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Classification Romance (H/M)
Length Approximately 48,000 words, 104 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Everything up to Season 10 Episode 9 ‘The Man On The Bridge’ (Harm didn’t get back his old office though)… the rest of Season 10 never happened in this story…
 
Rating GS
Author's Notes Like always, I’ve used the internet to get information about the distance between point A and point B respectively between point B and point C. I’m not sure if those distances are correct or not, that’s why I could have used an AP (author’s privilege) for this story.
 
This story is in memory of my friend Kim, who I met thanks to JAG... I miss you, Mom.
 
Summary A snowy weekend full of joy, children’s laughter, and love

 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

 

 


Saturday
December 11, 2004
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church , VA
9:43 AM

 


‘Will this never end?’ Harm thought as he signed and closed yet another file in front of him before taking a side-glance at the still large mound of papers right next to him. Working together with Mac on the missing Navy’s top bio-weapons scientist case this week was a lot of fun, but doing all the old paperwork now wasn’t fun at all. Moreover, doing it alone didn’t help either.
 
He was in his office for nearly two hours now, and it didn’t look like the paperwork would be done any time soon. Thankfully it was Saturday, because he was quite sure he could do the papers without any disturbance. Harm was the only one in the office today and one look out the window showed him that it possibly wouldn’t change. It’d snowed since last night and the ground and trees were already covered with a thick blanket of snow.
 
Harm chuckled as he remembered Mattie’s outburst this morning. She called around seven o’clock to tell him about the huge amount of snow they got in Blacksburg. Mattie revealed to Harm how much she loved the snow and that she hoped they would get a white Christmas this year. They would spend Christmas Day together and Harm had to promise Mattie that, if there would be snow, he would go sledding with her. Her happiness was his undoing and now he had a sledding date on Christmas Day. Just the thought about it made him smile a little bit. He missed her, but also knew it was the right decision they’d made about her situation with her father.
 
Harm took another file from the pile and opened it with a long sigh. He started to read the papers when suddenly the thought that he’d heard a sound from the bullpen made him stop. Harm stood up and walked slowly out of his office. The nearer he got to the bullpen, the clearer the sound became.
 
“’Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’?” Harm muttered bewildered to himself when he figured out that someone actually was singing the latest notes of the traditional Christmas song. Even more curious now he continued his way to the bullpen. The moment he walked through the doors of the bullpen he heard the giggles and laughter of children and “Mac?” Harm wondered aloud.
 
As soon as Harm walked around the corner and was able to overlook the entire bullpen, he saw that he’d been right. Right there in her office stood Mac. She was searching through the filing cabinet while holding a babbling and bouncing baby against her left shoulder. Right next to her stood a little child and even though he stood with his back to Harm, the blond hair, which stuck out under the pompom hat, gave the identity away. They were talking about something that made them laugh and giggle the entire time.
 
What he saw warmed his heart immensely and he couldn’t stop looking at them. For him it looked perfect, like everything he’d always dreamed about. Sarah MacKenzie with a bunch of children around her: his children. Their children. ‘God, I hope you didn’t take it away from her. From me. From us.’
 
It was a thought that Harm had many times in the past few months, and it made his heart sorrowful. There’s a saying that time would heal all wounds, but could time heal this deep and hurtful wound as well? Harm wished he knew the answer, but for once he couldn’t come up with one. He couldn’t take away the pain she felt; a pain he felt as well.
 
Harm had no idea how long he stood there and watched them in awe, but suddenly he was brought out of his deep thoughts by a nearby cry.
 
“Uncle Harm!” Little AJ shouted as he recognized his godfather was watching them from a few feet away. “Auntie Mac, Uncle Harm is here,” he continued to shout while he ran right into Harm’s arms. “Hi, Uncle Harm,” he greeted his godfather while taking off his pompom hat after it’d slid slightly over his eyes.
 
“Well hello, buddy. What are you doing here?” Harm asked him while he took Little AJ into his arms.
 
“I’m here with Auntie Mac,” Little AJ responded happily and pointed at his godmother’s office.
 
“I can see that,” Harm said softly as he and his godson made their way to Mac’s office, meeting her halfway in the bullpen. “Good morning, Mac.”
 
“Good morning, Harm,” Mac responded gently with a smile, quite surprised seeing him there. “I didn’t know you would be here today. I don’t remember seeing your car in the parking lot.”
 
“No, I had to take a cab this morning. My car decided to call in sick.” Harm chuckled. It surprised him that he actually could laugh and make jokes about it. About two hours ago the last thing he had on his mind was thinking that his SUV not starting was a funny thing. Since he didn’t want to drive the Corvette through this kind of weather, he had to call for a cab.
 
“Your car is sick, Uncle Harm?” Little AJ asked sympathetically. “Then you have to go to a doctor with it,” he continued so seriously that Harm and Mac couldn’t suppress a chuckle.
 
“Yeah, I guess I’ll have to do that,” Harm said softly before he sat Little AJ down on his feet again and made a step forward so he stood right in front of Mac. “And how is this little guy here doing?” He asked quietly, running his finger down Jimmy’s rosy cheek. The little boy had buried his head in the crook of Mac’s neck and was apparently asleep by now.
 
“He’s doing just fine. I think he has a beautiful dream at the moment,” Mac whispered and saw the question in Harm’s eyes. “He’s slobbering down my neck,” she explained with a smile on her face. It was a smile, which Harm returned eagerly.
 
“So, what are you three doing here on a Saturday? And I sure hope you’re not here with your ‘vette in this weather!” Harm said concerned with a raised eyebrow. “And if so, I don’t want to hear about how you got all three of you into that car,” he continued with a stern voice.
 
“No, of course not. My ‘vette is parked in the Roberts’ garage. I brought Harriet and Bud with their mini van to the airport earlier and decided to get a few cases from my office so I can do some work while the boys are doing their shuteye.”
 
“The airport?” Harm asked astonished before he remembered. “New York City. Bud, Harriet, the Ritz Carlton and a long weekend as a little romantic getaway. A second honeymoon so to speak. I remember now. So, I guess you are on babysitting duty this weekend?”
 
“Auntie Mac, Jimmy and I’ll have a PJ party at her house this weekend,” Little AJ explained happily and Harm could see how excited his godson was about their plans. “And Auntie Mac said we would buy her a Christmas tree and decorate it together. Are you coming, too, Uncle Harm? Pleeeaasseeee,” AJ asked with big pleading eyes.
 
Harm got down on his knee so he could look straight into Little AJ’s eyes. “I’m sorry, AJ, but I can’t. I have to work this weekend. How about another time?”
 
“Okay,” AJ answered quietly. He sounded more than disappointed and it was clearly readable on his face. “Auntie Mac, I’ll get my truck from your office, okay?”
 
“You do that, honey.” She ruffled his hair before he made his way slowly into her office. Mac’s and Harm’s eyes followed him.
 
“Now that went well,” Harm said quietly, feeling just as disappointed as his godson.
 
“Don’t worry too much, Harm. It will be okay.” Mac squeezed his arm. “How is the work going?”
 
“I guess I’ll have to take half of the files home with me, so I can work on them tomorrow as well.”
 
“When is the deadline?”
 
“Tuesday at the latest.”
 
“Here, Auntie Mac, I got your briefcase,” Little AJ explained as he got back from Mac’s office. He carried his truck in one hand while having Mac’s briefcase in his other hand.
 
“Thank you, sweetie.” Mac took her briefcase from Little AJ before she looked back at Harm. “I guess we better let you go back to your work now. But don’t overdo it, okay?” Mac said softly.
 
“Promise. And you three have a lot of fun this weekend, okay?”
 
“We will. Goodbye, Harm.”
 
“Bye, bye, Uncle Harm.” Little AJ smiled and gave his godfather a bear hug before running away to get the elevator.
 
“Goodbye, AJ,” Harm called after him, watching his godson as he put on his blue pompom hat again.
 
“See, I told you not to worry too much,” Mac told Harm gently.
 
“He’s a great kid.” Harm then chuckled. “When he doesn’t have his fits of raving madness that is.”
 
Mac laughed. “He’s five, Harm. He hasn’t started to have the real fits yet,” she started to say and suddenly lost her smile the moment she said these words, remembering the deal she and Harm had. Harm could clearly see the pain in her eyes and wanted to reach out, just so he could tell her that everything would be okay, that everything would work out for them. But then she started to smile again and continued with a soft voice. “I’ll see you on Monday, okay?”
 
“Yeah, see you on Monday, Mac,” Harm responded softly before he lifted up Jimmy’s hood to kiss his head. “Goodbye, little fellow.”
 
Harm watched Mac until she reached little AJ, who was already waiting at the elevator. With one last wink and a sweet smile from her and AJ the elevator door closed and Harm was once again alone in the office.
 
He quickly got a mug of coffee from the break room before he walked back to his office, hoping a miracle had happened and that, while he was talking with Mac and AJ, the pile of files on his desk was gone. “Would’ve been too good to be true anyway,” Harm muttered when he stood in his office and saw the files still there. “Well, Commander, time to get back to your work,” Harm commanded himself before he sat down in his chair and got back to his cases with a quiet “Aye, aye, Sir!”

 

Harm’s Office

 

“How about a deal?” A voice suddenly asked a few minutes later from the doorway of Harm’s office and made his head snap up in surprise.
 
“Huh?” Was Harm’s only response. He was too surprised seeing her so soon again.
 
“A deal,” Mac repeated her statement and moved into his office. “You know, when I buckled in Jimmy and Little AJ, I saw this box in the van,” she continued and showed Harm the empty file box she was holding in her right hand. “And I came up with an idea. I thought we should use the box to put all the files you still have to work on into it and take them with us. Then I’ll drive you to your apartment so you can pack some clothes, toiletries and most of all something to sleep in for the weekend. And when you’re done with the packing you’ll spend the rest of the weekend with Jimmy, Little AJ and me,” Mac explained softly with a glimmer in her eyes.
 
“As tempting as this sounds, Mac, I can’t,” Harm answered defeated while looking at the pile of papers. “Right now it looks like I won’t even get a lot of sleep over the entire weekend. Having a weekend full of fun with you guys would make it impossible to get the files done by Tuesday,” He continued sadly.
 
“Well you haven’t heard the most important part of my deal yet,” Mac told him gently with a smile, while she sat down in one of Harm’s visitor chairs.
 
“I haven’t yet, have I? Would the Colonel like to tell me about the most important part of her deal then?” Harm asked with a raised eyebrow and crossed his arms.
 
“Sure, I would love to, Commander. I think you and I could work on the cases together while the boys are either asleep or watching some cartoons on TV. I’m sure we’ll be done by Tuesday, if not even earlier. There may be a few files I can’t help you out with at all, but I’m sure there are enough things I can do as well.”
 
“Sounds really tempting.”
 
“It does, doesn’t it?” Mac smirked. “Harm, I really would like to spend the weekend with you and the boys. And you already know how much Little AJ would love to have you around,” she explained gently. “Also I’m sure that as soon as Jimmy is out of his dreamland he’ll be more than happy to see his Uncle Harm.” Mac smiled and hoped she would finally get Harm to approve her plans.
 
“Hmmm, let’s see. A weekend with you and the boys…,” Harm started to say while he looked into Mac’s smiling eyes. Then he turned his head to take another quick glance at the pile of files. “Or a weekend with Johnson, Murphy and Co. You know what? I would say, let’s get the hell out of here,” he decided with a grin and in one swift motion got out of his chair.
 
“Okay, that’s my flyboy. Now which pile is done and which one is still to do and has to come with us?” Mac asked, waiting for Harm’s instruction.
 
“This one we’ll have to take with us,” Harm answered defeated and pointed at the three times bigger pile of files on the left side.
 
“Got it.” Mac started to put the files into the box while Harm got his coat, cover and briefcase.
 
“Where are the boys?”
 
“They are in the car. I didn’t want to bring them up with me, since I didn’t know what your answer would be. There was no need to risk AJ’s hopes being shattered again. I told him that I forgot something in my office and that he should take care of his little brother. The private at the gate promised me to watch them until I’m back,” Mac explained.
 
“Good thinking. Okay, I’m ready. Let’s get out of here before fate decides to work against me.”
 
Together they made their way to the elevator.
 
“So, what’s on the agenda for this weekend anyway?” Harm asked in suspense, while they walked into the elevator. The thought of spending the entire weekend with his two favorite boys and his favorite girl brought a nearly goofy looking smile on his face. ‘But don’t forget that you have to work on the cases as well,’ Harm tried to remind himself. ‘Yeah, that may be true. But I can do that with my favorite girl.’ Harm’s eyes twinkled with happiness.
 
“Well, AJ already told you about our plan with the Christmas tree. I think other than that we’ll spend the entire weekend hanging around, watching movies, drinking cocoa, reading stories in front of the fireplace or just cuddling together on the bed. I also had to promise him that we would go sledding if there’s enough snow, which I guess is very much a done deal,” Mac told Harm with a chuckle.
 
When Harriet and Bud had asked her a few weeks ago if she would like to take care of their boys over this weekend, Mac knew it would be a great weekend for her. Now that Harm would spend it with them, she was sure it couldn’t get any better. It’s as if a secret dream of her was coming true. ‘Harm and I will spend the entire weekend like we have our own little family,’ Mac thought and it warmed her heart immensely.
 
“Cuddling on the bed?” Harm asked with a raised eyebrow and a smile as they made their way to the car.
 
His question brought Mac out of her thoughts. She smiled and looked over at him. “Umm, yeah. Believe it or not, the boys like to cuddle. You should enjoy it as long as possible, because sooner or later it will be history,” Mac explained as she opened the trunk of the van. “Here you go, just put the box next to AJ’s sled and the boys’ bags. Do you want to drive?”
 
“Sure,” Harm said and took the keys out of Mac’s hand.

 

Harm's Apartment
North of Union Station, DC
11:04 AM

 

“Here we go. Come on in,” Harm told Little AJ and Mac, who carried the still asleep Jimmy in her arms, as he opened the door of his apartment. “I’ll just go get changed and pack my bag for the weekend.”
 
“Uncle Harm, can I help you pack?” AJ asked him quietly so he wouldn’t wake up his little brother.
 
The moment AJ had found out that his uncle would spend the weekend with them after all, he’s wanted to shout in joy. However, Harm and Mac immediately told him to be quiet since his brother was still asleep right next to him. Beaming with joy, Little AJ only had whispered ‘cool’ and smiled brightly. A smile, which held its place on his face through the entire ride to his godfather’s apartment.
 
“Of course you can,” Harm answered his godson’s request before he looked at Mac. “We’ll be right back,” he told her and walked with AJ into his bedroom.
 
“Sure, just take your time,” Mac replied softly before she made her way to one of the living room windows.
 
It was still snowing and Mac knew that if it wouldn’t stop soon, they would have to change their plans for the weekend after all.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Hey, you okay?” Harm asked softly when he walked out of his bedroom a few minutes later and saw Mac looking out the window. Tenderly he caressed Jimmy’s cheek and got a gentle sigh as response from the sleeping boy.
 
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Mac answered quietly with a smile. “I’m just trying to figure out what we’ll do if it doesn’t stop to snow soon.”
 
“It is really coming down now, isn’t it?” Together they watched the thick snowflakes dancing in front of them.
 
“Yeah, it is. And if it doesn’t stop soon, there’ll be no way for us to go sledding with AJ or buying a tree for Christmas. By tomorrow we’ll be snowed in.” Mac explained with a sad tone in her voice. She knew how much Little AJ wanted to go sledding and get a Christmas tree, but now she feared that she had to disappoint him. “Where’s AJ by the way?” Mac asked Harm when she couldn’t locate her older godson in the living room.
 
“He’s still packing my bag. AJ told me that he’s a big boy and could do it all alone. I thought I should at least give him a chance,” Harm said with a chuckle. “When were you planning to get the tree?”
 
“Tomorrow right after breakfast. Yesterday I saw an advertisement in the newspaper from the grocery store near my apartment. They’ll start selling trees by tomorrow.”
 
“You want to buy a Christmas tree from your grocery store?” Harm asked with a disliked look on his face. “That’s not Christmasish, Mac!”
 
“Christmas what?”
 
“Christmasish.”
 
“Harm, Christmasish is not a word,” Mac explained with a chuckle.
 
“I know it isn’t a word, but that’s not the point here! Mac, we can’t go with our children to a grocery store and buy a Christmas tree. We have to do it the right way. They have to feel the Christmas spirit,” Harm said thrilled and obviously was missing his Freudian slip.
 
However, Mac didn’t miss it and smiled at the thought that Harm was apparently thinking the same about this weekend as she did. The thought of being together like a family. “Okay, and what would be the right way? How would it be Christmasish, Mr. Rabb?”
 
“Getting the axe and some straps out of my garage before we’ll go hunting for the perfect Christmas tree,” Harm explained confidently.
 
“Going hunting for a tree with an axe?” Mac was so bewildered; all she could do was repeat his words.
 
“Yes, and I think we should do it right away, before we’ll get snowed in,” Harm continued, now even more confident about his idea. “With the SUV it shouldn’t be a problem to get to the farm.”
 
“I thought you said your car’s ‘sick’.”
 
“It was just the battery. Someone from my garage came and replaced it. So, what do you think?”
 
“Going hunting for a tree with an axe.”
 
“Yes, Ms. MacKenzie. So what do you think?” Harm could hardly await Mac’s answer and hoped she would like his idea.
 
“I like it. I never had a self cut tree for Christmas in my life,” Mac told Harm softly. Christmas was never a big event in her childhood, and most of the time they had an artificial tree, if they had one at all.
 
“Then we should hit the road and try to find a tree for us. Why don’t I get AJ and my bag from the bedroom, while you entertain our little friend here?” Harm kissed the now woken up Jimmy on the forehead who gurgled back at him, the happiness of seeing his uncle was clearly visible on his face. With a last wave at his younger godson and Mac, Harm was making his way to the bedroom.
 
“Sure,” Mac replied quietly with a dreamy expression on her face while her eyes followed him. ‘This will be a great weekend,’ she thought and kissed Jimmy’s forehead. ‘A great weekend.’  

 

Bellevue Forest Christmas Tree Farm
Choose-n-Cut
Bellevue Forest , VA
12:03 PM

 

“Wow,” Little AJ said astonished as he and his godparents stood at the entry of the Christmas tree farm. However, his happiness had less to do with all the snow-covered trees in front of them and more with the wide-open barn a few feet away on their left side. In the barn stood one mother cow with a baby calf, some goats, pigs, and even two donkeys. “Cool,” he continued excited.
 
“ool,” Jimmy tried to copy his big brother’s words between giggles and started to bounce in Harm’s arms while clapping his hands in delight.
 
Harm looked taken aback at Mac.
 
“Don’t ask, Harm. Harriet is just happy that Jimmy already knew how to say mama and dada before he learned this word from AJ,” Mac explained and shook her head.
 
“Where did AJ learn it anyway?” Harm asked quietly.
 
“If you knew what’s going on in a preschool these days.” Mac chuckled and knelt down so she could be eye to eye with AJ. “Why don’t we all try to find a Christmas tree first? And when we’ve found one Uncle Harm can put it on the car, while the three of us take a look at the animals over there,” Mac suggested and pointed with her finger at the wide open barn.
 
“Yes,” Little AJ yelled and threw himself into Mac’s arms.
 
“Ye, ye, ye,” Jimmy happily answered as well while copying once more his big brother’s words.
 
“Alright, then let’s go and find our Christmas tree. Come on,” Harm said and held his free hand to AJ so he could slip his own into it. The other hand AJ slipped into Mac’s, who was carrying the axe in her left hand, before they made their way into the little forest together. They could have used an offered hayride but thought a walk through the forest would be much more fun and Harm was sure that he could handle carrying the cut tree back to the car.
 
They spent the next half hour searching for the right tree for Mac’s apartment. Most trees were either too short, too long, too thin or simply too full. Little AJ, who’d walked most of the time a few feet in front of Harm and Mac, was the one who finally found the perfect tree.
 
“What do you think, Mac?” Harm asked but knew the answer already.
 
“Perfect,” Mac replied softly.
 
“Good job, buddy,” Harm told Little AJ and squeezed his shoulder. “Okay, Mac, let’s switch. You take Jimmy while I try to cut down the tree.”
 
As soon as Harm had cut it down, they made their way back to the entranceway of the farm, where Harm let the tree be wrapped up before putting it on the car. “Why don’t you guys go visit the animals already? I’ll follow as soon as the tree is fastened on the car,” Harm suggested as he paid for the tree.
 
“Sure, why not. We’ll see you in a few minutes then. Come on, boys, let’s go visit the animals,” Mac announced before she walked together with Jimmy in her left arm and holding Little AJ by her right hand to the barn.
 
Harm was following them soon and together they enjoyed a few quiet moments in the barn. While Little AJ liked to pet every animal there was, Jimmy was a little bit scared of them. Every time one of the animals got near him, he buried his head in the crook of Mac’s neck. AJ on the other hand couldn’t get near enough and wanted to be picked up by Harm so he could be on one level with them.
 
“Harm, Jimmy and I will take a quick look at the cattle stall over there,” Mac said and pointed to the backside of the stall. “We’ll be right back.”
 
“Alright, have fun you two,” Harm called after her before turning his attention back to Little AJ, who started to giggle hilariously when the baby calf started to lick his outstretched hand.
 
“That’s ticklish,” Little AJ said between his giggles, but never pulled his hand away from the raw tongue of the baby calf.
 
Harm laughed and got down on his knees so he could reach through the fence and fondle the forehead of the calf. “I bet it is, AJ. She seems to like you.”
 
“Yes.” Little AJ pulled his hand away from the calf and looked at his uncle with wide-open pleading eyes. “Do you think Mommy and Daddy would allow me to have one as a pet? That would be soooo cool.”
 
Harm chuckled and took his eyes from the calf just to look at his godson. “I think that won’t be…,” he started to negate his godson’s question when he suddenly yelped out in surprise, at once jumping up and onto his feet.
 
Harm’s hand immediately flew to his right cheek, which the baby calf had just licked with its raw tongue, while Little AJ couldn’t hold back anymore and started to laugh out loud, holding his belly. “She just kissed you, Uncle Harm,” AJ told his perplexed looking uncle in between his laughter. “She really, really likes you.”
 
Harm just pet the baby calf and winked at his godson. “I think I’m a bit too old for her,” he only replied jokingly and Little AJ had to laugh even harder now.
 
“You’re silly, Uncle Harm.”
 
“I am, am I?” Harm just responded and joined Little AJ in his laughter.
 
In the meantime Mac and Jimmy were at the backside of the barn. The moment Jimmy saw the rabbits in one of the stalls, he started to squeal. Mac got down on her knees so he could see the animals better. Jimmy wasn’t scared of them at all, since his big brother had one black and white rabbit called ‘Peanut’ as a pet at home.
 
“Pea,” Jimmy babbled cheerfully.
 
“No, honey, that’s not Peanut,” Mac said softly before helping him to fondle the trusting rabbit.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Come on; let’s find Uncle Harm and your big brother. Auntie Mac is getting hungry,” Mac said after a while and got a prompt confirmation from her rumbling stomach.
 
“’kay. Bibi, pea,” Jimmy babbled and waved at the rabbit.
 
“Harm, I think we should head back. I’m getting hungry and I’m sure you and the boys would like to eat something as well. And it won’t be long before the little guy here’s getting tired again and needs a good nap,” Mac explained as she was back at Harm’s side.
 
“Sounds good to me.”
 
“Auntie Mac, guess what? The baby calf kissed Uncle Harm,” Little AJ told her in excitement and with a bright smile on his face.
 
Mac looked with a raised eyebrow and a smirk at her partner. “Really? Found a new girlfriend, Harm?”
 
Harm just grinned. “Nah, the kiss was a bit too wet for my style. Why, are we jealous, Marine?” He asked jokingly with one of his flyboy-grins she loved so much.
 
“You bet,” Mac immediately answered him, trying her best to sound serious while she had to fight her own laughter. “And if I weren’t so hungry right now, I would have a talk with the Missy over there,” she continued and pointed at the baby calf a few feet away from them. Then, without thinking twice, she got up on her tiptoes and quickly licked Harm’s left cheek, surprising the hell out of him and especially out of herself.
 
Now she couldn’t hold back anymore and together with Little AJ she laughed out loud and started to leave the barn and a dumbfound looking Harm behind. With a last glance at her friend she winked at him with a wave. “Come on, Harm, hungry marine here,” she told him while her thoughts were on overdrive about what she’d just done, not believing she actually did it.
 
Harm shook his head in wonder and then started to laugh as well. ‘This marine,’ he thought before looking back at the baby calf. “Sorry, girl, but her technique was much better than yours,” he told the animal before following Mac and the kids out of the barn.
 
“Do we still need to pick up something from the grocery store?” Harm wanted to know as soon as he joined them at the car.
 
“No, I already did all the shopping yesterday. It should be more than enough for us four,” Mac explained as she got Jimmy into his child seat. Little AJ was already buckled up right next to him.
 
“Good, then let’s get moving. It looks like Mother Holle has decided to take a little break as well, so hopefully we won’t have much trouble getting back to DC,” Harm said as he and Mac got into the SUV as well.
 
“She’d better come back soon, so there’ll be more snow when we go sledding,” AJ said sternly.
 
Harm and Mac laughed. “There’s more than enough snow for going sledding, AJ,” Harm said before starting the car. “Let’s go home.”
 
“Yeah, let’s go home,” Mac softly copied Harm’s word with a smile on her face.

 

Mac’s Apartment
Georgetown , DC
1:59 PM

 

The ride to Mac’s apartment took much longer than it normally would have due the weather condition and the arisen traffic. By now Mother Holle was fully back in her elements and it was snowing again, now even more than before.
 
Jimmy had started to get fussy soon after they’d left the farm and Little AJ thought it was best to start singing Christmas carols. However, it only made his brother cry even more. Therefore, Harm started to tell them a Christmas story and soon the little boy had stopped crying and got heavy eyes.
 
“Here we are,” Mac said as they stood in front of her apartment door. “Are you okay with the tree, Harm?”
 
“Yeah, don’t worry. The tree isn’t heavy at all. And it for sure is a good workout for me,” Harm explained and gave her his best flyboy-grin. As soon as Mac had unlocked the door, he walked into her apartment to put down the tree.
 
“Oh, hello, Sarah,” an elderly woman suddenly called from behind. She stood at the doorway of her apartment, opposite Mac’s. “I heard a child singing ‘Let it snow’ and some laughter. I thought my daughter, son-in-law and little Timmy were here already.”
 
“Hello, Mrs. Ebenezer. Sorry, but it’s only us. Little AJ was just performing his favorite Christmas carol for today. I hope we didn’t wake you up?” Mac asked worried.
 
“Don’t worry, my dear. He has a lovely voice,” Mrs. Ebenezer responded gently.
 
“Thank you,” Little AJ said a little embarrassed and giggled.
 
“Are you having the kids for the weekend, Sarah?” Mrs. Ebenezer asked when she saw the bags, which Mac was holding in her left hand, and the hardly awaken Jimmy on her right shoulder. “If so, maybe Little AJ would like to come over sometime over the weekend to play with my Timmy.”
 
“Oh cool. Can I, Auntie Mac? Please?” Little AJ begged delighted. He already knew Mrs. Ebenezer’s grandson from another sleepover at his aunt’s apartment. The last time Mac even had some trouble getting him back into her apartment, since he was having so much fun playing with Timmy and his grandfather’s railroad.
 
“I’m sure we can come up with something, AJ. Thank you, Mrs. Ebenezer,” Mac said and smiled at the elderly woman.
 
“My pleasure, Sarah. I love having them around. Oh, this is my teakettle calling for attention. I’ll see you soon. Bye for now,” Mrs. Ebenezer said before she turned around and walked back into her apartment.
 
“Bye,” Mac and AJ said at the same time before they walked into Mac’s apartment as well.
 
“With whom were you talking?” Harm asked curiously when he walked out of Mac’s kitchen, while Mac closed the apartment door behind her. He’d heard Mac talking with another woman in the hallway and didn’t want to interrupt.
 
“That was my neighbor, Mrs. Ebenezer. She’d heard AJ singing and thought we were her daughter’s family.”
 
“Mrs. Ebenezer?” Harm asked with a raised eyebrow and laughed.
 
“Yes, Mrs. Ebenezer. But she’s definitely not the female Scrooge,” Mac explained with a chuckle. “Here, could you hold Jimmy for a minute?”
 
“Sure. Why don’t I go and change Jimmy while you make some lunch for him and us?” Harm suggested and took the little boy out of Mac’s arms.

“Thank you, Harm. That would be great,” Mac said softly. She put down the boys’ bags next to the door before taking off her coat. “You can go and change him on my bed. With him it is the safest way,” Mac continued with a chuckle and walked into the kitchen.
 
Harriet had told them more than once how much of an adventure it is to change the little guy. Jimmy’s a rather active boy and never able to lie still while getting changed.
 
“Okay, will do,” Harm responded with a laugh of his own.
 
He knew exactly what Mac was talking about due to his own experiences. However, Harm wasn’t only aware of how much Jimmy was moving around while getting changed. Oh no, he also got the world-famous shower from the little guy as well. Back then, when Harm had told Mac about it, she only responded with a ‘See, that’s a marine. He already has a good aim.’ Harm had to laugh as he remembered their conversation in his office.
 
“Hey, AJ, when you’re out of your coat could you bring Jimmy’s bag into Aunt Mac’s bedroom for me?” Harm asked his godson.
 
“Sure, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ answered with a grin before he started to take off his pompom hat, gloves and finally his winter coat.
 
“Thank you, buddy,” Harm responded and made his way to Mac’s bedroom door. He took a deep breath before putting his hand on the doorknob. ‘There’s no need to be nervous, Rabb. It’s not the first time you’re seeing her bedroom,’ Harm thought, trying to calm himself down. ‘No, but the last time there wasn’t much left of it. Thanks to Coster.’ Harm shook his head, chuckled at his own nervousness and looked down at the little boy in his arm. “A man has to do what a man has to do, right? Come on, Jimmy. It’s time to do our job,” Harm told Jimmy and walked into Mac’s bedroom, followed by his godson AJ, who was carrying his little bother’s bag.

 

2:24 PM

 

Mac walked out of her kitchen just as Little AJ and Harm, with Jimmy in his arms, came out of her bedroom. While she’d made their lunch, some leftover vegetable lasagna, Mac could hear the giggles and laughter from the boys in her bedroom. It sounded like they had a lot of fun while changing Jimmy.

“You guys are right on time because the lasagna is ready to be served,” Mac told them as she put down the tray with dishes, glasses and some juice.

“Great. I’m hungry,” her godson announced with a grin as he sat down in one of the chairs at the coffee table.

“That’s good to hear, AJ. Have you already washed your hands?” Mac wanted to know while walking back into the kitchen.

“Yes, Auntie Mac. Uncle Harm told me so,” AJ called after her.

“And what about your Uncle Harm? Has he washed his hands?” Mac asked as she came out of her kitchen again, this time bringing the lasagna.

“Yes, Mom,” Harm answered and rolled his eyes, trying to sound and look annoyed, but failing totally.

“You’re funny, Uncle Harm,” his godson told him and giggled.

“Yes he is, isn’t he?” Mac said sweetly and stuck her tongue out at Harm as AJ wasn’t looking.

“Very mature, Marine,” Harm whispered and laughed.

“What can I say? It’s the company,” she smirked. “Here, why don’t you give me Jimmy, so you can start eating,” Mac said and took Jimmy from Harm. “I’ll get his lasagna. I cut it up and cooled it off. I will join you guys in a second.”

“Hmmm, this is great, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ said with his mouth full.

“Yeah, it’s perfect, Mac,” Harm agreed, having his mouth full as well.

“Thanks, guys. Glad you like it.”

“What about you?” Harm asked her as soon as Mac joined him on the couch.

“What about me?” Mac wanted to know while starting to feed Jimmy, who was sitting in her lap.

“Don’t you want to eat?”

“I will as soon as this little guy here is fed.”

“Maybe we should put a part of the lasagna back into the oven? This way your piece will still be hot when you’re ready to eat,” Harm suggested and took another bite from his piece.

“Or you could feed her, Uncle Harm,” AJ told his godfather with a giggle. “Just like she’s feeding Jimmy right now.”

“I don’t think that’s necessary, AJ,” Mac responded softly and smiled at him.

“That’s a great idea, buddy,” Harm said at the same time and chuckled. “What do you think, Mac? May I feed you?”

“Like I said, Harm, I don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Oh, you are such a spoilsport,” Harm told her with a smirk before looking at his godson. “Isn’t she, AJ?”

“Yes, she is, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ agreed enthusiastic and laughed.

Mac groaned as she heard AJ’s answer while Harm started to laugh as well.

Before Mac knew what happened, Harm was waving his fork with lasagna in front of her while imitating the sound of an airplane. “Air Rabb is ready for landing,” Harm announced. “Requesting permission for landing.”

While Mac glared at him, Jimmy was very delighted about Harm’s doings. He giggled and clapped his hands. “Bbbbrrrrmmmm, bbbbrrrrrmmmm,” Jimmy copied the airplane sound and laughed, spitting out some of his lunch in the process.

“You have to open your hangar, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ enlightened his godmother about the well-known procedure.

“My hangar,” Mac repeated his words and then glared at her partner.

“Just open your mouth, Mac,” Harm gently told her and finally could land the fork just as she wanted to answer him. “Air Rabb landed safely.”

They spent the rest of the lunch with a lot of fun and joking around. Harm never stopped feeding Mac while she continued to feed Jimmy. After a while, the little boy got cranky and made it clear that it was time for his overdue nap. While Mac got Jimmy ready, Harm went down to the parking lot and got his bag and the files out of the SUV.

When Harm came back into the apartment, he could hear that Mac was still with Jimmy in the guestroom. After setting down his bag next to the door, he moved to the coffee table and placed the box with the files right next to it.

Then he took the tray from one of the chairs and brought the dirty dishes into the kitchen. Just as he was filling the dishwasher, he could hear that Mac and AJ came back into the living room.

“Auntie Mac, can I watch a movie now?” Little AJ asked hopefully with a quiet voice.

“Sure. But you’ll have to watch it with the headphones so that Uncle Harm and I can work a little bit. Is that okay with you?” She asked and placed the baby monitor on the coffee table.

“No problem,” AJ answered with a grin.

“Okay. So, what movie do you want to watch?” Mac wanted to know as she walked to her entertainment center.

“Umm, can I watch ‘Muppet Treasure Island’? Or how about ‘Muppets from Space’?”

“Which one is it?”

“The Island,” Little AJ answered surely after a few seconds.

“’Muppet Treasure Island’ it is.” Mac took the desired movie and the headphone out of the cabinet before putting the DVD into the DVD player. Then she gave the headphones to Little AJ, who already sat down on the floor right in front of the coffee table. “Here you go, AJ,” Mac said and kissed his head before turning on the TV and the DVD player.

“Everything settled?” Harm asked as he walked out of the kitchen.

“Yeah. Jimmy is out like a light and AJ is watching the Muppets,” Mac replied softly. “For the next hundred minutes we should have enough quietness to get a few of your files done.”

“Sounds like a plan. Why don’t I start a fire and then we can attack the papers,” Harm suggested and moved to the fireplace.

“Sure, why not. Just make yourself feel at home, Harm.” Mac smiled at him and got one of his own in response. ‘I know, I feel like you’re here at home,’ she thought and made her way to the couch.

“I already feel like being home,” Harm murmured to himself while getting a fire started.

For the next hour and a half, Mac and Harm were able to get nearly a third of the files done. They’d started with the simple cases and therefore could make considerable progress.

The quietness in the room was only interrupted when AJ had to laugh because of a scene from the Muppet movie, which happened about every second minute. Ever so often it brought a smile on Harm and Mac’s face. Sometimes they could even hear a little snoring noise or a sigh from Jimmy coming out of the baby monitor. Both thought these sounds were better than any music could be.

Harm and Mac were sitting on the couch. Harm obviously really felt like home and had his legs outstretched on the coffee table, while Mac was sitting cross-legged on the other side of the couch. They were delved into their work but couldn’t stop themselves from looking at each other occasionally when they thought the other one wasn’t looking. However, it happened more than once that their eyes met and it was always completed with a shy smile from the both of them.

“Auntie Mac?” Little AJ was calling from the other side of the coffee table.

Mac’s eyes left the paper in front of her to look at her godson. “Yes, AJ?”

“The movie is over,” AJ announced and pointed with his right forefinger at the TV.

“The hundred minutes are already over?” Harm asked astonished and looked at Mac.

“Obviously,” she responded, being slightly surprised herself.

“Obviously? Mac, where’s that human clock of yours? Don’t tell me this work was so exciting that you forgot all about it,” Harm said jokingly.

Mac simply smirked at him before looking back at AJ. “Why don’t you look if your brother is up already? And I think it’s time to start with the decorating of the Christmas tree.”

“Cool. I’ll go and see if Jimmy is awake,” Little AJ told them and walked into Mac’s guestroom, where he and Jimmy would sleep this weekend.

“Cool, huh? Has someone thought about telling him that he maybe shouldn’t use this word?” Harm asked Mac with a raised eyebrow.

“Yeah. But you only get the answer ‘But why? It’s a cool word’ from him. It’s pretty much pointless to tell him not to use it anymore,” Mac told him with a chuckle. “Bud and Harriet gave it up after a while. I bet these days you can even find the word in a normal dictionary.”

“It could be worse, couldn’t it?”

“Yes, it could,” Mac answered softly and got up from the couch. “Okay, I guess we’re done with the cases for now. With any luck we can work on them more tonight.”

“Sounds good to me. So, are we ready for the Christmas tree?” Harm asked and stood up as well.

“I think so. At least when Jimmy is awake we’re able to start with the decorations.”

“Do you want me to help you get the decorations?” Harm wanted to know.

“No, I’ll get it. But if you like, you could get Jimmy. Sounds like he’s awake.” Mac grinned as she heard the giggles and laughter from him and Little AJ through the door and even louder through the baby monitor on the table.

“I’m already on it,” Harm said with one of his flyboy grins and made his way to the guestroom.

“Good. I’ll see you in a bit,” Mac responded and turned off the baby monitor before walking into her bedroom to get the Christmas decoration out of her storeroom.

 

Mac’s Guestroom

 

“Hey, look who’s awake,” Harm said with a tender voice as he opened the door to Mac’s guestroom, seeing Jimmy bouncing up and down while holding on tightly the edge of his crib.

Jimmy squealed in delight while holding up his arms; showing Harm that he wanted to get picked up.

“Hey, sport. What a nice crib you have here,” Harm told the little boy as he took Jimmy into his arms.

Harm was surprised not seeing the well-known travel bed here, which Little AJ already used every time he was spending the night at his apartment. He never expected seeing this luxury solid hardwood crib in natural with straight turned dowel sides here. It had a three-position mattress base in light blue, covered with a smiling moon, some stars and a few clouds. The bedclothes were in the same pattern. “Why should Mac use Jimmy’s hardwood crib?” Harm asked himself aloud.

“This is not Jimmy’s bed, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ told his godfather as a matter of fact.

“It’s not?” Harm asked slightly bewildered.

“No, it’s not. Auntie Mac bought it for her own children.”

“Her own children?” Harm asked, wondering about what Little AJ just told him. At the same time he felt a twinge of pain around his heart.

“Yes. She bought the crib so she could use it for the children she’ll have one day.”

“How do you know that, AJ?”

“She told Mommy about it. Jimmy and I were spending a weekend here, and while Auntie Mac and Mommy were getting Jimmy ready for bed, Mommy asked her about it. I was playing in the living room and could hear them talking,” Little AJ explained softly. “I swear I didn’t eavesdrop, Uncle Harm. I know it’s not a nice thing to do, but Mommy and Auntie Mac were talking loud enough for me to hear them and the door was open as well,” Little AJ started to defend himself.

“Don’t worry, AJ. You didn’t do anything wrong,” Harm told him softly and gave his shoulder a squeeze, feeling that AJ thought he did something wrong. “Why don’t we get Aunt Mac and start with the decoration of the Christmas tree?”

“Yes,” Little AJ hollered before running out of the guestroom. “Auntie Mac! Uncle Harm said we’re going to decorate the Christmas tree now,” he continued his screaming, trying to get Mac’s attention.

Harm laughed and looked at the wide-awake Jimmy in his arms. “I guess it’s decoration time, huh,” he told the little boy before moving out of the guestroom as well, taking one last look at the crib. “Oh Mac,” he muttered quietly before closing the door behind him.

 

4:52 PM

 

“Hey, guys, there you are,” Mac greeted Harm and Jimmy as soon as they walked into the living room. She gave Jimmy a little peck on the cheek and smiled at Harm. “I thought you were lost there for a minute.”

“Nah, a pilot never gets lost,” Harm told her self-confidently. “Give us five minutes to get changed and then we can start decorating the tree. Deal?”

“Sounds good to me. Why don’t I make us some hot chocolate in the meantime?”

Harm gave her one of his flyboy grins. “You have marshmallows?”

“Yup, sure do. Get Jimmy ready and AJ and I will make us the hot chocolate.”

“Be right back,” Harm answered and walked into Mac’s bedroom. “Do you have some Christmas carols, Mac? Decorating a tree without the right music doesn’t work,” Harm hollered from the bedroom.

“You mean it’s not Christmasish, right?” Mac hollered back and laughed. Then she got some milk out of the fridge and a pot out of the cabinet to set it on the stove.

“Exactly. You’re learning fast, Colonel,” Harm answered and kissed Jimmy’s tummy, who giggled in response. “Your Auntie Mac is a really smart lady, did you know that, Jimmy?” Harm told his youngest godson, who gurgled while looking very interested at his godfather. “And a really beautiful one as well,” he softly added and took Jimmy’s happy babbling as his affirmation.

As soon as Harm had finished changing Jimmy, he made his way to the kitchen, where Mac and Little AJ were still preparing the hot chocolate. “Hmmm, that smells delicious,” he told them and tried to get near the stove.

“I made the cocoa, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ told his godfather proudly and smiled at his godparents.

“You did a great job, buddy,” Harm let him know and ruffled Little AJ’s hair. Then he looked at his best friend. “You never answered my question, MacKenzie,” Harm told her. “Do you have some Christmas carols for our decoration adventure?”

“The carols from the radio don’t work?” Mac wanted to know. “I mean they start playing them soon after Easter is over,” she continued with a chuckle. “We shouldn’t have problems getting a station where carols get aired.”

Harm had to laugh at her comment. “Very true. But no, I don’t think the Christmas carols from the radio will do. Only if you want to hear ‘Last Christmas’ from Wham each and every hour. Then you’re very welcome to turn on the radio, Mac,” he told her and hoped she would disclaim his offer.

Mac made a face as soon as she thought about the torture that would await them. Jimmy saw his godmother making a funny face and started to giggle. “Thanks, but no thanks,” she answered quickly. “There should be some Christmas CD’s in my CD cabinet. I think you can choose between Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.”

“What? You don’t have the King?” Harm asked astonished, not believing that his best friend’s carols collection was missing the King’s version. He opened Mac’s CD cabinet and was greeted by a full to the brim cabinet with CD’s and DVD’s. “Wow, nice collection you have here, Mac,” Harm told her and tried to find the Christmas selection. Then he looked at Jimmy, who was still clinging to Harm’s shoulder. “Now where can we find your aunt’s Christmas collection, Jimmy?”

“Thanks, and I think I do have Elvis’ version as well,” Mac answered as soon as she walked out of the kitchen with two mugs of hot chocolate in her hands. “Need help?” She wanted to know, putting down the mugs on the coffee table.

“Nah, we already found it. I think we should go with Dean, Bing and Frank. You still have the CD changer, right?” Harm wanted to know and looked up at Mac. He got a short nod from her as response.

Soon some traditional carols, the sweet scent of cocoa, a blazing fire and fresh fir were floating through the living room while laughter and happy giggles around the Christmas tree completed the perfect ambience.

They all had a lot of fun with decorating the tree. While Little AJ, Mac and Harm were putting the ornament on the tree, Jimmy was sitting on his blanket, which was outspreaded on the left side of the tree, with some of his favorite toys.

He was watching in intrigue what his brother and godparents were doing. All the twinkling, caused by the strands of lights Harm had installed earlier, fascinated him especially. His godparents often threw a glance at him, worried that he would, unnoticed to them, crawl under the tree, but he wasn’t interested in getting nearer the tree than he was.

Little AJ enjoyed the time decorating immensely. They had partitioned the tree in three territories. While Little AJ was doing the lower part of the tree, Mac was doing the middle and Harm the upper part. Sometimes they bumped into each other, but that only provided more giggles and laughter.

Little AJ often ‘aaahh’-ed and ‘ooohhh’-ed when he got one of Mac’s special ornaments. Especially the snowman with the wool scarf, top hat and carrot nose he admired. He found a special place for Mr. Snowman, so he always could look at it if he desired.

“Wow!”

Harm and Mac looked at Little AJ after hearing his cry of fascination.

“What?” Harm wanted to know.

“Look, Uncle Harm. Auntie Mac has your plane for the Christmas tree,” Little AJ told his godfather in amazement. Then he looked bewildered at his godmother. “Auntie Mac, you’ll have to re-paint this one,” he said as a matter of fact. “Uncle Harm’s plane is yellow, not red. Look,” he continued to explain and as proof that the plane was red, he showed his godparents the ornament.

Harm and Mac looked at the ornament he was holding in front of them before looking at each other with a smile. “Yeah, I guess I’ll have to re-paint it so it’s yellow in the future,” Mac agreed with him.

Little AJ was satisfied with his aunt’s answer, and found yet another special place for his uncle’s plane.

“Wow indeed,” Harm suddenly said with a gentle voice while he looked at the object he just caught from the box. Then he glanced amazed at Mac before returning his gaze once more to the ornament he was holding in his hand. “Mac this is beautiful,” he whispered astonished.

Mac walked over to Harm, so she could see what exactly caught his interest. “Yeah, it is, isn’t it?” she softly answered as soon as she saw what he was looking at.

“Can I see it too, Uncle Harm?” Little AJ asked, wanting to know what his godparents were talking about. “Please?”

Harm nodded his head and got down on his knee to show his godson the special Christmas decoration.

“Wow. Cool,” Little AJ whispered and looked at his godmother. “That’s my brother,” he said in amazement and pointed at the object Harm was holding in his hand. It was a crystal holiday ornament. A clear glass with a frosted portrait of Jimmy engraved in the center. Below the portrait was his name monogrammed in a very beautiful old scripture. It had a silk ribbon so it could be hung up on the tree.

“Do you have one of me as well, Auntie Mac?” Little AJ asked while Harm tried to find the right place on the tree for Jimmy’s ornament.

“Of course I have, honey. Here,” Mac answered with a smile and gave him his own. Then she ruffled his hair before returning to her work.

Little AJ stared at it in astonishment before giving it carefully to Harm. Then he walked to the box, trying to find out if his godmother had more of these special Christmas decoration in it.

“These are really beautiful, Mac,” Harm softly told her, repeating his earlier words. “Where did you get them from?”

“I ordered them from a specialty shop in Vermont,” Mac started to explain with a gentle voice, never stopping to decorate the tree.

“Is there a story behind it?”

Mac stopped with her work, looked at Harm with a smile and nodded. “A few years ago I found a picture of a Christmas tree my Uncle Matt had in his living room. And I remembered that he always had one of these ornaments with my portrait on it as decoration. I thought it was a very nice family tradition and that I should take it over. That’s why I started to collect my very own family ornaments.”

Harm responded with a smile of his own when Little AJ touched his arm. “Look, Uncle Harm. Mommy and Daddy,” he explained happily and gave his uncle the ornament with the Roberts on it. “And that’s Chloe with Jingo, right Auntie Mac?”

“Yes, that’s Chloe with Jingo,” Mac answered him before picking up his little brother, who was still lying on his blanket, having Winnie the Pooh safely in his arms. “Well, I’m done with my part of the tree. What about you guys?”

“We still have to get Uncle Harm’s on the tree,” Little AJ immediately answered and moved to the box. “Here.” He took the last piece out of the box and gave it to his uncle.

“Thanks, AJ,” Harm said and glanced at his own portrait before looking at Mac with a smile on his face. Then he kissed her forehead, for a short moment letting his lips linger on her soft skin. “Thank you, Mac, for letting me be a part of this beautiful tradition of yours,” he softly told her before placing it on the tree as well.

Mac took a step closer to Harm and kissed him on the cheek. “You are a part of my family, and everyone who’s important to me has a special place in my heart and my Christmas tree,” she told him tenderly with a smile before getting the very last item out of the box. “And you’re very special and important to me, Harm,” she continued with a quiet voice. Then she gave a now slightly befuddled looking Harm the very last ornament she owned. “I guess it is time for the major event of this evening. Who wants to do the honor?” She asked and looked at the two men in front of her.

Harm looked at the item he got from Mac and smiled. “I think it is the perfect job for Mr. Roberts, don’t you think so, Mac?”

Mac nodded at him and then smiled at her godson. “Yeah, I think it is the perfect job for him.”

With that Harm gave Little AJ the Christmas tree topper, a lighted clear star, before he uplifted him so he would sit on his shoulder. “Are you ready, Mr. Roberts?”

“Yes, Sir,” Little AJ proudly answered and attached the lighted star on top of the now fully decorated Christmas tree.

Harm took a few steps back and now stood right next to Mac, who was still holding Jimmy and Winnie the Pooh in her arms. Together they all admired the twinkling tree in front of them for a few moments.

“What do you think, AJ? Did we make a good Christmas tree for Auntie Mac?” Harm asked his godson and tried to look up at him, since he was still sitting on his shoulder.

“Uh-huh, it’s beautiful,” AJ whispered and threw his arms around Harm’s neck to give him a bear hug.

Harm then looked at Mac. “What do you think? Did we do good?”

Mac smiled at him and nodded. “We did very good. It’s really beautiful.”

“Yeah, I think so too,” Harm said and kissed Jimmy’s forehead. “The little guy seems to think so too. Now what’s next on the agenda?”

Mac looked up at his godson, knowing that he would be able to give the answer. “AJ?”

“PJ party,” he screamed in delight and got a round of laughter in response, while his little brother was clapping his hands in excitement.

 

6:07 PM

 

“Do you guys want to get ready for the PJ party, or rather eat some dinner first?” Mac asked Harm and Little AJ while they were still standing in front of the beautifully decorated and twinkling Christmas tree in her living room.

Harm sat Little AJ down on his feet and only shrugged before giving her his answer. “It doesn’t matter to me. AJ?”

“I want to wear my new PJ for dinner,” he promptly answered with a wide grin on his face and ran away to get his bag from the apartment door.

“Sure, why not. Harm, why don’t you take a shower first, before we give the boys a bath? I’ll take a shower later, while you could maybe make some sandwiches with AJ for dinner,” Mac suggested and ruffled Jimmy’s head, who was still cradling in her arms.

“Sounds like a good plan,” Harm answered with a smile.

“Look, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ called from behind and Harm turned around to see what his godson wanted to show him. “This is my new PJ. Auntie Mac bought one of these for me, Jimmy and herself this morning. This way we all have a Christmas pajamas for our PJ party tonight,” AJ explained his godfather in excitement and gave him his green suit so he could take a better look. “Mine has Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on it, and Jimmy’s has a rompers with Santa Claus on it.”

“Very nice suit, AJ,” Harm commended with a smile and gave the suit back to his godson. “I guess I’ll be the only one here wearing a non-Christmas pajamas.” Then he turned around to look at his best friend with a raised eyebrow and a grin. “So… what kind of PJ will you wear, Mac?”

Mac smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “I liked the one with the snowmen and the children on their sleds on it.”

Harm sighed and shook his head. “I guess I won’t get to see you in your cowboy jammies then?” He asked, sounding slightly disappointed.

Mac smirked and made her way to the bedroom. Short before she walked into the room she turned around to look at him again. “The weekend is not over yet, Harm. Be nice and you may see me in them as well,” she told him and giggled, before disappearing behind the bedroom door.

Soon she came out of the bedroom again and placed Jimmy on the couch right next to his big brother AJ, who browsed in one of the many children’s books his aunt was having around. “I’ve put out some towels for you, so you can go ahead and take a shower,” she told Harm and took place between her godchildren.

Harm smiled at her and took his bag from the doorway. “Good. Thank you and I won’t take long. Promise,” he told her and made his way to her bedroom.

“Don’t worry, Harm. There’s enough hot water for us all. Take your time and enjoy it,” she let him know and took the book from Little AJ, who wanted to get a story read by his aunt.

“Auntie Mac,” Little AJ whispered into her ear, not wanting his uncle to hear anything. “Can we give Uncle Harm his Christmas present tonight?” He asked her with puppy eyes. “This way he won’t be sad tonight. Please?”

“Are you sure you don’t want to wait ‘til Christmas, AJ? You and Jimmy bought it for him as a Christmas present,” Mac quietly asked, wanting to make sure that her older godson was certain about his decision.

Little AJ strongly nodded his head and answered with a loud “Yes!” Then he immediately put his hands over his mouth, hoping that his uncle hadn’t heard him, even though there was no way for Harm to know what Little AJ’s outburst was about. “Oops,” AJ said with a whispering voice and then continued. “Yes, I’m sure, Auntie Mac. I want us to give it to him tonight,” he told her quietly. He really wanted to give his uncle the present he, Jimmy and his aunt Mac bought for him this morning. “Jimmy and I can draw him pictures or something for Christmas. I’m sure Daddy or Mommy would help us come up with something else. Please, Auntie Mac!”

Mac only nodded her head and got up from the couch. She could hear that the water in the bathroom was running, and knew that Harm was already standing under the shower. She held her hand to Little AJ, so he could take it and together they walked into her bedroom.

She opened the door of her closet and took out the little cardboard box. It was wrapped in a green wrapping paper and had a red bow on it. On top of it was a little Christmas card, signed with ‘For Uncle Harm’. She gave it to her godson. “Here, AJ. Why don’t you place it on my bed right next to his bag? I’m sure Uncle Harm will see it when he comes out of the bathroom.”

“Okay,” Little AJ said and took the gift from his aunt to place it on her bed. “Do you think he’ll like it?” He asked, sounding a little unsure now.

“I’m sure he’ll love it, AJ,” Mac told him and kissed his forehead. Then she took his hand into hers again. “Come on, let’s go back to your little brother and read some more ‘A Lamb’s Tale’ before it’s time for your bath.”

“Yeah.”

“Oh, wait,” Mac suddenly said and moved back to her closet just to get yet another little present out of it. Just like the bigger one, she placed it on the bed before finally moving out of the bedroom.

 

6:31 PM
Mac’s bathroom

 

Harm took Mac by her words and enjoyed the shower and the hot water. Therefore, he’d showered a bit longer than planned.

It felt so good. Not so much the hot water, but the feeling he had about the outcome of this day. It’d started for him as a really unmotivated day with not much hope for an enjoyable weekend. And now? Now he stood here, in Mac’s bathroom, wearing only a towel around his hips nonetheless, and felt relaxed. He felt plain and simple happy.

He always knew that a family life with Mac and children would be like a dream come true; something to treasure. And this day wasn’t a disappointment at all and confirmed his knowledge.

It was so much fun to spend the day with Mac, Little AJ and Jimmy. It’d surprised him though, just how much he enjoyed all the Christmas stuff and that he felt the ‘Christmasish’-spirit again after such a long, long time. The last time he felt so much happiness about Christmas was while he was still a little boy and went hunting for a Christmas tree with his dad. Back then he told his parents how much he loved the ‘Christmasish’-feeling.

But then his dad was gone and so was the ‘Christmasish’-feeling.

However, now it was so easy to love everything about Christmas and he was amazed about the fact that it was so easy for the boys and Mac to get him to feel like this. Harm chuckled about his thoughts and walked out of the bathroom to get dressed in Mac’s bedroom. “They have way too much power over you, Commander,” he told himself with a grin. “Way too much power.”

As soon as he left the bathroom, he saw the two nicely packed boxes and moved closer to get a better look. That’s when he was able to read the inscription on the card of the bigger one. “For Uncle Harm,” he read out loud and took the gift from the bed. Just like a child he shook it, trying to find out what was in it. It made no sound and he was only greeted by silence. “Hmmm,” Harm commented in wonder and slowly opened the card. Just like the inscription on the outside was the message on the inside written by Mac.

‘Merry Christmas, Uncle Harm! We love you. Hugs and Kisses, Jimmy and Little AJ.’

Harm smiled and started to debate with himself if he should open the gift, or if he should better wait. “If they wanted me to wait, they wouldn’t have put it on the bed, where I clearly could see it, right?” Harm asked out loud. “Oh, you’re one smart lawyer, Harm,” he told himself and was pleased about his answer. With a wide grin he started to tear apart the wrapping paper; once again feeling like a little child.

As soon as the paper was out of his way, he slowly opened the box and had to smile. “Perfect,” he said and took his present out of the cardboard box.

Then he took the little gift from the bed and read the inscription on the card. ‘For Harm’ stood there and once more it was written by Mac. He carefully opened the card and read out loud the message. “Just to complete the picture. Merry Christmas, Harm. Love, Mac.” Harm took a deep breath, opened the gift, and started to laugh. “Absolutely perfect.”

 

6:39 PM

 

Little AJ was the first one who lost interest in the book when the bedroom door opened and raised his head. With a wide grin he looked at his uncle before he quickly touched Mac’s arm, trying to get her attention. “Auntie Mac look, Uncle Harm is back,” AJ cried in excitement. Then he jumped up from the couch, ran to his uncle and gave him a bear hug.

Harm chuckled about the little boy’s enthusiasm and took him into his arm. “So, what do you think? How do I look, buddy?”

“You look cool, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ told him and then turned his head to look at his aunt. “Don’t you think so, Auntie Mac?”

Harm followed his godson’s gaze, looked at Mac and was greeted by her bright smile. She was still sitting on the couch with Jimmy in her lap. Mac was holding the book she was reading to the boys in her hands, but had stopped reading it as soon as she saw Harm coming out of the bedroom.

Mac grinned at the sight in front of her. Harm was wearing his Christmas gift from Little AJ and Jimmy, a soft flannel pajamas covered with candy canes and mistletoes. “Yes, AJ, I think he looks really cool,” she answered and then looked into her partner’s eyes. “It really suits you, Harm,” she softly told him, trying to not laugh out loud. He looked so cute in these pajamas. Simply adorable.

“Yeah, I think so too,” Harm replied with a smile and gave his older godson a hug. “Thanks for the early Christmas gift, AJ. I really love it.”

“Do you like Auntie Mac’s present too?” Little AJ asked in suspense before he continued. “Now you look perfect for the PJ party,” he gladly said as his godfather set him down on his feet again.

Together they moved to the couch, where Harm kissed Jimmy’s forehead. “Thanks, Jimmy. You and your big brother really have good taste.” Then he turned to Mac and gave her a peck on the cheek. “And I love your gift too. Thank you, Mac. I always wanted to have one of these,” he softly told her with a grin and pointed at the nightcap he was wearing. The flannel cap was just like the pajamas, covered with candy canes and mistletoes.

“I’m glad you like it. While we were buying our Christmas PJ’s this morning, Little AJ saw this one and was sure it would be perfect for you. Then I saw the appending cap and knew I had to buy it too,” she told him and slightly touched the fabric of his pajamas.

“Why don’t we bathe the boys now so the rest of us can get ready for the party as well?” Harm submitted and took Jimmy out of Mac’s embrace. “I already started to fill the tub and it should be done soon.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mac answered and took Little AJ’s hand in hers. Then they made their way to the bathroom.

 

Mac’s kitchen
7:23 PM

 

Harm was preparing some sandwiches for dinner, while Mac was still taking a shower. The boys were bathed and clad in their Christmas suits, waiting for their godparents in front of the fireplace.

Harm wanted to make something special for tonight and had created a little picnic place in front of Mac’s fireplace. A rug was laid out and the light in the living room was coming from the blazing fire, the twinkling Christmas tree and a few candles he’d lit around the room. It was already pitch dark outside and just a few snowflakes were still falling down.

Harm took a quick glance to the living room, making sure the boys were okay. Little AJ sat at the window and watched the snowflakes dancing in the streetlight, while his little brother Jimmy was sitting on the rug, holding his ‘best friend’ Winnie the Pooh in his arms.

Harm was just filling their mugs with some fresh hot chocolate when he felt a light touch on his shoulder. “Do you need some help?” Mac softly asked from behind.

“No, all is done and ready for the picnic,” Harm answered and slowly turned around to look at Mac. He gave her a bright smile. “You look beautiful, Mac. The pajamas look lovely on you.”

Mac looked down at herself and blushed slightly. “Thank you,” she quietly said before returning her gaze back to Harm. “Let’s eat,” she continued and took the plate with the sandwiches from the counter. “These look yummy, Harm.”

“Thanks. I hope they taste good as well.”

Soon they were all seated on the rug in front of the fireplace and enjoyed their sandwiches and hot chocolate. Jimmy was having some milk and scrambled eggs instead. They were having a blast with their picnic while making more plans for the rest of the weekend.

Little AJ most of all wanted to go sledding tomorrow and maybe even build a snowman.

“And what would you like to do when we’re done with our picnic here?” Mac wanted to know and took another bite of her sandwich. “Any ideas?”

“Can we read ‘The Night Before Christmas’?” Little AJ asked and looked at Mac before turning his gaze to Harm. “Oh, and maybe ‘Frosty the Snowman’.”

Harm and Mac laughed. “Why don’t we start with ‘The Night Before Christmas’ and go from there?” Harm suggested and ruffled AJ’s blonde hair.

“Okay,” AJ answered and then looked at Mac with a glimmer in his eyes. “Can we do Smores too, Auntie Mac?”

Now it was Mac who ruffled his hair. “Let me check if I have the supplies for it, okay?” She replied and stood up to make her way to the kitchen.

Soon she came back into the living room. The smile on her face and the supplies in her hands showed Harm and the kids that they could go for it and make Smores in Mac’s fireplace.

“Okay, I do have some gram-crackers, Hershey bars and marshmallows of course,” Mac told them and laid the supplies down on the rug. “Now I just have to find something we can use as sticks.”

“Do you have some wire hangers from the dry cleaners? That should do it,” Harm suggested and Mac’s smile gave him the answer.

“You bet I have,” she voiced her answer and walked into the bedroom to get them.

A few minutes later they were preparing their Smores. Each of them took a gram-cracker and broke it in half, took half of a chocolate bar and placed it on top of the gram-cracker. Then they took two marshmallows and put them on their sticks. Harm had been right about the wire hangers. They just had to burn the paint off the tip and they could use them perfectly for making Smores. They roasted the marshmallows and then placed them on top of the chocolate before putting the other half of the gram cracker on top. Then they could pull the stick out. The marshmallow melts the chocolate and both would ooze out while they took their first bite. Together they had a lot of fun making and eating the Smores.

When they were done with the Smores and well-fed, Harm and Mac brought the dishes into the kitchen and filled the dishwasher. Then they refilled their mugs with some more cocoa and Jimmy’s bottle with milk before walking back into the living room.

Harm gave Little AJ his mug before taking place on the rug again. He placed Jimmy in his lap and gave him his bottle.

Mac placed her mug on the coffee table and then walked to the entertainment center to turn off the CD player. Walking to the bookshelf, she looked through her library and finally found Clement C. Moore’s masterwork ‘The Night Before Christmas’. She smiled and joined Harm and the boys on the rug.

“If it’s okay with you, I would like you to read the story for us,” Mac told Harm softly and handed the book to him. Then she quietly added. “I love hearing your voice.”

Harm smiled at her, nodded and took the book out of her grip. Mac took a place right next to him, shoulder to shoulder, and touched Jimmy’s hand, which he’d outstretched to her. She kissed his fist before letting go of it again. Then she opened her arms so that Little AJ could lean on her.

Harm was holding the book so that Jimmy, Mac and Little AJ were able to see the pictures in it without any problem. “All ready?” Harm asked quietly.

“Yes,” Mac and Little AJ whispered at the same time and Jimmy quickly followed with a nod of his head.

Harm nodded his head, cleared his throat and opened the book. Then he started to read slowly with a quiet and reserved voice, making several breaks so the boys could admire the pictures.

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads;
And Mama in her ‘kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap.”

Harm stopped for a minute and looked at Mac and then at Little AJ. He’d changed his position a bit and his head was now lying in Mac’s lap, but he was still able to look into the book. She was softly running her hand through his hair in a soothing manner. Harm turned his gaze back to Mac and looked deeply into her eyes. He was greeted by a soft smile, which Harm returned in all eagerness. Then he gently kissed her forehead before returning his attention to the book and continued to read the rest of the story.

It didn’t take long for Jimmy to fall asleep in his uncle’s arms, and it seemed like his big brother would follow him soon into dreamland. More and more he was yawning while listening anxiously to the story his uncle was reading. It’d been a long day for them. A day full of adventure, excitement, laughter and happiness.

“Happy Christmas to all. And to all a good-night,” Harm ended the story, closed the book and put it on the coffee table.

“They are out like a light,” Mac commented in a whisper and looked down at AJ and then at Jimmy, who was still held safely in his uncle’s arms. “We should take them to bed. It has been a long day for them.”

“Just like it has for us. Maybe we should call it a night too,” Harm suggest and slowly stood up.

“If you’re tired, Harm. But if not, then we maybe could work some more on your files. The more we get done today, the less we have to think about it tomorrow.”

Harm smiled at her and nodded his head. “I would love that.”

“So it’s a deal.”

 

9:10 PM

 

Harm took one last look at the boys, who were both asleep in their beds by now. He clearly could hear their even breathing and sometimes even a sigh or a little snore. Then he switched off the ceiling light so that the room was only illumined by the dim light from a street lamp and the little nightlight near Jimmy’s crib.

Slowly he closed the door and moved into the living room to join Mac on the couch. She was already seated cross-legged on it and worked on some more files. She hadn’t bothered to turn on any lights, and it seemed like the lights coming from the fireplace, Christmas tree and candles around the room were enough for her to get done with the work.

Harm sat down on the couch and took a deep breath. Then he took off his nightcap to lay it on the coffee table.

“Tired?” Mac asked in worry and looked up from the folder she was holding in her hands. “I told you earlier that we could call it a night if you want. It really was a long day and maybe some sleep would be good right about now.”

Harm shook his head and smiled at her. “Nah, it’s not that. I’m not really tired actually,” he told her and chuckled. “I’m afraid that I am too full of energy to get any sleep at all tonight.”

Mac smiled, closed the folder and took another one out of the files box. “Don’t worry, Harm. As soon as your head hits the pillow you’ll be out like a light and you’ll snore just like the two boys behind that door,” she said and pointed at the door of her guestroom. Then she continued with a soft voice. “It really was a great day, wasn’t it?”

Harm nodded his head and took one of Mac’s hands in his to give her a light squeeze. “Yeah, I think we had a lot of fun,” he gently told her before letting go of her hand again. “Thank you so much for coming up with this great idea.”

“No, I have to thank you, Harm,” Mac immediately countered. “It was your idea to go hunting for a tree with an axe. And you were right. We never should go with our children to a grocery store and buy a Christmas tree. It’s not Christmasish at all,” she told him with a chuckle. She really liked this word.

Then the smile quickly left her face and Harm knew that she caught her own Freudian slip just like he did. Earlier, in his apartment, he’d made one of his own as well and said ‘our children’ too. Back then he didn’t know that she caught it, but now he was pretty sure that she’d heard him loud and clear.

“Hey,” he softly said and took the folder out of Mac’s hand and placed it on the coffee table before taking both of her hands into his to squeeze them.

“I’m sorry, Harm. I… I shouldn’t have said that,” she told him in a whisper.

“Why not? I’ve said it too, earlier in my apartment, and I know you heard me. You did, didn’t you?”

Mac didn’t respond vocally but nodded her head.

“Mac, this day has been magical and it’s normal to feel the way we do. There’s nothing wrong about that,” Harm softly told her.

“No, there’s not,” Mac quietly answered and gave him a little smile. “It really was a beautiful day.”

“And a very tiresome one, but beautiful nonetheless,” Harm agreed and responded with a smile of his own before letting go of her hands.

“So you are tired,” Mac concluded quickly and pointed her right forefinger at him, slightly touching his chest. “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Harm chuckled. “Yeah, maybe a bit. Those two boys have a lot of energy.”

Mac couldn’t hold back anymore and laughed, trying her best not to be too loud so she wouldn’t wake the boys next door. “Harm, they are Bud’s children. Of course they have a lot of energy.”

Harm laughed too and nodded his head. “Good point, Counselor. Very good point.”

“Yeah, and just wait till the twins are born. I’m sure we’ve seen nothing yet,” Mac pointed out with a smirk.

“Maybe Harriet will have at least one girl this time.”

“So?” Mac asked, curious about where he wanted to go with this statement.

Harm shrugged his shoulders. “Girls are…,” he started to say but didn’t seem to find the right word.

“Yes?” Mac waved her hand, showing her best friend that he may continue and that she was impatiently waiting for his answer.

“Calmer. They are calmer.”

“Calmer?” Mac only repeated his word.

“Yeah, they are more… quiet.”

“Quiet?”

“Why are you repeating my words?” Harm wanted to know and raised his eyebrow. It wasn’t bugging him, but it somehow made him feel insecure.

“Bad habit,” Mac immediately answered and then continued. “Don’t worry about it. Now you were saying…?”

“I was saying that girls are…. They are girls, okay. They like to play with their dolls, doing their hair or having tee parties.” Harm saw that Mac was only shaking her head. “No? You mean they’re not?”

“Well, I’m sure there are many girls who like stuff like that, but I’m sorry to tell you this, Harm. Girls can be just like boys or even worse,” she told him as a matter of fact.

“They are?” Harm asked astonished. “Now that’s hard to believe.”

Mac looked flabbergasted at him, not believing what she was hearing. “Harm, I never liked to play with dolls, doing my hair or God forbid having tee parties.”

“You didn’t?”

“No, that’s boring.”

“Boring?”

“Yeah, boring. Harm, I have to let you know that I was a tomboy through and through. I liked to climb trees. The higher they were, the more fun it was to conquer them. Or to get dirty. That was a blast. The muckier I got the better I felt. I loved to jump into mud holes, they couldn’t be deep enough for me,” Mac told him with enthusiasm.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes, really. Also, the only doll I ever had, I got from my Aunt Agnes. The first thing I did was to cut her hair. I thought she looked much better with a short haircut, rather than having this boring long, blonde hair. All in all I played about five minutes with the doll before she ended up in the closet. She was never seen again.”

Mac waited for Harm to say something, but he only smiled at her. “What?” Mac asked.

“Thank you, Mac,” was the only thing Harm said in response.

“Thanks for what?” She wanted to know, not understanding what she’d done to have him thanking her.

“For sharing this all with me,” he softly told her, took one of her hands in his own and squeezed it. “It means a lot to me.”

“You’re…,” Mac started to answer and then it suddenly dawned to her. “…welcome,” she continued slowly before getting one of the cushions from the couch to smack him across the face. “You!”

Harm chuckled and barely could hold back his laughter. “What?” He asked, and finally had to laugh out loud, trying to do it as quiet as possible. He just couldn’t hold it back anymore. “What did I do?” He asked, trying to sound innocent.

“Oh, you. Don’t act like you have no clue what I’m talking about, Mr. Innocent,” Mac said while jumping on Harm, trying to tickle him. His laughter was infecting and soon she had to laugh with him. “You really had me this time, didn’t you?” she asked and finally found his ticklish spot right above his hips. By now she was more or less lying on top of him.

“Big time, Marine. Big time,” he quickly answered, sounding slightly out of breath. However, it didn’t take him long and he was able to fend Mac’s tickle attack. In one quick motion he moved so that he was the one having the upper hand now.

Both stopped laughing and smiled at each other. Thankfully, there was no sound coming from the baby monitor, so that their playful banter hadn’t woken the boys up.

Harm took a deep breath and held one of his hands to Mac, helping her sit up again. “I’m sorry that I played you out, Mac, but I’m really glad you shared all this with me,” he softly told her and tucked one loose wisp of hair behind her ear.

It wasn’t often that Mac opened up about her past, especially about her childhood, and he was glad that she’d shared this little something with him. He hadn’t planned to play the silly-billy about the girl-topic, but it was such a fun thing to do that he couldn’t stop himself. Neither was it his plan to get away from his proposition to ask Mac about the crib in the guestroom. But it wasn’t the right time to ask her about it. At least not at the moment.

“I’ll get you for this,” Mac promised and slightly slapped his arm. “One day when you least expect it.”

“Bring it on, Marine. I can’t wait,” Harm told her with a smirk and then stifled a yawn. “But, you know Mattie good enough to know that she never was a ‘playing with dolls and having tee-parties’-girl either. It’s not my fault that you believed me,” he pointed out. “I have to admit though, your face while I said it was priceless.”

Mac only stuck her tongue out at him. Then she looked at the folder he’d put on the coffee table earlier. “Do you still feel like working on some of these files?” she asked Harm, seeing that he was stifling yet another yawn. She was getting tired herself, but wanted to let Harm decide if they should continue to work or call it a night.

“Nah, I can’t see straight anymore. I think we should call it a night. We’ve done enough for today.”

“Okay, sounds good to me,” Mac gently said and then pointed at the bedroom door. “Do you want to take the bed? This couch doesn’t really give you much room and I would fit into it much better than you.”

“No, it’s not a problem, Mac. I have plenty of space here. Just give me a pillow, a blanket and I’m fine.”

“You sure?” She asked and got up from the couch.

“Very,” Harm confirmed and stood up as well. “Just give me five minutes to use your bathroom and I’m out of your way.”

“You’re not in my way, Harm,” Mac tenderly told him and suddenly found her carpet very interesting.

Harm smiled at her and gave her a quick hug. “I’m glad to hear that,” he gently told her. Then he kissed her forehead before making his way to the bathroom.

A short while later Harm came back into the living room, where Mac already had prepared his bed for the night. The flickering of the fireplace was by now the only light source in the room. Harm was still wearing the pants of his Christmas pajamas, but he took off the shirt in favor of one of his undershirts.

“Thanks, Mac,” Harm said and made his way to the couch.

Mac turned around and came face to face with him and his smile. “You’re welcome,” she replied before rising up on her tiptoes to kiss his cheek. “Good night, Harm. Sweet dreams,” she said and walked to the bedroom.

“Good night, Mac, and don’t let the bed bugs bite you.”

They exchanged a last smile before she entered the bedroom and closed the door.

 

 
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