“Fate?” Mac asked, pulling back from the kiss for a moment to look at Harm with a bemused half-smile.
He kissed her again, mumbling, “Coin toss.”
“Mmm,” she said, appraising for a moment until he distracted her with a line of kisses from her neck back up to her lips.
He stood up, still kissing her, kicked the door shut, turned and backed up, leading her over to the couch.
She laughed and gave him a playful push; he sat down, pulling her down with him.
As she straddled his lap, hands on his shoulders, she said, “Why did we wait this long?”
He leaned back, hands on her hips, and looked at her, “I have no idea.”
She fingered the buttons of his shirt. “Oh, really?”
He glanced down at her hands, then looked up at her, a half smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. “I think we both know.”
She let out an abrupt laugh and shook her head, “Do not start that again. That’s EXACTLY why it took us this long—” she paused to push his shirt completely open, “—to do this,” and she kissed his bare shoulder. She sat up and said, “Now, talk, sailor.”
She bent back over to kiss the other shoulder, and he said in a slightly strangled voice, “It’s very difficult,” as she kissed his neck, “to think,” and his breath came a little faster, “let alone talk,” and she breathed on his ear, “when you do that.”
She sat up, grinning. “Okay, I’ll stop.”
“Oh no you don’t,” he said, sliding his hands under the bottom edge of her shirt to find the skin on her back. He pulled her closer and said into her collarbone, “Don’t you ever stop. Not now.”
She stroked his hair as he ran his lips lightly across her skin, and said, “Harm, I’ve been waiting for so long for you to tell me you wanted me, I need to hear it.”
He pulled back just enough to kiss her, reached up, took each of her hands, and looked into her eyes. “Sarah, I love you. And I never want to hold you back. I never wanted to make my...desire for you more important than your happiness. I always wanted you, always.”
She smiled. “Your desire for me is my happiness. Part of it, anyway. But a girl likes to be told.” With a grin, she pulled her shirt upward and over her head. His hands followed, running lightly up her sides, down her back, pulling her closer.
He rested his lips against her skin just above her bra and closed his eyes, feeling her chest move with each breath. He paused, savoring the feel of her against his cheek, then said, “I want you more than I’ve wanted anything in my life.”
She laughed. “More than you wanted to find your father? More than you wanted to fly? More than you wanted to be in the Navy?”
His voice was quiet but intense as he answered. “I needed to find my father. But it was enough to know what had happened to him. I’ve given up flying before; every fighter pilot knows that if he lives long enough he’ll have to stop at some point. And I gave up the Navy for you once already. I knew you were in danger. It was the only way. And there was not one question in my mind which was more important. When I had to choose the Navy or you, I chose you. I’d choose you again. I’ll always choose you. I want to continue choosing you for the rest of my life. I need to know that you are happy. I want you to be happy with me. I...” He faltered for a moment. He pulled back and looked up at her. “I wanted to show you, not tell you. I thought it would mean more. And whenever I was ready to tell you, something or someone would get in the way.”
He reached up, touched her face, and she realized her cheek was wet with tears. She blinked hard, and he shifted, leaned up to kiss the salt off her face and hands and lips. Then he asked, “And you, Sarah MacKenzie? What do you want?”
She punctuated her words with kisses. “I want you. I want to marry you. I want to live with you and fight our battles together. I want both of us to have meaningful work, but at the end of the day I want to come home and be in your arms. I don’t know if I can get pregnant, but I know I want to try, because I want to feel your child grow inside of me and I want you to have the chance to be the father you deserve to have the chance to be. And right at this moment, I really,” she reached down and flicked open the top button on his jeans, “really want to make love with you.”
Between kisses, he said, “Sounds good to me,” and unhooked her bra. “All of it.”
She laughed, “All?”
He worked at the closure to her pants for a moment, “Well, maybe only if you help me get these off of you.”
She chuckled. “Aye aye, Captain.”
As she stood up, he glanced ruefully across the sea of boxes between them and the bed, the boxes on the bed. “I’m afraid that my apartment is suffering certain limitations in the bed department.”
When he looked back, she was shimmying her pants down her hips, and his breath caught. “But I’m sure this will be just fine.”
She stood in front of him, completely naked, and raised an eyebrow at his pants. “Your turn.”
He stood, leaving his shirt on the couch, and shucked off his pants and socks.
She laughed, and hooked her thumbs in the waistband of his boxers. “These really have to go.”
He watched as she slid them down over his hips and groaned a little as his erection bobbed free, tantalizingly close to her face. Almost numbly, he stepped out of the boxers when they reached his ankles.
All he managed to get out was, “So beautiful”, and she was standing close, kissing him again, hands flying across his skin, at his face, on his back, cupping his ass. He touched her cheek with one finger, as if she were made of porcelain and might break, then traced his fingers down her back.
He stopped for a moment, and stepped back. She cocked her head to one side, and he said, “I want to look at you.”
She blushed and cast her gaze down, then deliberately looked up at him. “Like what you see, flyboy?”
“No,” he answered, then when she frowned, continued, “I love what I see.” He sat back down on the couch, and reached up to her. “Now, where were we?”
She laughed and straddled his knees again, running her fingers up and down his bare chest. “Right about here, before our clothes so rudely interrupted.”
He ran a finger down her chest, circled her nipple with it, almost idly, then said quietly, in the general direction of her bellybutton, “I think that my condoms are packed.”
She slid closer to him, leaned in and said, “Do you always use them?”
He looked away and answered very quietly, “I always have.”
She gave a wry smile and said, “I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get pregnant.”
He looked up at her. “It’s your decision. I want you. On your terms. You know where I stand on the subject of kids.”
“You’d stop right now, wouldn’t you, if I said I wanted to use protection.” She ran her fingers down his belly.
“Long enough to find protection,” he answered. “On your terms, Mac. Always.”
“And if I don’t want you to wear a condom?” There was a small tinge of challenge in the question.
“That, too, is your prerogative.” He leaned forward, lifted her a little, and ran his tongue around her nipple. She inhaled sharply.
He flicked her nipple with his tongue, found the other with his thumb, and she groaned. “I think,” she said, and then paused again as his mouth left her nipple, “I think the theme of the evening is fate.”
He smiled up at her. “Fate it is.”
He watched with a quiet reverence as she reached down for him, closing his eyes with a sharp intake of breath as she touched him, then, feeling her shift, he opened his eyes to see, and feel her center herself over him. He held perfectly still, body tense, waiting, as she looked him in the eyes and slid down, taking him deep within.
She stayed there, not moving, simply feeling him there inside of her. “Harm...” she said, her voice raw and low, and he put a finger on her lips.
He could feel the tension around him, an electricity passing between them, and he pulled her close, then began to move very slowly. His hands pressed hard on her back, and he found her mouth with his own.
She moved with him, hesitant at first, but then they found a rhythm, slow, intense. Her whole body tingled, and she clung to him as he moved under her.
He shifted, and she leaned back a little. He took the opportunity to find her nipples again, smiling at her response to the additional stimulation, not breaking the rhythm. He watched her as they moved together, then slid one thumb down to the place they joined, experimenting for a moment to find what got the most reaction. When he felt an additional tightness around him, he focused his efforts there, moving his thumb in quick, tiny circles. She opened her eyes for a moment, saw him watching her, then closed her eyes, bit her lips, and let her head fall forward.
He started moving faster, thrusting in harder, keeping a constant motion on her clitoris. She was so close to the edge, her hands clenching hard on his shoulders, and he kept going until he felt her starting to spasm around him. He pulled his hand away and held her hips as he pushed up into her until his own orgasm followed. She chuckled as they slowed, low and pleased. He flashed her a cheeky grin and she laughed outright. She relaxed against him, still joined, and he whispered, “I really don’t mind you being on top.”
“Let’s take turns,” she answered.
“Deal,” he said. “We’ll have to practice that. Often.”
She leaned against his chest, her head on his shoulder, still connected, quiet.
“Harm,” Mac asked a few minutes later, “What the hell are we going to do?”
“Get married,” he said, eyes closed as he rested his head against hers.
“How is this going to work? Does it change things if a coin decides?” She sat upright and looked at him.
He sighed, and held her hands between them, not wanting to break any more contact than necessary. “Mac, we have two great opportunities in front of us, which are mutually exclusive if we want to spend more than one night out of every sixty or so together. We would both do well in the positions offered to us, it would be great for either of our careers, and we respect each other too much to ask the other to give up something so important. I don’t want you resenting me and I don’t want you to think I resent you, however it goes. So let fate decide.”
She persisted. “But what would you do, if the coin fell my way?”
He shrugged a little, and said, “Fly planes. Be a lawyer. Take care of Mattie. Be a dad. Be your husband. I’m not worried.”
“You could give up the captain’s billet, your future, for that?”
“Mac, I’ve already given it up for you once, I could do it again. You are my future. If I have to choose the Navy or you, I choose you. You know that.” He looked down at their hands, then back up at her. “How about you? If the coin falls my way, what would you do?”
She smiled. “I don’t know. I’m sure someone in London could find a use for a Farsi-speaking ex-Marine lawyer.”
He chuckled and said under his breath as he wiggled suggestively under her, “I know I can find one...”
She swatted him playfully, then said quietly, “I could try to get pregnant. Maybe work at the Embassy. Take care of Mattie while you are off being the boss. Go on inactive reserve. Be your wife.”
“You’ve worked so hard...” he started.
She shook her head, “And you haven’t? Please. Would you think less of me if I wasn’t ‘Colonel Mackenzie’?”
He laughed. “At this rate, we’ll be flipping to see who gets to quit.”
She lifted herself up off his lap, and stood in front of him. “So are your coins packed?”
He smiled, “I have another idea, but it’s definitely going to require a change of clothes.”
“We’re not wearing any.”
“I can see that... but I think if we are going to tell our nearest and dearest friends, naked is probably not the way to do it.”
“Tonight?” she asked.
“When else? We only have...” he paused.
She grinned. “Ten hours, forty three minutes and seventeen seconds.”
“How about I call the gang and get them over to McMurphy’s, while you go home and find something more appropriate?” He smiled at her.
“Only if you promise to wear your dress whites and your wings,” she said, and then threaded her way through the boxes over to the bathroom.
He shook his head and sat on the couch for a couple of minutes, head spinning, smiling vaguely at a box. Then he picked up the phone.
Mac called tails, and they watched the coin spinning upwards, then back down, and Bud lunged to catch it, smacking it between his hands. He stood for a moment, not revealing the coin.
Jen said, impatiently, “Go on, which is it?”
Bud looked at Harm and Mac and took a deep breath. He lifted the covering hand, revealing the eagle.
Harm said with a small sigh, “Tails it is.”
Mac looked thoughtful. “London.”
Startled, Harm looked down at her. “But...”
The general leaned forward. “That’s the lady’s choice. She won the toss.”
Harm frowned, “But...”
Mac looked up at him. “London. You only have a few years to your twenty. Maybe then we’ll take turns.”
“But Mac,” Harm started again.
“No buts. I won the toss. I’m deciding. No regrets.” She smiled up at him. “You can stop sputtering, sailor.”
General Cresswell turned and said, “So, Petty Officer, what does this mean for you? Still want San Diego?”
Jen blinked, and said, “I... Captain? Would you want me on your staff?”
Harm smiled. “I think Mattie would want to kick me if I said no.”
“She’ll be going to London then?” asked Harriet.
Harm nodded. “I’ll be her guardian again within the week. As soon as she’s stable enough to travel, she’ll come to live with us.”
Mac added, “Given the situation, I may be following Harm to London with Mattie in a few weeks. There’s a lot to work out still.”
The general looked at them, and then sighed. “Captain, given the change of circumstance, I’ll authorize three days additional leave. Will that be enough?”
Harm took a deep breath and said, “It will have to be, thank you.”
“So when’s the wedding going to be?” Harriet asked.
Harm and Mac looked at each other. He grinned at her and said, “You won the coin toss.”
She smiled. “That all depends on how fast we can pull together the people who need to be there.”
The general nodded. “Petty Officer Coates, I am assigning you T.A.D. immediately to assist the Captain in whatever arrangements need to be made to expedite the Captain’s assumption of his new duties, pending your permanent orders. I expect you to use your, erm, talent for getting people where you want them to be to its fullest.” He turned to Mac. “Colonel, see me in the morning at 09...” he checked his watch. “Make that 1100 hours to discuss your options. Oh, and Turner, you I want to see at 0930. Sharp.”
Turner reflexively straightened. “Aye aye, sir.”
“I don’t know about you people, but I’m going to have enough headaches tomorrow morning. I’m going to head home, presuming no one actually has a flat tire?” The general glanced at Jen.
“No, sir, I’m fine, thank you.” Jen looked back at Harm and Mac, who were already back to gazing raptly at each other. “Sir, ma’am, if you don’t mind, I think we’ll all head out. Thank you for the drink.”
Harm pulled his gaze away and said, “Right. You’re welcome, and thank you all for coming tonight. Sorry if we’ve thrown a wrench in your plans, General.”
The general laughed, “Why the hell did you think I assigned you two to the opposite ends of the globe? I just didn’t expect you to work quite so fast.”
Mac coughed. “Sir, I’m not sure you can call nine years ‘fast’.”
“Colonel, were you two even dating before today?” the general asked.
She blushed. “No, sir. Thank you.”
“If it was anyone else, I’d say you were crazy. But with you two? Someone had to do something. Good night.” He set his unfinished martini on the bar, turned on his heel, and left.
Harriet looked bemused. “Did he just play matchmaker?” She didn’t wait for an answer, but set her drink down and said, “Bud, I think we should leave the Colonel and the Captain to their celebration. Mac, call me tomorrow and we’ll talk dresses.”
Harm paid the tab, and said to Mac, “So, is your bed more accessible than mine?”
She smiled. “Why do you think it took me so long to get here? It is now.”
“Meet you there.”