JAG Fanfiction: Love, Loss & Family - 99. Chapter 99
Hello again! As always, THANK YOU for the wonderful feedback! It is greatly appreciated! Many, many moons ago I said that I would take this epic to 100 chapters and I intend to keep my promise. One more chapter and I will be wrapping up this tale at long last. Depending on my muse and my schedule, I may revisit my Rabb family again… we’ll see how it goes. Thanks to everyone that has stuck this out with me~ I couldn’t have done this without you! Enjoy…
Six weeks later
Mac smiled at the laughter coming from the pool area as Mattie sat atop Troy’s shoulders and Chloe sat atop Josh’s shoulders while they engaged in a game of ‘chicken fight’ against four other young adults that were friends of theirs. Samantha, aka Sam, and Jeremy were friends of Mattie’s from her high school and Alisha and Austin were twins that Troy and Josh knew from their high school.
“Lunch is served,” Mac called out to the teenagers as she set a plate of sandwiches on the table under the covered patio.
“Thanks Mom; we’ll be right there,” Mattie called and then laughed when Chloe fell in the water with a screech after Alisha gave her a hard shove.Mac smiled and shook her head at the antics of the teenagers.
“Mama I swim too,” Mandy said as she stood with her small hands wrapped around the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the pool and kept the little ones out without adult supervision.
“After the bigger kids are done for the day,” Mac promised.
“Nooowww,” Mandy whined.
“Miranda Joy,” Mac said sternly, “Do you need a time-out?”
Mandy deflated with a sigh. “No.”
“You don’t argue with Mommy,” Mac told her as she walked over and picked up her pouting toddler.
“Sowwy Mama,” Mandy said and planted a noisy kiss on Mac’s lips.
“I love you,” Mac smiled at her as she brushed her curls from her forehead.
“Wuv you,” Mandy grinned at her, showing off the dimples in her Rabb smile.
Mac saw that the game in the pool was over and the teenagers were all wrapping towels around them so they could come eat, so she carried Mandy into the house with her and to the kitchen where Harm was just setting their lunch on the table. Placing Mandy into her high chair, she put her plate in front of her before she sat in her own chair and smiled at her husband.
“Thanks for making lunch for everyone,” she said.
“My pleasure,” he winked before tilting his head towards the backyard. “How’s it going out there?”
“Fine,” she replied. “They’re having a lot of fun. Mandy wants to go swimming too, but I told her she has to wait until the older kids are done for the day.”
“It’s going to be awfully quiet around here when they all go off to college,” Harm said softly.
“Harm, we have two toddlers and an infant,” Mac laughed. “I don’t think you have to worry about it getting too quiet.”
Harm smiled at that and tilted his head in acknowledgement. “True, but it just won’t be the same without Mattie here.”
“She’ll be home for Christmas and we’re planning to go to Paris to see her in the spring and then she’ll be home at the beginning of June,” Mac reminded him. “The time will go by quickly and she’ll be back here before you know it. Besides, I already promised you could go visit her as much as you need to.”
“I know,” Harm said giving her another smile. “It’s just hard for me to let go, you know?”
Mac raised an eyebrow and gave him a pointed look. “If anyone knows that, it’s me.”
They both laughed softly and smiled when both Mandy and Chris laughed along with them.
“I was thinking maybe it’s time to buy Mandy a booster seat for sitting at the table with us and then we could use her high chair for Nick,” Harm said, changing the subject. “He’s eating solid foods now so he should sit in a high chair instead of his carrier when we feed him.”
Mac nodded her agreement. “We also need to take these munchkins clothes shopping,” she told him. “Mandy’s outgrown half her clothes and I only have three or four outfits that Chris can even fit into anymore.”
“Thank goodness we can use Chris’ old stuff for Nick for right now,” Harm said shaking his head.
“I still think he needs a few things that are just his own,” Mac told him. “It’s not like we can’t afford to buy him clothes and I don’t want him to grow up wearing only Chris’ hand-me-downs.”
“You just want an excuse to shop more,” Harm teased.
Mac grinned at him unrepentantly. “I can take Harriet and/or my mom if you don’t want to come along.”
“Nah,” he shrugged, “I have to tag along to make sure you buy my sons some clothes that are fit for boys to wear; if it were up to you all they’d wear are cutsie animals on their clothes.”
Mac stuck her tongue out at him and they laughed once more.
Once they had all finished eating lunch, Harm carried their dishes to the kitchen while Mac cleaned up Mandy and Chris and got them settled down for their naps.
After checking on the teenagers, Harm and Mac settled on the sofa to watch a movie.
The phone rang and Harm answered it while Mac paused the movie. “Hello sir,” he said and then chuckled. “I guess old habits are hard to break… we’re planning to take Mandy and Chris out swimming later but dinner should be fine… are you sure?… all right, let me check with Mac.” Moving the phone away from his mouth and covering the mouthpiece he looked at his wife. “Your dad wants to know if we’d all like to come to dinner at his place tonight at 1900 hours.”
“He wants us all at his place?” she asked in surprise.
“That’s what he said,” Harm nodded. “He and your mom want to cook dinner for all of us.”
Mac smiled and nodded. “Okay.”
Harm put the phone back to his ear and spoke. “AJ? Mac said okay so I guess we’ll see the two of you at 1900 hours… all right… goodbye.” He clicked off the phone and set it back on the base. “He said they’ll see us in a few hours,” he told Mac.
Mac nodded and glanced over at the porta-crib to see that Nick was awake and sucking on his fist so she stood and lifted him out. After she placed him on the sofa and changed his diaper, she settled him in to nurse while she sat beside Harm and they went back to the movie they had been watching.
After Sam, Jeremy, Alisha and Austin had left and Mattie, Chloe, Troy and Josh had taken Harm’s and Mac’s place watching a movie in the family room, Harm and Mac took the little ones out to the pool to go swimming.
Mac placed Nick into the baby float and grinned at the wide-eyed look he gave her. “Do you like the water sweetheart?” she asked.
Nick smiled at her and stuck his fingers in his mouth, causing her to chuckle.
Chris and Mandy were both wearing life vests, so Mandy ran to the deep end of the pool while Chris slowly made his way down the steps into the shallow end.
“Daddy catch me,” Mandy squealed as she jumped into the deep end.
“Mandy wait,” Harm called, too late, as he quickly yanked off his t-shirt and jumped into the deep end after her. He came up sputtering and then grabbed the back of her life vest and pulled her to him. “Miranda Joy, you need to wait until Mommy or Daddy say it’s okay for you to get into the water,” he said sternly.
Mandy hugged him around the neck and kissed him. “I is okay Daddy,” she told him. “I swim.”
Harm gave her another stern look before he swam her over to where Mac was playing with the boys in the shallow end of the pool. “I think we need to get Mandy swimming lessons so I don’t have a heart attack over our little daredevil here.”
Mac laughed and nodded her agreement. “It wouldn’t hurt to enroll Chris in lessons, either.”
“How about it big guy,” Harm asked Chris as he took him from Mac and hugged him. “Would you like to take swimming lessons?”
“I swim,” Chris nodded, grinning at his father. “I big boy.”
“Okay then,” Harm said as he tapped Mandy on the nose. “Swim lessons it is.”
“I’ll look into finding someone that will give them private lessons here,” Mac said.
“Sounds good,” Harm agreed. “Ready to jump?” he asked Mandy.
“Jump, jump, jump,” she nodded excitedly, clapping her hands.
Harm grabbed her by the feet and counted to three before hurtling her through the air and nearly halfway across the pool to make a loud splash.
The life vest pulled her up to the surface and Mandy came up laughing as she brushed water from her eyes. “Again Daddy; do it again!”
Mac shook her head and sighed before she, too, laughed.
“Do you want to jump too?” Harm asked Chris.
Chris looked at his father with wide eyes and shook his head as he clung to his mother. “No.”
Harm looked slightly disappointed, but he grinned at his son and kissed his head. “Maybe another time,” he said as he made his way towards Mandy and repeated the process, this time making it a much shorter flight back towards Mac and the boys, before she landed with a splash in the pool.
Mac was glad she had moved the boys back to the steps at the shallow end, where she was sitting and keeping an eye on them, so that they were out of the line of fire and had missed getting splashed. She played with the boys while she watched Harm and Mandy continue to play for a while before Harm came over and asked if she wanted to trade places.
“Getting tired old man?” she asked with a teasing grin. She knew full well he wasn’t having any trouble keeping up with their rambunctious three year old; he just wanted to spend some time playing with his sons.
Harm cocked an eyebrow at his wife and gave her a saucy grin that promised good things for later. “Not tired at all,” he assured her. “I just thought you might like to spend some time with our little girl for a while. Unless you don’t think you can keep up with her?”
Mac raised an eyebrow at him that warned him to tread lightly before she smiled and kissed his cheek. “I’ll gladly play with Mandy for a little while,” she told him.
They continued to play with their children in the pool for a little while longer before it was time to get everyone out and start getting ready to go have dinner over at AJ’s house.
Harm volunteered to bathe and get the boys ready while Mac bathed herself and Mandy, and then got the two of them dressed and ready to go. After he had the boys bathed and dressed, he took a shower and got himself dressed.
Mac had finished getting herself and Mandy ready to go so she set Mandy and Chris in their high chairs and gave them a small snack to tide them over until dinner time. She sat in a kitchen chair and nursed Nick while she waited for everyone else to finish getting ready to leave.
Mattie, Chloe, Troy and Josh were going to be driving over in Mattie’s car while Harm, Mac and the little ones drove over in Mac’s Pacifica.
They all arrived just minutes before 19:00 and AJ greeted them at the door with a wide smile.
“Come in,” he said as he opened the door for them to enter. He lifted first Mandy and then Chris into his arms for hello kisses and hugs before setting them on their feet and telling them to go find Grandma Deanne.
After greeting the teenagers with handshakes and hugs, he shook Harm’s hand and kissed Mac’s cheek. “I’m glad you could make it,” he told her.
“Thank you for having us over,” Mac smiled as she set Nick’s carrier on a chair and lifted him out to hand over to his grandfather. “You sure you know what you’re in for with this crowd?”
AJ chuckled as he held Nick close. “If I could handle the group from JAG, I can definitely handle your family.”
Mac grinned at him and she and Harm took the seats he offered to them while the teenagers made their way into the family room where the television was located.
Deanne came out of the kitchen and informed them that dinner would be ready in about twenty minutes.
When dinner was ready and they were all seated around the table, they all sat and talked comfortably with each other. As they were all finishing their desserts, AJ and Deanne smiled at one another and Deanne nodded slightly. Clearing his throat, he spoke.
“Deanne and I have an announcement we’d like to share with all of you,” he said as he took her hand. “I’ve asked Deanne to marry me and she said yes.”
“Oh my gosh,” Mac exclaimed as she jumped out of her chair and moved to hug her mother and then AJ. “That’s wonderful; I’m so happy for you!”
Everyone else expressed their happiness at the news and after hugs and handshakes they all sat around the table once more.
“Have you set a date?” Mac asked.
“Not yet,” Deanne replied. “It will probably be next summer, when Mattie, Chloe, Troy and Josh are all on break from school.”
Mattie and the others volunteered to clean up the kitchen while Harm and Mac spent some more time visiting with AJ and Deanne and then the family headed for home.