Mac lay quietly on her side, listening to Harm’s soft snoring. He was
exhausted but Mac was wide awake. It seemed that she was unable to turn
off all the thoughts in her head. This day had been both painful and
heartwarming. Harm had not said very much to her all day, but she felt
so connected to him that it didn’t seem necessary. She lay in the curve
of his body; he was nestled snugly behind her, his arms encircling her.
He shifted and moved closer to her. He said her name but it had been in
his sleep. He was out, his arms heavy with sleep as he held her.
She lay there in his arms for a long while. She turned in his arms onto
her stomach. He lay sleeping in the same position, his face in full
view. Mac’s heart ached with love for him. She had yet another way to
see him, another side to the many sides of Harmon Rabb. Mac finally knew
for sure – she knew that he loved her. It was in the way he looked at
her and in his touch. It was in the way she always came first in all the
ways that really counted. When she finally understood that, he was more
hers than he had ever been. She remembered Harm’s words at Trish’s
funeral. ‘We’re so busy living our lives that we don’t see what is right
in front of us.’ He didn’t say ‘I love you’ all the time, but he *did*
say it, in a way she could not doubt ever again. Fear didn’t accompany
the love she felt for him anymore, and so reassurance wasn’t necessary.
She leaned over and kissed his cheek lightly, and he smiled a small
smile. Fear was something she had always battled, not in her job but in
her personal life. Now it seemed foolish to invest that much time and
energy into something so trivial. Staying alive, living her life long
and happily with Harm, doing what she loved, without fear of the past.
The future was all that mattered now.
Mac studied his face. He looked younger in sleep. He would hate that she
thought this, but there was just no way around it. He was a beautiful
man. His black lashes fanned thick over his skin. True, he was showing
some age, but she loved every line on his face. His features were
strong. His brow was relaxed in sleep with his proud profile and his
full kissable lips. The thought made her mouth water. No lover had ever
been able to reach her the way Harm had. She had never let anyone into
her heart, not really. She had tried, with Mic and with Webb, but it
never really seemed right. Harm was always there in her heart, although
back then she would have died before she admitted it.
She still wanted a child that belonged to her and Harm biologically. She
wanted it more than she ever had before. Meeting his grandmother and
knowing what she did about his family made her want to weave herself
into the fabric of his family and make it her own.
She by no means wanted to disappear and not bring the best of who she
was with her.
‘Our children would definitely be ‘children of the world’,’ she thought.
They would have a strong tradition of service on both sides. She
remembered her paternal grandmother’s Iranian heritage and the Cherokee
ancestry on her mother’s side. Then there was Harm’s family with its
roots so deep in this country, for centuries really. Sarah Rabb’s good
strong heart with all her determination and perseverance. What a
heritage their children would have, conceived and raised in love. To Mac
it would be like breaking a curse that had hovered over her and her
family since before she was born. The drinking, the destructive behavior
would be consigned to the past, where it belonged.
Harm stirred a little and he opened his eyes slightly. The moonlight
shining in the window illuminated the room so that Mac could see his
eyes go dark immediately.
He reached to touch her cheek and pulled her close, rolled her to her
back and immediately rolled on top of her. He kissed her neck with warm
open-mouthed kisses, taking Mac’s breath away. She wasn’t sure he was
completely awake, but he was definitely in control. He slid his hands
down to her lower back and then pulled her body down and closer to him.
Everything was moving fast, but Mac’s body reacted quickly as Harm began
Mac came up for air. “Harm…”
He whispered, “Shhhh…” and as he plunged himself inside her, he
smothered her reaction with a deep penetrating kiss. She wrapped herself
around him and they made the sweetest, quietest and most intense love
they had ever made. Afterward they lay side by side, both breathing
deeply to catch their breath.
“Hey….why did you wake me up, anyway?” Harm whispered.
“Me?” Mac hit him with a pillow and they both stifled the laughter
bubbling up inside them.
“Hey, knock it off – we’re going to wake someone up.”
They did eventually fall asleep. Harm woke with the sunrise and got up
and crept to the bathroom to get cleaned up and dressed. He wasn’t ready
to have his grandmother knock on the door to wake them for breakfast
while he was still wrapped around Mac, naked.
…..He was *not* a prude, either.
Harm and Frank stood on the porch drinking coffee. Harm had helped him
load his luggage into the car and he was preparing to leave. He looked
to the west side of the property where the cemetery lay. Harm knew he
did not want to leave her here, but he would because she had asked him
“Time goes by so quickly when you’re not paying attention. It seems like
only yesterday I met her. She was so young and beautiful and she needed
me. There you were, an angry little boy, so protective of her but never
realizing how badly you needed to be protected yourself. Trish used to
say you were an old soul….” His voice began to break up.
“It’s alright, Harm. I understand more than you know. Trish was a
wonderful wife, and while you may not have been an easy child to raise,
I have always been proud to call you my son.”
Harm shook his hand and they embraced.
“Take care of yourself, Frank.”
“I will” He could see the concern in Harm’s face. “I’m going to stay
with my brother for a while. He has a place there in La Jolla. I won’t
be alone, Harm.”
He walked down the path toward his rental car, a Crown Victoria of dark
midnight blue. He opened the door and turned to Harm. “Stay in touch.”
“You know I will.”
Harm stood and watched him drive away. Mrs. Rabb and Mac walked out onto
“Do you think he’ll be okay?”
Mrs. Rabb took a drink of her coffee “You know I really do.”
“He’s a good man.” Mac walked up beside him and placed her hand in the
middle of his back.
“Are you all ready to go?” Harm was ready to get back to Washington, and
he also wanted Mac to have time to relax a little before she got back to
They loaded Harm’s SUV and said their goodbyes to Mrs. Rabb. “Will you
still be coming back around Christmas time?”
“That’s the plan.” He hugged his grandmother and kissed her cheek.
“Thanks, grandma, for everything.”
“Anytime,” she said, smiling. Then she turned to Mac and hugged her and
patted her back. “I’m so glad to see that you’re doing so much better.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Ra…Sarah.” She chuckled.
They got in and drove down the drive. Mrs. Rabb crossed her arms and
thought, ‘If those two aren’t married before spring I’ll eat my hat.’
She turned and walked up the path toward the house. Just then a gust of
wind blew across the yard and a hat, apparently lost by someone
yesterday, was caught up in the wind and rolled across the path to her
Mrs. Rabb looked down in surprise and then laughed out loud, clapping
“That was a good one,” she said aloud, “and nobody saw it.” She walked
the rest of the way into the house, shaking her head and chuckling to
Harm had been quiet once again for most of the trip. Mac had not wanted
to press him to talk. They were alike in that they seemed to clam up
even more when they felt pressured to open up. She had been looking at
him, and Harm looked over at her and smiled. “Hey, sleepyhead. It’s
about time you woke up and kept me company.”
“I didn’t get as much sleep as some people I know.”
“Now whose fault do you think that is?” Harm was chuckling. He was
bracing himself; she was going to let him have it.
Mac was sleepy, but she gave his arm a good punch. The loss of sleep had
been well worth it, she thought, smiling smugly.
“Penny for your thoughts.” He thought he did know, but he wanted to
tease her a bit.
“I’m not telling.”
They were in front of Harm’s apartment very shortly. They both had to
get ready for Monday. They had left in such a hurry that a lot of
everyday things had been left undone: Laundry, getting Mattie squared
away for the week. He and Mac worked together, and in a couple of hours
they were ready to relax again.
“Are you going to stay with me, Mac?”
Mac had been debating this in her mind nearly all day. It had been over
a month since she last stayed alone in her apartment. She felt fine; it
wasn’t a matter of not being well or even vulnerability now. She just
didn’t want to spend another night away from Harm.
“Do you really want me to?”
“Of course I do.”
“I’m just going to come out with it. I don’t want to spend another night
without you, Harm.”
A slow wide smile spread across Harm’s face.
“I know we need to discuss the practicality of each of us maintaining an
apartment, but I don’t want to go there now. I just want to be with
“My thoughts exactly.” With that, Harm scooped her up into his arms and
kissed her soundly.
They heard a knock at the door, and then Mattie came bounding in.
“Hey, you guys! What’s up?” She had the most mischievous look on her
They loosened their embrace but did not let go. “Hey yourself,” they
both said at once.
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” Mattie looked at them, raising
her brows and trying unsuccessfully to look innocent.
“No, young lady, you’re not.” Harm was beginning to see that he was
going to have to have a talk with her.
North of Union Station
Mattie had just gone back to her apartment. They’d had a nice evening
with her. Mattie turned her precocious meter down a notch. Harm was glad
she had become a little more perceptive than she seemed to be before.
She and her father were making real plans to reopen Grace Aviation. He
expected that perhaps as soon as the semester ended she would be
returning to Blacksburg. He also knew that she wanted to be with a new
‘friend’ she had made and was on the phone or on line with all the time
these days: Kevin. Harm gave a silent prayer of thanks that he did not
have to handle the ‘boy issue’ on his own and that Tom was doing the
primary parenting on that one. *Whew.*
They were getting things ready for work in the morning when Harm noticed
Mac watching him.
“What’s on your mind, Marine?”
“I was just thinking about how it’s going to be tomorrow, not being in
the office with you all day.” Mac sat down on the side of Harm’s bed.
“It will be fine, Mac. You know you enjoyed sitting on the bench last
“I did, but I’ll miss you.”
Harm sat down beside her. “I won’t give you a chance to miss me. We can
still have lunch sometimes; we can still discuss cases, unless it’s a
case that you’ll be presiding over.”
“That’s true, and I know this is all for the best. Maybe it’s just that
things are changing so fast for us.”
“Mostly for the better, don’t you think, Mac?” Harm smiled his smile.
Yes, of course I do, where you and I are concerned. You have to admit,
it’s been a pretty wild ride for the last month or so.”
Harm nodded; he still had trouble grasping the idea that he could not
pick up the phone and call his mother in La Jolla.
“I know you’re bound to still be having a hard time dealing with this.”
“I’ll be okay, Mac.”
“I know you will, but I can worry about you if I want to, can’t I?”
Harm took her hand. “Just a little.” He kissed her cheek and got up to
finish getting ready for bed.
Mac thought, ‘He’s not ready to talk about this yet.’ She hoped he
wouldn’t bury everything and would trust her to listen and not judge.
She definitely knew about losing a parent. She got up and slipped under
the covers, turning off the lamp on her side of the bed.
Harm turned off the light in the bathroom and padded into the bedroom.
Mac smiled at him, and he thought about how great it was not to be alone
now. If he had anything to do with it he would never be without her
again. He slipped into bed and they slipped into a now familiar
position, spooning. Mac was right; this was home. Wide awake, Harm lay
there thinking, trying to put some perspective on the last couple of
weeks. He also listened for Mac’s breathing to even out. She was quiet,
but he could tell she was awake too.
“I didn’t stay in touch with Mom the way I should have, Mac. I wasn’t as
close to her as I should have been.”
“I was estranged from my father, so I know what that is. I don’t think
that is what you were doing, Harm. I can honestly say that when he died
I didn’t even know him.”
“I wish I had known how little time we had. I left a lot of things
“We all think we understand the natural order of things. None of us
really thinks about what it would be like to outlive our parents. We all
think we have time, and that is not always the case. You did what people
our age do, Harm. We pull away, get lives of our own.” She turned in his
arms to face him. “You weren’t a bad son, Harm. Please don’t believe you
Harm propped his head on his hand. “We did have a really nice time the
last time she was in Washington. We reconnected somehow, and Dad’s
letters helped too.”
Mac kissed him lightly on the lips. He smiled at her and kissed her
again. “You know, I haven’t even asked you anything about your last
appointment with Captain Morrison and Commander Fletcher.”
“They seem pleased with my progress; they released me to return
tomorrow, of course.”
“What is the story on the research at Johns Hopkins?” He traced her arm
with the tips of his fingers
“Captain Morrison and Dr Ahrens are still of two different opinions. Dr
Ahrens is convinced that I am totally cured. Captain Morrison refuses to
say anything that will allow me to think he agrees with him at all.
Watch and wait seems to be the plan.”
“He’s just being cautious, Mac. I’m glad he’s that way.”
“While I appreciate what he’s done for me, I get a little impatient to
be getting on with my life. I just want to leave this ...illness behind
“When do you go back?”
“Not until after the first of the year. My first round of blood work is
pretty good. Some testing is still out. Apparently, I’m a star in
research circles.” Mac smiled.
“Always knew it, Mac.” He kissed her.
“He started me on a mild birth control pill.” She said in a very matter
of fact tone of voice.
Harm leaned up on his elbow. “What?” He hadn’t even thought they needed
to think of pregnancy as a possibility because of Mac’s illness.
“He started me on birth control. What’s the matter?”
“When…I mean, what if we…”
Mac laughed and said, “Oh, Harm… I don’t think we have anything to worry
about. I was on a medication to stop my ovulation all together before I
had my surgery and for a while afterward. Then I was started on the pill
a week before you came back.”
Harm lay back down again, but the look of panic had not left his face.
“Stop worrying, Harm. I mean, even if we were trying to have a baby, I’d
only have a 50 percent chance of conceiving… I don’t think you have
anything to worry about.” She smiled at him, trying to reassure him and
lighten the mood. “My goodness, Harmon, you have a lot of confidence in
yourself, don’t you?”
“Oh baby..you must think you’re something else – think you’re that
potent …do ya?” Mac arched her eyebrow and gave him a wry smile.
He laughed and rolled her on her back. “Knock it off, Mackenzie.”
Falls Church, Virginia
Harm sat in his office going over his case file. Staff call had been
interesting. General Creswell was familiar to everyone but him now.
Well, he wouldn’t say familiar. Creswell was not an easy man to read. He
had the feeling that the general had not made up his mind about him yet.
He heard a commotion out in the hallway and a familiar but not so dear
voice. He rose to look down the hallway. Big Bud Roberts…just great,
just what he needed to make his morning complete. Bud was trying to tell
him that he could not speak with him right now. The tension level in the
office was definitely up a notch or two since General Creswell’s
“Can I help you, Master Chief?”
“Hmmpft, not likely, Commander.”
“I’m sorry, sir...” Bud said looking at Harm. “Look, Dad, we’ll talk
about this at home tonight. I don’t have time to deal with this now. I
have to be in court in 10 minutes.”
“Yeah, thanks a lot, son….for nothing.”
“What’s the problem here?” Harm was getting ready to have Big Bud thrown
out on his ass.
Bud looked at Harm over his shoulder as he tried to dash toward the
courtroom. “Dad thinks he’s going to be called up from inactive reserve
. It seems the Navy wants to recall him to active duty because
storekeepers who can do their jobs without a computer are rare these
days and they need some to go to war.”
Harm could not keep the smile off of his face. He believed that the
recall of some inactive reserves was necessary, but did the Navy deserve
“Step into my office, Master Chief. Let’s not have a scene here in the
hallway. I don’t want Bud getting off on the wrong foot having to
explain his father to our new commanding officer.”
They walked into his office and Harm sat down behind his desk. Big Bud
leaned across his desk. “Listen, Commander, I did my time in the Navy. I
did what was expected of me and then some.”
“And then some,” Harm repeated, nodding knowingly.
“And just for the record, I never EVER stole anything from the Navy in
“Really, then why did you as much as admit it to me? Don’t forget, I was
the prosecutor. I saw the evidence. I spoke with your….associate.”
“So I’ve got friends in low places – that doesn’t make me a thief. He
had as much to gain by lying as I did. I wasn’t worried about you
telling Bud. I let you be his *savior* once again, anyway what was the
point? I know your type, Commander. I wasn’t going to convince you no
matter what I said. I know how you saw me. You’re like every other snot
nosed ring knocker I’ve ever met. You already made your mind up about me
a long time ago.”
“Take care, Master Chief – you’re skating on thin ice.”
“I’m not worried… I’ve been wanting to tell you just what I thought of
you for a long time so before they activate my ass, I’m going to. I know
what I am and I know what I’m not. I am proud of my career in the Navy;
it’s the one thing in my life I did right. They didn’t hand out all that
gold that I wore on my arm like candy. I earned it. I may have been a
rotten father and a terrible husband but that is none of your damn
“Don’t drag Bud into another one of your messes, Master Chief. He has a
good career in the Navy in spite of you.”
“It may surprise you to know that in my 30 years in the Navy, I didn’t
get one ding on my record. I made rate every time I was up for it.” Big
Bud leaned close across the desk. “I’ll tell you something else. I
served on the ‘Ti’ and I met your Dad. He was a good officer and had the
respect of officers and enlisted. And you know what; he was twice the
officer you’ll ever be...”
Harm stood quickly and Big Bud backed up. Mac knocked on the door at
that same moment and opened it. If looks could kill Big Bud would be no
more. She had not seen Harm this angry in a long time. “Oh – I’m sorry.”
Harm’s eyes never left Big Bud’s. “Not a problem, Mac. The Master Chief
was just leaving.”
“Yeah, I’m leaving.” He walked toward the door and then turned back to
face Harm. “Tell you what, Commander. I won’t tell you how to be a son
if you think you can keep from telling me how to be a father, alright?”
With that he left the office.
“What the hell is going on here, Harm? I thought you were going to deck
Harm turned around and looked out the window. “Son of a bitch.”
“I came down to see if you could grab an early lunch with me.”
Harm turned and picked up his cover without looking at Mac. “Yeah, let’s
go. I think I could use some air.”
They were out in the courtyard in front of JAG Headquarters. Mac stopped
stood with her arms folded while Harm walked briskly ahead of her.. “Do
you want to tell me what’s going on?”
Harm stopped abruptly and turned to look at Mac. “Big Bud came in today
to see Bud. He’s raising hell because he thinks he’s going to be called
up from inactive reserve. He was giving Bud a hard time about it, and he
had to go to court, so I stepped in.”
Mac could not keep the smile from her face when she thought of Big Bud.
“Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”
Mac’s smile was infectious, Harm looked at her and said, “Yeah, I
suppose. I just let him get under my skin.”
“Come on sailor, buy me lunch. It’s getting cold out here.”
Falls Church, Virginia
Bud knocked on Harm’s open door.
“Have a seat, Bud.”
“I just wanted to apologize for my father’s behavior earlier today. He
was out of line and he knows it.”
“He admitted it?” Harm was incredulous.
“As a matter of fact, he did.”
Harm didn’t answer him. What Big Bud had said still stung him.
“Look, sir, I know my father acts like a jackass a lot of the time, but
we are getting along a lot better. He is what he is.”
“Don’t worry about it, Bud. I walked right into it. I know how he is.”
“You may not believe it, sir, but he is different than he was when you
first met him, or when Mikey and I were growing up. He’s just worried
that when he’s called up he won’t be able to handle it physically. He’s
had some health problems, and the only thing he’s proud of is his Navy
career. I think it would kill him if he had to go back in on any level
and it was a matter of record that he was unequal to the job.”
Harm thought he was being too charitable, but he wouldn’t interfere. He
was glad for Bud’s sake that they were getting along. Harm nodded.
“I have to get going sir; again, I’m sorry about this morning.”
“It’s okay, Bud. What do you plan on doing about him? I mean, about his
being called up?”
“I’m just making sure Dad has his medical records updated, and Ill try
and get him before a medical review board.”
“Well, good luck, Bud.”
“Thank you, sir.”
With that he left Harm’s office. Just then the phone rang. “Hey,
“Are you ready to get out of here?”
Yes he was; he wanted to turn this whole day off and get home with Mac.
General Creswell’s Office
General Creswell stood at this window, looking out onto the parking lot.
He saw Commander Rabb and Colonel Mackenzie meet and then walk toward an
SUV. The commander opened the door on the passenger’s side for the
colonel. It was obvious to him that there was something going on there,
but frankly he didn’t want to know. As long as they conducted themselves
professionally, they had nothing to fear from him.
The general turned back toward his desk and smiled to himself. He didn’t
think any of them knew quite how to take him and that was just fine with
him. They all appeared to be a good crew, though a bit too familiar for
his taste at times. He thought that his yeoman, Roberts and Turner were
getting a handle on things. They were by the book sailors, but Rabb was
another matter. He had not made up his mind about him yet. He opened his
personnel file and shook his head. It was as if he were two different
people. In the courtroom he was an outstanding attorney, but his record
also had another side. He could be heroic to the point of recklessness.
Heroism was one thing, but recklessness was quite another, and that
would not be tolerated here.
He would see. He would give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but
time would tell.
General Creswell’s office
Falls, Church, Virginia
General Creswell sat at his desk with the phone to his ear. “I
understand, sir. We will discuss the matter later this morning. ….Thank
The SecNav had made an early call this morning to express a concern
regarding Commander Rabb. He informed him that certain people were
independently pursuing an investigation into who was responsible for the
explosion at Trafalgar Square. He did not accuse Commander Rabb, but he
did say that those pursuing the information were known to be close
friends of his. He had two concerns. First was the concern that the
office of the JAG not be compromised by an independent investigation
into a personal matter. The other concern was that Commander Rabb not be
allowed to personally involve himself at all. “There are multiple
American and British agencies handling this, General. While I sympathize
with the Commander for his loss, I won’t have their investigation
interfered with on any level.”
Falls Church, Virginia
General Creswell finished up staff call and had just dismissed the staff
when he asked Commander Rabb to see him in his office immediately
following the meeting. After General Creswell had returned to his
office, Harm followed and stood at attention as the general stepped
behind his desk.
“At ease, Commander. It has come to my attention that you are actively
pursuing the investigation into the explosion at Trafalgar Square.” He
looked at Harm, waiting for him to answer.
“I have friends who are looking into it for me, sir.”
“It is one thing to be looking into the incident and another to actively
The general silenced him with a look. “I have been reviewing your
personnel file with great interest, Commander. You have an excellent
record in the courtroom, but you have a tendency to let your connections
to family and friends lead you into compromising your career and at
times your life. I want to make it clear to you that I will not tolerate
that in this office. We are at war, Commander; we don’t have the luxury
of pursuing personal interests….No matter how noble.”
Harm was quiet for a moment. “Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“Sir, I value my career in the Navy. It was not my intention at any time
to compromise anything. When I pursued my father in Russia I was on
leave. As for the accusation of murder, I have no excuse, sir. I took on
something I never should have, and I won’t make that mistake again….When
I resigned my commission last year, I felt that I had no choice. If I
had not pursued them, Colonel Mackenzie and two CIA operatives would
have died in the Chaco Boreal.”
The general raised his hand to silence him. This conversation was about
to get personal, and they were not going there. “What have you learned
from the situations that you just described?”
“I have a better perspective on what I can do on my own and when I need
to ask for help. I also realize that I compromised myself and my career
when I wouldn’t ask for help and allow things to be handled in the
“I will be direct, Commander. What you discuss with your friends and
family regarding the incident at Trafalgar Square is purely a personal
matter. What you do about what you learn is the business of this office.
I want to make it clear that I will not tolerate reckless or
compromising behavior from one of my senior officers. You serve on the
staff of the Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy,
Commander. Your conduct reflects on this office and the Navy itself. If
you cannot conduct yourself with more discretion than you have in the
past, in personal matters, then you will no longer serve this office.
Are we clear?”
“You are dismissed,”
Harm came to attention and turned to walk out the door.
“I am sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Harm turned and continued to walk out of the office. He closed the door
and blew out a breath. ‘Whew.’ He and Coates looked at each other. Harm
raised his eyebrows, and Coates gave him a slight smile as if to say ‘I
know what you mean.’ Neither thought it was prudent to say anything.
General Creswell seemed to have eyes in the back of his head and ears
all over the office. Harm walked toward his office looking a little
Bud noticed him walking across the bullpen. ‘At least I’m not the only
one he has that effect on,’ he thought.
Falls Church, Virginia
Harm had just left the courtroom and was heading back to his office. A
door to one of the other courtrooms opened slightly and he heard the
words “Court is adjourned until 0900 Monday.”
He’d know that voice anywhere. He got a glimpse of Mac presiding over
He felt a surge of pride and a bit of awe. She had been through so much
but you would never know by looking at her. Mac had changed a lot over
the past month or so, but she was still every bit as squared away as she
had always been. She was not an open book to everyone, but she had let
him in. Finally. He smiled to himself and walked toward his office.
North of Union Station
Harm was finishing up his specialty and Mac’s favorite dish: linguini
with clam sauce. He had steamed veggies and had set the table. Mac was
getting freshened up. Harm smiled to himself…was she humming? Mattie had
left for Blacksburg from school today. Something about a game she wanted
to attend with Kevin. She said Tom was going as well, so Harm wasn’t
worried about it.
Mac walked into the kitchen and glanced at the table. “This is nice,
“Thank you. Help me get this on the table, would you?” He handed her the
serving dish with the vegetables in it.
They sat down and began their dinner. “Oh, Harm. This is so good and I
am so hungry today.”
“Glad you like it. I thought I’d make your favorite to celebrate the end
of this long week.”
“It has been a long week. The case today was unbelievable. We have a
sailor going to court-martial. She stole the identities of three
officers in the clinic in which she served. It will take years to repair
the damage she did in just a few months. I almost felt sorry for
McBurney. He had nothing to go on. Commander Coleman had computer
records and even an additional theft from an imaging clinic in Norfolk.”
“Sounds fun. I finished up today with Lt Wall. She didn’t lose her wings
after all. Sturgis gave me a real run for my money but I pulled it off.
She gave her father a ride; it was his dying wish. I don’t know how many
people I’ve given a ride in my backseat. I can’t believe it even came to
Mac looked at him and smiled. He went for the emotional appeal. ‘He
always does,’ she thought. Poor Sturgis – all Harm’s flash and fire and
there he probably was plodding along. She respected Sturgis, but she
knew Harm. If it was an emotional issue he would win hands down. Mac
took another bite of her linguini and said, “You know, Harm, you’re
going to make someone a great wife someday.” She laughed when Harm
narrowed his eyes at her.
“Is that a proposal, Mackenzie?”
Mac was quiet. Harm just smiled smugly, thinking she wouldn’t have a
quick comeback to that. He picked up his glass of water. ‘Gotcha,’ he
“What if it is?”
Harm nearly choked on his water. Mac picked up her plate and carried it
to the sink. Harm composed himself and turned to look at her.
Harm got his second wind and thought, ‘okay, I’ll bite.’ He got up and
brought his plate with him, a sly smile spreading across his face. He
stood next to her, meeting her gaze. “Why, Ms. Mackenzie, this is so
sudden.” Harm was beginning to enjoy this.
“So then you want a longer courtship, Harmon?” She arched her eyebrow,
“On second thought, I suppose this nearly 9 year dance we’ve been doing
should count for something.”
They both laughed and finished clearing the dishes and cleaning up the
kitchen. Harm put on some music. Mac’s Sade CD filled the room with
mellow and beautiful music. ‘Your love is king…I crown you with my
heart...Your love is king…’
“Mmmm that’s just what the doctor ordered.” Mac swayed to the music and
Harm caught her up in his arms. They slowly danced from the kitchen and
into the living room. Harm wondered if she were serious. He had been
thinking about how to ask her and how soon he should ask. He decided to
ask her when she wanted to do this. That would tell him if she meant it.
He would marry her tomorrow if he thought she would do it.
“So…” Harm pulled back from her embrace. “When are we going to do this,
Mackenzie?” Harm looked into her eyes, trying to be sure he wasn’t
reading something that was not there.
She smiled at him and kissed him lightly, looking directly into his
eyes. “I’d do it right now, Harm, if I could.”
Harm stopped and brushed Mac’s hair back from her face. He studied her
face, trying to take in every nuance. “You want to marry me, Mac?”
Mac was suddenly very serious “Yes, I do.”
“I thought you’d never ask.” They both laughed and pulled each other
into a tight embrace. Harm’s heart felt as though it was in his throat.
*God, she really is going to be mine* He swallowed hard. “I love you.”
Mac pulled back and looked at him. She touched his cheek. “Oh….I love
you too.” Then she kissed him, lightly at first and then with a passion
that carried them both deep into the night. They were on their way.
Harm and Mac walked arm in arm and in step. They had just finished
dinner at their new favorite Japanese restaurant. Neither felt like
going home just yet, so they decided to take a stroll. The night was
very cool but there was no breeze so they were comfortable walking. A
light snow had begun to fall; the snowflakes melted as soon as they fell
on the pavement. It made the night seem magical. The whole weekend had
been wonderful. It had just been Harm and Mac; they hadn’t really done
anything special, except decide to get married.
They came upon a jewelry store and stopped to look into the windows.
They looked at the beautiful wedding sets with what had to be at least 2
carat diamonds. Harm knew that it had to be special, something to last a
lifetime. Anything she wanted, he thought. Mac wandered down further and
stopped in front of the farthest window down. Harm watched her as she
smiled and placed her hand on the window, leaning closer to the glass.
Whatever she was looking at, Harm had the feeling that *this was it*.
Harm walked up beside her and she turned toward him. Harm’s brow
furrowed. She had been looking at a set of matching gold wedding bands;
they were plain but 18 carat gold and about half an inch wide.
“This is what I want, Harm.”
“You don’t want a wedding set with an engagement ring?”
“No, I don’t think I do.”
Harm placed his arm around her shoulders. He leaned closer to her ear.
“There’s a story here, I can feel it.”
“There is – I had almost forgotten until I saw these wedding bands. When
I was younger, there was a couple who lived across from my dad and me at
the trailer park. They were military too. They were younger than Mom and
Dad. Their names were Glenna and Dennis Smith, he was just a corporal.
Anyway, my mother had already left and they used to invite me over from
time to time for dinner. She wore a ring like this. Her husband wore one
just like it. They seemed so much in love, and he seemed so respectful
of her. I wanted that. I don’t think I even believed love like that
existed until I met those two.”
“Do you want that set…..for us?”
“Yes, I do.” She turned to him and smiled.
“Then that is what we’ll have.” He kissed her forehead. She looked up at
him and he kissed her again.
Falls Church, Virginia
Harm sat at his desk, a case file open in front of him. He heard a knock
on his open door and he looked up. Clayton Webb stood looking at him.
“I’m not interested, Webb.”
“Not interested in who planted that car bomb in London?” He was sure he
“I’m not interested in what you have to say. You’ve never done anything
for me that you didn’t twist to your own advantage.”
“Harm….” Webb was trying to sound sincere…it made Harm’s stomach turn.
“You’ve used everything that ever meant anything to me to draw me into
your ‘missions’ and left me with my ass hanging out.”
“What about Sergei?”
“What about him?”
“I did that because you were my friend and I wanted to help.” Webb
continued to try to play on his emotions, it had always worked before.
“You’re right about one thing: I *was* your friend. And you’ll never
convince me there wasn’t something in that for you. I don’t know what it
was, but I would be willing to bet it wasn’t about me.”
“The Company –”
“The Company, my ass, Webb.” Harm had no patience for this man anymore,
he had very nearly cost him everything, everything with Mac anyway.
Just then both men were startled by another voice in the room. AJ
Chegwidden stood in the doorway. “He’s not with the Company…..are you,
Webb looked at AJ and tried to decipher what he meant and how much he
knew. He had that slightly crazy look in his eyes, a look he had seen
“What would you know about it?”
“Oh, I know a great deal, Webb. Harm, let’s you and I take a walk with
Mr. Webb out to the courtyard…..shall we?”
When they reached the courtyard, AJ and Webb stood nearly toe to toe and
Harm stayed slightly back.
AJ looked Webb directly in the eye. “I’m only going to say this once.
Back the hell out of this, Webb. You want back in and the door is
closed. I just spoke with Kershaw, your former boss’. You’re out and you
“I know you’ll want this inform….”
AJ cut him off. “I know what you know and I know why you’re here. You
figure you’ll drop just enough information for your ‘friend’ here to get
the scent and you’ll follow him where ever he leads you. Your days of
using JAG staff for your own self promotion are over. I don’t have the
SecNav breathing down my neck anymore and I don’t have to worry about
propriety. I can nail your ass any time I want to.” AJ stepped a bit
closer, and Webb backed up.
Harm stepped forward and placed a hand on AJ’s shoulder. “It’s time to
Webb continued to back away from them. “This is not over.”
“Yeah….it is as far as you’re concerned.” Harm looked at him directly.
“Let it go. This is not your concern and I don’t want your help.” With
that Webb turned and walked away.
General Creswell had seen this exchange from the window of his office.
He’d never met AJ Chegwidden, but he recognized him from pictures. He
watched Harm nod back toward the building and AJ shake his head. They
both sat on a stone bench. Creswell deduced that he must be one of the
people asking around about the incident at Trafalgar for Rabb. He turned
and stepped away from the window.
Another person observed from the window. She wondered when or if Harm
was going to tell her about this. At least he had sent Webb away, which
was obvious. It didn’t look as though this was about her, or AJ would
not have been involved. This had to be about his mother’s death. ‘Oh no,
please don’t start chasing ghosts again,’ she thought.
AJ leaned forward. “Harm, that bomb had components that could have come
from at least half a dozen countries in the Middle East. The car was
registered to a student, a British citizen, who had reported it stolen 2
hours before. She can account for her whereabouts; it isn’t thought that
she knows anything.”
Harm sat looking across the courtyard, trying to take in what he had
just said. The impulse to try and follow up with this student was
strong. But he could not now, he knew.
“Look Harm, it could still be IRA or any other terror group right now.
Britain is our strongest ally in the war on terror and the war in Iraq.
Whatever can be done to erode support for the current administration can
be expected. They have an election coming up soon. Hell, this could be
homegrown. America isn’t the only country with people who want to take
things in their own hands. That bombing in Spain cost us an ally – the
terrorists won that round.”
Harm smiled without humor. “Do you know what this situation reminds me
of? The tremors we felt before September 11th. We were too content to
wait it out, blame it on other things rather than believe that a group
of people could hate us enough to want to kill thousands.”
“You know, the first World Trade Center bombing, the embassies in
What will they think if something on the scale of the train bombing in
Spain happens? What makes people think it will stop if we don’t fight
“It is a faceless, stateless enemy, Harm.”
“I hate that term.”
“I know, I do too. But it is accurate.”
Both men stood and shook hands. “Thank you, sir.”
“You’re welcome. If I hear anything else, I’ll let you know.” AJ started
to walk away. He turned back toward Harm and said, “Don’t allow Webb to
weasel his way in…”
Harm interrupted him. “I won’t.” AJ nodded, and with that the men
North of Union Station
Mattie made dinner that night. She had said she had something she wanted
to talk to Harm about. She made spaghetti with marinara sauce for Harm
and a meat sauce for her and Mac. When they started to clear the table,
Mac started to get her coat and leave.
“Where are you going?” Harm and Mattie both said at once.
“Well, I thought you might need to be alone. I don’t want to intrude.”
“You’re not intruding, Mac. You know everything Harm knows anyway.”
Mattie smiled slyly and looked at Harm.
“Come on, Mac, let’s go sit down and see what Ms Matilda has on her
mind.” Harm offered his hand and she took it. ‘I don’t know everything
he knows’ she thought. They needed to talk about what she saw. It would
not be tonight, though. Harm had enough to deal with right now. ‘Soon,
Sailor’ she thought.
Mattie sat in the chair opposite them on the couch. “Well, I think you
both may know what this is about.”
Harm did know... Mattie was going back to Blacksburg. He had known it
was coming, and he knew it was best, but all of a sudden the thought of
her going back pained him. Mac took his hand and closed her other hand
over it. She did not look at him, looking instead at Mattie. It seemed
to be instinctual now; she seemed to know when he needed that little bit
of extra support.
“I think at the change of the semester, I’ll be going back to
Blacksburg….My dad and I have talked about it. Dad thinks it would be
better for me grade wise if I wait, and I suppose he’s right….Oh, not
that I don’t want to be here, but I think I want a life back there now.”
Harm smiled at Mattie. She was a different girl than the one he’d met at
Grace Aviation. Back then, she’d been a moody, brooding little girl,
trying to be tough, breaking his heart when she would not allow herself
to lean on anyone.
“I’m sorry, Mats, I was just thinking about how different you are from
when I first met you.”
“I’m not as big of a pain in the butt as I was before, right?” Mattie
“Oh, I didn’t say that.”
“Hey…” Mattie picked up a pillow and threw it at Harm. Mac had his hand
so he didn’t block it well. It smacked him directly in the face knocking
his head back on the couch.
Mattie stood. “Oh…Harm …I’m so...”
Harm looked directly at Mattie and slowly started to get up reaching for
the pillow as he went.
“Hey don’t look at me; I’m just moral support here.”
Mattie ducked as a pillow flew across the room and turned to run; she
grabbed a pillow on her way and turned and busted Harm in the stomach.
“Oooff…Hey!” He caught her and turned her around. “You may be faster,
kiddo, but I have a longer reach.” He bent down to pick her up and threw
her over his shoulder, and then dumped her back on the couch. Harm
looked at her and smiled smugly. “Now let that be a lesson to you.” He
then turned to walk back toward the kitchen. A pillow flew across the
room, hitting Harm in the back of the head.
Mattie and Mac both laughed hysterically. Harm turned and looked at Mac.
North of Union Station
Mattie stayed until about 2100. Jen was out that evening with an old
friend. Mattie could not recall her name. They played Scrabble, and Mac
and Mattie were ganging up on Harm once again, making up words as they
They had gone to bed and slipped into their ‘spoon’. Mac smelled of her
‘Warm Vanilla Brown Sugar.’ The scent would always remind him of the
night he came back to Pennsylvania to find her waiting for him. She had
felt so good in his arms – he couldn’t have held back from her if his
life had depended on it. He nuzzled her neck and kissed it.
“Are you sleepy, Mac?” he said hopefully.
Mac smiled to herself and turned slightly to look at him. “What did you
have in mind, Sailor?”
He kissed her. “Oh, I could think of a few things…” He still could not
get over the fact that he could be with her every night if he wanted to.
His reactions were automatic; a touch, the sound of her voice, the scent
of her skin drew him to her. He kissed her deeply.
“So, Mac, when are you going to make an honest man out of me?” Harm
smiled as he spoke and leaned in to kiss her again.
“You’re not honest?” Mac teased and kissed him back
“You know what I mean, Mac – when do you want to get married?”
Mac turned around and faced him, lying on her side. “You know we really
should let our COs know what were planning to do.”
“I know.... I have been trying to think of the best way to go about
this. I think I’ll just put the request through, and then if the general
has any questions or concerns we’ll discuss them. I don’t think he wants
to know very much about any of us personally.”
Mac raised her eyebrows.
“I didn’t mean that in a negative way. Creswell is all business, and
given the rollercoaster we’ve all been on over the last year I think it
may be the best thing for all of us.”
“Well, I can put my request through to Admiral Morris and then see where
we go from there. We will have to be sure you and I aren’t in the same
courtroom after we’re married….my god…after we’re married. That sounds
“Second thoughts, Mac?” Harm furrowed his brow.
“Not on your life, Sailor. You’re in this for the long haul.”
“Oh… really...” Harm reached across Mac and turned off her light,
plunging the entire apartment into darkness.
“Harm…stop it!” She was laughing.
“Hey… what was that you just said?….you’re in it fo…”
Harm didn’t get to finish his sentence.
Falls Church, Virginia
Gunnery Sergeant Victor Galindez pushed open the doors leading to the
bullpen. He was looking for someone he knew. He saw General Creswell’s
name printed neatly on the window of the JAG’s office. This was
different. No Tiner, No Lt. Sims, someone else was in Commander Rabb’s
office. Colonel Mackenzie was in the judiciary now. It would be like
starting all over again. He didn’t care; he was home, back in uniform
where he belonged.
Petty Officer Jennifer Coates stepped out of the outer office of the
“Petty Officer Coates.”
“What brings you here, Gunnery Sergeant?”
“I’m just checking in. I’ll begin my new duty station here tomorrow.”
“Great, glad to have you aboard.” Jennifer smiled and shook his hand,
thinking, ‘Just what we need – another Marine.’
Harm stepped into the bullpen and saw Coates and Gunny talking. “Gunny!
“Yes sir. I start tomorrow.” Victor was grinning from ear to ear.
“Glad to hear it.”
“Excuse me, sirs. Better keep my nose to the grindstone.” Coates nodded
toward Creswell’s office.
“That tough, huh?” They had a real squared away Marine, he knew.
Harm crossed his arms in front of his chest. “Not really. But he’s
different, that’s for sure.”
Gunny stood a little taller. ‘Yes, I’m going to like it here,’ he
“Hey, how did that case you and Alicia were working on pan out?”
“The Wainwright case? Well, he’s a free man now. Turns out the
prosecutor involved in the case with held exculpatory evidence and that
in addition to Teddy Lindsey for the defense… the poor guy didn’t have a
“That’s good news. Who was the prosecutor, anyway?”
“A now-Congressman Bolton. Who I’m under the impression doesn’t like
JAGs much for some reason.”
“The congressman who is on the House Armed Services Committee?” ‘I can
think of one reason,’ Harm thought.
“That’s the one.”
“Welcome back to JAG, Gunny.” Harm smiled slyly. They shook hands and
Harm walked into his office, and as he sat down Petty Officer Coates
“Commander Rabb, Admiral Boone is on line 4 for you, sir.”
“Thank you, Petty Officer.”
Harm picked up the phone and punched the button. “Hello, sir.”
“Rabb…Just wanted to talk with you about what I’ve been able to find out
Harm sat back in his chair.
“I heard you had a visit from Mr. Webb Monday.”
“Yes, I did.”
“You haven’t let him get involved in this, have you?”
“No sir, Admir...AJ was here not long after he arrived. Apparently even
the Company has had it with Webb.”
“I have it on good authority that even his mother is having a problem
“I didn’t know you had met her, sir.”
“Yes, we’ve met. It has been a while. I don’t know what it is, but there
is something cold-blooded about that woman.”
Harm smiled at the thought of how just how cold blooded she could
be…when provoked. ‘He doesn’t know the half of it.’
“You may already know if AJ talked with you. The components of the bomb
came from all over the Middle East.”
“Yes, I heard.”
“There’s a lot of speculation, Rabb. It would not be wise to make any
assumptions now about who did this.”
“Are you going to be alright waiting this out?”
“I think so. I’ve been warned by everyone who knows anything about it to
let it be handled by the professionals. Even my new CO knows that I have
friends looking into this, so if I want to keep my job I had better stay
out of this. I don’t like feeling this helpless. I know just enough
about both British and American agencies to make me wonder what is truly
“In other words, you know enough to make you dangerous.”
Harm smirked. “Yeah, that’s about right.”
“You doing alright, Harm?” Tom wouldn’t have said ‘about Trish’. Harm
“Yeah, I’m okay. How about you?”
Tom Boone was a bit taken aback by the question. “I’m fine,” he said
There was a lot Harm didn’t know, a lot he’d never know. Trish had a
special place in his heart. She was a good friend before Hammer went
MIA, and she had come to mean more to him later. They had gone out a
couple of times, as friends, a few years after Hammer was missing. She
had no word from him, but he was still alive for her, and even if Tom
wouldn’t have admitted then, he couldn’t believe he wasn’t out there
somewhere too. He knew she could have been the one, but she had married
that ‘used car salesman’ and that was the end of that.
“Sir?” It had gotten quiet on the line.
“Sorry about that.”
“I also heard that you ruffled the feathers of a congressman on the
House Armed Services Committee.”
“It wasn’t intentional, but yes I did.” Tom Boone was keeping is ear to
“Intentional or not, you need to remember that each party has their
‘boys’ in high ranking positions in all services. You need to be sure
that you’re not one of them.”
“I know, sir. I remember what you said before. It’s about getting the
job done, not about who is in power. Besides, I really don’t have to
worry about positions of power for myself, not with my record.”
“You never know, Harm,” he said cryptically. “Hey, I’m getting out of
here. I’ll let you know if I hear anything else. I guess I had better
talk with AJ before I call you, so that I’m not giving you information
you already know.”
“That’s fine, sir. It’s always good to hear from you.”
“Thanks.” He hesitated and then hung up.
Harm hung up his phone and he continued to look at it for a moment. Tom
Boone seemed to live such a solitary life. He still couldn’t keep
himself from calling him ‘sir,’ though he had been retired for some
time. He was his father’s best friend. He was someone he respected more
than most men he knew. He admired both him and AJ for their careers, the
respect they had from their peers and subordinates. They were
accomplished men of integrity. Anyone would want to emulate them;
however, he dreaded their solitary lives.
He had never given up on a future with Mac completely, but as time
passed he’d begun to wonder. For a while he’d thought that the best he
could hope for was his career in the Navy (such as it was) and the
possibility of helping Mattie grow up and get established on her own.
Now he had Mac and a future. She just had to be okay. She was looking so
much better. She seemed radiantly happy. He was too. He loved having her
in his life.
“Hey Sailor…waiting for the phone to ring?” Mac stood in the doorway,
“What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be in court giving
other good lawyers a hard time?” Harm smiled sheepishly. He was caught.
“We adjourned early and I wanted to see if you could secure early. I
want to Christmas shop.”
“Aw, come on, Mac. The mall? I have court in the morning.” Harm knew he
sounded whiny but he didn’t care. All he wanted was a nice hot shower, a
good dinner and Mac, not necessarily in that order.
“You’ll be alright...you big baby…” Mac turned and stepped out the door.
“Besides...I’ll make it up to you.” She raised her brows and laughed a
Harm’s smile spread slowly across his face. He might be convinced.
“Promises, promises, Mackenzie.”
“I don’t make promises I can’t keep,” she said laughingly.
“Hey, I’ll meet you downstairs in about 20, okay?”
“Sounds good,” she said as she walked down the hall.
Bud, Mikey and Big Bud sat in the den. Little AJ sat on the floor
playing with his Legos.
“This stop loss business is a crock of sh–”
“Dad.” Bud looked over at little AJ.
Big Bud rolled his eyes. He knew Bud was a better father than he had
been, but having to watch what he said got on his nerves.
Mikey spoke up. “Look, Dad. You knew you were inactive reserve when you
retired. Everyone is, for 15 years.”
“You know, you’re sounding more like an officer everyday, Mikey. They
should call up the draft, that’s what they should do.”
“Look, Dad, I’ve submitted your records to a medical board of review.
We’ll just have to wait and see what they have to say.” Bud was trying
to be the peacemaker this time.
Mikey chimed in again. “I’ll tell you right now, I would rather have an
experienced enlisted man doing the job than some ‘Joe Blow’ who was
drafted while bagging groceries at the Stop and Shop.”
“Alright, you two. We’re not battling this out here, tonight.”
“Unbelievable...you’d never think he was raised by an enlisted man.”
“Oh come on, Dad. I meant that as a compliment, not a put down. How did
you get that from what I just said?”
Bud’s head snapped up. It was Harriet calling from upstairs. He ran to
the base of the stairs and looked up. Harriet was pale as a ghost and
was holding on to the wall. She had blood on her clothing from her upper
thighs down. “Something’s wrong, Bud…help me…”
Bud struggled up the steps and called to Mikey. “Call 911….Now!”
North of Union Station
The phone startled Harm out of a deep sleep. Mac felt it and sat up.
“Bud, what’s wrong?”
Mac was suddenly wide awake at the sound of alarm in Harm’s voice.
“Sir, Harriet…she…” Bud cleared his throat. He was trying to pull
“Harriet is in surgery. The babies, they’re here, but Harriet has had a
lot of damage to her...well, she is in surgery now. The doctors say
she’ll be fine…”
“Bud, we’re on our way.”
“No, sir, I couldn’t ask…I just wanted to know if you would inform
General Creswell. I don’t think I would handle the conversation very
professionally right now. I’ll talk to him first thing tomorrow. I’ll
know more about what’s happening then.”
“I’ll do it, Bud, but we’re still on our way.”
Harm and Mac looked at each other and, without a word, dressed and
started out to Bethesda.
As they pulled onto the Beltway, Harm opened his cellphone. He punched
the familiar number.
“Chegwidden,” said the voice on the other end of the line.
National Naval Medical Center
Harm and Mac swiftly made their way down the hallway toward the waiting
room on the surgical deck. Bud was sitting on a bench pushed against the
wall. He heard them approaching and stood.
“Bud?” Harm slowed his pace as he approached.
“Sir…I haven’t heard anything yet.”
Mac rested her hand on his arm. “She’s going to come out of this, Bud.”
Bud nodded. “She’s been through so much. I should have known that this
would be too much for her, after all the difficulties in the past. We
are lucky to have little AJ and Jimmy. We should never have had more.”
“Are the babies alright?” Mac asked.
Bud looked at her and with a distracted and hollow sound to his voice
said, “Yes, I haven’t seen them yet.” Bud sat back down on the bench and
leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees and bowing his head.
“That’s great, Bud.”
Harm and Mac sat down with Bud. “The doctor said that she had residual
damage from the miscarriage and when we lost baby Sarah. The babies’
weight contributed to the hemorrhage.”
Mac looked at Harm over Bud’s back briefly. Harm understood her feelings
about baby Sarah now. He knew it pained her to think of the loss of her
A corpsman entered the waiting area. “Commander Roberts?”
Bud’s head snapped up and he stood. “Your wife is in recovery, sir.
Commander Fletcher will be in to see you shortly.”
“Is she alright?”
“She is resting comfortably, sir. Commander Fletcher will answer any
other questions you may have, sir.”
“Thank you, Petty Officer.”
Bud heaved a sigh of relief. He didn’t know what he would have done if
he had lost her.
Mac stood and offered to get Bud something to drink while he waited. She
felt a little awkward and Harm seemed almost angry; not at her, but she
wasn’t sure what he was feeling. He just seemed very distant all of a
Harm watched Mac walk down the hallway. ‘We are not going to go through
this,’ he thought. It just wasn’t worth it to him. They had been so
happy that he had forgotten the fear he’d felt when he thought he might
lose her. Seeing Bud go through this tonight made him realize that
nothing was worth that. They would adopt, raise foster kids, whatever.
He would not take the slightest chance when it came to her life.
Commander Fletcher approached them. Harm and Bud both stood. “Commander
Harm started to step away, but Bud stopped him and asked him to stay.
“Your wife is stable, Commander, and she will recover fully.”
Bud heaved a sigh of relief.
“However, due to the damage to her uterus she had to undergo a partial
hysterectomy. It was the only way to get the hemorrhage under control.
She had lost a lot of blood prior to her surgery. She required 2 units
Bud swallowed hard. “But she will be alright?”
“Yes, Commander, she will. She is asking for you, so I suggest you get
down there and see her.” Commander Fletcher smiled.
Bud followed the commander down the hallway to see his wife, and Harm
waited for Mac to return. She came a few minutes later carrying coffee
in Styrofoam cups. Harm had been looking out the window, thinking about
how to even begin to discuss what he was thinking with Mac. He turned
and saw her coming and tried to smile.
Mac saw Harm turn toward her. To say he looked troubled would have been
“Harm, is everything alright? Where is Bud?”
“He’s going to see Harriet. She’s going to recover – she’ll be fine.”
“Oh thank God.” She sat the cups down and walked up to stand next to
Harm. He had turned to look out the windows again. It was obvious he
wasn’t looking at anything.
“Hey, nice view, Sailor.” She tucked herself under his arm, and he
pulled her into an embrace. She drew back and looked him in the eye. He
looked away, avoiding her gaze.
“Harm, talk to me.”
He pulled her close again. “I just don’t ever want to lose you, Mac.
Being here, seeing what Bud was going through tonight… I don’t want that
to happen to us. Nothing is worth that.”
“I’m getting better all the time, Harm. There’s nothing more to worry
about. Why are you so much more upset?” She drew back to look at him
again and then she knew. “It’s about having children…isn’t it?”
Harm pulled her close again and nodded.
“We don’t have to even worry about that now. I won’t be able to even
begin to try until next year. We’ll know so much more next year than we
do now about how I’m doing.”
“Mac, I don’t want to take a chance, not with your life.”
“I love my life too, Harm, but I’m not going to make a decision like
that this quickly.”
She looked at him with love and determination in her eyes.
“I just don’t want you to leave me out of the decision, Mac. I can’t be
there for you if I don’t know what’s going on.”
“I know that, Harm. While we are on the subject of leaving someone out
of things, when are you going to talk to me about Webb coming to JAG to
talk to you? I know this is probably not the time or the place, Harm,
but I can’t seem to find the right time. I wanted to talk to you about
it that evening, but that was when Mattie told you about going back to
Harm stepped out of her embrace and sat down on the bench. “How did you
know about it?”
“I happened to look out my window and see you, AJ and Webb having a very
heated discussion….Look, Harm, I wasn’t spying on you.” She sat down
He looked at her. “I know you weren’t, Mac. I just want to know what
happened. I wasn’t sure how you’d feel about it. I didn’t want to put
that on you in addition to everything else we were going through.”
“That’s right, Harm…..We.”
“Webb showed up uninvited and was promptly sent his way with a little
help from AJ. He and Tom Boone are looking into some things for me.
Keeter said he would talk with some of his contacts. I haven’t heard
from him yet. Look, Mac, I’ve been warned away from this by everyone
from General Creswell to Admiral Boone.” He turned and leaned forward on
his arms. “I’m not going to do anything stupid this time, Mac. I don’t
want to take any chances with our future.” He sat back up and looked at
her directly in the eye. “I don’t want you to either.”
They heard footsteps approaching. AJ Chegwidden walked purposefully
toward them. They stood.
“She’s fine, sir.” Harm answered.
Bud came down the hallway and joined them. He looked much better than he
did before. He was smiling.
“Hello, sir.” Bud shook AJ’s hand. “Come and see my daughters.”
They all followed Bud to the nursery and stood at the window. Bud
knocked on the nursery door and had the lieutenant show the babies to
their first visitors. They were small but very healthy. Their faces were
round and red with shocks of black hair peeking out of their caps.
Bud was beaming, a complete change from his demeanor while in the
waiting room earlier. AJ crossed his arms and leaned forward a bit,
looking through the glass at the little girls.
“I guess it’s a night for miracles.”
Mac stood a little closer to Harm, and he drew her to him. “Do you
believe in miracles, sir? she asked.
“Well I’ve been a skeptic in the past, I’ll admit, but I’m looking at
two miracles right now.”
Mac nodded toward the babies. "Those two definitely qualify.”
“Mac, those two babies are just one miracle – the other is the fact that
you two are on the same page on anything, let alone in a relationship.”
AJ smiled his wry smile. Harm and Mac both chuckled and Harm hugged Mac
a little tighter. They couldn’t argue with that.
AJ shrugged and said, “Hell, maybe it’s a year for miracles. The Red Sox
They all laughed and remembered AJ’s comment when he announced his
Bud came and stood beside AJ. “Have you two decided on names yet?”
“We have, Jennifer Bethany and Justice Brittany.”
“Oh, Bud, that’s great. Jen will be honored, I’m sure.” Mac knew Jen
would be pleased.
“She saved my life, Colonel; I wouldn’t be here if it had not been for
her. Harriet insisted and I agree.”
Mac yawned. It was nearly 0300. “We better get you home, Marine,” Harm
said. “We have to be at staff call at 0830.”
“I’ll stay awhile with Bud.” AJ patted Bud on the back. With that Mac
and Harm went home to catch a couple of hours sleep before they had to
begin their day.