Base Hospital
Memphis NAS
1105 Local

Harm took over from the corporal and leaned down by her ear, "As you wish." He began rolling her back to the hospital.

Mac's grin grew wider, 'The Princess Bride' was a movie they had both enjoyed. She leaned her head back so she could look up at him, "Does this mean you're going to start calling me Buttercup?"

Harm smiled, "As you wish." Then he chuckled and added, "Only when there are other jarheads around."

Mac arched an eyebrow, "You do and not even Miracle Max will be able to save you."

Harm affected a hurt expression, "This is the thanks I get for rescuing you from the R.O.U.S.'s?" The laugh that burst out of Mac quickly turned into a cough as her throat protested. Unable to stop, she leaned forward, her eyes tearing. Harm stopped the wheelchair and came around to kneel beside her. "Oh hell, Mac, I'm sorry," he said contritely, alternately rubbing and patting her back. She shook her head and eventually got herself back under control.

Wiping her eyes, she smiled at him, "It's okay, Harm. It was just such a perfect description. If anyone could be Rodents Of Unusual Size, it would be the Jarvises." Her voice came out in a rasping whisper.

Harm looked at her in concern and wagged a finger, "No more laughing."

Mac batted at his hand, "Stop making me laugh."

He held up three fingers, "Solemn as a judge, from here on out."

"Which judge?" Mac tried to maintain a bland expression although her eyes were sparkling with suppressed laughter.

Harm gave her an exasperated look, it had taken her - what? Seven seconds to ignore his suggestion? Then he grinned - god, he'd missed this! He was suddenly hit with the overwhelming urge to hold her. Despite the success of his ploy, he was fully aware of how quickly it could have gone downhill. Still, this was hardly the place. Harm stood up and folded his arms, "Sebring."

Mac gazed up at him, "Solemn is not the word I've used to describe him."

"Colonel, Commander?" The Admiral's voice made them both jump a trifle guiltily. He stopped alongside and raised an eyebrow, "If you've lost your way, it's that big building over there." He gestured towards the hospital twenty-five feet away.

"Yes sir," Harm hurried around to the back of the wheelchair and began heading for the main doors again. Fifteen minutes later, he and the Admiral were in the hallway outside Mac's room, having been unceremoniously ordered out by the doctor.

AJ looked at Harm, "Is this it? The Jarvises were the Acme Assassination Gang? No one else is going come up through the shower drain or pop out of a potted plant and try to kill Mac?"

"The Colonel should be safe, sir. The Plant and Plumbing Patrol have reported all clear." Harm and Chegwidden turned to see a smiling Captain Perez escorting his wife down the hallway towards them.

The Admiral and Commander smiled in return. Ellie Perez looked at them, "Do you know who's checking Sarah?"

"It was Dr. Galvin," Harm replied and then watched with a certain amount of envy when she tapped lightly on the door and disappeared inside. He dragged his attention back to the Admiral and Perez. They were watching him with thinly veiled amusement. "What?" he said defensively.

"Nothing, Commander," AJ said, raising his eyebrows innocently. "How are you feeling? You didn't exactly walk away from the militia camp unscathed."

"I'm fine, sir," Harm saw a skeptical look appear on Chegwidden's face. "Well, I don't think I want to lift anything heavy right now but the cuts are more annoying than painful."

AJ nodded his head slowly and looked over at Perez, "Have you managed to wrap everything up with this case?"

Serious now, Perez nodded, "Yes sir. We've arrested Staff Sergeant Eddings, Master Chief Wilkins and a number of enlisted in the motor pool." He glanced over at Harm, "Corporal Mario Lupo and PFC Billy Ruffin are in custody right now. Do you think you can do something for them?" He looked back at the Admiral, "They were the two drivers who helped us escape when we arrived at the militia camp. They saved our lives."

AJ grunted thoughtfully, there hadn't been time to go over everything that had happened. It would be a helluva report. "That's certainly worth some consideration." He looked over at Harm, "Check with the JAG office and see what charges are being preferred. We'll go from there."

"Yes sir," Harm said. The three men turned when the door to Mac's room opened and Dr. Galvin came out.

"How is she, Doctor?" AJ asked.

"A little worse for wear than she was yesterday, Admiral," he replied. "The bruising around her throat will make it difficult to talk for the next couple of days, but fortunately there was no serious damage. I'd like to keep her another day to give her a chance to recover from today's stress. After that, she can go home. She'll need to take it easy and rest for about a week and then she can return to light duty."

"Can we see her now?" Harm asked, carefully not looking at the Admiral or Perez.

The doctor shrugged, "I don't see why not." He glanced at Perez, "Ellie's not there in a professional capacity. Just try to keep Colonel MacKenzie from talking too much."

"Thank you, Doctor," AJ said, watching as Harm headed immediately for the door. He and Perez followed a little more slowly. Chegwidden looked over at the young captain, "You've done an outstanding job through all of this, Captain, and I'll see to it that a commendation to that effect is placed in your jacket." He paused for a moment and then said, "The promotion board is meeting next month. I'll be in attendance and recommending promotions for both you and Ensign Tyler. I can't promise anything but I'll make sure they give it serious consideration."

AJ smiled at Perez's pleased surprise, "You both deserve it." He gestured towards Mac's room - Harm had already disappeared inside. "I don't know if either of them would have survived without your help and for that, I'm grateful." He grinned suddenly, "Those two can be annoying as hell, but I'd have a tough time replacing them."

Perez smiled, "Thank you, Admiral, but I think it was a group effort that got us out of that mess. I hate to think what might have happened if it hadn't been for Corporal Bell and Ensign Tyler."

"I agree," AJ replied. "Which is why I'd like to talk to Bell and Tyler before I leave." He looked at Perez, "Why is Bell a corporal? I would have thought he'd be an officer."

"I've thought so too, sir. When I've talked to him about applying for OCS during his fit reps, he keeps saying he's not smart enough."

AJ raised his eyebrows, "Whatever gave him that idea?"

"He's dsylexic, sir. He wasn't actually diagnosed until he went to college. He's such a big guy, everyone just assumed he was dumb. You know, all brawn and no brains," Perez shook his head. "Now he knows why he was having so much trouble but it's hard to shake thirteen years of feeling stupid."

"Isn't there some sort of training available to help dsylexics?" Chegwidden asked.

"I believe so, sir, although I think it's geared towards kids," Perez replied, thoughtfully. "I'll check with Ellie and see if she knows someone who can help out. Maybe we can arrange one on one tutoring."

"Do that, because judging from what I've seen and heard, he's a natural leader. We need people of his caliber and I intend to make him aware of that fact," AJ said with a sharp nod and then he and Perez walked into Mac's room. Harm glanced over his shoulder and started to rise from his seat on the bed when he saw the Admiral enter the room. Chegwidden waved him back down and smiled at Ellie before folding his arms and looking sternly at Mac. "So Colonel, are you finished disrupting this base?"

Mac eyed him for a moment before shrugging one shoulder. "Almost, sir," she whispered with a slight grimace.

AJ raised both eyebrows, "Almost?"

"Lunch is about to be served, sir," Harm offered with a grin.

Next Day
Memphis International Airport
Memphis, Tennessee
0930 Local

The announcement that their flight was boarding came over the loudspeaker. AJ glanced over his shoulder at the gate and turned back to the group. "Time to go, people," he said. Gunny Walters and Lt. Singer said their goodbyes and headed towards the gate. Chegwidden shook hands with Perez, Ellie and Ensign Tyler who had come to see them off. They had all stopped by to see Corporal Bell before they left the hospital. He looked over at Harm and Mac, "Try not to miss the plane, please."

Harm grinned at his CO, "No chance of that, sir." He gestured towards Perez, "I think the Captain is here so he provide Commander Mathes with an eyewitness account of our departure."

The Admiral snorted with amusement while Mac lightly slapped Harm's forearm. She looked at Ellie and Perez, "You'll have to excuse him, he gets giddy whenever there's aviation fuel around." Her voice, although better than the day before, was still husky. AJ shook his head, turned and walked to the gate while Harm tried to look indignant.

"Give it up, Commander," Ellie laughed, stepping forward to give Mac a hug. She looked at Mac, "I want you to keep in touch and if there's anything you need, even if it's just an ear, don't hesitate to call."

Mac smiled in return, "Yes, ma'am." She looked at Perez and Tyler, "Thank you doesn't seem enough for everything you two have done." Perez grinned while Tyler looked at the ground and blushed. Mac looked at the young ensign for a moment and said, "You were wrong, you know." Tyler's head came up in surprise. Mac regarded him with a hint of devilment, "You are 'enthusiastic' enough to be a Marine."

Tyler smiled and ran a hand through his hair, "There were times when I'd have to agree, ma'am, but I understand there's a cure."

Mac laughed and impulsively gave him a quick hug. She grinned at the look on his face and wagged a finger at him, "If you ever need anything, just give me call."

"Hey, what about me?" Perez complained good-naturedly.

Harm rolled his eyes, "Fine, if you insist." He opened his arms and advanced on the Captain. Perez slid behind his wife and tried to look demure, "Mama always said it was better to play hard to get."

Ellie folded her arms and eyed the two of them before looking over at Mac, "I think you better get the Commander on the plane before they get any worse."

"I think you're right," Mac said. She tucked a hand around Harm's elbow, pulling him towards the gate, "C'mon, Rabb, wave goodbye and tell the love of your life you have to go back to DC."

Harm let her lead him on to the skyramp before covering her hand with his own. He leaned towards her and said softly, "I have to go back to DC."

One Week Later
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA
0900 Local

Mac glanced over at Harm as he maneuvered his SUV into a parking space. One thing she hadn't considered was how difficult it would be to drive a stickshift. Although she still had the brace on, she had managed to dispense with the sling. The doctors were encouraging her to start moving the arm around again. So long as she didn't overdo, it wasn't too painful. With a little luck, in another week she would be able to handle driving. In the meantime, Harm had made himself available for whatever errands she had, as well as chauffeuring her to work and back. She smiled to herself, remembering what he had said on the ramp. If he had announced his candidacy for President, she couldn't have been more shocked. It was all she could do to keep moving and he'd had the termerity to look smug.

There hadn't been enough privacy on the plane to discuss anything and by the time they had reached her apartment, she'd been too exhausted. She'd slept most of the afternoon and had awakened to find Harm puttering around her kitchen. He'd been doing his best to make the incredibly bland meal into something remotely desirable. By the time they sat down to eat, she'd halfway convinced herself that she had once more misunderstood him. After dinner, they had collapsed on the couch and to her infinite surprise, Harm had brought it up again. He must have been rehearsing what he would say, which had been just as well - she had been rendered speechless. Towards the end of his speech, he'd gotten more and more nervous at her continued silence. When he ground to a halt, she could see the fear in his eyes and so she did what any self respecting, kick-ass female Marine would do. She kissed the stuffing out of him. Then it had been her turn to look smug.

They had decided on a courtship. Harm had declared that she deserved it and it would give them and the people around them a chance to adjust. Mac's smile grew wider as she contemplated the 'adjusting'. Hearing Harm clear his throat broke her out of her reverie. She looked over to see him grinning, "It's showtime, Colonel."

She arched an eyebrow before matching his grin, "So it is, Commander." She watched as he got out of the SUV and hurried around to open her door. Adjusting her cover one-handed was a challenge, then she accepted her briefcase from Harm and together they headed into JAG. They walked into the bullpen amid multiple variations of 'welcome back, ma'am'. Mac smilingly acknowledged the greetings until she managed to gain her office. Putting down the briefcase, she carefully lowered herself into her chair with a sigh.

Harm looked at with concern, "Are you okay?"

"Fine," she smiled up at him and leaned back. "I felt a little self-conscious about all the attention. I'd just like things to get back to normal."

He snorted, "Normal is a relative term around here."

"Speak for yourself, Commander," said a deep voice from the doorway. Harm turned to see Sturgis standing there. The former submariner smiled and raised his coffee mug towards Mac, "It's good to have you home, Colonel."

Harm eyed the coffee cup and said in a stage whisper, "You might want to lose the mug. One of us isn't allowed to drink coffee yet and she's been pretty cranky about it. I couldn't guarantee your safety."

"Shut up Rabb," Mac rolled her eyes and smiled at Sturgis, "It's good to be back, even if it is just light duty."

PO Tiner appeared in doorway. He nodded to the two commanders, "Sirs." Looking at Mac, he smiled, "Glad you're back, ma'am, and the Admiral asked to see you as soon as you got in."

"Thanks, Tiner." She looked at the two men as she rose from her seat, "Excuse me, gentlemen."

Harm watched her disappear towards the Admiral's office with a proprietory smile. He turned back to see Sturgis eyeing him curiously, "Things are different between you two, aren't they?" Harm gave him a grin and sauntered to his office.

Admiral Chegwidden's Office
JAG Headquarters
0910 Local

Mac knocked on the door and waited until she heard 'Enter'. She marched in and came to attention in front of the Admiral's desk.

"As you were, Colonel," Chegwidden said and waved a hand at a chair, "Have a seat." He waited until she had settled, folding his hands on the desk. "How are you feeling, Mac?"

"Much better now that I'm back, sir." She hesitated a moment, "I'd like to thank you again, sir, for everything you did for me out in Memphis."

AJ waved a hand, "You're welcome, Colonel. I'm just glad to have you back where you belong." He leaned back in his chair, "I don't want you to overdo it now that you're back. No twelve hour days - at least for now." He waited for her nod of acceptance, "I will have an assignment for you at the beginning of next week. Nothing strenuous, and a little out of the ordinary - hopefully, you'll enjoy it."

Mac waited expectantly, her curiousity piqued. Chegwidden smiled, "Have you ever heard of Bacovia?" She shook her head. AJ continued, "It's a tiny little country nestled in the Balkans, about half the size of Rhode Island. It's ruled by a constitutional monarchy and its chief export is rulite or titanium. Bacovia was absorbed into the Soviet Union and the royal family went into exile. Now they're back and the State Department wants to maintain a cordial relationship."

Mac looked confused, "What does that have to do with JAG, sir?"

AJ steepled his fingers, "The royal family went into exile here in the States. Twenty-one years ago, the then Crown Prince married an American. They now have four children, ranging in age from eighteen down to twelve. All of them have dual citizenships. The oldest children are identical twin girls. The oldest twin will inherit the throne, the youngest wishes to join the military."

Mac shook her head, "I'm sorry, sir. I still don't see where this is going."

AJ smiled slightly, "The youngest twin wants to join OUR military." He watched Mac's eyes widen in surprise, "Specifically, she wishes to attend the Naval Academy. Her family, while not particularly pleased, would like someone knowledgeable about life in the military to escort her and answer her questions - truthfully. They seem to think the State Department might see this as an opportunity and sugarcoat things." He grinned, "So Colonel, how would you feel about babysitting a teenager for a week or so?"

Mac sat for a moment in thought and then smiled, "Will I be eligible for hazard pay?"

Chegwidden smiled in return, "I'll see what I can do, Colonel."

He watched as she rose gracefully to her feet, "Will that be all, sir?" AJ nodded and dismissed her, waiting until she had left the room to chuckle to himself and then dive back into his never-ending paperwork. The royal family wouldn't know what hit them.

Harm watched Mac return to her office and gave her a minute before poking his head in her door, "Everything okay, Mac?"

She looked up at him and grinned, "Depends, I guess. How do you feel about kids?"


Finis (for now!)
I'm working on a sequel to this story, continuing life in my own little JAG world. Hopefully, I'll start posting in about a month. Thank you to those who reviewed or e-mailed, the feedback was appreciated!