Across the Worlds

K. Ryan, 2004.

For the only person in the world for whom I would ever write a crossover, because I love her.

Jorality Bacanor was working alone, for once.

A small figure in a long kitchen that was filled with pitted wooden benches, huge, cream painted storage cupboards and larders that reached the ceiling, she was leaning against the great iron range, waiting for water to boil.

Jory knew that water always took longer to come to the boil when you watched it, but she did it anyway—glaring at it defiantly as slow trickles of cinnamon-scented steam coiled about her face, dampening long curls of hair and staining them dark. She faced the water squarely, eyebrows drawn together, biting the inside of her cheek, just daring it to play any tricks under her watch.

In reality, though, the young cookery-mage felt no impatience. She was here, in Olennika's kitchen, on her own time, all real work behind her. Jory was working on her own projects, that evening—food for the sake of food: pretty and delicate and special. This was an undertaking that she suspected her teacher and sometime-idol would consider hopelessly wasteful. While she was standing, still eyeballing that water, and felt thepale, cold twilight that came in from the kitchen's square windowsto meetthe inside candle-and-mage light in a pretty show of blue and orange, Jory didn't care about that much. Besides, Olennika had cooked for emperors—something that Jory thought of as decidedly more useless than creating nice things for oneself.

Slowly, she closed her eyes, breathing in the steam.

…Nothing is touching me/her, yet I/she feels like someone is standing right at my/her back, very close. I/she can feel their breathing; shallow, warm and quick. Biting our/her lip, she/I turn I/her head slightly, meaning to look.

--None of that, you. Just stay…very still.

The voice, her voice, is soft, and breathless. She/I feel her hand slowly cover the side of my/her face, warm against my/her cheek. Gentle fingers closing her/my eye…

Jory shuddered softly, blushing. The dreams had come back. Wonderful, beautiful daydreams that she'd had almost from the day she turned seventeen, which confused her as much as delighted her.

...another arm slips easy around her/my waist, pulling me back. She/I shiver, as I/she brushes against a body. Warm, so different from mine/hers.


Now, I/she feels lips press against the back of my neck. Lingering, then pulling away to kiss again, though lower down, now--on my/her shoulder. A kiss, a nip, sharp and fast, soothed by …oh help her/me…a lick.

Does that sound belong to her/me? It seems so strange. So…she/I give up thinking, for now. Time just to feel.

--Who are you?

They don't hear her/me, but they keep me/her quiet, as their grip changes, and their hand slips upward, fingers barely there…was she laughing

Fragments of feeling, of sensations and moments in time that Jory knew couldn't be real, but were, somehow. It didn't even make sense in her own head, but she thought that she might just love this secret stranger, who wouldn't leave her be.

…She/I gasp. –Where are you?

There is no answer. Can she/I be heard?

--I wish I knew where you were, Kyp-curse-it.

--I'm here, of course. Namorn!

No response.

--I don't think you're Tortallan…


Jory groaned, frustrated. Why couldn't the other woman hear anything she said, and what was 'Tortallan'? Her daydream faded as she tried to think, face hot and damp from more than the now simmering pot on the stove.

Jory wished she could understand everything.

Jory wished that she didn't dream blind.

…the voice is faint, now. Shaky in my/her ear. –Why are you doing this to me? Do you even know my name? It's Aly. Who are you? Speak to me.

I/she tries to turn again, though, and almost manage it. My/her lips bump against the stranger's.



And Realisation. I/she pauses for a moment, just revelling in my/her ingenuity.

Then she/I kisses her again, properly this time, and speaks into it. –Jorality. I'm…mmm...Jory. And I… love you.

The stranger, not so strange now, jerks back. I/she can feel it.

--I…felt that!

Jory opened her eyes, and the water was boiling.

--I love you, too.

Somewhere else entirely, Alianne of Pirate's Swoop wished that she didn't dream deaf.

But she was smiling.

I own nothing, except my own feelings, which often think they own me.