A JAG '24'

Epilogue

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

Spoilers: This story is based on the events in the Season 9 episodes 'Persian Gulf' and 'Take it Like a Man.' The episode 'Hard Time' 'Hail and Farewell II' and 'Fair Winds and Following Seas,' will also be specifically referred to. Other episodes from Seasons 2 through 10 are fair game, as well.

A/N: This format will visit our DD 24 hours, then 24 days, then 24 weeks and 24 months after the end of our story. AND just for fun, we'll get a glimpse of the possibilities, 24 years after the end of our story. ALSO: I took a little license with the dates and events to fit my view of the story.

A/N: This has not been beta read. I couldn't wait to post it and I didn't have the heart to bother either of my beta's. Any mistakes you see are definitely mine. I'll get it beta read before final archive on the HBX.

Rating T

The following takes place on Saturday, February 21, 2004

Between the hours of 10pm and 11pm

Harm drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He was tired but still wide awake. It had been along day, but a good one. Turning on to his side, he saw Mac sleeping soundly beside him. She had been determined to stay in her own apartment tonight but after they had spent most of the day putting everything back in place and cleaning up what the police and NCIS had left behind, he was able to convince her to change her mind. He knew that, deep down; she didn't want to stay there tonight. He also knew it wasn't about Mac being afraid; it was about her not wanting to be alone, just yet.

It hadn't really been too difficult to convince her. He just took an unsteady step or two in her line of sight and that was all it had taken. The instinct she had to take care of and protect him was still as strong as ever, thank God. If he hadn't been so happy to have her here, this close, he might feel guilty, but as it was, he didn't feel guilty at all. He needed to be with her and she needed him, she just wasn't ready to admit it yet. Would she ever know…would he ever be able to tell her, what she meant to him, about how much he loved her?

Reaching over to brush her hair back from her face, he saw the bruising and discoloration on her cheek, the result of her struggle with Sadiq. She appeared to be really sore today. He saw her stop, more than once, and reach for her back, or her shoulder. She hadn't complained though, not once. Sleeping on the couch was out of the question, for both of them. Harm smiled when he thought that neither of their backs could take it tonight.

Mac had felt Harm brush her hair back and opened her eyes slightly. She smiled at him and reaching for his hand, clasped it in hers. Closing her eyes again, Harm watched her, in the moonlight filtering through the blinds, drift back to sleep.

Harm rolled back onto his back and closed his eyes trying to will himself to fall asleep. Laying there for almost a half an hour, trying to occupy his mind with something besides how close he was to her. He had settled on going over each point about trying a capital case. He had promised Bud, when he had spoken with him last night, that he would discuss it with him on Monday morning. He tried planning what he and Mac would do tomorrow and how he could 'arrange' to be with her all day tomorrow too. Just as he was feeling his body begin to relax, he felt, rather than saw Mac rise up on one elbow. Without a word she scooted over closer to him. She snuggled under his arm, lifting it up and placing it around her. Harm quietly cooperated, feigning sleep, allowing her to believe that he was not awake. His hand came to rest on her hip and she tucked her head under his chin, just as she had last night. She heaved a heavy sigh and in just moments, Harm felt her body relax into his arms. Mac had already fallen back into a deep sleep.

'Okay' Harm thought, he could do this. He had almost become accustomed to her nearness and the easy but platonic affection between them. Then, as though the Fates had heard his thoughts, Mac shifted in her sleep, slipping one of her legs between his and resting her arm around his waist. If that weren't bad enough, she nuzzled his neck, breathing his name, in what he could only describe as, the sexiest voice he had ever heard. "Harmmm"

He knew that she was not ready for anything physical yet. He didn't want to push her…. but he wanted her, he loved her and…

Oh God, it was going to be a long night.

The following takes place on Monday, March 24, 2004

Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Mac had just exited onto the Beltway from Reagan International Airport. She was finally home. Her insistence that a convicted Marine private, didn't have a competent 'brig chaser' had gotten her a 3 day ordeal between D.C. and Miramar, in California. The convening authority decided that since Mac was so critical of the choice that she could do the job herself. The end result had been a lesson for Private Boyer and for herself.

She was going to see Harm tonight; she hadn't talked to him since the day before this ordeal had begun.

They had begun their week sharing rides to work and lunches when they could. As the weeks passed, their respective duties were pulling them in opposite directions. There was another issue too, one that Mac had been unable to talk to Harm about. She had been having a difficult time with the counseling the Admiral insisted that she have. She understood that it was necessary but it had been hard to delve into her past and then return to work without showing the pain it had caused. Without realizing it, at first, she had begun to distance herself from everyone, again, even Harm.

Private Boyer's life, as it was, caused her to reflect on everything that she had waiting for her here in Washington. The Marine had lost her daughter and her relationship with the child's father. Her anger and rage had left her with no way back into their daily lives.

Mac realized that her own long buried rage had pushed everyone of importance to at least arm's length. She couldn't let anyone in, especially the people she cared for most. Harm had always been there, waiting, and she had backed away from him, again.

She had tried to call him numerous times over the past 24 hours with no luck. She would either just miss him at JAG, get his voice mail on his cell or his machine in his apartment. She hadn't wanted to leave a message in his apartment, Mattie might hear it and this was just too personal.

As she took the exit for Union Station, she prayed he was home and that he still wanted to see her.

At that same moment….

Harm replaced the handset on the receiver of his phone. He had been calling Mac's apartment all evening. He had tried to reach her cell and wasn't even able to get her voice mail.

The Admiral told him before he left JAG ops, at the end of the day that Mac was on her way back to Washington. Harm had spoken with him after he saw Meredith leave his office.

"She's flying commercial, Commander." The Admiral had noticed that they had been spending a lot of time together, since the ordeal with Sadiq. He was glad to see something good come out of that terrible time. It was the beginning of the end for him and Meredith.

"Is there anything that you want to tell me, Commander?"

"Sir?" Harm knew what he was asking; he just wasn't sure how to answer.

The Admiral shook his head wondering when or if Rabb would ever change. He turned and walked back toward his office, speaking over his shoulder he said, "Don't wait to long, Commander."

Harm didn't ask him to elaborate; he knew what the Admiral was talking about. He had been unable to think of anything else for days. He felt as though Mac were slipping away from him again. He still hadn't opened up and told her how he really felt about her.

The case he and Bud had just finished had also given him pause, he had been able to reinstate Senior Chief De Fina to his former position at FTC Norfolk, after he was removed when it was discovered that he was HIV positive. The Senior Chief refused, he had lost everything, and would eventually lose his life, but he chose to work at Bethesda, helping people who were suffering from the same disease he was.

The situation left Harm feeling humbled and resolved to finally tell Mac how he felt about her. If she didn't want him, she would just have to say so, he couldn't live like this anymore.

Life was too short and he had already waited too long.

A sharp knock at his door pulled him from his thoughts. He looked through his security lens. It was Mac, he waited for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts and then opened the door.

"Mac." She was still in uniform; she must have come straight from the airport.

"Harm" Mac flew into his arms before he had a chance to react. "I'm sorry….I'm so sorry."

Harm closed his arms around her and pulled her into a tight embrace and turning, he kicked the door closed with his foot.

"It's okay, I'm sorry too. I should have told you." There was no need to explain, he knew exactly what she meant. They had both fallen into their old pattern of isolating and not telling each other what they really felt, and had nearly lost their way…again.

Mac drew back from him and looked at him questioning.

"I should have told you….that I love you, I need you in my life and please…don't shut me out anymore." Harm looked away from her for a moment and decided to speak everything in his heart. "I know you're going through a tough time now, and it may be the wrong time for this but I want more than your friendship Mac. I want to be with you, I want to love you if you'll ..."

Mac placed her hand on his cheek and he stopped speaking, then he looked into her eyes that were shining with tears. "I love you…and I don't want to shut you out anymore, Harm." She drew him closer to her and looking at his lips, then back up into his eyes. "I love you so much."

Their intensity of their words nearly took their breath away. It seemed like a miracle, he thought he had lost her again. Now, here she was, in his arms, saying the words he had only dreamed of hearing her say. He gently kissed her lips. She kissed him back, reveling in the taste and the feel of his lips on hers. Each kiss became more passionate than the last until Harm broke the kiss, pulling her more tightly into his arms. He didn't know how long they had been standing there, lost in each other, before Harm decided that he had to slow down... She felt so good in his arms and he had needed this for so long. Her kisses were intoxicating and she was clinging to him as though she would never let him go. He couldn't get enough.

She held him, stroking his back, molding her body to his, loving the way he was making her feel. There was no awkwardness, it was as though she had kissed him everyday of her life, and yet, the newness of it all, thrilled her and left her wanting more. At that moment, she realized one of the many things that made Harm so special. When other men took her into their arms, they were doing just that… taking. When Harm held her, and kissed her, he was giving and she had never felt so loved in her life.

Mac had been holding him around his waist, but then she skimmed her hands up his chest and around his neck. Wanting to feel the full length of his body against her, she arched her back and allowed him to pull her back into him. His embrace was so warm, his arms so strong that she could not keep from saying his name. She felt his heartbeat accelerate as he began to taste her neck, just below her ear. She felt the sensation from her neck to her very core. He was undoing her in an entirely different way. She tugged at the collar of her uniform, greedy to feel more of the warmth of his mouth on her skin.

He let his hands slip down low on her back from where he had been holding her, around her waist... She stepped closer, placing one foot between his, bringing their bodies together, in a more intimate way. Harm came up for air, Mac's bold move making him say what he wanted, what he needed like the air he breathed. "Mac…please"

She kissed him along his jaw line as he spoke, unable or unwilling to break the spell, even when he was speaking to her. "Hmmm"

"Stay with me…tonight" He turned his head toward her kisses; the sensations her mouth and her body were creating were pulling him closer to a point of no return.

"I need you…I can't let you go…stay with me"

He had never felt love and raw sexual need so closely wound together, not like this; he hadn't thought it was possible, until now. At that moment, he felt as though he would die if he didn't have her and he loved her as he had never loved anyone in his life.

With that she kissed him again and he lifted her up and out of her shoes. When she linked her legs behind his back he could not keep from bracing her back against the door, his body reacting automatically to the heat that at this moment was Mac.

"Mac…." The look in his eyes and asked her, pleaded with her, demanded from her.

Mac pulled back just enough to look at him with eyes darkened with passion, "yes."

Just next door in Mattie and Jen's apartment…

Mattie sat on her bed, finishing the last of her required reading for her least favorite class, English Literature. Her concentration was disturbed by what she thought was a distant pounding sound…it seemed to be coming from the hallway, outside their apartment.

She got up from her bed and wandered out to Jen's bedroom.

She stood in Jen's doorway, "Do you hear that?"

Jen had the television on in her bedroom and muted it with the remote control. She listened for a moment and then she heard it too. "Yeah, I wonder what it is."

They both went into their living room. Jen walked over to the window as Mattie started for the door. Jen saw Mac's car parked in front of the building and in a split second she understood just where that sound was coming from.

"Mattie, wait!"

"What?"

"Let me give the Commander a call, you know how he's been since the Colonel left for California." They had both noticed, earlier that evening, how distracted he was.

"Okay" Mattie closed the door and Jen quickly pushed on the flat surface of the phone next to the speed dial button on the handset.

"Commander?" She said to a dial tone. "Yeah, this is Jen, is everything okay over there?"

Jen listened for a moment. "Oh, well sorry I disturbed you." She hung up quickly before Mattie had a chance to ask to speak with him.

"Everything okay?"

"Yeah. The Commander just wanted…to reinforce….some of the pictures on the wall. Ah…he said he couldn't sleep…and just wanted to hammer…a few nails before he turned in tonight." It was all Jen could do to keep from smiling. She only hoped that Mattie wouldn't ask the Commander about the 'hammering' tomorrow.

"Now?" Mattie shook her head and headed back to her bedroom. She would be glad when Mac was back, Harm was getting weird.

The following takes place on Friday, August 13, 2004

Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Harm and Mac held each other in a loose embrace and they danced to the slow sweet jazz, filtering out on to the deck on the warm summer night. The Admiral had been kind enough to allow them to stay in his beautiful condo on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, as an early wedding present. The moon was full and casting shadows when they took their dancing out onto the second floor deck. They were both feeling as though they were the only two people on the planet. The spring and summer had flown past them with all the good and the bad those months held.

Mac was still in counseling, though her sessions were down to once a month. The most difficult time was past her now. Her possible infertility had been a blow, but Harm's love and his refusal to give up on her, or their dream of a family, had been her saving grace.

Harm had adjusted to Mattie returning to her father. It had been difficult; he had missed her so much, especially the first month. Mac had been there for him and Mattie had still included him in her life and came to see him at least once a month for a weekend. It had softened the blow and made the transition easier to handle.

They had finally decided on a date to get married…tomorrow. They didn't see a reason to wait anymore. His mother would be upset with him, for about 5 minutes, but then she would be thrilled. His mother had known that Mac was 'the one' for years.

Unbeknownst to them, they were being observed from across the inlet and down the beach.

Clayton Webb stood on the beach of his family's estate at Manderly. He had long since accepted the fact of Harm and Mac as a couple, but he still resented them both. They were under surveillance, without their knowledge, of course. They were targets of an assassin, whose identity Webb had just recently discovered.

As he looked toward the condo, with the lights from its windows and the moonlight reflecting on the water, Webb was startled by what he knew was a gun, pushing against the back of his head.

"Hello, Mr. Webb." Simon Tanveer had found him.

"Tanveer. What do you want?" Webb knew that he had disappeared from his position with MI 6 and was rumored to be killing for the highest bidder and for now, the highest bidders were associates of Sadiq Fahd.

"You know why I'm here, I've come to eliminate you, and then I intend to pay the Commander and the beautiful Sarah Mackenzie, a visit."

"Wait, Tanveer….I" Webb could almost hear Tanveer tighten his grip on his gun and begin to squeeze the trigger….

A single shot was fired and a body fell heavily onto the sand.

Porter Webb stood over Simon Tanveer's lifeless body. "Are you alright, son?"

"Yes…I am." He was still trying to catch his breath; no one could say that his mother didn't know how to make an entrance.

"Good…Deputy Director Kershaw will be here momentarily, get this body off of the beach as soon as possible." She started to walk away and then turned toward him. "It's making a mess... this is a private beach, after all."

At that same moment…

Harm and Mac had both heard a gunshot and Harm pulled Mac protectively into his arms and turned her back toward the condo. "What the hell?" He looked sharply around, toward the direction he thought the sound had come from.

Mac listened for a moment and then linked her arms around his neck. "It's probably just a car backfiring. Why are you so jumpy?"

Harm continued to listen and look around and then finally, back at her, thinking she was probably right. 'I'm getting married tomorrow." He grinned at her and pulled her back into his arms.

He looked her directly in the eye and teased "What do you say we get started on the honeymoon….."

The following takes place Friday, February 20, 2006

Between the hours of 10 pm. and 11 p.m.

Harm turned his key in the lock of their flat in central London. He had just returned from Bahrain, he was away for two weeks and he had missed her. He got an early afternoon flight and meant to surprise her but the flight had been delayed, leaving him waiting in the airport for 3 hours.

He crept quietly into their bedroom to find her sleeping soundly. He stepped carefully over to her bedside and knelt down beside her. 3 more weeks to go and the baby would finally be here. This was their second try at in vitro; Mac had conceived on their first attempt but had miscarried in her 3rd month. It had broken both of their hearts and they agreed that they would try once more and then if they were unable to conceive then they would be finish raising Mattie and perhaps adopt later on.

Mattie had returned to them last year, after her father suffered a relapse in his sobriety. He hated the circumstances of her return, but was delighted to have her with them permanently now.

Everything was going well so far. Mac had actually felt very well after her initial morning sickness had passed. Harm prayed they would have a healthy baby, the ultrasound revealed a boy and he would be lying if he didn't say he was thrilled.

Harm placed his hand on the growing roundness where their baby slept, along with his mother. He had to believe that they would have their miracle. He already loved this child so much; he couldn't wait to see him.

The following takes place on Friday, February 20, 2028

Between the hours of 10p.m. and 11p.m.

Harm and Mac waited in a room just adjacent to a stage set up for the annual Press Club dinner. It was late and this was their last stop on a very long night. They were two of many guests being introduced and seated at the table set aside for the guests of honor.

It seemed that they had spent most of their careers here in Washington, though the times they were most fond of had been when they had been in uniform at JAG. That had seemed a century ago. It had been only 23 years. They had left for London, in May of 2005 and never looked back.

Harm sat on a couch, seemingly lost in his thoughts when Mac turned to look at him. He looked handsome in his formal attire, the graying at his temples only making him more so. She sat down beside him and slipped her hand into his. "Any regrets Harm?"

He closed his hand around hers. "No, I'm ready, finally ready for civilian life." He would be retiring his position at the end of the year. "What about you? You had to give up a lot when I took this last position. It couldn't have been easy."

Mac smiled at him warmly. "Nothing good ever is, but no, I don't regret anything." She laced her fingers into his. "No more government work?" She was teasing him; she knew that he loved serving his country as much as she did.

"No, now we can finally see what its like to be a retired civilian, Mac." He gave her hand a squeeze. "Maybe I'll take up fly fishing….or golf."

They heard a knock at the door and a young man opened it with their permission. "Mrs. Rabb, you will be introduced first. If you'll come with me ma'am."

Mac stood and walked toward the door. She looked over her shoulder at her husband and he winked at her. "Right behind you, Mackenzie."

Mac followed the young man and heard the emcee reading off all the milestones in her career. As he read them, she felt a sense of the surreal. She and Harm had certainly had lived 'a life.' Though they had both been able to accomplish a lot in their careers, their children meant more to them than anything. Mattie sat in the audience, with her husband and two children. Their son Thomas, would not be attendance, he was away at the Academy. He would be graduating this spring.

The emcee continued….

"She was the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, though many would say that her current position is the most stressful job in Washington."

Muted laughter from the audience.

"And now ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to introduce…Sarah Mackenzie Rabb…. the First Lady of the United States of America."

FIN

A/N: Okay, Okay I know…the last part was a stretch…but I couldn't resist. They're both heroes and presidential material, if you ask me.