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Present
Mac’s Apartment

 

“Harm?” Mac called and once more tried to get his attention.

“Huh?”

Mac chuckled and shook her head. “You spaced out on us, Commander. You wanted to tell us about why you were at Mrs. Ebenezer’s. What’s in these boxes and bags?”

“Oh yeah, sorry. Okay, to make a long story short,” Harm started to say and got up from the armchair to show Mac what he had in all the bags and boxes. “I thought we could do our very own gingerbread house, but your kitchen, Ms. MacKenzie, doesn’t have what’s needed for a project like that.”

Mac only shrugged her shoulders. “I’m not Martha Stewart, Harm.”

“Yeah, Mrs. Ebenezer and I came to the exact same conclusion,” Harm countered. He got an ‘excuse me’-look from her in response and immediately continued with his story. “Anyway. I found a box of chocolate chips in your cabinet and thought we at least could bake my grandmother’s famous chocolate chip cookies. However, since you’re not Martha Stewart, two important ingredients were still missing.”

“Only two? Wow, Martha Stewart better look out then,” Mac joked and gave him a sweet smile.

Harm let out a snore. “Yeah, right.”

“So I gather you went to Mrs. Ebenezer to get those two missing things?”

“Yes, Sherlock, that’s the reason why Jimmy and I visited her. And guess what, she had those missing ingredients in her kitchen.”

“Which means we’re able to bake chocolate chip cookies today,” Mac concluded and high-fived with AJ, who was still sitting right next to her. “I like this idea, Harm.”

“Me too,” Little AJ immediately agreed with his godmother and giggled, the disappointment from earlier was already gone and forgotten.

“Oh, wait, you two. You haven’t heard the best part yet,” Harm said and took out a box with the wall, roof and chimney pieces for the gingerbread house to show them. “Mrs. Ebenezer made these so she could build a gingerbread house with her grandson.”

“And why do you have them now?”

“Timmy got the flu and couldn’t come with his parents. That’s why she gave me all this stuff,” Harm explained and pointed at the boxes and bags on Mac’s coffee table. “Now the only question is if you feel like working on a gingerbread house?” He wanted to know and first looked at Little AJ before turning his gaze to Mac.

Little AJ and Mac looked at each other, started to smile and exchange a quick nod. Then they turned their gaze back to Harm. “I’m in,” they said in unison and giggled.

Harm laughed and sighed in relief. “Great, then we better get started. Maybe we’ll even be able to bake the cookies as well.”

“Yes!” Little AJ yelled and jumped from the couch.

“Ye, ye, ye,” Jimmy happily copied his big brother’s words and started to bounce up and down right next to Harm.

Harm took him into his arms and gave him a hug. Then he looked at his elder godson and saw that he was still wearing his pajamas. “Why don’t you get changed and then we can start,” he told AJ.

“Okay,” Little AJ answered and quickly ran into the guestroom.

Mac slowly stood up from the couch and stepped nearer to Harm. “I like your plan B, Harm. There really is always a plan B, isn’t there?” She quietly asked and touched Jimmy’s soft cheek. Then she looked deeply into Harm’s eyes and could see the bright glimmer in them.

“Yes, I promise. There’s always a plan B. You just have to look and find it,” Harm softly repeated his words from earlier this morning, never breaking their gaze.

“Don’t make a promise you can’t keep,” Mac quietly said and quickly kissed his cheek. Then she turned around, got the bags and boxes from the coffee table before making her way to the kitchen.

Harm’s eyes followed her and as soon as she disappeared into the kitchen, he quietly replied. “I haven’t yet, Sarah. I haven’t yet.”

 

10:03 AM

 

Little AJ and Mac, with Jimmy safely placed on her lap, were sitting at the dinning room table, anxiously awaiting Harm to come back from the kitchen. The walls, roof, and chimney pieces for the gingerbread house laid on the table, just like the goodies for the decoration.

Mac had a hard time keeping Jimmy’s little fingers from pilfering the gumdrops out of the candy bowl. Each time she caught his quick fingers he giggled and babbled happily, enjoying the little game between them. In the meantime, Little AJ’s eyes were glued to the kitchen entrance, impatiently waiting for his uncle to come out of that room.

The sound of Harm’s happy whistles and the rumbling noises of an electric mixer were flouting through the apartment, mixed with the soft jazz music, which still played on the CD player.

Just a few minutes ago, Harm had had a hard time believing his eyes when Mac had pulled the mixer out from her cabinet. He’d shaken his head and couldn’t stop himself from making a smart-ass comment about it. “Wow, looks like there’s still hope for you, Mac. You have a mixer in your kitchen. I’m impressed, Colonel. Really impressed.”

Mac had only shrugged her shoulders and then gave him her explanation with a smirk. “I got the mixer for free when I bought my new coffee maker. It was a ‘Two for one’-week at the department store. It was either the mixer or an egg cooker. I actually thought about giving you the mixer for Christmas this year, but just for that comment, Commander, I may rethink my decision.” Then she’d given him a cute smile before turning around, leaving the kitchen and a chuckling Harm behind.

“Okay, here comes the glue,” Harm announced as soon as he was done with the icing, setting the bowl and an icing bag onto the table.

Mac and the boys quickly cheered and made the wave. “So… what now?” Mac wanted to know and finally gave Jimmy one of the sweets he was able to eat out of the candy bowl.

“Let me guess, you’ve never made a gingerbread house before. Am I right?”

“You bet. But my uncle once told me that I had a lot of fun crushing the one he made when I was three years old,” Mac teasingly answered him. “That was the first and last time he let me near his gingerbread houses.”

Harm raised his eyebrow and quickly turned his gaze to Little AJ. “You’ll be the guard of this house, buddy. Don’t let your aunt near it. Got it?” He asked and held his hand to his godson.

Little AJ delightfully nodded and shook Harm’s outstretched hand. “Got it,” he announced and started to giggle when he saw the look he got from his aunt.

“Traitor,” she murmured and then placed her mouth next to Jimmy’s right ear. “Guess we’ll have to sneak up on them then, Jimmy.” As if he knew exactly what she meant, Jimmy answered her with giggles and bounced on her lap, clapping his hands in delight. Mac nodded her head and smirked at Harm. “Bring it on, Navy.”

“You’re on, Marine,” Harm replied and rubbed his hands. Then he turned his gaze back to Little AJ. “How about you, AJ? Have you ever made a gingerbread house?”

“Uh-uh.” Little AJ shook his head. “No, never.”

“Well, then it’s about time for you to learn how to build one,” Harm announced and checked out if everything they needed was on the table. “Mac, you don’t have by chance four soup cans I could borrow? Oh wait, that’s a stupid question,” Harm said with a chuckle, knowing that Mac always had some in her apartment. He walked back into the kitchen and got four cans out of Mac’s cupboard. “Okay, now I think we have everything we need.”

“Actually, no, there’s still something missing,” Mac notified and stood up to place Jimmy into his highchair. “Something you taught me this weekend.” She made her way to the CD player and turned off the jazz music, replacing it with another CD.

“What’s missing?”

“The Christmas spirit.”

Harm groaned and rolled his eyes as soon as he discovered the song Mac was playing now. “Oh, come on, Mac. You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said, trying to sound disgusted. Harm’s eyes intriguingly followed each of her steps as she walked to the Christmas tree to turn on the strands of lights.

“What? That’s absolutely Christmasish, Harm,” Mac told him with a smile and sat down right next to him. “And the boys love it. Right, AJ?”

Little AJ didn’t care about giving his aunt an answer and had much more fun with singing the legendary Christmas song ‘Christmas Don’t Be Late’ with Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Harm anxiously looked at AJ, then back at Mac and put his mouth right next to her ear. “How many songs like this one do we have to go through?” He wanted to know, fearing the answer.

Mac chuckled. “Don’t worry, Harm. Only this song is from the Chipmunks. It’s a compilation of Christmas songs. Of course there’s also a song sung by the Smurfs.”

“Now you’re kidding, right?”

“Yes.”

Harm sighed in relief. “Thank god. For a second you got me worried there, Marine.”

Mac just smiled at him. “Let’s start with the gingerbread house. I bet it will make AJ stop singing in a heartbeat.”

Together they winced when AJ didn’t get the right tone. “Yeah, that sounds like a very good idea,” Harm commented and took the now filled icing bag into his hands.

They were right. As soon as Harm said they should start making the gingerbread house, Little AJ stopped the singing and intriguingly listened to his godfather’s explanations.

Both Little AJ and Mac helped him to attach the wall pieces with the icing one at a time. As soon as all four walls were glued together, Harm used the four soup cans to hold them up while the icing hardened. It took about thirty minutes before it was firm enough to continue with the roof. They spent these thirty minutes fooling around and listening to little AJ sing.

Since Harm wanted to teach them how to make a gingerbread house, he gave Mac the icing bag and explained to her what to do next. “The ceiling is your job, Marine.”

Mac nodded her head and took the icing bag from Harm. Slowly she added the icing to the top edges of the walls and then carefully set the roof pieces in place. Harm watched her and suddenly started to chuckle.

“What?” Mac asked in bewilderment. “What’s so funny?” She wanted to know before continuing with her work.

“You really look cute when you’re focused on something,” Harm told her and pointed to her face. “The way you’re sticking your tongue out is simply adorable.”

Mac slightly blushed, immediately pulled her tongue back into her mouth and then laid down the icing bag.

As soon as the icing was done hardening, it was Little AJ’s job to work on the decorations. The first one to go into place was the top of the roof. Harm told him to line it with the extra icing. After that, it was AJ’s decision to place peppermint candies along the top, leaving enough space for his uncle to place the chimney in the middle of the roof. “How’s that, Uncle Harm?”

“Perfect, AJ.”

Next he added lines with the icing on the roof, decorating them with little sugar candies he found in Mac’s candy bowl. When he was done with the lines, he gave the icing bag back to Harm. “Here, Uncle Harm. You’re next.”

Harm thought for a second about how to continue and finally decided to add swirl designs onto the roof with the icing. Then he added icicles made of icing to the roofline. “Looks like the roof is done,” he finally announced and smiled at Mac. “Now it’s your turn to do some decorating. Why don’t you go ahead and create the front and the back of our little house?”

“This should be fun,” Mac muttered, slightly feeling unsteady. Finally she decided to start with a wreath on top; made of the same little sugar candies Little AJ had used and some gumdrops.

After that, she painted a door and a window with the icing, this time using rolled flat gumdrops to color the windows. The frame of the door she made with colored chocolate drops.

As soon as Mac was done with the front side of the house, they turned it around so that she was able to work on the backside, making two more windows with icing and rolled flat gumdrops. “What’s next?” Mac asked and glanced at Harm.

“Now, for the big finale, I think Jimmy should add his doing,” Harm answered and quickly disappeared into the kitchen.

“You already want him to crush our house?” Mac asked with a smirk.

After a few seconds, Harm came back and took Jimmy out of his highchair, placing him onto his lap. He got a spatula from Mac’s kitchen and put it into Jimmy’s little hand, covering it with his bigger one so that his godson wouldn’t lose the grip.

Together they started to add the snow on the ground, using the spatula to spread icing all over the cardboard base, on which the house stood. Both Jimmy and Harm were competing over who had the brightest smile on his face. Their giggles and laughter sounded like music to Mac’s ears.

She was lost in thought and dreamily watched Harm playing and laughing with the boys. It was clearly visible for Mac just how much Harm adored children, how much he’s meant to be a father. ‘How much I want him to be the father of my children. He’ll be a great dad one day,’ she thought to herself and couldn’t hide the little smile that took place on her face.

Unknown to her, one single teardrop ran down her cheek and she only realized it when Harm softly started to wipe it off with his thumb, just the way he had done so many times in the past. She looked up into his eyes, into a gaze so full of love and understanding.

As soon as Mac felt that Harm started to withdraw his hand from her face, she held it and leant her cheek against the palm of his hand. “You’ll be a great dad one day, Harm,” Mac quietly spoke out the thought she had had a few seconds ago.

Harm gave her a tender smile, never breaking their eye contact. “Only if I can have the woman I want to have as the mother of my children,” he gently told her and tried to let his eyes speak the words he couldn’t seem to find at the moment. For now it simply wasn’t the right time, nor was it the right place. He smiled and gave her a short nod, silently telling her that everything would be okay.

Mac could only reply with a smile and a nod of her own. Turning her head, she planted a soft tender kiss on the palm of his hand before she squeezed and let go of it. Then she took a gumdrop out of the bowl and started to create a walkway in front of the house while Little AJ placed a few of the chocolate drops to the now snowy looking ground.

“There, all done,” Harm finally said. “Our very own gingerbread house.”

“It looks beautiful, Uncle Harm,” Little AJ responded and you could hear the pride in his voice.

“Yeah, it really does,” Mac softly agreed and placed one of the leftover gumdrops into her mouth. “Thanks for showing us how to make one. It was a lot of fun to work on it,” she said and suddenly her stomach rumbled.

Harm laughed and shook his head. “I bet I know what’s next on our agenda, Ninjagirl.”

“Yeah, right about now some food sounds like a very good idea.”

“Do you have something particular in mind?” Harm asked, and let Jimmy down on his feet so that he could go play with his toys.

“I still have some leftover chicken soup I made. There’s enough left for the four of us,” Mac explained and got up from her chair. “And no smart-ass comment, Sailor,” Mac immediately added before Harm could reply.

Harm could only laugh and he lifted his hands in surrender. “I wouldn’t dare, Marine. I wouldn’t dare.”

“Good, good. You’re a very wise man.”

Harm smirked. “I do have my moments. Why don’t you make our lunch while I try to work more on the files I have left? Maybe after lunch, when Jimmy is taking his nap, we will be able to get the rest done.”

“Sounds good to me. The sooner we’re done, the more time we have to spend with much more important things,” Mac gently said and gave him a soft smile.

“My thought exactly,” Harm responded with a wink and a flyboy grin.

 

1:17 PM

 

Mac stood in the kitchen, preparing their lunch and enjoying the enthusiastic sounds which came out of her living room. She wondered what her boys next door were up to, but one thing she knew for sure. There was no way that Harm was working on his files liked he’d planned. She chuckled and shook her head. “Kids. Always trying to come up with something, so they don’t have to work on the homework,” Mac muttered to herself, continuing to stir up the soup.

 

Meanwhile in her living room

 

“Faster, Uncle Harm. You have to be faster,” Little AJ yelled behind him and clapped his hands. “He’s getting away. Come on, Uncle Harm. You can get him.”

Harm just groaned, not believing what he was doing. ‘Good thing the Navy doesn’t get to see this,’ he thought and chuckled. Then he turned his head to look behind him. ‘I already can see the headline in the ‘Navy Times’. ‘US Navy Commander Harmon Rabb Jr. lost a crawling race against the one-year-old Marine shooting-star James Kirk Roberts’. How did I end up like this anyway?’ Harm asked himself and suddenly ran into something. “Aarrgh,” he yelped in surprise before letting his eyes wander over the object he just crawled into.

“Nice legs,” he commented and rubbed his head. Then his eyes continued to wander up. “Very nice.” Finally his eyes greeted a stern face and last but not least a pair of beautiful brown eyes. “Very beautiful. Hi,” Harm said sheepish.

Mac raised her eyebrow and chuckled. The scene she’d just watched was simply too funny. “Hi. What are you doing here, Harm?”

“A crawling race,” Harm answered in full seriousness.

Mac nodded her head. “So I could see. And here I thought you wanted to work on your files.”

“Nope. I came up with the conclusion to do no more work this weekend and to only have fun and enjoy the rest of it,” Harm replied, still being on all fours. “I will work on them on Monday, and if it can’t be done by then I will simply have to come up with an excuse.”

“With a very good excuse I would say,” Mac concurred and smiled down at him. She really wanted to laugh out loud since he was still on all fours in front of her, but for now she was able to hold it back. Mac just hoped her lower lip wouldn’t be too harmed after all the biting on it.

“I’m sure I can come up with something really good,” Harm tried to sound secure about his plan and then gave her his best flyboy grin. “I’m a lawyer after all.”

“Yeah, you are and I’m sure you can come up with something good. At least as long as you don’t start with ‘I’m sorry, General, but there was this crawling race I had to attend against this one-year-old Marine shooting-star called James Kirk Roberts’. I think that wouldn’t work very well,” Mac told him and when she saw his surprised look and then the blush on his face, she couldn’t hold back anymore and started to laugh.

“Uh oh, I said that out loud, didn’t I?”

“Yup, you sure did. Come on. Give me your hand, Harm. I’m starting to get a complex and weird thoughts about seeing you on all fours in front of me,” she said with a smirk and held out her hand for him to take. “Where’s your rival anyway?” Mac wanted to know and looked around the room.

“He’s behind the couch, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ quietly announced from the background and pointed to the couch.

Mac and Harm slowly moved forward so that they were able to look behind the furniture, seeing the exhausted Jimmy on the floor, sucking on his thumb.

“Oh man. Great,” Harm moaned. “I could have won the race, Mac. That’s all your fault, Marine,” he said and tried to sound frustrated.

“How many times did he outpace you anyway?”

Harm pulled his hand to his mouth, making a gesture as if he was thinking about his answer. “Mmmphhh timmmphhh,” he quietly answered so that she couldn’t really hear him.

“What?”

“He said four times, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ was once more throwing in an answer from the background.

“Why, thank you, AJ. And here I thought you were my friend,” Harm told him, this time trying to sound offended. However, he wasn’t able to fool neither his oldest godson nor his best friend.

Mac laughed and shook her head. “Four times? Wow, Harm. That was quite a race. Maybe you were a bit slow though. But I’m sure with some training you’ll get much better in the future.”

“Put your money where your mouth is, Marine. Next time you have a crawling race against him, let’s see who the slow one is,” Harm told her and crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“Agreed,” she immediately responded and then smirked. “Mr. Slowpoke.” Then she laughed and made her way to the kitchen. “Okay, boys, lunch is ready to be served. Get your hands washed and find your place at the dinning room table.”

“Aye, aye, Ma’am,” Little AJ and Harm saluted at the same time. Harm took the tired looking Jimmy into his arms before the three made their way to Mac’s bathroom.

As soon as they’d washed their hands, Harm, AJ and Jimmy joined Mac at the dinning room table, enjoying the chicken soup. Jimmy was barely awake and Harm had a hard time feeding him. “Guess the race wore him out,” Harm softly said and kissed his younger godson’s head. “Seems to be a nice trick if your kid doesn’t want to go to sleep,” he concluded with a smirk. “Just get him into a crawling race.”

“Yeah, and his brother apparently could use a nap as well,” Mac added and pointed at AJ, who was yawning more often than eating his soup.

“I’m not tired,” Little AJ protested but betrayed himself with yet another yawn. “Not really.”

Mac and Harm could only shake their heads and chuckled. “I think you should try it and if you can’t fall asleep, you can get up again. Deal?” Harm submitted and then thought about his trump card. “But keep in mind, that I really need you wide awake this afternoon.”

“Why? For what?” Little AJ curiously wanted to know and took another spoon of soup.

“Well, I thought we should try to dig out my car this afternoon. And maybe we can even find some time to build a snowman. What do you think, buddy? Sound like a good idea for this afternoon?”

Little AJ enthusiastically nodded his head. “We really can go out and play in the snow?”

“Yeah, I think as long as we stay on the parking lot it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Cool!” AJ responded while a wide grin took place on his face.

Harm smiled and nodded his head. “Good. Then that’s the plan for this afternoon. But like I said, I need all your energy for this project, so you better try to get some shuteye, okay?”

“Okay, Uncle Harm. I’ll try,” Little AJ promised and immediately got up from his chair to get ready for the nap.

Mac and Harm’s eyes followed him until he disappeared behind the guestroom’s door. “While we’re talking about digging out your car,” Mac threw in and looked at Harm. “Have you thought about how we should handle this tomorrow morning? After all, the mini-van is standing in front of your apartment and the chances for it being snowed-in like your car are very high.”

Harm nodded his head. “Yeah, I think we can assume that the mini-van is just as snowed-in as the SUV. What was your actual plan for tomorrow?”

“Just getting the kids to daycare and pre-school before I go to work. Around six o’clock I would pick them up again and bring them straight home.”

“And when is Harriet and Bud’s plane scheduled?”

“The late afternoon. They’re going to take a cab back home,” Mac explained. “Do you want anymore soup?”

Harm shook his head. “No, thanks.”

Mac got up and brought the dishes into the kitchen. “So you just have to pick up the kids and bring them home?” Harm called behind her, already concocting a plan. He got up from his chair carefully, holding a dozing Jimmy carefully in his arms.

“Yes, they insisted on taking a cab,” Mac answered as she came back to the living room. “They didn’t want me to do all the extra driving after work. You know them and how they can get.”

Harm chuckled and made his way to Mac’s guestroom to get Jimmy’s bag. “Sure do. But I think that gives us the solution for our little car problem.”

“Which is?” Mac wanted to know and then slowly followed Harm into her bedroom. She sat down on the bed right next to where Harm had laid down Jimmy so he could change him.

“We’re taking the SUV tomorrow morning and go with your plan. After work we can pick up the kids before driving to my apartment to dig out the mini-van,” Harm explained his solution while changing the now asleep Jimmy. “As soon as we’re done we can bring the kids and the car back home. Have you set up a time with Harriet for getting the kids home?”

Mac shook her head, softly touching Jimmy’s cheek with her fingertips. “No, but I told her that I would get the kids around six o’clock.”

“Then we just have to let them know that we’ll bring them home a bit later than planned. That shouldn’t be a problem,” Harm concluded and started to button up Jimmy’s rompers. When he was done, he kissed Jimmy’s forehead before picking him up again, cradling him in his arms.

“I could tell Harriet about our plan when Little AJ is calling her. He wanted to try this afternoon, just to make sure that they would come home in this weather.”

“Do you think it is possible?” Harm asked as they walked through the living room to get Jimmy down for his nap.

“I’m not quite sure yet but I hope that Harriet and Bud know more when AJ is talking with them.”

“Look who’s already asleep,” Harm whispered after he’d opened the door to the guestroom, seeing that Little AJ was already fast asleep in his bed. Then he laid Jimmy down into his crib and covered him with his blanket.

“Looks like he was more tired than he thought,” Mac quietly said and walked over to Little AJ. She kissed his forehead before adjusting his blanket. “He for sure had a rough night and I guess all the excitement was a bit too much for him,” she whispered and then left the room together with Harm. “Either that or mentioning your plan for this afternoon did the trick. Would you like some coffee, Harm?”

Mac stopped dead in her tracks and turned around when Harm didn’t answer her, seeing that he hadn’t followed her and still stood in the doorway of her guestroom. “Harm?” Mac once more tried to get his attention, but again he didn’t answer her, nor did it look like he was hearing her.

Mac slowly made her way back to him, trying to read his body language. He seemed to be tensed and obviously deep in thought. The moment she stood right behind him Mac got on tiptoes, looked over his shoulder and followed his gaze, which was glued to where Jimmy was sleeping.

She tenderly placed her hand on Harm’s back, surprised that he didn’t flinched or jerked away. He apparently wasn’t taken aback by her standing so close to him. “Harm?” Mac whispered right next to his ear. “Are you okay?”

Harm turned his head a little so that he was able to look at her. “Huh?”

“I wanted to know if you’re okay. You seemed so far away.”

Harm gave her a little smile and took her left hand into his to squeeze it. “Don’t worry, Mac. I’m fine.”

“Why don’t we make us some coffee and then we could sit down and talk some or maybe watch a movie. If you’d like,” Mac suggested and took one step backwards so that Harm could close the door.

“Coffee and talking sound like a good idea,” Harm replied with a smile.

She returned his smile with one of her own. “Good. Just give me a few minutes and I’ll be back with the coffee.”

Mac started to go into the kitchen, only to be held back by Harm’s gentle grip on her arm. “Mac?”

Mac turned around and looked into Harm’s eyes. “Yeah?”

“If I would ask you to tell me the story about the crib Jimmy’s sleeping in, would you tell it to me?” Harm softly asked, finally letting go of his fear to confront her about it. ‘God, I hope I didn’t do something wrong now,’ he thought but the look he read in Mac’s eyes showed no discomfort or uneasiness.

Mac took a deep breath and nodded. “I promise. Let me make us some coffee and then we can talk about it, okay?”

Harm gave her his flyboy grin and nodded his head. “I would like that,” he said and softly kissed her forehead. “I would like that very much.”

 

2:03 PM

 

Mac walked out of her kitchen, holding two mugs of steaming coffee in her hands and saw that Harm had turned on the TV. He obviously was checking out the latest news about the weather situation around Washington DC.

The moment Harm saw her coming out of the kitchen he turned off the TV and took one of the mugs from Mac. “Thanks,” he said and took a big gulp. “Hmm, you learned how to make squid-coffee.”

“Just for you, Harm,” Mac answered and smiled at him. “How’s the forecast?” Mac wanted to know, motioning with her head to the now turned off TV. She sat down on the couch right next to Harm and pulled one of her legs underneath her.

“The newscast said that the chance for more snow is slim and they hope that Dulles will reopen on Monday morning at the latest.”

“Good. That means Harriet and Bud will get back to Washington as planned,” Mac softly concluded and took a sip of her coffee.

Harm raised his eyebrow and looked astonished at Mac. “What? You’re already getting tired of babysitting the boys, Marine?” Harm smirked, trying to hide his roguish grin behind his mug. He enjoyed teasing her a bit. “I thought marines are tougher than that.”

Mac slightly smacked his arm and shook her head. “They are tougher than that and no, I’m not already tired of it. I am enjoying this weekend very much, thank you.”

Harm gave her one of his flyboy grins she loved so much and took her right hand into his to give it a gentle squeeze. “So am I, Mac. So am I.” He frowned for a second and then smiled. “Maybe we should do this more often.”

Mac liked his suggestion and gave him a smile of her own. “I like the idea. This way Harriet and Bud can have more time for themselves before the twins arrive.”

Harm nodded his head. “Yeah, and it also gives us the chance to practice some more before…,” Harm pursued his thoughts but suddenly stopped, losing the smile on his face and the glimmer in his eyes in the process. He then looked apologetic at Mac. “I’m sorry, Mac. I shouldn’t have said that,” he started to apologize but was stopped by her soft fingers on his lips.

“Don’t Harm,” Mac tenderly said and looked deeply into his eyes, seeing that he blamed himself for what he’d just said. “There’s no need to apologize and maybe it is time for us to really talk about this all.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want you to feel pressured or anything.”

She nodded her head and placed her mug on the coffee table. Then she readjusted her position on the couch so that she was able to look better at him. “I am sure, Harm. Not talking about this or simply running away from it obviously doesn’t make the situation any better or make it go away,” Mac gently explained, took a deep breath and then continued to explain in a whisper. “I’ve tried it too many times and I have to accept that it doesn’t work like that. I’m tired of running away.”

Now it was Harm who let go of his mug to place it on the coffee table. Then he took both of Mac’s hands into his to give them yet another gentle squeeze. “Then we both should stop doing that and start to take some steps forward and in the right direction.”

“It may not be easy, Harm,” Mac quietly interjected and continued to look deeply into Harm’s eyes, trying to absorb all the strength she could see there and to convert it to her own strength.

“No, it may not,” Harm admitted in honesty. “But is running away easy, Mac?”

“No. No, it’s not easy. It actually is getting harder and harder each time I try,” Mac softly confessed and gave him a little smile.

Harm nodded his head in understanding. “Come here,” he softly said and readjusted his position on the couch. He sprawled out his left leg on top of it before tenderly pulling Mac between his legs, so that she was now lying with her back against his chest. Then he kissed the top of her head and fondly embraced her. “There, that’s much better,” he whispered and this time kissed her right ear. “And now let’s make a deal.”

Mac snuggled deeper into Harm’s arms, enjoying the warmth coming from his solid body. Then she lightly turned her head so that she could look up at him and was greeted by a warm smile. “What kind of deal?”

“From this moment on, we both won’t ignore any kind of problem if there is one. Not if it is between us, or if one of us has a problem. Also, we will never ever run away from them again. And should one of us actually forget about this pact and starts to run, the other has the permission to use a lariat to lasso and capture the running one. Deal?”

Mac giggled and threw her hands to her mouth, trying to hush herself. “Kinky,” she answered between her giggles.

“Hey, I’m serious here,” Harm said but couldn’t hold back some chuckles of his own. The picture of him capturing Mac with a lariat or the other way around indeed had something kinky to it. At least in his own way of imagining it.

Mac tried to get herself under control again. “I know, and I’m sorry,” she said, then got serious again and finally nodded her head. “It sounds like a good deal to me.”

“Good. Now that that’s settled, why don’t we try to work with this new pact?”

Mac immediately knew what Harm wanted to talk about. She also knew that she was ready to share the story with him. “The crib?” She softly asked, took his folded hands into hers and started to caress the palms of his hands.

“Yeah, I would like to know more about it. I thought it was Jimmy’s crib but AJ told me that you actually bought it for your own children and that Jimmy was only using it.”

“Not only Jimmy,” Mac quietly said and continued to caress Harm’s hands.

Harm frowned, not understanding the meaning behind Mac’s comment. “What do you mean by that?”

Mac took another deep breath and then once more turned her head a little so that she could look right into Harm’s eyes. “Jimmy is not the only child who slept in this crib, Harm. Years ago, Little AJ used to sleep in it as well when he spent the night.”

Mac could practically see how the wheels in Harm’s head were running now, trying to work with the information he just got and to understand the meaning behind her words.

“When did you buy the crib, Mac?” Harm asked in wonder. “I never saw the crib before, and AJ told me that you talked with Harriet about it while you two were getting Jimmy ready for bed.”

“The day of Little AJ’s birth,” Mac whispered her straight answer.

She could immediately hear and feel Harm’s reaction by the sharp breath he took and by him intensifying his embrace.

He didn’t say anything and Mac took it as a clue to continue her story. “After we’d visit Harriet and the baby in the hospital, I was on my way home when I drove pass a baby store. I thought I should go in and try to find a present for my godson. I was amazed at all the cute little things you can buy for babies to wear, or all the toys you can get for them. I spent quite some time in the store and finally found a blanket for AJ. I was on my way out when somehow I ended up in the furniture department and I saw this crib.”

She stopped her story to take another deep breath and Harm took the opportunity to kiss her cheek but he still didn’t say anything.

Mac chuckled and shook her head in wonder about her own reaction back then. “I stood there, simply looking at it in awe when one of the saleswomen came to me and asked if she could help me and if I was looking for something for my child.”

“What did you tell her?” Harm softly asked, still feeling slightly taken aback by the story Mac was telling him.

Mac shrugged her shoulders and then smiled up at him. “The moment she said ‘my child’ all I could think about was the deal we’d made earlier that day. Back then, I was so sure that I would have a child of my own one day. May it be in five years or even earlier. It didn’t really matter to me, so I told the saleswoman that I indeed wanted the crib for my child.”

She once more shook her head and started to chuckle. “I really have no idea what happened next but I ended up with that crib and moreover, I had to get that thing to my apartment with my new ‘vette. I can tell ya, that was quite an experience.”

Harm laughed and squeezed her hands. “You have good taste, that’s for sure. I love the crib. It really is beautiful.”

Mac just sighed and didn’t say anything.

“What?” Harm asked, trying to find out what her sigh meant.

Mac moved out of Harm’s embrace and sat up again. She interlocked her hands while her gaze was focused on them. “Maybe the saying is right,” she answered him in a whisper without looking up.

Harm could clearly hear the sadness in her voice and quickly laid his finger under her chin to pull her head up so that he could look into her eyes. “What saying?”

“That you never should buy something for a baby before…,” Mac started to explain but was immediately interrupted by Harm’s finger on her lips.

“Don’t, Mac. It’s not true and moreover, it is not the reason why things happened the way they did,” Harm told her with a strong voice. He had to make her understand that buying the crib had nothing to do with her having problems getting pregnant. “The saying is simply a superstition. And I know that you don’t believe in something like that. So don’t start now, okay?”

“I’m trying,” Mac whispered and looked down at their clutched hands. “But that at least would give me a reason why I can’t….”

Harm once more interrupted her. “Then try harder, Mac. There could be a lot of reasons why things are the way they are. Heck, who knows, maybe us getting in contact with the radiation back then in Afghanistan is the reason,” Harm gently told her, wanting to make her believe that it wasn’t her fault. “The point is that we can’t always have control for the things that happen around us. Some of them simply happen for no reason. But, please, believe me when I say that buying this beautiful crib is not the reason for it.”

Mac looked up at him and couldn’t hold back the single tear which slowly ran down her cheek. Harm once more wiped it off with his thumb. “I really want to believe you, Harm.”

“Then do it, Mac. And if you can’t believe my words, then I guess I’ll have to show you the test results I got from my doctor,” Harm said with a grin, knowing that he would win this argument.

“What test? I don’t understand.”

“The test about my swimmers.”

Mac raised her eyebrow and frowned. “Your swimmers?”

“Yup, my swimmers. If the saying is true and buying things for a baby you don’t have yet means bad luck when it comes to pregnancy, then it means that I can’t have any babies either, right? But the test I had told me otherwise and my swimmers are doing just fine, thank you,” Harm explained and smirked.

“You had a test about your swimmers?” Mac asked bewildered and pointed with her forefinger to a certain part of Harm’s body.

He only nodded his head and gave her another grin. “Yup, I did.”

“When?”

This time it was Harm who shrugged his shoulders. “A few months ago,” he vaguely told her, and Mac could hear that he was holding something back.

“Shortly before the Admiral’s dining-out?” Mac asked, trying to get all the little pieces of their puzzle together.

Harm nodded his head. “Yes. I… I just wanted to make sure… you know… to make sure that everything was okay before I would make the final step.”

“Oh, Harm,” Mac responded and threw herself into his arms, giving him a bear hug. “That’s so sweet. However, I’m not sure if the saying goes for men too, you know,” Mac said and suddenly let go of him. “Whoa,” she yelled and pulled herself out of his grip.

“What? What’s wrong?” Harm asked, not understanding Mac’s reaction.

She stared at him with wide-open eyes, not believing what she just discovered. “You told me that if the saying’s true it would mean that you can’t have children but that the test told you that you could have them.”

“Yes, that’s what I said.” By now Harm knew what Mac’s reaction was about and a slight blush covered his face.

“You bought something for your child?” Mac asked in a whisper and got a nod from Harm in response. “What? When?”

“A few months ago. I was getting some gifts for our godsons and saw this cute little outfit for a girl.” Harm shrugged his shoulders and smiled at Mac. “I pictured our little daughter in it and had to buy it.”

They couldn’t hold back anymore and together they started to laugh, trying to keep it as quiet as possible so that they wouldn’t wake up the boys.

“Boy, we’re quite a pair, aren’t we?” Mac asked and continued to laugh.

“A perfect one,” Harm submitted.

“A totally crazy one,” Mac suggested.

“A being in love one?” Harm proposed this time with a question and hoped to make yet again another step in the right direction. He softly cradled Mac’s head into his hands, tensely waiting for her answer.

Mac slowly moved forward until her lips softly touched his. She gave him a short but sweet kiss before pulling back as far as needed to be able to look into his eyes. “A perfect and totally crazy being in love one,” Mac replied and returned Harm’s smile.

Once more their lips slowly came together for yet another kiss. However, this time their kiss was much more passionate and demanding.

“Yuck!”

Harm and Mac immediately pulled away from each other in surprise and looked at their intruder. Harm at once had to groan while Mac let herself fall backwards onto the couch. She took one of the cushions into her hands so that she was able to cover her head and most of all her laughter with it.

“Kissing like that is yucky,” AJ explained as a matter of fact. Then he looked at Harm. “Can we go out now and play in the snow, Uncle Harm?” Little AJ wanted to know, already wearing his snowsuit.

Harm could hear his younger godson through the baby monitor and knew that Jimmy was awake too. “Sure, AJ. Why don’t you get your shoes on and then we can go outside. Okay?”

“Okay,” AJ answered in satisfaction and then quickly made his way to the guestroom.

Harm’s eyes followed his godson and as soon as AJ disappeared behind the threshold, he let his gaze wander to the still laughing woman right next to him. He carefully moved on top of her and slowly took the pillow away from Mac’s face, only to be welcome by a beautiful smiling face. “This guy for sure has Bud’s timing,” he annoyingly told her before capturing her lips with his for another loving kiss.

“We better get ready before he once more catches us while doing this yucky thing,” Mac said with a giggle after they broke their latest kiss.

Harm sighed and stood up from the couch before holding his hands out for Mac so that he could help her up. “Yeah, we better. Why don’t you get Jimmy ready while I get the mugs to the kitchen?”

“Sounds good to me.”

“But we’re not done yet, Marine.”

Mac smiled and looked with a raised eyebrow at him. “We’d better not be done yet, Sailor. Otherwise you’ll have one angry marine on your cute little six,” she said with a chuckle and started to move to her guestroom.

Harm’s hand immediately caught her arm before she was out of reach and pulled her back to him. He tenderly touched her cheek with his fingertips and finally said the words he wanted to tell her for so long. “I love you, Mac.”

Mac took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She captured Harm’s hand, which was still caressing her cheek, and kissed the palm of it. Then she looked up at Harm and got on her tiptoes to give him a soft kiss. “I love you too, Harm,” she said and just like him was finally able to tell him what she wanted him to know for so long.

“I’m ready,” Little AJ yelled from behind and looked impatiently at his godparents.

“We’re coming,” they said together and quickly parted to get done with their tasks.

 

3:17 PM

 

Little AJ sprinted down the corridor of Mac’s apartment house to push open the heavy door that would lead him to the parking lot and finally to the snow he’d craved for. “Yeah,” he hollered in excitement, throwing his arms into the air and ran out.

“AJ, slow down and be careful,” Mac called after him. “It could be slippery out there.”

“Ya,” Jimmy loudly screamed and ran as fast as his legs would carry him after his big brother. His path however was broken when the heavy door fell loudly back into its slot. Jimmy stopped in front of it and tried to reach the knob but failed to due his height. He turned his gaze to his godparents and pointed with his finger at the door. “Out,” he said before turning back to the door and pounded his little fists on it. Once more he tried to reach the knob while jumping up and down.

Harm and Mac chuckled at his impatience and made their way to him. All they could do was shake their heads in disbelief about the energy and enthusiasm these two little boys had. “We’re coming, we’re coming,” Harm told Jimmy while he picked him up.

“After you, Milady,” Harm said and bowed to Mac while gentlemanly-like holding the door open for her, trying to keep a squirming Jimmy in his other arm.

“Thank you, Milord,” Mac replied with a smile and stepped out into the parking lot, just to be confronted by the cold winter air. Her hands immediately went to the labels of her coat, holding them safely together. “Was it already this cold yesterday?” She asked Harm in wonder.

He stood right next to her and could just shake his head. Each time they exhaled into the cold air, they were creating foggy clouds. After placing Jimmy down, Harm blew at his hands before getting his leather gloves out of his coat. “Not that I can remember.”

Harm took off his scarf and gently started to put it around Mac’s throat. “Here, I think you can use it more than me.”

Mac’s hands immediately stopped his doings while she looked into his eyes. “No, Harm. You should keep it or you’ll get too cold. I’m wearing a turtleneck sweater but you’re not. You need the scarf more than I do, or I could go back to my apartment and get one of my own,” she softly told him but only got a shake of his head in answer.

“Don’t worry about me, Mac. As soon as I start working, I’ll get all warm,” he replied just as softly and gave her a kind smile. “And now take good care of my scarf, Marine, while I dig out my car.” With that, Harm turned around and crossed the parking lot to get to his car.

“Will do,” Mac whispered and pulled his scarf even closer to her face. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, sighing in pleasure when she could smell the unique scent she loved so much of its owner. “Believe me, I will.”

“Come on, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ suddenly yelled a few feet away from her and brought her back to the present. “Play with us.”

Mac opened her eyes again and had to laugh when she saw her giggling godsons lying in one of the snowdrifts while throwing some of the snow into the air just to get covered with it. She had to laugh even more when she saw Harm right in the middle of their newest playground. While shaking her head Mac walked to the snowdrift and was greeted by three pairs of shining eyes and the sound of happy laughter.

“Hey, Mac,” Harm welcomed her with one of his flyboy grins and chuckled. “Want to play with us boys?”

“You boys are having fun I see,” Mac said with a raised eyebrow and smiled at them. “Good thing you guys are wearing snowsuits. Well, at least the ones named Roberts that is,” she added while looking at her godsons. Then she turned her gaze to the very happy looking Harm. “Now you, Mister, are not wearing any kind of snowsuit. I just hope you won’t get sick.”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” Harm replied, his smile getting even wider if that’s possible. “If I’ll get sick, I hope a certain marine will take good care of me and give me some TLC.”

“Really? I somehow doubt the General has time for such a full-time job, Harm,” Mac jokingly pointed out while crossing her arms in front of her chest.

Harm placed both of his hands over his heart and gave her a wounded look. “You wound me, Mac. How can you think and tell me that the General won’t have the time to take care of me? I have to let you know that we’re buddies.”

“Auntie Mac, you’re a marine. Why don’t you take care of Uncle Harm?” Little AJ wanted to know and looked in wonder at his godmother.

“Yeah, Mac. Why can’t you take care of me if I should get sick?” Harm repeated his godson’s question and gave her a ‘so there’-look.

Mac held out her hand to Harm so that she could help him out of the snowdrift. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to it in the first place, okay? I know how you get when you’re sick, Harm.”

Harm took hold of Mac’s hand, but for now stayed where he was. “How do I get, Mac?”

Mac’s first mistake was to look at Little AJ and Jimmy while they were getting out of the snowdrift to find another one they could jump on. Her second mistake was to give her partner an answer while her mind wasn’t one-hundred percent directed at him. “You’re one cranky squid while being sick,” she told him and immediately got his answer.

Harm’s facial expression changed and a devilish look and smile took place on his face before he pulled in one swift motion at Mac’s outstretched arm.

“Haarrmm!” Mac yelled in surprise and fell right on top of Harm. She was barely able to catch her fall and ended up nose to nose with him. “You! How dare you,” Mac hissed, trying to sound upset but terribly failing when she couldn’t hold back her own smile.

Harm chuckled and took her face into his palms. “That’s what happens when a marine challenges the Navy while said marine isn’t on alert,” he answered with a boyish grin. Then he pulled her face even closer to his and finally was able to kiss her lips with all the love he felt for her.

Little AJ obviously was engaged with playing in the snow so that his godparents only needed to end their kiss when they’d needed to take a breath and not because he was telling them it was ‘yucky’ to kiss like they’d just done.

“You’re one sneaky squid, you know that?” Mac gave his chest a gentle slap.

Harm looked up at Mac with some puppy eyes. “You would take care of me, if I should get sick, right?”

Mac got off of Harm and once more offered her hand to him, finally helping him up from the snowdrift. “I promise you the best TLC you ever got in your life, Harm,” she seductively answered him with a sweet smile.

“Yeah?”

“Oh yeah,” Mac promised before giving him a little push to the direction of his car. “But like I said, let’s hope it doesn’t come to it, okay? And now you better dig out your car. The sooner you get out of your wet clothes the better.”

Harm’s eyes glimmered and he once more showed her his best flyboy grin. He made a step forward to put his mouth right next to her ear. “Hmm, you want to get me out of my clothes. I already like your version of TLC, Sarah,” he purred into her ear before his tongue darted out to trace the lines of her ear.

Mac could only giggle but suddenly had to moan when he took her earlobe into his mouth to nibble on it. She once more pushed him away from her and cleared her throat. “Harm,” she hoarsely groaned out and pointed with her forefinger at the still snow-covered car a few feet away from them. “Your car…. Now…. Dig it out…. Just dig it out.” Without waiting for a response she turned around and joined AJ and Jimmy to build a snowman.

Harm just chuckled and followed her with his eyes, knowing that he’d caught her unexpected with the move he’d just made. The fact that she couldn’t bring out one full sentence made it clear to him. It felt so great to him. To be finally able to flirt with her this way, to know that they’d reached the point where they were reading at the same time the same page of their book called ‘Us’.

However, Harm also had to admit to himself that his move surprised him too, wondering why it wasn’t so easy before. ‘Does it really matter?’ He asked himself and could immediately give himself the answer. ‘No, not at all. The only thing that matters is the here and now, and the fulfillment of this dream. Our dream.’ With that he turned around and made his way to the snowed-in car, hoping that he would be able to dig it out as soon as possible so that he could help with the snowman.

Mac took another deep breath. ‘Get a grip, MacKenzie,’ she told herself, still surprised about Harm’s actions.

Earlier, she’d actually thought about helping him with the car, but now she knew it was the best for both of them to let him do it alone and to stay away from each other. Otherwise, they would never get done with the work.

‘I’m feeling like a lovesick teenager, who can’t wait to make out on the couch with her prince.’ Mac had to giggle about her own thoughts. “Geez, you really got it bad, Marine,” she murmured out loud and couldn’t keep herself from turning around to look once more at the object of her thoughts. “Really bad.”

 

Mac’s Apartment
The parking lot
3:34 PM

 

Harm whistled to himself, feeling happy that it was a much easier task to dig out his car than he’d feared just a few hours ago, thanks to it being covered with only a thin layer of snow. Even the fact that the blanket was a bit iced couldn’t damper his happiness. Without that problem he would have been done about five minutes ago and already could have joined Mac and the boys to build their snowman, but still he knew it could have been much worse. There simply was no reason for him to complain or to mourn about it.

He once more turned his head to look at the giggling and laughing boys, seeing that they weren’t working on a snowman yet, but rather got chased by a very happy sounding and even happier looking Sarah MacKenzie. Harm laughed out loud when he saw her suddenly get hit on her back by a snowball which Little AJ had thrown at her and then turned back to his car so he could take part of their game soon.

Harm was just getting the windshield freed from the snow blanket when suddenly something cold and wet hit is neck. “Aarrgh,” he yelled out just as another flying object hit him at the exact same spot.

“Good shot, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ said between giggles and took some more snow into his own hands to build another snowball he could throw at his godmother.

“Marine, did you just throw a snowball at me?” Harm yelled across the parking lot and slowly started to move forward to her.

“Nope, I didn’t,” Mac coolly answered while molding another wet and fluffy snowball in her glove-clad hands, knowing it couldn’t hurt him. “I actually have thrown two snowballs at you, Harm,” she explained with a smirk and then threw another one at him, this time hitting him right in the face.

“She hits, she scores,” Mac triumphantly shouted, emphasizing her triumph with a little dance.

“Oh, you want it the hard way, Marine?” Harm asked, wiping the snow out of his face before he slowly bent forward.

Mac kept a hawk-eye on him, answering his move with one of her own. She took a step backwards, trying to get some distance between them.

“Uh oh, Auntie Mac,” Little AJ whispered from her right side. “I think Uncle Harm plans an attack,” he let her know and started to move out of his godfather’s way.

“Ut O,” Jimmy copied his bigger brother’s words and giggled. He seemed to know what his uncle was planning, and just like AJ, he started to get out of his godfather’s way.

Harm’s first snowball was harmless and passed Mac’s face with a whoosh. She just laughed at his miss and bent down to get snow for another snowball. However, Mac was too slow and the moment she was standing upright again, Harm already was standing way too close to her. He had a mischievous and satisfied smile on his face, and a made snowball in his right hand. “Anything you would like to tell me, Ms. MacKenzie?”

Mac kept her eye on the snowball he had in his hand. She shook her head and then turned around, trying to get away from him with a shriek.

Harm just chuckled at Mac’s move and then threw the snowball at her, hitting her back. “You got your chance, MacKenzie. Now you’ll have to suffer,” he hollered and then started to run after her.

“Yay, Uncle Harm, you’ll catch her,” Little AJ cheered from the right side and his little brother completed it with clapping his hands. They had a blast watching their godparents chasing each other.

“Traitor,” Mac called to Little AJ between her giggles. She could hear that Harm was already too close behind her, so she couldn’t bend down to get more snow for another snowball. She just continued to giggle and tried to get out of his reach.

Suddenly she stopped dead in her tracks, knowing there was no way she could possibly hide from him. With a laugh she turned around, seeing that Harm already had caught up with her. His shining eyes told her that he was up to something and then there was his right arm, hidden behind his back. He obviously was ready for their battle.

“You surrender?” Harm asked with a raised eyebrow, sounding slightly out of breath.

“A marine surrendering to the Navy? Never,” Mac let him know, sounding even more out of breath than he did.

“Your mistake, MacKenzie. Your mistake,” Harm said and gave her one of his flyboy grins before catching her off guard with another one of his quick moves. In one swift motion he stepped forward and caught the surprised and giggling Mac, just to throw her over his shoulders.

Now it was clear to Mac that the arm he’d hidden behind his back was a ruse he’d set and that she’d fallen for it. “Harm, what are you doing?” She asked him, but couldn’t stop laughing.

“Payback is hell, Marine. Never challenge the Navy. I thought I’d taught you that earlier,” Harm said and looked around the parking lot, trying to find the right spot for his final move. Then he finally found it. “Ah ha, there it is,” he muttered more to himself than to Mac and started to walk to the place he found.

“Harm?”

“Be quiet, Marine, Navy on a mission here,” he commanded and suddenly came to a halt. “Enjoy it, MacKenzie.”

“Enjoy wh…,” Mac started to ask but couldn’t finish the question when Harm suddenly threw her right into a huge snowdrift so that she landed on her back.

Before Mac was even able to make a move of her own, Harm already was on top of her, sitting on her hips with a wide grin on his face. He took both her hands into his and placed them above her head. At the same time he moved his head much closer to hers so that they were able to feel their hot breaths on each other’s faces.

Harm was just on his way to close the final distance between their lips so that he could give her a kiss, when Mac abruptly turned her face away, as if she wanted to avoid his kiss.

He was surprised by her move and even slightly hurt when he suddenly saw a slow smile on Mac’s face. “Harm, if I were you, I would let go of me.”

Harm just raised his eyebrow. “Now why should I do that?”

“Well, there are two little boys standing right behind you and they have quite an amount of snow in their hands, waiting to make their move.”

Harm laughed and shook his head. “Yeah, right, Marine. You actually want to tell me that the boy you called a traitor just a few seconds ago is now standing right behind me, waiting to attack me? Never! I won’t fall for your trap, MacKenzie.”

Mac shrugged her shoulders as much as it was possible in her position and moved her gaze so that she could look directly into Harm’s still shining eyes. “If you don’t believe me, Harm, it’s your problem. But be aware, you should never underestimate a Roberts. Moreover, you should never underestimate two of them, right AJ?”

“Yup! That’s right,” Little AJ immediately answered his godmother from behind Harm and surprised his godfather with that.

Harm loosened his hold on Mac’s hands and turned around just to be face to face with two smiling boys. Before he could say something, AJ and Jimmy threw the snow they were holding in their hands at him, covering his head and face with it. Then they jumped up and down in joy while clapping their hands in excitement.

“Damn,” Harm murmured to himself and suddenly was flipped over by one grinning marine, who copied his earlier move and held his hands down above his head.

“And last but not least, Harm. Never EVER underestimate a marine,” Mac added with a smirk before surprising him with her next move. One quick look behind her told Mac that the boys were gone to play somewhere else and she immediately turned her gaze back to the man underneath her and slowly started to moisten her lips. “And now this marine will collect what belongs to her.”

“What would that be?” Harm whispered his question, not sure what she was talking about.

Mac moved her head closer to his and once more licked her lips. “You wanted to kiss me earlier, didn’t you? Before I told you that the boys were standing behind you.”

Harm just gave her a nod as answer.

“And you thought I was trying to avoid your kiss, didn’t you? I could see the glimmer of hurt in your eyes. I’m right, aren’t I?”

“Yeah, for a moment I thought you didn’t want me to kiss you,” Harm quietly admitted.

Mac moved her face even closer to Harm’s so that her lips were barely touching his, her eyes never leaving his. “Never think that I wouldn’t want you to kiss me, Harm. Hell would freeze over before that happens. Okay?” With each spoken word, her lips were softly brushing his.

“Okay.”

“Good, and now I would very much like to collect that kiss. Is that okay with you?”

Harm gave her his flyboy grin she loved so much and then nodded his head. “Very okay,” he softly answered.

He had hardly finished his answer when Mac’s lips descended down on his to give him a long kiss full of love and tenderness.

“Wow,” Harm said in a whisper as soon as they broke their kiss.

“Yeah. Wow indeed,” Mac agreed and slowly got up from him before helping him stand up. “Come on, I bet you’re freezing already down there.”

“Nah, you have a very nice way to warm me up, Sarah.”

They smiled at each other and without letting go of each other’s hand they made their way to AJ and Jimmy, which were already trying to make the first part of their snowman. “Uncle Harm! Auntie Mac! Come on, you have to help us build the biggest snowman in the whole world,” AJ called for them and continued to roll a little snowball in front of him, hoping it would pick up a lot of snow so that it would be one huge ball in the end.

“What do ya think, Sailor? Want to build a Mr. Snowman?”

“Can we build a Mrs. Snowman too?” Harm asked with a gleam of hope in his eyes. “This way Mr. Snowman doesn’t have to be all alone each day and night.”

Mac looked around the parking lot and shrugged her shoulders. “There’s for sure enough snow around here.”

“Great, then let’s do it,” Harm replied with a laugh and started to run to the boys, having a laughing Mac in tow since he never let go of her hand.

 

 

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