Approximately 6,000 words; 16 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
“Take It Like a Man” Season 9
Dulles International Airport
Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Mackenzie could never remember being so
completely exhausted in her entire life. She wasn’t simply tired, not
just worn out from overwork or long hours of travel. This was the bone
deep weariness of having expended the very last drop of strength she
owned. Her muscles no longer responded properly, her mind did not
process thought clearly, even her brain synapses were misfiring. It was
a constant struggle to simply remain upright. She was nearly at the
point where she wondered if she had a gram of energy left to fuel the
functions of heart and breath.
Taking one task at a time, putting one foot deliberately before the
other, she managed to haul her carry on from the overhead bin, before
dropping it unceremoniously on the head of a neighboring passenger. She
was certain she apologized, she must have it would be rude if she did
not. However, she couldn’t swear to it. He had been kind enough to help
her pull it from between the seats and steady her on her feet, before
allowing her to move into the aisle ahead of him. If she suspected he
was shepherding her, she was too tired to care.
She’d been gone two weeks, seventeen days to be exact, counting travel
time. If she made a guess, eighty hours sleep the entire trip would be a
generous estimate. A temporary deployment to a war torn country, to
replace the JAG officer killed when his convoy was ambushed, had drained
her personal resources to a point of total depletion after the past
Days spent in a chilling wind fighting blowing sand, and nights spent in
freezing temperatures, while she advised on Rules of Engagement, were
supplemented by an endless stream of personal paperwork, filling
individual requests in any spare time she could gather. The brutal
schedule could have bested anyone. Even to someone in perfect physical
and mental health, it would have proven exhausting.
The additional element of danger to their presence, in an area of
constantly uncertain safety, exacerbated the mental fatigue. After
several sessions to examine her possible PTSD, the therapist had cleared
her to return to duty, but somehow she doubted this was what the doctor
had in mind. The proximity of men of similar nature to Sadik had cast a
shadow over her mind, adding a special kind of terror to her assignment.
She knew he was dead, but somehow he was still nearby in spirit. Sarah
Mackenzie had no idea how to exorcise his ghost.
The man had studied her soul, he’d called her names and identified
weakness she had fought ownership of all her life. Killing him had not
quieted the demons that assailed her, it only added to them. She had run
to Clay for solace and found none. He had demons of his own, but he had
taken what she offered without understanding or concern for the meaning
and needs behind it.
A small hidden part of her screamed she should have turned to Harm, and
truthfully the thought had flittered across her mind, squashed by the
very demons he could have helped her erase.
He wouldn’t understand she told herself, and besides he doesn’t care.
Why should he? The one thing she did know is that Harm wouldn’t have
taken her physically, not out of context that way. He would have helped
in his own way. She found out too late he did still care and another
ugly demon reared its head. She now felt she had betrayed everything
they had ever hoped to be to each other, by giving herself to Clay. So
once again she ran.
The last seventeen days were an assignment from hell, but she had
grasped it when it was mentioned in staff meeting. Perhaps the complete
overwriting of any input from her life would cause the demons to
shrivel. All she discovered was that the body doesn’t hold the ghosts,
the mind does, and as long as she breathed, they would return. Isolation
would not effect a cure.
She soon found food had little appeal and sleep was nearly impossible.
She was utterly uncertain how many hours she had existed on coffee,
bottled water, and an occasional power bar, before her replacement
She had no memory of how and when she managed to board each plane that
brought her ever nearer to her own bed, but if she were capable of
forming an abstract thought, she would have attributed it to a homing
instinct. There had been close to thirty hours of travel by military
transport in each direction, except for this last leg when she was
bumped by a group of vacationing brass. As a final blow on this final
hop, she was booked on the least comfortable commercial jet currently
flown by any airline.
Somewhere between retrieving her bag from the claim area and finding the
customs counter, she lost her voluntary escort. Only sheer will and
force of habit guided her through the familiar procedures. Just take
this step, do this next task, she instructed herself, promising a cab
ride home and eighteen hours sleep to her dangerously overextended body.
She was pondering how much tip it would require to have the cabbie take
her bag up to her apartment, when she moved through the exit leading
from customs. Not long now, she told herself as she wrestled her bag
through the unwieldy door. Unfortunately, another impatient traveler
picked that moment to bump against her, and she knew she could no longer
save herself. She hadn’t the strength to remain upright.
She felt herself fall and knew in a heartbeat that she would hit hard,
possibly breaking something, definitely scraping chunks from her skin.
As if in slow motion she watched herself plummet towards the pavement,
wondering in a detached way what injuries she would sustain.
The despair that comes with total exhaustion dulled her surprise, when
instead of hard pavement she landed against a massive chest, caught by
strong familiar arms. She didn’t have to smell his after-shave, or look
up into his concerned azure eyes; she knew those arms. She had rarely
felt them encircle her, but the few times were burned into her memory
“Harm,” she mumbled against his shirt, relief flooding through her.
“Whoa there, Marine, you look like hell,” he tried for a joke, but it
was too true to be funny.
“Nice sailor, you’re a real charmer.” She had no idea where the energy
came from for banter, but somehow with him here, she found she could
release her carefully hoarded reserve. Harm would help now; she no
longer had to protect herself. He would watch her back. She nearly
collapsed against him.
Pulling her to the side, out of the path of travelers, he held her
trembling in his arms. Suspecting she would like to cry in spite of her
declarations that Marines don’t cry, he also discovered she was only
about half conscious. He seriously contemplated taking her to a
hospital, but opted to stay with his plan. He could change their
destination if necessary after he assessed her condition more carefully.
For the moment, he held her close and pretended to curious onlookers
that they were indulging in a long awaited homecoming. Perhaps in a way
After allowing her a few moments to recover, he snaked one arm around
her waist, lifting her bags with the other, as he supported her in the
direction of his car. Settling her into the cushioned seat, he reclined
it slightly before strapping her in and tossing her bags in the back.
Moments later he was on the road headed for their destination.
“Wrong way, Harm,” she murmured in sleepy aggravation.
“No it’s not, just rest.”
“Harm, I’m too tired for this,” she was annoyed. Somewhere in her
depleted mind, she managed to wonder what he was thinking. Surely, he
couldn’t have picked this moment to address their issues. What could he
expect of her in this condition? Submission perhaps, because she was too
tired to fight? The concept would be foreign to any conceivable
impression of Harm, but in her overwhelming fatigue, she could find no
“Harm I’m really exhausted, I want to go home. I need to sleep,” she
“You need a lot of things Marine, among them is food and someone to just
care. Now relax, it isn’t far.” He picked up his cell and dialed a
number. “This is Rabb. We’ll be there in fifteen,” he spoke into the
instrument cryptically and hung up.
“What isn’t far? We’ve already been driving for….um, she searched her
mind and finally found the answer, “for eighteen minutes and we’re going
south not east,” she argued.
“Good, I was afraid you might really be sick. At least I don’t have to
take you to the hospital,” he smiled, acknowledging her awareness of
time and direction. “Now do as I say and relax. Just close your eyes,
we’ll be there in another fifteen minutes.”
Having little left of her reserves, she complied. She dozed fitfully,
her head lolling against the seat back.
She could barely lift her eyelids, when he pulled up in the circular
driveway of a vintage home, just minutes later. She wanted to fight him,
wanted to tell him that whatever he had in mind wasn’t going to happen,
but she just didn’t have the energy. Fine let him have his way; he’d
regret it every minute for the rest of his life, she vowed. Just as soon
as she recovered, she’d make him the sorriest man on the planet.
He turned off the car, walked quickly to her door, and half helped, half
lifted, her out of the car. He handed his keys to an attendant, before
supporting her up the steps and into what would be an impressive entry
hall, if she had possessed the will to be impressed. There was a massive
circular staircase, that might as well have been Mount Everest, but he
guided her to a small elevator behind the stairs.
A few steps later, they were in a large room decorated with warm
antiques and bathed in late afternoon sunlight. It was a fairytale
setting, but she just wasn’t in a princess mood.
“C’mon Marine, lets get you out of those clothes,” he smiled, as he
walked her the last few steps into another room.
Still supporting her, they progressed into an oversized bathroom,
centrally occupied by a large tub full of steaming water and mountains
of bubbles. She recognized her favorite bath scent, the one with
lavender that she used when she was particularly drained.
“I’d go away but I’m not sure you can handle this alone.” He pulled a
large bath sheet from a nearby shelf and held it between them, before
suggesting, “I can help with the clothes or just hold this for you but I
don’t want to leave, you might fall.”
Still uncertain she gave him a puzzled look, but his eyes held only
concern so she undressed as quickly as her limited dexterity would
allow. He immediately wrapped the oversized towel around her and helped
her to the tub, supporting her as she sank into the warm sudsy water.
“Try not to fall asleep there, I need to go get something, I’ll be right
back.” He returned a minute later bearing a large ceramic mug filled
with steaming hot chocolate and topped with a huge blob of homemade
“Here,” he offered, “this will make you feel better. Once you’re muscles
are relaxed we’ll get some nourishment into you, then it’s off to bed.”
She looked up at him again wondering what his motives were. Surely, he
couldn’t be planning to take advantage of her because she was so
“Turn around,” he ordered
“Turn around,” he twirled his hand in a circle. Curious and cautious she
complied turning her back to him. A moment later, she was surprised and
soothed as she felt his warm strong hands massaging lotion into her
weary muscles. He worked expertly on each group in her back and neck,
applying just the right pressure to get the aches of exhaustion to
relax. As he worked she sipped her chocolate, still peripherally curious
where this was leading.
If he was planning a seduction, he had picked a woefully inadequate
subject, but they were no longer friends enough for this to be a
platonic gesture. Oh he might have picked her up at the airport and
taken her to her apartment, he might have even brought her some takeout,
but then he would have left. He had gone to some real trouble here, her
favorite bath oil and lotions, special food and this place, how had he
ever found this place. The entire scene smacked of a long-term
relationship, which they clearly didn’t have.
In spite of the ragged suspicion assaulting the remainder of her
functioning brain, her body started to relax. Carefully he leaned her
back against the tub wall and patted her shoulder.
“You soak for a few more minutes Marine. Your shampoo is right there,”
he indicated the edged of the tub. “Don’t drown. I’ll be back before you
get chilled.” He took the empty mug from her and quietly left the room.
Closing the door almost all the way to contain the warmth, he left it
open just far enough to keep an eye on her.
Taking the bottle of shampoo in her hands, she poured a healthy portion
and rubbed it into her disgusting hair, drawing on her partially
restored energy, before relaxing and closing her eyes. She was beginning
to drift and faintly aware the water temperature was dropping, when he
returned at that precise moment with a folded stack of clothes.
“Here we go,” he announced cheerfully, “let’s get you out of that water,
it must be getting cool by now.”
She looked at him quizzically, but nodded in acquiescence.
He cast his head from side to side trying to work out the next move,
when she shifted and started to rise.
“No!” he said suddenly, “wait, you’re too tired. If you try to get up
you might fall. Here tell you what,” he said. “Turn to face me,” she
complied and he held up a towel, “take this,” he said. She took the
towel and held it in front of her. Reaching beneath her arms, he
encircled her upper body with his hands and lifted her from the tub like
a child. Setting her on her feet, he steadied her before he released
“Okay, your clothes are on the rack there,” he indicated an antique
brass shelf unit, “I’m going to turn around, but I’m not leaving, you’re
too unsteady. If you have any problems, I’ll be here.” He turned his
broad back to her, but didn’t step away.
It was a struggle to steady herself as she dried off, but not as much as
it would have been half an hour ago. Several times, she placed a hand
against him for support. He braced against her hold, asking softly each
time if she was all right.
Dropping the towel to the floor, she reached for the mysterious pile of
“Harm?” she asked, as she held up the brand-new pair of flannel PJ’s,
decorated with an assortment of kittens and puppies romping through a
“What Mac,” he responded.
“Uh… this isn’t exactly, uh… romantic?” She wavered.
“Put it on Mac, this isn’t about romance, not this time,” his voice held
just the hint of quiet promise under his deep concern.
“Oh,” was all she could say through the tears gathering in her throat.
She mulled the significance of Harms gesture, as she donned the PJ’s
quickly, and wrapped herself in the long soft robe.
“Ok I’m decent,” she tried for a teary joke as he turned back to face
her. Taking the towel and hooking it on the back of the door, he placed
his hands on her waist and dropped a soft caressing kiss on her
forehead. “Sit down,” he ordered.
“Geez Harm, you’re awfully bossy today,” she remarked in another
attempted joke, but once again complied.
He smiled at her in the mirror as he rubbed the excess water from her
hair with a fresh towel.
“You can’t go to bed with wet hair, and the sooner you get well the
sooner you can be on top.” He commented wryly.
She blushed slightly at the double meaning, but took it as lightly as it
was intended. This almost felt like some sort of personal progress. She
would have to think about it later.
He surprised her further when he reached for the hair dryer and began
fluffing the remaining moisture from her hair.
“Do you do this for all your women, Harm?” she asked, trying not to
“Now is not the time to discuss my checkered past, Marine,” he answered,
laying down the dryer before adding, “C’mon, let’s get you some food.”
He seated her at a small table by the window, and dished a large bowl of
homemade chicken vegetable soup for her, and one for himself. Then he
poured her a glass of milk and handed her a basket full of warm, freshly
“Eat as much as you can, just don’t make yourself sick. There’s more for
later,” he suggested watching her tentatively begin the first real food
she’d encountered in almost a week. There was no kitchen, so they must
be in some sort of hotel. Her mind slid off that thought vowing to
consider the implications later.
They ate in silence, but he watched her closely. He knew all too well,
that what she had been through could require hospitalization. He wasn’t
going to avoid it if necessary, but he also judged that huge doses of
TLC could alleviate the need for professional help. She hadn’t been
getting the TLC, and he was going to change that starting now.
He had licked his wounds, rerunning all the pictures of their various
experiences and sacrifices, over the last few weeks. In the end, he
decided that all things being equal, he’d been hurt badly and lost a
lot. However, the realization finally crashed through that she’d been
through so much more. Things she’d kept hidden from him, from everyone.
Things no human should have to endure, and she’d done it in her own
tough style. The quintessential Marine, admired and underestimated by
all. He should have known her better; he was ashamed.
Surprisingly, she finished the entire bowl of essential nourishment,
polished off several pieces of home baked bread with butter, and two
glasses of milk before she looked up at him with the saddest exhaustion
he’d ever seen.
“Feeling better?” he asked.
“A little, but…” she faltered, still unable to believe his apparent
“but you need about seventeen hours sleep?” He finished her sentence.
Her smile was tiny but brilliant, “We haven’t done that for a while,”
“Finish each other’s sentences?” he cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Mmmhmm,” she nodded.
“We’ll have to fix that, I miss it.” He stood up. “C’mon tiger lets get
you to bed.”
He pulled her gently from the chair. Her strength was slowly returning.
She managed to walk beside him, without support, into the adjoining
He reached around her and pulled back the covers on an antique
four-poster, before undoing the belt on her robe and peeling it off her
shoulders. Offering his arm, he helped her to climb in, and when she was
settled, he pulled the soft quilt over her.
“Warm enough?” he asked
“Perfect,” she answered with a huge yawn. She was bathed, fed, and warm,
what more could she want. She knew there was more, but for now her foggy
brain wouldn’t grasp anything else.
“Good get some sleep. You have orders not to even think until you’re
completely rested.” He turned to go, but before he reached the door she
called his name
“Harm,” was the tentative sound.
He turned and looked at her. She almost gasped at the wealth of emotion
present in his eyes.
“Where are you going? I mean…ah… you won’t leave will you.” Her words
were slurred but urgent.
“I have a room on the other side,” he indicated the sitting room. Sleep
well Mac,” he smiled, softly closing the door. She was asleep before it
He awoke slightly cramped with a heavy object pinning his shoulder, and
a long expanse of warmth extending down his side. It was another second
before his sense of smell kicked in and he recognize her bath oil and
Opening one eye he found her tucked against him, her head on his
shoulder, and her hands wrapped around his arm holding it close to her
body. Momentarily, he was surprised and uncertain, then he realized she
was still dressed in her flannel PJ’s. He breathed again, when he
realized she understood. She apparently just needed to be close.
He glanced at his watch and found it was only 06:33. She was a dead
weight and nothing was likely to wake her. So, he adjusted his shoulder
slightly, rolled towards her and spooned her against him, embracing her
with his other arm. With his nose buried against her hair, he fell
soundly back to sleep.
It was 09:20 when he woke again, surprised he had slept so long. If he
didn’t get up soon his back would cramp, but he was afraid to leave her
after she sought him out. Then he realized her head wasn’t the dead
weight it had been, and her body had a slight tension. When he felt her
eyelash flutter against his bare upper arm, he knew she was awake.
He couldn’t resist the urge to tighten his arms around her very
“Mac?” He asked softly
“Why are you here?”
“You brought me here.”
“No, I mean here in my bed.”
“Couldn’t sleep. Wasn’t comfortable.” He knew it wasn’t the bed; they
“When did you come in here?” he continued.
“About 23:00. I woke up, but they wouldn’t let me sleep,” was the
“They?” the sound of this worried him a little.
“My demons Harm. My ghosts, bad memories, whatever you call them. I
sleep for a few hours then they come back,” she explained.
“I see,” that explained a lot.
“But you were sleeping fine a few hours ago. I woke up and you were
sound asleep,” he tried to draw her out, to start her talking without
“I know. They wouldn’t come in here,” she explained. “Harm I’m sorry, I
didn’t mean to…” she started to rise.
“Hey, whoa, hold on, it’s okay. Please Mac, stay, if it helps then
please stay. Anything I can do that will help,” he offered.
Nodding she relaxed against him, and his arms tightened around her
“Why what? Why did I do this?”
She nodded, “This is like a…I don’t know, like something a person would
do in a long term relationship. We don’t have that Harm.”
He allowed a soft chuckle to rumble through his chest.
“Yes. We do, Marine,” he affirmed.
She turned and looked into his eyes, “What do you mean?”
“We’ve had a relationship since the day we met, Mac. We’ve denied it,
abused it, and almost destroyed it. We haven’t treated it well, but it’s
always been there, it’s still here,” he stated simply.
She looked stunned for a minute. “Go on,” she invited.
“Mac how many people have you told about your family, your problem with
alcohol, the first time you met them?” he didn’t want to dredge up more
ghosts, but he had to get his point across in order to help her.
She wasn’t sure where he was going with this, but she knew she could
leave if she didn’t like it. She decided to stay. “No one,” she
answered. “Never right away.”
“Some never at all, right?” he verified.
“Right,” she agreed.
“How many people have you voluntarily traveled halfway around the world
to help and protect? Two?” he included Webb reluctantly.
“No, only one. You. Webb doesn’t count, that was an assignment,” her
voice took on a slightly harsh note.
“Okay, one,” he tried to keep the elation from his voice.
“How many people have always had the key to your apartment, almost from
the time you met them?”
“One,” she said in a small voice, “Only you.”
“And who is the first person you think of when you have a problem? Now I
need to qualify this one, because you don’t always come to him and he’s
not always there for you, but who is it, Mac?”
“You, and you’ve been there for me, Harm, when I let you,” she argued.
“Not nearly enough Mac, not nearly enough,” he pulled her tighter.
“Harm,” she spoke thoughtfully, “relationships work both ways.”
“I know and you’re the only one who knows all about my father, all about
Sergei. You’re the only one I’ve told anything to voluntarily, ever.
Everyone else always had to drag it out of me, bit by bit, if they cared
enough to try. You always listened. I always wanted to tell you
everything. Sometimes things were too hard to talk about, but if I did,
I talked to you. See?” She didn’t answer, but he felt her head nod
against his shoulder.
“You’re the only person who has always had a key to my apartment from
the time I met them, and kept it no matter what.” He continued.
Again she nodded. “And I’m the only one you would have given up your
career to rescue.”
“Precisely,” he whispered.
She cried quietly against his chest for several minutes, before raising
her head again to look into his eyes, “Harm how long can we stay here?”
“Till Sunday,” he smiled then added, “this time.”
“What if we try to….?” she started.
“Take better care of our relationship?” he finished.
“Yes,” she nodded, watching as his eyes also filled with tears.
“I’d like that, Marine,” he murmured.
“Me too, Navy,” she snuggled back against him.
He held her close as she slept again, disregarding his aching muscles.
He could always soak in a hot tub later.
“Hi,” she smiled softly up at him, when she finally woke refreshed an
hour and a half later.
“Hi yourself. How do you feel?” His back was killing him, but he refused
to let her know it.
“A lot better, thanks.” It was sincere, and for the first time he felt
she had accepted his help without regret or resentment.
“You’re very welcome Mac, it was my pleasure.” He meant every word.
“I need to use the bathroom, then I’d like to take a shower. Do you mind
if I use yours?” She requested almost shyly.
“Not at all. I’ll check and see if we can still get breakfast,” he
offered. It would give him a chance to work his way out of bed without
her witnessing his discomfort.
The moment the door closed, he pried himself stiffly from the bed and
reached for the phone. After discovering that breakfast was over but
lunch was being served, he asked for a table in the dining room in forty
five minutes. He calculated he had just enough time for a fifteen-minute
soak in the tub, before Mac reappeared.
Grabbing some clean sweats, he headed for the larger bathroom. Although
he wondered why she’d used his shower when there was one in here, he
didn’t give it too much thought. He’d only been soaking for about ten
minutes, when he felt her presence behind him.
“It’s your back, isn’t it?” she stated softly.
“Um yeah, a little,” he admitted. Lying wouldn’t be a good way to get
them back on the right road.
“I thought so, but thanks anyway. I really needed that, both the sleep
and the holding,” she admitted
“I know. So did I,” he replied.
“Lean forward,” she pushed lightly on his shoulders
“Why,” he asked, but complied.
“There’s a small favor I can return,” he heard the smile in her voice,
and recognized a hint of Mac from several years ago pushing through.
Maybe he had done the right thing for once. It had been a risk, but it
seemed to be working. Now, if he could just keep doing the right thing
until their tilted world returned to something that resembled level.
She expertly massaged his shoulder and back muscles before leaning him
back against the tub. Their closeness was rapidly becoming an easy
habit. Her hands and the hot water felt so good he forgot his modesty,
as she leaned around his shoulder and placed a small but sincere kiss on
“Behave yourself, Harm,” she said with a definite smile in her voice.
“Me? You’re the one who kissed me,” he protested.
“Yeah,” she countered, “but you’re the one who responded.” Her laughter
Realizing she had noticed his reaction under the water, he quickly drew
his knees up and playfully ordered her, “Get out of here, Marine. I’ll
be out in a minute.”
Still laughing, she pulled the door closed behind her.
Fifteen minutes later they were in the dining room ordering a
substantial lunch, and planning their afternoon.
“How do you feel about a long walk Mac?” he asked. He didn’t want to
overtax her, but she needed to start exercising her muscles, to bring
back the tone lost to fatigue and lack of nourishment. “Afterwards we
can sit in the hot tub in the sunroom.”
“Sounds good, can we run? I feel like I really need to do something
physical now,” she suggested.
“Tell you what, we’ll walk today, and if you’re stronger we’ll run a
little tomorrow. We’ll soak after we walk then you can nap again. I
brought some paperwork with me. It will keep me busy while you catch up
on your sleep. When you’ve rested we can go somewhere for a nice dinner.
Will that work?” he bargained. He couldn’t allow her to move too fast.
Her mind was responding more quickly than he dared hope, but her body
needed to catch up.
“Okay, you’re probably right about the running, maybe tomorrow. But no
nap, I don’t need any more sleep not until tonight. I’ll help with the
paperwork,” she offered.
“Maaac,” he started.
“Harm I’ve had a rough time and you’ve done all the right things, but
I’m not resigning from life. Let me come back slowly, I promise I’ll let
you know if I get too tired.” Her voice was appreciative but firm.
“Okay Marine, if you promise,” he surrendered.
They spent the next two days with the same schedule. Brief runs, long
walks, soaks in the hot tub, some paperwork, and lots of talking. She
surprised him with something he hadn’t counted on, while they were
walking after lunch on Friday. She insisted he give up the second
bedroom. “Harm, I’m not sleeping alone. You said you wanted to help, and
sleeping near you helps more than anything. I’m sorry I can’t give you
more right now but….”
“Mac I’m not looking for more right now,” he interrupted. “Letting me
hold you, letting me help, is more than I hoped for. I’d be lying if I
didn’t say I wanted us to have more eventually, but not now, let’s give
it time,” he protested.
She smiled one of her brilliant Mac smiles. She finally understood this
man. His existence was grounded in integrity; it had always puzzled and
annoyed her, because she had taken it as rejection. Hitting bottom and
seeing how he responded to her needs, had finally opened her eyes to
what really made Harm the man she loved. And she did love him, she just
never understood him. A secret part of her believed that perhaps he felt
the same way.
“Okay then the second bedroom goes, I checked with the desk, it can be
locked off and rented as a single room. There just is no point in paying
for something we’re not using,” she stated with her own sincere
It was Sunday afternoon now, and soon they would have to leave. After a
last long walk, they were standing under a huge tree just beginning to
bud out for spring. The pasture before them was green, and a dozen
horses grazed peacefully. He was leaning against the tree trunk and she
was leaning against him, her back to his chest much the way they had
slept for three nights now.
“I’m dreading going back you know,” she murmured
“To JAG?” He asked, hoping she hadn’t lost interest in her job.
“No. There’s been some tough times lately, Harm,” she stared at the
horses studying their quiet pursuit of life, “but I love my work, and I
love the Marines. I really think I’ll be all right.”
“Good. Then what?” he was puzzled.
“Harm I’m still going to see the therapist for a while. This has been
great, but I need to work on regaining my coping skills, and turning
loose of some events. Having you near blocks things I don’t want to
think about, but I have to learn to deal with them and leave them
behind. Don’t be angry,” she worried.
“Why would I be angry Mac? I’m glad I could help, and I hope it’s
because I helped, you want to finish the job,” he replied sincerely.
“I’m scared of one thing though Harm,” she turned in his arms.
“What,” he held her close.
“I’m scared of being alone at night. What if….?” she didn’t continue
“what if the nightmares return?” he finished again.
She nodded unable to speak.
“I don’t know, I don’t want you to be alone, but I don’t know what to
do. You’re always welcome to stay with me of course, or I’ll stay with
you. But doing that might suggest a definite direction to our
relationship. Are you ready for that? Are you ready to accept that’s
where we’re heading?” he asked uncertainly.
“Are you?” her voice was unsteady again, wondering just what he
“I’m not sure if you’re prepared to hear this yet Mac, but that’s
exactly what I want. I want to hold you every night for the rest of my
life. Eventually I intend to make it legal, and move on to more, but
only when you feel comfortable. I’ll wait Mac, and I’ll be there for
you, but you have to set the pace. Am I making my intentions clear?” he
“Very clear Harm, I like your intentions,” she reached up and kissed
him. Not a passionate kiss, but not a platonic one either. Just a
sincere kiss, filled with the promise of a love that was both old and
battered, yet just as fresh as this spring day.
“Let’s go home sailor,” she suggested.
Wrapping their arms around each other they walked slowly back to the
inn, to collect their bags and return to a new version of their life.