Title: Only Time
Disclaimer: I don't own JAG or its characters. No money was made off of this story. Please don't sue me.
Summary: This is a story that takes place nearly 30 years into the future. It shows a little of Harm and Mac's life during this time and it shows another generation of the Rabb family being born. This story bounces off of the events of ADRIFT I and ADRIFT II, so consider yourself warned for spoilers!
Who can say
Where the road goes
Where the day flows?
And who can say
If your love grows
As your heart chose ?
Who can say
Why your heart sighs
As your love flies?
And who can say
Why your heart cries
When your love lies?
Who can say
When the roads meet
That love might be
-In your heart
And who can say
When the days sleeps
If the night keeps
-All your heart
Night keeps all your heart
Who can say
If your love grows
As your heart chose?
And who can say
Where the road goes
Where the day flows?
Who knows - only time
Who knows - only time...
By Enya on her album
A Day Without Rain
Washington DC airport
"Welcome to the United States, miss. We hope you'll enjoy your stay here."
The young woman nodded. "Thank you."
The doorbell rang, startling Mac, causing her to drop the bowl she'd just taken down from the cupboard for the salad. "Rats!" she muttered, uttering a few other words before picking the bowl up. She set it on the counter, and after grabbing a towel to wipe her hands, she made her way towards the front door.
Today, the Rabb family was having a mini reunion as two of their four children would be coming home today from the parts of the country, even in the world where they proudly served as officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
Mac was thrilled when both Abbey and Matthew had called to let their parents know that they had some leave time and that they were coming home during that time. They had called on separate days without knowing that the other had plans to come home for a visit. Harm had suggested that they have a special lunch prepared them both as their flights would arrived within moments of one another. Harm was gone to the airport to pick them both up and also run to the store from some of Matt's favorite salad dressing.
"It's just like someone to come to the door when I am trying to get the rest of things ready," she muttered just as she reached the front door. She looked out the peephole in the door before cracked it open. A young woman, probably in her late 20's was standing outside, her eyes looking towards the neighbor's house. "Can I help you, miss?"
The young woman was startled by the sound of Mac's voice. "G'day, ma'am. I'm looking the Rabb residence, specifically for a Sarah Rabb."
Mac noted her Australian accent right off. "Well, you've got the right house and I am Sarah Rabb. Miss, if this is some sort of door to door sales-"
"No, ma'am, it's not a sales pitch."
"Do I know you?"
"No, ma'am. But you knew my father," the young woman replied.
Startled by what the young woman was implying, Mac took a closer look at her. This young woman was the spitting image of Mic Brumby, the Australian lawyer and man she had been engaged to almost 30 years ago. Her skin tone, hair, and even her smile were all his, with only difference Mac could see between Mic and the young woman who stood before her was her eye coloring. Her eyes were a hazel green, and Mac knew that was a color she must have had inherited from her mother, whoever she had been.
"You're Mic Brumby's daughter?" Mac asked, finding her voice.
The young woman nodded. "Yes, ma'am. My name is Sarah and Michael James Brumby, the man you knew better as Mic, was my father."
"Was?" Mac asked.
At that moment, Harm pulled up in their driveway and he got out looking at the car that was parked in the front of the house. Mac excused herself from Sarah, reaching the car just as her children got out. Matt emerged first, dressed surprisingly in his dress whites, looking so much like his father that it still amazed Mac every time she saw him.
After putting on his cover, Matt hugged his mother even as Abbey got out of the car. Abbey stood with her father's arm wrapped around her, waiting her turn while her brother finished hugging their mother. While Matt looked so much like his father, Abbey did not look like her mother at all. She inherited her looks from Harm's side of the family, looking very much like her grandmother, Trish. The only things that marked her as Mac's daughter was her stubbornness, compassion, sense of timing, and her eyes.
That and she was a United States Marine, just like her mother.
After Abbey had hugged their mother, a line of questioning began as to why Matt was in his dress whites instead of civilian clothes and Matt playful rolled his eyes as he got the playful third degree by the present three lawyers of the family.
"...Anyway, the airline seems to have lost my luggage so I can't change into something a little less obvious than my whites, that is unless some of my old clothes are still here," Matt finished.
"We'll see if anything left in your room still fits, Matt. If all else fails, I'm sure your father wouldn't mind you borrowing some of his sweat pants and a shirt," Mac said between laughs.
Taking their hands, Mac led the way back towards the house from the driveway, leaving Harm behind who had to get a few things out of the car. By now, Mac had forgotten about their unexpected guest, and Sarah stared back at them with a smile.
"I'm going to go now and let you be with your family, Mrs. Rabb," she said.
"Sarah, they didn't have the salad-" Harm halted his sentence when he saw the strange young woman hovering near their home's door. He looked the young woman over and he decided that there was something vaguely familiar about her, like he'd seen her face somewhere before.
Meanwhile, Sarah Brumby stared back into the face of the man who had been her father's rival and even she had to admit he was a fine looking bloke, though he was older now than when they had both tried for the affections of one woman.
Sarah Brumby decided that she'd be the first one to break the awkward silence. "Commander Rabb?" She extended her hand towards him.
"Actually, it's Rear Admiral Rabb now, miss," Harm corrected her, noting her accent.
"Of course," she paused, "My name is SarahSarah Brumby."
Slowly surprise registered on Harm's face. "'Sarah Brumby' as in Mic Brumby?"
The young woman nodded. "He was my father."
"Was?" Harm asked.
Sarah was clearly uncomfortable with the question and suddenly she started sniffing the air. "Are you having a barbie?"
"A what?" Matt asked.
"A barbecue," Mac answered before she could. "And yes we are. Why?"
"Because I smell something BURNING!" Harm said after he hurried into the house. After he left, Matt and Abbey excused themselves, heading into the house as well.
"Uh oh! I hope that's not steak I smell burning," Abbey commented as she hurried in to help her father.
"Well, I'd better leave now. Enjoy your lunch," Sarah said, turning to leave.
"Miss Brumby, wait!" She turned around to face Mac. "You never did tell me who you came to see or why you're here."
"Yes, well it can wait, ma'am. I'll be in town for the next two weeks," Sarah paused taking out a business card and after she wrote down a number on the back, she handed it to Mac. "That's the number of the hotel I'll be staying at while in Washington. Please call me whenever you'd like to arrange a time for us to get together. I'll explain my business then, Mrs. Rabb. Ooroo. "
She started down the path again. Mac made a split decision, hoping that they'd have enough found to go around. "Sarah?"
The young woman turned again. "Yes?"
"Would you like to join us for lunch?"
Sarah raised her hand to shade her eyes from the afternoon sun. "I don't want to intrude, ma'am."
"You won't be."
Sarah thought about it for a second. "All right, I'll join you."
The Rabb household was in controlled chaos when Mac entered followed by their guest. Harm was out in the backyard attempting to salvage what he could of their lunch while Abbey was in the kitchen finishing up the salad. Matt had disappeared into his old room, searching to see what clothes he had left behind might still fit him.
"Please, Sarah, make yourself at home," Mac said and not a moment too soon as Matt called out from the back. Shaking her head she told Abbey they had company before she headed to the section of the house where her son was.
"What can I do to help?" Sarah asked as she entered the spacious kitchen.
Abbey looked up at her. "You don't have to help. Just sit down at the table if you'd like." Sarah nodded, and sat down at the table as Harm re-entered the house carrying two plates worth of meat.
"Well the dead cow you and your mother insist on eating is fine," he quipped.
Abbey released an exaggerated breath of relief. "Good, I was afraid that you and Matt wouldn't have enough if we had to split the fish, or chicken, or whatever the heck kind of healthy food you two are having."
By now, Harm had noted that Sarah was seated at the table, observing the playful banter between daughter and father. She had a sad smile on her face as she watched them exchange quips. Before Harm could speak to her, Mac and Matt re-entered the kitchen exchanging their own playful quips.
"This day just keeps getting better and better," Matt said, looking at his dad, "Not only do they lose my luggage at the airport but the only thing we could find clean for me to wear that was clean and would also fit is a USMC shirt that says 'Semper Fi' as well as 'Go Marines!'. Thank God no one in my squadron could see me in this, otherwise I might get thrown out of the Navy for wearing a shirt endorsing the enemy."
The two present Marines in the room shot Matt a glare that could win a war, if they were indeed currently at war, because all of the enemy would drop dead on the spot. But the Navy men knew they weren't serious because a second later Mac was laughing before she hugged her son.
"Just for that crack against the Corps, little brother, I say find yourself another lawyer because unless I am mistaken we have an admiral of the Navy here willing to file charges against you for endorsing the enemy?" Abbey said, looking at her dad.
Harm's face was serious. "Yes, we do. I'm surprised at you, Lieutenant."
Matt's face matched his father's. "How can the Admiral be surprised when I am wearing his own shirt?"
To their credit each, they both held their composure a second longer before both Harm and Matt burst into laughter along with Abbey and Mac. Sarah merely observed the Rabb family in silence, smiling along with their exchange of humor.
Still in good humor, they all sat down at the table. Mac explained that she had invited Sarah to join them for lunch. The lunch was quiet, full of family discussion and questions for their guest. After the meal ended and after the kitchen was cleaned up, Matt opted to go for a walk with Abbey as they both sensed that their parents needed to talk with Sarah alone.
As they sat down in the living room, Sarah produced an envelope from her purse, handing it to Mac. Mac took the envelope, looking carefully at the handwriting on the front. On the outside of the envelope, in Mic's handwriting Mac's name was written simply as "Sarah Rabb". Mac looked up at Sarah after a moment.
"I don't understand why you came all this way just to deliver this when you could have just mailed it from Australia," she said.
Sarah shrugged. "Maybe I wanted to see the face of the woman who my father loved for the rest of his life. Oh don't get me wrong, ma'am, I believe and I KNOW for a fact that he loved my mother but there was always a part of him that still loved you. I know this because I am your namesake."
Sarah left shortly afterwards, making it out of the door just as Matt and Abbey were returning from the walk. Matt stayed outside to talk to Sarah while his sister went on inside the house.
"I don't mean to be forward, but how long are you going to be in town?" Matt asked as soon as they were alone.
Sarah shrugged. "A few weeks. Why?"
"Oh I don't know, I thought maybe you'd like a guide for any sightseeing you'd like to do in this area," Matt smiled. "I'd be happy to show you around."
Sarah studied him for a moment. "All right if I agree to let you be my guide you have to promise to take me to all your favorite places in Washington DC and also you have to join me for one meal at one of the city's restaurants. Deal?" Matt nodded. "Good." She handed him a card. "Here's the number of the hotel I am staying at. Call me tomorrow morning so that we can get the sightseeing arranged."
Mac waited until that night when they were ready for bed before she opened the letter that Sarah had given her. With Harm's encouragement and support, she opened the letter from the man who had been her fiancée many, many years in the past.
I am sending you this letter after all these years to thank you for what my life became after we parted. First of all, I need to apologize for how abruptly I left your life, for how I refused to speak to you that night in the airport. I know I hurt you that night, Sarah, and for that I am sorry but there is something you must understand about my actions that night.
On the night I left, I was wounded my deeply than I ever thought possible. Inside I grieved for what I had lost, for the beautiful woman I knew I would always love despite the fact her heart was never really mine to begin with. Yes, Sarah, I did love you more than I ever thought was possible.
On the weeks leading up to my departure from your life, the reality that you loved Harm in the way I loved you hit me and it hit me hard, feeling like a tonne of steel had been laid on my heart. The revelation burned like fire, and yet I held out for as long as I could, hoping I would somehow win your heart .
On the night I left, I left because I was hurt and there was nothing left to be said between us. But Sarah, after I'd returned home and rejoined the Navy, I came to realize that in the long run your happiness meant more to me than my own happiness did. So I finished my grieving, wished you and that lucky bloke who had won your heart all the best in the world, and I got on with my life.
The reason I am writing you this letter after all this times is to thank you because about a year after I returned to Sydney, I met the woman who would later become my wife. She was everything I had hoped for, was everything I had dreamed of.
So again, Sarah, thank you, having you in my life shaped a part of me that later helped me to find my wife, the woman who I knew loved me in the way I loved her. I only hope you and Harm found the same happiness in each other that I found with Denyse.
Mac reread the words twice before she handed the letter to Harm. She watched his face as he read the words, and after he had read it at last twice, Harm handed her the letter with a shake of his head.
"I never thought that in a million years he'd thank either of us for what happened," he said, kissing Mac, "But he's right, I am one lucky bloke."
Mac smiled. "With everything that's happened to us over the last twenty-nine years, I wouldn't use the word 'lucky' actually."
Harm raised an eyebrow. "Oh and what word would you use then, Sarah Rabb?"
Mac wrapped her arms around him, laying her head on his shoulder. "I would use the word blessed, Harmon Rabb." She kissed him with that, and as they loved each that night as they had for twenty-nine years, Harm knew indeed that he was blessed. . .
Matt and Abbey were both on leave for the next week and a half, visiting with their parents and their friends. On a few nights before he was supposed to leave to return to active duty, Mac caught her son about to go out of the door dressed in a nice pair of blue jean shorts, a new Navy T-shirt, and sandals. He looked very nice but she knew he rarely wore shorts anymore, preferring to wear pants or dress slacks.
"Hey, Mom, tell Dad I said goodnight, would you please?" Matt asked, giving her a peek on the cheek as before heading off towards the doors.
"Going out with some friends tonight, Mattie?" she asked.
Matt grimaced at the use of his childhood nickname. "Uh yeah. We're going out on the Mall to see the fireworks there. Oh, gotta run or I'll be late. 'Night, mom. I love you."
With that her son was out the door, causing Mac to shake her head as she stared at the closed door. "I swear I almost think he was up to something he didn't want us to know about," she muttered. She shook her head and went to finish with dinner, thinking of how she hadn't heard about any fireworks at the Mall tonight.
"Get over it, Sarah. Matt is a grown man who happens to be a lieutenant in the Navy!"
The rest of the week passed and their children left again to return to their lives in the Navy and Marine Corps. Sarah Brumby returned to her home in Sydney and things returned to normal in everyone's lives. And then it was time for Christmas to roll around, bringing all Rabb children home for the holidays.
They were having a white Christmas this year, snow blanketing the entirety of the New England states so that everywhere you looked, from New York to Washington DC, the ground looked like one great white cold desert.
Harm stood out on the front porch watching the snowfall, sipping eggnog. Inside the house, a Christmas Eve party was in full swing. With all their children home each year, Harm and Mac traditionally gave a party each year as both a gift to their friend as a way to see them during the rest of the busy holiday season.
He'd been standing there for awhile when someone opened the door to come outside.
"Hi, AJ," Harm said.
AJ Roberts smiled at him as he walked up beside him. "Uncle Harm," Harm smiled, even after all these years AJ still called his godfather 'uncle'. "Aunt Sarah wants to know how long you're going to stand out here in the cold?"
"I don't know, AJ. Depends on when our son gets here. I'm starting to get worried," Harm admitted, downing the last bit of cold eggnog in his cup.
AJ smiled, looking very much like his father right then. "Well, Aunt Sarah asked me to tell you that Matt just called. They're on their way from the airport and they should be here in about 25 minutes."
AJ shrugged. "That's what she said he said."
Before Harm could reply, the door opened again, this time revealing AJ's wife. "AJ? What in the world are you doing out here in the freezing cold?" Melanie Andersen-Roberts carefully ventured out onto the porch, carrying a coat for her husband. Melanie was a petite woman, almost a foot shorter than her husband was. While she wasn't the tallest person in the world, she was one of those people who were larger than life in spirit and she really loved AJ and his family.
"Oh, Admiral, I didn't see you out here, sir!"
Harm sighed, smiling at her. Like AJ, Melanie was in the Navy, both officers serving in different branches of command but like AJ's parents they were both fortunate enough to serve under a CO who cared enough about them to keep them working closely together.
"How many times do I have to tell you, Melanie, that when you're out of uniform, it's just 'Harm' and not 'admiral' or 'sir'?" he asked.
"Sorry, sir," Melanie replied, giving a short laugh. Harm rolled his eyes as she spoke again. "Uh...Harm, aren't you cold?"
Before he could answer another person emerged from the warmth of the house. "AJ? Melanie?" Harriet's voice called out. She saw Harm. "Oh, sir, Mac is looking for you."
"Now don't you start siring me now, Harriet," Harm said in a mock irritated tone.
"Sorry, Harm," Harriet said, turning to her son and daughter-in-law. "I just came out to tell you both I think we'll have to leave shortly."
"Something wrong, Mom?" AJ asked.
Harriet nodded. "Don't be alarmed but Madison is a little sick."
"Oh my word! My baby!" Melanie said, and hurried back into the house.
AJ looked at his mother. "Is she with Dad?"
Harriet nodded. "She's okay, AJ, but I think we'll have to get her home soon."
Suddenly a new voice joined the mix. "AJ? Harriet? Are you out here?"
"It's getting crowded out here," Harm muttered. "Come on out here, Bud. They're here."
Bud stepped out into the cold and as he neared the little group it became obvious he was carrying a bundled up Madison in his arms. "She wanted her daddy," he explained.
AJ opened his arms. "Ah, sweetie, come here. Daddy's here." The little girl hugged her dad tightly as he wrapped her inside of his coat.
"My tummy hurts, Daddy," Madison moaned.
"I know, honey. We're going home in a little bit. Thanks, Dad," AJ said. "I better go find Mel and let her know I have Madison."
"I'll go tell her, AJ. I want to go say goodnight to Mac anyway," Harriet volunteered. She slipped back into the house, followed by Bud.
"Well, I'm going to go get Madison settled in the car. Goodnight, Uncle Harm," AJ said.
"Goodnight, AJ. Call us and let us know how Madison is tomorrow," Harm said, half hugging him.
"We will," AJ promised, stepped off of the porch, and turned to look at Harm. "Tell Matt I'm sorry we missed whatever his big announcement is."
"Will do." As he walked away, Harm replayed AJ's words in his head. "Wait a secondAJ, what 'big announcement'?" But AJ didn't hear him as he kept walking towards the car. Shaking his head, Harm decided that it was time he went inside and found out what his son had said exactly from his wife. Melanie, Harriet, Bud, and Mac met him at the door.
The Rabbs bided goodnight to their guests and Mac pulled him inside. "What's wrong, sailor?"
Harm shrugged, closing the door. "I'm don't know. I just had a sudden fear to hit me when I realized an hour ago that Matt was way overdue getting home tonight." He laughed. "I don't know what came over me, Sarah."
Mac hugged him. "It's all right. We all get a little scared sometimes." At that very moment the doorbell rang, and they turned to see someone opening the door. On the other side stood a flushed Matt holding the hand of
"Sarah Brumby!" Harm and Mac said together.
Minutes later, after exchanging hugs and talking quietly with his family, Matt called for everyone in the room to be quiet. He was disappointed when he didn't see the faces of his godparents, Bud and Harriet, the people he referred to as his aunt and uncle. Harm told him that AJ's three-year daughter, Madison had taken ill with a mild stomach ache and so the Roberts family had made their departure early.
"If I could have everyone's attention, please?" Matt has asked and immediately the crowd of friends halted their conversations in mid-sentence, turning expectantly to him.
Matt cleared his throat. "I just wanted to say that it's great to be home and it's great that so many of the people I've known and loved all of my life can be here for this announcement." Matt looked at the area where his parents were seated together on the couch, holding hands as they always were, surrounded by his three sisters Abbey, Lindsay, and Carin.
"I also want to thank my parents, Harmon and Sarah Rabb, for being the best parents someone could ever hope to have, and for showing me each day I was at home what true love for one's spouse means and they've also taught me what true family love is. Thank you."
"When did you get so long winded, Matt?" someone called out teasingly.
"Well he sure didn't get the quality from his father!" someone replied from the back of the room. Everyone laughed at that statement, especially those that had been colleagues of Harm and Mac's at JAG. Even Harm was forced to laugh because he knew it had taken him way too long to tell Mac exactly how he felt about her.
Matt waited until everyone had settled down before he started to speak again. "The announcement I wanted to make will come as a surprise to everyone as I didn't have the chance to tell anyone. During the last deployment of the SEA HAWK, we came to port in Australia several times." He paused reaching for Sarah's hand. "One day when we came to port at Sydney, I remember this beautiful young woman telling me to look her up whenever I might happened to make it to Sydney."
"Get to the point would you, Matt?" Carin called out to her big brother.
Matt smirked at his sister. "All right, since we have some very impatience people in this room! To make a long story short-"
"Too late on that, son!" Harm said.
Matt didn't let it phase him. "I met with Sarah again, we got to know each other, and-" he motioned to Sarah and she held up her hand, "We're engaged!"
All three of Matt's sister squealed with surprised and delight when they saw the diamond engagement ring on their future sister-in-law's hand. A round of congratulations were given from many friends before a stunned Harm and Mac could make their way over to the son to congratulate their son and future daughter-in-law. They had many questions for both Matt and Sarah but that would have to wait as the annual Rabb Christmas Eve Party because an impromptu celebration for their only son's engagement!
October 11, 2032
Matthew David Rabb stood grinning like the proud father he was at the scene before him. After his mother fed him and the nurse had changed his diaper the nurse laid down his new son in the incubator. Matt couldn't help but just stand there staring at his son, marveling at how tiny and fragile this new life that he and Sarah had created together really was.
"It's an amazing feeling, isn't it?"
Matt turned to his own father, tears in his eyes as he smiled. "Yeah, it is. Dad, I had no idea it would feel this way. All the important events in my life: my graduation from high school, Annapolis, the first time I flew off of an aircraft, even my wedding day. . . Well none of them compared anywhere to near the joy I felt when I held him for the first time in my arms. I cried for the first time since I was a kid," Matt paused. "Dad, he's hardly been in the world for a day, and yet I know I would do anything to protect him and I know that I love him with all my heart, with my very being."
"I know how you feel, Matt. I know," Harm said, laying a hand on Matt's shoulder.
Matt looked at his son. "Dad, you know how Sarah and I have had a hard time deciding on a name, right?"
"Well, we finally decided on one the moment our son slipped into the world," Matt paused. "Dad, if it's all right with you we want to call our son Harmon."
Harm didn't reply for a moment, too choked up with tears threatening to spill over from his eyes if he spoke. He looked back at the tiny baby sleeping peacefully and he nodded. "I'd be...honored, Matt, if you've both decided to call him Harm." A moment of silence passed between them before Harm turned away from his grandson. "What do you say we go visit with your wife and Mom and tell them the news that the newest member of the family is another Harmon Rabb?"
Matt grinned and nodded. "Come on, Dad."
Arm in arm, father and son left the nursery to rejoin the most important women of their lives. . .
The mother of their children and the love of their lives. . .