Title: Cold Light Of Day

EPILOGUE

By: LizD

Spoilers: Mid-Season 8

Written: Summer 2006

Disclaimers: No disrespect to JAG's cast, crew or creators. With love and thanks.

Notes: The epilogue to COLD LIGHT OF DAY is a series of snippets in the life of Harm and Mac as the cold light of day hits them that take them to the end. In case you don't want to read about a life full of ups and downs that ends they way all things must, you may want to stick with the first two entries and BOW OUT – I won't be offended. In case you want to compare this to the epilogue for IN A GARDEN, I would really prefer you didn't. This Mac and Harm and that Mac and Harm are vastly different people – the only similarity between the two is that they loved each other (for good and bad) until the end of time. Please enjoy and thank you for reading. Comments welcome … encouraged … very much appreciated.

EPILOGUE

x x x x Nothing But Time x x x x

Mac woke as the sun crested the tree line with Harm tightly spooned up behind her. For the first time in her life she was truly content … happy even … convinced that her life was finally about to begin in earnest – actually it had already begun. He loved her. She loved him. Declarations were made (finally), promises were more than implied and a future was theirs for the making. "Hope" was the word of the day … the week … for the next 40+ years. She had to force herself NOT to rush to meet that future. It would be over too soon and she wanted to relish each moment. She might have been too over the top with her glee, but after all it was her honeymoon.

It was actually NOT her honeymoon – not literally. I had only been nine days since "the talk". Nine days since he invited her away with him – damning the JAG torpedoes and any other nay-sayers (including themselves). Nine days since the fucking stopped and the making love began. It was more honeymoon than most married couples ever knew – including them.

The Farley's cabin could not have been more perfect for a romantic get away. For nine days, they were quite literally the only people in the world – at least the only people they spoke to. The lines of communication were open (more like flood gates) – both verbal and non. The verbal was in new-lovers-ese; that is no topic was taboo, but nothing was argued, debated or talked through. No sides were drawn and any start of a disagreement was quickly squelched by a kiss, hug or over the top compliment. The non-verbal communication was more than sex. For the previous weeks there sexual encounters were more along the lines of illicit pornographic sexploits. Almost instantaneously it all changed. It was still physically satisfying, but more importantly it was emotionally rewarding. Raw sexuality morphed into sensuality with tenderness and intense intimacy. They often woke holding each other's hand. It wasn't "all good", but it was so much better than what they had – it was GREAT.

"Back to reality tomorrow," he whispered in a sleepy voice.

"This felt pretty real to me," she rolled over and curled into him.

"We could stay here forever," he pulled her tight and buried his face in her neck.

"I am ready to go back," she cooed. "I want to see what is next for us."

"Be careful what you wish for, Sarah," he pulled back to look at her.

"Ye of little faith …" She kissed him deeply and made him forget his brief moment of doubt.

x x x x No Time Like The Present x x x x

Harm met the dawn for the fifth straight morning. They were becoming good friends: dawn and he. It had only been a short time since he and Mac had gotten together – a mere four months (more or less) since that trip to the mountains, but he could no long sleep without her by his side even if it was just sleep. Work had again taken over as priority in both their lives; therefore the bedroom activities were often reserved for weekends or sporadic mornings. Not wholly unexpected and certainly not new for any couple. The honeymoon couldn't last forever.

The fight (not the first for Harm and Mac: the couple) was over something stupid and he wanted to apologize but a generic mea culpa wouldn't work. She had made a big damn deal about keeping the lines of communication open as they "felt their way" in their new "relationship". So they would have to TALK through any disagreement – no matter how minor. For Harm, it really didn't matter if he were right or wrong any more, he missed her and he wanted them to make up but he didn't want to have to discuss it to death. All that did was turn something purely emotional into some OBJECT to be analyzed; it was so antiseptic, academic, rational. At least that was his excuse to avoid 'talking.'

What set her off this time was that he had referred to her as his 'girlfriend'. He didn't understand why, but she was acting like he said she was his dog. She stewed for hours, maybe even a day before she told him how upset she was. Court that day was insane; he felt like his was hit by a Mac Truck. The fight evolved into how he thinks about her, what he expects from her, where he sees the relationship going. BLAH --- BLAH --- bite me Dr. Phil --- BLAH. Mac was convinced that Harm was perfectly content with the way things were and had no intention of committing any further.

What the hell was he supposed to say to her? He knew what he wanted; he thought she did too. Why did it need to be said? Apparently it did. He had no idea what he was going to say … but he picked up the phone and called her.

No answer at her house. No worries. She might have forgotten to turn the ringer back on … of course she might have turned it off in case he called. She might still be really "upset". He called her cell. He knew that would be on and that she would always pick it up. She did on the third ring.

"Significant other … life partner … lover … friend … colleague … mother of my children … " He said simply. "Wife."

Silence came from the other end of the phone.

"Sarah … are you there?"

"Yes," she croaked out.

"Yes what? … You are there or you heard me?"

"Both."

"I just asked you to marry me," he stated.

"Did you?" she answered. "I didn't hear a question mark."

He rolled his eyes grateful that she wasn't standing in front of him to see. "Sarah MacKenzie … will you marry me?"

Nothing.

"Will you allow me to …"

A quick knock came on his door and then it opened. She was there with the phone to her ear. Her eyes were wet with joy. Clearly she had been on her way to see him before he called.

"Ask me again," she pulled the phone away.

He walked over to her and actually knelt down on one knee. "Marry me? Allow me to share your life. Raise our children. To grow old with you. To know that we will meet each challenge together – now and in the future."

"Yes," she knelt down next to him. "Work will have to change."

"I can deal," Harm pulled her into a tight embrace wondering if he had just played his highest trump card too early.

x x x x x The Times They Are A Changing x x x x x

Mac's eyes opened when she heard the water turn on. His morning routine had begun. She rolled her eyes and smiled. This was what she signed on for – hell, not eight days prior she signed a lifetime contract. She had no reason to expect that it would change that morning – the first morning back to work or at any point in the future. There was no reason to expect that it would change on its own, but she could certain throw a wrench into it on occasion.

She slipped from bed when she heard the shower go on, leaving her bathrobe on the floor and stole into the bathroom.

Harm shrieked like a schoolgirl when she joined him in the shower. "Hey … you will wake my wife," he laughed trying to recover some of his machismo.

"Got news for you, husband … she's awake."

"I can see that …" He groaned. "That is a precision instrument you are playing with there, Mrs. Rabb."

"The name is MacKenzie," she grinned. "And this ain't that precise."

"Whatever … don't talk … hey … oh damn … I'm a very lucky man."

"Yes you are."

"Shhh … don't talk …ow … oh … yeah … don't stop."

The water ran cold before the soap was out of his hair.

x x x x x Time Marches On x x x x x

Mac groaned when she heard the song whispered into her ear.

"Happy birthday to you … happy birthday day to you … Happy Birthday dear -"

"Stop," she sat up in bed with only the early morning dawn lighting the room. "Stop."

"I can do the Beatles too," he announced proudly. "You say it's your birthday … well it's my birthday too, yeah."

"Harm," she tried to pull away from him to get out of bed.

"Sarah … Sarah … Mac," he grabbed her hand. "Where are you going?"

"To check on the baby," she dismissed.

He pulled her back down. "He is fine. I just checked on him."

"Harm I hate making a fuss over something stupid like a birthday … OK? I told you that … so let's just ignore it."

"Can't do that," he announced. "We have dinner plans … Harriet and Bud are taking care of the baby overnight… and we are going to have a very nice evening – very ADULT evening … just the two of us … like we haven't had in over a year."

"That is sweet … but …"

"And yes … there will be birthday cake," he confirmed.

"Harm."

"Is this because you are 40?"

She winced but did not acknowledge the truth of that.

"Lady … you are the HOTTEST woman I have ever known … and you look better today than you did when I first met you," he let his hand glide over her almost flat stomach that nearly killed her to get back. "And you are only seven months from cranking out our first baby."

"First? … Last and only." She stated with a little more pathos then she had intended.

"Don't count on that," he kissed her. She did not respond as he hoped she would. Clearly she was more upset than he had originally thought. It would take some considered talking and a lot of listening to get her over the 40 hump. Or maybe not. "Open your present."

"Harm," she protested.

He leaned over her and grabbed a box from under the bed.

She tore off the wrapping to reveal a Victoria Secret's box. "Harm," she scolded as she pulled out several skimpy, lacy, black items that would take a PhD and illustrated instructions to figure out how to strap on.

"Is this … are these for you or for me?" she shook her head.

"You wear these, lady … and you will know that 40 is just a number," he picked one of the items up and held it aloft. "You are as young as you feel," he caressed her. "And trust me … you don't feel a day over 29," he kissed her.

She decided to let him think he was responding to her issue. What the hell, he was doing what he could.

x x x x Time and Tide Wait for No Man, Woman or Family x x x x x

Harm saw the dawn cresting the hill outside the hospital window. It had been a very long 36 hours – 18 in labor and another 12 worried about Mac (they had a difficult time stopping the bleeding). And the last six hours he spent going back and forth between her room and where they were keeping his daughter. There was no sleep for him; he looked like hell and had a coffee buzz to beat the band.

The light of day brought him hope. They rolled his daughter into Mac's room and he was allowed to hold her. She was quite possibly the most exquisite thing he had ever seen in his life. Everyone says babies are beautiful but most of the time they are just being polite. Newborns particularly are squished, red and pretty funny looking. Not Zoey Rabb. She was perfect. She was beautiful. She was long and lean and very active for a newborn. She fit into the crook of his arm perfectly and she loved being held by her father. The nurses even commented that she was a pretty fussy baby, but when he held her, she was an angel.

"Harm?" Mac moaned from bed. She was still hooked to an IV and the doctors said that she would have to stay for at least another 24 hours.

"We're here," he said gently as he came close.

"Is she alright?" she asked. Trying to get a look at her daughter.

"She is perfect," he nestled her into Mac's free arm. "Quite possibly the most beautiful female I have ever known."

Mac looked up at him. "You are going to spoil her rotten aren't you?"

He grinned proudly. "Daddy's little girl … and God help anyone who tries to mess with her."

"I think you have a few years before you need to worry about that."

"No harm in being prepared, setting the stage …you know … ground rules."

She smiled. "How's Trey?"

"He wanted us to trade her in for a boy, but said we could keep her if we took care of her and would bring home a brother next time."

Mac groaned. "Next time?"

Harm looked worried. He had very nearly lost her this time, lost his wife. He was not ready to go through that again.

"What are the doctor's saying?"

"Rest, fluids, something about red meat and iron and at least another day here," he tried to look confident and pretend like it was fine.

"How are you?"

"Tired … but very … very …"

"Relieved?" she offered.

His face melted into a soft smile that he saved only for her. "I love you, Sarah. Don't ever want to lose you," he stated honestly.

"Can't get rid of me that easily," she took his hand.

"Thank you," he sat down next to her. "Thank you for her … for our son … for our life," he kissed her.

"Harm … you know I love you … so don't take this wrong … but … go brush your teeth."

"Nice … very nice …" He got up to use the bathroom. "Ya know … you could use a MINT yourself, dear."

x x x x x Time Flies When You Are Having Fun x x x x x

Harm lay prone with just a sheet covering him. "Will you hurry up?" he called.

Mac came in from the hall holding a bottle of something and a washcloth. "Big baby," she announced. "Your kids are not as whiney as you are."

"It has been driving me crazy all night," he shuffled his position. "I think it spread."

"Should I tie your hands to the bed post?"

"Normally I would like nothing better but not today."

"What's the matter Harm … got an itch that you need scratched?"

"Would you please just get this over with?"

Mac pulled back the sheet and could not hide her amusement at what she saw. "Damn … that looks bad," she laughed.

"Not really what you should say to a man --- particularly your husband when looking at his crotch."

"Does it itch?" she gently patted the area.

"MAC."

"Fine … fine," she pulled some of the lotion from the bottle and started to apply it. "It should have a cooling effect almost instantly … stop the itch … whoa, whoa … stand down there, sailor," she laughed again.

"How the hell does he know that this is not foreplay?" he twitched it at her. "Normally you never give him any attention unless you want something."

"Jesus Harm … you are like the ever-ready bunny."

"Are you through?"

"You aren't - clearly."

"Mine turn … lie down," he moved over.

"I did it myself," she told him rubbing her backside.

"What if it spread?" he took the bottle and the cloth from her.

"Fine," she took off her robe and lay face down on the bed.

"What a shame," he announced. "Such a perfect ass and to be covered with poison ivy."

"Yeah … well next time you get a wild hair on a picnic … you are just gonna have to …"

"Hey … you're the marine … trained in jungle warfare … not a lot of poisonous plants at sea," he rolled her over to inspect her front.

"Harm … that is not fair," she twitched as he was dabbing lotion around her chest. "You are enjoying this too much."

"Can't enjoy this TOO much," he grinned. "Always wanted to be a doctor."

"Harm."

"I don't think we are contagious any more," he whispered seductively in her ear.

"Think again buddy boy … you are not coming near me with that thing," she pulled away from him. "And keep your hands to yourself … that is how this whole thing got started."

x x x x x x Does Anybody Know What Time It Is? x x x x x

Mac walked into the living room slightly before dawn. The kids would be up in an hour (thank God they could sleep through anything). Harm eyes were still closed, but she knew he wasn't sleeping. He could never actually sleep on the couch, which meant he hadn't really slept in three days.

"How long is this going to go on?" she asked coldly.

"Until you explain yourself," he said without opening his eyes.

"Harm … in this case I don't think a good OFFENSE while make a good defense."

"Take your own advice, Mac," he looked up at her. "And I don't need an offense or a defense. I did nothing wrong."

She knew he was mad at he when he called her 'Mac'. "Yet you are in no hurry to make me see the error of my ways," she threw back at him as if that were a good point.

"Mac …" He sat up. "You accused me of sleeping with another woman … you accused me of breaking our marriage vows and destroying our family."

"I said I was wrong … I apologized for leaping to the wrong conclusion."

"My point is …" He stood up to fold up the blanket before the kids got up. "My point is that you ASSUMED that I did it until you reluctantly allowed me to rebut what it was you THOUGHT you saw … so that means you expect that I will … or you are having ideas yourself."

"That is not what it means," she announced.

"OH?" he turned to her. "After three kids, twelve years of marriage and ten years before that … you don't know me better than that?"

"Maybe it is not about you," she blurted out.

"Are you telling me that you are unhappy with our life?" he ran a hand through his bed couch head. "Or just your life?"

"No," she stood firm. "That is not what I am saying."

"Then what …Mac?"

"Maybe it was about her … she is young and beautiful … sexy and blonde."

"And stupid as a stump … young enough to be my daughter … and I am her commanding officer … so not only would I throw away a marriage and family on a piece of ass … but I would flush my career down the toilet too … I am glad you think so highly of me."

"That is not what I am saying."

"Then you better start talking … cause I am at a total loss."

"I don't know what to say," she was in tears.

"Neither do I," he walked out.

"Mommy," their youngest one called from his bedroom. "My throat hurts."

x x x x Time After Time x x x x

Harm had stayed at the hospital all night eating ice cream: doctor's orders. Of course that was for his son, but Harm would never ask his child to do something that he wouldn't do himself. Mac had gone home after she was sure that Andy was going to be OK to take care of the other two kids. They were still not talking but through it all they put on a unified front.

Mac came in to the waiting room to see all the discarded ice cream wrappers. She would normally have made a comment about his rapidly expanding figure but she didn't feel that it was appropriate or would have been received well. He hadn't really slept in four nights – three on the couch and one in the hospital.

"Hi," she handed him some coffee.

"Thank you," he took a tentative sip.

"Is Andy OK?"

"Fine … sleeping … they won't let me sit with him," he leaned back and rubbed his eyes.

"Can we talk?" she asked.

"Shoot," he looked over at her.

"I'm sorry … this whole thing was my fault … my issues … I need to go back to work … I mean back to work fulltime," she took a breath and forged on. "The advocacy council is rewarding, but not enough. I don't give it enough time to really get in there and get my hands dirty. I need to go back to work fulltime – maybe not there, but somewhere."

"Fine," he stated simply.

"We could certainly use the money, the kids toys are getting a lot more expensive as well as their clothes and college is just around the corner."

"You're right," he agreed.

"That's it?"

"Mac whatever it takes to make you happy," he was still clearly unhappy.

"It would mean sharing the parenting duties more … like picking up and dropping off … maybe even a few breakfasts and dinners."

"I know," he stated. "I can handle it."

"I thought you would be more … I don't know … old school about the wife staying home and taking care of the kids."

"That was always your call, Mac," he leaned forward. "Always your call. Have I enjoyed knowing that you will be around when I leave for work and come home – yes. Have I taken advantage of the fact that you handle the breakfast, lunch and dinner for me and the kids as well as all the housework – you bet your sweet ass. Am I above throwing a load of laundry in or packing a lunch before I go to work in the morning – absolutely not."

"Really?"

"Really."

"It is just that I feel that I need something that is mine that I can excel at."

"There are a lot of things you excel at Mac … and your work was always one of them," he shrugged. "I support you 100 percent."

She spied him suspiciously. "Yet you are still mad at me."

He looked away. "It still bothers me that you would leap to that severe a conclusion about me without even giving me the benefit of the doubt and asking a question."

"I am sorry … I do trust you Harm … I know you would never do anything that would jeopardize our life or your career."

He looked uncomfortable.

"What?"

"I am loathe to admit this … but in the interest of honesty and to set the record straight … that little blonde piece of fluff is very sexy and she flirts with me relentlessly."

Mac smiled. "She flirts with you? … how cute … she has a crush."

"Three days ago she was a home-wrecker and you wanted to scratch her eyes out and cut my balls off," he accused. "And now you think it is cute?"

"I did," she grinned. "And remember that in case her flirting gives you any ideas."

"You're out of your mind," he looked at her askance. "If I had you would have divorced me and taken away our kids, but now you are just jealous?"

"It's nice to know that you aren't dead … that a pretty girl can turn your head," she glared at him. "As long as that is all that is turned."

He just shook his head.

"And I never would have taken your kids away," she told him. "I would have given you joint custody … we would have kept the house for the kids … no alimony."

"I don't want to talk about this … I don't want to discuss a divorce settlement that I don't ever intend on using."

"So you will never divorce me … there is nothing I could do … nothing that would force you to kick my ass to the curb?"

"There are a few things that might … but I don't think we should explore them either."

"But you wouldn't want to end it if I was … I don't know … brutally honest – for your own good."

"Where is this going?" he asked tentatively.

"You really need to lay off the ice cream and chips," she patted his expanded stomach. "The younger girls may not find it as sexy as I do," she grinned. "Or course you will always be that man that ran around the Arizona desert to me – no matter what you ACTUALLY look like."

He pulled her onto his lap and kissed her. "You calling me FAT?"

"I am just saying that a few more minutes on the stair master everyday wouldn't kill you, nor would a salad."

"Thought you liked being on top," he kissed her again.

x x x x x - Hammer Time – x x x x x

"I don't know which one of you is more excited," Mac commented when Harm came out of the shower. The dawn was not over the horizon yet.

"Me either."

"Let me just say one thing," she put forth.

"Again?"

"Hey … I have a right," she threw at him.

"You do."

"Two of the people I love most in the world will be with you today … you better get down safely."

"We will be fine."

She nodded. She had to believe that. "Are you more excited to fly, fly with your son or that your son is interested in flying."

Harm shrugged. "Can't say."

"Well don't get your hopes up, the last time he was in a Ferris Wheel he threw up all over everyone."

"Mac … he was five."

"Still."

"You are not going to ruin this for me," he scolded.

"For you?" she laughed. "I thought this was for Trey."

He pulled his towel off and 'waved' at her before tossing the towel at her. "Just for that, I am keeping THIS to myself."

"Get over her FLYBOY … lemme give you a reason to land safely."

Harm grinned from ear to ear.

x x x x x - Long Time No See – x x x x x

"Harm, come to bed," Mac called.

"It will be dawn in less than an hour … where the hell is she?"

"You know where she is," Mac told him.

"I know where I was and what I was doing on prom night … and if she is doing anything like that I am going to kill that boy."

"THAT BOY is Jimmy Roberts …you will not kill him … nor will you hurt him in anyway … nor will you accuse her of doing anything wrong."

"How can you be so calm?"

"We have taught her everything we know. We have talked to her about sex and taking precautions. At some point we have to let her make her own decisions."

"Make her own mistakes," he corrected.

"That too."

Harm spied the pictures they had taken of Zoey before she left. "Did you see what she was wearing … NOT wearing?"

"She was beautiful."

"Yeah … well … she got her mothers looks as well as her mother's big ti ---."

"Harm," she cut him off.

"I'm just saying … she doesn't look 17."

"Come to bed," Mac ordered again.

Harm complied but clearly he was not going to sleep. "I don't know how you can be so calm."

"Cause I know something you don't know … or have conveniently forgotten."

"That is."

"She doesn't like Jimmy Roberts," Mac curled into him seductively. "She thinks he is arrogant, rude and so full of himself that she is surprised that his head can fit through a door."

"Yet she went to the prom with him," Harm reminded her.

"So?"

"There was a time when you thought I was arrogant, rude and so full of myself --."

"Who says I have stopped thinking that?" she laughed

"My point, dear wife is look at where you are and think about where she is," he raised his eyebrows suggestively. "A fine line between love and hate."

Mac was out of bed like a shot looking out the window. "I'm calling her right now."

x x x x x Marking Time x x x x x

The phone rang at quarter to five in the morning. Not something a parent wants to hear.

Harm answered. "Hello … yes it is …" The disgust in his voice was thick. "Where? … What for yes … yes … ok … thank you," he hung up, rolled away from Mac and looked out the window.

"Andy?" she asked knowing what the answer was."

"Drunk driving … at least he didn't kill anyone or wreck another car."

Mac started to get up. "I'll go."

Harm grabbed her hand. "He can wait," he said sternly. "He needs to sober up anyway."

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"Gonna have a little one-on-one intervention with the boy," he grumbled.

"What does that mean?"

"It means he will go back to rehab … and he will get into recovery."

"Or what?" she asked.

"There is no other choice Mac … not for him," he stated simply.

"It's not that simple."

"Didn't think it would be," he pulled himself out of bed.

She called to him. "This is his third arrest."

"In the last year." Harm reminded her. He didn't need to remind her about all the trouble they had throughout high school before he had gotten his license, nor the total number of inpatient and outpatient rehab programs they had tried that clearly didn't stick.

"My point is the rehab doesn't seem to be working," she was a mother with a plan.

"Two out of three," he stood in the doorway wiping his hand implying that his first two children were better than his last.

Mac's eyes flared. "Tell me you didn't just say that," she spit at him. "He is your son."

"Yes he is," Harm confirmed. "I'm sorry," Harm eased the tension in his shoulders. "I am scared for him Sarah. And I don't know how to help him."

"I know."

"I will do everything in my power to keep him out of jail, but he is not making it any easier," Harm mumbled something under his breath.

"Excuse me!"

"I said … neither are you," he shouted.

"Jail is not the answer Harm," she started the debate once again.

"I agree with you, but the state of Virginia doesn't," he came over and sat down on the bed. "What about the Corps? It did a lot of good for you. I could convince a judge."

Mac shook her head not at the idea of Andy enlisting in the marines, but at the idea that she and her son were too much alike. She felt responsible as if Andy had inherited this disease from her.

"Don't go there, Sarah … I mean it," he warned her. "This is not YOUR fault. This is not MY fault or OUR fault."

She was near in tears. "You don't believe this is a disease."

"I believe that Andy had issues … it's can't be easy growing up with a pair of siblings like Trey and Zoey," he said as if he had given it a great deal of thought and actually had spoken to a therapist about it (which he had, but Mac didn't know that). "He's an artist … creative … a free spirit. Coming into a house with you and I as his parents and Trey as an older brother --."

"Trey and Andy love each other."

"They haven't spoken in over a year … literally haven't spoken."

"You barely speak to him," she reminded him.

"Or could it be that he barely speaks to me," he corrected. "Look, I am not saying that I am Father Knows Best … and it is true that Andy and I have always had a difficult time finding something to talk about – but don't paint this as some disappointed father disowning his screwed-up child."

"The marines will … will …"

"Beat the creativity right out of him, I know," he agreed. "On the other hand it might teach him some discipline that will help him focus that creativity on something productive."

Mac didn't think that would happen.

"Mac he can do anything he wants in life … he just needs to get this one thing under control."

"How are you going to convince him to go?" she asked.

"I'm not," he stood up and reached his hand out to her. "We are."

x x x x x Time On Your Hands x x x x x

Mac refused to open her eyes. She didn't want to face the day. The house was quiet … deadly quiet. Andy had gone to boot camp day before and she quite literally had an empty nest. Harm had been looking forward to the EMPTY NEST for twenty-five years. They were in their sixties and retirement from jobs and from raising children officially started that morning.

He climbed back into bed with her. She could smell the coffee and the cinnamon toast he had made. There were probably strawberries and cream too.

"Morning," he snuggled into her.

"Morning," she said a little sadly.

"Have a surprise for you."

"Oh?"

"We have Farley's cabin for the next three weeks," he told her.

"We do?" she opened her eyes. "I am not sure I can make that hike to the falls any more."

"Baby … you're in great shape," he kissed her.

"You too … you can't afford to lose any more weight," she told him.

"I'm at my fighting weight," he slapped his soft flat stomach. "The same as when I went to flight school."

"When do we leave?" she asked.

"After breakfast," he buried his face in her neck and started kissing her sweet spots.

"Harm, did you take …?" she asked.

"Yep," he confirmed as he trailed kisses down her neck.

"When?" she asked again.

"About an hour ago," he rolled her on to her back so he could admire her as he unbuttoned her pajama top.

"You think we will leave after breakfast, do you?" she laughed.

"Maybe lunch."

"Did you clear this with your doctor?" she asked.

"He's the one who gave me the prescription," he grinned. "Told me to have fun."

"Enough for three weeks?" she giggled.

He stopped what he was doing and looked at her. "You're trying to kill me, aren't you?"

"Just want to know what to pack," she said slipping out of her top.

"Pack light."

x x x x x A Stitch In Time Saves Nine x x x x x

Mac padded into the bedroom to retrieve something from the bathroom. She held a bridal veil aloft hoping not to get it caught on anything or step on it.

"Sarah," Harm rolled over and groaned. "Have you been up all night?"

"Busy … busy … busy," she stated with her caffeine buzz.

"Baby, come to bed … you need your rest," he patted the mattress next to him.

"My only daughter is getting married in three days … this wedding will be PERFECT," she snapped as if his suggestion for sleep was a slight on all that she had been doing.

"It will be … but you won't know it if you sleep through it."

"I'll sleep when it is over."

"Well then … Zoey had nothing to worry about," he rolled over knowing full well that he planted enough of a seed to get her to stop and ask the question.

"What does that mean?" she tossed over her shoulder as she hung the veil on the curtain rod.

"It means that the only thing in the world that could RUIN her wedding has been eliminated."

"Harm … what are you talking about?"

He rolled back over to look at her and shook his head sadly. "The only thing to ruin Zoey's wedding (other than her choice of groom) is being upstaged by her mother … which would have been a lock since her mother is the most stunning woman in the world … but since you will have circles under your eyes down to your knees and snoring through the vows … there is nothing to worry about."

Mac could barely follow his remark. "I am sure there is some version of a Rabb compliment in there … but I don't want to hear it," she wiped her face. "If you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem … and right now I have enough problems."

"Tell me," he coaxed.

She chose to humor him but it was also a way for her to make mental lists of what needed to be done. "Caterer?" she listed.

"Taken care of."

"Excuse me."

"Already on it … as well as the florist … and the transportation … and the boys are handling the seating arrangements. What else?"

"You have no idea what we ordered or anything."

"Zoey already passed it off to me," he repeated. "What else?"

"I don't know … the tuxes?"

"Picked up and delivered to the groomsmen."

"When did you get so involved in this mess?" she demanded to know.

"When my wife turned into MacArthur," he laughed. "Jesus Mac the invasion of Baghdad didn't require this much preparation."

He sat down on the bed and let out a sigh. "I want it to be perfect for her."

He pulled her down to him and rubbed her back. "What happens at weddings?"

She shook her head.

"The only thing that is important at the wedding is that the bride and groom make a promise to love, honor and respect their partner until the end of time … the rest of it is icing."

"There is a lot more to it than that."

"Not much … look at our wedding … a justice of the piece after work on a Friday …"

"In uniform," she recounted. "And awful Chinese food with our friends."

"I loved that day … I loved that we saved all our energy for the Honeymoon – and I am not just talking about the honeymoon nights … we had a great time tramping around the Sierras."

"You and I are different."

"Not that different," he kissed her forehead. "Mark loves Zoey … Zoey loves Mark … end of story … get some rest," he ordered.

"If I can get you to sleep for a couple of hours, I am a genius."

"I am too wound up to sleep," she started to pull away.

"I can help with that too," he kissed her.

x x x x x Time Heals All Wounds x x x x x

Harm groaned as he got out of bed. He couldn't sleep passed dawn anymore. He moved slowly toward the bathroom as if he had been beaten with a two-by-four.

"Showing your age there, Harm."

"Those children are monsters."

"Are you talking about your grandbabies?"

"Babies?" he raised his brow. "Were there eight or twelve of them?"

"Three," she corrected.

"That Zach is a handful," Harm called from the bathroom. "Too much of his father in him."

"He's two … all two year olds are handfuls," Mac confirmed. "Zoey is a good mother."

"She had a good role model," he leaned into the room and smiled at her.

"Do you know that I still don't know how to take a compliment from you," Mac barbed back.

"Oh?" he came back to bed. "You seem to like them … as much as I dish out."

"Yeah … well … It still unnerves me at times."

"You think I am being lest than earnest."

"I think sometimes you lay it on with a shovel, when a trowel would do … and it is usually when you want something."

He pulled her into an embrace and lay back on the bed. "Not this morning, beautiful. Those hellions took everything I had. Gonna take me days to recover."

"Andy is great with Tony," she snuggled into him.

"Yes he is."

"You don't like Shelia much, do you?"

"Shelia is fine … she seems very good for Andy … I am sorry she has a decade on him and I am sorry that Andy has taken on the load of five-year-old right out of the box … but … they aren't married yet … so who knows if it will last … but he seems happy … I guess … he still doesn't talk to me much."

"Are you going to the Trey's bachelor party?"

Harm grinned. "Wouldn't miss it."

"Don't you dare!" She warned.

"I didn't plan it … but I know what happens when a pilot gets married," he chuckled to himself. "You bet your sweet ass I will be there."

"Harm."

"The bride is ok with it … hell I hear she has some BIG plans of her own for her bachelorette party … so get over it."

"I am not sure what IT you are referring to … just don't hurt yourself, huh?"

"No need, dear," he grinned. "I just plan on sitting there … enjoying the … entertainment."

"NO LAP DANCING," she gently punched him in the ribs, which netted her a groan and an evil laugh.

x x x x Time Will Tell x x x x x

Mac hadn't slept all night. She didn't leave the bed, but she didn't sleep. Harm had his first good night in over a year – she didn't leave the bed any one of those nights either in fear that he might wake and need her.

That night she had watched him while he slept. He was a mere shadow of man she met lo those many years ago in the rose garden at the White House. He was gaunt and pale. It killed her the first time she noticed that the light had gone out of his eyes. It was the chemo. He didn't take it well … no one does. But he had been so strong and so healthy his whole life, she never thought that a silent killer like cancer would take hold of him.

He had been off for a while and they just got news from the doctor the day before that he appeared to be cancer free. They would need to screen every four to six months. But for the moment he was healthy and regaining health every day.

What she had focused on that night was the very real fact of their mortality. Not just his, but hers as well. Harm was 79 and she was 75. They weren't going to live forever. But she didn't know how she could live without him – even for a little while. She tried not to dwell on it – but Mac was a dweller particularly in the middle of the night.

The phone rang and woke Harm up even though Mac caught it on the first ring. She smiled brightly and handed the phone over to him.

"Hello … hey Trey … that is great news … how big? … mother is doing fine? … baby? Ten fingers, toes … you what? … " Harm appeared speechless. "Thank you. … We will be down a little later to see you all. Kiss Lacey for us … and # IV," he hung up and handed the phone to Mac. "Great news, huh?"

"You seem surprised," she took the phone from him.

"About?"

"That they named him after you."

"Technically they named him after my father … but yeah, I guess I am surprised. Trey hates the name 'Harmon'."

"I don't think it is about liking the name as much as it is loving the man," she kissed his cheek.

He looked at her for a long moment and stroked her cheek. "I am thinking that that is the nicest thing you have ever said to me," he pulled her to him and kissed her softly.

She curled into him and let her fears from the night fade in the light. "I am sure I said something nicer," she smiled.

"Well there was that one time when you said that I could give lessons on bringing a woman to multiple org--."

"I did not say give lessons … I just said that …" She laughed. "Egomaniac!"

"And you love it."

"I love you."

He pushed her over on to her back and loomed over her. "Wanna see if I still got it?" he wagged his brows at her.

"Not a doubt in my mind," she kissed him. "But if you feel you need to prove something, who am I to say no?"

x x x x x Time And Time Again x x x x x

Harm stood watching the cold light of day crest the distant mountains. The view from the master bedroom from Farley's cabin would always be his favorite next to the view from the fantail of a carrier. He could relive his life in those hills, and that was what he was doing that morning. Not his whole life, just his life with Sarah. It was her eighth birthday, the kids and grandkids would be arriving that day and the house would be full of people and noise – joy and laughing. They had a good life. He felt that the last five years had been a gift. A gift he used wisely and cherished ever day.

Mac slipped up behind him and wrapped her arms around him. "Morning."

He turned to pull her into an embrace. "Morning," he kissed the top of her head. "Happy Birthday."

"You know I don't like a fuss made," she gently scolded him.

"You love it and you know it," he reminded her. "Your kids around you, your grandchildren under foot. You'll be on cloud nine."

They fell silent watching the dawn.

"What is going on, Harm?" she asked scared to hear the answer.

"I was just thinking how lucky a man I really am."

"Oh?"

"Could have been killed a hundred times or more in my first 40 years and then to have you in my life for that last 40+ is a reward that I never deserved."

"There you go, shoveling it on with a shovel again," she turned to him. "Talk to me."

"I wouldn't trade a day," he looked at her earnestly.

"Not one?"

"Nope … the good, the bad, the ups, the downs …" he grinned. "The ins, the outs."

"Harm," she smiled.

"I am saying that we may have had trouble getting together and being together was not always smooth sailing, but I was never worried that … I mean I always knew that we … what I am trying to say …"

"I know what you are trying to say …"

"What I am trying to say …"

"I know … I feel it … felt it … too," she smiled sadly at him. "What are trying NOT to say?"

He nodded. She knew him too well. "Not today, today is your birthday."

"It's too late Harm … now I will stew all day thinking the worst."

He turned her to face him. "I really wanted this weekend to be special."

"It is," she helped him. "Your test came back positive, didn't it?"

He nodded. "I'm sorry."

Tears were dripping down her eyes. "You have nothing to be sorry for."

"I wanted to wait to tell you."

"I know … I appreciate that," she wiped at her tears. "So …"

"So … I don't want to go through that chemo / radiation treatment again," he said bluntly. "I think that would kill me."

She shook her head. The cancer would surely kill him.

"Sarah … I don't want to be sick. I want to be as healthy as I can for as long as I can."

"I know," she nodded.

"I love you," he said simply.

"Take me back to bed," she ordered letting her tears fall. "I need you to hold me for a little while."

"Lady, I will hold you forever … don't for get that."

"Never," she smiled weakly knowing that forever had a deadline. "I love you."

x x x x x Time's Up x x x x x

Trey, Zoey and Andy all stood in Harm and Mac's bedroom. The funeral was long since over and all the paper work had been done. They had been putting off the inevitable until they could all be there together.

They had lost their father six weeks prior (he had finally lost his battle with cancer – the only battle he ever really lost), and it was a surprise to none of them when their mother went peacefully in her sleep. She refused to allow any of them to move in even for a time, nor would she agree to move in with them. They thought she would change her mind in time and she might have if her heart wasn't so broken without her husband of 41 years.

They each took a corner of the room and started cleaning it out. There were people that they could hire to do this and friends who had offered, but the Rabb children needed to do this for themselves.

"I feel like we are going to get in trouble for being in here," Zoey broke the ice.

"Yeah … Dad did get pretty hot when he caught us in here," Andy recalled.

"He was teaching us about respecting other people's privacy," Zoey claimed.

The boys laughed. "Are you kidding?"

"He wanted to make sure that we didn't come in when they were screwing."

Zoey made a face. "I don't want to think about it," she turned away.

"They had a healthier sex life than the three of us combined," Andy claimed. "Right up until the end."

Trey looked at the headboard. "Remember when he moved the bed so it wouldn't knock up against the wall."

Andy laughed. "Right … what did he say … Mom wanted to protect the paint."

"Oh yeah," Zoey laughed. "We could draw on the walls of the living room with indelible ink, but she was worried about the paint behind the head board."

"They thought we were young and stupid," Andy claimed.

"They didn't want to discuss sex with their kids … particularly THEIR sex."

"Remember that talk we got from Dad?" Andy nodded to Trey. "All that bullshit about respecting your partner."

"I took that to mean he was trying to tell us we shouldn't finish first," Trey laughed.

"OK OK … enough with the sex talk," Zoey shut them down.

"OH I don't know about that," Andy pulled a box out from the back of the closet and showed it to Trey.

"Dad you dog," Trey laughed pulling out the MAKING WAVES DVD.

"Lemme see," Zoey ordered. "Oh god … Mom … I am scarred for life," she laughed. "Get rid of that before one of the kids finds it and asks what it is."

"Good idea," Andy held something up. "Cause I am not sure I know what this is."

"ANDY," Zoey scolded. "Beside this room was more of their sanctuary … it wasn't just about … them …"

"You can't say it can you?" Trey laughed.

"I just don't want to get a visual … OK? They are our parents for God sake."

"So we know that did it at least three times," Andy offered.

"Stop," Zoey said. "I admired their … I don't know … intimacy. They way they held hands in public or how Dad would always open the door for Mom … even when they were royally pissed with each other."

"Yeah … well … I always thought they got into those fights so they could make up."

"Make up sex is the best."

Zoey tried to ignore her brothers. "AND … They actually talked to each other … Mark and I never talk … not like they did."

"Maybe after 40 years of marriage," Trey offered.

"No," Andy said. "I remember them talking a lot from the time I was little … it is probably my first memory is of them talking near me … boy oh boy could those two debate a topic … I am sure these walls could tell any number of stories … I am sure that I was a topic of conversation in here more than twice."

"We all were," Trey consoled.

"Perfect Trey?" Andy jabbed at him. "Mr. Follow In Daddy's Footsteps?"

Zoey intervened. "Andy … Dad loved you."

"Yeah."

"I'm serious," she forced.

"Don't worry about is Zoe … this is just my shit," he sat down on the bed. "Dad and I reconciled before he died. We had some really great talks," Andy nearly broke down. "He told me he was proud of me," he did let some tears fall. "I wish I could believe that."

Trey and Zoey sat down next to him. "He wouldn't have said it if he didn't mean it," Trey said.

"Yeah … I just … I don't know … I wanted more time with him," he let his brother console him.

Zoey looked around the room. "Something is different."

The boys looked at her like she was crazy. Mom and Dad are gone … is that different enough?

"I mean … really different."

"Like what?"

"I don't know … something is missing … where is that trunk … box … whatever… you know that captain's letter thing."

"The captain's secretary?" They boys looked around. "What was in it?"

"All of their letters over the years."

"You think mom burned them so we couldn't read them?"

"No," Zoey got up to look around. She found it in a corner near the bed. Clearly Mac had been rereading them.

"Should we read them?" Trey asked.

Andy shook his head. "I think Dad would get really pissed at that."

"They were private that is for sure … but we are their children."

"What if you find something out about them that you didn't want to know?"

"It won't make me love them less … it would just give me a better idea of who they were."

"I think it is a bad idea," Andy said. "I want to remember them … Mom especially as she was to me … a loving and devoted wife and mother with the stamina to go toe to toe with anyone of us and who would got to bat for any one of us."

"She was a spitfire," Zoey broke down. "I miss her."

At that moment H4 came crying into the room and up to his father. "What is wrong little man?" The father asked.

"Zach said that Nana and Grampa are dead and in heaven and we will never see them again."

Precocious Zach stood shamed in the doorway and Zoey motioned for him to join her.

Trey sat down with his son on his lap. "We talked about this," he said gently. "And what did we decide?"

The little boy wiped at his eyes. "We said that as long as we love them … they will never truly be gone."

"And how long are you going to love Nana and Grampa?"

The little boy smiled brightly and opened his arms as wide as he could. "THIS LONG, Daddy. Times infinity."

"That's a long time," he kissed his son's head and held him close.

The Rabb children made eye contact. No one would be reading their private letters. Harm and Mac gave so much of themselves to the people they loved, whatever was left over for each other should be respected and admired. They were a true love story.

x x x x My Time Here is DONE …

Thanks for playing along