Title: A Picture Begets A Thousand Words

By: LizD Previously Posted as Shipless

Spoiler: Post Automatic For The People

Author's Note: Written during the torture that was Season 10.

Disclaimer: Not Disrespect intended, with love and thanks

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Chapter 2 – The Mac Attack

2159 Local

Rabb Residence

North Of Union Station

Twenty-six minutes later

"HOW DARE YOU?" Mac's voice slammed him as he stepped down the steps from his bedroom.

Harm was fresh from his second shower of the evening, third of the day – and he was feeling a little more relaxed, a little repentant of the scene with Mac that had just happened, but determined to deal with it later. Regardless, he was actually naked with only a towel in his hand drying his hair.

"Female on deck." He stated as he turned to cover himself.

If Mac were in the mood she might have been mildly amused. As it was she was steaming mad.

"HOW DARE YOU?" She demanded again.

Harm had retreated to his bedroom, grabbed a pair of shorts and stepped back down the steps. "You left."

"I came back."

"Evidently." He said snidely.

"I just want to know where the hell do you get off cross examining me like that?"

"Go home Mac."

"Don't tell me what to do … I want to know -"

"You want to know what?" He challenged.

"I want to know what makes you think that you can bait me … confront me … back me against the wall and make ME look like the bad guy."

"If the shoe fits, Colonel."

"The shoe does not fit COMMANDER."

"What's the matter? Not comfortable enough for you?"

Her eyes were filling with fire. "What happened to 'I am still here'? What happened to 'nothing has changed'? What happened to 'I want to be a part of your life'?"

Harm was stunned. All those things were still true, in spite of his statement earlier that he would not wait for her any more.

Mac didn't wait for a reply. "You want to know why I am unsure about a future for us? … Well there you go."

"There I go … WHAT?" Harm snapped back at her.

"You go from being steady, consistent and supporting to … to … to … to pronouncing a verdict like 'it is never going to happen for us.'"

"You have said it a number of times, too."

"Twice … but at least I am consistent … and you wonder why I am confused by you, why I want to wait."

"What are we waiting for Mac … huh? How long do you expect me to wait?" He demanded.

"As long as it takes." She spit back at him.

Harm's words coming back at him shut him up.

"Don't take it out on me – HAMMER -- if you feel guilty about having feelings for another woman."

"I told you --."

"Yeah, I know what you told me. I also know that you have accused me of the same thing you are guilty of."

"What are you talking about?"

"You accused me of going with any man that shows interest." Under her breath she added, "Funny that you never decided to try that tactic with me --."

He heard it – under her breath or not. "OBJECTION … that is a lie."

"Which part?"

"Both … I have shown PLENTY of interest in you." He stated righteously.

"Depending up on the day of the week or what you have for breakfast that morning."

He glared at her. "I do not respond to EVERYONE that shows interest."

"No … just the ones that kiss you."

"Mac!"

"Why this overnight change in your feelings? Why draw the line in the sand now?" She took a breath. "So why is Megan Ransford pursuing you?"

"Who said she was pursing me?"

"She sent you a painting … you honestly think that is a 'thank you ' gift?"

"I believe that it is."

"You are dense when it comes to women, Harm, but not that dense."

"Is name calling necessary?" He said haughtily.

"If it's not a pursuit … then why haven't you opened it … is it a naked self-portrait?" She jibbed.

"Don't be ridiculous."

"If you weren't the least bit interested in her, she would have gotten that message and would not be pursuing you."

"I am not interested in Megan Ransford." He stated one more time for the record.

"Why not? She is perfect for you. She is needy, attractive and available."

He did not take that comment well. "Do you really think so little of me?"

"Come off it Harm … you're a hero … you need to be hero … you can't help yourself with damsels in distress and they can't help but fall in love with you when you save them."

"Not true, " he said but he was unsure as Megan's words of falling in love with him ran through his head.

"And just because I don't want you to be mine --."

"I saved your ass plenty, colonel."

"And I have saved yours a time or two."

"Memory fails." He shrugged.

"It always does when it doesn't suit your purpose."

"I don't want to be your HERO, Mac."

"Then what do you want?"

He was stilled for a moment; he wanted to get it right. "I think you know."

"I think you ought to tell me." She slammed back at him. "For once … I think you ought to spell it out."

"Why? You just want to humiliate me?"

"Why would I want to humiliate you?"

"Only you have the answer to that."

Mac shook her head, she would not respond to that. She would not allow him to put thoughts or feelings into her mouth or her head.

"I told you what I wanted." He said after a moment. "I want to be a part of your life … I want to raise a family with you."

As soon as the family part came out, Mac's fear, her dread, her depression and her loss at not being able to have a baby was fully in the forefront of her mind again. Her eyes darkened, her expression got sad. The wind had been knocked out of her. Her voice got very soft. "And if that is not possible?" She squeaked out not looking at him.

Harm's voice softened to match hers. "We would make it work … somehow."

She exhaled forcefully trying to shake off the pain she felt. "I told you I needed time."

"And I gave it to you."

"What? Time's up … if there were an expiration date on your patience, you should have mentioned that before." Her words were sharp but her tone was even.

"I would wait forever, if I thought there was something to wait for." He stood his ground.

"Wait forever?" She didn't want him to wait, and not for forever. She didn't want to have to wait not for something this natural. She had to push him away, again. "Wait. Right … you would wait … but not alone."

"What does that mean?" He knew she was baiting him, he knew the best thing was to be consistent and honest.

"Alicia Montes … Megan Ransford … and God knows how many between?"

"Nothing happened with Alicia Montes."

"She looked pretty comfortable that night I caught you two." Wow, she was good. She pushed the right button.

Harm ire rose. "Caught us!" Harm was in full defender mode. "You CAUGHT US doing what exactly?"

"I don't know … I don't want to know." She looked away.

"No of course not … you show up … out of the blue … in full flirt mode -." The best defense is a good offence.

"I won't own that." She shook her head.

"Oh please Mac … what did you want to happen that night?"

"I needed to talk." She said firmly.

"You didn't look like you wanted to talk … you looked like you wanted something else."

"I wasn't sleeping." She defended. "I needed my friend … MY BEST FRIEND --."

"You thought I could help you sleep?" He suggested. "How exactly, huh?"

"I thought we could talk." She stated again, realizing that she really hadn't come over that night to 'talk' about anything.

"But instead you ran away."

"I did not run away." She defended. "I made a tactical retreat."

"If you had come in you would have discovered that it was a working dinner."

"A working what?"

"Alicia and three of her students were there to work though some cases … I was helping her out."

"Right … just being a nice guy."

"My social calendar was a little light." He said snidely.

"I'm sure Alicia would have been glad to fill up your dance card."

"I was not … I am not interested in Alicia."

"Then why did you say you would call me the next day?"

"That is not what I said." It actually was, but he didn't mean it like that.

"You said it very clearly … look … forget it … it doesn't matter … I was actually very relieved to know that you had moved on."

"I DIDN'T move on." He ran his hands through his hair. "Jesus, we have the worst timing on the planet."

"It is not just timing Harm … ask your self this question … if we are meant to be … why have we gone down so many wrong paths just to avoid each other?"

"You can't get me to believe that Mac … there has been no one … NO ONE … since Renee … since I realized I was in love with you."

She shook her head. She knew Harm was making the Webb argument again, but chose to ignore it. Webb was her mistake, it had little to do with Harm, but he would never believe that. "Harm this is pointless … we are going round and round in circles … and we will never get anywhere."

"Never is a long time Mac." He shook his head. "I don't think we ought to use that word anymore … and especially not with us."

"Why not?" She wiped her face with her hands. "After nine years …I think it is a pretty safe bet."

"After nine years were are still here … still together … still fighting … after how many declarations of NEVER we make … it still comes back to you and me … we can't get passed each other Mac … maybe we should stop trying."

Mac turned away from him. "I don't know how." She said softly. "It's too late anyway."

"It's not too late, Mac." He stepped closer to her. "You said it yourself … we are both alive … it's not too late … as long as we are alive we have hope."

She was defeated. "I can't see a future for myself Harm … I don't have any idea what it will look like … I thought I knew."

"What did you see?"

"I saw a husband and children … grand children --." She said weakly.

"You can still have that." He said gently.

She shook her head.

"Damn it Marine." He said loudly. "Don't let them take that away from you."

"They already have." She lamented and then looked back at him. "Who is 'them'?"

"'Them' is the voices in your head telling you that you can't have what you want."

"I can't."

"Yes you can … you can have anything."

"It won't be easy."

"Anything worth having never is."

Her eyes softened. She almost believed him. "How can I ask you to take on that fight with me?" She was sincerely asking him. She didn't want to saddle him – or any man, but especially Harm - with her problems. "How can -."

"Because you love me … because you need me … because there is no one else that will fight as hard as I will … as hard as you will … for what we want." He drove the final point of his argument home. "Because it is OUR fight, Mac."

Her eyes were welling up with tears. "Harm." She shook her head. She was so close to wanting to believe him, she had to give him one more chance to walk away. "Why don't you find some pretty young thing who will crank you out a ton of children and who comes with a lot less baggage?"

A smile spread across his face. "Because I don't want some pretty young thing who will crank me out a ton of children and comes with a lot less baggage … I want you … a beautiful, intelligent woman who challenges me at ever turn and comes with a U-haul of crap that is already half mine."

She tilted her head to the side and looked defeated yet slightly heartened.

He reached out and cupped her face tilting it slightly so she would look him in the eyes.

"I do love you." She said softly. "I do need you. And I know that no one will fight as hard as you will."

"It is our fight Mac … let's meet it together."

She smiled slightly. He won his case as he had won so many others. "Let's meet it together." She echoed.

He pulled her toward him and let his lips touch hers. For a moment the world stilled and their anger, frustration and pain were silenced. The kiss deepened. After a moment he wrapped her up in a protective embrace and they silently acknowledged that they were finally on the same path together.

Mac laughed … well chuckled really.

"What?" He asked.

"It doesn't feel like I thought it would."

"What doesn't?" He was leery of asking.

"I thought it would feel like I lost … the battle, the war … whatever … but I can't help but think that I won … that we won … that we beat the powers that be that were striving to keep us apart."

"We did win, Mac." He held her more tightly. "As long as we keep challenging the odds … not going down the safe path … we have won."

She laughed through her tears. "I have no idea where to begin."

"How about here." He pulled back to look into her face. He brushed some hair away from her eyes, and leaned down and kissed her.

She pulled back. "You'll send the picture back." She stated.

"I will."

"You won't let women kiss you anymore." She added.

"I won't."

"Good." She folded back into him. She was still tentative and unsure, but some how hopeful for the first time. The waiting was over.

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They call me SHIPLESS … but I guess my shipper heart won't die.