Author's note: Written for Illmantrim for my LJ holiday ficathon. He requested "Mac and Harm have a happy Christmas" post series. I purposely left the eventual location of Mac and Harm vague so the reader can fill in where our two heroes have been hanging out for the last six months -- in either San Diego or London. Hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: DPB owns the characters, not moi.
Mac leaned towards the window, watching the lights of Washington D.C. grow steadily brighter as the plane circled towards Dulles. She bit her lip, her vision clouding for a second, and then she turned towards Harm, who was seated next to her.
"Thanks for letting me have the window seat," she said. "It means a lot to me to see this." She gestured towards the lights below.
"No problem." Harm put his hand lightly on her knee and she felt a curious shiver travel down her spine. Six months of being together, the last four married, and she still couldn't quite get used to the fact Harm wasn't going anywhere. "Besides, I prefer the view from the cockpit."
"You would." Mac smiled. "It's good to be coming home. And Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without snow. Or Mattie, for that matter." She knew it had been difficult for Harm to leave Mattie behind when they'd moved, but her doctors didn't want to move her during what was sure to be a long and painful rehabilitation, and Harm had reluctantly agreed. Mattie had built a strong relationship with her doctors and therapists, and the reports he was getting were very positive. But Mac knew he wouldn't be happy about Mattie's progress until he saw her with his own eyes.
Harm nodded. "Mattie's pretty excited," he said.
"Of course she is. She wants to see her dad."
Harm's lips twitched in that proud way they always did when she mentioned Mattie. Mac hadn't said so lately, but she'd always found Harm's devotion to Mattie endearing, and the fact he had been able to love someone else without strings or abandon had been one of the reasons why she'd agreed to marry him.
"There's something more than just that," Harm said. "She says she has a pretty big Christmas present for me." He looked worried. "I hope she didn't buy something expensive."
"I'm sure whatever it is, you'll love it," Mac answered soothingly. "I am looking forward to seeing Bud, Harriet and the kids again."
"Not to mention Sturgis and Jen."
The plane lurched slightly and Mac grabbed Harm's hand. She knew it was simply turbulence, nothing to be afraid of, but she liked having the excuse to touch him. As if she needed an excuse anymore, she thought with a wry smile.
"Speaking of Sturgis," Mac said, "you *will* be nice, won't you?"
Harm's lips turned up at the corners. "I haven't been anything *but* nice to him in months."
"You've been separated by thousands of miles." Mac tipped her head as she looked at him. "Promise?"
"Don't worry about it."
Mac pressed Harm's hands between hers. "This is our first Christmas together," she told him.
"Are you going to get sentimental on me, Ninja Girl?" he asked.
Mac shrugged. "If there's ever a time of the year to sound like a Hallmark card, it's now."
"And you're wrong, it's not our first Christmas together, it's our tenth."
"Well, I meant in the sense we're actually *together*, and you're not off crashing a jet somewhere, or getting involved in a drug war, or tracking down your father or brother or any number of other people who need to be rescued."
"If I recall, I had to rescue you once."
"I was doing just fine on my own, thank you very much." An edge slipped into Mac's tone, as it often did when he reminded her of Paraguay.
"Please. When I found you, you were strapped to a table, *this* close to be tortured."
Mac sighed. "Well, if we're talking karmic debt, how about when I rescued *you* from nearly drowning? On my *wedding* day, no less."
"I would apologize for that, but I'm not sure I'm that sorry. Not about the almost drowning part, mind you, but the ruining of your wedding," Harm said.
"I guess we're even then," Mac said. "No use dwelling on ancient history." She glared at him in warning. There were still things, after all these months, they still avoided talking about. That was the problem with ancient history: it was easy to bury things, and then unearth artifacts at the most inopportune times. "Truce? For our first Christmas together?"
"Truce." He rubbed her knee with a little more pressure, the warmth of his touch penetrating through her blue jeans. "For what it's worth, this has been the best Christmas so far. What do you think?"
"It feels a little strange, if you ask me." Mac shook her head. "You know, Harm, I'm still not sure if I can get used to this non-crusading you."
"I thought you liked the non-crusading me."
"I do, but it's a little--" Mac frowned as she tried to think up the right word "-- strange not going off on some wild goose chase that will probably result in one or both of us getting killed."
"Well, neither of those options actually *happened*," Harm said in a light tone. "You have to admit, Mac, we've been pretty lucky in our adventures. I kind of miss them."
Mac's frown deepened "Are you saying you *want* to go off on some half-baked adventure in a war-ravaged country?" She steeled herself for his answer. She'd always worried about that part of Harm always questing for answers to questions that probably shouldn't have been asked in the first part. Sure, she'd been a willing participant *most* of the time, but that was because she felt she had some power to mitigate the risk Harm would ordinarily take if left to his own devices.
"Things are different now, Mac. You know that." There was no bitterness in his tone, just quiet resignation, but even so, Mac felt an undercurrent of insecurity run through her. "I don't think tilting at windmills is in my future."
Mac cleared her throat. "Well, I just need you to remind me of that every so often."
The plane dropped a little more and a few seconds later, the wheels touched the ground. The force of the landing pushed Mac forward and she braced herself, palm against the seat in front of her, until the plane slowed.
Harm and Mac remained in their seats until the plane came to a complete stop at the gate, and then Harm reached up for their one carry-on, and Mac pulled her purse out from beneath the seat in front of her. They edged out into the aisle, and out of the plane. Mac looped her arm through Harm's as they followed the other passengers down to the baggage claim. In the background, Christmas carols played, and Mac perked up as she heard the mellow tunes of one of her favorites, "O Holy Night."
As they crossed the walkway to Concourse B, Mac admired some of the festive decorations she saw in storefronts, and as they neared the baggage claim, she found herself tearing up as she watched families reunite.
"Mac?" Harm was watching her oddly.
"Sorry." She waved her hand awkwardly. "I don't know what's come over me. I didn't think I'd be so profoundly grateful to be home." She shook her head, almost in disbelief. "I guess that says everything, doesn't it?"
"You can't expect to move thousands of miles from where you've spent a good chunk of your life and career and expect it to feel like home," Harm said quietly. "Don't worry, in time, it will."
"Do you regret moving? Changing your career?" Mac stared at him. "Given how little choice you had in the matter--"
"Why are you asking this *now*?" Harm looked confused. "I thought we decided fate--"
"I need to know." Mac didn't bother to hide the urgency in her tone. And truly, she couldn't explain it herself. "Do you?"
Harm pressed his lips into a straight line and then slowly shook his head. "No," he said. "Fate made the best possible decision for both of us." He reached for her left hand and glanced at the sparkling diamond on her ring finger. "Mac, you have to believe me when I tell you I'm not going anywhere. Not for my father, or Sergei, or anyone or anything else." Mac bit her lip and nodded. Harm leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. "And the 'staying put' goes for you too," he said with mock sternness.
"Now that's one promise I can keep," Mac said with a shaky laugh. She turned her attention back to the baggage claim. "Is that my bag?"
"I'll get it."
As Harm headed to retrieve the suitcase, Mac turned around and scanned the crowd. Even in the midst of all of these strangers, she felt warm and comforted. She was about to turn back to check on Harm when she caught sight of a familiar figure dressed in a red wool coat, and pushing a wheel chair.
"Mattie!" Mac exclaimed. "Harriet!" She rushed towards them, hugging Mattie first, and then Harriet. "Oh it's so good to see you."
"And it's good to see you too, Colonel," Harriet said. "Bud and Sturgis are parking the car, but they'll be here in a second."
"We could have taken a cab," Mac said. She reached down and squeezed Mattie's hand. "I hear you're doing great."
"Pretty well," Mattie said. "And actually, I have a surprise for Harm." She frowned. "Where is he?"
"Uh, he was getting the bags--" Mac turned, and then seeing Harm, waved at him. He lugged the two suitcases towards them, and Mac, meeting him halfway, took the carry-on.
"Hey," Harm said to Mattie, his voice infused with tenderness. He hugged her long and hard. "So you're coming back with us, right?"
"The doctors say I'm well enough and they approve of the physical therapy program you found for me. They do want me to come back every now and then to say hello, but if you and Mac will have me--" Mattie spread her arms wide "-- I'm yours."
"We're looking forward to finally having you with us," Mac said softly. She glanced at Harriet. "Really, Harriet, I know how busy you must be with the holidays, the kids, your families. Really, you didn't need to make the trip all the way out here."
"I know, but we wanted to. We haven't seen you since the wedding, Colonel. Besides, it's not a homecoming if there's no one to meet you," Harriet said warmly.
Mac smiled. "I've missed you." Impulsively, she gave Harriet another hug. "It's not the same without you and Bud, Sturgis, Jen..." her voice drifted off as she saw Bud and Sturgis heading towards them, and just behind them, Jennifer.
"Well, look, the gang's all here," Harm said. He stepped forward and shook hands with Bud. "You look good, Bud. You too, Sturgis." He gave Jennifer a warm smile. "Wasn't it Christmas when we first met?"
"A lot has happened since then, sir," Jennifer said.
"Indeed it has." Harm wrapped his arm around Mac, pulling her close. She liked the way he held her loosely around the waist, more of a gesture of comfort and caring, rather than one of possession. "But mostly for the better."
"Speaking of which," Mattie said. She took a deep breath. "I have something to show you." And with some effort, she pushed herself out of the wheelchair and took a halting step towards Harm. Harm, startled, reached for her, but Mac restrained him. Mattie took another few steps, this time more steady on her feet, and when she finally reached Harm, she smiled triumphantly. "I told my doctors not to tell you. I wanted it to be my Christmas gift to you, since you've done so much for me and worked so hard to help me with my recovery."
Harm, for the moment, was speechless. Mac reached forward, drawing Mattie close.
"It's a wonderful gift," Mac said softly. She smoothed Mattie's unruly hair with her hand.
"The very best," Harm said, his voice hoarse with emotion. He glanced at Mattie, at his friends, and then gave Mac a lingering look. She met his gaze straight on, and appreciating that she no longer had to flinch from the feelings he invariably stirred up in her.
"You're right," Mac said softly to Harm. "This *is* the best Christmas yet."
"Welcome home," Harriet said.
Mac, her eyes still on her husband, murmured, "It's good to be home."
~ the end
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