Home of Harmon and Sarah Rabb

Dahlgren, Virginia

November 21, 2029

0037 ZULU

It was the night before Thanksgiving and Harm and Mac sat in their old farmhouse in rural Virginia. They'd moved south from the DC area when they had married choosing to raise their children in the country. Several years later, Mac retired. She worked as a legal aid attorney helping abused women and children while Harm who'd stayed in JAG four years longer than she did taught law courses at a local college. They had both retired for health reasons.

The couple had married in May of 2000 after Mac had spoken up in Australia and Harm had seized the opportunity at happiness. Ten months later, their twins, Mark and Nicole were born. Mark was a lawyer like his father at a firm in Washington and was married to a sweet girl named Jenna. They couple had two twin sons, James and John. Nicole was a financial adviser and married her high school sweetheart Philip Connelly right out of school. Harm wasn't thrilled his daughter was marrying so young, but Philip turned out to be just the sort of husband she needed to make it in a field that was still, a more than a quarter way into the 21st Century a man's game.

Their third child, another son, Shelby just finished up college and was going to be attending graduate school at Oxford with a focus in psychology. He wouldn't be joining the family that year for the Thanksgiving holiday and that upset Harm and Mac, but their pride won out.

Finally, there was Christopher, their baby boy and their rebel. While none of the children followed in their parents' footsteps and joined JAG or even the Navy or Marine Corps, no one expected a Rabb child to blow off college and join the Peace Corps, but he did. He'd just returned to the states and informed his parents he'd be volunteering at a homeless shelter the entire day and would not be joining them for the holiday either.

Harm sighed and clicked off the handset with his youngest son as he relaxed in his reclining, massager chair. Mac met his eyes and smiled softly. The years had done nothing to diminish her beauty, she'd filled out a bit, and had soft smile lines around her eyes as did Harm, but neither had lost their appeal with time, though no one would know it to talk to them.

"What is it Honey?" Mac asked at his troubled expression.

"Oh, nothing," he answered, looking a bit startled. "Nothing."

"Which one was that?" she asked not being near the ID window to see as she worked on their cornbread stuffing.

"Chris," he replied. "He's not coming either."

"Well Nikki and Philip will still be here," she soothed. "And Mark and Jenna and the boys."

"I know," he sighed. "Whatever happened to our whole family being together for the holidays?"

"You can't fault Shelby, Honey," Mac smiled. "He can't give up Oxford to come home for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving isn't a holiday in England."

"Yeah," said Harm. "But I can still miss having everyone here, together, like we used to have. Just doesn't seem right."

"I know, Babe," she smiled. "Next year." This as the phone rang again.

Harm lifted the handset from the table, looked at it, and smiled. "Hello, son," he said as he answered.

"Hey, Dad," Mark greeted. "How you feeling?"

"Not too bad," replied Harm. "I'd be better if this stupid hand would cooperate, but you know how that goes." Harm had been diagnosed with late onset Multiple Sclerosis 6 years prior, and was in the middle of a relapse in which his left hand was mostly numb and useless.

"Did you take the pills?" Mark asked. He worried about his Dad's situation. It always seemed to affect something different and he feared one day it wouldn't just disappear as it always had as his father aged, couple that with his mother's osteoarthritis in her knees, Mark worried in Rabb fashion about their ability to be on their own. Still, even with those things, they two managed quite nicely.

"Yeah, but they didn't do much this time," said Harm. "I've learned to live with it, I guess."

"You don't sound sure," Mark sighed. "In fact you sound down."

"I am," he sighed. "Chris and Shelby aren't coming home for Thanksgiving."

Mark didn't know what to say to that. He'd called to tell his father that he and his family wouldn't be coming. "Dad, uh, actually that's why I called," he said softly. "Jimmy and Johnny have ear infections."

Harm felt like someone had let all the air out of his balloon. "Oh. Well, that's okay; kids get sick, you know?"

"I'm sorry, Dad. I really am," Mark said. "This is their third one this Fall. Jenna is worrying herself sick over it."

"Tell her not to worry too much," Harm said. "You and Chris had one ear infection after the other at their age. You both outgrew them."

"I'll tell her Dad," Mark replied. "We'll come and see you soon okay? You keep working on the hand. Happy Thanksgiving."

"Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Son," said Harm as he ended the call.

"The boys sick?" Mac asked having overheard.

"Ear infections," sighed Harm as he slouched back in his chair.

Mac walked over to him and sat on his lap leaning in to give him a soft gentle kiss, "I wish you weren't so sad."

"Me too," he said. "I'll be okay though, I will."

"Want to help me with the vegetables?" she asked. She sometimes forgot his MS was in relapse. It had been his leg the time before and that had been a lot more bothersome, to her at least.

He looked at her with a pained expression and held his left hand up.

Mac took his hand and pulled it up for a kiss, "I wish this made it better, Sweetheart."

He pulled her in closer and kissed her lips. "I wish it did, too."

Mac leaned into his kiss and enjoyed the feel of his familiar caresses. Twenty six years of marriage had done nothing to diminish their love or passion for one another. They were mid kiss when their phone rang again, this time Mac answered it. "Hello."

"Hey, Mom," said Nikki. "Happy Thanksgiving!"

"Hi, Sweetie," Mac greeted and slid off Harm's lap to go to the kitchen. "How are you?"

"I'm good, I'm good," she said. "How's Dad? Is he feeling better?"

"Not really," Mac replied. "He still can't do much of anything with his hand and none of your brothers are coming tomorrow so that has him a bit down."

"Oh boy," said Nikki.

"Yeah," Mac sighed. "He knew Shelby wouldn't come, but Chris called and cancelled, then Mark...and...Nikki, please...please tell me you're still coming."

"Sorry, Mom," she said sheepishly. "We ended up having to go to Phil's folks at the last minute. One of his sisters is there visiting and we haven't seen her in 3 years. I'm really sorry."

"Nikki," Mac sighed. "You're going to have to tell Daddy."

"I know," she said sadly. "Put him on."

"Harm, its Nikki," Mac told him and handed him the phone.

"Hey, Nik," he said. "What's up?"

"Not too much, how are you feeling?" she asked. She knew from her mother, but she wanted to show her deep concern.

"Ah, same old story," he said. "Waiting for my hand to get back to normal. How's Phil? What time are you leaving to come this way?"

"Um, Dad, actually that's why I was calling," Nikki said hesitantly.

"Not you too?" he sighed.

"I'm sorry, Daddy," she sighed. "Its just Lizzie is in town and we haven't seen her in three years. But..."

"It's okay, really," he said. "I understand. It's no big deal."

"Okay," Nikki said. "We'll see you soon okay? I hope you feel better soon."

"Thanks, sweetie," he said. "See you soon. Bye."

He rose from his chair and went to find Mac in the kitchen. "You can cut that recipe in half," he said. "And then in half again."

"I all ready did," Mac sighed. "You okay?"

He nodded. "Not much I can do about it. We'll just have a nice, quiet day here, you and me."

"Okay," Mac smiled. "Now convince me."

He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "I'm okay," he whispered. "Just a little sad."

Mac snuggled into his touch, "I love you."

He gently kissed the top of her head. "I love you, too."

"You sure you don't want to help?" Mac asked. "You can..."

He shook his head. "I'm not really in the mood for doing things one handed, sweetie. Thank you, though."

"Is it any better at all?" Mac asked. "This one lasted a long time."

"Better than it was," he said, reaching with great concentration for an empty cup on the counter. "But still not great," he added as the cup slid from his grasp and bounced off the floor.

"We can try the treatments," Mac offered again. She knew this upset his and depressed him.

"How about we not think too much about it for now," he said. "And concentrate on making the day nice?"

Mac nodded, "You know what makes the best days for us?" she asked, moving closer.

"You and me," she leaned and kissed his lips. "In bed...all morning..." Another kiss. "And me in that black..."Another little kiss. "Silk nightgown."

He raised his eyebrow and smiled. "Won't the dinner burn?"

"I'll put the oven on low," Mac told him. "Slow roast."

His smile grew wider. "You do that."

"The stuffing is nearly ready. I'll clean up down here. You head up to bed. You'll need your strength for tomorrow."

"Don't be too long," he said, giving her one last kiss before heading upstairs.

Mac cleaned up in the kitchen then slowly climbed the steps to their bedroom. It was the same house they'd bought the year the twins were born. They'd celebrated their first holiday, a Thanksgiving in this house. The steps now for Harm at age 66 and herself at age 62 were sometimes a challenge. Her knees had gone over the years and now ached terribly some days, while Harm's back and hips gave him issues in addition to the MS. Overall though, they both remained in fairly good health for their ages.

Mac finished loading the dishwasher and set it on pots and pans mode before making the long climb to the master bedroom and her husband's arms.

Home of Phillip and Nicole Connelly

Culpeper, VA

November 21, 2029

0146 ZULU

In a master bedroom across town, Nicole Rabb Connelly lay in her bed sad and quiet.

"Honey, what's wrong?" asked Phil as he carried in a basket of clean laundry and set it on the bed.

Nikki sighed, "It's my Dad," she told him and continued to look at the picture of her parents taken on their 25th anniversary.

"Oh," said Phil, taking to the task of folding socks. "Did you call him today, is that why you're sad?"

"Yeah," she replied. "He tried to sound fine with it but he's not. It wouldn't be so bad but no one else is going to be there either and he's still..." She sighed again. She got quiet when sad, just like her father.

"His hand still messed up?" Phil asked.

"Yes, and from what my Mom said there hasn't even been any improvement with the medication this time," she told him. "And now none of us are going to be with him tomorrow."

Sitting down beside her, Phil wrapped his arms around Nikki and pulled her near. "It'll be okay. He's got your Mom, they'll have a nice day."

"There's no way?" she asked with wide Rabb eyes and she nuzzled closer to her husband.

He sighed. "I don't think there is, Honey. We haven't seen my sister in so long, you know? Everyone is expecting us there."

"Can I call my Mom in the morning and see how he is?" she asked. "If it's a bad day maybe I can go home and you can go to your folks?"

After pausing for just a moment, he nodded and smiled. "Sure."

"Are we going to say anything about...?" she began.

"I don't think we should," he replied. "Can we talk about it later tonight?"

Nikki nodded, "Sure. I love you," she told him smiling. "I'll pray Dad will be okay with this and we can spend the holiday together."

He planted a sweet little kiss on her lips. "Me, too."

Home of Mark and Jenna Rabb

Baltimore, MD

November 21, 2029

0147 ZULU

A few hours north and one hour east a similar conversation was taking place in the home of Mark and Jenna Rabb. "Jenna, for Heavens' sake get him to calm down!" Mark snapped at his wife. He showed his sadness like his mother, in some sort of disguise.

"I'm trying," she said.

"Not hard enough!" he told her as he locked their cat in the TV room for the night.

"Mark, please," she said. "I know you're upset about having to stay here, but we might as well make the most of it."

"I'm not upset about staying here," he replied. Now that she'd seen through him, he sat down and let his mask fall.

She sat down beside him and placed a hand on his knee. "It's okay to be upset. I really wanted to go to your parent's house, too, but it just didn't work this time."

"I'm not upset about not going, really I'm not. I'm upset that my Dad is upset," Mark confided and took his cranky son into his lap.

Jenna smiled just a bit. "You hate it when anyone you love is hurting. You always have."

"Its just only Nikki is going and Dad is really into the holidays. He likes big family gatherings and with his health..." Mark sighed and began to sway his baby son who was rapidly falling asleep against his chest.

"What he has isn't terminal, sweetie," Jenna gently reminded. "I know, he does love it when everyone is together, but he knows kids get sick. Heaven knows you did when you were the boys' age."

"I know, but I can't help but think emotion or stress has something to do with it," Mark told his wife. "Still Dad would fry my six if I went and left you with two sick babies."

She nodded. "He would indeed. He'll be okay; he and your Mom will have a quiet little holiday tomorrow, just the two of them."

Mark laughed and slipped an arm around Jenna, "You think when these two are sleeping we can try that?" he asked and raised his eyebrow.

She got a sparkle in her eyes. "I think it can be arranged."

Mark leaned in and took his wife's lips in a soft sweet kiss, "Go on to bed, I'll put Johnny down and join you in a little bit."

She smiled sweetly at the man she loved. "Don't be too long, okay?"

"Yes, Ma'am," he replied and took their sleeping son to his bed.

Harm was upstairs working on removing his shirt when Mac came in. He's undone the bed, which cost him effort with one functional hand and was now working on getting himself to bed. Mac stood back and watched him, thinking about the first time she'd seen him do this; disrobe in their very own master bedroom suite.

Home of Commander and Mrs. Harmon Rabb

Dalhgren, Virginia

November 21, 2001

0222 ZULU

Harm was undoing his shirt when Mac entered their room after putting Mark and Nikki down for the night. She was tired and a bit sore, they were hard nursers, but the sight of her husband, steely chest bathed in moonlight "Yum," Mac sighed as she walked in.

He looked over at her. "Hey, baby. Get them to go down finally?"

"Nikki went right down," Mac replied. "But Mark...he's just like his Mama, I'm afraid."

"Tough one to get to sleep?" asked Harm as he turned down the covers.

"Yes," she replied. "He drops off and then he'll jolt and wake up and stare at me. We had a talk about that he and I."

Harm smiled. "Did it do any good?"

"I think so he's asleep for now," Mac replied and moved closer to him sliding her hands along his sides.

He raised his eyebrow. "Oh, he is, huh?"

"Mmhmm," she replied. "We can't...just yet but we can cuddle and hold each other, can't we?"

"All night long," he answered tenderly.

Mac leaned against his chest and ran her cheek against its smooth skin, "I love you."

"I love you, too, baby," he said, his arms warmly around her back. "From this year on, we'll always be together for the holidays. All of us, right here in this house...someday our grandchildren, too. Always."

"Always, I promise," Mac replied and leaned up for a kiss.

Home of Captain and Mrs. Harmon Rabb

Dahlgren, VA

November 21, 2029

0203 ZULU

"Here," Mac said gently. "Let me do that."

"No, I got it," he said, determined to get the buttons undone without any help. "Thank you, though."

Mac continued to advance on him though and put her hands over his, "Harm, stop. Look at me."

He did as she asked. "What?"

"Why do you think I want to undo this shirt?" she asked. She knew why but she had to hear him say it anyway.

"Because you hate seeing me fumble with it," he said softly.

She shook her head, "No, although I do hate to see it, that's not the reason. I was just thinking back to a night before Thanksgiving many years ago when I undid a shirt just like this one. Do you remember?"

He thought for just a moment before a soft smile came over his face. "Yeah. Yeah, I do."

"Oh, yeah?" Mac asked. "What did we do that night? You're old Sailor. That memory has to be going by now."

"On the contrary, my love," he answered. "We held one another and cuddled half the night...well, until the babies woke up anyway. It was so long ago, but still it somehow seems like yesterday to me."

"Me too," Mac replied and pulled back from him. "Go on get in bed."

With another soft smile, he climbed beneath the covers.

Mac adjusted the heat and changed her clothes then slid in beside him snuggling close, "I'm sorry the children aren't coming. I promised we'd always have the holidays together and now we won't."

"It's not your fault, sweetie," he said. "Things happen; life happens. We'll still have a nice day tomorrow."

Mac nodded, "We will, but you know what will make it even better?" she asked, running her foot along the outside of his calf.

"Tell me," he said softly.

"If we start our morning long love making session," she whispered. "Tonight."

"That will most definitely make the day better," he said, his voice soft and sweet.

Mac leaned over and began to kiss his lips, she knew exactly how he liked it, soft at first, slowly increasing the pressure. She knew never to slip her tongue into his mouth first, that he had to deepen the kiss.

And deepen it he did. He pressed his lips against hers, exactly the way he'd always done. He couldn't remember a time when kissing her didn't make him weak in the knees.

"Mm," Mac moaned in the back of her throat before she moved her lips to his jaw line. While he'd aged gracefully, there were still spots that had drooped or wrinkled, those spots intrigued her with their softness. She rubbed her lips against one while exposing her neck to his questing mouth.

He loved her neck, every inch of it. The first time he'd ever kissed her there, it gave him goose bumps, and now all these years later, it did the very same. He began placing angel soft kisses on the spot between her ear and her shoulder, something she'd long ago confessed drove her wild.

"I love that Harm," Mac whispered. "I always have. More," she requested.

"As you wish, my love," he whispered in return as he continued kissing her oh-so-softly, moving down her shoulder and back up again.

"Hold me," she whispered pushing her chest against his letting the skin peaking out of her nightshirt brush his hairy chest.

He wrapped his arms around her as best he could, the left one not fully cooperating and requiring a little help from the right. He brought her as close as he could, kissing her forehead as he did so. "You're so beautiful."

Mac shook her head, "I have wrinkles," Mac replied.

"They don't diminish your beauty, baby," he said gently. "Not in my eyes."

Mac began to stroke his left arm, "And nothing diminishes your strength in mine."

He sighed. "I hate that this had to happen to me; to us." His diagnosis had come as a shock, and he spent some time wondering why it had to come and disrupt their "golden years" like it had. She never let him be down for too long, though. That was just one of the many things he loved so very much about her.

"Could be worse," Mac reminded him. "Could be progressive."

"Yes, it could," he agreed. "Guess even in being unlucky, I'm lucky, huh?"

Mac nodded, "Now the arthritis in my knees, that is progressive," she sighed.

"Bothering you tonight?" he asked.

"On my feet a lot tonight," she replied.

He kissed the top of her head. "You out do yourself every year."

"Well you get to do Christmas," she reminded him. "One big meal a year is enough for me."

He laughed tenderly. "Christmas is all mine, I promise. The turkey, the ham, all the trimmings, all mine. You can play with the kiddos."

"I like playing with the kids," she replied. "But I like playing with their grandpa ever more." She said nuzzling his neck. "Where were we?"

"Mmm..." he answered, leaning into her touch. "Right about here." He rolled towards her and began kissing her lips very sweetly, very softly.

Mac returned his soft kisses and slowly began to run her hands up and down his back. He was still strong, still had well defined muscles even at his age. She loved the feel of his skin against hers under her hands and as she caressed him, she tipped her head back and moaned lightly.

He smiled. "You like my muscles, huh?" he softly asked. She'd often told him how strong she thought he was, from the day they first began their relationship. Though he now felt weaker in his own eyes, he knew he hadn't lost an ounce of strength in hers.

Mac ran her hand down his left arms and poked at his wrist, "Not this one. That's a bad muscle," she teased gently and lightly smacked at it. "But this one..." She reached her other hand between their bodies and felt his masculinity hard and firm. Slowly she began a soft massage.

He drew in a sharp breath. "That's nice..."

"You like that?" she asked. "Do you like this?" she moved her upper body against his chest. "I know you do. I want you to touch me. You know how."

He did indeed. He began a slow, loving massage of her back, starting at the small and working his way towards her shoulders. He learned long ago that back rubs were often a man's best friend.

Mac whimpered lightly as his hand skimmed a part on her back that was sore from standing, just between the shoulder blades.

"Did that hurt, baby?" he asked remorsefully.

"No," she replied. "But it does hurt there. Can you do it a bit more?"

"Okay," he whispered, increasing the pressure of his work.

Mac felt the strong pressure of his right hand on the stiff muscles, "Oh yeah," she moaned. "Oh...you know if the Admiral hadn't interrupted us all those years ago when you were hiding out in my apartment, you'd have gotten lucky then and there." She'd never in all their years together told him that before.

"Remind me to send him a very strongly worded letter," joked Harm, his hands still caressing her aching back.

"Kiss please," she requested. "This is amazing. The pain is just going away. It's a shame you can't do this to my knees."

"We'd never get out of that position," he laughed. "But I wish I could do this anyplace you need it."

"Can we make love now?" she asked beginning to roll over beneath him.

He found himself face-to-face with her, and captured by her undying beauty. "You...you amaze me, Mac," he whispered, cupping her face with his hand. "All these years, and you still amaze me."

"And you me," she replied. "I love you so much. I don't know..." She stopped and her voice caught.

He teared up himself at the sound of her emotion. He often thought of how different his life would be without her in it, thoughts that he almost couldn't bear. "Me either," he said softly. "I don't know what I'd do without you in my life. You're my whole world."

"I don't know how Varese manages," she said and stroked Harm's face. "Can you promise me something?"

He nodded. "Anything."

"Promise me you...you won't leave me, promise," she asked, brown eyes wide and wet. She'd been thinking about their mortality lately since Sturgis died three months ago.

He gave her a long kiss. "With everything in me, I promise."

Slowly Mac moved her legs and bent her knees opening to invite in into her body. "I love you so much," she whispered and leaned up to kiss him softly, once, twice, three times, little tiny kisses. He loved that. "Touch me, you know how," she said again, this time lifting her hips ever so slightly off their bed.

Softly, he slid one hand down her body, leaving feather-light touches as he moved towards the place she wanted him to be. "Better?" He asked gently.

Mac moaned, "Oh..yes..." And lifted herself against his hand. "Touch...more..." she gasped and writhed beneath him in ecstasy.

"I love you," Harm whispered. "I love you." He always told her that just before he took her body. He never wanted to take her in anger, in pain, only in love, pure and unconditional, and he'd always had. From the first moment he'd made her his in their room in Sydney, until this day so many years later, he'd always touched her in nothing but love.

"I know," she whispered as she felt his hardness replaced his right hand between her legs. Slowly he moved into her, filling her and stretching her still. They moved back and forth, up and down, matching each other in a rhythm perfected with time until Harm collapsed breathless onto Mac's now chest.

"You doin' okay?" he asked softly.

Mac nodded, "Yes," she replied. "Oh yes. How are you? Any aches and pains there Sailor? You've got some years on me, you know," she smiled and playfully slapped his bottom.

"Hey now!" he replied jovially. "I'm still in tip-top shape, thank you very much."

"Says the man who slept on the couch all last week when your hip acted up," she teased.

"Well..." he admitted."So I have a few rusty parts. You still love me."

Mac nodded, "I do. So much. Can you roll off me ,Sweetie?"

"Okay, yeah," he whispered and slowly rolled off to her left side.

Mac snuggled against his chest gently playing with the hair there, "Are you really okay with the kids now coming?"

"No," he admitted. "But I don't have much control over it, so I'm trying not to be sad."

Mac continued to stroke his chest, "It's okay to be sad Darling. I promised you we'd always be together and we won't be tomorrow. It is definitely all right to be sad."

"Yeah, but I'd rather think about everything we have to be happy about," he said.

"What's that?" she asked and placed a kiss on his chest near his nipple.

"Well," he began. "We have each other, we have better health than we might, we have a wonderful family, great friends..."

"But?" Mac asked.

He sighed. "I'll miss having everyone here tomorrow, sure. But I'll love being with you. We haven't had a holiday alone in...gosh, how many years?"

"Twenty eight," Mac replied. "A very long time. Remember our first Christmas? Remember the gift I gave you?"

He wrinkled his brow and pondered her question. "No," he said after a few moments. "I sure don't."

"I want a divorce," Mac sighed, and rolled away.

"Aw, baby," he said. "I'm sorry I don't remember. Would you please refresh my aged memory, my love?"

"It was the Christmas after we got married..."

Home of Commander and Mrs. Harmon Rabb

Dahlgren, VA

December 25, 2000

1221 ZULU

"Merry Christmas, Harm," Mac whispered as they sat in front of a fire under their first Christmas tree early on Christmas morning.

"And to you, too" he smiled, leaning over to give her a kiss. "I can't believe it, our first Christmas as husband and wife."

Mac reached down and touched her belly, "And this time next year we'll be parents."

His smiled increased tenfold. "I can't wait."

Mac reached under the tree and gave him a small box, "Open it."

He took the tiny box from her hands and looked at her quizzically. "Okay..."

"Go on," Mac urged. "Open it up."

Smile still on his face, he untied the thin red ribbon and lifted the lid from the box. Inside was a tiny black and white photo. He studied it for a moment before looking back to her. "What am I missing? We've had these done before, haven't we?"

"Yeah," Mac nodded. "But look." She took the picture and outlines, "Here's a head, he's a leg...And that what does that look like?" She pointed to what seemed to be another head.

His eyes grew wide as saucers. "No way."

"That's another head," Mac told him. "And this..." She pointed to a little white blob on the screen. "This is another heart beat. We're going to have twins."

He dropped the picture onto the floor and stared at the tree for what felt like forever before turning to Mac again. "Really?"

Mac nodded, "Really. Is it okay?" Mac asked.

He took her face in his hands and pulled her close into a passionate kiss. "Oh yeah," he said. "It's more than okay!"

They'd kissed and touched and finally made love beneath their tree, both basking in the glow of the lives they'd created.

Home of Captain and Mrs. Harmon Rabb

Dahlgren, VA

November 21, 2029

0311 ZULU

"I can't believe you didn't remember that?"

He shrugged. "Me either! Must be all the jet fumes, you know?" He smiled and winked at her.

"Or old age," she teased.

He could only laugh. She may have been onto something.

"You tired?" she asked. She was dozing rapidly.

"Kind of yeah," he answered through a yawn. "My body may still be chisled as ever, but my stamina has waned a bit."

"How's your hand feeling?" she asked several times each day, hoping his answer would change.

"Same," he replied. "But at least it's not any worse."

"I remember Easter," Mac sighed.

"Yeah" he sighed. "That wasn't pretty. It sucked when my leg kept going out from under me."

"Right, and the Valentine's Day before that," Mac reminded him.

"Oh yeah, it was so bad only being able to use one arm and one hand," he sighed.

"So you see," she said softly. "This one isn't so bad. It's just lasting a really long time that's all."

"Right" he agreed. "It's not great, but it could always be worse. I'm just glad I have you to love me through it all."

"I'm gonna love you no matter what you know that," she told him. "Even when...if this gets worse. Even when we're both in a nursing home, and can't remember where we put our teeth, I'm gonna love you."

"And I'll always love you," he said, bringing her face closer to his for a soft, sweet kiss.