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Classification Angst, Romance (H/M)
Length Approximately 9,000 words; 22 pages (8 ˝” x 11”)
Spoilers None
Rating GS
Summary At the end of the earth, Harm and Mac will discover themselves once more.

 



1530 Zulu (12/5)
Issukangitok, Alaska

 


The house was beautiful. It was a large cabin made of beautifully polished wood, covered in shiny windows looking out on the sea of snow.

The rungs on the porch were made of small totem poles. The newel posts inside were also made of totem poles. The ceiling of every room was practically made of skylights and there were fireplaces in all of the bedrooms.

Furnishings were made up of rustic furniture, the color schemes dark reds, greens, and navy blues. It was a beautiful, costly piece of construction.

However almost no one could see the beauty of such architecture. It was set outside of town, off the main road out and in. A creek was frozen solid near the house, a small yellow plane covered and parked in the middle.

Sleeping peacefully inside an elaborate house were two gorgeous animals. Their coats were silky, made up of gray, white, and black. One was a female, almost completely white save for several patches of pale gray on her back. The other was her mate, half husky, half wolf. He was black and white with a mask over his face.

Their pointy ears perked up at the noise coming up the makeshift drive. Barking and howling, they ran out of their house and across the snow, eager to greet the enormous black Chevy Avalanche.

Hopping out of the cab was their master. They had only known him for a few months, but all the same they loved him and protected him.

Luring them into the house with a bone, the bundled up figure began to remove the articles of winter clothing, ending up in a pair of jeans and a flannel shirt.

“You guys hungry?”

Barks were the response.

Captain Harmon Rabb Junior smiled at his dogs and went into the laundry area, pouring dog food into the huge bowls the huskies ate out of.

He stood back and watched them devour their food, loving how each animal was different in the way they attacked their dinner.

Dimitri, the wolf/husky moved across the floor with his food, eating every last bite. Beautiful Anastasia or Ana was more polite, content to savor the kibble instead of swallowing it whole.

They were like humans, Harm observed. Each one of them was different and unique. He sighed and headed back into the warmth of the house.

Why was he even here? He was in Alaska for crying out loud! Every day he stared outside, looking at the pristine new snow, wondering why he had to come all the way to the middle of Alaska for refuge.

He could have gone to his parent’s house in the Bahamas, but no. He had to come to the cabin his mother had built on a whim and they had never used.

When he first arrived, it was a bit of a culture shock. Then he started getting into the whole outdoors, freezing cold thing. He was content to sit inside and stare out at the majestic beauty of the mountains. Once or twice he’d go outside and sit with his dogs on the porch at night, staring at the Northern Lights.

If more psychologists knew of the beauty of Alaska, every depressed person in America would make the small town of Issukangitok their home.

It was located at the base of Denali, or McKinley to the Outsiders. Harm had that term labeled to him the instant he set foot into the general store.

Everyone knew to leave him alone. This was a man from the Lower 48, a Navy man to boot. He was quiet, yet polite, always laughed at the jokes people said and was always willing to help. But they knew to leave him alone. He had his own problems to deal with and that’s why he was here in the beauty of nowhere.

For the past two months, he had lived in Alaska. He had chosen to come right at the beginning of winter, a stupid time for anyone who didn’t know what it meant to live in the harsh weather of Alaskan winters.

It snowed up to four feet every storm, where he had to stay indoors for fear of getting lost five feet from the front door.

He loved it.

All the snow swirling around, the wind whistling and the mountains. In the middle of a storm, if you could see the outline of the mountains it almost looked like they owned you. You were at the mercy of the jagged rock sticking out of the ground.

Harm had no idea how long he was going to stay here. At least until his pain went away.

In the span of a year, he had lost a daughter, gained a wife, lost a daughter, and lost a wife. It was too much to bear.

Just thinking about it hurt him to no end. He looked over at the mantle of the enormous fireplace. Sitting in the middle was a picture of him and Mattie.

He looked away. The tears couldn’t start again. He couldn’t keep crying over Mattie.

She had been so close. So close to walking when it happened. She was paralyzed and was enduring grueling sessions of physical therapy. She was at the point where she could walk with the help of someone holding onto her hands, when it happened.

He and the physical therapist were helping her walk around the room, laughing and joking when she complained of a severe pain in her chest. A doctor came in to check her out and she passed out.

They worked forever to find the cause when she died. An embolism. A blood clot had traveled from her legs to her heart and killed her. They said that it sometimes happened. The use of the legs was so diminished that clots could occur easily. They were giving her medication to prevent it, but sometimes even the medication didn’t work.

Through the pain of it all, losing the only person he’d come to love so unconditionally, he grew closer to the other love of his life.

Mac had been through as much pain as he. They laughed, cried, and talked about the girl who she had soon come to believe as her own daughter.

They married and soon began to try for their own baby. Maybe a little girl to name after Mattie. Or even a little boy they could call Matt.

When Mac got pregnant, they were both thrilled. It was a blessing upon them both. Then it happened. Doctors had told Mac she might not be able to carry to full term, so they put her on bed rest around her fifth month. Two months later, several weeks before she was supposed to go through a C-section, she went into labor.

The baby was too early. Mac’s body had been trying to attack the baby throughout the pregnancy and she didn’t get any nutrients. She was too early to begin with, but too small to survive.

Several hours after she was born, Harm held his daughter in his arms and watched the last breath go in and then out. He felt her tiny heart stop beating under his fingertips. And he cried.

Sarah Mathilda Grace Rabb was buried next to her big sister in a small, private ceremony. Mac was devastated. She took the blame for the death and went through serious depression.

In the span on nine months Harm had lost both of his daughters and was soon to lose his wife. Mac drew away from him. They didn’t talk and constantly fought. One day he came back from work to find her in her robe and Clayton Webb coming down the stairs.

He didn’t say anything, much to Mac’s protests that nothing happened. He didn’t say anything and simply took the next flight to San Diego.

His mother offered him the house in the Bahamas to think. He said no and took the Alaskan refuge. He had begun to heal.

Harm stared outside at the dark. It got dark so early here and he loved it. It fit his moods perfectly from time to time. The dark was like a blanket here. It was like the snow. It was so quiet that even the softest whisper was like a gunshot through the silence.

Whimpers brought him back to real life. He smiled at the two dogs in front of him. “Come on,” he whispered, patting the couch.

They both jumped up, one on either side of him. Ana rested her head on his thigh, her beautifully clear blue eyes staring up at him. Dimitri pawed at the couch before he flung his huge body next to Harm.

Content to be with the dark, the snow, and the dogs, he finally fell into one of his rare, solid sleeps.
 


0720 Zulu (12/6)
Issukangitok, Alaska

 


The sky was still dark, the snow was fresh, and the temperature was about twenty below.

But that didn’t stop Harm from wandering around with the dogs. Completely insulated in many layers of thermal clothing, Harm followed the dogs wherever the scents took them.

They were a joy to look at, the beautiful bodies throwing themselves into the air, only to fall into the snow and roll around.

After Dimitri had gone after some sort of flurry, he turned around and ran back to Harm, jumping and barking all around him.

Smiling, Harm knelt down and ruffled the dog’s fur. “You want to go back?” he asked.

Ana ran over, slurping Harm’s face with kisses. She barked and ran off to the house, leading the way.

Sighing, he followed them and then went through the laborious process of wiping the dogs down so the water on their paws wouldn’t freeze the next time they went outside.

Tired out from their morning romp, Ana and Dimitri collapsed onto the gigantic pillow in front of the fireplace.

What was he going to do? A storm was coming later that night and he had already gone into town for supplies.

For three months he had simply hung around the house, fixing it up and adding things on. He built the doghouse in the back and occasionally went into the garage to work on furniture.

He didn’t feel like working on furniture. He felt like being with his thoughts. So he went upstairs and into the study.

The study was a beautiful room with a fireplace, hand carved desk, and a totem pole in the corner. One wall was a window, staring out at Denali and the mountains.

He sank down into the small couch and stared out at the mountains. For two months, he had grieved. He had cried for both of his daughters and for the woman he loved.

He wondered why she would cheat on him. She had sent him letter after letter claiming her love for him. She didn’t cheat on Clay. Why would she cheat on him? She loved him.

But no. He knew. He had grieved painfully. It was a horrible, gut wrenching depression he had fallen into. The doctors had given him Xanax and Paxil. He didn’t like pills. They made him sleepy and groggy.

Although one night he had to take the sedative. He couldn’t stop the pain that seemed to seep through his pores. All he had done that night was cry and yell.

Why did it have to happen? Why did Mattie have to die? She was only a teenager. Why?

Same thing with his little girl. His beautiful, precious little girl. Her hair was so soft when he stroked it. Her eyes were so blue. He saw them only for a moment. They flickered, right before her short life was ended in his arms.

Mac had been devastated. She stayed in bed for days after they released her. Then a month later, he had come home to find Clayton Webb on the stairs and her in her robe.

Shutting his eyes, he thought back to that moment. The moment his world came crashing down.

He was just coming home from a doctor’s visit. Bud and Harriet had forced him to go to a shrink. He had the pills in his hands when he arrived at the airport.

Groaning, Harm leaned back and stared out at the mountains. He shut his eyes and soon fell back to sleep.
 


Two Weeks Later (12/20)
Issukangitok, Alaska

 


“Good afternoon Cap’n!”

“Afternoon,” Harm said, dragging the 50 pound bag of dog food over to the front counter. “Last storm all but cleaned me of dog food.”

“How are those beauties? You bring them with you this time?” Max, the wizened old general store manager.

Grabbing a bag of fire starters, Harm continued to move about the store, adding to the growing pile. “The Rumski triplets are playing with them. I believe Katya Rumski is going to kill me the next time she sees them with Dimitri, but her Dimitri doesn’t care. She panics because he’s half wolf.”

“Who your Dimitri or hers?” Max laughed.

Smiling slightly, Harm didn’t say anything and added some more food onto the stack of supplies.

Max, an old Navy man himself and one of the many busybodies in the tiny city, wanted to know more about this man. He was handsome, polite, articulate, and had a lot of baggage everyone wanted to know about. What in the hell was an Outsider doing moving into the fancy ass cabin on the outskirts of town?

They didn’t even think Captain Rabb knew why.

“Did you hear there’s another Outsider?” Max asked, wondering if maybe the beautiful woman staying at the lodge was an acquaintance of Rabb’s.

Another Outsider? At Issukangitok? Harm shook his head, thinking that it was probably a climber who was staying around. But if that was the case, wouldn’t they be staying in Denali? The city named after the mountain was populated by tourism and climbers.

“She’s a looker.”

Harm whipped his head around, eyes wide. “Where’s she staying?”

Ah, so the boy was interested in things other than his own concerns. Max simply smiled and began to compile the list of what Harm was buying. “The Lodge.”

The Lodge was the beautiful hotel and the only place to stay in town. It was run by a woman who had lived in Alaska her entire life. Katherine Itu was a Native Alaskan, one who took no prisoners and put everyone in their place.

She also knew everything about everyone sometimes even before they did. Therefore, this new Outsider was under serious scrutiny by the ferocious pillar of the community.

“Where’s she from?” Harm asked, ignoring the horrible feeling in the pit of his stomach. He scribbled his name on the tab and set the pen down, the soft click of plastic on the hard counter echoing in his ears. Like a gunshot in the middle of the night.

He knew who she was. He knew who it was even before Max opened his mouth.

“She’s from London,” Max said softly, taking the receipt from Harm. He ripped off the carbon copy and handed it to Harm, smiling slightly. “You know her?”

“I might,” Harm whispered, folding the receipt in half. He grabbed the bags full of supplies and dragged the dog food to the door. Pausing, he tossed a look over his shoulder to Max. “What’s her name?”

“Funny it was,” Max said, chewing on his pipe. “Sarah Mackenzie Rabb. You related?”

Biting the bottom of his lip, Harm nodded slightly. “She’s my wife.”

Max watched the Captain toss the supplies into the bed of the Avalanche truck. When the truck rumbled off over the snow, heading towards the outskirts of town, Max leaned forward and picked up the phone.

“Katherine? It’s Max. Yeah, he knows. It’s his wife.”
 


Three Hours Later
Issukangitok, Alaska

 


Standing next to the yellow plane he had bought in place of ‘Sarah’, Harm stared off at the main road. It had been plowed earlier, but the snow was softly falling. It was almost Christmas. He knew that a Christmas in Alaska would be calming. Unlike most Christmases, this one he was slightly looking forward to.

Until she came.

The plane, parked on the Issukangitok River, was simply a hobby of his. He flew it at least once a week to Fairbanks or Anchorage. Just to get some modern world back in his blood so he wouldn’t become quite a hermit.

He was thinking of taking off with the dogs. Just leaving so she wouldn’t track him down. He knew she would. It was only a matter of time.

“Only a matter of time,” he whispered to himself.

Keeping watch next to him was Dimitri. Suddenly, the animal went rigid, the hairs on his back raising up when he saw the unfamiliar Jeep make it’s way down the road.

The house was set off from the road, the back surrounded by woods. Dimitri was getting ready to set off when he saw the Jeep park in the drive. Ana moved closer to Harm, ready to take Dimitri’s place.

“Friend,” Harm whispered, patting Dimitri’s head. He moved away from the plane, shoving his sunglasses on so he wouldn’t have to look her in the eye.

The first thing he saw was a black boot. Then a shapely leg even though it was encased in jeans and most likely several layers of thermal underwear. Her parka was black and huge, almost swallowing her.

She too, like him, wore sunglasses covering her eyes.

They simply stood there looking at each other before Harm turned away. “Come inside. It’s freezing out here.”

He had been there for practically three months; enough time for his blood to thicken. He was no longer as cold as he had been when he first arrived, however he was still an Outsider.

“It’s beautiful.”

Her voice was softer, sadder. Just like his.

Of course she meant the nature. He didn’t have to ask her about it. It was starting to get dark, even though it was barely four in the afternoon. Tonight it was going to be clear. Clear enough to see the Northern Lights.

Ana and Dimitri ran ahead and into the house, wiping their paws on the rug, then waiting for Harm to wipe them down.

He pulled off his snow stuff, stripping down to his jeans, boots, white thermal shirt, and a dark green flannel plaid shirt.

When she pulled off her parka, she revealed she was wearing a black turtleneck and jeans. She had lost weight. A lot of weight actually.

Blinking, she studied his frame as well. He was thin. Gaunt even. He had lost some muscle tone, but she knew that he kept himself working. That’s what everyone at the Lodge said. She knew that the people of this town knew what was going on with just about everyone.

“Ana, Dimitri,” Harm called softly. “Bed.”

One could almost see the disappointment in the faces of the two dogs when they couldn’t sit and watch the brewing fight that was about to happen. They sulked off to their bed, collapsing with drama.

Both stared at each other in silence before Mac finally spoke. “I miss you Harm,” she whispered, her eyes full of pain.

Shaking his head, Harm sank onto the couch. “Don’t,” he whispered. “Please, please just don’t.” He looked up, the lines and bags under his eyes more pronounced by his grief. “Why are you here?”

“Because,” Mac whispered, sitting down next to him. “Because I couldn’t let you go on believing that I cheated on you. I gave you two, almost three months Harm. When I found out from Bud and Harriet that you weren’t coming back and were still here I came looking. I can’t have you believe that anymore.”

“Then what am I supposed to believe?” Harm demanded frustration and anger beginning to creep into the pain of his voice. “How am I supposed to believe that when Clayton Webb your ex-boyfriend is walking down the stairs of my house with his shirt unbuttoned and jacket in hand and you’re standing in the doorway wearing a robe that nothing happened? Tell me that Sarah!”

This was so hard. Tears were rising in her eyes. “Harm,” Mac sobbed. “I didn’t sleep with him! I…I kissed him, but that’s all!”

“That’s all!” Harm exclaimed, jumping up and beginning to pace. “You can’t tell me that you kissed him and then ask me to believe that nothing else happened!”

Biting her lip, Mac turned on the couch to look at him. “Harm,” she whispered insistently. “Sit down and let me talk please.”

He was a renowned lawyer. An excellent lawyer. He had stared witnesses down, making them break on the stand. He had ice water or jet fuel running through his veins. He had saved the lives of thousands by playing tag with a nuclear warhead.

But he broke. At her painful look, he sank down onto the couch next to her. “Go ahead,” he stated.

Sniffling, Mac wiped at her eyes. “I was walking back from the doctor’s,” she began. “And I saw him standing outside the house. We talked and he said that he ran into AJ and AJ told him what had happened with Mattie and…and the baby.” She took a deep breath and continued, fighting through the pain. “I let him inside and we had a few drinks. His with alcohol and even though I wanted it, I stuck with my tonic water.” Smiling slightly, she pressed on. “I thought of kissing him or cheating on you and then I realized how horrible I was. I wanted to get back at you for the grief. In my head I thought you had caused my grief, but…I had done it. You were dealing with your own. Why should you deal with mine as well? So I kissed him. I pulled away quickly and spilled my drink on his shirt and on mine.”

“So you changed and put on your robe, while he changed shirts,” Harm finished, connecting the dots.

Mac nodded, wiping at her eyes. “Yes,” she whispered. “Yes that’s it. I swear Harm, that’s all that happened.”

For almost three months, he had been harboring all of this ill will towards the woman before him. He was hurting from the deaths of his daughters and from the infidelity of his wife.

But when she told her side of the story, when he finally heard another point of view, he felt a weight lift. It was the truth. If it weren’t, he wouldn’t feel so relieved.

“Oh God,” Harm gasped, burying his face into his hands. “I’m so sorry Mac.”

Shaking her head, Mac let out a sob and flung herself at him. “I’m sorry too,” she sobbed, holding on tightly.

Harm kissed her shoulder, rocking gently. They sat that way for hours, not saying a word, just crying with each other. Crying over their daughters, their grief, and the time they had lost.

Once Mac lifted her head from his shoulder, her eyes raw from the tears. She gasped, staring outside.

Thinking that maybe she saw a bear or wolf, Harm turned, following her gaze with his. He smiled. They were out tonight.

“Come on,” he whispered, tugging at her hand.

Numb from the sight she was staring so stupidly at, Mac followed him. Harm stepped out onto the porch, wrapping his parka around her. He could stay outside for several minutes without a coat, but no longer than that. It was almost thirty below.

“It’s like God,” Mac whispered as the lights danced over the snow. “Oh Harm now I know why you came up here. It’s the perfect therapy.”

“It was,” he murmured, holding onto her tight. When his toes went numb inside his thick socks and boots, he pulled her back into the house, where they turned off all of the lights and simply stared out at the mountains, the trees, the snow, and of course, the Northern Lights.
 


Next Day (12/21)
Issukangitok, Alaska
 


He had hacked down a tree. When he woke up early that morning, he headed out into the dark with the dogs and a saw. His mother had someone stash Christmas decorations and ornaments in the attic. He found them and brought them down.

Frowning at the tree, he looked at the two dogs, both of them upset at the fact he had outfitted them with sled dog harnesses. Dimitri was chewing at his. Ana just looked disgruntled and calmly sat in the snow, a stone statue among the trees.

“Come here guys,” Harm called out, attaching the ropes from the tree to their harnesses. “Okay, go, run, home!” he yelled, gesturing to the house.

Ana and Dimitri barked and started to run, dragging the tree with them. Snow curled up and into the dark sky, a mini avalanche.

Trudging back from the edge of his woods, Harm followed the tracks back. Another hour of chopping the small pine down so that it would fit into the living room, he began to decorate.

Finally, after three months he was beginning to feel happy, he was starting to feel other emotions other than sadness, pain, and anger.

Noise on the stairs startled him out of his reverie. He smiled slightly at Mac, who was rubbing at her eyes. “Good morning.”

“It’s morning?”

“Ten in the morning.”

Mac looked out the windows and frowned, then looked back at him. “But it’s still pitch black.”

“In the summer it’s light all day. Get used to this dark. It won’t get sunny for another hour and then it will disappear around three,” Harm said, plugging the lights into the wall.

When the tiny twinkle lights lit up the dark pine green tree, Mac smiled. “Well you didn’t short circuit the house.”

“No I didn’t,” Harm commented, studying the tree. “Want to help?”

She shrugged and walked down the rest of the stairs, picking up a shiny Rudolph ornament. She twirled it and looked up at Harm. “Do you think…do you think Sarah would have liked Christmas?”

The mention of their daughter caused Harm to drop the ornament he was holding. That name hadn’t been mentioned to him since her funeral. He bent down, retrieving the ornament.

Silent for several minutes, he continued to carefully hang the delicate glass ornaments. Finally, after Mac figured he was going to ignore her, he answered.

“Yes.”

That was it. Only one word. Only one word regarding the infant who was never allowed to live. Her little heart and lungs were too weak. Too weak for her to survive.

For that, Mac blamed herself.

The tears began again. She hunched forward, dropping the ornament she was holding, beginning to sob. She finally broke. She finally broke when he whispered one word.

Quietly, Harm soothed her, running his hands over her back, letting her get her emotions out. She had never cried this way before. She had never broken this way yet.

He had. He had one of the first days here. The sight of the mountains and of the Lights did it. The beauty of nature had allowed him to cry for the beauty of the little girl he would never see again. And of the beauty of his other daughter, a strong young woman who died too young.

When the tears lessened, Mac lifted her head, staring into his eyes. “Harm,” she whispered, brushing her lips across his.

Harm leaned forward, pressing his lips harder to hers. She let out a soft gasp, grasping hold of his neck, opening her mouth under his. Her whole body was trembling. She had gone so long without feeling his lips under hers.

He was thinking the same thing, wrapping his arms tightly around her thin body. She had gotten so thin.

Mac was thinking the same thing. She could feel his ribs against hers. Where had he gone? He had lost so much weight, so much time.

When they finally pulled away from the soft, tender, yet passionate kiss, Harm could feel Mac’s tears against his cheeks. “Don’t cry,” he whispered, closing his fingers around hers.

“I’m trying not to,” Mac laughed, her voice obscured by the thickness of tears. She leaned back, staring into his cold, icy blue eyes. “Harm…”

“We should wait,” Harm interrupted his voice brusque. “Let’s not rush into things. We still have a lot of problems to discuss.”

She nodded, biting on her lower lip. “Okay,” she whispered, lifting up some tinsel.

He nodded to her and continued to decorate the tree, the dogs watching, and the sky dark.

And silently, Mac continued to cry.
 


Two Hours Later
Issukangitok, Alaska
 


“Just slide. It’s really very easy,” Harm informed Mac, holding onto her hand. He was attempting to teach her how to snowshoe. She kept sinking into the three feet of snow so he felt it would be beneficial for her to learn.

Huffing and puffing, Mac got up from the soft white powder, brushing it off her ski jacket. After her stay here, there was no need for her to ever work out. Just going to the car after a night’s snow was an aerobic workout. This was even more so.

After a few more falls, Mac finally got the hang of it and followed along with Harm and the dogs into the woods. They hiked for a while in snowshoes before Harm steered them back to the house.

For the next couple of hours they were silent, just content to wander around the grounds, pausing every now and then to simply stare at the mountains. It was cold, of course, but it had warmed up to about five degrees.

Harm was about to ask Mac if maybe she wanted to go into town for lunch when Dimitri went crazy and ran into the woods, Ana immediately behind him, both of them barking and howling.

Alarmed, Mac grabbed Harm’s arm. She could barely feel it through the layers of clothing and his parka. “What are they upset about?”

“Probably a moose,” surmised Harm. He shrugged and moved towards the house. “They’re fine.”

Sounds of crunching snow reverberated through the cold air as he trudged to the house. A devious idea coming into her thoughts, Mac knelt down and scooped up some snow, forming the perfect powder into a perfect ball.

She stood and pulled her arm back, letting loose. The ball spun through the air at the correct velocity and at the right trajectory. It made contact with Harm’s neck.

When he yowled much like the dogs who had just taken off, Mac screeched in laughter and covered her mouth with her hands.

He spun around, his mouth open, eyes wide. “That’s it!” Harm exclaimed, grabbing a handful of snow. He threw it at her, hitting Mac right in the chest.

She screeched and began to throw. Standing in the backyard, Harm and Mac continued in their snowball fight, ending when Harm grabbed Mac’s waist and pulled her into the snow.

Laughing, giggling, and grinning like a bunch of teenagers, they rolled in the snow for a moment before Harm rolled Mac onto her back, staring into her eyes. The smile on Mac’s face disappeared and she slid her thickly gloved hand around to his neck, pulling him in for the long, long kiss.

It seemed like it lasted forever, both of them caught up in the passion they had lost what seemed like so long ago. However, it ended before it could truly begin, when the sounds of pain echoed like gunshots through the woods.

Rocketing up off the ground, Harm darted towards the sound, knowing when his dogs were in trouble. Dimitri was galloping towards them, howling. He turned and raced back to where Harm presumed Ana was injured.

He fell to his knees beside the beautiful white creature, cradling her head in his hands. “Moose wound,” he observed, gently touching the gash in Ana’s thigh. The red on white was shocking and seemed worse than it truly was.

“Is she going to be okay?” Mac asked, holding Dimitri to her. “We should get her to the vet.”

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, snow began to fall. Harm looked up at the nasty storm clouds that were starting to brew. He shook his head and hefted Ana into his arms. “We’re going to get dumped on tonight. They were calling for almost five feet by tomorrow. We need to pack in. I can handle her.”

Nodding, Mac followed Harm back to the house, where he pulled out a huge first aid box and started cleansing Ana’s wound. He gave her a small sedative and began to sew the gash, shaving away at some of her fur and covering it with a bandage.

Once he was finished, Mac found a cone in the closet, presumably, from when one of them was hurt before. She fashioned it around Ana’s neck, much to the animal’s displeasure.

After Ana was cleaned up and resting on her pillow in front of the fire, the snow had begun to fall so fast Mac could barely see the outlines of the mountains and trees.

“We’re really stuck here aren’t we?” she asked softly, wrapping her arms around her in a semi self-hug.

“Yes,” Harm nodded, bolting the doors shut. He went around making sure he had enough supplies in the house and enough firewood under the tarps on the porch. The guardrails were already up around the house in case he had to go outside for whatever reason.

As for the dogs, well they knew their way around a storm and knew where to go if they had to go outside.

Harm moved about the house, turning off lights and making sure there were no cracks in windows and no excess electricity running.

While he was checking up on things, Mac changed out of her wet clothes, tossing them into the hamper. She was shivering with cold and figured it would be time to take a hot shower.

As she moved around her room, looking for her robe, the door creaked open. “Mac?”

She let out a scream and grabbed the robe. “Harm you scared me!”

“Oh, sorry,” Harm apologized, leaning against the doorframe. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah I’m fine. I was just going to get a shower,” she informed him, walking over to face him. “In fact…” Mac trailed off. “You should get one too.”

Harm cocked his head and leaned down. “I think I’m fine.”

“You’re wet,” Mac whispered, raising an eyebrow. “You need a long, hot, steamy shower,” she sounded out, wrapping her hands around his neck, pulling him in for a long kiss.

They still needed to talk. They still needed to learn how to trust again. Both had to finish the grieving process. They had lost two daughters and each other in the span of nine months. Any normal person would have crumbled and they both did.

Both were human.

Instead of breaking the kiss, as he should have done, Harm forgot everything. For the first time in three months, he didn’t think of Mattie, he didn’t think of his daughter who never got a chance to live. He didn’t think of Mac and Webb.
 


Later...
 


Steam rose in the rustic bathroom, rising to the ceiling as the mirror fogged over from not only the hot water, but the passion of the occupants on the other side of the dark green shower curtain.

She was between a rock hard body and a hard wall. It was the most comfortable she had felt in a year. Mac rested her forehead against Harm’s shoulder, her arms around his neck, and her legs around his waist.

“I love you,” she whispered into his ear, tears falling down her cheeks, mingling with her sweat and the scalding hot water.

He shut his eyes tightly, fighting against his own tears. Harm rested his forehead against the tiled wall, stroking her thigh absentmindedly as he held her to him. Why couldn’t he say the words? He wanted to say them, but why wouldn’t they come out?

“Sarah…” he trailed off, brushing her lips with his.

Mac’s eyes lazily opened, staring into his cold blue ones. Despite the heat they had generated and the heat of the shower, they were still cold. She slid her legs down, holding onto him for support as she found her balance again.

“Harm I know you can’t say it yet,” she whispered, drawing circles on his collarbone with her thumb. “But you’re going to have to. We have to work this out. We have to let go. You have to let go.”

“Let go of what?” Harm asked, playing coy as he began to suck on her neck.

She pushed him away, staring into his eyes. “Don’t joke Harm. I’m not. I came here to get you and bring you back home. Home to us. Home where we can make up and finish grieving.”

Ignoring the blast of cold air that hit him when he flung back the shower curtain, Harm grabbed a towel, wrapping it around his waist. He stalked out of the bathroom, pushing by a whining Dimitri and into his room.

Right behind him was Mac, who was hurriedly tying the sash on her blood red satin robe. She stood there, dripping wet in her robe while Harm simply stared out the window, dripping water onto the wooden floor.

“You can’t run away from this talk!” Mac snapped, her sadness gone, replaced by frustration and anger. “You can’t run away from Sarah or Mattie or me! Not like you did coming here! You know Harm I always figured you were a man who faced his problems but for the past three months you’ve done a damn good job of acting like a coward.”

He spun on his heel, eyes flashing. “I ran away because I had no where else to go!” he yelled right back. “I thought you had cheated on me with…HIM. Both of my daughters were dead and I didn’t have anyone else! So I came here and quite frankly I’ve started to heal. I’m not fully done grieving Mac. Not like you.”

Her mouth fell to the floor. “Me? You think I’m done grieving? Harm I cry every night. I miss Mattie so much it hurts. If you think I don’t miss our daughter…Harm I’m the reason she’s dead. How do you think that makes me feel when I go to sleep?”

Harm’s heart hurt. There was so much emotion it could take. “Mac you didn’t kill our daughter,” he whispered. “Nothing caused her death. Nothing but a cruel twist of fate.”

“And Mattie?” Mac retorted.

He wasn’t prepared for her to say that. He blamed himself for Mattie’s passing. He pushed her. He wanted her to walk again and she died because of him.

“Mattie…” he trailed off, tears rising at the thought of Mattie. He hadn’t thought about her in a way other than missing her. Other than her death, her funeral, everything after she left him.

Her personality. The way she could never get her hair the way she wanted. Her smile, laugh. It was all too much.

She was gone and he would never see her again.

For only the second time since her death, he finally broke. The wave finally washed over him and he cried.

Mac reached for him and they both sank to the floor while Harm sobbed into her neck. She cried too, rocking him with her, both of them finally letting go of their pain.

While the snow swirled outside, their emotions went with it.
 


Three Days Later (12/24)
Issukangitok, Alaska

 


“Good morning beautiful.”

“Good morning,” Mac chirped, accepting Harm’s kiss. She kept her gaze over her shoulder, watching him, shirtless, move around the kitchen getting his coffee and preparing breakfast.

For three days they sat in the house while the storm continued to rage beyond the walls. For three days they cried, laughed, fought, and made love.

Harm had finally learned to let go. He finally looked at pictures of Mattie again. He finally thought of his daughters in ways other than the fact that they were no longer with him. He forgave Mac for trying to get back at him with Clay, even though nothing really happened between the two of them.

Both of them were on the same page for the first time in a year. They both wanted the same things and they both wanted each other.

“Hey,” Mac said, looking up from chopping veggies for an omelet. “It’s Christmas Eve.”

“I know,” Harm whispered, looking over at the picture of him and his father in the Phantom. He looked back over at Mac. “I have a surprise for you.”

“What kind of surprise?” Mac asked, wrapping her arms around his waist.

He cocked his head and pecked her nose with a kiss. “You’ll just have to find out.”
 


Several Hours Later
Issukangitok, Alaska
 


“Okay Harm what is this big Christmas surprise?” Mac demanded, rolling over in bed to look at her husband.

Harm crawled out of bed and began to dress in his ‘outdoor clothes’. Mac watched, curious when he pulled on his boxers, thermal underwear, jeans, and flannel shirt. He crooked a finger, a small smile on his face.

Even more curious now, Mac dressed warmly and followed him downstairs. Ana, fully recovered from her moose attack wound barked and danced in front of the door, obviously excited about whatever Harm had planned.

They put on their wool socks and boots, parkas and scarves, hats and gloves. Mac followed Harm outside, dancing around in the cold. It was almost thirty below and he wanted to hang around outside? The man truly was an Alaskan.

Harm pulled out two of his handmade wooden chairs and set them in the snow. He pushed her down into one and pulled out a huge thick blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate.

“Sit.”

Mac sat.

He disappeared and she heard a click. Turning, she stared at the woods. Many of the trees facing his property were covered in tiny Christmas lights. She looked up at the dark sky, the Northern Lights dancing over the snow. The mountains looked like they were lit up from behind, looming over everything.

“Harm,” she whispered, staring out at everything.

Harm sank into the chair next to her and snuggled under the blanket. “Merry Christmas Sarah,” he breathed, barely moving his lips.

She looked over at him, tears shining in her eyes. She did not dare let them fall, for fear of having them freeze to her cheeks. “Harm I love you so much,” she gasped.

“I know,” he replied, squeezing her hand. “I love you too.”

Mac looked back at Denali, king of the mountains, ruling over the forest and pristine virgin snow at its base. Dimitri and Ana sat next to them, ears perked, watching the reds, blues, yellows, pinks, and greens play over the white canvas.

She turned her head back to Harm and smiled. “Merry Christmas Harm.”

He checked his watch and sure enough, it was 12:01. “Merry Christmas Mac,” he replied, leaning closer to her.

Their lips met in a soft kiss, a promise of things to come. As they kissed under the Northern Lights and the gaze of a giant mountain, Dimitri and Ana flung their heads back, howling into the air.

The wind swirled the snow around them, enveloping them into each other. While he kissed his wife, Harm could not help but remember what brought him to this magical, beautiful place.

Grief had led him to the end of the earth, grief had led him back to his wife, and the end of the earth and his wife helped him end the grief.
 


Two Years Later
Issukangitok, Alaska

 


Denali still reigned supreme over the forest, snow, and sky. It was beginning to get dark and soon the Northern Lights would be out. Snow was falling quietly, not too heavy, but it wasn’t light either.

As the Suburban rumbled up in front of the house, Ana and Dimitri stuck their heads out of their elaborate dog house. Both cocked their heads in unison, wondering who it was, as their masters left in quite a hurry days before. Perhaps they were back early?

“Ana! Dimitri!”

At the calling of their names and the scent of treats, both howled and set off, kicking up snow behind them. They danced and barked, joyous to see their owners home.

“Quiet you guys,” Mac cooed, rubbing their heads. She opened the back door and pulled out a bundle, wrapped in many thick blankets. Soothing the fretful cries, she made her way through the heavy snow to the front porch.

Following behind her, a bundle of his own, Harm opened the door and stepped inside. Ana and Dimitri, curious at why they were not given all the attention before, followed slowly, their nostrils flaring at the new scent.

“I’m going to put the engine block on,” Harm informed Mac, referring to the heater placed on the car so it wouldn’t freeze. “It’s supposed to get down to about thirty below tonight. We’re also expecting a storm.”

“I know, I know,” Mac assured him, taking off her parka. “It’s been two years Harm, but I still remember the last storm we were in.”

“Well it hasn’t stormed since we got here so…”

No one would have guessed that the worrywart of a man standing before her was the man who ran away from his grief and mourning two years before.

The losses of Mattie and Baby Sarah had cut them both deep; Harm was a river of sadness, who came to the end of the earth to heal. With the help of each other, they both managed to forgive and to heal.

Now, they were back again, this time not to heal, but rather to accept the new part of their lives and to simply be alone, together.

While Harm got the outside ready for the storm, Mac began to unravel each bundle from their blankets. Lying before her on the couch were two beautiful, precious angels.

Smiling, she laid her hands on their bellies, marveling at the fact that these were her children. Her beautiful, healthy children.

The oldest by two minutes was their third daughter, Grace Mathilda. She wiggled and opened her eyes briefly locking glances with Mac. Letting out a little protest, she wiggled closer to her mother, wanting more contact.

Out like a light was her brother, Matthew Harmon. His mouth was even open a little bit, drool trickling into the corner of his mouth. Frowning at his bad manners, Mac used the burp rag to wipe it away, causing him to let out a whine.

“Well sweetie you’ll just look unkempt,” Mac informed him, covering them both with a light blanket while they slept, unaware of the world.

Ana and Dimitri walked over to Mac, their heads poking over her shoulder, wanting to know what these two new intrusions into their pampered lifestyle were.

“These are the babies,” Mac informed them. “You have to stay quiet and leave them alone.”

Whining, Ana attempted to nose Grace’s foot, but Mac pushed her away. She left in a huff, falling into a heap on her bed. Dimitri sat, ears at attention, his gaze on them.

When Mac moved to lift Matthew, he growled, low in his throat. She smiled and kissed the dog’s head. “I’m his mother,” she informed him. “Friend.”

At that, Dimitri fell to his feet, content to guard the twins. Laughing, Mac lifted both babies up and set them in their carriers.

The door opened and Harm entered, stomping snow from his shoes. He pulled off the winter outerwear and walked over to Mac, sinking onto the couch next to her. Both of the carriers were perched on the coffee table, their occupants unaware of the joy their parents radiated.

“I love you,” Harm whispered, reaching for Mac’s hand. She grasped his, squeezing hard. He lifted their joined hands and kissed her, smiling.

His eyes, once so cold and hard were full of happiness now. They were both so scared to have the twins, especially when Mac insisted she wanted them to be born in Alaska.

So they flew over before her third trimester and hung around in San Diego with his mother before driving up here several weeks before. She also insisted she wanted them born in an Alaskan winter.

And they were. One week ago they were born, both of them as healthy as a horse.

Harm looked outside at the magnificent mountain, the white of the summit starkly contrasting with the sudden black of the sky. The trees were like little soldiers, guarding the king.

He was suddenly struck by how beautiful it was. Before, when he lived here, he noticed it but he only noticed the dark, the sad. Now that he was over his grief, the proud father of two adorable infants, he could see the light. How the snow glistened on the trees and how the mountains reigned supreme.

“What are you thinking about?”

Brought out of his reverie, Harm studied his wife. “Nothing,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her gently. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Mac replied, resting her head on his shoulder. She stared outside, watching as how one by one the colors in the sky started to appear. Soon they were dancing over the white snow, almost as if they knew there was an audience.

“Merry Christmas,” Harm murmured.

Smiling, she looked up at him. “Merry Christmas.”

Both of them turned away from the sight of the lights and studied the babies before them. The two infants did not know how important they were to their parents.

They finally came at a time when two souls had broken and at the end of the earth, were finally healed together.



The End

 

 
 
   

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