Chapter Twenty Two:

Harm and Mac waved goodbye to Bud and Harriet towards the end of the Christmas party. Giving the twins a kiss goodbye Mac turned to Harm. "You seemed to have muddled through the day okay. What's going on Sailor Boy?"

Harm smiled at the term of endearment, he had longed to hear her tease him while he was imprisoned all those months. "It is just harder than what I thought. Reintegrating into society is harder than what I thought it would be, even if it is just my friends and family."

"Honey, it doesn't happen over night. It is going to take time. Lord knows, when I was imprisoned, it took me a little bit to get back into it."

"Mac, it just isn't the same."

"What makes you think that my imprisonment was better than yours!" She shot back at him. "I had to deal with so many things – almost being raped, listening to the riots!"

"Watching them kill Emily – trying to escape, thinking about losing your family, thinking about killing yourself that way you don't let vital information slip out! You didn't know you had a family to get back too!"

"I had to deal with it too! I didn't even get to tell you the chance I was pregnant. I was faced with having to raise our family by myself. You knew that I was going to come back, you knew that I was alive, you didn't have people telling you that I was dead and to move on!"

Mattie had heard enough from the top of the stairs. She had been waiting for them to blow up at each other. "Enough!" she screeched. Max held out his hand to try to stop her. "Who cares whose was worse! Who cares about what happened! The point is that both of you are back – safe and sound – with a family that has gone through hell and back for each other. Let's just be happy."

Trish came out of the back room. "It's Christmas Eve. What would Harm Sr. want for everyone?" She asked with tears coming down her eyes. She pulled out a rubbing. "Since you shouldn't be out in the cold, Frank and I went to say thank you for bringing you home."

"I came home." Harm sighed. "Dad didn't."

Suddenly Mac understood. Even though her torture and Harm's were comparable, he had to live with the fact that he may have never have made it home to his family, just as his dad had. She put her arms around him.

"You are not your father. A spitting image, but you have more fight in you, and a love that defies all logic." His mother went on. "Your father loved his family, but you have a love with your soon to be wife that no one can explain. That love kept you fighting, and figuring out a way to return home. Don't think I didn't love your father, but honey, now that I have Frank I realize what love could have been."

Mackenzie was in rare form that night. "Kismas!" She screeched with the Chipmonk Christmas carol.

"Yeah, tomorrow is Christmas." Mattie said picking up her sister. "She is really picking up."

Max laughed. "You do realize that she has no clue what she is saying."

"Naw, my sister is a genius, and tomorrow we are going to make out like bandits." Mattie said.

Harm looked down. "I didn't get a chance to get my girls or Brennen anything." Trish knew that was bothering him.

"Dad, you coming home was the best gift ever." Mattie kissed him on the cheek. "I will wake you at 0600."

Mac snorted, "If you do you will be grounded. Even if it is Christmas."

Harm gave a hearty laugh and made his way upstairs to get to sleep. Tomorrow was going to be a long but joyful day.

TBC