Cambridge, MA 1904
"Are you sure we're in the right place?"
"Yes." Jeff had to work at keeping his voice from showing his exasperation. He took a breath and started again. "I checked with some of the students – one o'clock, Sanders Theater auditorium. We're early. I thought it would be better if we were here before everything started."
Bogg rubbed absently at his forehead. "I know. I'm sorry. I just..."
"I know." Underneath his concern, Jeff did understand why Bogg had wanted to witness this particular historical event. He just wished they'd gone to headquarters first. There were still too many things that could go wrong – Bogg's healing process, the omni. He would have felt better if they had come back after Bogg had gotten checked out. He sighed. "I get it, Bogg. You brought me to watch Lindbergh land. I guess the only part I don't get is why Helen Keller's graduation rather than when Anne first got through to her?"
Bogg's gaze shifted from Jeff to the stage below them, and Jeff suddenly remembered Sarah's face turning from his as she told him about her riding accident. He could hear her voice in his ears. He closed his eyes for a moment, then wrenched his mind back to what Bogg was saying. "... too close to home right now, kid." The man let out a breath. "Besides, you were the one who told me Helen was the first deaf-blind person to graduate college. I thought you might want to see it, too."
Jeff nodded, turning to grasp the railing in front of him. He wondered if Sarah had gotten the opportunity to go to college as well, or if she had needed to go back to her family after her schooling was done. A noise from the theater's main floor brought his mind back to the present. He tapped Bogg lightly on the shoulder. "We should find seats. We're probably safe up here in the balcony."
"Why do we have to be so far back?" Bogg asked, squinting to make out the stage.
"This is the biggest graduating class Radcliffe has ever had. Ninety something people. Technically, we shouldn't even be here. Besides," he pointed at Bogg's clothes," we do sort of stand out, you know." Bogg huffed disdainfully, and Jeff couldn't help smiling. "You know, someday, that vest is going to split in two, and you'll need to find something else to wear. Maybe, when that happens, we can find you something less conspicuous."
"I haven't had to yet, smart guy." Bogg glared at Jeff, but dutifully moved into a shadowed section of seats.
"'Yet' being the operative word," Jeff retorted. "It'll happen. And I'll be waiting."
Almost an hour later, the auditorium was filled with graduates and their families. A hush blanketed the theater when a man in his late forties stood on the stage with a woman who looked to be in her eighties. The man cleared his throat. "Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I am LeBaron Russell Higgs, President of Radcliffe College." He indicated the woman standing next to him. "On behalf of myself and Honorary President Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz, I would like to welcome you to the commencement ceremony for the class of 1904."
Under cover of the polite applause, Bogg leaned over to Jeff. "Where are they?"
Jeff scanned the front rows of seats. "Give me a minute. It's a little hard to tell. Everyone's wearing black." Finally, his eyes stopped on a pair of women, one in her twenties with a black graduation cap crowning a wealth of chestnut hair, the second in her thirties with dark hair and no cap. Anne had her left hand placed inside Helen's right one, her fingers moving subtly as she spelled out what the speakers were saying. He poked Bogg gently in the ribs. "There," he whispered, pointing to the pair.
Bogg leaned forward, and Jeff could see his knuckles turning white where his hands grasped the railing. "I can't see them." Jeff sucked in a breath, and Bogg turned to reassure him. "I'm fine. "I'm just getting used to using them again. And it's dark in here.
Jeff nodded. "Maybe when they're on stage."
"Maybe," Bogg grunted, his voice sounding strained.
The ceremony continued – prayers, speeches, readings – until President Higgs asked the graduates to rise. As he read each woman's name, she walked down the row of seats, climbed the stairs to the stage, and took her diploma with a handshake from the man and a hug from the woman. Jeff could feel the tension rolling off his partner's body, and shook his head, puzzled.
"Miss Helen Keller." The silence in the auditorium grew even more profound. The two women rose and climbed the stairs together.
Jeff heard Bogg's sharp intake of breath. "She's beautiful," Bogg breathed.
"Yeah," Jeff agreed. "People always said Helen Keller was a beautiful woman."
"Who?" Bogg was leaning forward, staring intently at the stage, his eyes trained on Anne Sullivan.
Jeff's eyes widened in realization. "You never saw her, did you?"
Bogg shook his head. "Didn't need to. What she looked like didn't matter. It was what she accomplished that mattered." They watched as Anne guided Helen to the front of the stage where a diploma was placed in the younger woman's hand. Bogg stood and started clapping. Within seconds, the entire auditorium was on its feet, applauding. Anne grabbed Helen's free hand and spelled into something into it. Then they turned and gracefully descended the stairs to go back to their seats. Bogg muttered something Jeff couldn't hear, then said, "Okay, kid, I'm done. Let's go."
Jeff was unsurprised to see Bogg's eyes glistening in the dim light. He squeezed his partner's shoulder and started walking down the aisle of seats. Once outside, he turned to the older man. "I missed what you said back there."
Bogg shook his head. "Anne should have gotten a diploma, too. From what you've told me, Helen never would have learned everything without Anne reading it to her." He sighed. "Anyway, I've been thinking."
Jeff regarded him warily. "About?"
"Hawaii. We never got that vacation I promised you."
"No." Jeff crossed his arms over his chest. "Headquarters. You just got those bandages off, and we still don't know if the omni's working right."
"It got us here, didn't it?" Bogg's voice sounded defensive. "I was just thinking a little R and R, wouldn't be a bad thing. I feel like I've been through the ringer, and some time on a nice, quiet beach sounded like a good idea."
Jeff sighed. He had been wanting to go back to Hawaii for a while now. He got the feeling he was being had. "Two days. That's it, and I hold onto the omni. After we rest, we go to headquarters to get you checked out."
"Come on, kid, don't you trust me?" Bogg put on a disappointed face.
"I know you." He put his hand out. "Hand it over." Bogg sighed, placed the omni in the teen's open palm, and watched as he set it. "Here we go," Jeff said. He placed a hand on Bogg's arm and activated the device.
They landed in a darkened room. Jeff groaned and flipped open the omni's cover. "This is not Hawaii" The device's dial was dark, neither indicator light was on, and the dials still showed their last location. "Great. Any idea where we are?"
Bogg was standing examining the walls of the room. "It looks familiar, but..."
"As well it should," said a voice from the shadows. A light switch was thrown, and Jeff blinked in the sudden brightness, trying to adjust his eyes to the change in light levels. The man standing in the room was a complete stranger. He was a few years younger than Bogg with straight dark hair, gray eyes, and a nose that looked as though it had been broken once or twice over the course of his life. He wore the khaki-colored dress uniform of a British army officer from World War II with a silver omni clipped to the belt and was looking down at a clipboard he held in his hands. "Voyager Bogg and Voyager-elect Jones, yes?" His clipped and polished upper-class British accent didn't mesh with the broken nose, and Jeff found his curiosity peaked. The man obviously knew who they were. "Quite a merry chase you lads have led us on, but we've got you back now, and since it's been five years since your last visit..." He looked up from the clipboard. "Good lord, man, what happened to you? We need to get you to Voyager Medical immediately."
Bogg tightened into a defensive posture and put himself between the man and Jeffrey. "And who exactly are you?" Given what had happened at their last visit to headquarters, Jeffrey wasn't entirely surprised at Bogg's hostile reaction.
The soldier grimaced out a smile. "Of course, I was after your time, and as you haven't chosen to grace us with your presence since your trial..." He held out a hand that Bogg ignored. "Voyager Oliver Mayhew. Class of '05." He cocked his head to the side and lowered his hand, obviously unsurprised at Bogg's reaction. "Quite. Councilor Garth mentioned you might not be happy to be back."
Jeff saw Bogg relax slightly at the mention of Garth's name and stepped forward. "Is something wrong?"
Mayhew raised an eyebrow at him. "Not exactly wrong, my dear boy. Just overdue." Jeff looked at Bogg, not understanding. "I can see how this might have slipped your mind, Voyager Bogg, given that you travel without a guidebook."
"Hey!" Jeff protested.
"No offense intended, Master Jones. It's simply that there is more in a Voyager's guidebook than history." He tapped the clipboard with finger. "There are other things as well."
Bogg sighed. "We've been doing just fine without those 'other things,'
Mayhew stared pointedly at the burns on Bogg's face. "Yes, I can see that," he said, in a bland tone. "Quite well indeed."
Jeff stepped up again so he was now standing next to Bogg. "What other things?"
"Immunizations and doctor's visits, omni maintenance." Mayhew moved his eyes from Bogg to Jeff. "Psychological testing. Things."
"We don't need them." Bogg's voice had an edge of anger in it. "We're fine."
Mayhew pulled a face. "Councilor Garth disagrees with you, my good man, and I'm simply his lackey. He's ordered me to evaluate you both, so evaluate you I will." He gestured with one hand towards a door behind him. "So, until he sees fit to reactivate your omni, we're going to be spending a bit of time together. First I think we need to get you to the doctor, then perhaps we can get some tea. I don't know about you, but I'm perishing of thirst." He headed towards the door. "Welcome home, Voyage Bogg. We're glad to have you back."
Chapter one: The description of the Keller Homestead is taken from Helen Keller autobiography, The Story of My Life, as is Martha, who Helen describes as her playmate and accomplice. According to Dorothy Hermann's biography, Helen Keller: A Life, Kate Adams Keller, grew and cared for the roses that scented the property. Captain Keller did in fact bring Helen to doctors all over the south, including Alexander Graham Bell, who was the person who suggested writing to the Perkins School.
Chapter two: While I couldn't find any evidence indicating Ted Williams was in Hwacheon, he did in fact have respiratory problems that resulted in his discharge from the military in 1953. Thanks to my father – possibly, the world's biggest Ted Williams fan – for getting me a definitive answer as to what the ball player's rank was in 1953. I checked five different resources and got five different answers before calling my dad. I should have saved myself the trouble... Also kudos to magentamom for catching the homage to my favorite episode of M*A*S*H.
Chapter three: It took a while, but I using a handful of Korean Veteran websites, I was able to verify the 8076th was in fact in Hwacheon in January 1953. There are some great photos published by the son of one of the unit's doctors that really give you a feel for the place: 45thsurg dot freeservers dot com/8076th_MASH dot html.
Chapter four: The Swan Boats at Boston Common have been running since 1877. The bridge is pretty much exactly where I have written it in the story. If you haven't been there, it's a nice place to spend an afternoon.
Chapter five: While the Perkins School is now located on a large and beautiful campus in Watertown, MA, it was originally located in several rooms of the home of founder Samuel Gridley Howe's father. After that it moved to the home of Thomas Perkins, who – when the school's population outgrew the house – sold it and used the proceeds to buy a hotel in Boston where the school relocated. It moved to its present location in 1912.
Chapter six: Anne Sullivan Macy spent many years living in the poorhouse at Tewskbury after the death of her mother and being abandoned by her father; her beloved younger brother, Jimmie died there. At the age of fourteen she got for herself the opportunity to attend the Perkins school.
Chapter seven: Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was first published in January 1885.
Chapter eight: According to Micheal A. Hudson, Director of Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, early typewriters were used quickly adopted and taught in blind schools.
Chapter Nine: According to Hermann's biography, Helen received a standing ovation when she received her bachelor's degree from Radcliffe College. Helen Keller graduated cum laude. Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz was the first president of Radcliffe, followed by LeBaron Russell Higgs.
Thanks to all who read and, as always, special thanks to those who reviewed!