This was something that came out of nowhere. It's slightly pointless, but I liked it. So you'll like it. ;-)

Enjoy!

Jackie


PS: HAPPY HOILDAYS!

Title: After The Landing

Author: Jackie

Summary: As Harm reflects on Mac and their harrowing experience in the mountains a little secret comes to the surface. Shipper Friendly! Harm's POV.

"Really, I'm fine." Damn doctors and interns and nurses and. . .okay, don't damn them all. At the moment, one of them is trying to fish a bullet out of Mac's thigh and hoping to stop the infection before it gets any worse.

I've been through Hell and back so many times that I lost count. I've nearly lost my life and lived to tell about it. We're in the military, life isn't meant to be easy, careless and pain free. Life in our world is precarious, shocking and sometimes fatal. We deal with it because it's who we are; case closed.

But, the only thing military about this particular brand of harrowing experiences were the Navy and Marine officers onboard a fifty year old bi-plane.

"Sir, you are dehydrated. Your girlfriend is in good hands, please, just let Doctor Montgomery look you over." Girlfriend? Yes, Mac is a girl and she's a friend, but a girlfriend?

"I. . .we're not. I mean. . ." The protest dies on my lips and I turn to the nurse. "Fine. But, please do this quickly; I want to be here when she wakes up." I settle into a proffered wheelchair and sigh in relief. It's over – all of it. We're safe. Sarah's safe.

I stop in mid thought and cringe. Half of the time I was trying to get back to my plane. Please Lord, don't tell me that I've become so desensitized to the trauma's of life that I chose to care over an intimate object than my own partner. The thought churns my insides every time I remember Mac frantically trying to wash blood out of her plaid shirt. "Mr. Rabb? The doctor will see you in a bit."

"Thanks." I croak out and remain thankful that I am left alone with my thoughts. I told her I wouldn't beat myself up if she wouldn't, but then again, I'm not the one with a bullet in the thigh, needing a blood transfusion and probably a whole batch of antibiotics.

I could have gotten Mac killed all for a plane and the ties to a man that I barely remember and never really knew. "Shit." Consolation does come in the form of a tidal wave that washed over me in the most peculiar of times.

What a strange time for the two of us to kiss. Yes, I do mean kiss, lip smacking, tonsil hockey. Hell, I am sure that we probably rounded first base and slid clean into second. And then she yelped. It was rather pleasant for a moment. . .

. . .The fire was burning brightly, its welcoming warmth keeping our moral up. I snatched my cigar back from Mac and chuckled, "Stickboy? Cute, Marine. Real cute."

Through the pain, the blood and the paleness of her features I saw a real sense of mirth and took comfort in the fact that we weren't ripping each other to shreds over the situation. "I'm just kiddin'." She said, then poked my side and giggled. The sound was absolutely adorable and broke off yet another layer of that tough Marine façade that I wish to unravel. She then stared up at the sky, what little we could see beyond the trees, and sighed. "I've never gone camping and after this, I don't think I'll ever want to."

Using a rock, I snuffed out what was left of the cigar and then tucked it back into my jacket pocket. "That makes two of us." My stomach chose that moment to rumble loudly, a reminder that our last meal was sometime in the early morning. I had plans for lunch once we landed, but our mechanical situation dashed those plans. "We should try to get some sleep. Get an early start in the morning."

"Do you really believe that we'll make it?" Mac's eyes settled on my own, their chocolate depths searching for an answer which I was afraid to give.

"We didn't make it this far to be killed, Mac." It was the only truth that I could offer as our futures, then intermingled, had a hint of uncertainty. "I'm not going to let anything happen to you."

Within the cave, Mac and I settled into the springy pine mattress that offered little in back support. "The trick here is body heat. . .If we don't share body heat we'll be risking hypothermia and the last thing you need is to lose blood and heat." I rambled off, unaware that Mac had already curled up next to me. "My suggestion is to slip your legs between mine." I paused then, wondering if any part of my instruction sounded as bad as I thought it did. Thankfully, she obediently did as told and was soon pressing her body against mine. "Okay." I snuggled up against her, wrapping her tightly in my arms and then settled my legs over her own.

A groan was all I received for my survival skills. "My leg." She huffed out, breathing through the pain. "Bad idea, flyboy."

Mentally I cursed myself and opted to go through another mental checklist only to hit a roadblock. "Uh. . .Umm." My brain had taken a vacation then and I searched its recesses to find a position that was comfortable for the both of us.

"What if I put that leg over yours?" Mac suggested and quickly worked on maneuvering herself against me again. Her plan, it turns out, worked splendidly and it wasn't long before our shared body heat, combined with pine branches, kept us in a warm embrace. "This is. . .nice" She said, after several long minutes. Her face was partially illuminated from the fire outside and I could clearly see her lips, parted and moist.

I don't think that she planned to kiss me but in a split second, it all came to life. My lips were pressed against Mac's. What was tentative at first grew like tinder being stoked to a hot fire. I felt a cool hand on my face, tenderly caressing my cheek as the kiss deepened. My growing need became the fatal mistake that ended with a yelp. "I'm sorry." I breathed out, hand stopped just over the bullet wound. In my passion, my hand had roamed over her thigh and to the most delicate of spots.

"It's okay." She said breathlessly and though the chemistry was still there, the moment, the thrill, was gone. I never did fall asleep, choosing to be vigilant over the sleeping Marine. She whimpered throughout the night, each sound cutting through me like a hot knife.

When the fire finally died, I was left with nothing but darkness and the silhouette of a sleeping form. I care for Mac so much and it was only then that I realized something else had snuck up on me. Jesus Christ, was I starting to fall in love with her? I already loved her as my friend, but the promise of something more lingered over me. Had I started to let go of Diane so soon? What did it all mean?. . .

. . .Hours later, after I was let loose to stalk the waiting room with an IV tree and a wheelchair, I walk into Mac's room. She's asleep, resting amidst the stark white sheets and smell of antiseptic. She seems so small to me, fragile and breakable though I know that neither adjective is worthy of her description.

I am happy to see the color coming back to her skin and know that it won't be long before that Jarhead is running around the office, keeping me on my toes. "See something you like?" Her voice snaps my reverie and through dazed eyes I spot a semblance of amusement. "These drugs are wild." She glances around a bit dizzily and then settles her eyes on mine. "Is it over?"

"Yeah, it's over. . .We're staying here for a couple of days though. You need to get better and the Admiral ordered me to watch over you."

She snorts, surely displeased that our CO has ordered me to be her watch dog. "I am sure he didn't put it that nicely."

"There were a few. . .expectatives and the promise to send my ass to Antarctica . .I'm in deep shit."

She chuckles and pauses suddenly. "Wait, what about me? It's not fair that you get in trouble by yourself. I came willingly."

While I am glad that she wishes to share the blame, there was really no need. "Considering that I'm not the one with a bullet in my thigh, the Admiral seemed to be more sympathetic towards you."

"Ah, I see." She taps her chin in thought and quickly breaks out one of the evilest grins I've ever seen on Mac. "Want me to shoot you?"

I laugh heartily, though the thought is actually quite tempting. With a sigh, I settle myself into a chair next to her bed. Reaching out, I take her hand in mine, wrapping my fingers over her own. I squeeze gently and let the emotions of the moment hit me like a ton of bricks. "I'm so sorry, Mac."

"Hey, don't get all sentimental on me. . .Shit happens. We're alive, that's what counts." Ah, there's that façade again, neatly put in place so that no one could see the cracks. She stares at me for a moment too long and I catch something, a change that her bravado won't hide. I don't have the chance to question it before Mac answers me. "That kiss."

"It was some kiss." I declare, sheepishly grinning at what could have happen had the situation been more camp than survival-ish. "I don't regret it."

"Neither do I." She states in that bold fashion that is so uniquely Mac. Her thumb brushes over my knuckles, the sensation sending shock waves through my body. "Let's get some rest, Harm. . .I think we're going to need it." Carefully, she slides over in bed and pats the mattress in an invitation that I don't hesitate to take.

I drape an arm over her and welcome whatever closeness we can get. I'm sure that in a few days time, we'll settle back into the same routine of cases and court dates. The kiss, a fading memory induced by high levels of stress and the basic care of one human being over another. In my mind, at least, it will always serve to remind me of the day I began to truly love Sarah MacKenzie.