Angst, AU, Romance (H/M)
6,000 words, 14 pages (8 ĹĒ x 11Ē)
Third in the
ďFive Whispered WordsĒ trilogy. Anything up to the end of
season 7 and reference to some of season 8. However, this veers
away considerably from the season 8 storyline and into A/U. Most
of season 8 is not relevant.
setback forces Mac to reevaluate her life with Harm. This is the
third story in a series chronicling Mac's recovery from serious
injuries and the deepening of Harm and Mac's relationship. This
story will make more sense if you have read the previous parts
of the series, ďFive Whispered WordsĒ and ďRebirthĒ.
know absolutely nothing about the details of applying for
permanent limited duty or disability discharges, so I did with
them what fit the story.
North of Union Station
washing and he was drying and putting away the dinner dishes when she
decided to broach the subject again. The admiral's summons and subsequent
announcement that Harm would be offered a transfer to Force Judge Advocate
COMNAVAIRPAC had taken them both by surprise. Her initial pride and elation
had been turned to dismay when Harm rejected the idea out of hand, telling
the admiral that he wasn't interested in a transfer to San Diego, even if it
cost him a chance at promotion. AJ had responded angrily, waving Harm's duty
to his country in front of him like a red cape. Mac, like some foolhardy
rodeo clown, had managed to intercede, extracting a concession from the
Admiral. She had one week to convince Harm that the change of duty station
was a good move for them. Harm was furious with her and refused to discuss
it during their ride home or dinner preparations. Dinner had been a tense,
silent affair. She had had enough.
As she finished the last dish and watched the soapy water swirl down the
drain, she steeled herself. They were going to talk about this as a couple,
just like they had promised three months ago in the Academy Chapel in front
of 150 witnesses, whether Harm liked it or not. As nervous as a six-year-old
contemplating the deep end of the pool, she took a deep breath and plunged
"I think you should consider taking it, Harm," Mac suggested quietly,
carefully, afraid that he would jump to conclusions about her motive and the
state of their relationship.
"I think you should at least think about taking the position."
"Mac, this could mean months apart. Is that what you want? Is that how you
see our relationship?"
"No, of course not," she answered trying valiantly to stay calm, though two
hours of silence had shortened her fuse dramatically.
"Then why would you want me to accept a transfer?" he asked incredulously.
Mac took a couple of breaths, fortifying herself, trying her best to come up
with the right words. Words that would explain to him how strongly she felt
that he should take this position, how sure she was that they could weather
the separation if necessary, how certain she was that they were strong
enough to handle this.
"It's a great opportunity, Harm. The perfect position, the perfect fit. How
many other JAGs are there who could even do the job? It's tailor made for
"There'll be other chances," he insisted.
"Will there? You know as well as I do that at our level politics comes into
play. You've never been great at the politics, Harm. You don't play the
game. You're impulsive. You think with your heart and your emotions. You do
the right thing, regulations and consequences be damned. I love you for it,
but everybody doesn't see it the way I do."
"Now there's a ringing endorsement," he interrupted petulantly.
I'm right, Harm. It's not about how good you are, necessarily. It's about
how you fit with the command in question. You fit with the AirPac. You can't
give up this opportunity."
"What about us? Do you really want to be apart for months at a time? God,
Mac, we just got married and you want to be separated by a continent?"
She smiled, trying to lighten the mood. "It's very fashionable to be
"This isn't funny, Mac. I don't see anything funny about this. I didn't
marry you to live 3500 miles away from you."
"I know that, Harm," she answered gently. "But I think the sacrifice could
be worth it."
"I thought we agreed, no sacrifices, nobody would be giving up their career,
right? Isn't that what we decided?" His voice had taken on an anguished
"Yes. But think about it this way. You wouldn't want me to resign to follow
"But arenít you really doing the same thing by turning down the transfer?
Aren't you effectively capping your career at Commander? What if there isn't
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mac," he grumbled.
Mac reached over and gently touched his arm. "You know that's not what I
meant. Dream positions like this are few and far between."
"I know, but what about us? I don't want to be apart for months at a time,
"Neither do I, but this is a sacrifice that's worth it. We do it together,
nobody throwing away anything. We both sacrifice, even-steven, but for a
payoff that both of us will be able to enjoy; your promotion to captain. I
can keep my eyes on the BUPERS listings and join you when I can. On the
judiciary, I'm a good bit more flexible than if I were still a litigator. I
know there will be an opening on the bench soon."
"Do you really think we can do this?"
He looked skeptically at her. "Maybe."
Mac leaned in closer to him. "Just consider it, please? Don't dismiss it out
of hand. The admiral gave us a week, correct?"
"Then think about it. We can talk about it as much as you want. Hash and
rehash it until it's dead. If, in a week, you still feel the same way, turn
it down. But turn it down after real consideration."
Harm considered her for a moment and then agreed. "But if I do turn it down,
you'll accept my decision?"
"Yes. I just don't want you to be cavalier about it. If it's not the right
move, fine, but give us both a chance to get used to the possibility."
Mac felt enormous relief at Harm's answering smile. He leaned over and
kissed her gently. "This is one of the reasons I love you so much. You keep
Mac smiled. "I didn't think pilots ever wanted to be grounded," she teased.
She turned and headed toward the bedroom.
"Well you gotta come down from the clouds sometimes, Mac," he chuckled. He
finished the dishes, turned off the light and followed her.
As it turned out, the planned conversations about Harm's transfer never
happened. The next morning the Admiral sent Harm TAD for a week to a carrier
group in the Med to remind them, once again, about the rules of engagement
in all their various and sundry incarnations. Mac found her docket suddenly
filled with cases. They managed a quick goodbye behind closed blinds in
Harm's office before Mac reported to chambers and Harm left to pack for his
flight. At the end of that very long day, Mac dragged herself home after a
stop at Beltways for takeout, her guilty pleasure whenever she and Harm
couldn't be together. She played the messages on the phone machine, hoping
for word from Harm, but he apparently hadnít had a chance to call her. "Suck
it up, MacKenzie," she muttered. "You're the one who said you could
withstand the separation, here's your chance to prove it." She inhaled her
super deluxe meal in front of Jay Leno and then crawled into bed.
When she arrived at JAG the next morning there was a dozen roses waiting in
chambers and a note from Harm. In her email was a note and her voice mail
was filled with apologetic messages from him for not calling the night
before. Her spirit buoyed by the welcome, albeit long-distance, attention,
she headed into the courtroom for another round.
Two days later, Bud and Harriet's house
Mac lay awake sobbing, tears flowing freely down her face. Overwhelmed by
fear and pain and exhausted by the day's events, she didn't have the energy
to control herself. How had this happened? One morning she woke up and
started an ordinary day and the next, her life had been irrevocably changed.
A petty officer running from the marine guards, a collision, a soft pop from
her right knee. A typical lateral blow injury, they said. No big deal, they
said: a couple of hours in surgery, some down time and you're good as new.
Waking up after surgery knowing she had lost six hours not two.
Complications, they said. Avascular necrosis, torn ACL, ruptured medial
something-or-other, a gazillion other medical terms she didn't understand.
Permanent instability, they said. Knee replacement. Limited duty.
She lay awake in Bud and Harriet's guest room, the tape playing over and
over again in her head, taunting her; daring her to make sense of the
nonsensical; challenging her to go on with a life she no longer understood;
begging her to figure out some way to salvage the unsalvageable. She
couldn't understand why this was happening to her, again. She felt like that
character from mythology, doomed for all eternity to keep rolling a stone up
hill only to have it roll back to the bottom each night. This was worse than
being kicked when she was down. Time and again, happiness seemed within her
reach, and then she was dragged inexorably away from the prize. Somewhere,
she was sure, the Fates were having a good laugh at her expense.
In the distance she heard her goddaughter crying and soft footsteps moving
overhead. Soft voices murmured comforting words. Footfalls sounded on the
stairs as a rocker creaked rhythmically. She heard a light switch and her
room was bathed in soft light from the dining room. She struggled to control
her sobbing, burying her head in the pillow, not wanting to be discovered.
Bud and Harriet had done so much already, taking her in after the surgery,
calling Harm to let him know what had happened, taking care of her when she
couldn't take care of herself. She would not burden them further.
"Ma'am, are you ok?" Bud asked gently peeking into her room.
Mac sniffed and wiped her eyes. "Yeah, I'm, um, fine. I'm sorry if I woke
Bud chuckled. "You didn't. The baby was hungry and I, uh, had a craving." He
walked into the room with a sheepish grin on his face and a dish of ice
cream in his hand.
Mac smiled. "Does Harriet know you sneak down for ice cream at 2 am?" she
"I think she does, Colonel, but she doesn't harp on it. Do you want some?
You didn't eat much dinner."
Mac sighed. "No thanks, I'm not hungry."
Bud sat on the chair next to her bed. "You sure? It's rocky road."
"Yeah, Bud, I'm sure," Mac whispered turning away as her eyes filled with
"Talk to me, Colonel. What did they tell you at Bethesda?"
"I told you, Lieutenant."
"With all due respect, I don't think you did, Ma'am. I think you told us
what we wanted to hear." Bud put down his bowl and leaned toward her, as if
trying to draw her out. "Talk to me, Ma'am. I'm a pretty good listener."
His sincerity was her undoing. The tears she had been trying so valiantly to
hide from him flowed unimpeded down her face, dripping onto her nightgown.
Her shoulders shook with the effort of stifling the sobs growing inside her
chest. She knew if she started to cry, she would never stop, but she
couldn't hold it together any longer. She had to tell somebody, anybody,
before she faced Harm. She had to have something figured out by then. She
couldn't let him see her like this. He had seen glimpses of the old Sarah
MacKenzie, but she wouldn't subject him to that again.
"It's over," she managed to croak out between gasps for air.
"Are you sure?" Bud asked gently.
"Yeah. I had two opinions. Both said the same thing. Disability."
"Oh no," Bud sighed as he squeezed her shoulder gently. "I'm sorry,
Mac sniffed and sighed. "It would help if you didn't call me by my rank,
"Of course, Ma'ÖahÖMac." He sat quietly, expectantly, waiting for her to
"The Corps is my life, Bud. Being a Marine is how I have defined myself for
nearly twenty years. I don't think I know who I am without the uniform."
"I used to think that, too, Mac. About the Navy."
Mac turned toward him. "Bud, before I joined the Corps, I was a drunk in an
abusive marriage. I got sober and ran straight to the Marines. I became a
new person, a better person." She turned away again, overcome by shame,
drowning in self doubt. She stopped to regroup before continuing more
quietly, "The old Sarah MacKenzie is not somebody you would want to know and
would never respect. I'm afraid that she is still inside, waiting to come
out when I take off the uniform."
"Mac, nobody else sees you that way. Believe me, it's not the uniform that
garners my respect." He reached for her hand and gently squeezed. "If you
don't mind my asking, Mac, why not petition for permanent limited duty?"
She sat, examining their clasped hands silently for several seconds. How
could she answer his question? There was no way there could be two slots at
headquarters for permanently disabled officers, even if the Marine Corps
would allow it, but she would never say that to him. As she tried to decide
how to answer his question, she realized that Bud was the one person who
could really understand the place she was in, because he had been here
himself. He had faced this particular demon and won. Maybe he could show her
a way out, a lifeline to hang on to until she reached the shore. How hard
could she press him for answers? How much of his privacy was he willing to
"What were you going to do?" She asked, studiously avoiding eye contact.
She turned to meet his gaze. "If the board had turned you down? Did you have
Bud shrugged. "Um, well, I had lots of ideas: NCIS, OIG, DA's office,
private practice, maybe even Larry Kaliski," he finished, chuckling.
Despite her mood, Mac smiled, but sobered almost instantly. "You had lots of
ideas," she commented, quietly. "I don't have any."
"Actually, they sound pretty good now, Colonel, but I don't think I would
have been too happy to have used any of them."
Mac winced inwardly at his use of her rank. She looked away, hoping to hide
her discomfort. "How did you do it, Bud? How did you even think rationally
about leaving the Navy?" she asked, desperate for some clue how to live with
the uncertainty, any tiny sliver of hope to hang on to.
"I was so happy just have survived. That, and Harriet and AJ reminded me
every day that I had a life outside the Navy, Colonel. You need to remember
that, too." He stood when she yawned. "Get some rest. The Commander will be
here after lunch tomorrow, and I think little AJ is going to surprise you
with breakfast in bed in the morning, so you should sleep while you have the
"Good night, Bud. And thanks."
"Good night, Ma'am. Remember, you are the same person you were yesterday.
It's not the uniform that matters."
Mac smiled to herself as she gently
stroked the soft, blond hair of her sleeping godson. He had surprised her,
creeping into her room at 0630 struggling valiantly to carry a tray of his
favorite sick-bed breakfast: two enormous bowls of "cocoa pups". Harriet
followed him into the room, laden with videos and apologizing profusely at
the earliness of the hour. Mac hadn't minded. She had been awake most of the
night, Bud's words replaying in her head. AJ's cure-all breakfast and his
favorite Pooh videos had been a welcome diversion. He had insisted on
joining her in the bed, and they had eaten and talked and laughed. He had
been just what the doctor ordered. As she gazed at him dozing, snuggled in
the crook of her arm, a feeling of peace enveloped her, cradling her.
Suddenly, she knew that everything would be all right. She knew this was
what she wanted, as sure as she had known seventeen years ago that the Corps
was the place for her. Bud was right. Her job wasn't her life. She sighed as
she drifted to sleep. Now all she had to do was convince Harm.
Mac. Auntie Mac! Wake up!"
AJ's urgent whisper and his hand patting her face drove her from slumber
several hours later. She awoke with a start and looked quickly around the
"Uncle Harm is here, Auntie Mac. You need to wake up."
She smiled at him and stretched the sleep-induced stiffness from her neck
and shoulders. "It's ok, sweetie, I'm awake."
"Oh, AJ. I told you not to wake her up," Harriet scolded as she came into
the room to remove her son. "I'm sorry, Mac. I know you needed the sleep,
but he got away from me before I could stop him."
"It's ok, Harriet," Mac answered, smiling, as she pulled herself into a
sitting position. "No problem. Is Harm here?"
"Yeah. He's helping Bud put together the sand box. I can get him if you
"No, that's ok. I can manage on the crutches," she answered, already
gathering her clothes from the bag next to the bed.
"Are you sure, Ma'am? You were pretty out of it yesterday."
Mac was in such a good mood that Harriet's mothering amused, rather than
annoyed, her. She chuckled. "Yes, Lieutenant, I'm fine, thank you. I'll just
get dressed and join you on the deck in a minute."
"OK. C'mon AJ, let's go help Daddy and Uncle Harm."
Mac dressed carefully and made her way slowly out onto the deck. She stood
watching Harm and Bud struggle with some wooden contraption in the backyard
while Harriet tried to corral AJ. She knew this was it. This was what she
wanted: a family, a home. What had seemed so complicated in the middle of
the night was extraordinarily simple in the light of day. What was a tragedy
just 11 hours and 40 minutes ago seemed almost like a gift, the proverbial
blessing in disguise. It was a clichť, she knew, but there it was.
"Hey," Harm said as he walked up the steps to the deck.
"Hey," she answered brightly, turning toward him.
He crossed the distance between them in two strides and took her into his
arms, kissing her gently. "I missed you," he whispered into her ear.
"Me, too," she answered breathlessly, wobbling a bit on the crutches.
He stepped back and looked into her eyes, concern erasing his earlier smile.
"Are you ok? Should you be standing? Do you need to sit down?"
She chuckled. "Yes, I'm fine. No, I don't need to sit down. I'm tired of
He took a step back and sat on the edge of the picnic table. "What
She leaned back slightly so that the railing was bearing some of her weight,
giving her arms a break. "It was stupid," she answered, sighing. "The petty
officer got away from the guards. I acted on instinct, moved to intercept
him. We got tangled up. I felt my knee pop and then collapse. Sturgis took
me to Bethesda. Bud and Harriet brought me here after surgery."
"How bad is it?" he asked tentatively.
Mac looked out at Bud, Harriet and AJ, playing in the newly assembled
sandbox. She took a couple of deep breaths. Convincing Harm that her newly
enforced freedom was a good thing was not going to be easy, but she had to
"Mac?" Harm interrupted her reveries.
She turned back toward him. "My knee's trashed. Apparently the old repair
was failing and this just finished it off. I'm probably going to need a cane
to get around for a long time and eventually a knee replacement. They
suggested a medical discharge, Harm."
He simply stared, his mouth hanging open.
"I think I'm going to take it," she continued tentatively, wary of his
He shook his head negatively and stood. He walked toward the railing and
looked out across the yard.
"Harm?" she reached over and gently touched his shoulder.
"You're giving up? Just like that, you take a discharge?" he asked, his
voice weak, uncertain.
"A discharge wasn't my first choiceÖ"
"Then why not fight it?" Harm interrupted turning toward her.
The sadness in his eyes startled her. His expression mirrored her own
feelings of 12 hours earlier. She had to make him understand that what was
happening to her wasn't a tragedy, but a gift of a sort.
"I think I knew this was coming, Harm, even before I got hurt this time."
She turned away from him trying to protect herself, before continuing, "I
barely passed my PFT last month. The last few days, jogging was becoming
more and more painful. I think, deep down, I knew the knee wasn't holding
up. What happened yesterday just confirmed my fears. No matter what I do, my
knee is never going to be 100%." She turned her head to look at him, trying
to decipher what he was thinking. "You know that neither the Navy nor Marine
Corps would allow two limited duty officers at headquarters. You heard the
statistics when Bud came back. 85% of officers who go before the board get
discharged. And besides, if I went permanent limited, I wouldn't be able to
relocate. Your career would suffer, too. Accepting the discharge is the
right thing to do."
"Is it? You love the Corps." He moved toward her and laid a gentle hand on
She sighed. She had come to terms with her decision and her needs. She
couldn't let his sadness reinfect her. "Yes, it is. It, ah, uncomplicates
He gently turned her so she was facing him again. "How?" His voice was
tinged with anger.
"You can take the job in San Diego," she began tentatively, regretting the
words when he reacted, dropping his hand off her arm and jumping back as if
"Excuse me?!" he whispered heatedly. "I thought we said no sacrifices."
Oh boy. This was going to be harder than she thought. "It's not a sacrifice,
"It's not?" he interrupted incredulously. "Then explain it to me. How is
this not a sacrifice for you? Huh?" His voice rose several notches.
"If you would calm down, I could explain," she hissed vehemently, trying to
regain control of the conversation. She moved toward him, forgetting in the
emotions of the moment that she had spent the last 15 hours in bed after
surgery and hadn't eaten anything but cocoa puffs since yesterday's
breakfast. As the world tilted, she tried to brace herself with her damaged
leg. Biting her lip, she managed not to cry out in pain, but the proximity
of the railing was the only thing that kept her from crashing to the deck.
"Whoa!" Harm whispered gently, his hands grabbing her shoulders. "You need
to sit, or maybe go back to bed. We can finish this later."
"No, Harm, we need to do this now. I can rest later," she protested, but
allowed him to guide her to a nearby chair. After she was settled and had
gotten her bearings again, she motioned to the nearby chair. "Sit," she
ordered him. There was no way she was going to have this conversation with
him towering over her.
He sat, but everything about his posture indicated that he was not going to
willingly participate in the conversation. She sighed, set her posture and
plunged in again.
"Harm, just hear me out, please? Iíve thought long and hard about this and I
need you to just listen to me before you jump to any conclusions about what
Iím thinking or saying. Can you do that?"
He nodded reluctantly.
"When they told me yesterday that my career was over, I reacted the way you
just did. I was devastated. I couldnít help wondering who I was, what I was
going to do with my life, what it would mean for usÖ" she trailed off,
giving him a moment to process what she was trying to say so ineloquently.
He opened his mouth and she silenced him with a soft touch on the thigh.
"Let me finish. I need to say this," she implored him. "I hardly slept at
all last night trying to figure out what to say to you, how to tell you how
I had let us down." She felt his thigh muscles tense under her hand and she
gently patted his leg before continuing. "But then I had a conversation with
Bud in the middle of the night and breakfast in bed with our godson and it
became so clear to me." She smiled at his puzzled expression. "This isnít a
tragedy, Harm. Itís an opportunity." She put her fingers to his lips
silencing him once again as his face clouded. "I know. It sounds like some
goofy Hallmark card, or the ramblings of somebody hopelessly naÔve. But I
realized that my life is so much more than that uniform, Harm. I have
dreams." She paused gazing into his eyes. "We have dreams," she continued,
emphasizing the plural pronoun.
She gazed out over the railing to the back yard just in time to see AJ
trying to bury Bud in the sandbox. Their laughter floated up to her,
cementing her resolve to make Harm understand. She struggled up from the
chair and leaned a bit precariously on the railing, watching her best
friends playing in the yard. They had been through so much, and yet they
were unquestionably happy. She wanted that for herself and for Harm. She
turned toward him when he stood to support her. He smiled tentatively, a
warmer smile then before. Maybe he did get it.
She looked back out over the lawn. When she spoke, it was with conviction
and confidence. "I want this, Harm, for both of usÖa homeÖchildren. Iím not
getting any younger, and neither are you. The job in San Diego is perfect
for you and we would be near your mom and Frank at least for your tour."
Harm spoke before she could stop him. "We could have this if you were still
in the Corps," he protested, but without the earlier anger.
"Could we? Without sacrificing my career?" she asked, skeptically.
"No, maybe not," he conceded. "But I wonít consider this some kind of
blessing in disguise, Mac. I canít look at you injury that way."
Mac turned toward him and gently caressed his face. "Look at me, Harm." He
turned toward her. "If two years ago somebody had told you that my getting
blown up in Afghanistan would, in many ways, be the best thing that ever
happened to us, would you have believed them?"
"No," he said quietly.
"And yet, here we are, on the threshold of our dreams."
He smiled, the tentative near-smirk he usually wore when he wasnít sure what
to do with his expression. He had mixed feelings about this. She understood
that, and could live with it, as long as he understood her feelings. She
sighed and took her hand from his cheek, grasping his hand.
"The job is perfect for you, Harm. You know that as well as I do. It
broadens your experience. In a couple of years youíll be a shoo-in for
captain. Years from now, when youíre the JAG or IG or at the Pentagon, all
of this drama will fade from memory. It wonít matter anymore."
Harm squeezed her hand tighter. "That is patently untrue. I will never
forget seeing you lying on the sand in Afghanistan, wondering if I would
ever see you again. Never."
"I know. But thatís over now. Itís behind us. Iím fine and so are we."
"What will you do, Mac? Itís not like weíre going to have a baby tomorrow."
Macís whole body felt immediately lighter when a genuine smile crept across
Harmís face at his mention of a baby. "I know, but I have a few months of
rehab and maybe another surgery. By then if we arenít pregnant, Iíll take
the California bar exam. I can work for the DA or at a womenís legal clinic.
Or I can teach. There are lots of possibilities, Harm. I am still a lawyer."
He smiled again and pulled her tighter to him. "I know, Mac. I justÖI guess
Iím afraid that someday youíll look back and regret that you gave up
everything to be with me. I couldnít bear that."
"It will never happen. Iím not giving up, Harm. I am accepting the
inevitable with open arms and embracing new possibilities."
"Making lemonade out of lemons?
"Yeah, I guess, something like that."
"Youíre sure you donít want to fight the discharge?" he asked softly, his
eyes begging her to tell him the truth.
"Iím sure. Itís the right thing, Harm -- for the Corps, for me, for us. Iím
not sure why, but I am certain this is the way for us to go."
"Ok," he acquiesced. "If youíre game, then so am I. In all honesty, I had
some time to think in Norfolk. I have to admit, I want the job in San Diego
more than I thought I did."
Mac stepped back a bit, her brow furrowed. "Were you going to tell me? Or
would you have sacrificed your needs for what you thought I wanted?"
Harm sighed and turned away, his posture tense and his tone rueful. "The
truth is, I donít know. I was trying to figure that out when Bud called to
say you had been injured and were in surgery. At that point, all bets were
off. All I could think about was seeing you and making sure you were ok. It
took both Bud and Harriet to restrain me from waking you when I first got
here." He turned back and flashed her a self-deprecating half smile.
Mac rubbed her hand along his back and shoulder, chuckling softly. "Iím
fine, Harm. In the scope of our lives, this is a minor setback. Nothing we
He leaned over and kissed her gently. "I know. I guess I just wanted
everything to be perfect."
"No guarantees in this life, Flyboy, but I think things are pretty good the
way they are."
"Yeah," she whispered leaning for another kiss. Still a bit off balance, she
wobbled and would have fallen if he hadnít grabbed her arm.
"You need to sit down. Now!" he rebuked her. "You should be in bed."
"Iím fine, Harm. Besides, I told Harriet and Bud we would stay for dinner."
"Mac," he started to protest.
"Iím ok as long as I sit down and I get something to eat soon. By the way,
shouldnít you be calling the admiral? The deadline is tomorrow."
He guided Mac gently onto a nearby lounge chair and got her situated
comfortably before perching on the end near her feet. He smiled at her and
shook his head, chuckling. "Do you know how much I love you?" he said as if
resigned to his fate.
"Yeah," she answered quietly, as tears pricked the corners of her eyes. "As
much as I love you."
Her reached out and brushed the tears away with his thumb. "You're convinced
this is all going to be ok, aren't you?"
She smiled and drew his hand into hers. "Yeah, I am. I think this is how
it's supposed to be, Harm. I'm not sure why, but I am sure, more sure than
I've ever been of anything in my entire life."
He leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips and then stood, still holding
her hand. "You get some rest. I have a phone call to make." He released her
hand, gave her a wink and a smile and walked toward the sliding glass door
into Bud and Harriet's kitchen.
She rested her head back on the chair and scooted around until she was
comfortable. A feeling of calm well-being surrounded her and penetrated her
all the way to the bone. She knew, somehow, that everything would work out.
She finally had made it to the top of the hill. She watched him walk into
the house through eyelids suddenly too heavy to hold open.
As she drifted off to sleep, laughter bubbled up from the back yard. Mac
imagined it was the laughter of the Fates.
Only this time, they were laughing with her.