AN – Okay everyone… here is the final part. I want to thank you all for reading my story and the reviews you sent me throughout this little tale. Hugs - Michixoxox
"Woooaaahhh …mmmm… wow, whatever this stuff is that they gave me, sure is powerful, I've been unmistakably knocked on my sorry butt," was AJ's first thought when he woke up, knowing all too well that he was lying in a hospital bed. It was the repulsive odor of antiseptics reaching his nostrils that was jogging his brain into telling him where he was. It was a struggle, but he was adamant about regaining some sort of coherence, which wasn't easy due to the powerful drugs he was on.
AJ chuckled at how this unmistakable, revolting smell could still bother him after all his years as a medical student, and now that he was an emergency room doctor, you think that he'd be used to it. 'I guess there are some things you just never get used to,' he mused.
Slowly he opened his eyes, butquickly closed them again, groaning as the glare of the sun overwhelmed him. "Shit," he murmured, letting out another groan when his body protested as he unintentionally moved wrong, trying to find a more comfortable position on the bed. "Damn it, that hurt…. Stupid ribs."
AJ sighed in defeat. Obviously, this just wasn't his day… that was a given.
First there was his alarm-clock that conked out at some time during the night, making him oversleep for more than three hours.
Then there was the constant ringing of the phone, which he definitely should have ignored and stayed sleeping. Instead, he reached over to grab it from the nightstand and in the process knocked over the bottle of water that was sitting there, which in turn slammed into the photo of him and Jess, sending it crashing to the floor. Answering the phone with a gruff 'hello' he heard his baby brother Jimmy on the other end, asking him if he'd had a rough night and why he wasn't at the park like everyone else.
Now late for the picnic at the park, AJ jumped out of bed and without thinking, he quickly headed for the bathroom… a little too quickly. After two steps, his right foot came in contact with the water that had pooled on the floor from the overturned bottle, and he awkwardly slid his way to the bathroom at full speed. The 'fun' ride didn't stop until his toe connected soundly with the door jam.
"DAMN… OUCH that smarts … what the heck…," were the first words AJ cursed out, looking down at the floor behind him "…oh crap… the stupid water."
After he finished hopping around on one foot, grabbing his toe, and mumbling more profanities to himself, he carefully returned to the scene of the crime with a towel to wipe the water from the floor, and put the picture of Jess and himself back in its place of honor on his nightstand. 'At least the glass didn't break,' he mused and, momentarily, found his smile again as he stood there looking at the picture of Jess.
The smile was short lived because the day was still young and AJ still had 'miles to go before he slept.'
A shower was next on his agenda, a quick shower, which is exactly what he got, seeing as how he had to endure some pretty cold water in the process. Naturally, the nice warm comforting water lasted only long enough for him to apply the shampoo to his hair before turning into an ice cold blast.
"Is this how the whole day is going to be?" AJ shouted to the shower walls as he shivered under the freezing water, trying to rinse out the shampoo along with his soapy body. Not that he had never taken cold showers before mind you, but those were always intentional and this one for sure wasn't.
Apparently, the hot water tank was not working properly, and he hoped that it was only a small problem that he could fix himself. The last thing he needed right now was a bill about a totally overpaid plumber.
"Good God…," he groaned, "what's NEXT?" AJ uttered, groping for the towel he normally kept nearby on the rack. What now… NO TOWEL… Crap… "I left the clean towels in the laundry basket IN THE OTHER ROOM!"
"Damn… can't I catch a break here," He grumbled, walking butt-naked to the bedroom, dripping water all over the floor in search of a clean towel.
Next came the task of shaving… simple… maybe on every other day, but not today. The cut above his lip attested to that.
'Geez… is it safe to brush my teeth,' he wondered, picking up his toothbrush and toothpaste, looking them over to make sure they weren't booby-trapped.
'Maybe my dad's Star Trek aliens got in here last night and are messing with me,' AJ thought and, just to make sure, let his eyes wander around the room. Then he just laughed about his own ridiculous behavior. '…God… listen to me… I always thought I was a rational person, but I think I'm losing it here. Oh man… I've spent way too many years listening to my dad and watching Star Trek.'
AJ shook his head, attempting to gain some control. 'There must be a full moon,' he sputtered. 'Beam me up, Scotty,' he hollered into the room unable to hold himself back, and for a few seconds waited for a sign or something. "Nah, no aliens." Totally satisfied with his observation, he started to brush his teeth… thankfully without any further mishap.
'Coffee… I need coffee,' AJ thought as soon as he was done in the bathroom and dressed, blindly walking towards the kitchen.
Thinking about a nice hot cup of strong coffee was about all he could do, seeing as how the coffee can was totally empty. 'Oh well… I'll just have to make due with orange juice, even though it won't do a thing to jump start me here.'
Opening the fridge and grabbing the OJ he chuckled, knowing that his mom would have smacked his six right about now if she saw him gulping the juice from the carton. His boyish grin was quickly replaced with a disgusting frown. Oh God! Gross! 'How long has this been here?' With a few more muttered words, AJ quickly disposed the remainder of the juice down the drain.
It isn't Friday the thirteenth, and 'I didn't break a mirror or anything,' he thought. But… oh… he was definitely on a roll here. 'What else can possibly go wrong?'
Little did he know… the drama was only beginning... it would get worse.
End of Flashback
And now? Now he was lying here.
Yup, this certainly WAS NOT his day. According to the doctor who treated his injuries, he had a broken leg, two broken ribs, a concussion and numerous bruises and abrasions as a result of his little skirmish with the car. A scuffle he obviously had lost.
"But it was definitely worth it," he whispered to himself when he suddenly realized that he wasn't alone in the room.
His right hand felt all warm and cozy, totally enveloped in someone else's.
AJ once again, and much more carefully this time, opened his eyes. He blinked against the bright sunlight until his eyes adjusted to it. Everything around him was still a bit blurry, that is until he spotted the most beautiful sight he had ever seen in his life.
There she was; sitting right next to him asleep on one of those uncomfortable plastic chairs with her head pillowed near their joined hands on his unhurt leg. A few strands of her long chestnut brown hair were sprawled over her closed eyes and cheeks.
AJ's hand desperately craved to touch the strands of her hair and push them out of her face, but he didn't want to remove his right hand from her warm one. 'You're so beautiful, Jess,' he thought and smiled.
Without a second thought about his screaming ribs and with all the strength he had in him, AJ slowly raised the upper part of his body and left arm, gently touching her soft cheek with his fingertips. "So incredibly beautiful," he said and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
At his light touch, Jessica woke up with a start and jumped in surprise, nearly knocking herself off the chair she was sitting on.
For a moment she was disorientated and taken aback. She looked around the room before a long drawn-out groan fully woke her. Her eyes quickly moved to the bed in front of her, and that's when it all came flooding back to her.
"Oh my god," she said and moved forward so that her eyes could focus on AJ's pain furrowed ones. "Are you okay?" Jessica asked worriedly. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"No," AJ breathed out and took another deep breath, trying his hardest to overcome the sudden pain encompassing his entire body. "It was my fault anyway. I should have known better than to try a move like that. My aunt told me more than once to never sneak up on a marine like that. I guess it applies tomarine pilots as well." Then he gave her a warm smile and winked. "I just couldn't resist doing it. But don't worry. You could never hurt me, Jess."
"Good." Jessica sighed in relief and responded with a smile of her own before her facial expression changed drastically and her gaze darkened. "YOU," she screamed and gave his chest a playful slap. "Don't you ever do that to me again, AJ Roberts!"
"Ouch," AJ yelped and winced in a playful manner, never losing his bright smile. "Be careful or I may amend my opinion. What the heck did I do now?"
"Never scare me like that again, or you'll regret it. You hear me, mister?" Jessica shrieked and without realizing it, tears started to run down her cheeks. "Have you any idea how scared I was this morning? What were you thinking, running in front of that car? You could have been killed!"
"Okay, I know I should have remembered to take my suit." AJ chortled and shrugged but Jess just looked at him questioningly. "You know, Jess… my Superman suit," he continued, "then I could have just stopped the car before it hit me."
"That's so not funny, AJ." Jessica fumed.
"I know… I'm sorry… I was just trying to make you laugh. You have such a beautiful smile, you know. Haven't I ever told you that before?" He knew she probably wouldn't buy into his dodge tactic, but he had to at least try to lighten the mood and cheer her up.
By now Jessica was more than frantic and AJ knew that all the strain and fear from the last few hours was taking its toll on her. She'd lost control and was ranting, AJ knew he had to be patient and give her the time to let it all out.
Jessica continued to ramble and AJ just listened thoughtfully until the she exhausted herself andjust couldn't say anything else. AJ gave her a little smile and softly whispered 'come here,' tugging on her hand that was still holding his, and drew her against his chest for a hug.
It was a hug they both desperately needed.
And this time he didn't even feel his protesting ribs, nor did he care or even remember how much they hurt. AJ just wanted to hold her, show her that he was okay and that everything would be alright… that everything was alright.
"I'm sorry," Jess said quietly and pulled herself out of his embrace, avoiding any eye contact with him. "I didn't mean to lose it like that and take it out on you."
With his index finger AJ tilted her chin up so that he could look into her eyes. "Please look at me, Jessica," he pleaded and Jess obeyed so that he could look directly into her tear-rimmed eyes. "It is okay. It's not a crime to lose it every once in a while. Even you are allowed to lose control, Jess. I mean, I know the whole 'I'm a marine' thing and all, but it's okay… hey… it's me AJ, and I would never rat you out. And don't forget, I know that the source of the weakness is in the Navy gene. After all, I have it in me too. Unfortunately, I have the one hundred percent pure version."
He had hoped with his last remark to at least get her to give him a little smile.
It seemed to work because she did smile. "That's why you're so thickheaded," she replied, sticking out her tongue in a very childish manner. Oh… she was definitely her father's daughter. Not only did she have the carbon copy oceanic blue eyes, she also possessed the playful and sometimes cocky demeanor that attested to the wondrous Rabb legacy.
AJ repeated her infantile gesture. "True, but you're weak, somewhat thickheaded and on top of it all completely obstinate, which is the Marine gene in you. A gene, I might add, I don't have," he said, looking like the cat that swallowed the canary.
"Smartass," Jessica responded and suddenly got serious again. "You really scared me this time, AJ," she admitted in a whisper and chewedon her lower lip.
AJ nodded his head and took her hands into his. "I know. I pretty much scared myself too," he confessed and gave her hands a gentle squeeze. "How's Benji doing?" AJ asked, trying once again to lighten his friend's mood with that question, but on the other hand he wanted to make sure Jessica's furry little friend really was doing okay and that the dog wasn't terrified or even hurt by the accident.
It worked and Jessica began laughing in relief, which caused AJ to laugh right along with her, much to his dismay once his ribs started to squawk, but he didn't care because it was well worth the pain.
"Oh, he's doing fine," she answered with a little smile as soon as they'd calmed down a bit. "Jayden and Emma took him home with them. I doubt he knows what happened, but he was definitely worried about you," Jessica said and looked down at their joined hands before she continued with a whisper, "And so was I."
AJ chuckled and gave her hand another gentle squeeze. "Hey, it takes more than some Japanese car to stop me,"he said jokingly and in response got another playful slap from her, this time she aimed at his unhurt leg.
"You're bad, AJ Roberts," Jessica said but couldn't stop herself from giggling.
"Yeah, but you love me anyway," AJ responded without thinking twice.
Jessica's head snapped up as soon as the words had left his mouth as dead silence permeated the room following his statement.
AJ opened his mouth to say more but before any words could come out, it was Jessica who finally broke the silence. "You were right, you know."
AJ looked questioningly at her, not understanding the meaning behind her words. "I was right about what?"
Jessica took a deep breath, pulling her hand out of his firm grasp and then picked it up again to hold in hers. Their eyes were glued to their joined hands when she raised them gently for emphasis. "It really fits," she said softly before raising her head and looked deeply into AJ's eyes. "Doesn't it?"
AJ smiled and raised his other hand, tenderly touching her cheek with his fingertips. "Yes, it does, Jessica. It fits perfectly," he gently answered in a whisper and slowly pulled her head forward to his so that their lips were nearly touching.
At last, without breaking their eye contact, both said the words they wanted to tell each other for so long.
"I love you."
AJ's all-consuming thoughts were, 'Finally! Thank God, I never would have guessed a day that had started out so badly could end up so perfect,' before he lost himself boundlessly in this new, overwhelming feeling of loving and being loved.
As soon as their lips touched for the very first time it seemed as if everything around them vanished and the only thing that existed was their connection. Therefore, they never saw the two figures standing in the doorway of AJ's hospital room, nor did they hear them when they disappeared through the same door.
Harm quietly closed the door behind him before he took Mac into his embrace, giving her a lovely kiss. "It looks like our little girl finally found her perfect match. It sure took them long enough."
Mac looked up at her husband in surprise. "You knew?"
Harm shrugged and merely chuckled. "Yeah, I guess you were right when you said that being in love with your best friend for so many years makes you able to sense when someone else is on that same emotional roller coaster ride."
"How long were you listening anyway?"
"I heard everything up to your 'thickheaded' comment. You both were so deeply involved in your conversation you never noticed that I was standing just a few feet away from you."
Mac sighed and took Harm's hand into hers as they continued to walk down the corridor. "I'm so glad they finally found each other. And yeah, it for sure took them long enough." She then chuckled, squeezing Harm's hand. "But thank God not as long as it took us."
"They're quite a pair, don't you think?" Harm commented and both laughed as they walked through the entrance door of the hospital.
"Just wait 'till they have their own kids. They'll be quite a handful, of that I'm sure, Grandpa Harm."
And exactly one year to the day of that horrible accident, an ecstatic Jessica and an equally elated AJ were joined as husband and wife. They exchanged their vows amongst family and friends in a place that would always remain special to them. A place that was the catalyst in bringing their love to the surface… yes, the very same park.
"Mac? Hey Mac?"
Harm had been trying to get Mac's attention for quite some time now and gave her a worried look. "Mac!"
"Huh?" was her only reaction. It took Mac a few seconds to get back to the present and realize where she was.
Taking her eyes from AJ and Jessica's joined hands, she could see that everyone at the picnic table was looking at her a little worried.
Only AJ, who sat opposite her, gave her a knowing smile. Mac, after seeing the look in his eyes, was sure that they both had just returned from the same journey, thinking about the same thing.
AJ nodded and gave her a wink, one she returned before letting her eyes wander back to her husband's beautiful eyes. "What were you saying?"
"I wanted to know if you would like a sandwich," Harm said and held a plate with sandwiches in front of her. "Where were you just now anyway?"
Mac moved forward and gave Harm a short sweet kiss on his lips. "Oh, just pondering about the fact that what belongs together will be together," she said and then looked at her daughter and son-in-law. "Always and forever."
"Hear, hear," everyone at the table cheered and suddenly started to laugh when AJ junior smeared ketchup all over his daddy's face with giggling loudly.
"Aidan Jasper Roberts," AJ hollered and joined in the laughter.
Yeah, it was true. What belongs together will be together.
Always and forever.