I surrender … I survive
Part 8

Harm did not once ask himself if it was his mistake or not, he blamed himself already after the first night he spent with Tristan. His little son was bound to Mac and he wanted her. He was crying for his "mama" – and it sounded so wonderful to hear those words out of his little mouth.

After the third or fourth attempt, he called Harriet to ask for help and Harriet reacted coldly but still as a friend, and told him to take Tristan to bed with him.
Of course he tried to ask her about Mac but he got no answer, no answer he wanted to her; the only thing he got out of Harriet was that Mac was working at JAG again. Period.

The weekend went well with Tristan. Harm and the boy went to see his Sarah and he told him a lot and they agreed that Tristan would be allowed to fly when he was older too. The boy envied his dad, but always asked for his mom at night, and big tears were shed.

Harm tried his best not to cry with him one night or the other but the boy calmed down as soon as he was cuddled against Harm's chest, his little head on his arm – both soundly asleep.

Not too far away, a mother nursed her hungry twins before bedding them. It was the only time of the day Mac was able to relax. She knew that soon she had to wean them, but up to this day, she would love this time. It was so personal, intimate.

Catherine and Paula. Her girls. Her family.
Everything she could rely on now, the only reason to stay after all that happened. The only reason to surrender, to survive.

Monday came quicker as Mac and Harm had looked forward to it. Mac brought her girls to the day care and headed in her new uniform towards the office.

"Good morning," everybody said to her when she went to her office and closed the door behind her. She sensed that something was not well today. But what could it be?

She was working on a small case at the moment, nothing really important. Well of course she was prosecuting but the way it looked at the moment, they could work out a settlement because it was obvious to both sides that the Gunnery Sergeant was guilty.

And once she went to get some coffee, Mac saw him. Harm in all his glamour and passion – in his uniform talking to the admiral.
Many scenes were running through Mac's head at the moment, between horror and thankfulness, between fear and happiness.
Mac stood in the coffee room, only watching the two men talking erHer and shaking hands. Harm probably didn't see her, she hoped.

"Tell the …," the Admiral was about to say to Tiner.
"She is already waiting to see you Admiral."
"Send her in."

Tiner opened the door and Mac went in, greeted the Admiral in the official way and took a seat after he asked her to.
"Get comfortable Mac. I know that this isn't going to be easy for you but Harm will be back to work from this afternoon. We need another lawyer and Harm is a good one. I got a letter from him a few days ago, asking for his job back. He would even give a rank back and take less salary and I cannot refuse such an offer. I have already talked to the SecNav and we agreed that we need him back – it is not about what I want Mac, believe me," AJ said, not looking at Mac for a minute. "I know that it will not be easy for you, especially after the last days but please," he took a deep breath, "try to work things out just as far as it concerns work."
"I can be professional Admiral …"
"AJ, Mac."
"Okay, I can be professional AJ but don't ask for more than that. I cannot go back to the point before Paula and Cat, and I don't want to. So this relationship will only be work related. Do not expect more."
"I knew that I could count on you."
"Sure you can, always."

This particular afternoon she was at a meeting with Budd discussion and arguing over the comparison. Afterwards it was already 3.30 and she called the Admiral to tell him that she was picking the girls up earlier because of a doctor appointment. Though it was a flat lie, AJ didn't argue with her. He sensed that she would need some time for her to deal with the new situation.

At the day care she noticed Tristan sitting with her girls and the moment he noticed her, he was already running towards her and hugged her around her knees. She tried to be strong, but she just couldn't.

Paula was asleep before Mac had finished nursing her, Catherine took a little longer; a soft Iranian lullaby but not more. Slowly the dark haired women went to the kitchen to get some tea.
The house was calm, just the soft tones of Maria Callas' voice filled the room; the dialogues of Carmen were dancing around softly.
Suddenly the ringing of the door bell disturbed this silence. Mac nearly broke the cup in her hand in shock.

She looked at the watch on her wrist and headed to the door.
She saw Harm standing with Tristan cradled against his chest at the door.
She saw Harm, his shirt bloody.

Mac opened the door. And then she noticed that it was Harm's blood and not Tristan's as she had thought in the beginning.
Without saying anything she took the boy from his arms.

"What happened?" she asked while putting Tristan down. He slung his arms tightly around Mac's neck and wouldn't let go.
Harm was standing there, his white t-shirt full of blood, his jeans bloody. Not able to say a word, he was waiting for something to happen, something to make him speak.
"Harm, what happened?"
"The house …"
Mac wasn't asking him where he had her address from. She knew that Harriet would give in after bugging her long enough.
She stared at Harm, noticed that there was fresh blood too.
"Tristan my dear, sit on the couch please, I will come to you in a second. No. Harm, wait a second." She was thinking. "You come with me, Harm." She brought Tristan to the girl's room, put him in Cat's bed and he snuggled towards her.
Harm was standing in the doorway studying her.

She turned towards him, noticed the blood on his hand and on the door. "Come with me now, Harm. Bathroom."
Her bathroom was large, a big bathtub, separate shower, two sinks and a large chest drawer. Everything was white there, looking antique even if it was new. But that was Mac's style – classic.
Mac told him to sit on the edge of the tub; she brought a chair from her bedroom into the bathroom and moved him onto it.

No words were said when she pulled the bloody shirt over Harm's head. There were several cuts on his chest and backside.
"What happened Harm?" Mac asked again while getting a wet cloth to clean his chest up. She tried again and another time but no reply. Harm was in shock.
Mac cleaned his wounds, put ointment and a bandage over it and did the same with his neck and arms. The cuts weren't deep but still needed to be taken care of.
She left him sitting in the bathroom while she looked after Tristan but the boy didn't have any cuts, only his father's blood . She redressed him into a larger blue shirt from the girls and put fresh diapers on him before putting him back to Catherine.

Harm was still sitting there when she came back with a dark t-shirt.
"What has happened to you Harm?"
"I saw something outside … I wanted to go outside but ran through the glass door, and fell …"
"Oh my god, have you called the police?"
"There was somebody outside …" He said between sobs.
"I don't know Mac, I was just so scared." She had never seen Harm crying not because he was afraid of something. This was out of his character, Mac thought. "I thought they would take Tristan from me." He took a deep breath and tears were running down his handsome face. "He is the only person I have left to exist for." As soon as he had said it, he knew that it had been wrong.
Mac's heart shattered another time after she had heard those words. She had left the last time, again, because she couldn't bear it anymore. She had lost the trust in him, then trust in everybody. It was now only her and the girls, and her job. Nothing more and nothing less. Nothing you can simply lose.
Against her own better judgement she buried his face against her chest, her arms tightly around him, letting him sob. She wasn't trying to calm him down. She knew that it had to come out. And he was crying. Like he had never cried before.

"Harm, we cannot stand here like that all night long. We still have a job to do tomorrow morning and you have to call the police."
Harm backed away and noticed the look on her face, caring but distanced.
"Maybe it is the best if Tristan and I go back home." He started to head to the girl's bedroom.
"No you will stay here tonight, Harm. You came to me and now you are here and I will not throw you out."
"But you left, Mac, and you are not talking to me anymore."
"No? What am I doing at the moment?" She said and sat down on the sofa and patted the place next to her. Harm sat down and stared at the coffee table.
"Why did you leave?" he nearly whispered.
"Because we weren't meant to be, Harm. Didn't you realise it? You are always running from me and I have two girls to take care of. I cannot run after you like I did years ago. My life has changed."
"Not meant to be …," Harm mumbled when he slowly walked to the window at the end of the room. Mac didn't get up at the same time but waited. "I always thought that we were meant to be together Mac. You and me, perfect couple."
"But look Harm where we are. We may be in love with each other but we do not fit into each other's life." She said it and felt how she jabbed the knife further into her heart and twisted it around in there.
"The time we spent together was amazing, Mac. Sarah, before the girls were born everything was so fantastic…."
"Before you ran off again," she replied hard, turned around and headed towards her fridge to get a glass of milk. She lusted for something stronger, much stronger, but it wouldn't happen – not again, never again.
"You have no idea how often I wanted to hear your voice again. Sarah…"
"What do you want to hear from me? That I forgive you? That I forgive you running twice off leaving your son behind? No, I cannot forgive you and Renee wouldn't either."
"Renee …," he sighed. "Renee isn't alive anymore. She never cared about Tristan. Do you think I never read that diary of hers? I read it and it was the last drop that broke the marriage apart. I never told her but I knew up from the moment which woman I had married." Mac didn't answer. "And she never cared for Tristan. The only reason I didn't get the divorce papers signed was because of the baby. She wanted to call him Harmon Rabb III., but it just didn't feel right to me, I refused. Tristan is the right name for him – sadness."
Mac knew the meaning of the name Tristan, she had read "Tristan and Isolt" in school years ago. She also knew why he had picked the name, Grams had mentioned it – he wasn't conceived in love.
"But you married her anyway and you left your son with me, twice Harm. He is your son and that will not change. Look at him – your eyes, your hair, your smile."
"Nevertheless, this is not about Tristan, Sarah," he again called her by her given name. "This is about you and me."
"And? There is a you and me but there is no us, Harm. What don't you understand?"
"I just do not understand why," he said calmly with lots of pain in his voice.
"Harm you left twice without a word. How should I survive it another time? I survived … I surrendered it twice. I will not be able to do it a third time. Once I the reason may have been your head trauma but I don't know about now and honestly said, I am not interested anymore. I have a life; I have kids to take care of. Harm, I need to take care of myself."
"But I could …"
"Break my heart again, shatter it in pieces. You know, you are damn good at that."
"Sarah … "
"No Harm, I cannot anymore."
"But I love you."
After she heard those words her heart started beating faster and tears shone in her eyes. "I never said that I do not love you anymore Harm, of course I do." In this moment she had to think about her girls and that he had fathered them. "But we cannot be together, we tried and it didn't work out. I do not know why and I am not sure why I do not want to know it. Maybe because I am afraid that you will rip healed wounds open again. But that …"
"..you said I was just a friend," he blurted out.
A pregnant pause filled the room. Mac leaned against the wall searching for the moment in her memory when she said that he was just a friend.
The birth of the girls.
She remembered the situation suddenly. She never thought he would recognise it, even notice it. She … she didn't know what to say now.
"But why didn't you just talk to me," she asked a few minutes later.
"I couldn't. What should I have said? Lets stay friends but lets fuck on a regular schedule?"
"Harm …"
"No Mac, you made yourself very clear before. We cannot be together anymore. Okay, it will not be easy but if you wish, your wish is my command," Harm replied dryly and headed back to his son.
"You will stay here tonight Harm."
"No, Mac I cannot."
"You need to," said Mac staring on the floor, "we need to talk."
"What more to say? I guess you said everything."
"Harm …"
"No Mac."
"So it isn't Sarah anymore."

Mac slowly went to the next door and opened it. She presented a bedroom with a PC in it and some bookshelves. "This is the guestroom. Just because I said you should stay here doesn't mean I would take you to my bed. How naïve do you think I am? You are hurt and Tristan needs his sleep."
She pulled out some sheets from the linen cabinet and pulled them over, handed him some towels and left.

Harm didn't know what just happened. He was perplexed.

He walked to the floor and looked for her. The door to the nursery was open and he slowly walked up to it – and he noticed Mac in the rocking chair with a fussing Tristan on her chest, trying to calm him down.
Tristan hadn't been a good sleeper the last weeks. He had often woken up in the middle of the night without reason. Harm hadn't been good at calming him down, he knew it.
Suddenly he heard Mac's soft voice, "Go to bed Harm, its nearly morning. We'll be okay."
"Will you be okay?"
"I think so."

Harm went to bed but couldn't fall asleep. He heard Mac singing a lullaby for his son. Tears were running down towards the pillow. She had never differentiated between her babies and his, she would never do it.

It was shortly before eight when everybody was sitting around the kitchen table.
"Dada," Tristan said and pushed his full spoon towards Harm. Harm just laughed.
"No you have to eat that cutie."
"Dada …"
"No," Harm replied again softly.
"He only wants to feed you as you normally feed him," Mac said over the shoulder finishing the coffee for both of them.
And Harm opened his mouth and Tristan shoved the spoon into his dad's mouth. Afterwards he looked happy, this cute little boy.
A few minutes passed till Cat looked at Harm and pointed her spoon towards him. "Dada," she said. The house was completely silent. "Dada," she protested again, shoving her spoon further towards Harm. After a few seconds of thinking he opened his mouth and let the spoon glide into it. "Dada," she said happily and giggled.

Mac had watched the whole situation from her position and said nothing. She was not sure if she should be happy or sad about her daughter calling Harm "dada". She was nervous.
She slowly prepared the rest of the breakfast and packed the kids' stuff together for day care.

"Sit down and have a bite to eat Sarah," Harm said and pushed Mac towards a chair, she hadn't even noticed him coming.
With that he put some toast and marmalade in front of her and her coffee mug. "Eat, I will change diapers of that small brigade," he said with a smile and Tristan walked next to him; the girls each on a hip to the nursery.

With the coffee in her hand, Mac studied him carefully when he changed Paula's diapers. Paula could be mad at the moment if you try to change them but Harriet told her that it was normal that they start getting noisy and all that at that age.

Anyway Harm did well.
"Here you go cutie," Harm said and finished the last button. Paula stayed calm and seemed to study the man's face carefully.
"Dada," she suddenly said with a smile.
"No, I am not your dada cutie, I wish I would," he said and tickled her on her belly and the girl giggled.
"But you are, Harm."

Harm looked towards the door. He didn't believe what he had heard. What did she say?

"You are their father."
"But how …?"
"The insemination clinic. You donated sperm, I searched for Mister Right." He stared at her in isbelieve. "I am one hundred percent sure about it Harm. I got the information from the clinic."
"They aren't allowed to tell you …"
"But they did. You have to live with it. Those two girls are yours."
"I don't understand …"
"What is so hard to understand Harm? I searched through all the files for a tall and handsome guy. That moment I wished you would have thought about our baby deal before jumping into the sack with Renee, but you didn't. I never planned for you to see me again, not me or the baby. It wasn't planned that I would get pregnant with twins but the chance is higher if you try with hormone therapy and the side effects are multiplied."
"How long have you known?" He still stared at her in disbelieve.
"For sure, not so long but I had the feeling already shortly after I went home with them and studied Tristan's baby photos. Have you never noticed the similarities between them?"
He was in shock, not able to say one word. The few seconds he had seen the girls he hadn't had the chance to notice it but he studied Paula now, and Cat next to him and Tristan who just tried to give Cat a wet smack.
He could only nod. They looked similar.
Harm handed Paula to Mac and went towards the phone. He called the admiral to ask for a day off but not just for him, for Mac too. They needed to talk. There was a lot unsaid.

"Sarah, we have a day off. We need to clear things. I do not want to go back where we have been before I came here yesterday. But before that, I need to make some calls because of the broken glass at my house."

Mac only nodded. She didn't think that Harm would react like that. She thought he would be angry and run again, after the last time it wouldn't have surprised her.

"Let's pack them together and take walk to the playground."
"It's too cold for the playground."
"I don't want them to play Sarah, I want to walk a little with you, relax and talk."
Mac only nodded in reply and started to dress the girls in their winter overalls and Tristan into an oversized one she got from Harriet – clothes from AJ Jr.

Together they walked a few miles towards a small wood near Mac's house. "How did you get your weight back down so quickly?" he asked softly.
She had thought about many questions during the long silence between them but not this, of all ideas, this never sprang to mind.
"Training. You left and I started running and weightlifting again, with some diet."
"Just because I left?"
"Probably not, Harm, but you made it easier."
"Thanks …," he snorted.
"I didn't mean to intend to say … you know what I mean."
"No I don't."
"Shit, Harm. I needed to get my mind off you and the fact that I was sitting alone with three babies and you far away. What the hell did you think?"

Silence filled the space between them again.

"Do you still nurse the girls?"

"At night yes, sometimes in the morning when they feel full. They don't care but I should wean them soon."
"But you seem to like it."
"I do, you are right."
"You always liked nursing Tristan. I remember you sitting in the rocking chair with your big belly and Tristan had one hand above your heart and the other was hungry holding your breast, and …"
"Harm, stop it, okay." She remembered it very clearly herself and didn't need to be remembered. She saw herself in front of her. It was a, somehow, erotically image she had stored in the very back of her brain.

Mac knew that she had more on the bust-line as before and she liked it. She was always self confident about her décolleté; and she knew that some men only talked to her at bars because of the bust. But she also knew that she was more than breast. She was a woman, a passionate woman with a family to think of.
She didn't want to be reduced to her body, she was more. She was much more. She was a woman, a mother.

He remained silent. They packed the kids together in the twin and one single stroller and went for the park.
Nothing was said. Mac was deeply into her thoughts.
"Speak to me, Mac."
"What shall I say?"
"What are you thinking about?"
"None of your business, Harm, sorry."
"If you don't tell me what is bothering you, I cannot help you."
"Have you ever thought about the fact, Harm, that maybe you cannot help me anymore."
"… not anymore?"
"Yes, Harm, not anymore. What is so hard to understand? You made yourself clear. Twice. You left twice. I learned twice to be on my own. I don't want to go back to the fear again that you may leave tomorrow."
"You are afraid …"
"No Harm I am not afraid of it. But how would you feel? Somebody fucks you the one day, leaves the other without a word? Comes back and thinks everything will be as before?"
"I never thought it would be as before. I know I made a mistake."
"Oh you knew?" the sarcasm was clear.
"Yes I did and I came back."
"But it was and is too late."
"But I love you."
"And," she asked staring at him, stopping the stroller. "You have said that before, didn't you? As far as I can remember it didn't stop you from running."
He had thought of many replies she could give him, but not this. When he came back from the shock she was 100 metres away with the twins.
"Mac wait." But she didn't.
Tears were running down her cheeks and it hurt because of the coldness of the air. She didn't stop. She didn't look back.
A second later she was pressed against a tree, the stroller next to her, his mouth on hers, kissing her hard. Her mouth opened, her stomach betrayed her and his tongue was inside her. They kissed harder without stopping for fresh air. She was angry with him, it seemed clear.
Mac hands were in his hair, her body pressed against his. She couldn't remember the moment her coat was opened but his hands were roaming her breasts, touching them roughly but also in his own way gently – the way she liked it. But he couldn't know "that" side of her. Her body was pressing tightly against his strong front. She couldn't get herself away from her. He didn't stop kissing her, touching her, thinking of her.

"I love you", he said separating from her, "never doubt that Mac, never." She didn't reply. She only stared at him. "No I do not just love you, Mac; I am in love with you." He looked into her dark eyes. "Don't say anything you don't mean now. You do not have to answer at all."
"I mean …"
"No Mac don't, please. You need probably time and that's okay."
"I don't need time Harm. I have always loved you but …."
Harm turned around and walked towards the strollers. The kids were asleep soundly. "I have always been in love with you. But we are just not meant to be together. Look what happened to us?"
"What happened, Mac?"
"We make each other unhappy."
"You don't make me unhappy …"
"I did. And you ran away."
His eyes wandered from her toes up her body again, along the dark jeans and the thick woollen pullover, up to her soft face and the long hair which were pulled back in a pony tail.
"I love you Mac."
"Harm …"
"No I want to tell you. I … I was afraid that you don't want me in your life. You said that I am a "just" a friend. I thought …"
"Why didn't you ask? I didn't know that you are their father."
"Their father," he mumbled.
Mac came towards him. "I never stopped loving you but I realised and learned that we cannot live together. We only hurt each other."
"You do not want to be with me. Okay."
"Harm you have to understand, it is not about what I want but what is good for us and the kids."
"To grow up with just one parent."
"Harm, don't make it harder than it is, please."
"But that is the truth. And I want you."
"I cannot be your fuck buddy."
"I don't want you to be my fuck buddy," Harm replied angrily, "I want you to be my wife."
Suddenly there was a big silence between them.
"Your wife?" she asked like a whisper.
"Yes my wife, Mac."
"Yes, always you and nobody else."
"But you never … I mean except … but …," she was stammering.
"I once committed my life but for the wrong reasons. I want to be married to you. I want to wake up next to you the rest of my life. And I want more kids," he smiled at her, "okay maybe not tomorrow but soon. I just want you."
"But I am coming in a package," she replied and pointed towards the twins.
"I don't see a problem with that. They are also part of me."
"Are you sure that you will not run away again? Harm, think carefully about it. As soon as you start running I am away with the kids forever and I will never come back again. The same thing will be as soon as I ever catch you with another woman."
"You are jealous?"
"Yes I am. If it comes to my man I am."
"Okay, because I am too," he said with a huge smile on his lips.

End part 8

I know it took long and it isn't that good but anyway, more to come, for sure ;)
More? sure ;)
ms.parker (at) gmx.at