioning.

"Well, who was it then?" Baines loudly queried as the tent became quiet.

"You guys want to fill the rest of us in?" Cameron asked as he motioned to the rest of the group listening intently. "You seem to have our undivided attention."

"Well, if you must know, after I relieved Baines on watch last night, he thought he heard some strange noises at the lake-" Walman began.

"So I went to investigate," Baines continued.

Walman interrupted, "He gets there and what does he see? Two of you in the water." He took a long pause for effect. "And you weren't swimming," he finished with a wink.

"Really? Which two?" Bess gleefully asked wondering which couple was enjoying the fringe benefits of her matchmaking skills.

"I'm not sure. It was dark and they were at the other bank near those large rocks. I couldn't see who they were, but they certainly were, you know, um, animated." Baines suddenly looked uncomfortable.

"Aren't you the diplomat?" Walman beamed. "Last night, our friend Baines here described what he witnessed as 'a couple of dogs in heat'."

When the laughter finally subsided, Magus was compelled to ask, "So, which of you is it?"

"I don't know," Walman answered directly to Magus. He tried desperately not to look jealous at the possibility that someone might have stolen her from him before he'd gotten the courage to make his own move. "We've eliminated me, Baines, Alonzo and Julia-"

"Don't look at us," Mazatl and Denner jointly stated. They were much too shy to have engaged in a public interlude, no matter how dark and secluded the spot may have been.

"And it sure wasn't us," Bess declared nodding toward Morgan as she joined him at the table. Cameron and Magus also shrugged.

All eyes slowly turned to Yale in the rear of the room.

"I can assure you that I was in my tent asleep the entire night," the cyborg said with a slight grin.

Alonzo startled to chuckle as he rose to his feet. "You know, there are two people missing from this discussion and they could very well be the guilty party."

"Not a chance, Solace! There's no way that the two silhouettes that I saw out there were Devon and Danziger," Baines countered.

"Why not? The process of elimination concludes that it would have to be them, right?"

"Unless people in this room are lying," Walman retorted, refocusing his gaze on Magus. Why was she sitting next to Cameron? If he remembered correctly, she sat next to him last night at dinner, too. He just might have to kill Cameron later. "Besides, they can't stand each other. My foot still hurts from Devon kicking the crap out of me yesterday. There's no way that those two would ever-"

Just then, the tent flap swung open. An energetic True skipped in followed closely by her father who, as usual, looked like he had just been dumped out of bed.

"Come on, Dad," True jeered, trying not to notice how eerily silent it became when they entered the tent. "Are we gonna finish the work on the ATV before we leave or are we gonna do it after we camp tonight?"

"No time like the present, Sport. Just grab a couple of pieces of fruit to take with us. We can eat and work at the same time," answered John, oblivious to the hush that had befallen the room. After all, he was a little preoccupied this morning.

A thought crossed True's mind. "Hey, Dad, where were you last night, anyway?"

"What do you mean?" Danziger asked as he stuffed a mango-like piece of fruit into the pocket of his jacket.

"I woke up in the middle of the night and you weren't there. Did you go for a walk or something?"

"Oh, yeah, I mean, no. Actually, I figured that I wouldn't get the chance to enjoy another day off for awhile. Figured I might as well take advantage of the surroundings. So, I decided to go for a swim."

Suddenly, several utensils were dropped along with the jaws of every person in the tent. Both Bess and Yale simultaneously began to choke on their mouthful of food. Although True picked up on this, John was too absorbed by his memories of the prior evening to take notice.

"Good," True said, a bit apprehensively. She wondered what she had missed. "I'm glad you took some time to relax and have some fun."

"You can say that, again," uttered Morgan under his breath.

"Anyone seen our 'Fearless Dictator' this morning?" Danziger asked, missing Morgan's comment along with the stunned expressions. He turned and looked to Julia for an answer but the doctor never offered a response and continued to stare directly at her plate of food in front of her.

"Uh, no, um, Devon, she, uh, must have decided to sleep in," stuttered Bess.

"She must have been tired," added Alonzo with an all-knowing smile.

"Well, somebody better tell her that our holiday was yesterday, not today," John grunted suddenly feeling a bit uncomfortable, himself. They couldn't possibly know, could they? "The ATV'll be tuned up and ready to go in about forty-five minutes. Maybe somebody better go wake her up. Day isn't getting any younger."

"I will check to ensure that both she and Uly are awake and ready to go when it is time," Yale softly said, also unable to look the mechanic directly in the eyes.

"Good. Come on, True. We got work to do." Both Danzigers marched out the door and, luckily for everyone, out of earshot.

"'Two dogs in heat', huh, Baines?" Alonzo said, now rolling with laughter.

"Oh, God, Bess, please tell me you didn't wash our clothes in the lake this morning!" Morgan shuddered as the words left his mouth.

"Morgan-" Bess began.

"Wait just a minute," Walman cut in. "Okay, we know that Danz was one of the people involved in last night's tryst. But how do we know the other person was Adair?"

"Who else could it be?"

"I'll do you one better," hypothesized Magus. "Let's say it was both Devon and John. But what if they weren't, um," she searched for a noncrude description, "what if they weren't being amorous. I mean, Baines, are you really sure that you saw what you think you saw?"

"What do you think they were doing out there in the middle of the night, Magus?" Mazatl was willing to hear any ideas.

"I'm saying maybe Danziger finally snapped."

"Has anyone even seen Devon this morning?"

"I didn't see a body floating in the lake if that's what you mean."

"Maybe he buried her where we'd never find her," Morgan nervously pondered out loud. If Danziger was willing to murder Adair, he knew all- too-well who would be next on the mechanic's hit-list.

"You don't actually think that he would try to drown her, do you? I mean, she knows how to push his buttons and all, but Danziger wouldn't really try to kill her, right?"

"Nah," Walman said. "There's no way that he would do that, no matter how much he's thought about it. Hey, Baines, it didn't look like he was trying to drown Devon, did he?"

"Not unless he was trying to resuscitate her at the same time!"

More laughter ensued as both Adairs strolled into the meal tent.

"I guess we have our answer," Julia spoke in a low voice as the others giggled.

Bess sauntered up to the pair, hoping to get some juicy information and maybe have some fun in the process.

"Hi, Devon," she merrily addressed. "You kind of slept in late this morning, didn't you?"

"Just had a little trouble getting to sleep last night." She looked around for John, but didn't see him. Wonder if he's awake yet, she pondered.

"Would you like me to check you out to make sure everything's all right?" Julia asked with a smirk. It was time to get back at Devon for the endless meddling regarding her and Alonzo's relationship. Payback was going to be a Bitch.

"No, really, I'm great. I guess I was just wound up a bit. So I decided to go swimming and that tired me right out."

"When did you go swimming, Mom?" Uly looked a bit hurt that he hadn't been invited.

Devon knew what he was thinking. "It was after you fell asleep, Honey. I didn't want to wake you."

"Wasn't it kind of dangerous to be swimming alone that late at night, Devon?" Alonzo chirped, his jovial tone not matching the words of concern.

"Yeah, Mom. You're not that strong a swimmer."

"It's okay, Uly. I met up with John and we went swimming together." Devon desperately tried to hide the delighted look that overtook her face.

"Oh, well why didn't you say so?" Uly rationalized, "Mr. Danziger is a great swimmer and he would never let anything bad happen to you."

"Yep, you're right about that," she answered as she grabbed a plate of food. "Tell you what. Since we're running so late this morning, why don't we take our meals back to our tent. We can eat while we pack up."

"Okay." Uly didn't really want to pack and looked for an out. "Where's True, anyway?"

Yale sheepishly responded, "True is with her father working on the ATV." He found that he couldn't look Devon in the eyes either. "John said that everything should be ready to go in about forty-five minutes."

"Great. Looks like it's going to be another gorgeous day," Devon dreamily pronounced as she exited the tent with Uly in tow.

A few seconds of absolute stillness followed while the rest of Eden Advance drank in what had obviously occurred between their two competent, if not overly moody, leaders.

It was Julia who finally broke the silence, "Hey, 'Lonz, I'm not that great a swimmer, either. Do you think John would be willing to give me some lessons?" She playfully shoved him as he wrapped his arm around her.

"You do and you'll be taking down your own med-tent!"

"Danziger could help you with that, too!" Magus heartily exclaimed. "Hey, I could sure use some swimming lessons!"

Walman just glared at her.

"I can't believe it," Mazatl said.

"I can and it's about time, if you ask me," Bess added.

"Hold on." Denner's mind was racing. "For all we know, they've been together for weeks, even months."

"Yeah, think about it. If Baines hadn't been such a Peeping Tom-"

"Shut up, Cameron!" Baines shot back.

"I'm just saying that it was dumb luck that Devon and Danziger got caught last night. How many times do you suppose they HAVEN'T been discovered?"

"Are you saying that all of the bitching and complaining they do, not to mention the screaming, you're saying that it's all just a ruse on their part to keep us from finding out that they're a couple?"

"I don't know. But I would love to know how long they've really been seeing each other."

"Probably since she's been out of cold sleep," Mazatl guessed.

Julia thought about it. "Maybe it was when we were in the spider tunnels. Both of them hinted that there was a bit more going on between them than just meets the eye."

"Do you remember when Danz ingested the flower pollen?" Magus added. "Devon watched over him like a mother hen."

"Maybe it was when he and Baines got that virus at the other escape pod."

"No way. We'd only been on the planet for three weeks when that happened."

"Exactly my point. This could have been going on since the beginning."

"Hey, Yale," Bess inquired. "Did you know about this?"

Yale had stayed silent through the entire conversation. He was still seated at the back table, though now he had his head in his hands, trying to get it to stop spinning. "I honestly had no idea. However, I cannot say that I am surprised at the turn of events." Okay, he was a bit surprised, but he should have known that this was coming. "Of course, they have had their turbulent moments." At this, the entire room erupted with a mixture of snickers and groans as each remembered past altercations between the two strong personalities.

He continued, "They have been through a lot together. I also believe that, despite any animosity between them, they trust each other implicitly. John has always been there for Devon when she needed him and vice versa. I, for one, am happy that they have finally realized that they belong together."

"I couldn't agree more," Alonzo grinned. "So, do we let them off of the hook?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, the both of them are going to great lengths to act like they can't stand to be around each other. Do we tell them that the jig is up and they can finally go public?"

Morgan grimaced, "I don't want to see John Danziger go public with anything!"

"Are we taking a vote?" Cameron piped up. "Danziger loves to vote on everything."

"Yeah, let's vote on it." Alonzo stood and rapped his knuckle on the table, rattling the empty plates. "Okay, who's in favor of making life easier on them? Letting Devon and John court each other openly for all to see." He smirked devilishly. "No more hidden romps under the cover of darkness. They can have their romantic liaisons anytime or anywhere. In the middle of camp even!"

"I think I'm going to lose my breakfast," a now-green Morgan croaked out.

The pilot continued, "Or do we want to sit on this new information and watch them both to see what happens? Maybe even be able to use this revelation to our advantage, if the opportunity presents itself. Who knows? Maybe they'll eventually come clean and tell us what's been going on between them."

"It could be fun to wait and see what happens. Now that we know what's going on, we can be on our toes and monitor them," Denner proposed.

"Plus, they deserve to suffer a little for forcing us endure all of their endless tirades."

"It'll also give us something to do during those twenty click hikes."

Walman added, "I got nothing against Danziger, but I wouldn't mind punishing Devon a little bit. After all, she did kick me."

"Get over it, Walman," Magus said, rolling her eyes.

"I think we've heard enough. It's time to take a vote," Julia said with a slightly maniacal grin.

It was unanimous. Let the games begin.



THE END