Here's the end. Thanks to everyone who stuck aournd for the entire journey! I am planning a sequel, but I've put no time restraint on it, and I don't like to post until the whole sha-bang is ready to go. So it'll happen when it happens :)

Four years later
1655 local

Striding in through the front entrance of the building, the two were a sight to behold. The tall navy captain, standing at six foot plus and dressed in summer whites, carried himself with a self-confident gait. His cover was low on his head, but his hazel eyes were too bright to disguise. His smile, however, was by far his most striking feature. Dazzling and jubilant, it was enough to charm even the toughest of the hard-nosed nurses at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

His companion was as lovely as her counterpart was handsome. Her dark auburn mane was pulled high on her head in a mess of large curls and colorful ribbons. She had darker eyes than his, and they were framed by long, thick lashes. However, her most prominent feature, at least at the moment and probably only because of the way her chest was puffed out proudly, was the purple t-shirt with the words "I'M THE BIG SISTER" written in white block lettering across the front.

In her new shirt, white-cropped pants, and salt-water sandals, four-year old Sophie Rabb was an endearingly beautiful little girl. Sitting up high on her daddy's arm, she fiddled with the insignia on his cover shyly, avoiding admiring glances directed at the pair by the few people in the lobby. Sophie was a friendly little girl, very polite, a genius according to her parents, and she could ramble on for hours to anyone one of her family or friends, but she was rather timid around strangers. So she played with her daddy's hat as they walked toward the elevator, casting a shy smile at the nurses behind the front desk.

Arriving at the elevator, Sophie's daddy stooped down to allow her to push the call button.

"Daddy, when's Mommy comin' home?" she asked as they waited for the car.

"Tomorrow, baby. Why, are you bored with me already?" Harm tweaked her nose then poked her belly and she giggled at his silliness.

Then she shrugged in reply. "No, I just missed her las' night." Putting on what her mommy called her marine face, she continued, "but Pawpaw read me 'Goodnight Moon', and he's real good at it and Nanah fixed my hair for me today. Isn't it pretty Daddy, I picked out all the ribbons and Nanah tied them up in my ponytail, see?" She began picking at the curls and bows, pulling them closer to Harm's face for inspection.

As they stepped onto the elevator, Harm tried to hide his amused smile. "You look absolutely beautiful sweetheart," he assured his daughter sincerely for the fourth time, smoothing down the pieces that she had pulled out of place. Stooping down again, he pointed to the panel of numbered buttons. "Hey Soph, can you push the 'six' button?"

Abandoning her curls for the moment, Sophie scrutinized the panel before selecting the button for the sixth floor. Then she turned back to her father with a bright smile. "There ya go, Daddy!" she announced proudly.

"Great job, baby," he straightened back up and flashed her a large smile of his own.

"Thank you," she responded politely. "Daddy?"

"Yeah Soph?" Keeping one eye on the progression of the numbers above the door, Harm turned the rest of his attention to his daughter.

"Am I gonna spend the night with Nanah and Pawpaw again tonight?" She didn't sound upset at the prospect, just...disappointed?

Harm studied her curiously. "No, I don't have to stay here with Mommy and the baby tonight. It's just you and me kiddo," he bounced her a couple of times, eliciting a squeal. She wrapped her arms around his neck to steady herself.

"Then can we go on a date?" she asked.

"A date?"

"Yes, like when Mommy gets to get all dressed up and you take her to a rest'rant to eat. Nanah can help me pick out my most prettiest dress, and ooh, can we go somewhere that has pesketti?"

Harm laughed at her exuberance as well as her last request. 'Pesketti', or spaghetti as the layman might say, had been Sophie's favorite food since before she even had any teeth. "I'd be honored to take you out on a date, Miss Sophie," he puckered up and accepted her slightly sticky, grape popsicle flavored kiss.

Stepping off the elevator, Sophie slid from her father's arms and grabbed his hand, pulling him forward impatiently.

"Hey, wait up, squirt," he chuckled, "you don't even know where you're going!"

Hand in hand, father and daughter navigated the quiet hallways together. After three wrong turns Sophie thought they'd never find it. Then she felt her dad tug on her arm gently. When she looked up, he nodded his head toward the door on his other side.

Letting go of his hand, she ran to the door, her sandals clacking on the linoleum as she entered the room.

"Hey BooBoo!" Mac greeted as Sophie hopped up onto the bed and threw arms around her mother's neck.

"Hey beautiful," Harm murmured, leaning over the top of Sophie's head and kissing his wife.

"Hey Sailor," she replied, her lips curving up when the kiss ended. "You get a hold of Bud and Harriet?"

"Harriet's already making travel arrangements," he chuckled. "Mom and Frank will be here later. They wanted to give someone," he pointed down to where Sophie was still clinging to Mac's neck, "time to get acquainted with the baby."

Mac nodded knowingly.

"Mommy, do you like my hair? Nanah fixed it special for today." Pulling back from her mother's embrace, Sophie began tugging on her curls once again.

"I love it, baby!" Mac held her back so she could see the little girl's outfit. "And where did you get that shirt?" She looked up at her husband delightedly.

"Give Mommy the present for the new baby," he encouraged the little girl, handing her a small gift bag.

With great pride and care, Sophie presented the gift to her mother. Mac carefully removed the tissue paper and reached into the bag, pulling out a t-shirt, purple like Sophie's, but much, much smaller. When Mac unfolded it, she saw the white block letters proclaiming, "I'M THE LITTLE SISTER".

"Me and Nanah…"

"Nanah and I," her mom corrected automatically, holding the shirt out in front of her by the shoulder seams and smiling widely.

"Nanah and I went shoppin' today and she got 'em for us." Sophie wiggled and grunted until she had twisted one leg around, her foot now between herself and her mom. "An' I got these new shoes too!" Sophie was the only four-year old in existence who could have more fun in a shoe outlet than a toy store.

"Those are wonderful, baby," Mac gushed, slipping her hands under Sophie's arms and pulling her forward into a tight hug, "I missed you Boo."

"I missed you too, Mommy. Pawpaw read me my bedtime book, but he doesn't know the man in the moon song."

Her mommy squeezed her tighter for a minute before pulling back. "How about tonight at bedtime, you have Daddy call me here, and I can sing it to you over the phone."

Sophie's face lit up, but before she could respond, she noticed her daddy standing next to a little plastic bed on wheels. In his arms was a bundle of blankets. "Is that her?"

Her father looked over with a grin. "Do you want to meet your new sister?" He started toward the bed, lowering his head down to the tiny little girl in his arms as he walked. "How about you? Would you like to meet your big sister? She's been awfully patient, waiting for you."

Sophie backed up some, kneeling on the bed next to her mother's hip. She leaned forward as the bundle of blankets was transferred from her daddy's arms to her mommy's. Mac pulled the extra layers back until all that was left was a wiggling, flushed newborn. She was dressed in a pink gown with a matching knit cap that couldn't quite contain her dark tuffs of hair.

Sophie wrinkled her nose up a little.

"She's funny lookin'." She looked up at her parents and asked very seriously, "Are you sure she's done?" She wasn't sure why her mom started laughing; she thought it was a valid concern. But Sophie loved her mommy's laugh; it made her feel warm and fuzzy inside. So she didn't mind.

After assuring her oldest that the baby was completely and totally done- in fact, the newest addition to the Rabb family had come four days late- Mac asked, "Would you like to hold her?"

Sophie nodded eagerly. While she situated herself next to her mother, Mac gently swaddled the infant in a receiving blanket. Then Harm moved the baby from Mac's arms to Sophie's. He showed her how to support the head while Mac wrapped her arm around both girls, tucking them into her side securely. Then he backed up, feeling a powerful surge of pride at the beautiful picture his three girls made.

Seating himself on Mac's other side with his hip pressed to her thigh, he stretched his arm across her legs and braced himself on her bed with his hand. Once everyone was settled, he made the introductions.

"Sophia Rachele Rabb, meet your sister Evelyn Francesca Rabb. Evie," he continued, reaching out to stroke the baby's soft fingers, "this is your big sister Sophie."

"Like Mama Francesca?" the little girl asked curiously, looking up from her new little sister. Her Mama Francesca and her Grandpa AJ were in heaven now, but she had pictures of them in her room. She was in the pictures too, but she was a very, very little baby, just like Evie.

"Yup," her mommy confirmed, "Daddy and I decided Evie should share a middle name with someone who was important to our lives. And your Mama Francesca gave us you," Mac tapped the girl's nose with the tip if her finger. "What could be more important than that?"

Sophie looked up at her mom, a beaming smile on her face. When she looked back down, little Evie had woken up and was staring intently at her big sister through clear hazel eyes. Sophie watched her for a long minute before looking back up at her parents. "I guess she is kinda pretty. Can I help take care of her?"

Mac's smile split her face as she traded glances with Harm. "I can't think of a better helper."

Sophie began rocking back and forth slowly, humming off key in her own, childish way.

"I love you, Harm," he looked up from his children to see Mac's gaze fixed on him.

"I love you too, Mac," he leaned forward to give her another soft, lingering kiss.

When they separated, Harm sat back and they continued to watch the girls. Recognizing the song Sophie was humming, Mac waited until the tune started over before she began singing.

"I once loved a sailor, once a sailor loved me..."

The End

(George Evans & Honeyboy Shields)

I once loved a sailor
once, a sailor loved me
but he was not a sailor
who sailed on the wide blue sea
he sailed in an airship
sailed like a bird on the wing
and every evening at midnight
he would come to my window and sing…

come take a trip in my airship
come sail away to the stars
we'll travel to Venus
we'll sail away to Mars
no one will see while we're kissing
no one will know as we swoon
so come take a trip in my airship
and we'll visit the man in the moon

one night while sailing away from the crowds
we passed by the milky white way
while idly drifting and watching the clouds
he asked if I'd name the day
just by the dipper I gave him my heart
and the sun shone on our honeymoon
we swore to each other we never would part
and we'd teach all the babies this tune…

come take a trip in my airship
come sail away to the stars
we'll travel to Venus
we'll sail away to Mars
no one will see while we're kissing
no one will know as we swoon
so come take a trip in my airship
and we'll visit the man in the moon