Broken Bough

Chapter 7

Christmas Eve 2002

1830 Local Time

Rabb Apartment

Just North of Union Station

Harm was getting dressed for the holiday party at the Roberts. He just arrived home the previous hour. He was out at the Coral Sea. He was disappointed that he and Mac couldn't spend Christmas Day with his family in La Jolla. But AJ and Mac's CO, Captain Olcott, promised that they would have the week between Christmas and New Years off to visit.

Mac was sitting in the living room. She wasn't completely dressed for the party and was wearing a robe over her lingerie. She figured she would put her dress on after Harm had finished his hasty dressing. Now she was going through Harm's seabag, sorting his laundry. She was also helping him pack his other stuff for their holiday trip. Besides, she was really enjoying doing the little domestic things for him.

Earlier that day he called her from Pax River. He had flown a Tomcat there as lead for a marine C-130 that was flying through a fog and had lost its navigation lights. Harm was tickled that the plane was loaded with toys for the Marines' Toys-For Tots program. The whole thing made him feel like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

When Harm told Mac the story, she had laughed heartily along with him at the absurdity of the coincidence. The reason he flew the Tomcat in was because the COD broke its tailhook when it tried to land, which caused it to bolter. Harm had to bribe a flight crew and deal with the CAG, who didn't like him at all, to get to fly the plane off in time for enjoying the holiday.

Now as Mac finally had Harm's seabag unpacked and most of his holiday bag packed, Harm came out dressed in his shirt and tie. He was carrying his suit coat. He asked, "So ninja girl, are you packed yet for our vacation to California?"

"Yes I am, but not for La Jolla," Mac said as she continued with her sorting.

"But we're going to meet my parents. Ever since I told mom that you and I were finally together, she's been dying to meet you," Harm exclaimed almost in dismay.

"Calm down fly boy. I'm going to meet your mom, but not in La Jolla" Mac explained a bit too nonchalant for Harm's taste.

That immediately told him that she was up to something. He backed off on his jets as he asked, "Okay what's going on?"

Mac looked up innocently as she answered, "Nothing is going on. There is just a little change of plans."

"What change of plans? "Harm asked. He had reached where Mac was sitting and pulled her up into his arms.

Mac settled into his embrace as she wrapped her arms loosely around Harm's neck and gave him a smooch.

She said, "Well your mother called here last night."

"Oh really, what did she say?"

"Well she was very surprised when I answered. I told her that you were out to the Coral Sea for the past week and a half with Tom Boone. I told her that you were scheduled to come home today when the COD was ready to leave," Mac explained.

"What did she say to that?" Harm asked.

"She said that it was good that you were going to be in
Washington for the holiday and that she thought it was a good idea that we all meet tomorrow up at your Grandmother's farm in Pennsylvania. I said that that would be wonderful and that I couldn't wait to meet them," Mac finished mischievously.

"Ah so that's why I didn't see any plane tickets," Harm said as he tightened his hold on her.

"Yeah I figure since we're going to Midnight Mass tonight we could leave early tomorrow morning and be up to Belleville by noon," Mac suggested.

That's my marine, always thinkin'," Harm said as he laid a deep kiss on Mac.

Mac felt his reaction as he pressed against her belly. She broke away with a sigh.

"Now that you've admired me for my mind, I need to get dressed for the Roberts," Mac said as she sashayed into the bedroom.

Harm laughed out loud as she stopped on the steps and wiggled her rear end at him. She peaked back over her shoulder and said, "Just wait until tonight sailor. Then you'll really get to open your Christmas present."

Harm smiled his full watt flyboy smile as he said, "Go on get dressed you sweet thing," Harm said.

Mac stopped for a second as she remembered that he said those words to her one time in the Admiral's office. She thought then that it was because he hit his head. Now she realized that he was really in love with her even then. That thought gave her a very warm feeling inside and yearning for him in her core. She hummed to herself as she got dressed.

When she emerged into the living room, Harm beheld the prettiest vision he had ever seen. Mac had on a white floral dress. It had short sleeves and tight in the right places that accentuated Mac's curves with a modestly plunging neckline. He stared so long at the lovely vision of Mac that he was unaware that his jaw was almost on the floor.

Mac walked over to him and using her index finger pushed his chin up.

"I guess you like what you see," Mac said wrapping her arms around his neck.

"Yes I do," Harm returned as he wrapped his arms across the small of her back.

In unspoken mutual agreement they bent their heads together and their lips met in a soft kiss that quickly turned passionate. They gently broke the kiss also by unspoken mutual agreement.

As they stood holding to each other and catching their breath Harm said, "You know I have the perfect item that would greatly enhance that dress."

"What?" Mac asked as Harm disengaged himself and walked over to the pile of presents they had left under the tree. When he turned around Mac saw that he was carrying a long slim gift wrapped box.

When he returned to stand in front of her Harm gave it to her saying, "Merry Christmas Marine."

Harm punctuated the gift giving with a gentle peck on her lips.

As she tore open her present Mac said, "You know if you keep kissing me like that, we're going to really consummate our baby deal."

"That's the plan," Harm said seductively.

Mac smirked indulgently at him as she opened the now unwrapped jewelry box. Her smirk turned into a gasp as she beheld, "Pearls!"

Harm reached for the box and extracted the string of pearls. Standing behind her he put them on saying, "I know you have the set that your uncle gave you when you graduated law school. But they're a bit two short for this outfit, more suited for a business suit. These were Grandmother Sarah's. Grandpa brought them for her as a wedding gift. Now when we get married, you'll already have something old."

When Harm draped them down the front the string stopped just above Mac's beautiful cleavage.

Mac waited until he fastened the clasp before she turned and threw her arms around him yet again. She kissed him fast and hard. When the disengaged she asked, "Is that a proposal?"

Harm smiled and said, "Not yet, but we're working toward that. I told you I was a bit old fashioned. I like long courtships, long engagements and very long marriages. Consider this a promise gift."

"Who'd have of thought that you were such a romantic," Mac said.

"Well even though he was lost to me when I was five, I did see enough of my dad when he would give mom gifts. Also when I listened to the tapes he sent her, I could hear the love for her in his voice. He was always promising to bring back nice things to give her whenever the Navy posted t him away from her. I promised myself that if I ever fell in love with the right girl, I would do the same thing for her."

Mac was so touched that she was almost crying. Harm prevented that by giving her short and sweet kiss.

Mac calmed down at that. While Harm went to get their coats, she admired her reflection of her wearing the pearls in the mirror beside the apartment door.

Harm put on his coat, approached her and held it for her to put her arms in. He leaned over and kissed Mac on her temple.

Mac smiled and disengaged herself to finish buttoning up. After she retrieved her purse, she and Harm walked arm in arm to the elevator. They got into the Lexus for their drive out to Rosslyn and the Roberts' residence.

As they drove along Harm said, "It's a good thing you left your 'Vette in the Navy Yard garage and used my Lexus in this snow while I was gone."

"Yeah Loren helped me make a smooth switch yesterday when she met me for lunch," Mac replied.

"How's she doing in Admin./Legal Assistance? Right after I put her request through and Chegwidden approved it, I was TAD to the Coral Sea. I didn't have the chance to see how she settled into her new office."

"Well when she was over for dinner last night she said she was doing fine. The other officers there were very helpful in getting her acclimated and up to speed. She's going to take the week between the holidays to finish the required reading for her command position. She understands that the division was already running very well under then Lt. Kildare."

"You're right she did do a good job running that section in the time she was there. It was nice to write up her recommendation for promotion to Lt. Commander, my first as chief of staff," Harm proudly said.

"You'll find that there will more moments such as that. Also you'll have to deal with the other side of that as all the disciplinary reports will be filtered through your office. I'm glad I had yeoman for that. Carolyn Turner was very good at giving me a summary sheet. All I needed to do was sign off on each report. Heck some of them I prosecuted," Mac said.

"Well Chegwidden notified me of the new assignments that took effect last week. You know Jennifer Coates is being assigned to headquarters," Harm said.

"Really, that should be interesting," Mac said.

"What would you think of having her assigned as my yeoman? Harm asked.

"I guess it's alright. I saw that she was very good as a legalman while I was on the Seahawk. Loren and Bud agree with that assessment," Mac said in half hearted agreement.

"But you have some reservations about that," Harm correctly surmised.

"Yeah I do, at least a bit. Everyone saw her give you a kiss last Christmas. You know as well as I do that perception is 90% reality to a lot of people. Asking her to work for you might be seen as inappropriate. I know there'll be no fraternization, I know you love me and I trust you implicitly."

"And it's true I love you more than anything Sarah," Harm declared matter of factly.

Mac sighed at hearing him call her by her name. She tamped down the warmth bit as she continued, "Besides she told me while we were working together on the Seahawk that she was very happy for you and I. She said that she figured there was something between us when she saw us kissing under the mistletoe at the Roberts' apartment last Christmas."

"Even she saw that! I wonder if anyone else at that party saw us kissing." Harm said.

"I wouldn't be surprised if everyone there saw us kiss. And you know I really don't care. Now that we're together it really doesn't make any difference."

"That's good to hear. So getting back to Coates," Harm suggested.

"Anyway one of the other things she told me was that she considers you a mentor or sort of a big brother. So for both your sakes, try and foster that image," Mac strongly suggested.

"I'll keep that in mind. So other than Coates who do you recommend for my yeoman?" Harm asked.

"AJ told me that he has a list of qualified male and female Legalmen that you should look at. Try not to pick the one that's blown away by your dazzling smile," Mac said jokingly.

"Not to worry about that. You're the only one that gets my full watt smile Sarah," Harm said as he reached across the console and raised her hand to kiss the knuckle.

Mac felt another special thrill go through her when Harm called her Sarah.

"Flyboy, just wait till we get home from midnight mass tonight. I plan to start a new Christmas tradition," Mac said seductively.

"I can hardly wait sweetheart," Harm replied in kind.

1130 Local Time

On the road to

St. Mary, Mother of God R.C. Church

727 5th St, NW

Washington, DC

The Roberts' Christmas party ended early enough so that Mac and Harm did not have to make any excuses about leaving. After all AJ Roberts had to go to sleep early enough so that Santa could visit.

As they drove along, Harm said, "It was too bad that Loren wasn't there. Harriet and she were getting along at the office like a house on fire. She practically threw herself into helping Loren get settled in your old apartment. Still I'm glad Loren accepted Bud's invitation to Christmas dinner."

Yeah me to," Mac agreed.

Harm then said in amusement, "And how about the admiral delivering another baby in his office."

"Yeah and to have the baby's mom and dad be named Mary & Joseph and the baby named Jason," Mac furnished with a chuckle.

"And the three wise men offering them shelter after they were kicked out of their apartment and couldn't find a place to stay before she had her baby. Also Jennifer was a riot describing Tiner and his actions. It almost reminded me of when AJ was born and he fainted," Harm said.

"So with you playing Rudolph, the warrant Officer acting like Scrooge to the Roberts, it was a real Christmas story come to life," Mac finished.

They both laughed at the absurd coincidences that had occurred that night.

Mac sobered a bit as she asked, "Harm why didn't you ever tell me that you still went to church or never told me you were Catholic?"

Harm sighed as he answered, "Well religion to me is a very private thing. I never want to push my beliefs on others. I'll leave that to guys like Sturgis. He's always quoting bible scripture."

"Yeah he can be a bit holier than thou, even when he is being a lawyer. I guess that comes from who his father is. You know he didn't believe her when Loren told him she was Jewish," Mac commented.

"Yeah Loren told me that story. To get back at your question, I saw that you had a very angry attitude toward religion. I remember during the time I was defending Jarvis Krohn you asked Father O'Rourke, "Where was God when my father was beating my mother and when my mother left me?" I figured that I'd let it lie. I knew you were Catholic. You and Mic were going to get married in a Catholic church."

"Yeah there was that," Mac said as she let the mention of Mic slide.

She continued, "Well after you heard me ask Father O'Rourke about my parents, we went away and spoke about a few things, including about what happened when my father died," Mac said.

"What did he say?"

"He said that Father Genaro, the administrator of the hospice in Fresno, was right, forgiveness was the only way to get closure. Also Father O'Rourke told me about the "Footprints in the Sand" poem."

"Ah yes, you're never alone," Harm correctly surmised.

"Exactly! Well after that I had a new attitude toward being Catholic. When you crashed the night before the wedding, I was alone a lot. No one else knew but I had a set of Rosary beads out and I was praying and praying that you would be found alive. I'm glad God answered my prayers."

Harm reached for her hand and instead of kissing it, he gave it a tender squeeze. He said "You really surprised me when you met me at 5:00 o'clock mass the week after you got back from the Seahawk. How did you know what church I went to or even what time I went to mass?"

"I took a chance. I figured it was a church that was very close to your apartment. Also I was going to go to a different mass every week there until I saw you. I'm glad I was right the first time," Mac said smiling sweetly.

"Why didn't you just ask me?" Harm asked.

"Well I wanted to surprise you," Mac said impishly.

"Well it was a nice surprise," Harm acknowledged.

"You know Harm, I'm glad I'm going back to church and I'm glad I'm going with you," Mac said sincerely.

Just as she said, that they stopped at a red light. Harm leaned over to give a kiss to her cheek. From the corner of her eye Mac saw him lean over. She turned her head and captured his lips in a sweet kiss. Harm was at first surprised, but welcomed the kiss and deepened it into one that was more lingering.

They only broke apart and drove on when the driver behind them honked his horn. Soon they pulled into the church's parking lot. Mac waited until Harm went around and opened her door for her. They were lucky to find a pew that would accommodate the two of them as the church was almost filled to capacity.

Christmas Day 2002

0230 Local Time

Rabb Apartment

Just North of Union Station

As Mac and Harm walked out of the elevator she was resting her head on Harm's shoulder. It was the end of a wonderful holiday night. The mass was about ninety minutes long. The choir was beautiful as they sang the verses to the traditional Christmas carols in many different languages. After the mass, the couple stopped by "The Wall". There Harm introduced Mac to his Dad.

After they stood in silence Harm reached up and holding his fingers on his father's name began, "Dad this is Sarah. You've heard me call her Mac in the past, but from now on she's my Sarah, my gift. We're just starting this new, deeper relationship that I hope lasts a long, long time. She's it for me Dad. I would very much appreciate that you look out for her, be her guardian angel. I know she's a "kick-ass" Marine, but we could all use a little help and I really love her Dad. So anyway, I'll step aside and let Sarah speak to you and we'll see you next year, hopefully with a more permanent arrangement in place."

Listening to Harm Mac was practically moved to tears. She took a deep breath as she approached and placed her fingers on Harmon Rabb Sr.'s name that was etched in the black granite.

"Well sir, this flyboy son of yours has finally learned to speak from his heart. I have a feeling that it was you knocking him upside his head that made him come to his senses. I also have a feeling that it was you that was looking out for us in that minefield last spring in Afghanistan. Anyway, Harm is it for me as well. I promise I'll always be there for him as I have in the past. I love him as much as he loves me. When we see you again next year I also hope we have a lot more happy news to share."

They walked back to the car arm in arm.

Now as they entered the apartment and Harm hung their coats up he asked Mac, "What time did you tell my mom we'll be up to Belleville?"

"About 1200 to 1400," Mac answered.

"Well that gives us time to start your new Christmas tradition," Harm suggested.

Mac raised her eyebrows and asked, "Are you sure you have the stamina for it flyboy. You still haven't rested from your long trip."

"Well I need a little activity to get me tired enough to rest," Harm replied wrapping his arms around his Sarah.

Mac tilted her head as an invitation. Harm automatically bent and captured her lips in a searing kiss.

Mac leaned her hips into him and felt his arousal against her belly.

"Hmm it seems you're up for it flyboy," Mac whispered into his ear.

"Oh ninja girl you have no idea how much I was thinking about you all the time I was out there. Even Tom knew it."

"Don't tell me, show me," Mac whispered urgently.

With that Harm picked her up under her knees and shoulders and carried her into the bedroom. There the rest of the night dissolved into the beautiful sounds of their lovemaking.