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Tangled Web
by LJC

He hadn't really meant to hit Alonzo. Laying in bed back at the dome, camp quiet and True sleeping peacefully beside him, Danzinger decided it had been a gut reaction. Sitting in that cave, listening to him going on and on about how he couldn't live without her. Stupid romantic drivel.

"There's another part of her too," the pilot had waxed eloquent, "the part of her she tries to keep hidden. I mean, there's a woman who's a loving and giving—"

"You want to give it a rest?"

It had really started to annoy him.

"A woman who should be held, and caressed—"

"That's enough."

"Passionate, fiery. I just want to reach her."

Wham. Just like that.

It had felt really good, thought. Alonzo was his friend, of course. He just wasn't in his right mind. Ms. Devon Adair, passionate? Yeah, about her son, maybe. Anything even remotely threatening to her little angel, and she stopped using her brain entirely. He swore she delighted in driving him nuts at every opportunity.

It just wouldn't be New Pacifica without John . . . .

Yeah, right. No John Danzinger to order around. The worst part was, she actually asked for his opinion first. That was rare, Drones opinions weren't taken particularly seriously back on the Stations, and somehow, he had thought Ms. Devon Adair would be different. But no, she would make it look like she wanted everyone's input, but then she would go ahead and do whatever she wanted anyway. He wants to scout ahead, she thinks it's foolish, and what's more, actually accused him of being jealous of Alonzo. So what did he do? Ditch the snowshoes, that's what. He wants to go through the portal, she thinks it's too dangerous. He wanted to get the Dunerail, she wanted to walk the ridge. What did they do? They walked the ridge. He wanted to go back and wait for the rail to charge, she wanted to walk to the lake. What did they do?

They walked to the lake.

Bossy. That's what she was. Bossy, rich, spoiled....

Okay, maybe not spoiled any more. She may have started out thinking everything was going to go her way, but getting Eden Project off the ground, or rather, out of the Stations, must have taught her a few things about her agenda versus the universe. And G889 seemed to have its own ideas, as they had all learned since making Planetfall and started the journey to New Pacifica.

Oh God, I hate to admit how much I've come to depend on that man.

Danzinger rolled over, and squeezed his eyes tightly shut, trying to will his body to sleep.

Maybe even more than that...

That morning at breakfast he had steadfastly avoided Devon's gaze, which searched him out occasionally in between coaching Uly to finish his food before he and True went outside to play, and listening to Yale tell her about what had happened back at camp while they were playing in the surf and sand three thousand klicks east of where they were supposed to be.

As he got up to rinse out his bowl, Bess Martin came up to him with one of those smiles that telegraphed the worst as far as he was concerned.

"Don't you start, Bess." Danzinger held up a warning finger.

"I didn't say anything," Bess favoured him with one of those innocent looks.

"No, but you were going to."

"John, did something happen between you and Devon?"

"It's enough you got Alonzo and Julia together, don't turn that matchmaking onto me now." He jerked his head towards the two love birds who had arrived at breakfast conspicuously tardy, and seemed less interested in the oatmeal-like substance than staring deep into each other's eyes and probably whispering sweet nothings.

"Who said anything about matchmaking?" she raised a brow, and he closed his eyes, grimacing. She walked back to where Morgan was finishing his coffee, and he felt like banging his head against the support pole in the centre of the dome for a while, but thought the better of it, as it would just attract undue attention.

"I'm goin' to go work on the Transrover." Danzinger dropped a kiss on his daughter's head.

"Okay, Dad," True looked up at him, and he smiled.

"John, I thought the vehicles were fine?" Devon asked from where she sat.

"I'm just worried this cold might have effected the solar converter, just want to make sure there are no cracks in the crystal. All we need is to get everything packed up, and for it to blow a few klicks into the journey."

"Okay," Devon followed him with her eyes as he grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair and headed out. Yale watched her, trying in vain to hide the half-smile that tugged at the corner of his lips.

John lay flat on his back beneath the Transrover when he noticed the pair of feet to his left.

"Now what, Bess? I told you, nothing happened," Danzinger's voice floated up from beneath the vehicle, annoyed.

"John?" Devon asked cautiously, and he banged his head. Seeing stars for a moment, he rubbed his forehead, and succeeded in getting motor oil all over his sleeve.

"Geez, now what, Adair?" He reached for a spanner, and she set it into his groping palm without missing a beat.

"You seem a little agitated. Can we talk?"

"We are talkin'."

"You just have to be difficult, don't you," Devon snapped. Sighing, Danzinger scrambled out from beneath the Transrover, wiping his palms on his thighs.

"What?" he asked, weary.

"Are you still upset about the scouting trip?"

"Not this again." He pulled his gloves out of his jacket pocket, and tugged them on before he got frostbite.

"I know you two put a lot of work into planning that trip, and making those...."

"Snowshoes," he supplied.

"Snowshoes. Which, by the way, the kids love, thanks so much for letting Uly try them."

"Hey, they can't get hurt, and somebody should at least use 'em." He shrugged, but she wasn't fooled. He sighed. "Look, it was just an idea. We took a vote, that's the way things work. I don't hold you responsible or anything. Besides, we don't know how long this winter's gonna last, anyway. It was just like Julia said, cabin fever."

"It's not that I don't appreciate it, it was a good idea, it really was."

"My ego doesn't need stroking, Adair. Let it go."

Devon bristled, then walked off. Danzinger could feel his back stiffening, and shook himself. He didn't have to make nice and suck up to the boss, because she wasn't his boss anymore. Why should he care if something he said set her off?

Dammit, why?

"Mom! Watch me!"

"I'm watching, Uly." Devon leaned against the wall of the biodome as Uly trudged across the patch of snow, the mammoth snowshoes strapped to his feet. The back of his parka was crusted with snow where the unwieldy appliances had tripped him up, but he didn't care, his face was split by a wide grin as he turned around to go back up, one arm sinking up to the elbow as he lost his balance. He and True giggled, chasing each other in slow motion across the drift.

Bess sauntered casually over to her, a cup off coffee steaming between her hands. She offered it to Devon, who drank thankfully.

"So, those spiders travel all the way through that space-fold to be with each other?"

"It would seem that way." Devon had a feeling she knew what Bess was getting at, but played dumb. It hadn't been that long ago that the two of them had been plotting the fate of a certain young pilot and doctor. And seeing how that had turned out obviously had bolstered Bess's confidence. Or just given her the opportunity to try her new found skills elsewhere.

"That's pretty amazing, when you think about it."

"Sure is," Devon pursed her lips to keep from saying more.

"Kinda like you and Shepherd."

Devon turned to face her, her shock obviously showing. This she had not expected.

"I know it's none of my business, but it's such a romantic story, don't you think? One man's dreaming mind reaching out across the stars, and finding you back on the Stations. Then after all those years, finally bringing the two of you together."

Devon was at a loss, she didn't quite know how to reply. Bess's open, earnest gaze followed her as she sat down atop a supply crate, and finished the last of the coffee.

"It must have been pretty hard to believe at first."

"It was," Devon murmured.

"It just goes to show, I mean, love is a pretty tricky thing. Here he fell in love with you from so far away, on the strength of a dream. And you managed to pull this project together, get all those children away from the Stations, never knowing just why you chose G889, and then to finally meet him."

"And lose him," Devon sighed, and Bess's face immediately reflected her pain.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean—"

"No. No, it's okay. I guess I haven't really talked about it much. It all happened so fast."

"Sometimes it does happen fast. I remember the first time I saw Morgan. It was just light lightning," she snapped her fingers. "But then look at Julia and Alonzo. Sometimes, it can be slow, gradual. I mean, it took them months to realise that the person they were looking for was right there next to them."

"Under their noses, right?" Devon smiled at last, and Bess laughed.

"I think you know what I mean."

"Bess, I hate to tell you this, but I think you're wrong."

"Really? About what?"

"Just because two people work together—"

"Closely together—"

"And share a lot of responsibility—"

"And argue."

"—and argue doesn't mean they are attracted to one another."

"Did I mean to imply that?" Bess raised her eyebrows. "I guess it might have come out that way. And if you want to tell me politely to butt out—"



"Butt out."

"Gotcha." Feeling her work here was done, Bess walked off with a decided spring in her step, and Devon's head drooped. She couldn't decide to laugh, or yell.

Her and Danzinger..?

She finally decided on laughing, but it was short-lived, as Uly came over, carrying the prized snowshoes, and she tousled his brown curls affectionately. "You ready for your lesson, kiddo?"

"Sure, Mom. What were you and Bess talking about?"

"Nothing," Devon's eyes drifted over to where Danzinger's legs suck out from beneath the Transrover, and True sat on a crate, swinging her legs and carrying on an animate conversation that was impossible to hear from where she was standing.

You're the only loner is this group, Adair.

Danzinger slid out from underneath the vehicle just in time to see Devon drop a kiss on the top of Uly's head, and head back into the biodome. True kept on chattering, and he realised with a guilty start she was asking him about the ocean, and waiting patiently for his response.

"Isn't it time for school, True-girl? I'm sure Yale can tell you a lot more about the ocean than I can."

True followed his gaze, and whatever thoughts she was having, she wisely kept to herself. She hopped off the crate and ran across the camp to the biodome, only stopping once to look back and see her dad, lost in thought, a smudge of motor oil across his cheek and nose.

Scratching at his stubbled cheek, and working motor oil under his fingernails in the process, Danzinger sighed. Seven months, and three thousand kilometres to go.

It was going to be a long, long trip.


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