Katie stretched and opened her eyes, smiling at what she saw: her handsome husband, back from his latest travels.
"Morning." Katie sat up a little. "You're back. You were gone for a while this time. Everything go okay?" She'd been a little concerned. He'd been gone for a day and a half this time. That was the longest since the first time, when he had been away for two days and had came back very disoriented.
Dan smiled briefly and leaned over to kiss his wife. "Fine. A few complications, but nothing I couldn't handle."
Katie became more worried when Dan suddenly looked serious. "Something wrong?"
"Katie..." Dan hesitated. "There's something I need to tell you."
When he didn't continue, she prompted him. "Dan, what is it?"
He took a deep breath. "You remember that night in '99 when you came and got me from that poker game, then you stayed up all night with me, and then in the morning..."
Katie smiled at the memory of that night. She remembered vividly how they looked deep into each other's eyes the next morning when Dan woke up. She knew right then and there that she had fallen in love with him. She smiled to herself. "I remember."
"You know how I didn't remember any of it? Well, there's a reason for that." Dan hesitated again, as if searching for the right words. "It was me, there. I mean, you know, this me, not that me..."
Katie sat up fully when she realized what he was saying. "You? Now? You were just there? It was you I dragged away from the table, not, well... him." She finished, lamely.
Dan smiled, looking at her with understanding as she trailed off, not sure of what terminology to use. This traveling in time thing was all so confusing. Present selves, past selves. It was this – 2007 – Dan who was at that table, not that – 1999 – Dan. Wait. That thought brought her up short.
Katie looked at Dan with dawning realization. "So that was you, at the table? So, you, just now, you –"
Dan looked down, a little ashamed, wringing his hands. "Just played poker for three hours and lost thousands of dollars, right."
"Oh, god, Dan." Katie grabbed his hands and held them in hers. "And you were doing so well. Are you okay about this? How do you feel?"
She gave her husband her best don't-lie-to-me look. She could tell that was what he wanted to do: lie to her and tell her he was fine about gambling for the first time in years, after everything he had to go through to kick the addiction. But after one look at her, he took a deep breath and admitted, "Itchy. I feel itchy."
Katie nodded. That's what he always called it, getting the "itch" to gamble. Well, she couldn't let him fall down that slippery slope. Not again. Not now. She pulled his hands towards her and looked him hard in the eyes. "Promise me you'll find a GA meeting today. And every day until the itch goes away. Promise me. If not for me, then for Zack."
Dan looked her right back, his gaze unflinching. "I promise. Katie, this isn't going to be like before. I won't let it. Promise."
Katie smiled, relieved. She could tell he was being sincere. "Good." She leaned over and kissed him, letting go of his hands in the process.
This seemed like a good time to change the subject.
"Actually, I have something to tell you, too. Stuff happened while you were away."
Dan tilted his head, interested. "Yeah? What's that?"
Now it was Katie's turn to take a deep breath. "First of all... um... Jack knows all about the money. You know, the stolen money, from Dylan McCleen? I think Zack may have told him."
And it was Dan's turn to look worried, now. "Oh, no. Oh, god."
Katie was quick to reassure him, "But it isn't as bad as it seems, I think. When he came back looking for it, it wasn't in the closet. I was thinking you might have it?"
Dan reached around and brought the bag with the money out from behind him. "Yup, I have it. Most of it, anyway." At Katie's inquiring look, he continued. "Well, this is the money I used for the poker game, so I lost a bunch of it, but most if it is here."
Katie was confused. "But, wait, you didn't have it when you left, right? You were in the kitchen doing the recycling..."
Dan looked at Katie like he wanted to be anywhere but there, right at that moment. "Um... yeah... about that. Um... Livia came and got it for me." Dan watched Katie, obviously waiting for her reaction to that news.
And boy did she have a reaction. "What? Livia was here, like yesterday? Which Livia? You mean –"
"Yeah, the one who travels, like me. She saw you – she didn't let you see her of course – and she saw the house and Zack..."
Katie was flabbergasted. Livia. Dan's Livia. Dan's supposedly dead fiancée. She was here. Dan must have seen how shaken she was, because he reached over and took her hand. "Honey, don't worry, she understands what we have here. She knows that you and I belong together. She's not going to try to break us apart. I promise."
He pulled her into his arms, held her tight, and whispered in her ear, "I love you. I always will."
She whispered back, "I love you, too."
Katie fervently hoped that would be enough to get them through the challenges ahead.