AN – Okay everyone… here is the final part. I want to thank you all for reading my story and most of all for the feedback and nice words you sent me throughout this tale. I'm glad to see how much you enjoyed this revised version :)

The Need to Feel Free Again - Part 14

Disclaimer - See part one for all important information

May 31, 2004

Rock Creek Park

5200 Glover Road, NW

Washington, DC 20015

1:37 PM

"Mac, please look at me," Harm pleaded, tilting her chin up with his index finger so that he could look into her eyes. "Kershaw was right you know. There is no reason to feel guilty, none at all. You realize that, don't you?" Harm stated looking deeply into her poignant brown eyes, trying to gauge what was going on behind them. He prayed that she wouldn't retreat inside of herself. He knew this wasn't the time for more questions. Right now it was important for him to listen and be supportive.

"Yes, I do," Mac quietly answered. "At least part of me does. There is still so much I have to figure out and when I do, then I will have to learn to cope with it. The reoccurrence of the dream last night only confirmed it." Mac sighed despondently.

"We'll do it together, Mac. I want to help you in any way possible, and I will be there every step of the way," Harm told her with conviction taking her hands in his. "In my office you said you might know the reason why this dream keeps coming back. Do you want to tell me about it?" Harm probed gently.

"Yeah, I do. Yesterday morning, when I woke up and watched you sleep in my arms, I thought about my future... about our future. I want to be free of my past, so we can start our future without any ghosts.I will do whatever is necessary to resolve this ugly part of my past," Mac said looking convincingly at Harm. "When I rode down to the farm to get us breakfast that last morning, I made a decision and I guess what I have decided to do brought this horrible nightmare back."

"What kind of decision did you make?" Harm asked curiously.

"After you left for Washington I called Dr. McCool at Bethesda and made an appointment."

"Dr. McCool?" Harm questioned, not recognizing the name.

"She's my psychiatrist, Harm, or my shrink, whatever you want to call her," Mac said with a grin before she got serious again. "I never should have dropped the therapy sessions in the first place. I mean, I thought I was strong enough to handle it on my own. However, it's obvious that I am not even close to being there. Maybe I could have ignored the whole incident for a while and pretend that it had never happened, but sooner or later something would have triggered the memory and it would be back to haunt me all over again," Mac said defensivelybefore a look of horror came over her face.

"Oh my god, I didn't hurt you last night, did I?" Mac asked frantically as she eyed Harm up and down. She remembered the shiner she had given Clay, and she hoped this time Harm hadn't been on the receiving end of her swinging fists. There weren't any visible injuries, but she still had her doubts and needed confirmation that she had not hurt him.

"No, of course not. Why would you think that you had hurt me?" Harm was puzzled by her question.

"You said I was thrashing around and I..." Mac took a deep breath. "Once I gave Clay a shiner under his right eye while I was dreaming. It was one of the dreams where I didn't wake up at all. Without the shiner, I guess I wouldn't have known about the dream. That was when I found out that I had been having the dreams repeatedly. Clay hadn't told me about them. I guess in his own way, he was trying to protect me."

"Was Clay able to tell you what the dreams were about?" Harm asked gently. He sensed Mac was uncomfortable talking with him about Clay and he wanted her to see that it didn't bother him. Harm had come to terms with her relationship with Clay a long time ago and he hoped Webb was able to help her when she needed someone to be there for her, especially that night she had eliminated Sadik.

She told him that Clay had never discussed the dreams with her. He had tried to be there for her in his own way as best he could. She didn't blame him for not being more supportive because she could never really open up and express her inner most feelings to Clay, but there again Clay had always kept his own barriers firmly in place. Even though she and Clay had been 'involved,' they never really had a 'meaningful' conversation or a relationship that would progress past the bedroom. Somewhere along the line, they both had come to realize and accept that fact.

She could have never let her guard down with Clay and told him what was in her heart and mind pertaining to that night. She was too ashamed. It was difficult enough for her to tell Harm, and she trusted Harm explicitly. She knew that he would listen to her and not be judge and jury. He wouldn't undermine her thoughts or actions. She knew Harm would understand.

"It was the same. The dreams had the same theme. It's time for me to face it head on and the best way to deal with this is through the sessions with Dr. McCool."

"When do you have your next session?"

"My next session will be on Friday."

"You mean this Friday?" Harm asked confused.

Mac nodded.

"Don't you have an appointment with Dr. Purcell this Friday?" Harm was confused. "At the dining out, I thought you said you had an appointment with your internist this Friday to get the results of your test. Did I miss something?"

"No, you didn't miss anything. My appointment with Dr. Purcell is Friday afternoon. I thought I should clear my head before going to the most important appointment of our future," Mac explained steadfastly with a little smile.

"Our future," Harm repeated the words with a big smile. "It has a beautiful sound, doesn't it? I would like to go with you," He continued gently looking longingly into her eyes.

"I would like you to go with me too," Mac stated softly before leaning forward to kiss him tenderly. "And yes, it sounds very beautiful," she continued after they broke the kiss.

"So when do I have to be there?"

"My appointment with Dr. McCool is at ten o'clock and Dr. Purcell and I have a 'date' around one thirty."

"Okay. I'll ask the Admiral today if I can take Friday off, then we can go together. Since I have court next week, I'll have to work extra hours this week on the case. But that shouldn't be a problem. I'll be there, promise. We'll get through it," Harm said quietly, caressing Mac's left cheek with the back of his hand.

"Together," Mac answered and moved her head so she could kiss Harm's hand.

"Always and forever," Harm whispered, kissing her sweetly. "We can get through anything, Mac."

"Anything," Mac repeated and smiled at him through tearful eyes.

The first hurdle was always the hardest, and Mac had been triumphant in conquering it. She had been able to let her marine façade shatter and spoke from her heart as just Sarah. She resolutely explained the events of that disastrous night in great detail. She didn't need to articulate the toll it took on her; it was obvious by her nightmares. Meanwhile, Harm listened unswervingly, allowing her to get it all out. It felt so good to finally free herself from the weight of the burden she had carried around so deep inside her. It would be easier to continue her therapy, now that she had started to confront her demons.

It had broken Harm's heart to listen to her tell the events of that evening, and to see her struggling with the pain. He would have done anything to make it go away, but he couldn't. All he could do was stand firm, be strong and simply be there for 'his' Sarah. He would stand by her stalwartly by wrapping her in his arms to give her strength, by kissing her soothingly to comfort her, and by giving her an infectious smile that would warm her heart and bring her serenity.

"That reminds me; before I have to go back to work there's something I would like to ask you."

"Okay, shoot," Mac said anxiously adding, "no pun intended."

Harm merely smiled at her sudden burst of exuberance.

"Would you like to be my date on Saturday?" Harm asked gently with a smile, getting a beautiful one from Mac in return.

"Are you asking me to be your date to Little AJ's fifth birthday party?" Mac inquired, letting her forefinger run down his left cheek. "Because just this morning I had a message on my answering machine from our dear godson asking me if I could come to his 'big party', which happens to be this Saturday."

They both felt the magnitude of the upcoming special occasion. It had all started five years prior as they stood on the steps of JAG headquarters the day Little AJ had been born. A promise was made on that day, and they would both give anything to have it come to fruition… that being the conception of a baby Rabb.

"Yes, I'm asking you to be my date to Little AJ's birthday party. We're going together, right?" Harm asked, slightly worried that he had possibly overstepped the boundaries of their budding relationship.

"Of course we are." Mac smiled.

"Good, because I would like to show off my new girlfriend," Harm said sheepishly raising his eyebrow and smirking.

"Does that mean we're telling our friends about us?" Mac asked, hoping to hear the answer she craved for.

"Yes, I would like to, Sarah. I don't want to be apart from you anymore. I want to feel free to kiss you wherever and whenever I want to. I want to be able to hold your hand and put my arms around you. I want the freedom to truly be with you in front of the whole world." Harm told Mac, kissing her forehead. "What about you? Do you want us to tell our friends about our relationship? Or would you rather wait a little while longer?"

"There is nothing I would like to do more than tell them about us and I think AJ's birthday party is a great place to do it." Mac quietly answered.

"Then it's a date," Harm countered smiling.

"Our first date," Mac corrected with a smile of her own. "So you better be on time when you pick me up. First impressions are always the most important to a girl," Mac said smirking.

"You're kidding, right?" Harm looked a little shocked. "I never planned on picking you up. I missed you like crazy from the moment I left the farm. I'm so happy you are home again and here with me. I never want to miss you again. I want to fall asleep with you right next to me every night, and I want to wake up every morning with you right there in my arms. So I don't want to pick you up, I want you to already be there."

When he looked at Mac she just smiled at him with tears in her eyes.

"You with me on this jarhead?" Harm asked, hoping he already knew the answer.

Mac nodded. "All the way, big time squid," she said gleefully.

"Oh, you're bad, Marine." Harm laughed before he got serious again. "How would you like to go with me next weekend to the Shenandoah Valley?" Harm asked. "I thought we could surprise Mattie and spend the weekend with her and her dad? I have their tour plans, so I know where they are going to be then. What do ya' think, Mac? Would you and Toby like to go with me?"

"Do you really have to ask? Of course we would like to go with you, Harm. I know how much you miss Mattie. She'll be happy to see you. I'm sure we'll have a great time and Toby will love it." Mac paused and kissed Harm.

"Good," Harm whispered. "Maybe we can ask Harriet and Bud if Little AJ can come with us as well. It could be a part of his birthday gift. What do you think?" Harm asked, hoping Mac would like the idea.

"It would be perfect. This way we can practice for our upcoming family life. Us, a teenager, a five year old boy and a little puppy. Sounds like the perfect weekend to me. I'm all for it," Mac answered all excited about the plans. "I love you, Harm."

"I love you too, Sarah," Harm said before kissing her with all the love he felt for her.

"So the excursion is a part of Little AJ's birthday gift. Any other ideas for a present?" Mac wondered.

"Hmm, haven't thought about it yet. How about a present from the both of us? Do you have any thoughts?"

"Let's see...," Mac started when Harm interrupted her.

"Wait, I know. How about a Corvette? We are his godparents and we should spoil him after all," Harm told Mac thrilled about his brilliant idea.

"A Corvette?" Mac asked with a raised eyebrow, thinking that he had truly lost his mind.

"Yeah, we could try to get one on Friday after our visit to Bethesda."

"A Corvette?"

"Yeah, you know one of those cars that AJ can sit in and move around with his feet or they also have the kind that uses a battery."

"Oh, you worried me there for a second, Flyboy. But yeah, I like it. Let's do it. It's the perfect idea and I'm all for it. However, maybe we should try to find one in the next few days. Friday could be too late."

"Okay, why not tomorrow? I'll pick you up when I'm finished for the day and then we can see if Toys 'R' Us has what we are searching for. If they have it, we'll take it. If they don't have one in stock we can order one and get it by the end of the week," Harm suggested. "What do you think?"

"I think you are a wise man, Uncle Harm," Mac answered with her beautiful smile.

"Why thank you, Auntie Mac. This coming from such an astute woman sure is a compliment," Harm responded with the flyboy grin that Mac loved so much.

"Can't wait to see what a wise man Daddy Harm will be," Mac told him earnestly and kissed him tenderly.

Mac knew that when, not if, but when they had children, be it of their own blood or not, Harm would be the perfect dad to them. A dad every child would adore. When he had told her in Vermont he wanted to have children with her and that he didn't care if they would be their own blood or not, she knew the potential for a perfect life was in front of her and she would do everything in her power to make their dream come true. Her phone call to Dr. McCool, and telling Harm about the night she confronted Sadik were the first two giant steps in her cleansing process. 'It feels so good to be free,' Mac thought with a smile.

In the distance they could hear the toll of the bells from a nearby church, which told them it was two o'clock. They knew it was time to end their picnic. Harm still had a lot of work to do and needed to be back at JAG.

"I guess it's time," Mac said sighing sadly. She enjoyed their picnic and it felt so good to finally let Harm all the way in.

"Yes, but we'll talk more when I get home tonight. How about getting some dinner from the Chinese place near you and a movie? You can pick," Harm proposed.

"Pick the movie or dinner?" Mac smirked.

"Hmmm… both." Harm smiled and added, "This time!"

"Okay, sounds like a deal. Mine or yours?"

"Yours! Definitely yours! You have doors." Harm chuckled looking at the sleeping Golden Retriever.

Mac's future looked bright. She had her miracle in Harm. He never gave up on her and meant every word when he told her 'he would always be there,' because he WAS still there. She knew that with his love and devotion anything was possible.

One way or another, there would be a MacKenzie/Rabb clan. However, for now she had 'the love of a good man and lots of comfortable shoes.' She knew that one day they would beat the odds and all the rest would follow. Her dreams of a home and family would come true.

They both had what they always wanted, each other. No matter what lay ahead, good or bad, they would prosper or conquer together. All the barricades between them had been removed, and they felt free for the first time in years and this newly found feeling would be with them for all eternity.


Note to Michi from Kathy:

First, I would just like to say a great big thank you for letting me collaborate on this story with you. When you asked me to beta read for you, I was honored, but when you asked me to be co-author on this particular story what can I say… I was thrilled beyond belief! You have allowed me to put my thoughts and ideas down on paper, a goal I never would have achieved if it weren't for you because I never would have had the courage to do it on my own. So again, thank you Michi. Though we've only just met, I feel the friendship we have attained transcends time a place. You have become a good friend. Lastly, I hope everyone enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed working on it with you. Until the next story… dear heart… I think we both need to get a life. LOL!

Note to Kathy from Michi:

LOL, maybe you're right but let's face it… this was and still is so much fun, it couldn't get any better now could it? ;-) I'm so glad you enjoyed the time we spent working on this story. After you beta read 'ASDIB' for me, I saw what a rare gift slumbered in you when it comes to using words and bringing them to life, at times in a very unique way, on a piece of paper. I'm happy you decided to share that special gift of yours with me, and most of all with the JAG FF's fans. I sure hope you will continue to do just that because I would really like to learn much more from you … well, I actually know you will LOL and I can't wait to see the outcome of our newest project. It really is a blast to work with you! I love you Kathy and I'm proud to call you my friend. LOL, I can't imagine a day without our little, at times a bit silly chats in between work… life wouldn't be the same without it, that's a given :o) Kiss and bear hug, Michi