Hannah awoke refreshed with a smile on her face. She and Donovan had spent the night cuddled together sleeping for the most part. It was a rather peculiar phenomenon. Since they had finally met one another face to face, it seemed easier to actually sleep together. Not that they couldn't do other things as well, as they still did. But it was comforting to finally have the peace of sleeping in one another's arms, knowing that reality couldn't take them away from each other. Hannah was confident that today would bring about Donovan's bodily return to her.
She got up and went to the kitchen, surprised to see Jack inside instead of out for his morning swim. He chuckled when he saw her... for two reasons. The first is she reminded him very much of the wild-haired, wide-eyed little niece he recalled fondly. The second was the look of sheer confusion as she tried to figure out why he was there. It was apparent she wasn't quite awake yet.
"Haven't looked out the window this morning, hmm, Hannah?"
Hannah took a minute to process his words before glance around and noting for the first time just how dark it was outside. She continued to gaze outside for a moment longer before her eyes widened in realization.
"Wow! That's quite a storm! Where'd it come from? And isn't it pretty sudden?"
"There's a story there. You want some coffee before I tell it?"
Hannah extended her arm, vein up, indication her need for a direct injection. Jack laughed again, and handed her a double sized mug.
"Here," he said putting an arm around her shoulders and leading her to the couch. "I think you need to be sitting for this, even with that double espresso in your cup.
He let Hannah take several sips as they both stared out the glass doors into the fury of the storm. Finally, she ran her hands through her hair and set her cup on the table and turned towards him. "Okay, Uncle Jack. I think I am almost coherent now. What's the scoop?"
"You want the facts first or just the theory?" he asked, scrubbing his own short hair.
"Facts first, then theory. I wanna see if you're thinking what I am."
"All right," Jack said, and rose from his place on the couch to pace. "The fact is that a lot of the weird weather patterns around here are directly related to Donovan's comings and goings. By everything I have been able to piece together, the storms come when she crosses into our time."
"So you think she has crossed again?" Hannah asked hopefully.
Jack shook his head, hating to see the slumped shoulders and dulled eyes his response garnered. "No, not this time. This storm is different, both in origin and intensity. Were I to hazard a guess, I would say that she is trying to open the door."
"This storm is stronger, fiercer than most she has caused, isn't it?" Jack nodded an affirmative. "Do you have a theory on why?" He nodded again, but still didn't speak. "Would you care to share?" a little curtly. Jack started as though coming out of deep thought.
"Sorry. Got to thinking there. I think the difference is that she actually has to open the door this time. She has to accept on faith that crossing the boundary means crossing out of her world and into the relative unknown of yours. It's a huge step."
"I'm not sure I follow you, Uncle Jack."
He rubbed his hands over his face and through his hair before sighing. "Let me see if I can explain it a little more clearly. When you and Donovan crossed over before, it was no problem, because you were neither one aware that there was a big time difference between you. Even when you realized that she was from the past, it was easier for you to accept because you have read and studied the past and can believe what your senses are telling you about the reality of that time and place."
"I know all of that Uncle Jack. What does that have to do with the storm, the portal, and Donovan getting back to me??" Hannah's frustration came through her tone of voice plainly.
"Donovan is fully cognizant of the portal and the time barrier between the two of you now. I think the storm is her struggle to allow the truth of her knowledge to become her reality. She has faith in you. She just needs to believe in herself and cross over."
Hannah's eye widened in understanding. "I need to go," and she was out the door without shoes, a shower or an umbrella.
She made it down the path and partway down the beach before she slowed. "What am I doing?" she asked herself out loud. "She has to come to me. It is the only way this will work. I have to go prepare things for her arrival, 'cause I know she will make it back to me." She looked around at the storm and raised her voice. "You hear me, Donovan?? I believe in you!!"
Then she turned and ran back to Jack's without a backwards glance.
Donovan woke with a start, the ferocity of the storm outside her windows a perfect reflection of the turmoil that stirred in her mind. She understood what Hannah had said, and even accepted the fact that it was true, but getting her mind wrapped around it was something all together different. It gave her a terrible headache every time she tried to imagine existing more than a hundred years into her own future.
She shook her head violently to try and clear all conscious thought from her mind, and rose to start the water heating. She wanted a warm bath and a cup of hot tea before she walked down the beach to find Hannah.
Hannah pushed her sodden hair out of her eyes as she carefully mounted the step. Jack handed her a towel without a word and waited for her to drop the cloth around her shoulders before putting a mug of something steaming into her hands.
She sipped the sweet coffee gratefully, soaked to the bone by her recent excursion through the rain, and thoroughly chilled by the air that was on in the house.
"Quick trip," Jack commented.
"Yeah, it occurred to me that I can't do anything except believe in her. She has to get here on her own."
"So, in the meantime, after my shower, I'm going to prepare things here for her introduction to my world."
"You're so certain she will overcome her own disbelief then?" Jack asked, knowing that speaking it aloud would help Hannah confirm it in her own mind.
"Y... y...yes!" she answered vehemently, then clamped her jaws together to keep her teeth from chattering. She shivered and sneezed.
"All right. That's just about enough of that. This is no time for you to get sick, young lady," Jack said sternly. Let's go get you into a hot shower."
Hannah nodded. "S... s...sounds like a p...plan. Even if...f...f it t...t...takes he...her a d...day or t...two, I wa...wanna b...be r...read... ready f...for her."
By this time they were in the bathroom, and Jack turned on the water to warm it up. "You get undressed and get in that shower, honey. Then we'll see what we can do to make things ready for Donovan. I'll be in the office if you need anything." Then he closed the door behind him without another word.
Hannah stepped into the warmth of the shower and sighed in relief.
The next two days there were furious storms and Hannah was grateful to Jack for both his help and support. They worked feverishly to hide as much of the modernity of the house as they could manage. Jack built cabinet doors to hide the television and the refrigerator. Hannah put away all the lamps and small appliances.
She knew there was nothing she could do about the glass or the plumbing, though she was glad that Jack's window treatments were a cotton material, and his furniture tended towards wood and leather, much like Donovan's did.
They decided to keep the study locked so Donovan couldn't stumble into technology her mind was not ready to understand. Hannah planned to introduce her to life in the twenty-first century very slowly, because being without her was just not acceptable. She had no intention of allowing another separation like this one again if it were in her power to prevent it.
The third evening of storms found Jack and Hannah sitting together in the living room staring silently at the fire. They'd finished up their preparations earlier that morning, and there was still no sign of Donovan. In fact, the storm had grown exponentially with each passing hour to the point that Hannah feared they were sitting in the middle of a stationary hurricane. She mentioned the possibility to Jack.
"I dunno, Hannah. I wonder if my presence here is making it harder for her and her frustration is making itself known in the storm. I'm gonna try something. Tomorrow morning, I'm gonna go into town. Maybe that will clear the way for her to make it through the door."
"You think it will help, Uncle Jack?"
"I think it can't hurt at this point. We only have three days until the Pirate's Ball. I am almost certain she crosses then, but I think for her to be able to function in our time, she has got to be able to control her destiny as it were. She has to consciously be able to cross back and forth like you did."
"And you think your being here hinders that somehow?"
"I think the fewer obstacles in her way the better, at least until she gets a handle on things."
"What if she can't, Uncle Jack? What if she can't cross the barrier? I haven't seen her in my dreams the last two nights."
Jack sat thoughtfully for a time after that. "It could very well be she is afraid of failure, Hannah, and doesn't want to see you until she can overcome what she perceives as her own breakdown in belief. It could be that she is just so exhausted mentally trying to overcome this barrier that she is sleeping too deeply to hear you. Whatever the reason, you have to decide whether or not you are willing to give everything up to be with her if she cannot come to you."
"I am, Uncle Jack. I told her I was. But she has to open the door."
Jack opened his mouth to say something, then stopped and patted her thigh. "Well, we'll try this tomorrow, and see if it makes a difference. At the very least, I will get ice cream out of it." His eyes twinkled and he was glad to see the responding twinkle in hers. It had been a few days.
She chuckled. "Uh huh. I shoulda known there was a motive behind that."
"You betcha," he replied lightly. "And if you are good, I may even bring home some for you and Donovan to share."
"Introducing Donovan to the delights of ice cream, hmm? I think I could learn to enjoy that rather quickly," Hannah said saucily, though she couldn't stop the blush that ran up her face.
Jack laughed, though he couldn't hide his blush either. "And on that note... I am going to bed." He stood then leaned down and kissed Hannah on the cheek. "Goodnight, little Hannah. Happy dreams."
"Goodnight, Uncle Jack."
She banked the fire, and went to her own room, hoping beyond hope to find Donovan in her dreams.
"Hannah?" Donovan looked around in the darkness. "Hannah, Beloved, where are you?"
"I'm right here with you Donovan. Listen to the sound of my voice. Can you see me?"
"No. It is so dark here. I cannot see anything. I feel like I have lost you... like I am all alone."
The absolute despair in Donovan's voice made Hannah want to cry, but she steeled her resolve and focused her entire being on believing in Donovan... believing in *them*.
"You're not all alone, love. I'm right here with you, just like I have always been. You just need to believe, Donovan. I won't let anything happen to you. You have to have faith in me... in us."
Donovan's dream self closed her eyes, and she focused solely on the sound of Hannah's voice. Hannah continued speaking in smooth even tones until Donovan felt herself relaxing into Hannah's warm embrace. When welcoming solid arms closed around her, Donovan opened her eyes to see Hannah's smiling face looking back at her.
Without speaking, she tilted her head up and captured the ardent lips just above hers. For a long moment, she simply reveled in the sensation of them being together once more. Then she pulled away and lifted a hand to tenderly trace Hannah's features. Hannah's eyes fluttered closed involuntarily and she just let herself feel.
Finally, Donovan wove her fingers into blonde locks and she pulled Hannah's lips down to a mere hairsbreadth of her own. "I missed you. I am sorry I...."
"Shh," Hannah whispered, covering Donovan's supple lips with her fingertips. "It's all right, Donovan. I know it's hard." She removed her fingers and planted a kiss on Donovan's mouth, then pulled back before Donovan could deepen it.
"I want you to try something tomorrow." She waited until the dark head nodded a tentative agreement. "I want you not to worry about crossing the barrier or opening the portal or stepping into the future, okay? I want you to focus solely on coming home to me. I want you to picture us together in the same time and place. Can you do that?"
Donovan thought seriously about Hannah's request, and about how much sense it really made. "I can do that, if you will do something for me."
"Anything, love. You know that."
"Focus all your thoughts on me. Give me a path to follow that will lead my heart to yours."
"It's already there, Donovan. You just have to follow it home."
Donovan smiled. "I love you, you know."
"I know. I love you, too. Now rest and I will see you in the morning."
Hannah woke to the sounds of birds and the glint of sunshine in her eyes. She smiled when she realized the storm had finally passed and she jumped out of bed. It boded well for the day.
She took a quick shower and dressed in a native sarong and halter top. She felt confident that she would bring Donovan into her world today.
Hannah opened the house wide and let the summer breeze blow through, enjoying the tang of the sea she could smell. She grabbed two apples and two bananas, and she made her way down the steps and on the path towards the beach with a bounce in her walk. She could hardly contain the happiness she felt. Her optimism was bubbling over this morning. She could believe enough for them both.
When she got to the end of the path, her breath caught. There just to the east of the opening stood Donovan, digging her toe in the sand for all the world like a five-year-old caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Hannah for her part, simply squealed with delight, and launched herself into Donovan's unsuspecting but very willing arms.
Hannah leaned down and kissed Donovan thoroughly who proceeded to spin them around when they broke for air. Hannah laughed out loud at Donovan's exuberance. "I know you could do it, love. I knew you'd make it today!"
Donovan gently deposited Hannah back on the sand and cupped her face tenderly in her hands. "That faith is why I made it, Angel. Never stop believing in me... in us."
"Oh, I think you can count on that, sweetheart. I'm in this for the long haul." She bent down to retrieve the fruit she'd dropped upon seeing Donovan standing there waiting for her, and missed the look of utter adoration that passed over Donovan's face. "Here," Hannah added. "Breakfast."
Donovan accepted the fruit and dropped into the sand, content to sit with Hannah forever. Hannah sat down a little more carefully, not wanting sand in the wrong places, especially this early in the morning. She and Donovan had a lot of lost time to make up for, and there was just so much she needed to bring Donovan up to speed on concerning the modern world. She shook her head to clear it. She could get depressed just thinking about it if she let herself think too hard. She would do what she could with the time she had and work from there. She couldn't believe a little bitty thing like time would keep them apart as hard as they'd struggled to find one another across it.
Donovan had been gazing out at the horizon much as Hannah had been until she heard the blonde woman muttering to herself. With an amused quirk of lips, she turned her head and asked, "Something you would like to share, or should I guess why you are mumbling under your breath and shaking your head at me?"
Hannah blushed prettily and Donovan laughed out loud. Hannah lightly slapped a linen covered leg.
"Be nice to me, Cap'n."
"Or what?" came the teasing reply. "What is a comely little wench like you going to do to the likes of me? Hmm?"
Hannah reached out and grabbed Donovan by a very sensitive part of her anatomy, causing the Captain to gasp in surprised pleasure. Using said anatomical leverage, Hannah pulled Donovan closer to her til their lips were just touching and she could easily see the darkening of desire in the blue orbs so close to hers. She grinned evilly.
"I won't do a damned thing, Cap'n. Just keep that in mind." She released the nipple she'd been pinching, and gently pushed Donovan away from her. She stood and brushed the sand off her butt. "You coming?"
Donovan had fallen onto her back trying to catch her breath from the fire Hannah had started with a mere touch. She looked up and saw the very devil peeking back at her from Hannah's green eyes and leapt to her feet. She caught Hannah round the waist and started an assault on her neck that ended with a bright purple mark on Hannah's pulse point. She allowed Hannah to guide her head up until their lips met for a long moment.
"Damn, woman! What I let you do to me. What you do to me whether I let you or not," Donovan growled in frustration. "You are so lucky I love you."
"Oh, Donovan. That I've always known. No one is as lucky as I am."
Donovan had no answer to make except to kiss Hannah again, gently pouring forth the love she felt until Hannah felt herself surrounded by that love.
"I love you too, Donovan," she said as they parted. "Now, let me introduce you to my world." She took a silk blindfold from the halter top where she'd tucked it next to her breast. Donovan's eyebrow went up, but she didn't comment on the blush that covered Hannah's features so vividly.
She reached up, then changed her mind. "Kneel for me, sweetheart."
Donovan complied, and Hannah secured the blindfold around Donovan's face, ensuring she couldn't see anything. Hannah walked around to stand in front of Donovan, and took the large hand in her smaller one.
"C'mon, love. Trust me to get you home safely."
"I do, Hannah."
It was slow going as Hannah was extra vigilant to ensure that Donovan didn't misstep or trip on anything. Once they were inside the house, Hannah led Donovan into the bathroom. Donovan already had rudimentary knowledge of plumbing, so she figured she would be safe enough starting there. She seated Donovan on the edge of the Jacuzzi tub since that put them almost on an even level, then she removed the blindfold and held her breath.
Donovan kept her eyes closed when the blindfold slipped off, allowing her other senses to adjust to her new surroundings. Her nose twitched as it was assaulted by numerous scents she was unable to readily identify. Her ears heard silence, then something beyond it. There was an odd echo she didn't recognize, and she sat still with her eyes closed a moment longer. The touch of Hannah's hand on her arm made her smile, and the concern she radiated made her grin even wider.
Donovan knew no harm would befall here with Hannah there, and she slowly blinked her eyes open. She allowed herself to focus on Hannah until her breathing slowed and she felt calm return. She hadn't realized how scared she was of disappearing again until she felt her heart rate physically slow.
Hannah slowly ran her hands up and down Donovan's arms until she felt the pulse underneath her fingertips slow and steady.
"You all right there, love?"
Donovan nodded. "Yes. I was just afraid...." She stopped, unable to articulate further, but knowing Hannah would understand.
"I know, baby. So was I. I'm glad you're still here with me."
"Myself as well."
Slowly, Donovan took her eyes off of Hannah's and permitted herself to look around the room more thoroughly. The first thing she noticed was a huge mirror whose clarity she'd never seen equaled before in all of her travels. She turned Hannah gently around to face it and pulled the smaller woman's body into hers, wrapping her arms around Hannah's middle and resting her chin on Hannah's shoulder.
They gazed at each other in the glass for what seemed like ever before Donovan whispered, "Wow!"
Hannah lightly squeezed the arms embracing her. "We make a beautiful couple, don't we?"
For answer, Donovan stood and brought Hannah with her, then shuffled them to the vanity so she could reach out and touch the smooth surface. Donovan brought her hand back to Hannah's face, and watched Hannah's reactions in the mirror. She smiled when Hannah closed her eyes to enjoy the sensations. Donovan leaned down and blew lightly in Hannah's ear, smiling at the trail of goosebumps that popped up.
"Yes," she finally answered. "We make a very beautiful couple."
Slowly Hannah opened her eyes and smiled. "Glad you think so."
"I do. I have never seen myself so clearly. How do they do that?" Donovan released Hannah to creep around to the side of the mirror and try to see the back. Hannah laughed and pulled her away from the glass.
"I don't know, love. We just buy it that way."
Donovan looked back at her amazed. "Astounding. What wonderful craftsmanship."
Hannah didn't know how to respond to this enthusiasm for a mirror so she simply nodded her agreement and took Donovan's hand. She reseated her on the ledge of the Jacuzzi and stepped back to the center of the room. Donovan waited patiently for Hannah to speak.
"I thought we'd begin your initiation into the twenty-first century here, since you already have more than a basic understanding of modern plumbing. It has a toilet," pointing as she went around the room. "A bathtub," not bothering to explain what a Jacuzzi was just yet. "A shower and the vanity area with two sinks. There is hot and cold running water and electricity, which you've read about." Donovan's head nodded, her eyes wide with wonder and excitement.
"We're not going to get into the electricity and stuff today, so please don't touch these," Hannah asked, indicating the switches on the walls, but if you want to look around in here and see how things work, please feel free. I'll answer any questions I can, though I will tell you that my plumbing knowledge is nil."
Donovan was up like a shot wandering around the room several times just looking. She glanced back at Hannah, who nodded. "It's okay to touch, Donovan. I know you want to understand how it works."
Donovan's smile was big enough to light up the room, and reminded Hannah of a child who'd been granted their greatest Christmas wish.
For hours they stayed in the bathroom while Donovan investigated every nook and cranny to see how things worked. Finally she leaned back with a satisfied smile.
"I think I can do this. I think I can make some of this work at the cottage."
Hannah smiled, especially when Donovan cupped her face. "Thank you, Hannah," Donovan whispered. "Thank you for taking a chance with me and for showing me all this."
"It was my pleasure, love, though I have to say I have never seen anyone get so excited about plumbing before."
Donovan chuckled. "Well, it validates some ideas I have had. And it gives me hope, because I have been in your world for a while and nothing has happened to send me home."
Just at that moment there was a knock on the bathroom door. Hannah had heard Jack come back from town, and wondered how long it would be before his curiosity overcame his good manners. He'd lasted a lot longer than she'd expected, and she had to smile now at the timid knock.
Hannah looked at Donovan, whose head had snapped up at the first sound. Donovan turned her eyes to Hannah, the question in them clear.
"It is my Uncle Jack. He has been pivotal in helping me, and he wants to meet you."
Big blue eyes went round, and Donovan swallowed hard, but nodded gamely. It was only fair after all. Hannah was going home to meet her folks, even though Donovan wasn't sure she was ready for her Mother.
Hannah patted Donovan's leg. "It's okay, honey. He will like you for my sake, and then he will like you for yours." She smiled mischievously. "Besides, he brought us ice cream."
Donovan smiled at that pronouncement. She'd had ice cream once a very long time ago, and remembered it fondly. She wondered if it would live up to her memories, and then promptly forgot to wonder as Jack crossed the threshold and into the bathroom.
The ice cream was really good and Donovan savored every single bite. Jack was kind and didn't interrupt her enjoyment with questions. Instead, the three sat back as comfortably as they could manage in the bathroom and ate their ice cream in peace.
When they were done, Hannah excused herself to take the utensils back to the kitchen. She knew Jack wanted a word with Donovan, and the look she and Donovan had shared conveyed that the Captain was eager to get it over with.
So she took her time and rinsed things off before making her way back into the bathroom. The two of them were in a deep discussion, having bonded over, of all things, plumbing. Jack was giving Donovan some pointers on adjustments she could make to be able to use some of the conveniences he had in his home with things that were available in her time.
Hannah just stood in the doorway with her hands on her hips shaking her head. She chuckled and Donovan rose and pulled her into the room. Then talk turned more personal.
"I promised Hannah she could be here when I grilled you, Donovan." Donovan nodded her head as though she'd expected this. Jack smiled at them both, easily seeing the love between them, then he focused his attention back on Donavan.
"I would like to know your intentions towards my niece, Donovan, and your feelings for her. She is all the family I have left and I want to know if you can be trusted to protect something so precious."
"Uncle Jack!" Hannah didn't know if she was more embarrassed or upset. Donovan twined their fingers together and patted her arm gently.
"It is all right, Angel. He has every right. And the truth is, I would be just as harsh were I in his shoes." She turned her attention back to Jack.
"It is my intention to love, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, til death do us part." Hannah's eyes grew wide as she recognized the marriage vows that Donovan was repeating, and she almost missed the rest of what Donovan had to say.
"As for what I feel for her... I cannot tell you Jack. There are not words in my vocabulary to cover what it is that I feel. I love her, certainly with all that I am and all that I have, but even that does not begin to cover what she is to me or what I feel for her."
Jack nodded his understanding and opened his arms to Donovan. "Welcome to the family, my dear."
She smiled and accepted his hug, then turned and pulled Hannah into the embrace as well. The talk turned to other things.
As darkness came, Donovan rose and readied herself to go back to the cottage. Jack gave her another brief hug. "I look forward to the day you can stay without fear of being sent away from us."
Donovan looked at Hannah and nodded. "Myself as well, Jack. I will hope for it to be one day very soon." Hannah blushed and Donovan grinned. "My blindfold, madam. I must make my way home until tomorrow."
Jack's eyes grew round as he saw Hannah reach into her halter top for it, and he quickly scooted out of the room. Donovan simply snatched it and greedily sucked in the scent, watching Hannah's blush deepen further with a smile. She handed it back and seated herself on the tub ledge, waiting patiently for Hannah to tie it around her eyes. A loud, low rumble startled her, and she pulled back.
Hannah chuckled. "We forgot to eat. I'm kinda hungry."
As if on cue, Donovan's stomach growled. "It seems I am as well."
Hannah nodded. "I'll see if I can find us something to snack on during the walk back." She retied the blindfold and led Donovan through the house. She seated her on the porch with the command, "Wait here." Then Hannah went back into the house and grabbed some fruit from the counter. Then she went back out through the glass door and took Donovan's hand, not releasing it until they were off the path and on the beach headed toward the cottage. Then she untied the blindfold and pulled Donovan down to sit beside her in almost the exact spot they'd shared breakfast in.
"Today was a good day, huh?"
Donovan nodded, taking a huge bite of her pear. "Yes it was, but my days are always good when we are together. Tomorrow will be better, because it brings us one step closer to being together without fear of time separating us,"
They sat together quietly then, sharing their fruit and watching the sun sink below the horizon. Finally it grew fully dark and Donovan stood, reaching a hand out to help Hannah stand.
"I need to go, but I will see you in our dreams?"
Hannah nodded. "Absolutely, love." She pulled Donovan's head to her for an extended kiss. "I love you, Donovan."
"And I love you, Hannah. Always."
They kissed again before reluctantly parting, and Donovan began walking backwards towards her cottage. Hannah watched until she was out of sight, then turned and went back into Jack's house. It had been a good day, but she was exhausted. She was looking forward to sharing her dreams with Donovan in their safe haven.
"Hannah?" Donovan looked around the bathroom, wondering why her dreams had brought her into Hannah's world. She recognized everything easily now, and smiled as she thought of the improvements she could make on her own bathing room at the cottage. She wished she could figure out a way to have hot running water, but....
The bathroom door opened and Hannah stepped through, a puzzled look on her face. She smiled when she saw Donovan standing there, then walked straight into her arms and gave her a hug.
"Donovan? What are we doing here?"
The Captain shrugged broad shoulders, absorbing the hug greedily. Though they now had personal contact, she had long ago learned to treasure these moments with Hannah and she did so now with relish.
"I do not know, Hannah. I was hoping you could tell me."
Hannah took Donovan's hand and led her back to the edge of the Jacuzzi, seating her before standing between Donovan's slightly parted legs. She rested her forearms on Donovan's shoulders and loosely clasped her hands together behind the strong neck. Then Hannah leaned down and touched her forehead to Donovan's.
"I can give you my theory." The dark head nodded and Hannah continued speaking. "I think our minds are probably on overload. There is so much for me to show you... so much you need to learn before you can truly come into my world. Our dreams are just a reflection of that."
Donovan laid her head down on Hannah's chest, hungrily soaking in the scent and warmth that surrounded her. "Will you be offended if I do not want the necessity of reality to intrude on our dreams?"
Hannah withdrew slightly... just enough so she could gaze into Donovan's eyes. "I'm not sure I understand what you are asking, Donovan."
The Captain released a sigh. "I know I have a lot to understand about your world, and I do not begrudge spending any time spent learning it together. But I have spent years cherishing the rare time we have together here, and even though we are obviously able to connect here more often since we... well, since we have actually physically met.... I just do not want to give it up."
"I understand, Donovan. This is our special private place."
Donovan nodded her head vehemently. "Yes, I want it to stay that way."
Hannah smiled. It was one of the few times Donovan had reminded her of a petulant five-year-old child. She had to acknowledge the truth of the words though. She herself resented greatly that reality was choosing to intrude on the one place she had always found an escape.
"Close your eyes, Donovan. Close your eyes and picture us in the meadow. Picture us in the meadow by that tree... you know the one...." Hannah closed her eyes as well and imagined.
"Listen to the stream trickle. Do you hear it? And the breeze... can you smell the salt tang?"
Donovan actually felt the breeze blow across her skin and sighed in contentment. She was glad to be in love with a writer, especially a writer who could paint such vivid pictures with her words. Donovan kept her eyes closed, listening with satisfaction to the portrait Hannah was bringing to life in her mind.
Finally Hannah leaned down and whispered in Donovan's ear. "Open your eyes, love."
Donovan did so slowly, blinking rapidly as sunlight greeted her gaze. She found herself at the base of the old oak with Hannah wrapped comfortably in her arms. She looked down into smiling green eyes.
"Thank you," she said, her voice tender and sincere.
"It was my pleasure, love. We have plenty of time, and this is our sanctuary. We can work on your education while we travel to your home. I promised to meet your folks, right?" Donovan nodded. "And it is quite a long voyage home and back again, correct?" Donovan nodded again. "So we will save our work for some of our waking hours and our dreams for us. Agreed?"
Donovan didn't nod this time, but leaned down and captured a pair of willing lips in a passionate kiss for her answer.
Hannah broke away breathless and patted the chest beneath her for good measure. "I'll take that as a yes," she added smiling. Then she rested her head back over Donovan's heartbeat and let the sound carry her into a deep peaceful oblivion. Donovan listened to the steady rise and fall of Hannah's breathing, feeling her own slow to match it before she too, surrendered to sleep.
Donovan woke refreshed, though slightly disoriented. She was in her own bed wrapped tightly around a pillow that until she has awakened had felt like Hannah to her. She frowned slightly, looking forward to the day when she could wake up with the real thing in her arms regularly.
Donavan stood and moved to the bathroom, noting with a critical eye all the things she wanted to do with the space now that she had the knowledge to do so. She wondered though if she'd be able to find anything equivalent in her own time to do what she wanted to do.
She took care of her morning business, and set the tepid water to filling the bathtub, then she crossed into the kitchen to stoke the fire to heat the water for her tea. She and Hannah had agreed that Hannah would try to cross through the portal this morning. so she had time to prepare at her leisure.
A knock on her door startled her and she frowned. It was just past sunrise, and only an extreme emergency would bring a member of her crew to the cottage, especially at this time of day. Donovan ran her fingers through her unruly hair and walked to the door, opening it without preamble.
Then she wished sincerely she'd looked first.
Hannah stood in front of her, her face freshly scrubbed clean and her hair still wet from its washing. She wore a red sarong and halter that had a delicate floral pattern woven into it. Donovan smiled in appreciation, then frowned at her own rumpled appearance.
"I did not expect you quite so early," she muttered not moving away from the door. She was embarrassed at being caught unawares and the feeling made her a little off balance and testy.
The smile slid from Hannah's face as Donovan made no move to welcome her inside. "I'm sorry, Donovan. I woke up early and was just so anxious to get to you that I didn't stop to consider that you might not be ready for me to be here." She backed up a pace. "I'll, um... I'll just go and...."
She didn't get to finish as Donovan caught her by the arm and pulled Hannah into her. "No. I am sorry, Hannah. I...." She ran her free hand through her wild hair. "I always want you here with me. I just hoped to look a little more presentable before you got here is all."
Hannah tipped her head back, and wrapped her hands around Donovan's neck. "Donovan, sweetheart. I don't expect you to be perfectly groomed all the time. Hell, when I first saw you, you were all hot and sweaty from working on the roof as I recall." The timbre of her voice deepened and her eyes took on a darker color. "I found it quite sexy, actually."
A dark brow rose. "You did?"
"Uh huh." She gently urged Donovan's head forward. "And I think you're pretty cute all sleep rumpled."
Donovan rested both hands on Hannah's hips, and drew them together with a smile. "You do?"
Hannah nodded again. "Uh huh. Donovan, love is not just about moonlight and roses, candlelight, picnics and walks on the beach. Love is morning breath and messy hair and dirty dishes and laundry. Love is sharing your everyday lives, good and bad, and wanting to be together anyway."
"I know, and I know you love me... I just wanted...."
Hannah kissed Donovan firmly. "I know. You go get cleaned up and primp, and I'll fix us some tea. How does that sound?"
"That sounds... HEY! British sea captains do not primp!"
"No, but I'll bet Donovan Scott the woman does now, doesn't she?" Donovan dropped her head and blushed, mumbling something unintelligible under her breath. "I though so. G'wan now. You'll feel better, and I really need a cup of tea this morning."
Donovan clasped Hannah's hand in her larger one and led her into the cottage. She walked Hannah to the kitchen and seated her.
"Water should be boiling in a few minutes. The tea leaves are here," removing them from the cabinet, "and the mugs are...." She stopped speaking when Hannah took her hand and walked her toward the bathroom door.
"Take your bath, Donovan. I can find what I need to fix us tea."
Donovan chuckled. "You just want free reign in the kitchen. Don't think I can...."
Suddenly it occurred to Donovan that her bath water had been running for quite some time. "Damnation!!" she exclaimed before rushing into the bathroom to shut the water off. She skidded to a halt, turning off the water just before it crested over the lip of the tub. "Dissinfrattinmudderblippin...." she muttered, knowing she'd have to empty the tub somewhat before being able to actually use it.
Hannah's eyebrows rose at the first epithet, and she slowly followed Donovan into the room, watching with a smile as the other woman stopped the running water just in time. She absolutely did not expect Donovan to peel her shirt of before reaching a hand carefully down to loosen the plug. She stood staring, trying to remember to breathe as the muscles in Donovan's back rippled with every movement of her body.
Hannah choked back a cry, causing Donovan to half-turn towards her to see where the sound came from. She felt a rakish grin form as she saw the look of unveiled desire settle in Hannah's eyes. She turned so her back was once again towards the blonde woman.
"Do you like what you see Hannah?" The Captain was well aware of the deepening of her voice and the fire in the green eyes on her back was burning a hole through her. She didn't hear Hannah's footsteps as she crossed the room, but she felt her presence even before warm hands landed on her shoulders. Donovan unconsciously leaned back into the firm touch.
"I love what I see, Donovan," burring directly into the brunette's ear and making a pleasant tingle run the length of her spine. "I thought I already made that clear this morning." She absently rubbed her hands along the bare skin of Donovan's back and arms, relishing the silky texture under her fingertips.
"You did," Donovan managed to growl through clenched teeth. It was taking all she could do not to simply turn around and....
Hannah leaned down and kissed the juncture of her neck and shoulders. "Get your bath, love," she whispered. "I'll be in the kitchen when you get done."
Donovan didn't see the agonized look on Hannah's face as the smaller woman pulled away from her. She merely sat with unfocused eyes staring at the slowly draining water trying to regain her equilibrium. "My God, that woman is going to kill me one day, but what a way to die."
She grinned fiercely then, feeling cherished and surrounded by Hannah's love. No one had ever made her feel as cared for as Hannah did with her words or her touch, and the look in her eyes.... Donovan sincerely believed Hannah had the most expressive eyes she had ever encountered, not knowing that her own did the very same thing to Hannah.
She stripped quickly and stuck the plug back into the tub now that the water level had dropped sufficiently to allow her to sit down without sloshing water onto the floor. She picked up the soap and a wash cloth and began scrubbing vigorously. It occurred to her to wonder if Hannah would come in and wash her back, then decided not to tempt fate. Donovan was on sensory overload, and figured that much tactile contact from Hannah would send her self control spinning right off its axis.
She bathed hastily, grateful for the lovely cinnamon scent her mother had put into her soap. For all the differences she and her mother had, this was one of the few ways she still felt her mother's love for her.
Before she could slide into any maudlin thoughts, Donovan rose from the water and wrapped herself in a large towel and padded across the floor to her bedroom.
Hannah listened to the splashing coming from the other room as she investigated all the nooks and crannies of the kitchen. In addition to the tea leaves, Hannah had also found Donovan's small stash of eggs and some bread which she suspected Mama had made.
She set about hunting for a skillet which she found rather easily. The cutting board was a little more difficult, and she finally gave it up as a lost cause, choosing to cut on a plate instead. She found a knife, and winced when she cut herself testing it for sharpness.
"Shoulda known it'd be sharp," she muttered to herself, sticking her thumb in her mouth as she moved to the pump. She primed it and started pumping, jumping back a bit when the water gushed instead of flowed. She rinsed it in the water, surprised at its chill, then wrapped her thumb in the towel before dropping the tea leaves into the now boiling water.
It was much harder to function in a non-electric kitchen than she'd imagined it would be, she was discovering, and having her hand swathed in a towel only made it doubly so. She set the skillet on the stove and grabbed the eggs from the counter. Hannah broke them into a bowl and added salt, pepper and the smallest amount of water she could, then set about adding butter to the skillet.
It got hotter faster than she was ready for it to, and she jerked her hand from the handle that had gotten very hot. The butter browned to the point of burned and without warning caught fire. By this point, Hannah's frustration was such that she didn't know whether to freak, scream, cry, and without warning, the choice was taken away from her.
Donovan calmly crossed the threshold into the kitchen and took one look at the stove and another at Hannah's shell-shocked demeanor. She took a lid from where it hung, and covered the fire. Then she took a towel from the drawer beside the stove and moved the skillet to a cool spot on top of the iron surface. Then Donovan moved the tea to a spot beside the skillet before the tea boiled itself over.
Without a word, she took Hannah in her arms and gently eased her back into one of the two kitchen chairs, easing the towel away from Hannah's thumb. Donovan winced reflexively at the gash that was still sluggishly bleeding, then looked up into green eyes.
"Oh, Beloved. That has to hurt. Let me get some supplies to take care of that."
Donovan started to move, and found herself held in place by Hannah's strong grip. Donovan cupped Hannah's face and was shocked when Hannah latched on like she'd never let go, but she returned the hug in equal measure.
"All I wanted to do was fix a nice breakfast for the two of us," she whispered. "I didn't realize I was courting disaster by trying to cook eggs and toast."
Donovan kissed the blonde head and leaned back to look in Hannah's eyes. The forlorn expression on Hannah's face made Donovan smile sadly and she leaned forward and nipped Hannah's nose. Hannah giggled in reflex and Donovan's smile became happier, an expression that Hannah easily mimicked.
"I love you," Hannah said.
"And I love you," Donovan answered. "I appreciate your wanting to prepare breakfast, but I should have told you about the stove. It is somewhat particular."
"Well, that and I really don't have a clue what I am doing. It is so different from what I am used to."
"Is it really?"
"Yeah, the heat and the iron and... oh, just everything."
Donovan took Hannah's good hand in her own and led her back to the pump. "I will tell you what," she said as she began to run cold water over the sliced thumb, watching the bleeding slow. She guided Hannah into her bedroom and seated her on the bed before going into the linen closet and taking out her medical supplies. "Let me get you medicated and bandaged properly, then you can tell me more about the differences while we prepare breakfast together."
Hannah sneezed twice when Donovan dusted her cut with medicinal herbs, then sucked in a deep breath when they started to burn and sting. She bit her lip, waiting for Donovan to finish wrapping the cloth around her thumb.
"I should have warned you about the sharpness of the herbs, but that is what will help it heal quickly and properly. I am sorry for the pain they are causing you."
"Actually, it's not too bad once the initial sting goes away. It was just something of a shock."
Donovan smiled. "I know. I accidentally spilled too much into a cut once. It made me dance around the kitchen."
Hannah wiggled her eyebrows. "I'd pay good money to see that."
Donovan leaned forward and picked Hannah on the lips, before allowing her own lips to curl into a rakish grin. "Would you now?"
"Well, there will be dancing at the Pirate's Masquerade Ball tomorrow night. Will you dance with me then?"
"Every single dance if you'd like."
"I would like. And do not worry... I would be able to choose you out of a crowd of people in the dark anywhere."
"Could you really?"
"Yes, it is part of the legend."
"Legend?" Hannah was beginning to feel like an echo of sorts, but the conversation was making her curious. To say nothing of the tickling feeling it sent down her spine.
"Yes, and if you are very good, I will explain it all to you on our journey home. We are leaving directly after the unmasking."
"So quickly? I... I'm not...."
"Is it a problem, Hannah? We always leave after the ball. The tide is with us then, and it is the natives' way of giving us a farewell sendoff."
They walked into the kitchen and Donovan picked up the mostly cooled skillet and dumped the burned butter just outside the back door. Hannah picked up the offending knife again, and began to slice the bread onto the plate. It was awkward, and the bread ended up in several different shapes and thicknesses, but Donovan let her work without comment. She could see what helping out meant to Hannah, and she simply let her do what she felt she could.
Donovan cleaned up the skillet and placed it on a different spot on the stove, allowing it to heat more gradually. She added the butter and let it melt before toast the bread as evenly as she could manage. She added more butter, then rapidly stirred in the eggs. Soon, they were sitting down to a hot breakfast with tea that had been diluted with hot water.
"This is cozy," Hannah commented with a smile. "And you're a good cook."
"I do all right. Not enough to make my mother happy, but enough that I do not poison myself either."
"Tell me about your mother."
"You tell me the differences in cooking between your time and mine, and I will tell you about my mother," Donovan countered. She knew she needed to share a few truths about her mother with Hannah, but she didn't really want to bring that particular unpleasantness into her sanctuary.
Hannah read the hesitation in Donovan's eyes, and could see the latent pain that lurked behind that. She wondered what it was all about, but respected Donovan's need to reveal things in her own time. Besides, she knew Donovan was curious about the differences in their two worlds, and it was something she was going to need to understand. So Hannah nodded her acceptance of the deal, and began speaking.
"You mean to tell me you can control the fire... the temp-er-a-ture so perfectly that the fire never needs tending? Things do not burn?"
Hannah had been patiently trying to explain how an electric oven worked. She realized she'd started in the middle instead of at the beginning as far as Donovan's understanding of the concept went. So she decided a small science lesson was in order. She took Donovan's hand and led her to the study.
"Oh no... things still burn. Humans being what we are, we tend to be forgetful or careless. But they tend to burn less because of electricity."
Donovan walked to a shelf and pulled out a couple books. "I read about some experiments that were being done with that. Do you mean to tell me...?"
"I mean that we have a lot of catch-up learning to do for the century or so between us."
"Then let us get started. I want to understand everything."
It was almost dark before Hannah and Donovan stopped discussing electricity and its many varied uses. Donovan was absolutely fascinated to know and understand that many of the things she had read about and imagined being possible really were part of everyday life in Hannah's world.
"That is simply amazing, Hannah. Thank you for sharing all these things with me."
"You're welcome, Donovan. Even if I didn't think it was necessary, I think it would be fun to share this with you. You have a very keen intellect. We could probably have some great philosophical debates."
Donovan's eyes twinkled. "Oh, I think we can find time for one or two of those on our voyage home."
Hannah clasped Donovan's hand as they made their way back to the kitchen. "Then will you tell me about your mother?"
Donovan nodded solemnly. "Yes. It is not something I take a great deal of joy in discussing, but you deserve to know what you will be coming up against."
"That bad, huh?"
"Yes," came the stark reply. "My mother loves me, but she is not very happy with me or the way I have chosen to live my life. And I doubt she will contain her feelings because you are present." She didn't add that Hannah's presence was likely to make it worse, but it was the first thought that ran through Hannah's mind.
"Would it be better for you if I don't go home with you?" Hannah offered, though the though of being separated again was physically painful, and it took all Hannah could do to keep from doubling over at the suggestion.
Horrified blue eyes rose to meet green, and Hannah felt Donovan's pain as keenly as her own. "Please do not leave me alone again, Hannah. I could not bear the separation."
"Neither could I, love. I just thought...."
Long fingers covered Hannah's lips and she stopped speaking. "Do not think. Just stay with me. We can get through anything together."
Before Hannah could answer a rumbling growl echoed in the stillness. They looked at each other wide-eyed before looking down at their offending stomachs. When their eyes met again, they broke into chuckles.
"Guess we'd better feed the beasts, huh?" Hannah said.
"It certainly sounds like it, and then I will walk you home. Tomorrow is going to be a very busy day."
"Yeah, it is. Will I see you at all before the ball?"
Donovan shook her dark head. "We are actually not supposed to see one another until then." She began pulling out foodstuff to fix them a simple dinner.
Hannah's brows scrunched up in thought. "You aren't escorting me then?" She paused. "Wait... this has something to do with the legend, doesn't it?"
Donovan nodded, but said nothing.
"You'll share all this with me on our trip home, won't you?" Hannah asked.
"Yes. Everything I know, I will tell you about."
"All right then. It's probably just as well." She moved to set the table while Donovan pushed the water forward to heat for tea. "I have a lot to do if we are sailing tomorrow night."
"Your clothes should be completed. I will pick them up from Satosh and have them stored on the ship until you arrived to take care of them. Is the anything special you would like to have brought aboard?" scrambling to think of things she could afford to add to their small space that would make Hannah more comfortable for the extended voyage home.
"Will I be sharing your quarters?"
"Yes. I think it is the wisest course of action. And I honestly want to keep you near me as much as possible."
"It won't cause you problems with your crew?"
"Not with most of them, and the few that might take issue with it, I can handle." Donovan blew out a breath as she moved dinner to the table. "Most of my crew are well aware that I was searching for something out here. The intuitive ones will understand I have found it."
Happiness welled up in Hannah's chest and blossomed across her face as they sat down to a quiet meal. The silence was warm and comfortable and Hannah realized she could enjoy a lifetime of silence if shared in Donovan's company.
After dinner, they cleaned the few dishes, and then headed out into the warm June night. The stars were out and the moon, what there was of it was bright enough to light their way back toward Jack's house.
"Donovan?" Hannah said so as not to disturb the peace of their surroundings.
"Hmm?" the Captain answered with a squeeze of the co-joined fingers. "What are you thinking, Angel?" taking in the perplexed look on Hannah's face.
"Tomorrow night, the lines here will be blurred won't they? Between past and present, I mean. I mean, people can cross from past to present and back, correct?"
"Not exactly. My crew and I have noticed that we seem to wander between two distinct sets of people. But no one else seems do that." She scrubbed her face with her free hand. "The parties are very similar. Held in the same place, with many of the same foods and amenities. Even the music is similarly done. But there are two distinct sets of people who never mingle, except with us."
"But you can actually interact with people from my time without danger of us shutting the portal door, correct?"
"Yes." Donovan paused and thought. "Why?"
Hannah smiled and pulled them to a stop just at the beginning of the pathway up to Jack's place. She put Donovan's hands on her waist and wrapped her own around Donovan's dark hair. "Because I know Katie is gonna want to grill you."
"My very best friend growing up. She and I are the ones I wrote the Trudy and Evan stories about. She was supposed to get here earlier this week, but the storm kept she and her new husband Frank away. Jack was going to pick them up this afternoon and bring them over."
"Why does Katie want to grill me?" Hannah could hear the hesitation in Donovan's voice, as though she didn't quite understand what she was asking.
"It means she wants to interrogate you, love. She wants to ask you all sorts of questions to insure that you are right for me."
"Is that not Jack's place?" Not angrily, but honestly confused.
"Yes, but Katie feels it is her place as well. She is as close to a sister as I ever had, and we've looked out for each other since we were born, practically."
"Did you tell her about us?"
"Yes, but not for a very long time. Not until after we became dream lovers. She knew I was waiting for someone special though. She knew I was waiting for Blue Eyes."
Donovan smiled. "Very well. I will be sure to meet this Katie so she can... grill me. Now kiss me, and I will go and tend to work so that we will be prepared to cast off tomorrow night."
Hannah did so willingly, and the kiss went on for several long moments before they broke off and Donovan pulled Hannah in for a firm hug.
"I cannot tell you how excited I am about our coming voyage. For the first time, I look forward to going home, knowing that this time, you are going home with me. I do not leave you or the chance of finding you behind. Thank you for coming to me, Hannah Reilly. I love you with all my heart."
"Thank you for continuing to search for me, Donovan Scott. I love you beyond forever."
They kissed again, then Donovan reluctantly released Hannah and motioned her towards the path. "Go Beloved, before I simply sweep you up and carry you home with me."
Hannah hesitated. "Don't tempt me like that Donovan. I know I need to go inside and spend a bit of time with Katie, but you aren't making it easier."
"Go, Hannah... after tomorrow, we will have a lifetime together."
"And beyond, love." But the words were the impetus she needed to spur her on her way, and she turned and walked briskly up the path to Jack's place.
Donovan watched until she was out of sight, then turned and headed back down the beach at a jog. Her mind was already turning over the things she needed to do on the morrow, and she picked up her pace as happiness for the future bubbled over. This was one Pirate's Masquerade she was looking forward to attending.