Falls Church, Virginia
Thursday, July 29, 2004
1627 Hours (local)
“So you’ll be there?” she heard his worried voice ask over the line.
“I promise,” Mac responded, smiling, toying with the pen in her hand.
“You know when the flight gets in, right?” he asked.
“Don’t worry about it, Harm. Everything will be fine. You never used to worry about flying like this.”
“It’s not the flying that’s bothering me,” he admitted.
“Is it us?” Mac asked.
“No… I don’t know. It just feels so weird to be coming home.”
“It will be weird. You’ve been gone for almost eight months.”
“That’s a lot longer than I was planning on.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’m telling you, everything will be fine,” she reassured him.
He sighed again. “I know. I think I’m just anxious to be doing something again.”
“You still have a week at home before you even go in front of the Medical Review Board.”
“Thanks for reminding me that I’ll still be bored,” he groaned.
“We’ll figure something out to keep you out of trouble.”
Harm chuckled, “Who says I want to stay out of trouble?” he asked, his voice a sexy rumble.
“If that’s the case,” Mac began, glancing towards the open door, “we should finish this conversation when I get home,” she finished, her voice a whisper.
“But you are okay with me coming home?” he asked.
“Harm, we’ve been over this.”
“I know, I know, one day at a time.”
Mac smiled, and when she spoke, her voice was more certain than she felt inside, “Everything will work out. The Navy will decide that you can remain here at JAG, everybody will be happy to see you, and we’ll figure out this whole thing between us.” Jennifer Coates moved into Mac’s line of sight and signaled for her. “Listen, Harm, I have to go. But I will be there at the airport when your plane lands tomorrow. I promise.”
“Okay. I’ll see you then.”
After hanging up, Mac got to her feet and followed Coates to the Admiral’s office. Inside, the Admiral, Sturgis, Bud, and Harriet were already present.
The Admiral asked, “Is everything planned for tomorrow?”
Sturgis nodded, “Yes, Sir. Colonel MacKenzie will meet Commander Rabb’s plane when it lands and drive him back to his apartment. We will be there waiting for them.”
“We will have everything cleaned, Sir, dusted and scrubbed,” Jen added.
Harriet stated, “I will have dinner ready before they get there.”
Bud spoke up, “And AJ and I will have the banner and balloons in place. Jimmy will probably be crawling around helping everybody,” he grinned.
“Good. Colonel, is the flight plan still set?” the Admiral asked.
“Yes, Sir. He is due in at 1840. I will keep an eye on it tomorrow just to make sure he isn’t running early, or late.”
“And if things aren’t ready by 1930 hours?” the Admiral asked.
“I am to call the Colonel and tell her that the Members didn’t decide on the Barr case yet,” Bud jumped in, “they need X amount of time, X being how long until everything is ready.”
“In which case, I stop by the store and pick up a few items to delay our arrival,” Mac added.
“Excellent,” the Admiral smiled. “Lieutenant,” he said turning to Harriet, “I want to thank you for this idea. I am sure after the Commander gets over his initial shock, he’ll be pleased.”
“He has missed everyone,” Mac added, “and I think seeing you guys will be good for him. He’s anxious for something to do and I think it would mean a lot to him to know that his friends still care about him, no matter what happened.”
“Well put,” the Admiral nodded. “We’ll meet at the Commander’s apartment at 1700 tomorrow. Don’t be late! Dismissed!”
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Friday, July 30, 2004
1852 Hours (local)
Harm had been anxious to get off the plane. Wanting to return to his normal life, he was tired of staying with his mom and Frank and being treated like an invalid. Moving beyond the security checkpoint, Harm spotted Mac immediately, his eyes drawn to her by some unseen connection. She was shifting her weight from one foot to the other and the moment she spotted Harm, her face broke out into one of the most beautiful smiles he had ever seen.
He walked quickly towards her and standing in front of her, there was an awkward moment before Mac wrapped her arms around him and stretched up for a kiss. Likewise, Harm wrapped his arms around her and met her lips. “Welcome home,” she smiled when they broke apart.
“I think it will be good to be back,” he smiled back. “Miss me?”
“Always,” Mac pulled away. “Let’s go get your bags.”
“In a hurry?” Harm asked.
“No, but you know how much of a pain in the six it is to get out of here.”
“Did you drive?” he asked, following her as she headed towards baggage claim.
“Why didn’t you take Metro?”
“How many bags do you have?” she asked.
Harm was quiet for a moment. “Good point. You didn’t bring your ‘Vette, did you?” he asked, suddenly concerned.
“With the trunk on that thing? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great car, but you can’t take road trips in it.”
“I borrowed your SUV,” she responded, dangling the keys in front of him. “Thanks, by the way.”
“You’re welcome. Thanks for meeting me here.”
Mac smiled, “No problem. I’ve been waiting for you to come home for a while now, the least I can do is meet you when your plane comes in.”
“It is much appreciated,” Harm grinned, draping his arm over her shoulders as they went to collect his things. He had been nervous about how Mac would react to his homecoming after the recent change in their relationship, but she seemed to be taking it well. Judging by the smile on her face and the greeting he had received, she was taking it very well. Pulling her closer for a moment, Harm thanked the powers that be for his second chance, both at life and with Mac.
North of Union Station
Friday, July 30, 2004
1943 Hours (local)
“They’re here!” AJ squealed as he jumped up and down in front of the window. “Harm is back! Mac is back! They’re here!” He had been told to stand by the window and watch for their arrival, a job he took to very enthusiastically.
“Okay,” Harriet smiled as she moved across the floor to pull him away from the window. “We get it, sweetie. Thank you.”
“Is he going to be happy?” AJ asked.
“I hope so,” Bud answered, Jimmy walking unsteadily in front of him, clutching Bud’s hands.
“It’s show time!” The Admiral declared as he glanced around the apartment. In a short period of time, they had managed to clean the apartment, hang up a banner that read “Welcome Home Harm!” set up flowers and balloons, and cook dinner. The vegetarian lasagna Harriet had prepared was finished, staying warm in the oven. The cake Jen had picked up was on the bar, ice cream staying frozen in the freezer. Sturgis had purchased plenty of soda, mostly caffeine free given the hour, and some beer. The Admiral and Meredith had a bottle of red wine for Harm, knowing he liked to drink it over dinner.
They all gathered into a group, smiling, looking eagerly towards the door, awaiting Harm’s return. Bud had scooped Jimmy up and was holding him in his arms, despite his best efforts to escape. AJ was jumping up and down, occasionally landing on his namesake’s shoes. The Admiral grimaced each time, but other than the brief flash of discomfort, he didn’t mind. Meredith was holding her husband’s hand, their small wedding back in February having gone off without a problem. As they heard the key inserted into the lock, they all drew a collective breath.
Harm was shocked when he opened the door, surprised to see everyone waiting for him, including the kids.
“Welcome home!” they all called at once.
Grinning, Harm glanced behind him and saw the smile on Mac’s face. “You knew about this, didn’t you?” he asked.
“Of course!” Mac grinned. “How do you think they got in?”
Harm shook his head and turned back to his friends. “Thanks, guys.” He was overwhelmed as he shook hands with the Admiral, Sturgis, and Bud, accepting the hugs from Jen and Harriet. AJ had latched himself onto Harm’s leg, and Harm was finally given the chance to lean down and give him the best hug he could while AJ was still glued to his leg. Looking at Jimmy, Harm gasped. “He has gotten big!”
Bud smiled. “He’s crawling now, and just learning to walk.”
“He’s really growing up,” Harriet chimed in.
Harm shook his head again. “Man, I’ve missed you guys!” Stealing a glance back at Mac, he smiled gratefully.
After dinner, Harriet, Meredith and Jen were cleaning up the kitchen; Bud, Sturgis, and the Admiral were playing with the kids. Harm was drifting somewhere in between, looking at his things, just glad to be back home. He was engaging in conversation with everyone, playing with the boys and trying to help in the kitchen. Like Harm, Mac was also floating around, but watching more than talking.
Rising off the floor, Harm slipped back into his bedroom, seeking just a moment on his own to gather his thoughts. Enjoying the company and the activity, he was truly glad to see everyone, but he had been caught off-guard and he wanted a few minutes to himself. Mac saw him go and gave him a few minutes before going after him. She knew that everybody would be leaving shortly and she wanted to make sure he was okay.
Finding him unpacking his bags, she asked, “You okay?” as she entered the room. Much as she had done the night he left in December, she stood in the doorway and watched him.
Harm nodded. “I’m fine, I just wanted a moment to myself.”
“Just making sure.”
“Thanks, for this,” he said, gesturing to everyone in the outer area of the loft.
“It was Harriet’s idea,” Mac shrugged her shoulders.
“I’m willing to bet you planted some kind of seed into her head,” he smiled.
“I may have said something about you missing everyone… and expecting balloons and a party…” Mac trailed off, smiling innocently.
“I appreciate it, though. Certainly better than coming home to a dusty, empty apartment.”
“I guess,” Mac responded.
Harm kept unpacking and Mac just watched him for a moment. As she was getting ready to turn and leave, Harm started chuckling.
“What is it?” she asked.
Harm pulled out one of his Navy sweatshirts from a bag and unfolded it. Inside was a framed photograph.
Mac crossed the room to the far side of Harm’s bed to see it. It was the picture of the two of them in Afghanistan taken almost two years ago. Mac had an identical one on the mantel above her fireplace that she had destroyed last fall in a fit of anger. Harm had given her a new one, and apparently taken his copy with him. “You took this with you?” she asked.
He nodded. “I’m not sure why. I guess I just wanted to remember what I had waiting for me when I came home. Who I had waiting for me.”
Mac gave him a relaxed smile. “That makes sense. I’m honored. Especially after the way we left things.”
“My leaving seems to have been productive,” he pointed out, smiling down at her.
“I’d say so,” Mac agreed.
Harm leaned down, intending to drop only a quick kiss on her lips, but a quick kiss turned into a longer, more passionate one. Pulling Mac close, he tossed the picture on the bed.
Mac wrapped her arms around him, pressing herself against him. One hand pulled his head closer, her fingers running through his hair, longer now than it usually was. Harm’s hands were exploring as well. One hand was slipping up the back of her shirt, desperate for bare skin, the other traveling over her clothes and heading further south. His tongue traced her lips and she opened to receive him. She moaned into his mouth while he plundered her warm recesses, also moaning in pleasure.
“I don’t see anything,” the Admiral said from behind them.
Harm and Mac jumped apart abruptly, already blushing.
“Sorry,” the Admiral smiled. “I just came in to use the head,” he explained as he stepped past them and into the bathroom.
Harm and Mac looked at each other, completely embarrassed. They didn’t say a word and when the Admiral came out of the bathroom, they were still staring at each other.
“I didn’t see anything,” he repeated as he moved past them again.
“Sir,” Mac called, turning around quickly.
“Yes?” he asked.
“I… um… we…”
“Mac, Harm,” he began, “what you do personally is none of my business. Until it affects affairs in the office, it is none of my concern. Right now, Harm isn’t even working. And when he comes back, I expect you to keep it out of the office. Clear?”
“Yes, Sir,” they both responded as one.
“Good,” he smiled. “Carry on,” he said as he turned and left the room.
Harm and Mac looked at each other for another twenty-seven seconds before they started laughing.
Shortly after rejoining the rest of the party, Bud and Harriet left to go home, taking the boys with them. It wasn’t long before Jen and Sturgis left. When the Admiral and Meredith left, the Admiral smiled to both of them, wishing them a good weekend.
When the door was closed, Mac moved into the kitchen to put the remaining glasses into the dishwasher. The group had been pretty clean and there were no dishes or trash lying about, only a few glasses on the counter.
“You don’t have to do that,” Harm insisted.
“I know,” Mac smiled. Closing the dishwasher back up, she said, “I wanted to.”
“Thanks. Not just for the dishes, but everything.”
Mac regarded him, a smile on her lips. “That’s what friends are for. Or, whatever we are,” she added.
Harm smiled. “I didn’t expect this tonight, and I do appreciate it.”
Mac nodded. She moved across the room to pick up her purse. “You must be tired, though, so I’ll just go. Give me a call if I can do anything for you.”
“You don’t have to go, Mac.”
Mac shook her head. “You’re tired, Harm. I saw a few yawns slip out earlier.”
“I’m not saying I’m not tired. I just want you to stay.”
Mac cocked her head and studied him.
Mac relented and put her purse down. “For you, I’ll stay,” she smiled sweetly. “But that doesn’t mean you’re going to get lucky.”
Harm grinned, “I might.”
Mac rolled her eyes and crossed the room and stepped into the bedroom.
Harm followed quickly after turning out the lights. A moment later, Mac slipped out of the bathroom and Harm went in. When he came out, Mac was in his bed, under the covers, her clothes in a pile on the floor. “Uh, Mac, what are you wearing?” he asked, suddenly hesitant.
Smiling seductively, she said, “You’ll just have to get in here and find out.”
Harm raised an eyebrow and was quick to strip down to his boxers. Slipping into the bed, he caught a glimpse of skin, nothing but skin. He pulled Mac close to him, letting her feel the effect she had on him.
Mac initiated the kiss, pushing Harm back into the pillows. “You’re right,” she said, grinning, “you might get lucky.”
“Are you okay with this?” he asked.
Harm nodded. “I’m very okay with this.”
Mac smiled softly. “Then I’m okay with this.”
Harm kissed her again, his hands running up and down her feminine curves. “About last time…” he began as he pulled away again.
“Won’t happen again,” Mac smiled, kissing him again. She could spend the rest of her life kissing him. “I’ve got it covered.”
“Good,” Harm said as he rolled them over, kissing her once again, glad to be home. Gazing into her soulful brown eyes, he realized that the thing that made him the happiest was having Mac in his life.
The twinkle in Harm’s seawater-green eyes let Mac know he was as happy as she was. There was no place she would rather be and she hoped they could make it work this time. After everything, they deserved a little happiness. Closing her eyes, Mac kissed Harm’s lips, longing to do it for many years to come.