Thank God for Saturday meetings at the office.
The rest of the crew isn't here. Well, I hope not. Sarah and I came home
yesterday, and the Admiral immediately requested our presence today. We told
him that we were going to take the kids with us, and he assured us that that
wouldn't be a problem. So, here we are. The elevator doors slide open
and we walk out. Shireen on Sarah's hand, Noa on mine and Gabe is walking in
front of us. Our confident little guy.
"See, I told you that everything was going to be okay, Mom," he said, when Sarah and I told him that we were finally going home. He was so sure that we would somehow fix whatever it was that they'd done to us. It's a bit weird to have a six-year-old telling you 'I-told-you-so', but he was right. Everything turned out the way it was supposed to turn out. No more threats. We're back to being 'us' again. We're back to being an ordinary family, just like every other family living down the street from us. The Admiral is leaning in the doorway when we enter the bullpen. He looks at us and a slow smile spreads out on his face. It's the first time he actually sees the kids. It's been over a year, and he's never seen them.
"Good morning," he says. His eyes zero in on Sarah, who is just picking Shireen up. She looks a whole lot better than she did a few days ago. A lot of the tension is gone. Not all, but most of it.
Sarah looks up and smiles back. "Good morning, sir."
Gabe silently watches the exchange between them. He's way too wise for his six years. Or what's left of his six years. He's going to turn seven soon.
The Admiral looks at me, nods, then looks at my family and smiles a little brighter smile. "It's good to see you."
"It's good to be back, sir." Sarah has been more affected by the whole Moreno ordeal than she'll let on, but I now her. This past week away has been good for all of us.
The Admiral pushes himself off the doorway and leans down on his haunches. Extends his hand to Gabe. "You must be Gabriel."
Gabe shakes the Admiral's hand. "Yes, sir."
He's heard us call the Admiral 'sir', and he just adapts. "Well, it's very nice to meet you, Gabriel."
Gabe smiles a shy smile. "It's very nice to meet you to, sir."
Then Noa decides that she wants in as well. She let's go of my hand and steps forward. Sticks her hand out to the Admiral as she's seen her big brother do, and shakes the Admiral's hand. "I'm Noa!"
I take a step closer to Sarah and wrap my arm around her waist. She leans into me as we watch the scene in front of us.
Surprised, the Admiral shakes her small hand. "Well, hello, Noa. I'm Admiral Chegwidden, your parents' boss."
Noa gives him a full blown smile. She's not shy at all. Not anymore. She manages to wrap everybody around her little finger within three minutes. And so does Shireen. I'm gonna have to lock away my girls in their teenage years…
Having talked to Noa for a while, the Admiral rises and locks eyes with me. "Why don't you guys come into my office? I'd like to hear the story."
Both Sarah and I nod and we and the kids follow the Admiral into his office. Gabe sits himself down on the ground, pulls his paper and color pencils out and starts to draw. I don't think that he'll ever stop drawing. He loves it too much.
Noa climbs onto my lap. The Admiral sits himself on the edge of his desk and looks at us. "How has it been?"
Giving him a quick synopsis of our week away, we silently look at each other. There is some other thing we really need to tell him. Sarah silently squeezes my hand. Somewhere during us telling the story, she took hold of my hand and never let it go. I softly squeeze it back.
"Sir," Sarah starts, "there was something Harm and I wanted to talk to you about. Something that we'd wanted to discuss for a little while, honestly."
The Admiral nods. "What is that, Mac?"
Sarah shifts in her chair and squeezes my hand again. "Harm and I both feel that we should be there for the kids, especially since Reen is still so small, and while being here at JAG… The traveling is terrible, sir. We don't know what is going happen, there's barely time to make arrangements for the kids, even though we have close friends who are always ready to help out…"
"What Sarah's trying to say is that we want to look for different billets, sir," I step in. "Not that we don't like being at JAG, but our main priority is our family, sir."
Again, the Admiral smiles. "I understand, Harm. I never really thought that the two of your would be staying at JAG forever. Especially not now you're married with three kids." He rubs the top of his head. "Give me some time to find replacements, all right? Until you've found something else, I'll try and keep you here as much as possible."
Sarah and I exchange a look and nod. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
Twenty minutes later, we've got the kids strapped in their seats and are standing next to the car, trying to decide what we're going to do. Other than talking to the Admiral, there's nothing we had planned. There wasn't a whole lot besides clothes that we've taken back with us. Took care of that yesterday.
Suddenly, I see Sarah's lip pull into a smile. "What?"
"I know what we're going to do," she says. "Let me drive."
My eyes grow wide in silent protest. "Honey…"
But she insists. "Harm, let me drive. You're gonna love it."
Oh, well. It doesn't really matter anyway. I hand Sarah the car keys and walk around the car to the passenger side. I don't really care where Sarah is taking us. Anywhere will be fine.
As long as we go together.