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Classification JAG Story, Romance, Humor (H/M)
Length Approximately 8,000 words; 22 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Through Season 7
Rating GS

 

 


1600
Smithfield County
Northern Smokey Mountains

 

One thing you can say about the Smokies in the fall is they are beautiful.

"Mac, I think we have arrived in Mayberry."

"Ok city boy, don't make fun of small towns, I lived in one for awhile. They can be very charming."

"Well, I hope it’s true what they say: that everyone knows everyone else's business, and we can find that Marine. How can a Marine that is nominated for a Medal of Honor just disappear?"

"He didn't know he was up for the honor. He served his four years and received his honorable discharge and went home."

"But his forwarding address is 'Route 3', were in the hell is that? From the looks of things it could be the end of a dirt trail."

"What are you worrying about? Remember you have a Marine with you."

"Oh yea, I forgot I brought Danielle Boone USMC or better yet, Gomer Pyle's sister to track down this guy."

"Funny, there's the county court house. Perhaps we can check with the Chancery Clerk's office for a better address. Then we can find the sheriff's office for further directions."

The three-story red brick building was the tallest in the small town. The courtyard had a large statue honoring confederate and federal soldiers from the civil war. Locating the county clerk's office was easy. Reba Smithfield introduced herself as the chancery clerk of Smithfield county.

"Jacob McCoy, you mean Bubba McCoy. What kind of trouble did he get into?" she looks over her reading glasses propped on her nose.

I smile "Sergeant McCoy has been selected to receive a medal for outstanding conduct."

"The only outstanding thing that sorry bunch of McCoys ever did was to make moonshine," she replied sarcastically.

"Can you give us directions to his home?" Mac interrupted with a smile.

"Yep, Route 3," Reba replied.

"Where in the hel...ah...county would we find Route 3?" my shoulders drop, and I rub my eyes.

This is becoming a long day.

"Do I look like the postman?" she looks at me with disdain.

Mac jumps in "We'll just check with the sheriff, thank you so much for you assistance."

The sheriff's office has a sign on the door, 'Gone, be back when I get back'. "Now that is informative," I roll my eyes towards Mac who is finding the 'wild goose hunt' for Sergeant Jacob McCoy AKA Bubba to be amusing. "I guess Andy and Barney are out rounding up moonshiners."

"Harm, you're tired, and I'm hungry. Let's find a place to stay and have dinner."

"I asked about hotels when we stopped for gas earlier. The Sleepy Hollow Motel and Cafe is it. Like I said we are in Mayberry."

The Sleep Hollow Motel consists of about 10 units with each door painted a different color and a swimming pool that was converted to a large gold fish pond. The cafe connects to the office. It seems to be the center for social gatherings of Smithfield. The proprietors are Daniel and Millie Tubbs. Millie was of course a Smithfield. She also serves as cook at the cafe. Mac learned all of this as we checked in from a very chatty receptionist named Betty.

"Ya'll aren't from around here." Betty smacks through her gum. I am amazed at her uncanny observation skills considering Mac and I are in uniform, and there is not a military base anywhere near here. "Are you two engaged or married or something?"

Mac suppresses laughter, while I just look at her in disbelief. She is probably the town gossip and reporter.

"We want two separate rooms" I respond slowly without cracking a smile.

She smiles sweetly at Mac and hands us the keys. "My Aunt Millie serves a really mean supper at the cafe. Her fried chicken will make you just die and go to heaven."

Is everyone related in this town? Everyone's a Smithfield. I wonder if they all dislike the McCoys. This situation sounds strangely familiar.



Later that evening
Sleepy Hollow Cafe

 

We had checked into our rooms and agreed to meet up in 45 minutes in front of the cafe for dinner. I must admit I felt better after a long hot shower, but my calls to the Admiral and Renee quickly dampened my mood. Neither could believe that we were having this much trouble locating the missing Marine.

Mac and I stroll into the busy cafe and find a booth. "You don't look like you are in any better mood," Mac chastises.

"The Admiral wasn't exactly thrilled when I told him it would probably take a few more days to finish this up. And Renee." I stop and just shake my head.

"I know Mic wasn't a happy camper either."

A tall thin waitress approaches our table with two large glasses of ice water. She maintains a steady rhythm of smacking her gum and blowing bubbles. There must be a bubble gum factory somewhere close by. Her name badge is pinned over a folded lacy handkerchief and reads Lou Ann. She pulls a pencil from out of the top of her teased red hair, takes a pad out of her apron pocket and smiles waiting for us to order.

"Do you have a menu?" I ask probably a little impatiently. She points to a large chalkboard behind the counter. It lists:

Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy or
Fried Liver with onions smothered in gravy with potatoes
Choice of two vegetables Cornbread
Buttermilk Pie
Iced tea

"Do you have anything that isn't fried or smothered in gravy" I inquire trying not to sound sarcastic.

Lou Ann stares at me with her eyes slightly slanted, "Miss Millie's fried chicken is the best; you'll just die and go to heaven once you've tried it" she smiles trying to convince me.

"I have a lot of unfinished business to complete before I go to heaven, so how about just bringing me a vegetable plate, no gravy, no pie, ice tea."

Mac shakes her head as Lou Ann repeats my order with disdain. "And what for you ma'am," she smiles.

"Oh, I'll certainly try the chicken with mashed potatoes, and you can bring me his piece of pie," Mac orders with enthusiasm. Lou Ann beams.

"Now that girl's got an appetite I can appreciate," a middle aged man in a sheriff's uniform and a belly that suggests he eats all his meals at this cafe walks up to our table. "Sheriff Winston Smithfield," he reaches out to shake our hands. "I understand you were looking for me earlier." Yep, news does travel quickly in a small town.

"Commander Harmon Rabb, Lt. Colonel Sarah McKenzie. We're here from the Judge Advocate General's office looking for a Jacob McCoy." I notice everyone in the cafe is looking our way listening intently to our interchange.

"What kinda trouble is he in?"

"None, he's been nominated for the Medal of Honor, and we need to talk with him." Mac explains.

"We need directions to his house."

The sheriff takes a deep breath and frowns in concentration. "That McCoy bunch is rough. I don't know if you should be messing around with them."

"Sir, we have our orders."

"Tomorrow I have to drive over to Centerville and will pass right by the road you turn off. You can follow me. Once you turn off, the road is more or less dirt and goes for miles up in the hills."
We finish our meal and agree to meet the sheriff around 1100.



0800 the next day
Sleepy Hollow Motel

 

<Bang, Bang, Bang>

"Ok, Ok I'm coming," sleepily I answer the door. "Mac we could actually sleep late today."

"I thought you might like to take a run. It rained last night and is nice and cool. I brought you some coffee and toast."

"Thanks for the room service. So you had breakfast this morning after the meal you ate last night?"

"Yep, and don't ask what I had."

"I'm sure it was fried with some sort of gravy," I chuckle.

"Actually, they had fried smoked ham with biscuits and red-eye gravy."

I groan, "You're going to look like the sheriff before we leave here." She picks up one of my pillows and throws it at me.

"Lou Ann asked about you," Mac smiles and chuckles, "’Where's that picky eater fella you're with. Betty says he's your fiancé?’"

I roll my eyes at her; "I don't think the people in this town like me, but they love you."

"Well you know the saying 'When in Rome..."

"Eat the fried chicken."



1130
Somewhere east of town

 

"The Sheriff was almost right. The road is dirt, mostly mud."

"I hope we don't get stuck...."

"Great, just great."

We get out to determine the damage and realize we are not going anywhere soon. I try my cell phone, but can't pick up a signal. Either we are out of tower range or can't get a signal through these hills.

"The McCoy's place is supposed to be a few miles up this road. Let's just hike it up there."

"Sounds like a plan."

After hiking through the woods for a little over an hour, we come upon a cabin. This must be the place, but it looks deserted. "The sheriff said they were into moonshine making. They must have gotten spooked and cleared out," Mac observed.

"Another false lead... It looks like its going to rain again. We'd better head for the car." I feel frustrated as I hear thunder in the distance.

Rain pours down as we run down through the woods towards where the car was stranded.

"There's a cabin over there. Let's stop and take cover before we drown," I yell at Mac.

The cabin is empty except for a few old quilts and some firewood. "Must be a hunting cabin, I don't think whoever will mind if we borrow it for awhile."

"I'll start a fire. You're drenched. Why don't you take off those wet clothes and wrap up in one of those quilts while I go outside and get more firewood."

Mac shivers and sneezes "OK."

I find an axe and chop several arm loads of wood. Puddles of water run from my clothes as I enter the cabin, and find Mac wrapped in a quilt huddled close to the fire.

"Harm, you must be freezing. Strip down and wrap up. That's an order... I promise not to peak," her concern is followed with a smile.

Our clothes are spread so that they will dry, and we sit wrapped in quilts before the orange blaze that warms the room. "I guess we'll have to stay here tonight. That storm doesn't seem to be letting up. And with the car stuck and no phone..."

Ring...

Mac and I look at each other in surprise. The phone is working!

Mac answers her phone. "Mic."

"Hello darling, I was just missing you and thought I would call. How was your day in the woods with Rabb?"

I see her roll her eyes, "We still haven't found our Marine."

"I was hoping you'd be home tomorrow. I've been missing you." His voice becomes soft and sultry. "What are you doing?"

"Well, I'm sitting before a cozy warm fire with a blanket wrapped around me," Mac says softly. I try to act distracted to give her privacy. Mic is such a bozo.

"What do you have on underneath that blanket?" he whispers.

"Mic, I'm really tired tonight, can we put this on hold?" Mac seems nervous. I wonder what Mic said.

"All right, if I were a jealous man I would think you were sitting next to Rabb wrapped up in a blanket with nothing on underneath," he laughs. "Goodnight, I love you."

"Me too, I'll meet you for lunch day after tomorrow. You can pick me up," Mac responds nervously and hangs up.

"One down, one to go," I laugh.

Ring....

"Renee...."

"Harm, I thought about how pretty it must be this time of the year in the mountains. How about I drive over and join you tomorrow night? I can just imagine a mountain cabin with a fireplace and extra large whirlpool bath."

"I don't think you will find a cabin here...with a whirlpool bath that is, besides I don't think you would like the room service." I look over towards Mac, speak softly, and laugh nervously.

"It’s ok for Mac though?"

"Renee, I'll be back day after tomorrow. We can meet for lunch," I feel smothered.

"Ok, pick you up at the office. Bye"

The rain continues to pour. The warmth of the fire lulls us to sleep.

"Good night, Flyboy"

"Good night, Marine"

We turn our backs towards each other and fall asleep.
 


0700
In a cabin somewhere in the mountains

 

I'm cold except for one side of my body that feels warm. I notice my arm on that side is asleep as I roll towards the warmth. Mac is sleeping soundly with her head resting on my arm. The next thing I feel is an annoying poking sensation on my back. I roll towards the sensation and open my eyes only to gaze directly into the frowning face of Sheriff Winston Smithfield and his deputy.

"Been squirrel hunting, son?"

I look around regaining my bearings and realize how this must look. I am curled up against Mac with our clothes spread all around us. Mac is peacefully sleeping. "Ah...this isn't what you think." As I reach around to grab my clothes that have dried during the night, I nudge Mac

"Wake up, Mac,"

She only murmurs "Not now, I still sleepy."

"Mac, wake..up..now!" I repeat louder this time.

She rolls over and rubs her eyes, looks around and smiles nervously "Oh, hi."

The Sheriff only raises an eyebrow while his deputy's mouth is drooped open catching flies.

I wrap the quilt tighter around my waist and start putting on my shirt. I walk towards the door so I can finish dressing outside. The sheriff and deputy follow. The sheriff suddenly reminds me of my junior high principal the day I was caught trying to skip school with several friends.

"I can explain, our car got stuck in the mud, so we decided to hike up to the McCoy's...but they weren't there...it started to rain..really hard...so we found this cabin..we were soaked...Mac gets sick easily when she gets cold..nothing happened...did I tell you our phones didn't work?" I am fumbling with my clothes as I finish dressing. About that time my cell phone rings.

His eyebrow goes up again; he reminds me of a pit bull dog. I answer the phone and quickly tell the person on the other end I will call them back. "Wrong number." I chuckle nervously.

"Son, do I look like I was born yesterday. You can't tell me you were up here all night with that beautiful woman and nothing happened. My grandmother would have taken a switch to me, and I wouldn't have been able to sit for a week for telling a fib like that," he replies sarcastically.

He goes on "Betty from the motel called me this morning to let me know you two didn't come back to the motel last night. She was worried. I thought maybe you had a run in with some of those McCoys...I guess that's not the kinda trouble you ran into... Burt and I found your car and called a tow truck."

"We only discovered the phones were working late last night. It was too dark to expect someone to come after us, and we were perfectly safe." I begin to feel more confident. I have faced terrorists, the Admiral and enemy MIGs.

"I'm not so sure that pretty little gal in there was so safe," he grunts.

Mac joins us outside the cabin. She looks at me then the sheriff and smiles nervously. We hike silently to the Sheriff's four wheel drive SUV and drive back to town. I'm an adult. I am an officer in the U.S. Navy for goodness sake. Why do I feel like a teenager who got caught parking?

Mac is not helping matters. She occasionally begins to nervously giggle, until I give her a look that could kill.

Our car is parked in front of the motel, and the sheriff lets us out. "I have some information on Bubba McCoy. You two better clean up, and I'll meet you in the cafe in an hour." He peals out. Images of him calling my mother to tell on me float across my mind.

An hour later I meet Mac outside our rooms to walk to the cafe.

"Harm, lighten up. Nothing happened," she observes my dark mood.

"Mac, I can just hear this guy calling the Admiral about our unprofessional behavior."

"You're just embarrassed that we were caught."

I open the door to the cafe and respond, "Yes I am!"

"You're embarrassed that you were caught with me." Mac says rather loudly. The cafe crowd suddenly becomes quiet and all eyes are on me.

"That's not what I meant, and you know it!" I whisper curtly.

She marches towards a booth and sits down avoiding making eye contact with me. She is really ticked off. Where did this come from?

The sheriff strolls over towards our table and looks us up and down. "I found out that Jacob Bubba McCoy decided to reenlist in the Marines. I understand he left two days ago to go to Virginia."

"I guess that finishes up our business here." I am still distracted by Mac's anger. I start to get up.

He places his hand on my shoulder and pushes me back into my seat, "One more thing, around here when you take advantage of a lady like that...you make things right, if you know what I mean." The sheriff is looking at me straight in the eye. His voice is dead serious.

I can't believe this. "Make things right? What are you talking about? Nothing happened." I start to stand again. This time his deputy directs his shotgun at me.

"I don't think the sheriff's through talking with you mister," he drawls and readjusts the chewing tobacco in his mouth.

I slide down into the booth and look at Mac who has her eyes covered with her hand and is trembling with quiet laughter. I know she must feel the look I am giving her.

"Mac would you PLEASE explain what didn't happen last night." I say each word carefully with much restraint.

She finally regains her composure as she wipes away tears of laughter from her eyes, "Really sheriff, what Harm said is exactly what happened."

Lou Ann and the rest of the customers in the cafe were in total awe of the drama that was unwinding before them. Seeing the tears, Lou Ann decides to intervene, "Awe Honey, don't let him bully you that way. The sheriff's just trying to help. You never know what you'll be faced with in nine months," she places a consoling arm around Mac and looks at me like I just insulted Miss Millie's fried chicken.

Mac tries to suppress her laughter sounding more like she is hysterically sobbing than laughing. Deputy Burt pushes the point of his shotgun deeper into my ribs. I am definitely dying here.

Sheriff Smithfield then places a document on the table in front of me. I look at it, and my mouth drops open. It's a marriage license!



1100
Sleepy Hollow Cafe

 

A marriage license!

"Wa Wait a minute! You you can't do this. This is against the Navy's regs," I stutter. My communication skills are shot to hell.

"Son, just sign the paper. You'll thank me later," he says almost benevolently. He sweeps his arms around the room, "Besides, we have a whole room full of witnesses that will swear it was your idea." The shotgun poking in my ribs reminds me of my choices. I look at Mac in a panic.

Suddenly she begins to think this is not so funny, "Ah, sheriff could I talk to Harm in private?"

He nods and maintains an eye on me as we step just out of earshot.

"Harm, this can't be legal. There is a three day waiting period between applying for a marriage license and the actual ceremony. Besides you have to have a birth certificate. Maybe we should just sign the license and leave town. We can clear up the discrepancy when we get back home. Let's just go along with this and get out of here," she sounds logical, but a little voice in my head is screaming 'sucker!'

"Ok, I just want to get Deputy Barney over here to keep his gun away from my ribs," I agree somewhat hesitantly.

Mac smiles at the sheriff, and we walk over to the table. Mac takes the pen and signs her name and hands the pen to me. I can't seem to make my hand work, but I am immediately assisted by Deputy Barney and his trusty shotgun.

I take a deep breath thinking now we get out of here.

"Harm, you don't mind if I call you Harm?" Like I've got a choice. "By the way, I wish you wouldn't refer to this pretty little gal as Mac. She has a beautiful name, Sarah. My wife's third cousin's name is Sarah."

I just nod.

"Speaking of cousins, this is my cousin Brother Billy Burnett. He's the pastor of the First Baptist Church here in Smithfield. He's agreed to perform the ceremony. Normally he counsels the couple before he marries them. But I explained the situation, and he agrees this is, shall we say, an exception," The sheriff has his thumbs in his pockets and is presiding over this circus just like a ringmaster.

Brother Billy steps up and shakes our hands and wipes his sweaty face with a handkerchief. "I would take this over to the church, but today the ladies are having a bazaar. The sheriff assured me that you would agree that the cafe would be alright." The ladies could sell tickets to this ceremony and make enough money to rebuild the church.

"Why not? The cafe is just perfect, just perfect," I say with clinched teeth. Mac looks at me and mouths 'suck it up'.

Brother Billy reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small book, adjusts his glasses and begins the ceremony. "If you two will stand next to each other. The purpose of marriage is to join together.." he pauses and laughs nervously "I guess that part's already been done." I cut Mac, I mean Sarah, a look, and she suppresses another smile.

"This man and this woman in holy matrimony. Harm would you repeat after me, I Harmon Rabb take Sarah McKenzie to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer till death do us part." He looks up at me expectantly.

My mouth goes dry, and I feel myself freeze. I hear the sheriff clear his throat and notice Lou Ann dabbing at tears on her face. Finally I clear my throat, "I Harmon Rabb Jr. take Sarah McKenzie to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer till death do us part." I said this without taking a breath.

"Sarah, repeat after me, I Sarah McKenzie take Harmon Rabb Jr. to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer till death do us part." There is a pause and I hear her take a deep breath.

"I Sarah take Harmon Rabb Jr. to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer till death do us part," she says very slowly.

"Harm, you may place the ring on her finger and repeat after me."

Lou Ann interrupts "Why they don't have rings. You can't get married without rings." I start to agree when she pulls a plain golden wedding band off her skinny finger and hands it to me, "My Harold's been dead and cold in the ground for over 15 years, come to think of it he wasn't that warm when he was alive. I don't need it anymore." She sighs and smiles. Then she looks over to an unkempt man sitting at the cafe counter, "Wilroy give me your wedding band."

He looks astonished "But I'm still married!"

Lou Ann frowns and shakes her head, "You know good and well, your wife is fixing to kick your sorry butt out of the house. Just hand it over." Wilroy pulls the ring off and reluctantly hands it over to Lou Ann.

Lou Ann proudly hands Mac the ring. Brother Billy clears his throat, "Harm place the ring on Sarah's left ring finger and repeat after me, "With this ring I thee wed, it will be a symbol of my love."

I start to place the ring on Mac's finger; it is too small and will not slide on. I push and push, but it won't budge. Deputy Barney nudges me again with his shotgun, and I force the ring on her finger "Oww!"

"Sarah place the ring on Harm's left ring finger and repeat after me, "With this ring I thee wed, it will be a symbol of my love."

"With this ring I thee wed, it will be a symbol of my love." She attempts to slide the ring on my finger only to find that it is also too small. She looks in my eyes and give me a 'Semper Fi' look and forces it on. I restrain from expressing the pain it created.

Brother Billy looks around the room "Is there anyone who feels this couple should not be married. If so, they should speak now or forever hold their piece."

I start to open my mouth when the sheriff grunts and gives the rest of the room a threatening glare.

"Harm, do you promise to love and cherish Sarah all the days of your life, say I do"

I realize that no one is going to save us, and I am not dreaming, "I do."

"Sarah, do you promise to love and obey Harm all the days of your life, say I do."

I see a fire in her eyes as she hears the words obey, she opens her mouth to object when I give her a pleading look that says, 'Let's just get this over with'. "I do."

"With the power vested in me I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride," Brother Billy grins seeming quite pleased with himself.

I look over at Mac, and she somewhat reluctantly leans towards me. I place my hands on her arms and give her a quick kiss on the lips.

"You can do better than that," the sheriff chides.

I pull her closer and give her a 'no holding back' kiss that surprises both of us. Our wedding party seems quite pleased and applauds. Sarah is speechless as I push her towards the door.

I hear Lou Ann as we head for the motel; "Don't you want some of Miss Millie's 'Better than Sex' cake? It can be your wedding cake."

We head for our rooms in haste to gather our belongings and check out. Mac calls the Marine base in Virginia to confirm that Sergeant McCoy is now currently a Marine stationed at that facility. We will be able to meet with him first thing in the morning and can head back to JAG headquarters in time for lunch.

I meet Mac in the motel office only to find Betty the receptionist chattering away. She goes on and on about romance and marriage, ours in particular. Unable to listen anymore as my patience was totally depleted, "I have a suggestion, why don't you offer a wedding special. Weddings, whether you want one or not, comes with room and an artery-clogging, gravy smothered, fried chicken dinner. Mrs. Rabb, are you coming?" I slap the room key on the desk and storm out.

Betty's eyes fly open and her mouth finally closes in shock.

Mac smiles sweetly "Don't mind him, he's just upset that we can't spend our honeymoon here, coming darling."

Upon exiting the motel office, I run directly into my favorite sheriff. He still has that same self-righteous grin on his face and holds up a large envelope. "I don't want you leaving town without this."

He drops the envelope into my hands "You and the missus have a safe trip, and ya'll come back now, ya heah."

I can't get into the car quickly enough, and as soon as Mac closes her door I peel out.
We drive in silence for several hours. I finally feel the tension begin to leave as we cross the state line. "Mac, what's in the envelope?"

She opens it, pulls out a document, and studies it intently.

"Well?"

"Harm...its our marriage certificate. And it looks...legal" she almost whispers and avoids making eye contact as I almost lose control of the car.

"Mac, you said there is no way this could be legal."

"Remember the county clerk we met the first day we arrived. Her name is Reba Smithfield. She is the sheriff's sister, I think. She signed and dated it, and it has an official seal."

"We were set up."

We remain speechless for another hour.

"Harm, we could get it annulled." Mac breaks the silence.

"What is the Admiral going to say," I reply softly. Images of the admiral race through my mind.

"No one has to know. We'll just file for the annulment secretly," she says a little too matter of factly.

"Harm," she sounds a distressed. I look towards her. She is tugging at the ring, I had placed on her finger just hours ago. "It won't come off, it's stuck!"

This is just getting better and better. I prop my knee against the steering wheel to guide the car while I pull at the ring on my finger. This can't be happening. My fingers were swollen from chopping wood the night at the cabin, and the ring is not moving.

Mac sees me copying her, attempting to remove the ring that remains in place with a vengeance.

Suddenly, she begins to giggle. The giggle turns into out right laughter. Her laughter becomes contagious as I begin to see how unbelievable this whole situation has become. I start to laugh until tears begin to run down my face. I pull over afraid of losing control over the car, and we sit and laugh together until we are exhausted.

The rest of the evening driving to the Marine base was spent recalling the night at the cabin. I pulled over again in spasms of laughter as Mac shared her conversation on the phone with Mic, and I the one with Renee. My side was hurting talking about our wedding ceremony, especially the rings.

As we pull into town near the base, I say "Since this is our honeymoon, why don't we eat somewhere really special."

Mac pipes in, "Yea, burgers or pizza."

"Pizza.. and after that, we'll ask for the honeymoon suite at the BOQ on base."

"You are so romantic," she smirks.

"I aim to please," I toss back.



Friday 1200
JAG HQ

 

The best way to describe our entrance into the JAG bullpen would be somewhere between the last scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and Custer's last stand. Our plan was to quietly walk into HQ without anyone noticing the tell-tale evidence on our hands.

But it's amazing how destiny just takes over.

As Mac and I enter the bullpen area, a very pregnant Harriet carrying too many files runs right into Mac. Files flew everywhere, and Harriet's gasp of frustration could be heard throughout the room.

Quickly Mac and I attempt to help Harriet gather the files before more attention could be directed towards us. Mistake....Harriet's sonar vision immediately picks up on the matching golden bands that hold fast to our left ring fingers.

"Oh, Oh, I can't believe this." Her face lights up like a Christmas tree. Everything went into slow motion. Needless to say, Harriet was not whispering when she announced her discovery, and everyone who had been in an office immediately came into the bullpen to investigate the commotion. Bud and the Admiral just knew Harriet had gone into labor.

I look towards my office as a place to take cover when I see Renee accompanied by Mic walking towards Mac and I with big smiles plastered across their faces.

"The Commander and the Colonel are married," Harriet practically screamed.

Out of the corner of my eye, I watch Renee's and Mic's faces change from smiling to shock to anger within seconds. I look to Mac for support, and she is just as shell-shocked as I. I hear the Admiral's voice bellow across the room "Rabb, McKenzie in my office nooow!"

Obeying the order, mostly because it was the only hideout available, we walk directly to the office passing a mixture of facial expressions from sheer delight to confusion to the death wish glares of Renee and Mic. As we reach Tiner's desk, he is holding a phone up to me "Commander, your mother is on the line." I can hear the crying and a voice repeating "I'm so happy!"

"Take a message and tell her I call back tonight." I can't believe this.

We stand stiffly at attention in the Admiral's office waiting for the firing squad to finish us off. The Admiral remains uncomfortably silent for several minutes or hours, as time loses all meaning. In a low very controlled voice he begins, "Would someone please explain how I could send two officers on a simple investigation, and they return MARRIED?"

I swallow hard, hoping Mac would take the lead, but she did what any defendant would do in this situation and pled the fifth. The Admiral walks up to me and stares in expectation.

I swallow again, "Sir, I don't think you would believe me..."

"Try me."

"Well, Sir, we were having difficulty locating Sergeant McCoy. He lives out of this town made up mostly of Smithfields. The Smithfields don't like the McCoys. The sheriff is a Smithfield, and the county clerk is a Smithfield, and everyone else is related to the Smithfields except the McCoys. The sheriff agreed to show us the general direction where McCoy lived. Our car became stuck in the mud on the road to the house, so the Colonel and I walked to the house. But they run a moonshine business, and thought we were after them so they disappeared. It started raining, really hard. We took refuge in a cabin. Our phones didn't work. We found some blankets to wrap up in until our clothes dried and spent the night in the cabin. But on my word of honor nothing happened." I know I must sound like I have been on drugs.

"Commander, this is the most asinine excuse I have ever heard. And what does all this have to do with the marriage?"

"I’m getting to that Sir. The sheriff thought we ran into trouble with the McCoys and decided to look for us. He kind of found us... Our clothes were drying on the floor, and it looked...but nothing happened, Sir. The sheriff is a little old fashioned and decided that we should be married because of the appearance of everything."

"Commander, you and the Colonel are known for being strong willed and stubborn. I find this hard to believe that you would get married at the suggestion of a sheriff unless you planned to do so. You both know that this goes against Navy regs."

"Well, Sir, there was this shotgun…"

His face suddenly changed to a strange shade of red. He coughed and turned away and stood silently trembling.

Without turning around, he said with difficulty, "Dismissed." As we retreated from the office he added, "File the report and you are dismissed for the rest of the day until I decide what to do."



Mac's Apartment
Later that evening

 

Knock, knock, knock.

"Oh Mic," I figured after our lunch date fiasco he would be on the first flight back to Australia.

He invites himself in and looks at me with pleading eyes, "Sarah, I had to hear it from you." He waits....

"Mic, it’s not what everyone thinks..." I begin only to be captured in a hug that crushes me to his chest.

"Oh Sarah, I knew it wasn't true. You and Rabb didn't get married."

Silence

"Sarah?"

"Well, Mic yes...no...yes we did," I squeak.

He pushes me back, and that same look of disbelief I'd seen earlier reappears.

I nervously begin playing with THE ring on my left finger until I notice him wincing. "Sarah, I could never get you to put my engagement ring on that finger, but Rabb managed to put a wedding ring on it," he responds weakly.

"Mic, the wedding wasn't our idea."

He frowns in confusion.

"The Smithfield sheriff thought it was a good idea." Boy, did that sound lame.

Mic draws up and steps into his prosecutor mode. "And just what made this sheriff think this was a good idea?"

I feel the heat creeping up my neck..my mouth feels dry as the words will not come.

"Answer me honestly Sarah...The night I called and asked you what you were doing...you said you were wrapped up in a quilt in front of a cozy fire." He pauses, but his eyes refuse to break their hold on mine.

"Yea."

"Were you with him?"

Hesitantly I respond, "Yea." I know I am going to be convicted with no chance for appeal. I hold my breath before the next question seals my fate.

"What were you wearing under that quilt?" His arms folded tightly across his chest.

I smile sheepishly, "Nothing.... but."

He turns and storms towards the door.

"We had two quilts." I finish, and the door slams.

"I guess this means you want your engagement ring back." I say softly to the door.

 

Harm's apartment
About the same time

 

Knock, knock, knock.

"Renee?!"

She pushes past me and stands near the sofa, arms crossed.

"I need an explanation."

"Renee, you're going to find this hard to believe."

"Actually, I don't"

"You don't?" This confuses me.

She rolls her eyes and sits stiffly on my sofa. Eyebrows raised waiting for my response.
I sit at the opposite end of the sofa and take a deep breath. Here goes nothing. I recount the events leading up to the wedding pausing to evaluate Renee's response. Her expression is unreadable. Then I finish off with the wedding.

Before I can explain anymore, she snaps, "I may be blonde, but I'm not stupid! You are right about one thing. I find this hard to believe, in fact, I find this story so incredible. I plan to personally write, direct and produce it as a TV MOVIE OF THE WEEK!" she adds as she slams the door behind her.

That went well...not.



Mac's Apartment
Same night, just later

 

I stand looking at her door debating whether to knock or not. Just as I raise my hand she opens the door.

"Mac?! I think we need to talk.... Were you going somewhere?"

"No, Jingo let me know someone was at the door, and I looked through my peep hole and saw you. Come on in." I'm thankful she is still speaking to me.

She directs me towards the sofa, and we sit facing each other in silence for a few minutes, while I gather my thoughts.

She started, "I checked with the attorney general's office. The marriage license is legal. We can apply for an annulment, but it will take at least six weeks to be processed... I'm sorry I gave you poor legal advice." She looks away sadly. "I guess you feel betrayed too."

"I don't feel betrayed, Sarah. Why would you say that? We are in this together." I am confused by her feelings. I hate to see her sad.

"Well, Mic came by earlier. He was really angry when he left. I don't think he believes what happened. Besides, I got the impression he was more disappointed that he lost some sort of contest with you."

I laugh weakly. "Renee dropped by also. Let's just say our life story will be on a TV movie of the week, and it will not be pretty.... Bud said Mic and Renee were pretty chummy when they left at lunch. Maybe we can send them on an all expenses paid trip to the Sleepy Hollow Motel and Cafe," I add sarcastically.

She actually smiles, and I see a glimmer of amusement in her large warm brown eyes. "I guess we have been through a lot together, this is just not our usual predicament."

I smile, "We can't even blame Webb for this one."

I reach out and take her hand in mine. "Sarah, I know you always have dreamed of that someone special proposing, a beautiful wedding like Harriet's and Bud's and a romantic honeymoon. This was just a circus, but I don't want you to think..." I gather my courage.

"Think what?" she asks gently.

"Think that I don't care for you. I have something to confess." I look down at our hands. I then reach and gently tug at the wedding ring on my finger which I remove rather easily. "It came off this morning when I got up; the swelling in my fingers was gone."

She looks bewildered. "Harm, you mean you didn't have to walk into JAG headquarters wearing your wedding band....no one would have suspected anything." She looks up in realization. I look away waiting for her to unload all of that jarhead anger at me for messing up her life.

She reaches up and touches my face, and I see tears running down her cheeks. I feel so badly for hurting her. I look down afraid to see her eyes, "I'm sorry Sarah, I just wasn't ready to give you up.... I love you Sarah."

Her head nods forward so that her forehead is touching mine. She smiles and looks rather sheepishly at me, "Harm, I think you need to know something." She pulls at the wedding band on her left finger and removes it. "Shampoo, last night. I guess we were thinking the same thoughts."

"No proposal, shotgun wedding, second hand rings, bummer of a honeymoon, I guess this would make a great story to tell our grandchildren." I say softly.

"Say that again," she has now moved into my arms. "Say the part about our grandchildren."

"You like that." My voice is very husky as I move to close the distance between our lips. The kiss was like a drink of cool water on a hot dry day. It was the kiss we had been waiting to share for too long.

She pulls back from our kiss and takes my face in her hands, "My dreams had nothing to do with a wedding, but of a marriage. I always dreamed of marrying a good man that I love with all my heart and having a life that we build together."

I gaze in her eyes seeing only truth, "And I have dreamed of spending an eternity.... with just you." Finally the words that I had held inside for so many years were said.

The next kiss was full of passion and desire. And our desires became our needs. I lifted her and took her into the bedroom where we, joined together in holy matrimony indeed became as one. Our love was sweet and passionate and when we broke away we held each other into the night.

"Harm,"

"Yea,"

"You know the honeymoon isn't really over."

"I hope it never is.... You know it amazes me how things work out when you're not trying."

"Harm?"

"Yea."

"One more thing?"

"Yea."

"Can we discuss that obey part of the wedding vows?"


"You're the one who said everything was legal."

"Cute."



Earlier that same evening
JAG HQ

 

"Admiral, a Sheriff Winston Smithfield is on the line."

"Thank you Tiner, I'll take the call in my office."

"Hello."

"Cousin Albert, how did everything work out?"

 

The End

 

 
 
   

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