The Two Sides of Fate

By Seema

Author's note: So what *did* happen with the coin toss? Here are two possibilities. There is a *third* possibility, but I decided not to write that, since I'm still euphoric from the 'happily ever after' ending; maybe another time. These can be read, btw, in any order you'd like. Set right after the series finale, "Fair Winds and Following Seas", so expect spoilers galore for all of the 10th season, and maybe even before that.

Disclaimer: DPB and CBS owns these characters. I just wanted to tie up some loose ends.

**** London ****

For a moment, Harm couldn't remember where he was. He rolled over in bed, and was momentarily startled when he bumped into a warm, slumbering figure. He opened his eyes. Mac lay next to him, her dark hair contrasting against the white pillowcase. She was curled up on her side facing him, her hands tucked beneath her cheek. Harm inhaled sharply and reached over, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. She stirred slightly and he put her hand on her hip. A second later, she opened her eyes.

"Hmm?" she said.

"It's okay," Harm said in a voice, still scratchy with sleep. He glanced towards the window; a sliver of white-gray light streamed out from the edges of the blind. He sighed and rubbed his eyes. He was still exhausted, thanks to the jet lag, but he had a sense that it was time to get up and face the day.

"What are you doing awake?" As if reading his mind, Mac spoke. "It's seven in the morning, which makes it oh, two o'clock back home."

Now, wide-awake, Harm stared at her with some amusement. "How do you do that? Even a five hour difference doesn't phase you."

"You've been asking that question for nine years," Mac said.

He propped himself up on one arm. "You're amazing." He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. "How are you doing, Mrs. Rabb?"

Mac smiled at him, slowly and indulgently. "Mrs. Rabb. That sounds so... definitive, so *final*."

Harm laughed. "I should hope so. I don't know about you, but I'm in this for keeps."

"That makes two of us." Mac yawned and sat up. The thin strap of her green nightgown slipped down her shoulder and Harm resisted the temptation to pull it down further. "Married life is going to take some getting used to, that's for sure."

"Hmm, such as being legally obligated to staying together forever?" Harm asked.

Mac tipped her head to the sound. "You really know how to take the romance out of marriage, sailor."

He laughed and leaned forward to kiss her. "Just being realistic."

"Give me fantasy any day," Mac said, stretching. She turned to look at the window. "We probably should think about facing the day."

Harm glanced at the alarm clock, which confirmed that it was indeed seven o'clock and there was plenty he had to get done before reporting to duty the next morning, such as getting his uniforms pressed, locating the best way to get to his command, and taking care of some preliminary paperwork involved with both the change in position and the move. Thankfully, they were staying in a hotel for a few weeks, before moving into their own place. Mac had suggested that they spend some time getting to know London before making a snap decision about where to stay.

"After all," she had said on the plane ride over, "we made a pretty quick decision about my quitting the Marine Corps and then getting married. I think we can take our time on our next big decision."

And since they wouldn't be having a 'proper' honeymoon, Harm had agreed that a nice hotel would be the best option for them. At least, while they were getting used to the city and the country and recovering from jet lag, they wouldn't have to worry about the mundane -- housecleaning, unpacking, setting up services -- aspects of moving. And this particular hotel, the Berkshire, was located just a few blocks away from Piccadilly Circus, and was luxurious in every way, from the large tub in the bathroom, to the fresh flower arrangements in all of the suites, to the fluffy pillows on the bed. Mac's eyes had widened at the luxury and she had taken in the red damask curtains and the rich, mahogany furniture with some awe.

"I may never want to move," she had said teasingly. "This is beautiful."

"So," Mac said now, sitting up and drawing her knees up to her chest. "How are you doing, *Captain*?"

He grinned at her. "You really do like calling me that, don't you?"

"It fits," Mac said. "You wear your stripes well, Harm. It was a well-deserved promotion." She wrinkled her brow. "The good thing about my resigning my commission, you no longer outrank me and I don't have to take orders from you."

"A definite drawback," Harm agreed. "Not that you ever listen to me."

"I listened to you a few days ago when you suggested we ought to get married."

"Lucky me."

"You better believe it." She pressed her forehead against his. He loved feeling her so close. He couldn't quite explain the rush of emotion he felt when Mac looked at him or how he felt when she put her hand on his arm, but he just knew he had never felt this way about Annie or Jordan or Renee. He never wanted to lose this feeling and while they had enjoyed a few halcyon days, they had been entirely too busy to have some very important conversations. He decided to take a stab at one now, hoping against hope that he wasn't opening a Pandora's box.

"What about everything you've given up to be here with me?" Harm asked quietly. He sat up, pulling Mac closer to him. He loved the way she fit against him, the way he felt so incredibly comfortable holding her. After years of awkwardness and hesitation, the ease he felt with Mac was a surprising, but welcome twist. Not for the first time, he wished he had made his move earlier. "You could have been in San Diego, with your own command. Maybe not a promotion, but still."

"I did get a promotion to 'Mrs. Rabb'," she reminded him.

"Yes, but your career." Harm bit his lip. "I know we agreed we were going to let fate decide, but do you have any regrets?" He held his breath momentarily.

"About what? Getting married? Moving to London?"

"Yeah. Any of those things."

"Well, it's too late to get out of the marriage--"


She held up a hand. "I've had a fantasy for years, Harm, that I'd end up with it all. A career, a good man, a nice house, kids--"

"Don't forget the comfortable shoes."

"Is this your fantasy or mine?"

"Sorry, sorry. Go on."

"I would have loved to have it all, Harm," Mac said earnestly. She tipped her head to the side, and Harm couldn't resist, once again, reaching out and touching her hair. She smiled at him. "But now I know that that's impossible and you know, it doesn't bother me that much. I already know kids are probably not going to happen, and maybe I'm not part of the Marine Corps anymore, but losing those two things doesn't invalidate what I have found." She cupped her hands around his face, pulling him close. Her lips against his were feathery light. Harm pulled her closer, rubbing his hands up and down the silky fabric covering her back. "I wouldn't give us up for anything," Mac said finally. "Believe me when I say that."

"I wouldn't have taken leaving the military so easily," Harm said. He recalled the look on Mac's face when the flip turned out to be heads. She'd seemed momentarily stunned, and then had reached up, kissed him and said, without much emotion, "I guess London it is." Just like that.

"I do need to know one thing," Mac said, shifting position slightly, her bare leg rubbing up against Harm's. "If I hadn't come to your apartment and forced the issue, what would have happened?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Would you have come to me?" She frowned. "What were you waiting for?"

Harm's mouth twisted into a smile. "Courage, maybe." He shook his head. "I've been in many life and death situations, but when it comes to you, Mac, somehow I manage to lose all nerve."

"So if I hadn't shown up, I'd be in San Diego right now."

"Maybe, maybe not." Harm looked at her intently. "That's the thing about fate. Things fall into place the way they're supposed to. I'm not going to second guess what happened, Mac." He bit his lip. "I did try when I came to your apartment that night we got our assignments. I just couldn't get the words out. I guess I just needed to clear my thoughts and after talking to Mike Roberts--"

"Mikey?" Mac looked startled. "Where does he fit into all of this?"

"I talked to him earlier that day, about his feelings for Cammie Cresswell--"

"You've got to be kidding."

"No, he's serious about her. Very serious."

"Oh dear." Mac shook her head. "Now there's something I would love to witness, I mean, how it unfolds, that is."

"It's going to be an interesting situation, that's for sure," Harm said. "But when the midshipman asked me advice, I told him to be honest with Cammie, to tell her how he was feeling, and be open with her. It occurred to me that I owed you the same courtesy."

"You were just waiting until the very last minute."

Harm grinned. "Something like that, yes."

"Lucky for us, fate decided to step in," Mac said with a smile. "I guess we'll never know, huh?"

"I think we do know. We're here, aren't we? It was just a question of timing, of getting it right. And we did."

"Even if we didn't have a military-style wedding."

"We can always have one later."

"That'll be my project, I suppose, for the next couple of months. Harriet said she'd help me, since I assumed we'd want to have it in DC."

Something in Mac's voice caught Harm's attention. They had been really too busy over the last few days to truly consider the consequences of their actions, but now Harm had to take the time to think. Mac had given up her career to be with him and now they were in another country, and he wasn't sure what she would do now. "Have you thought about what you're going to do?" It was a difficult question for him to ask, and he was almost afraid of the answer, but he knew, for the marriage to work, they were going to have to be honest with each other. "I report to duty tomorrow and--" he paused. "Have you thought about what you're going to do at all?"

"Other than shopping and catching the night life?" Mac asked teasingly and then shook her head. "Actually, I'm looking forward to it. Not knowing what's coming next, just taking things as they come. It's been a couple of decades since I've had the option to just do what I want to do. I think I'm going to enjoy the freedom."

"Not too much, I hope," Harm said.

Mac laughed. "I thought about looking into what it would take to become a lawyer here. If it's something easily done, then I could consider private practice. And you never know, maybe the Marines could find a place for me. It's not too late, you know. Cresswell did say he would hold on to my resignation until I'd used up all my leave. The State Department is always looking for translators and I'm sure they'd consider my military background as a plus, especially considering how much time we've both spent in Afghanistan and Iraq." She put her finger on his lips. "I do have options, Harm. But like so many things in my life to date, I'm just missing the plan. I'll take it one day at a time and I can handle it. Don't worry about me. I'm -- was -- a Marine. We're as tough as they come."

"It's not a question of worry. I just don't want you to have regrets, to think being with me, you've essentially ended a part of your life that you feel very strongly about."

"This isn't the end of anything, Harm, but a beginning, and I want you to believe me. There's nowhere else I'd rather be, no one else I'd rather be with." She put her hand on his chest, forcing him on his back. She rolled on top of him, straddling him. "I have no regrets. None. No matter what happens. We're here, together, finally after all these years, and that's what matters to me."

"For what it's worth, Mac, thank you," Harm said quietly. "I'm-- you've given up a lot for me, and I, I don't know how to repay that."

"I don't see it as giving something up," she said. "I've gained something valuable. I love the Marine Corps, but I love you more." With that, she leaned down and kissed him. "In this case, I think fate got it exactly right."

Go to Two Sides of Fate: San Diego

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