A/N: To say it with the words of my beta, "Omg, it's finished!!" This is it, the very last chapter.
A huge thank you to all of you who stayed with me and this story throughout the last 16 months. I never meant to drag it out that long. In fact it should have been finished by Christmas of last year. :P

So enjoy the end and Happy Holidays to everybody.

Reni-Maniac

PS: The song used is by Gary Barlow and the rights belong to him and/or his record company.


22 – One Life Together?

And they did just that – taking it slowly, enjoying the time together. That same night they went to Aaron's play, just like they had planned. Harm was impressed with the talent his son showed on stage.

"He obviously has inherited your voice," Mac answered when she saw Harm's big smile.

They used the following days to get to know their children and each other more closely. The days were spent as a family. They went sledding at least three times, spent endless hours in the backyard for Hannah and Kenny to get as much snow as possible, and in the evening Harm turned on the fire for them to relax. During these times, when the light of day slowly faded but the day's impressions remained, all of them were the closest. They talked a lot, most times until the kids would fall asleep. But never during these six days did Harm and Mac ever get as far as they'd been on Christmas Eve again. They shared romantic kisses and had their arms wrapped around each other most of the time. But still both of them knew when to stop.

So the last day of the year arrived.

It wasn't much different from the days of the past week, though. At least not the hours until well into the night.

A game board was situated on the couch table. Cards were spread all over it and the surrounding floor.

"Mum, here's your final question." Hannah turned towards her mother who sat next to her on the sofa to read the question.

And as Mac knew the right answer the game was ended with her winning.

"What should we do now?" Aaron wanted to know. There were still several minutes to go before midnight.

"We could watch TV," Hannah suggested.

"But turn the volume down. Kenny's sleeping." Harm pointed at the little boy that lay on the smaller of the sofas, fast asleep. They would wake him in time to see the ball drop.

They turned the TV on and switched through the channels, but with the volume turned down to a minimum, it wasn't much fun to watch. So they needed something else to do.

"Han, do you want to see mum's old photos?" Aaron asked his sister.

"Sure, might be fun to see." And both children walked over to the sideboard by the window that held several photo albums.

"I think that's the oldest." Aaron pulled out a small black album from behind all others.

While her children settled onto the floor to have a look at her old photos, Mac started to gather the game cards to put them away. Harm helped her find all of them. With that done both of them returned to their places. Harm leaned back in the armchair, tipping his head slightly to the left so he could watch his children behind the corner of the sofa. Mac made herself comfortable on the couch, her back to Aaron and Hannah, she preferred watching Harm watch them.

"Mum, you haven't changed much," Hannah stated seeing the first of the photos.

"Thanks," Mac answered.

Hannah and Aaron went on looking through the photos.

"See, there's dad."

"And Harriet and Bud."

They had fun looking through the old photos of people they knew. And Harm had fun watching them. A smile played round his lips. They seemed to be so close, even though they only knew each other for nothing more than half a year. As the time passed, Mac relaxed more and more. Now she had her eyes closed and only listened to her children describing and laughing about the pictures they saw. Most of them she could recall before her inner eye. That had been happy times.

When the album was through, Hannah poked her brother in the side. "I want to see your baby photos," she laughed.

"No way," Aaron argued, putting the black album back in its place but taking no other out.

"Oh come on." She tried to reach past him for the nearest album.

"You don't know which." He grabbed her hand and forced it down.

"I'll find it."

"The big blue one," Mac said softly.

"Mum!!" Aaron winced and let go of Hannah for a moment.

"See." And she reached behind her brother for said book. "Oh isn't that cute?" she giggled when the first photo showed a naked baby boy.

She turned more pages, and with the pictures getting more decent, Aaron settled into the situation. Every now and then he even remembered what they showed and told Hannah about it.

When Hannah first opened the book, Harm thought about walking over to have a look himself but in the end he stayed at his place and remained listening to them. One day he would watch the pictures with Mac by his side.

Somewhere during the time the kids were occupied with the album, an old song came on in the radio. Soft tunes filled the room. Harm didn't know the song, but the lyrics caught his attention. They matched the moment perfectly. He started listening more closely.

Can we share tonight the years we've been apart baby,
From the time we said goodbye until now,
How the nights we laughed and loved still feel like yesterday,
How I'm hoping you still feel the same.
So strange we're standing here after all this time,
Strange when the present and the past collides,
Memories of our days apart I feel they're fading fast,
Silence for my questions here at last.

Yes, he did remember these few nights when he'd been with Mac like they were yesterday. How could he ever forget that? He'd never experienced anything alike before or afterwards. And judging from the tension that had been there on Christmas Eve, he knew that she was feeling the same, that she hadn't forgotten either. And he clearly recalled all the good moments they shared during their friendship.

Are you ready now for me to love you?
Are you ready now to give this love a try?
Are you ready now for me to give you trust to give you truth?
Are you ready now for me?
Are you ready now for me to say I love you?

He was ready now. He had finally let go of his lifeline. He was finally able to commit. To say those words she'd been waiting for so long. He only hoped that she was still willing to hear them. Because that was all he wanted now. Wanted to be with her, with his son, with his family.

By the start of the second stanza Harm began to hum the melody along with the music. The sound of his voice made Mac open her eyes and focus on him and the music. She saw that his eyes were shining and that he was lost in this old song. And within the next few seconds she was soaked in as well.

The look upon your face shows no surprise baby,
Guess you always knew when things played on my mind,
I believe in second chances,
I believe in love for life,
I believe you can maybe lose love once but never twice.

Oh yes, she did believe. She knew that Harm was her love for life. And they'd lost their love once, but this time she would do everything not to lose it again. She needed him so much. She needed him to love her, needed her daughter to be around, the boys to be with her. They were all she'd ever wanted. They were her family. And she wasn't going to lose them again.

Are you ready now for me to love you?
Are you ready now to give this love a try?
Are you ready now for me to give you trust to give you truth?
Are you ready now for me?
Are you ready now for me to say I love you?

She was ready now to take that next step, to give their love the chance they hadn't in the past. Her eyes fixed Harm's. And with this one look they knew that they were both ready. Ready to finally go where they'd wanted to be for so long.

Throw the past aside,
Let's make up for lost time,
If we let this love pass by we may never find these feelings again in our lives.

They both knew that they couldn't make up for the lost time. They'd missed so much. But still if they let this love pass by once again, they would never find another one like this. They should have known back then, with their experience. Neither of them had found a love that lasted, but they had always returned to each other. They were meant to be. And this time they were going to make it work. They were ready now, ready now to give this love a try.

Softly the tunes faded into the background, another song taking their place. But neither Harm nor Mac did realize. Their ears were still filled with the soft melody and all that this song meant. And their glances were still holding on to each other across the couch table between them.

A voice invaded their world, which for a while had blocked out everything else besides them.

"Mum, may we watch the photos in the album Harm gave you?" Aaron asked his mother for the second time. He knew how much this gift meant to his mother. He'd seen her cry over it. And she'd had looked through it each and every day since Christmas. So he figured he'd better ask.

Only slowly did Mac realize that her son had asked her something.

"Sure. But sit here, next to me."

Aaron brought the red book with him and sat between his mother and his sister. Carefully, he opened the book to reveal the picture that showed the twins in the nursery. All three of them had a good look at it, while Harm's eyes remained on Mac and followed her every reaction. He saw that she remembered the days in the hospital, when she still had both her children around.

Aaron turned the page. Hannah lay in her crib, alone. She smiled into the camera, at her dad who'd taken the picture. But at her dad only, not at her mother or her brother. Her father had been the only one there. Hannah was fed by her grandmother. Trish smiled down at her only grandchild, not knowing that thousands of miles away she had another grandchild that would grow up without getting to know his father.

They'd reached pictures that showed Hannah on her third birthday when Aaron suddenly turned back all the pages to the very first.

"Is this the only picture you got of the two of us?" He looked at his mother first but when she didn't answer, he asked Harm.

"Yes," Harm said. It was the only photo he had of his son.

"No," Mac whispered. All three looked at her taken by surprise. "I have them in my bedroom." Silently she stood and walked towards the stairs, followed by Hannah and Aaron.

With a last look at the sleeping Kenny, Harm followed them as well.

Mac took four pictures out of the box she had brought from her bedside table.

"These are from when you were about five days old."

Both kids leaned onto their mother for a better view.

"Would you like to see them?" Mac's eyes focused on Harm who still stood some way off, leaning against a dresser, observing the scene.

He nodded his head. He never knew that she had taken pictures as well. Carefully, he took the pictures and looked at the small miracles. Tears threatened to fill his eyes.

"You want to keep one of these?" Mac asked quietly.

No, he shook his head. "I've already got one." He gave the pictures back to Hannah and reached for his wallet instead. He pulled out an old picture. He held it out for Mac to take.

She had a look at the well-used photo. He must have taken it out a million times. It was bleached by time.

"It's the photo of the album." She looked at him confused.

"Yes, it's the only photo I've got. But I wanted it to be in there, so I got somebody digitally restore it."

"Thank you, Harm." She knew how much this photo must mean to him. She looked at the faded Polaroid and wondered how he got it.

He was back at the nursery. He could spend hours just standing there and watch his two babies sleep. But he knew that eventually he would have to leave his baby boy behind, never to see him again.

His hand touched the cool glass, reaching out for the boy which he wouldn't see growing up.

"Which one is yours?" a man's voice asked next to Harm.

"These two." His finger motioned for Hannah and Aaron. It was the first time he said aloud that he was a father, even father of twins.

"Two will be a challenge! Mine's that sweet little girl over there." The proud father showed Harm his daughter.

"Congratulations."

Both men stood there, soaking in every motion of their newborn children.

"Sir, may I borrow your camera for a shot?" Harm had heard the other taking some photos of his baby.

"Sure. They are worth a million pictures, don't you think?"

Harm nodded and reached for the offered camera. It focused on his twins, their faces. He would treasure this Polaroid for the rest of his life. It was the only thing he could keep of his son.

Mac's fingers ran over the little faces that were mirrored in the picture. How she longed to turn back the hands of time.

"Hey mum, what's that?" Aaron had found another picture in the box and took it out.

Both Mac's and Harm's eyes immediately focused on the picture. Harm's wide with wonder and Mac's half closed from the memory.

"That's your dad holding you. It had been your last day in hospital." Her eyes found Harm's and locked with them.

"I didn't know you were there," he whispered, taking her hands in his.

Harmon Rabb Jr. took the newborn baby carefully out of its crib. Two blue eyes looked up at him. Babies that age aren't able to smile, but when he watched the little face he would have sworn it was exactly what it was doing. He had to smile himself. Slowly, he moved to the nearby chair and settled down always keeping the baby safe. Harm sighed, he loved holding his son, just watching him breathe.

He had always wished to have a son one day. And now that this wish came true, and it was a son with Sarah MacKenzie, his best friend and one-time partner, he had to leave him behind never to see him again. While he watched Aaron MacKenzie slowly drift back to sleep, he thought about the past and the future. He had thought about it since the day Mac had told him she finally got pregnant. Taking the past year into account, it was the best way to handle things. But why did it feel so bad if he was doing the right thing? Aaron now breathed deeply in his arms. Softly he hugged his son, holding him close. His finger followed the outlines of the little face as to never forget his son's looks. With the last sigh he stood back up and walked over to the crib. Carefully he wrapped Aaron into his blanket and laid him back next to his sister. A sister he would never know about.

She had come to the nursery to find him. The doctor had just told her about tomorrow's release. She had to tell him. When she reached the station, he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe she was wrong about him being there. But these last days he had been with his kids whenever he could – just like she had. She walked slowly to the window. It wouldn't be that long, that she got the chance to see her daughter. When she reached the edge of the window she stopped dead in her steps. So she had been right after all. He was there. He was sitting in a rocking chair caressing his son. It looked so natural on him. He would be, no he already was a great father. She was sure of that. There they were again, these tears. She would never see him to be a father. She would never see him play with his son. She would never see her daughter grow up. For the thousands time she asked herself if they were doing the right thing.

Unintentionally, her hand had moved into the pocket of her robe and found the camera. She would at least save that picture of him and his son – the only thing of the past she could hold on to.

"I want you to get it," Mac whispered.

"By the way, who of us is older?" Hannah asked after a moment of silence.

"Afraid to tell you that Aaron's twelve minutes older than you," Harm grinned at his daughter.

"Hah!" Aaron stated triumphantly before he added, "It's only five more minutes 'til the new year."

"Okay, let's go back down. We don't want to miss that," Harm said, pulling Mac to her feet.

"Kenny, it's almost time," Harm whispered into his son's ear, when they arrived back down in the living room, his hand running softly over the child's smooth cheek. And the young boy woke slowly.

With his youngest son on his lap, Harm settled onto the sofa next to Mac, immediately wrapping his other arm around her. Mac had her arm around Aaron, who sat by her side, so her hand had taken hold of Hannah's who sat next to him. All five of them watched the TV and had their eyes on the big clock on New York's Times Square.

"Five… Four… Three… Two… One…Happy New Year," they all exclaimed excited.

The first time in her life Hannah hugged her older brother for the New Year. Kenny first kissed his father before he leaned over to kiss Mac as well. She smiled happily on that. And suddenly Aaron climbed his mother's lap while Hannah tried to get on her father's left knee to hug both their parents. They shared their first family hug.

"Happy New Year Dad," Hannah exclaimed in a sing sang voice. "Happy New Year Mum… Whaah!" Kenny's lips had found their place on Hannah's cheek.

"Happy New Year Han," Kenny stated smiling bright at his sister before he slipped from his father's grip to have a look at the fireworks on TV.

Hannah followed him immediately to get revenge for the kiss.

"Happy New Year Dad." Aaron looked into his father's eyes when he said it.

Harm retreated his arm from behind Mac and reached for his son. "Happy New Year my son." He softly hugged him before Aaron joined his siblings in front of the TV.

Harm's eyes stayed on the three of them for a while. He turned his head when he felt Mac's hand on his. Her eyes were shining.

She saw that he had tears in his eyes, just like her when Hannah had said 'mum' first. "Happy New Year, Harm."

"It is now. Thank you so much Sarah." He pulled her towards him to greet their new year with a kiss.

"So what are your plans for the new year, Sailor?" She placed her head on his shoulder, his arms tightly wrapped around her, her hands resting on his chest.

"Oh, how about moving east?"

Mac lifted her head in surprise. Had he just said that he thought about moving? Hadn't they agreed on taking it slow?

"Calm down Mac. I didn't mean to move in here. I meant that the kids and I could find a place closer to here, much closer. Now that I got to know my son, I don't want to miss another second of his life. I've already missed so much. And I'm sure you think the same about Hannah. I want him around. I want you around. You are my family. I'm not going to give that up the second time."

She nodded. She wanted to be part of Hannah's life as well, wanted to have her daughter back. Wanted to have him back in her life. Wanted to love him.

"Sarah, I love you. And I want you to always be in my life. I know we agreed on taking it slow. We did not even have a first date yet. So Sarah MacKenzie, would you do me the honor of going out with me some time this year?"

"Yes, yes, I would. I love you," she whispered, tears filling her eyes.

Their lips touched slowly at first, but with each passing second the kiss gained more passion and love.

That moment was the start of something better. With the start of the new year, their new life was starting as well. A life as a family. A life as one.