[Author's Note: This chapter will be it for a while. There is much more to come, but a lot to tweak. I hope you're enjoying it. If not, I'm surprised you made it to Chapter 5. Yes, Danziger will finally show up. If you've read my other story, "No Special Occasion," you'll know I'm a big fan of the character. So…on with the story.]
Devon felt her knees go weak as she headed down the gangplank. Some of them rushed to meet her. Others held back, not wanting to crowd her, remembering that this moment was less significant for her than it was for them.
She had so many arms around her, she wasn't even sure whom she was hugging anymore.
Morgan kept his distance. He held Adam closely to his chest, but breathed a deep sigh of relief. The great Devon Adair had returned. And as glad as he was that Devon had made it back alive, he was also looking forward to her help now that Danziger had flown the coop. Morgan felt Adam stir, awakened by all the activity. He absentmindedly kissed the top of his head, keeping an eye on the new arrival.
"Do you want me to take him? You know, so you can go say hello?" True offered.
Morgan had been so enraptured, he hadn't even noticed her standing next to him. "Oh, no thanks, True. You go ahead."
True gave him a half-smile but made no attempt to join the others.
"It's no big deal. She's here to stay. I'll have plenty of time. No need to fuss all over her. I'm sure she hates it." True found a log to sit on.
Morgan joined her. Sometimes she was so much like her dad, it scared him half to death. But he saw other influences there. Yale, Bess, Julia, Alonzo, even himself. He liked to think she was the best parts of all of them wrapped up in one sometimes infuriating package.
"Yeah, you're right." He knew he'd get her talking the less he helped.
"I mean, I was just a little kid when she got sick. And I was always fighting with Uly. She probably thought I was a brat."
"Well…," he tried to tease.
True gave him the Danziger glare, and he unconsciously held up Adam as a barrier.
True giggled. "Bess would kill you if she saw you do that."
Morgan joined in. "Sorry, kid," he whispered, returning the baby to his chest and patting his back.
"Morgan," she started. "Nevermind."
He took a seat beside her. "Look, you shouldn't feel guilty for Uly running off…"
True was startled. "That's not what I was thinking at all."
"Oh." He wanted to back pedal, but wasn't sure how.
"Why would you say that? Did someone say something?"
"No," he said, his eyes widening. He gave her a weak smile. "No, that's not it at all. I mean…" He stopped for a moment. "So, uh, what were you going to say?"
True studied him, her eyes narrowed in mistrust. Finally she turned her head to Devon and the milling crowd. She slumped over, elbows on her knees. "I left her the most embarrassing vids, Morgan. At first it was just little things. And then after a while I just told her everything. I used her as a pathetic pre-teen diary. If I'm lucky she didn't bother watching them at all."
"How mortifying," Morgan laughed. "Well, that's an awkward age for anyone, even the great Devon Adair. I'm sure she'll understand."
True groaned. "If she tells anyone anything I said, I'll just die. And she's going to be living in my house!"
Morgan handed Adam off to her. "I'm sure she'll have other things to worry about."
True rolled her eyes. "He needs to be changed."
"Oh, does he?" he asked in mock surprise, getting up to join the others.
True sighed. Adam wasn't fussing yet, but he would be soon enough. She got up to leave, prepared to make her way to the Martins' house.
"Wait! True!" Bess was running toward her. "I'll take him, sweetheart. Don't go."
"I'll go get him changed. Don't worry about it. I can't believe Morgan sometimes."
True turned to the crowd, Morgan with Virginia in his arms, chatting with Devon. Devon turned and caught her eye before True could look away. True stood motionless. Had Devon always been that beautiful?
Bess gently removed the baby from True's arms. "True, honey, just go ahead. Don't be shy."
When True still wouldn't budge, Bess gave her a soft shove. "I need to change this baby, but I'm not moving 'til you start moving. That's an order, Danziger."
True was shaken from her trance. "Ok, Bess, stop pushing."
Bess left the beach to head toward home, humming softly over Adam's head.
True took a deep breath before moving forward. At the same moment, Devon began to gently force her way through the crowd, heading in her direction.
"True!" Devon called, smiling and waving. She was moving more quickly now.
True suddenly felt her legs grow weak. She'd been standing here watching Devon, but it hadn't hit her until Devon had actually seen her. Until Devon had acknowledged her. That's when the floodgates opened. This was really happening. This was really Devon Adair. She couldn't take another step. She began to shake. In a flash, Yale had his arm around her. Devon looked worried and approached carefully. "Oh, True, are you alright?"
True couldn't hold it in anymore and began sobbing. Devon took her in her arms. "It's alright, sweetie. It's ok. You know what? Let's just head home, ok?" True nodded, sniffling.
"This wasn't how it was supposed to happen at all, Devon."
Devon tried to comfort her, but she really was anxious to see New Pacifica.
"Uly was supposed to help. He said he'd help. And Dad was going to be here. We had the whole thing planned."
"I'll see them soon. Don't worry, True."
"Yes, True, let's keep moving, shall we?" Yale offered, patting True on the back.
"We had the whole thing planned! We had this planned for years! How could Uly do this? How could…" True's hands were shaking fists at her sides. But she seemed to be speaking more to herself than anyone else. She began to follow the path Bess had taken moments before.
Devon pleaded with Yale with her eyes.
"Give her time," he sighed, watching True storm off.
Devon nodded weakly, barely hearing him. She had but one thought. What would her first glance at New Pacifica feel like? Her heart raced. She knew her friends were keeping something from her. And she knew there was more to Hunter and his colony than they were willing to let on. She knew her son was missing, and the man who promised to protect him would not be there to greet her. But she pushed all of it to the furthest reaches of her mind to make room for the realization of her dream. New Pacifica.
With a deep breath, she took another step, ready to meet it for the first time.