Will You Always Be There?

Chapter 75b/Epilogue

Disclaimers: As previously stated.

Spoilers: Anything up to 'Fair Winds and Following Seas' in Season Ten.

1730

July 6 2005

London Time

Bond Street

Central London

Mike had almost reached the Bond Street entrance to the Tube when his cell phone rang.

"Michael?"

"Faith! Hey...it's great to hear from you." He hadn't expected to hear from her until the coming weekend.

"Listen, have you seen Captain Rabb?"

"Yeah, he left a bit early today. He didn't appear to be having a very good day...Why?"

"Everyone is trying to find him. Colonel Rabb is at Bethesda today. The general has been turning half of Naval Forces Europe upside down to try and locate him."

"What's going on? Where are you?" Mike stopped and stepped nearer to a building so that others could pass and he could better understand her. So far nothing was making much sense.

Faith was at Bethesda; she and Bud had secured early, with the general's permission. The members had returned quickly with a guilty verdict in Faith's Article 92 case. Admiral Morris had stepped in to preside in Colonel Rabb's place. Since she and Commander Roberts were the resourceful people they were, they had convinced the general they could help locate the captain. They also promised to double their efforts on their case work in the morning if allowed to go to Bethesda this afternoon.

"I'm at Bethesda – the colonel delivered their baby today, and Commander Roberts and I had an idea about how to help the captain get a look at his new baby right away."

Mike caught on right away and liked the idea. "Our picture phones?"

"Very good, Mister Marine – now all we have to do is find him."

"I'm on it, Lady Sailor. I'll call you back as soon as I find him." With that Mike ended the call, satisfied that he got the last word in… this time.

1955

London time

Wednesday

July 6th

NLSO BROFF

London, England

Harm walked up the steps to the office. He had been walking around central London for the last two hours. He hadn't wanted to go back to his lonely apartment tonight. He felt on edge tonight for some reason. Everything had irritated him today; he thought it best to be on his own tonight.

He'd had a couple of pints with McBurney last night and that had helped pass the time. Giving Mike a little good natured needling about Faith Coleman had become one of his favorite things to do, but he was in no mood for that tonight. He looked at his watch. Mac would probably still be in court; there was no use in trying to reach her now.

He walked into his darkened office, flipping on the light over his desk and dropping into his chair.

Outside on North Audley…

Mike was beginning to think he was never going to find him. He had been to Harm's apartment, around Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus… it seemed to him he had looked everywhere and he was beginning to get worried. He looked toward the office and noticed a light on; as he drew nearer to it he realized that it was Captain Rabb's office. He pushed the button to dial Faith's number and got through right away.

"I found him – he's back at the NLSO. I'm going into the building now."

"Okay, I've got a text message and then a few pictures. Can you manage that?"

"Yes, I think so…what kind of question is that?" he demanded, slightly irritated that she might think he didn't know how to use his picture phone.

"Okay, Michael, I'm joking. Honestly!" She chuckled at him, surprised at his sensitivity.

"All right, all right… I'm on our floor. Let me make sure that it's the captain."

Faith might not be laughing if she knew Captain Rabb had seen the lovely picture she sent last month.

He knocked on Harm's office door. "Captain Rabb? Sir? Are you there?"

Harm stood and answered. "Yes. McBurney? What are you doing here?"

"Sir?" Mike couldn't keep the smile from his face. "I have a message for you from your wife."

Harm frowned. Why hadn't she called him herself – and why would she call McBurney? He reached into his pocket to check his cell phone. He had turned it off and forgotten to turn it back on when he left the office.

Mike handed the phone to him and Harm looked at the message. It read:

Jacqueline Patricia Rabb.

Four pounds Eight ounces.

Seventeen inches long.

Born at 1246, July 6 2005.

Mother and Baby are doing fine.

Harm blinked. He couldn't believe she was here – their baby was here. He looked at Mike, speechless. "How?"

"Commander Coleman is at Bethesda with her picture phone. We thought it might be nice if you saw your daughter right away."

Harm looked back down at the picture phone, which was still showing the text.

Mike pointed to the place on the keypad to retrieve the pictures that had been sent. "Sir, if you will push this button."

Harm pushed it, and was rewarded with a picture of a very tiny Jacqueline Rabb being lifted up slightly from her warming bed, so that her face could be seen in the picture.

Mike suddenly felt like an intruder and thought it might be time to step outside and give the captain some privacy. "Sir, there are more pictures; just push the button. I'll be just outside."

Harm nodded, but his eyes never left the picture on the small screen. He reached for the back of the chair nearest him and felt his way to the front of it to sit down. He pushed the button Mike had shown him, and saw a picture of Mac in her hospital bed and surrounded by their friends and family. AJ, Bud and Harriet, his grandmother and even Mattie. She looked great, standing at Mac's bedside. He was so relieved Mac wasn't all alone, but brokenhearted that he had not been there. He knew she must have needed him. He pushed the button again and it was a text message. It read:

Mister Marine

Tell the captain to call directly to the colonel's room

812 555 1996

Room 427

Call me later

Lady Sailor

Harm closed the phone and placed the call from his office to the National Naval Medical Center and Mac's room.

"Hello," Mrs. Rabb answered.

"Grandma?"

"Harmon! That was quick. I'll get Mac for you."

"Harm?" Mac sounded groggy.

"Mac!" He wished with all his heart he was there with her. Their dream had come true; their baby had made it into the world healthy and whole.

"She's here, Harm, and she's perfect."

"I'm so sorry I wasn't there." He shook his head slightly, feeling that he had let her down again.

"Harm, you've been there and -are- there for me in all the ways that count." Mac's voice cracked with emotion. "General Creswell is going to try and get you back here for a couple of days. You'll be with us soon." It was so good to hear his voice.

"This has been a terrible day up until now. I can't wait to get back to you." Harm stood and carried the phone to the door of his office. "Just a minute, I have to let McBurney have his picture phone back. We're going to have to have one now for sure." Harm heard Mac laugh softly into the phone.

Harm smiled and handed the cell phone back to Mike. "Thank you, Mike."

"You're welcome, sir, and congratulations." Mike turned to walk down the hallway. "Goodnight, sir."

Harm nodded and smiled, turning back to his conversation with Mac. "Mac, I know you must be tired, but if you can, tell me everything. Is she really all right?"

"She's tiny, Harm, and she is in the Neonatal Unit. She is requiring oxygen but the doctors say that it is pretty normal for a preemie. She's beautiful, Harm. She's tiny, but she's just perfect." Mac was repeating herself but she just couldn't express it any better. "I feel like I'm looking at an angel."

Harm sat back in his chair and heaved a satisfied sigh. The baby was here, and she was all right. Mac was all right and he was coming home.

0745

London time

Friday

July 7th

NLSO BROFF

London, England

Mike McBurney unlocked his office and stepped inside. He saw a note in the middle of his desk calendar. It read:

Mike

Thank you again for your help in connecting me with my family on such a momentous night.

I will be out of the office until Tuesday. The Judge Advocate General has seen fit to allow me a few days leave to meet my daughter.

I forgot to pass on a text message that you received last night.

Lady Sailor would like Mister Marine to call her.

All the Best

Harm.

Mike sat down the chair behind his desk with a thump. He would never live this down. He should call her right now, but she was probably in court. He hoped the captain did ask her about her picture, the one with the crossed eyes. It would serve her right. He grinned, shook his head and turned on his computer to begin his work day.

1800

Thursday

July 7th

National Naval Medical Center

Bethesda, Maryland

Harm walked as fast as he could without running into the entrance of the building. It had been a long trip, but he was not tired. He was running on pure adrenaline, he was feeling almost giddy. He had laughed at himself when he was shaving at a layover in New York. The baby wouldn't be able to see if he had a five o'clock shadow or not; she wouldn't be able to tell what he was wearing. He had changed into a clean uniform anyway; after all, he was meeting his daughter today. He couldn't wait to see her and his legs couldn't carry him fast enough.

Harm exited the elevators and followed the numbered signs to Mac's room. Her room was empty. Harm looked at the nurse's station just behind him; the corpsman answered his question before he asked it.

"She's probably in the NICU, sir. She and her grandmother left not five minutes ago."

"Where?" Harm walked toward the nurse's station.

"It's just down the hallway, through the double doors to your right, sir."

He smiled and thanked her, and immediately made his way to the NICU.

He walked up to the unit enclosed in glass. A nurse's station was at the entrance.

"I'm here to see my daughter."

"Your name, sir?"

"Captain Harmon Rabb."

"Yes sir, follow me."

Harm followed the corpsman to a row of clear bassinets. There appeared to be about 7 of them, sitting on wheeled carts. Harm looked at each baby as he passed and then he stopped in front of the bassinet labeled 'Baby Rabb.' He looked at the corpsman.

"Here she is, sir." The young man liked this part of his job. It wasn't easy to see these patients struggle through the first weeks of their lives, but this was one of the perks: Introducing a parent to his or her child.

Harm looked at the tiny baby, wrapped in a pink blanket and wearing a small pink cap. She had a small tube that went inside her mouth, a monitor that read her heart rate and her oxygen level attached to her heel. As the corpsman explained, Harm's eyes never left the baby.

"Would you like to hold her, sir?"

Harm looked at the corpsman quickly. He wasn't ready; she had more lines and tubes than he had expected. She didn't look real to him at that moment.

"I'll wait for my wife."

"Yes sir, she should be here any moment. Let us know if you need anything, sir."

"Thank you, Petty Officer." Harm glanced quickly toward him.

Harm looked down at the baby, trying to see her through everything that seemed to be attached to her. The baby, whose eyes had been closed, suddenly opened her eyes and appeared to look directly at Harm. He leaned forward and closely as he could, locking his hands behind his back, as though he didn't want to touch the bassinet.

"Hello," he said to his daughter.

Jacqueline blinked, and her eyes seemed to open wider as though she were trying to see him better. At that moment Harm finally saw the baby beneath all the wires and tape. They were looking at each other eye to eye and he was smitten. The baby drew her eyebrows down as if she were studying him. Harm bent down even closer, his big body nearly bent double at the waist. This was the picture that greeted Mac as Mrs. Rabb wheeled her into the unit.

Mac held up her hand and whispered to Mrs. Rabb, "Wait." She didn't want to interrupt the moment. "Look at that. I think the baby is already wrapping her father around her little finger."

Mrs. Rabb smiled and nodded her agreement. She was so glad to see this day, so glad for Harm and Mac and, if she were honest, for herself too. Though this year had been hard in some ways, her life was so much richer because of these two. They had brought Mattie into her life, and now this new baby was the icing on the cake. She couldn't ask for more.

Mac locked the brakes on her wheelchair and carefully stood up. She walked gingerly over to where Harm stood. He had sensed her presence as she walked toward him, and he straightened his back and held his arm open for her to walk into his embrace. She tucked herself carefully into his arms and Harm kissed her temple.

"Thank you." He looked down at her and into her eyes.

"You're welcome. I couldn't have done it without you, Sailor." She kissed his cheek.

"You were right, Mac – she is beautiful." Harm turned to look at their baby.

"She's getting stronger too, Harm. She doesn't require any assistance with her oxygen levels now, though they are monitoring her closely. I know the tubing is a little frightening at first."

"I know, but after you see her eyes and she looks at you, you just don't see it anymore."

Harm was amazed at how quickly all the lines attached to the baby became secondary to that intense little gaze.

Mac smiled at him. "That's right." She winced a bit; her incision was beginning to

pull. "I think I better sit down."

Harm walked her to the rocker that sat near the bassinet and helped her ease into it. Mrs. Rabb brought another rocking chair and placed it next to Mac's.

"You don't have to do that, Grandma. You've already done so much for us. I don't know what we would have done if you hadn't been here to help us."

"It's all right, sit down. I'll go down and get a cup of coffee and let you two spend some time with your daughter."

They would never know what they had meant to her.

"Thanks – where is Mattie, by the way? I wanted to tell her how great she looked in the picture last night. You've done such a great job with her."

"Mattie has done most of the work. She is with Jennifer and Victor. Jen is getting a few of Mattie's old friends and taking them all to the movies."

Mac braced herself and chuckled. "Poor Gunny."

Mrs. Rabb laughed along with her, and she left as the unit nurse came into the room. "Would you like to hold the baby for a while, Captain?"

"Yes, I would." He wasn't afraid to hold her now; as a matter of fact, he couldn't wait to get his hands on her.

The nurse arranged the baby's tubing and wrapped her in her blanket before placing her into Harm's hands. He sat her slightly up and she nearly fit into the palm of one of his hands. She opened her eyes and gave him her serious and direct look.

"She's unbelievable, Mac."

Mac gave him an indulgent smile. "I know. She looks as though she knows all the secrets of the universe." She reached over and stroked the side of his face and hair with the tips of her fingers.

He looked at Mac. "There is something else, too." He looked back at the baby. "It's hard to explain, but I feel like I recognize her face, like I already know her." Harm knew this didn't make sense, but it was the way he felt, and the feeling was so profound that he had to tell her about it.

"I know what you mean. It's like she's been waiting for us to get our heads out of our sixes and get together so that she could come into the world." She had felt that way since the first time she looked into her eyes right after the baby had been born.

Harm looked back into Jacqueline's little face and remembered her mother's question to him over a year ago.

"Yeah, Mac… it's as though she's always been there."

FIN

Epilogue to follow

Will You Always Be There?

Epilogue

Disclaimers: I don't own any of the JAG characters. I don't own any product or label mentioned for the purposes of telling this story. Any similarities to situations or person living or dead are purely coincidental.

Spoilers: Any episode from Season One to Season 10.

1730

Saturday

October 22, 2005

Rabb Farm

Belleville, Pennsylvania

Mrs. Rabb stood on her front porch holding her granddaughter. She was bundled in a jacket and cap that was a beautiful shade of 'Marine green,' much to her father's consternation. It was a sunny but cool day. Jackie seemed to love the outdoors; she was such a happy baby. The wind picked up slightly and whirled a pile of leaves high in the air. The baby squealed with delight and locked her hands together. As young as she was, she seemed to be curious about every sound and interested in every face. Mrs. Rabb smiled and kissed her little cheek. They would need to go in in just a moment; the baby's nose was getting pink.

She was expecting Jack Keeter this afternoon. She had offered him a couple of good home cooked meals and a nap or two in front of the fireplace in return for the loan of his cabin. Mrs. Rabb kept the baby and Mattie would be staying with her while Harm and Mac took a quick weekend away before they moved to London. They were celebrating a year together, along with the news that Mac's health was continuing to improve, once again with close monitoring.

Mattie would remain behind for at least the first semester. She had asked Harm if she could wait until early next year to come over. She had made new friends here; life was slower and easier for her now, and for the time being, it seemed to be what she needed. She and Mrs. Rabb had become very close, and for the time being Mattie wanted to stay here in the States. Harm had been disappointed but he had understood.

Mattie had been able to return to walking without assistance and her balance had improved a great deal. She still had lapses at times when she was tired or not feeling well, though those times were getting fewer and farther between. School was proving to be a challenge for her, a greater challenge than anyone expected. She was beginning to make progress at school, but her first few weeks had been difficult at best. Her attention span had been affected by the accident and Mattie's frustration level with her limitations was high. Special tutoring was helping her catch up with her classmates. Mrs. Rabb knew that all she needed was time. Mattie would be joining Harm and Mac, just a bit later than planned.

Mrs. Rabb and Mattie would both fly over to London over the holidays. She believed that would be all Mattie needed to feel that she could do well with Harm and Mac living overseas. She might just stay in London for a while herself; Mrs. Rabb decided that you were never too old to try new things. She smiled at the thought.

She bounced Jackie on her hip, and the baby smiled at her, then returned her attention to the red barn she had been studying for the last few minutes. She felt such a sense of immortality when she looked at this child. She had witnessed another generation of this family come into the world. She remembered Mary and Andrew Rabb and how they had always been there for her. She could see their faces still… she could still hear Mary's voice, and though she was soft spoken, that voice had belied the strength within. Andrew Rabb's unspoken respect for his wife and his love for his son and grandson had taught her what the word 'family' meant. His sense of honor and fair play was a lesson he taught by example.

She and David had believed they would have the same long and happy life that his parents had, that the war was merely a bump in the road. Time proved them wrong all too soon, but their love had given them Harmon and memories that time could not erase from her heart. She could see him in her mind's eye, tall and handsome, his smile drawing her in and making her fall head over heels in love with him. Try as she might, she could not resist him, and after he had finally won her, she hadn't wanted to. When she looked at the baby now she could swear her eyes were already turning the same shade of green as her great grandfather's. Loving David had changed her life, and though she had lost him, their love was always there.

She looked down at the first granddaughter of her only son. The baby reached for her face, and Mrs. Rabb took her hand and kissed it. Harmon had loved being a father; he had loved being a husband. He had made it obvious. For reasons she couldn't explain, she was so proud of him for that. He was an open book – if he loved you, you knew it. He was the type of man she had heard David's parents call a 'true' man; there was no guile in him. He had his father's sense of humor and confidence. She remembered a drive they had taken on a Sunday afternoon during Harmon's last visit to the farm. They had been listening to the radio and Harmon had decided it was time to sing. He'd turned the radio up and began to sing… terribly. 'I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles…and the heavens open every time she smiles…" Trish had laughed and covered her ears, and little Harm covered his eyes, peeking at his father between his fingers. They had all been feeling pretty low because Harmon would soon be leaving, and he had made them all laugh. Mrs. Rabb and Trish had laughed until they cried.

She looked down the gravel drive and remembered Harm and Mac finding each other … here of all places. They'd worked together every day for over nine years, but when they came here, they could finally acknowledge the love that had always been there. She saw a vehicle slow down and then turn into the drive. Oscar barked his usual greeting and followed the vehicle up the drive. It was Jack, just in time for dinner.

Jack saw Mrs. Rabb standing on the porch, holding his namesake. Harm and Mac had nearly done him in when they told him they had named the baby Jacqueline Patricia. He had been joking about naming their first born after him. He had been honored and touched beyond words when he heard it.

Jack parked in front of the house and walked up the steps to Mrs. Rabb. He said hello to Jackie, and she gave him her best open mouthed smile. He followed Mrs. Rabb into the house and further into the kitchen. Mrs. Rabb handed the baby to him and turned to wash her hands at the kitchen sink. She turned and saw Jack awkwardly holding the baby slightly away from him. She chuckled and walked over to him. She helped him place his hands more securely on the baby's back and bottom and put the baby on his shoulder. Jackie peered at her great grandmother over his shoulder and blinked her thank you.

"For Pete's sake, Jack, it's a baby, not a cord of wood."

Mattie walked into the kitchen after witnessing the baby-holding lesson. She joined her grandmother in a good laugh on Jack.

Jack grinned sheepishly. "Okay, okay, what does a guy have to do to get something to eat around here?"

"Coming up, you rascal." Mrs. Rabb continued to laugh at her grandson's best friend.

2100

Saturday

October 22nd

Tilghman Island

Mac lay sleeping with Harm tucked in closely behind her. They had arrived late yesterday morning. Harm was at the halfway point in his leave time. They had spent a wonderful few days at the farm with Harm getting reacquainted with his daughter and with Mattie. Now they wanted to take this time alone before they left for London, a time to reconnect as a couple, just her and Harm. It had been a long time since circumstances had allowed them to return to a place that only they knew. That place where they were just a man and a woman who loved and needed each other. Harm's new assignment and Mac's pregnancy and subsequent healing thereafter had put unintended distance between them. The last 24 hours had helped them put all of that far behind them.

They hadn't done very much sight seeing so far, though they had hiked out to Black Walnut Point this morning after breakfast. They couldn't have ordered a more beautiful day. It was just as it had been a year before: the sound and smell of the ocean mixed with the scent of fall in the air. This was where they had really begun their journey together. This cabin would always be special to them.

Mac shifted slightly in her sleep and awoke, feeling Harm tighten his hold on her and tuck her in closer to him. She turned her head toward him as he woke and kissed her cheek.

"Hey, sorry – go back to sleep." She ran her hand along his forearm as it closed around her.

Harm hugged her to him. "I can sleep anytime."

"You'll probably be swamped when you get back to London after two weeks of leave."

"Nah." His voice was still gravelly with sleep. "General Creswell sent Commander Coleman TAD to help with case load while I'm in the States."

"Oh?" Mac turned in his arms. "That was kind of him." Mac had the feeling that Harm had requested Faith Coleman specifically.

"Yes, it was." Harm said, agreeing with her.

"I'm sure Major McBurney appreciated it."

Harm smiled. "I'm sure he did." He owed him something, after all. He had joined him in London without a backward look and was doing an excellent job. He had also taken his good natured jibing about Faith without complaint.

Harm was suddenly wide awake, though he had only been slept a couple of hours. "So…what to you want to do now?" He was making it clear that getting out of bed wasn't what he had in mind.

"Oh, I think if we REALLY try we can think of something." She laughed softly as Harm kissed her cheek, working his way down to the sensitive area just below her ear. What they had both been thinking of took them deep into the cool fall night together, making up for the many nights they had to spend apart.

Harm and Mac could not look down their lives and say there would never be a time when they wouldn't always physically present for each other. Their love, however, was something that always would be.

FIN

A/N: First of all I want to say a heart felt thank you to Aerogirl for her beta reading and encouragement. Her writing seems to have impressed most of us so that fact that she even gave this story a second thought was inspiring in itself.(Are you blushing yet AG?) This story was a monster (the monster that ate New York, lol) but she took it on with me and I appreciate that more than I can express.

B/N (Beta's Note): Kim, you are more than welcome. You never know where a story like this will take you at the beginning, and now that we've reached the end (which is hard to believe!), I'm very glad to have been along for the journey. I'm sure it wasn't easy at times, but I'm glad you persevered, and I hope you'll agree that it was well worth it. You've given all of us a lovely new way to look back on this last year and, really, the last ten years. Take a well-deserved bow, my dear.

A/N: To all the people who were kind enough to review and encourage me, thank you. To the authors who were kind enough to contact me and encourage me, I also say thank you. Soleil, your encouragement comes to mind right this moment; your wonderfully descriptive prose inspired me… I have to say. (Though you won't see much of soleil in my writing; hers is much more lyrical…blush) There are too many great authors to mention, but manette, CLK, Hollyip, and Ann are just a few that made me want to dip my toe in the fanfic waters and see if I could do it. I hope other authors I have not mentioned will know too by the reviews I posted that I meant every word, you are all an inspiration.

A/N: I have to say thank you also to the man who created these characters. As angry as I've been (and believe me, I was really angry) about the direction of the show the last couple of years, I have to thank Donald Bellisario for these characters that I have loved so much. This story started out as a way to get through Season 10 no matter what he decided to do and it became a love letter to the characters I had the privilege to know over the last 10 years.

A/N: An acknowledgement that I posted earlier in my story got lost in reformatting and beta reading. I used the phrase 'dark and patient and tender' to describe the look in Harm's eyes when he looked at Mac. I read it the first time in H.Lee's "Ease." It was a phrase that I couldn't get out of my head. To me it was the way Harm looked at Mac the last two years of the show … that is, when the powers that be would allow it. (Smile)

A/N: I know there are some story lines open with my secondary characters. I intend to revisit them in the future. I started this as a way to be able to let Harm and Mac and the other JAG characters go and now I find that I don't have to. So if you have questions about them, just hang in with me. I hope to write more about them over the summer. I can safely say, though, that I don't think it will be 75 chapters. LOL.

That's it.

No, really!