We're late. Well, later than planned anyway. "Come on, Bud, we can't let them wait!" Seriously, he is my husband, and I love him very much, but sometimes…. The front door opens and reveals a smiling Commander Rabb, with a little boy sitting on his shoulders.
"Hey guys, come on in. Sarah's in the kitchen, Gabe and I are heading out to get some ice cream for dessert, we'll be right back."
With that he leaves us in the middle of an amazing hall. We are visiting the Commander and the Major, right? Since when does the Commander call her 'Sarah'? I mean, I'm not that dense that I hadn't noticed that something has changed over the past month and a half or something, but as far as I can tell, they're not together.
"Bud? Harriet?"
When we look up, the Major comes walking into the hall, with a little girl on her hip. Okay, so they are involved. Have been for a long time obviously.
"Evening, ma'am," I greet her. "We were just admiring the hall."
"Impressive, huh?" she smiles. "We're very happy with it, now that we have it. The apartment got a little small for four." She hugs me. "How are you feeling?"
"Considering, pretty good. Still tired of course, but that should be over in a couple of weeks."
She takes us through the living room (I've never seen a fire place that big) to the kitchen, where I immediately see that the Commander is usually the one who makes dinner. Totally his style. Scanning the kitchen quickly it's surprisingly scattered with toys, books, a high chair, a diaper bag and lots of other things. What is going on? Bud is as surprised as I am. The Major puts the little girl into her high chair and gives her a doll to play with. "Why don't the two of you take your coats off?" she suggests. "Unless you feel totally uncomfortable with me and want to get out ASAP?"
"Of course not," I protest. It's true. I could never feel uncomfortable with the Major. She's pretty much the big sister I never had. It's an amazingly cozy house, I have to say. It's a real home.
"Please don't mind the mess, but we were late from work and I haven't had the time to clean up yet. Dinner should be a few more minutes. Noa, let Tina have her arms, please?"
That last part is obviously directed to the little girl, who is an angel, I have to say. Those eyes and that dark hair… Just like her brother. They look like the two of them, but as far as I know, the Commander and the Major aren't married. Although this scene here is giving me serious doubts.
"Can I get you guys something to drink?"
"Water, please," I say and Bud asks for a soda. "When did you actually move in?"
The Major smiles and shakes her head. "About two weeks ago. The whole place needed to be finished up and Harm has worked his six off to get it done before we got to pick Shireen up from the hospital." She hands me my glass and I take a large sip. Harriet, there is no need to be nervous. There has to be a totally logical explanation for all this.
"Just two weeks? It looks like you guys have been living here forever," Bud says.
The Major laughs. "That's what you get with three kids, Bud. There's absolutely no way that you can keep all of it cleaned up." She shrugs. "On the other hand that's also a good thing because this way the house turned into a home pretty quickly."
I almost choke in my sip and Bud pats my back. Three kids? Seriously, I missed something. I'm losing my grip. Me, Harriet Beaumont-Simms, the woman who practically always knows what is going on, didn't know that Commander Rabb and Major Mackenzie have three kids.
"Harriet, sit down and stop worrying." The Major pushes me in a chair. "I know what you're thinking, and there is no need to worry, because there was no way that you could've known. And besides…"
A sharp wail comes from the living room and the Major shakes her head. "She has Harm's awfully bad timing," she grins. "It's unbelievable. Give me a sec."
That has to be the third kid. We have Noa, the little boy and the baby. Bud slowly shakes his head. "Did you know anything about this? They're probably together for like forever and we didn't know…"
"Mommy!" the door to the living room opens up and the little boy runs back in. Wow, they're fast.
The Commander follows him with a silly grin on his face. "Gabe, slow down a bit. The neighbors don't have to hear you." He sets the bag with ice cream on the counter and starts to unload. "Noa, what did we tell you about chewing on your doll?"
In a matter of minutes everyone is seated around the dining table, and the prayer is said. I have to say, they have the routine down to the second. Especially with three kids. Not the most easy thing to do, I'm sure.
Bud and I are still a little dazed from what is going on around here. We sit and eat, watching the scene unfold in front of us. If Bud and I ever have three kids, I want us to be just like this. I'm serious. I really do. The way they interact with the kids is amazing. So easy and smooth. As if they've done it all theirs lives.
The Commander cuts Gabe's piece of lasagna into smaller pieces and ruffles affectionately through his hair. The Major is feeding the baby with one hand and Noa with the other. Noa has her own fork, but she looks like the little person who messes everything up.
After dinner the Commander cleans everything up and helps the kids gather their own things to take them upstairs. Good night kisses are given and with the Major's help everyone disappears upstairs. The Commander let's his eyes travel over the kitchen and sighs. "I hope that that kid of yours won't make as much a mess of things as they do."
"We'll only have one kid to take care of, sir," Bud answers. "You have three."
"Right, one of who is still a baby." He puts the dishes away in the dishwasher and looks at us. "You really don't know what to think of all this, do you?"
I take another sip of my water. "Would you, sir? I mean, the last time I checked you and the Major weren't married or involved as far as I know, and now that I'm here, everything I see around me is giving me serious doubts."
"Harriet, for once in your life, call us by our names and not our ranks, will you? This is our house, not the JAG office."
Oh god. Doesn't he know how difficult that is for me? I'm so used to think of them as the Major and the Commander that thinking of them as Harm and Mac would be… uneasy at least. "I'll give it my best shot, sir."
The… Harm rolls his eyes. "You better, Lt. Anyway, you've seen my apartment, you've seen Sarah's apartment, what's the big deal? You know that we're not married."
"Even so, sir. For all I know you eloped a month ago without anyone knowing and moved into this amazing house. Which leaves me with the kids. The Major and you either did an amazing job of hiding them or there is something else going on."
"You'll have to wait until Sarah is back, because I'm not taking all the fire."
Why does he think he has to take fire? I'm not going to yell at him. I'm not in any position to doubt whatever it is they've done. I mean it. Whatever they've done, there has to be a reason. We chat about nothing in particular until the Major is back. Right, note to self, that's Mac tonight.
They're so comfortable around each other. Harm's hand brushes hers when he hands her a cup and they move around while making physical contact. It looks as if the entire sexual tension between them has disappeared. But when we're sitting in the living room, I notice that it isn't completely gone. Something's still there.
They finally tell the story of what happened that they have three kids on theirs hands. How a friend of theirs called and asked them if they would be willing to take care of those three kids until CPS had found a suitable family for them. How they couldn't just stand by and watch it all happen. No, of course not. Who would? That Gabriel and Noa are both abused and that Gabe has only started to speak this afternoon. After almost two months of being with them.
By the time Mac is done talking I have the tears running down my face. That's what you get when you're pregnant. I get emotional about everything. Then again, the kids' story is so heartbreaking that I would be crying even if I hadn't been pregnant. Bud silently wraps his arm around me and kisses my temple. "So that is why you were both absent from JAG for a little while."
Harm and Mac nod. "We took the first week off to let the kids get used to us, and then a couple of extra days because of Shireen and the house and all of that." Mac absently stirs in her cold coffee.
Suddenly, something dawns on me. Commander Brumby has been chasing… "Does Commander Brumby know all this?"
Mac shakes her head. "Nope. He doesn't have a clue. Mic thinks that Harm is either married or engaged to a woman also named Sarah, and I told him that I'm in a very stable relationship. As far as I know he doesn't know anything else."
Oh, but next week he'll know. Unless, of course… "If you don't want him to find out yet, you'll have to come in two different cars next week."
"Next week? Oh, you mean the get-together at McMurphy's?" Harm says. He looks at her. "You'll have to take the 'Vette. Or a cab and I'll drop you off at 'your' place when I'm going home."
Mac swats his arm. "We'll discuss that next week. So Harriet, no mentioning of all this to anyone except for the Admiral, since he knows the ins and outs of this. You promise?"
"Promise." It's so nice to have a secret. And if Commander Brumby ever finds out, he'll be in for such a surprise. I can't wait!

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