Rachel could almost feel the anger radiate from the blonde, who was now sitting on the edge of her seat, slightly leaning forward with the copy of the letter clenched in her hand. Hannah's outburst had not surprised her. After all, this was the very first time she had heard anything about what had happened almost four years ago, while she, Rachel, had been able to deal with her own anger for a much longer time.
"I showed them to one police officer, yes, but I didn't give him the pictures. It was too...too personal," Rachel calmly answered. "I...I couldn't do that to you, Hannah. Please, believe me."
Hannah could not sit still anymore. She jumped up and started pacing, flinging the sheet of paper towards the table in an angry gesture. Rachel quietly watched her alternately clench and relax her fists. She decided the best course of action would be to let Hannah be and wait until the blonde had spent some of the angry energy she was displaying.
After a couple of minutes, Hannah halted her movements and turned to Rachel, so she could look her in the eyes. Her stare was piercing and Rachel swallowed. In the past they shared, she had only seen Hannah really angry once. It had not been pretty. This was the second time ever she witnessed the fury Hannah was capable of radiating in every cell of her body, and it made her a little nervous. She had wanted, needed, Hannah to know the truth, but for the first time she wondered if her strategy had been a good one.
"Who was it?" Hannah demanded in a low voice.
Rachel hesitated, wondering if Hannah would be able to handle all the facts. She had only heard a few bits and pieces and the whole story was so much longer and complicated.
"Who was it, Rachel?" Hannah repeated, enunciating every syllable.
There was no way Rachel would be able to convince Hannah to sit down and hear her out. The blonde was visibly upset and demanded an answer. Moistening her dry lips, Rachel nodded and wiped her sweaty palms on her denim-clad thighs.
"It was Nathan," she finally answered in a hoarse voice, while her dark eyes were watching Hannah's face intently for her reaction. She didn't have to wait long. The blue eyes went wide and Rachel leaned forward when she saw the blood drain out of the blonde's face, ready to catch her if she would pass out.
But Hannah remained standing, even though her body slowly swayed, until she let herself sink back into the chair, letting out a shuddering breath.
"Nathan's my friend," she whispered in disbelief. "We've known each other since...since junior high."
"I know, sweetie," Rachel answered, not aware of the endearment that made her voice tremble. "And believe me, I wouldn't have told you this if it wasn't absolutely true."
Hannah's fingers nervously fidgeted with the hem of her sweater and she desperately tried to push back the tears that were flooding her eyes. She rapidly blinked a few times to get rid of the blurry haze, but as soon as her vision cleared, she felt the warm moisture roll down her cheeks. Deep down inside, she really wanted Rachel to be wrong, but she knew her former lover was too honest to tell her anything but the truth.
"Why?" she whispered through her tears.
"He claimed he loved you. In his mind you were his. He hated me."
"He's your cousin," Hannah with a trembling voice. "I don't understand. I...I should talk to him. I mean...I need to understand that..."
"No, Hannah," Rachel gently interrupted.
"Hannah, Nathan died a couple of months ago." There was no reason to sugar-coat it.
If Hannah had not been sitting down, she probably would have sunk to her knees. Her whole body went weak and a wave of nausea almost made her double over in the chair. This time Rachel did jump up and almost leaped over the low table. She knelt down next to Hannah and reached out a hand to put on the blonde's knee.
"I'm sorry, Hannah. I'm so, so sorry."
Hannah pressed a hand against her mouth and let out a sob that tore at Rachel's heart. She had her eyes squeezed shut, but, from underneath the lashes, tears welled up that made their way down her cheeks in rapid succession. Rachel swallowed hard and, again, fought the urge to wrap her arms around Hannah's trembling body. Instead, her hand rubbed gentle circles on the blonde's knee.
"What happened, Rachel?" Hannah asked after a long silence. Her voice was hoarse and a little shaky. "I...I still don't understand. How did you know it was Nathan? Why did you never tell me anything about it? Did our...our relationship mean so little to you?" Hannah's eyes were moist with tears when they looked at Rachel and for a moment the Doctor forgot to breathe. It had been years since she had been able to look at Hannah so closely and the vision made her tremble inside.
"No, it meant everything to me, Hannah," Rachel managed to answer. "You meant everything to me. That was the reason I left. I couldn't bear the thought of you getting hurt. Hannah," Rachel shifted, so she could sit on her knees and grasp the blonde's hands between her own. "Hannah, he threatened to kill you."
"He what? Why didn't you...where was the police in all this? Why didn't they...why?"
" I did go to the police," Rachel answered, the bitterness clearly audible in her voice. "I went to the only police officer I trusted completely."
Hannah pulled one of her hands free from Rachel's grip and used the back to wipe her eyes. Her other hand remained where it was.
"You went to Nathan," Hannah concluded. "He had just started to work for the OSBI back then?"
"Yes, and I trusted him. I told him everything and showed him all the damn letters and pictures. He promised me to take it up with his superiors and I believed him. He told me he'd be discrete, since we were in a lesbian relationship. He said he wanted them to take this seriously." Rachel let out a short, humorless laugh and shook her head. "I believed every word he said. I didn't even really question him when he advised me to disappear for a little while."
"A little while?" Hannah echoed.
"That's what he said," Rachel sighed. "But the weeks became months and when I called him to tell him I was on my way back, he convinced me to hang in there for three more weeks. Three." Rachel rubbed her tired eyes and swallowed away a lump in her throat. "And then I received your letter."
Rachel could feel Hannah jerk and she looked up in a pair of startled blue eyes.
"I never sent you a letter," she said. "God knows I wanted to, but I had no idea where you were. I..."
"Did you write me, though?" Rachel calmly asked, ignoring her wildly beating heart.
"I...um..." Hannah frowned, trying hard to collect her thoughts. "I...yes, yes, I did write, but I never sent those letters, I...they were in one of the desk-drawers and...after my parents..." Hannah halted in mid-sentence, realizing Rachel did not know her parents had died. "They were an outlet for my anger and I burnt them, all of them. At least, I thought I did," Hannah finished with a sigh.
"Nathan brought me a letter. He said you had asked him to give it to me and...he claimed he took it so seriously he jumped on the first plane to San Diego to deliver the mail, so the speak." Rachel paused and cast a look at Hannah, whose blue eyes were dark with grief. "Looking back, I'm sure all he wanted was to see my face when he handed me your letter that held all your anger and resentment. He wanted to be there when I read that, even if I changed my mind and came back, you'd still never want to see me again."
"I remember that letter," Hannah whispered, no longer able to look into the warmth of Rachel's dark eyes. "I was so angry when I wrote it."
"I could tell," Rachel softly answered. "And I understand."
Conflicting emotions fought for attention, which only increased Hannah's confusion. She raked the fingers of her free hand through her hair and shot Rachel a look that bordered on desperation. The Doctor gently squeezed her hand and for the first time Hannah realized Rachel was kneeling in front of her, covering her fingers with her own. The warm pressure was as much reassuring as it was frightening and Hannah did not know whether to leave her hand where it was, or to pull it away from its achingly familiar confines. The conflict was clearly visible in her eyes and with a small, wistful smile, Rachel slowly withdrew her hand. The sudden coolness came with a sense of loss that made Hannah almost reach out to keep hold of Rachel's hand, but she controlled the urge and cast down her eyes. There was so much to think about, so many questions to ask; exploring the feelings that surged through her body had to be put on hold. For now.
"So that...letter that I wrote and Nathan...stole...made you decide to stay away," Hannah concluded softly.
"Back then, I trusted Nathan to tell me the truth and I didn't have any reason to doubt him," Rachel shook her head and Hannah noticed the dark eyes flash with anger. "I listened to him and that was the stupidest thing I've ever done," she added in a bitter voice.
It was hard to focus, but Hannah was doing her best not to be sidetracked. It was important to get the answers to all the questions that had plagued her for such a long time. She did not want to think about the fact that one of her best childhood friends, who also was Rachel's cousin, deliberately, and successfully, had come between them. Something she, at one time, never would have believed. She had thought her relationship with Rachel would have been stronger than that. It was hard to grasp that Rachel had not left her because she wanted her freedom, but because she thought it was the only way to protect Hannah. Because she loved her...
Hannah suppressed a moan and felt her stomach cramp. Pressing her hands against her abdomen, she took a deep breath, trying to ease the pain. Immediately, Rachel's hand was on her arm and a pair of worried brown eyes looked at her with concern.
"Are you alright? Is it your stomach?" Rachel quickly asked.
Hannah pursed her lips and nodded, waiting for the cramping pain to subside.
"When's the last time you ate anything?"
"This morning," Hannah confessed, trying not to be pulled in by the gentle rebuke in Rachel's eyes.
"You need to take better care of yourself, Hannah," Rachel spoke, softening her words by gently patting Hannah's arm.
"I usually do," Hannah sighed. "At least, lately I have been. It's just that, I..."
I was too nervous to eat.
"I wasn't really hungry," she added, knowing her excuse sounded lame.
"Well, let's get something in your stomach," Rachel decided in a tone that warned Hannah not to protest. "I can whip up a sandwich and some soup."
"You don't have to, I..."
"You need to eat," Rachel said in a stern voice, while she got back to her feet again.
"I didn't come to eat, I came to talk," Hannah tried, but Rachel was determined.
"Then come with me. We can talk in the kitchen."
After those words, Rachel turned around and walked toward the door that lead to the kitchen. Just before she entered, she looked over her shoulder and sent Hannah a smile.
"All those who are hungry, follow me," she stated, disappearing out of sight.
Hannah wanted to stay in the comfortable chair and ignore her body's cravings, but when her stomach rumbled, which was followed by another painful stab, she let out a frustrated groan and jumped to her feet. When had she lost control of the conversation? Had she ever had it to start with? Hannah realized she wanted to be angry with Rachel, but for some reason she couldn't. Especially not after what the Doctor had told her about Nathan, Hannah's childhood friend and Rachel's cousin. Could she blame Rachel for wanting to protect her? For turning to her cousin, Nathan, for help? With a heavy heart, Hannah realized she couldn't. The only thing she could be angry about was Rachel's four year long silence.
"You should have told me," she spoke aloud while walking towards the kitchen, where she could hear Rachel opening and closing drawers.
"What?" was the immediate reply.
"You should have told me," Hannah repeated with a sigh, entering the kitchen and leaning against the doorway, while her eyes took in Rachel who had just put a few slices of bread in the toaster.
"I know," the Doctor simply answered, turning around so she could look at the blonde. "I should have, but I didn't. Back then, I thought I did the only thing possible. Now I know that was wrong. Had I told you, we probably would have been able to face the threats together and work something out." Rachel sighed and pushed her hair away from her forehead. "Heck, Nathan might even have given up. Who knows."
"How did he die?" Hannah softly asked.
"Suicide," Rachel answered, watching a look of horror cross Hannah's face.
"Why?" the blonde almost whispered.
"That's a long story," Rachel replied. "But what it boils down to, is that Nathan had been involved in some...dubious activities. He was put on leave while the OSBI was conducting an internal investigation, but before they arrived at any incriminating conclusions, he decided that taking his own life would be the best thing to do."
"I haven't heard anything about it," Hannah frowned. "You'd think it would have been in the news, or something."
"It's all still very hush, hush," Rachel answered. "I talked to the head of Nathan's department last week and he said they're wrapping up the investigation. It will be all over the news soon."
Hannah took a moment to ponder over Rachel's words and her eyebrows slowly but surely rose when realization set in.
"You spoke to the head of the department last week? Why?"
"They contacted me after Nathan's death, because they had found some letters that needed some explanation. Some of them had my name in it."
"How?" Hannah asked, feeling nauseous all over again. Rachel's eyes were dark with grief and anger and no matter what the explanation would be, Hannah knew it would not be pretty.
"In Nathan's office, they found letters he had written to me. I mean, they were addressed to me, just never sent. In them, Nathan made no secret of his...hate...for me. I don't want to go into details, but he had some very...creative...solutions to end my existence. The OSBI wanted to hear my side of the story and I think that, for a little while, they thought I might have had something to do with his suicide."
Rachel paused and glanced at Hannah, who was looking at her with wide eyes.
"This is all very...very," Hannah swallowed hard, trying to come up with the right words. "It's hard to take in. It sounds so incredibly unreal. But I guess a few things are starting to make a little more sense now."
Rachel pulled up a chair and made an inviting gesture. Without hesitation, Hannah walked towards the small bar and sat down. Her eyes had a faraway look when they stared at Rachel's busy hands, expertly creating a sandwich with ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato.
"Go on," the Doctor softly encouraged, when she put a plate in front of Hannah.
"After...after...you left, Nathan came around at the weirdest times. He always made it sound like he was just keeping an eye out for me and he...he always managed to say something negative about you. He didn't understand how you could have treated me the way you did. On numerous occasions, he assured me your whole family was ashamed of you."
"I guess that's true, especially concerning my parents," Rachel remarked with a shrug. "But then, they've never really accepted me being gay, anyway. With me being away, they didn't have to deal with it."
Hannah nodded, remembering all the arguments Rachel had told her about in the past. It had always pained her that Bob and Valerie Kendrick had not been more accepting of their daughter. They had tolerated her, at the most, but that was it. Thank heavens, Joe and Melissa had always been there for her.
"Did he ever...had he ever tried anything?" Rachel softly asked, not able to hide the anger in her voice.
Hannah immediately shook her head in denial.
"No, never. But then, I don't think I...there were a lot of things going on in my life and it never occurred to me that he was looking for something more than friendship." Hannah softly snorted and stared at the sandwich in front of her. "I guess that says a lot about my state of mind, huh?"
"I'm sorry, Hannah," Rachel sighed. "I know I'm repeating myself, but I am really sorry."
"I know," Hannah nodded, seeing the pained expression in Rachel's soft, brown eyes. "You're sorry and I'm confused," she added with a small smile. "I feel like my head's going to explode. It seems like my whole world has been turned upside down."
Hannah took a bite of her sandwich and let out a sigh of contentment. The combination of the honey-glazed ham and aged cheese tasted wonderful and she had to make an effort to eat slowly.
"This is good, thanks," she mumbled between two bites, reluctant to ponder over the fact that, all of a sudden, her appetite had returned.
"You're welcome," Rachel smiled. "Just don't inhale it."
"Is that what you tell Nicky?" Hannah quipped with a small smile.
"Absolutely," Rachel nodded. "She's a little gobbler. I swear she can eat and drink faster than my two brothers combined."
Hannah smiled and took another bite of her sandwich. She deliberately chewed slowly, not wanting to upset her stomach more than it already was. Her thoughts turned to Randy, Rachel's younger brother. After the Doctor had told her Nicky was his daughter, part of her had been relieved. For some reason, the thought of Rachel having a child by herself was a little unsettling. And, at the moment, Hannah did not want to wonder where those feelings were coming from.
"What role does Randy play in all this? And how come you adopted Nicky?"
Rachel took her time to chew on her own sandwich, casting a look at the blonde who was staring back at her with inquisitive eyes. It was a look she was familiar with and she was happy finally to be able to see it again. She was not aware of the expression in her eyes when she glanced at Hannah. The nurse, however, did notice the look of warm affection that was sent her way and she quickly took a sip of her drink to hide the faint blush that started to creep up her face.
"While I was in San Diego, I received a phone call from my dear brother. As usual, he had gotten himself in trouble again. This time, his ex-girlfriend had told him she was pregnant and she wanted him to talk to me, because she needed advice on which abortion clinic would be the best." Rachel sighed and slowly shook her head at the memory. "After I was done yelling at him, Randy assured me he didn't want her to abort the baby, but he wasn't able to provide for a child. I...The thought of her...I just couldn't accept that and I told them I would pay all expenses and adopt the baby. Randy's ex didn't really feel like it at first, but when I promised her some extra money, she agreed."
Rachel glanced at Hannah whose eyes had a pained expression in them. The Doctor knew how much the blonde loved children and how angry she could be when she heard of people abusing or neglecting children.
"You did the right thing," Hannah said in a soft voice.
"Thank you," Rachel smiled. "Sometimes, when I look at Nicky and think that, if Randy had not called me, she would not have existed, it just...it chokes me up," Rachel almost whispered. "She's so incredibly precious."
"And she looks like you," Hannah agreed.
"It's the Kendrick genes," Rachel smiled. "She only looks like me, because Randy and I are so much alike."
"Where is he now? Randy, I mean."
"I don't know," Rachel shrugged. "I'm afraid he's running around with the wrong crowd. I wrote him about Nicky and I even sent him pictures, but he's never responded. But then, he's never been very responsible. I am grateful, however, for his reluctance to give into his ex's wishes. That was a decent thing to do."
"It's the Kendrick genes," Hannah lightly teased, which earned her a genuine laugh from Rachel. It caused a lightness in her heart she had not felt in a long time and, for a brief moment, Hannah allowed herself to savor the moment.
When she looked up at Rachel, their eyes met and she knew the Doctor had felt it, too. Hannah smiled and noticed the warm affection Rachel no longer tried to hide. It made her realize how much she had missed the one person who, once, had been such an intense part of her life.
The emotions that surged through Hannah were so powerful, she almost felt dizzy and she had to cast down her eyes, away from the gaze that still held so much power over her.
Hannah took a slow, deep breath and bit into her sandwich, pondering over all the things Rachel had told her. The other woman had given her a lot of answers to questions she had not been able to ask and slowly, but surely, things had become a lot clearer. Still, there was a lot left to discuss.
"What did you mean, when you asked me to recall the first time we met? How does that tie in with all the rest?"
"It was something that occurred to me much later. At the time it seemed insignificant, but do you remember, after you had dropped that cup of coffee in my lap and we left The Bean together, we thought we were being followed?"
Hannah frowned and tried to remember the moment Rachel was referring to. She would always remember the moment she and Rachel had met; it had been a cherished moment, but everything else that had happened that evening seemed to be a very distant memory.
After a few moments of silence, the blonde started to remember. The fragmented images slowly became a whole and finally she nodded.
"I think I remember, you walked me to my car and we thought we heard footsteps behind us, but every time we turned around the sound stopped."
"Exactly," Rachel nodded. "I've never mentioned this, but, at one time, in the reflection of a window, I saw it was Nathan who was following us."
"Nathan? Really?" Hannah echoed in disbelief.
"I thought it was one of his silly pranks and decided I'd confront him with it later," Rachel continued.
"No, unfortunately, I didn't. Things could have worked out differently if I had."
"Why didn't you?" Hannah asked, curious to hear Rachel's reason.
Rachel sent the blonde an apologetic smile and shrugged her shoulders. For a moment she wondered how Hannah would respond to her answer, but then she decided she did not care. When Hannah had called her to tell her she wanted to talk, there had only been one option: the truth.
"I never talked to Nathan, because I forgot," Rachel answered in a soft voice. "After that unexpected coffee-bath, I was full of you. That night, after you went home, I was so busy with coming up with a brilliant plan to see you again, that I completely forgot about Nate."
"Yes, I remember that plan," Hannah dryly answered, but there was a twinkle in her eyes.
"It was embarrassing," Rachel sighed.
"It worked," Hannah reminded her, while the shadow of a smile tugged on the corner of her mouth. "I guess it was your luck there were only about seventy-five Jensen's in the area. Imagine, calling five hundred."
"But I didn't know most of the Jensen's I called were relatives and before I eventually found you, the whole family had already discussed the 'desperate girl', who was looking for Hannah. You were actually expecting my phone call," Rachel accused, but her eyes were dancing.
"I was wondering what took you so long," Hannah chuckled. "I had to wait three whole days !"
"Was it worth it?" Rachel quipped, wishing she could take back the words when she saw Hannah flinch.
"I'm sorry, Hannah, I just...this clearly is a case of 'open mouth, stuff in foot and eat dirt'--I'm sorry."
"It's alright, don't worry about it," Hannah answered in a hoarse voice. "And to answer your question..." she looked up and nodded. "For a very long time, I thought it had been well worth it, until you disappeared. It broke my heart and I started to look at my memories with totally different eyes," the blonde confessed, all of a sudden feeling comfortable enough to bear the other woman's part of something she had kept hidden for such a long time
"Do you...do you think it's possible for you one day, to look back at those memories and...and feel happy?" Rachel dared, unconsciously holding her breath.
Hannah looked at the top of Rachel's bent head and caught herself just in time when she stretched out her hand to touch the dark locks. It was so tempting to run her fingers through those thick, soft tresses. She had done it countless times before and her body must have remembered, because Hannah felt an almost physical pain when she quickly pulled back her hand.
"I wish I had the answer to that, Rachel," Hannah answered, wishing she could see the look in the other woman's eyes.
My goodness, Hannah. What happened to good, old-fashioned:'No !'
"A few weeks ago, I would definitely have told you 'No', but..." Rachel's eyes lifted to meet her own and this time it was Hannah who dropped her gaze. "Right now, I'm so...very confused, I don't know what to think or feel anymore. Ever since you left, I was angry and hurt and then..." Hannah swallowed when she remembered that fateful evening when two nervous police officers had knocked on her door. One look at their strained faces had told her enough and with a heartbreaking wail she had begged them to tell her it was not true. But they couldn't. Both her parents had been killed when a drunk driver had slammed into them, pushing their car off the road, into a deep storm drain, where the vehicle had landed upside down.
Hannah wasn't aware of the tear that was sliding down her cheek, while her eyes, dark with sadness, held a faraway look. But Rachel had noticed and again the grief and guilt slammed into her chest with a force that almost took her breath away.
"Hannah," she half-breathed, half-choked. "Hannah, I..."
Rachel was interrupted by the ringing of the phone and, with a muttered curse, she cast the device a dark look.
Hannah, startled by the unexpected sound, looked up and sent Rachel a watery smile.
"Answer it," she encouraged, after it rang again.
With an apologetic gesture, Rachel grabbed the cordless phone and brought it to her ear.
"Hello? Oh, h, Jack. What can I do for you?"
While listening to the voice on the other side, Rachel's face sported a deep frown. Hannah decided she looked anything but happy.
"But Jack, I'm not on call this week and...No..."
Looking at Hannah, Rachel rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"Two hours? Only two? You' re sure, right?...Because I have a two-year old and I can't just...alright, two hours. I'll see what I can do. But if my brother and his wife can't babysit, I'll bring her with me...Sure, yeah, I bet they would...Alright, two hours. You owe me, Jack !"
Rachel broke the connection and almost threw the phone back on the kitchen island.
"Hannah, I am so sorry, but..."
"Do you have to go in?" Hannah interrupted.
"Yes, just for a couple of hours. Jack assured me it wouldn't be more than two, but we both know how things work in the ER. I'd be happy to be out of there in four hours."
"What happened?" Hannah asked.
"Pete slipped and broke his foot," Rachel explained. "Donald is willing to take over his shift, but he's in Tulsa right now and it will take him a while to get here. Jack promised me that, as soon as Donald comes in, I get to go."
Rachel let out a frustrated breath and send Hannah an apologetic look. She pushed her hair away from her forehead and mustered up a small smile when she noticed Hannah's pensive stare.
"I could do it," Hannah softly spoke.
"I'm sure you could," Rachel nodded. "But I don't think Jack..."
"Babysit, Rachel," Hannah sighed, but her eyes held a glint of amusement. "I could stay here and...wait till you're back. Is Nicky a good sleeper?"
"Um...um..yeah, yes, she is," Rachel stuttered. "But Hannah...you don't have to do this, I..."
"I don't mind," Hannah softly replied. "I'll just grab one of those books and read, or watch TV. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" Rachel asked, blown away by the turn of events. That morning, she had seriously wondered if she could ever have a normal conversation with the blonde and now, not even ten hours later, Hannah suggested she babysit Rachel's daughter.
"I wouldn't have offered if I hadn't been sure," Hannah nodded. "Although, I do wonder how Nicky would respond if she wakes up and finds me here."
"She'll be fine," Rachel assured her. "But, in case she does wake up and has a fit, you can call me."
"Any ideas for when she starts crying and doesn't want to stop?" Hannah asked with a hint of humor in her voice.
"Come to the ER," Rachel advised, grabbing her purse from a chair.
"I don't have a car-seat," Hannah answered with a twinkle in her eyes.
"Take my car," Rachel replied, tossing Hannah a set of car keys. The blonde caught them just before they were able to crash into her plate and she chuckled.
"You have two cars?"
"No, but I'll be using yours. Keys, please?" Rachel smiled, holding out a hand.
Hannah reached into her pocket and pulled out the requested keys, putting them in Rachel's outstretched hand. The Doctor glanced from Hannah to the keys and back again. She frowned.
"Um...do I dare ask?"
"It's Granny's old Buick," Hannah grinned. "It's still running."
"Wow, I'm impressed," Rachel smiled. "That thing is ancient. If I remember correctly, we...," she paused and for a moment her warm brown eyes captured Hannah's blue ones.
We made out on the backseat more than once...
"Does your grandmother know?" she asked, knowing by Hannah's tell-tale blush the nurse had been thinking the same thing.
"I've never told her," Hannah answered with a sigh. "But, with my granny, one never knows."
"That's true," Rachel nodded. "She has a way of finding out things you really don't want her to know."
Hannah laughed and gestured towards the door. The sooner Rachel would leave, the sooner she might be back. But the Doctor had not heard Hannah laugh in a very long time and she was simply enthralled by the sound of it and the way the blonde's eyes lit up.
"Thank you, Hannah. I really appreciate what you' re doing for me. I know I don't deserve your kindness."
That remains to be seen, Rachel, a voice in the back of Hannah's head answered.
"It's no problem, really. Just drive carefully."
"I will," Rachel promised, walking towards the door. "I'll be wearing my badge and stethoscope. That has kept me out of trouble on several occasions. Lock the door behind me, will you?"
"Sure," Hannah nodded, following the Doctor to the door.
Just before Rachel stepped outside, she turned around and cast Hannah a look that was a mixture of confusion, affection and warmth.
"Thanks," she almost whispered.
"No problem," Hannah nodded. "By the way, do you have any Christmas decorations?"
"Two boxes, in the garage. Somewhere in between my bike and the lawn mower," Rachel promptly answered. "I thought you were going to read?"
"I will," Hannah answered. "But I know how you doctors are. I need a back-up plan."
"If Jack keeps me longer than...Never mind, I'll be back as soon as I can, Hannah, I promise."
"See you later, Rachel," Hannah smiled, watching until Rachel had started the engine of her grandmother's old car, before closing the door and locking it behind her. Hannah waited until the sound of the car had faded away, before pushing herself away from the wall and walking back to the kitchen to finish her sandwich.
"This must be one of the strangest days I've ever had," she muttered, perching herself on one of the bar stools and sinking her teeth into the tasty bread. Her clear blue eyes stared at the wall, while her thoughts turned inward. Hannah did not really mind that Rachel had been called away for a while. She could use the time to ponder over what had happened that day and try to make sense of all the emotions that surged through her body.
"Oh, Rachel, what a mess," she sighed, reaching out a hand to grab the tall glass the Doctor had poured her drink into. But before her fingers could touch the cool glass, a high-pitched scream filled the quiet room.
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To be continued in part 6
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