Catacombs of the Heart
Part Twelve

1           2           3           4           5           6           7           8           9           10           11           12           13           14           15           16           17          

18           19           20           21          


Mac's Apartment
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
2135 Hours (local)

He wouldn't go away. Couldn't the man take a hint? She wasn't answering the door because she didn't want to talk to him. She had told him that at work. She wasn't ready to deal with Harm, with the pain he had caused her. Perhaps if she ignored it long enough, it would go away. Although, apparently, he wasn't just going to go away. He was still knocking, almost pounding at her door, calling her name through the woodwork.

Finally, Mac got up off the couch and stormed over to the door. She yanked it open and said, "Yes?"

Harm's fist was still in the air, poised to knock again. He was startled by the open door. For a moment, he said nothing. "I want to talk, Mac."

"Well, I don't, so go home." She turned to close the door, but Harm stopped her.

"Please, Mac," he said, almost begging.

Mac relented and backed up, allowing him to enter.

He entered the room and stopped in the middle, suddenly unsure of what to say.

Mac closed the door and returned to the couch, shutting off the TV and focusing her gaze on Harm.

Standing in the center of the room, he noticed the missing picture of the two of them in Afghanistan on her mantel. "What happened to the picture?" he asked.

"It broke."

"Oh." The same picture that he kept beside his bed had broken a few weeks ago.

"So, what did you want to say?"

Harm turned to her for a moment before he started pacing the room. "I don't know how to say this, Mac. Somehow, things just spiraled out of control. What happened with Denise, it wasn't supposed to happen."

"But it did."

"Yes, it did. I didn't go out with Denise seeking to… well, to have sex with her." He decided to be brutally honest with this. "And I don't think that was her intent. But something happened. I don't really know how to explain it, the atmosphere of the club, but it got to us. It started out as just a touch, then a little kiss, and then… one thing led to another."

"You took her home."

"Yes. It was like I quit thinking, my mind shut off. I didn't even think about taking her back to her place. And I didn't know that she was married. If I had, I never would have slept with her."

"What about her husband? Where was he?"

"I don't know. He wasn't there when I went to pick her up to go to the club. She never mentioned him. But I never meant for it to happen. I'm not even quite sure how, or why, it happened."

Mac shook her head angrily.

He paused for a moment in both his talking and his pacing and once again, turned his gaze to Mac. "How come you didn't tell me you went to the club that night?

"Why should I? I didn't stay very long; just long enough to see you and her swapping bodily fluid in the corner like two horny teenagers. And what business is it of mine who you sleep with? So, I didn't tell you," she finished weakly.

"But you knew about it. That's why you backed away… that night… at my apartment?" he asked, not sure if he really wanted to know or not.

Mac only nodded.

Harm's heart felt heavy, swollen with guilt. "I wish you had said something, Mac. We could have straightened this out sooner." Harm paused for a moment, thinking. He thought he knew what he had wanted to say to Mac when he arrived, but it was slowly slipping away from him.

"It wouldn't have mattered, Harm. It wouldn't change anything. You still slept with her."

"And why does it bug you so much that I slept with her?" He was trying to keep the confusion and frustration out of his voice, but it was a losing battle.

Mac sighed. She was getting angrier by the second. "It isn't so much that you slept with her. It does piss me off, but you can't even tell me that she was a beautiful woman and you were attracted to her! You can't admit to being a man and just wanting sex! You have to blame it on the club, your brain shutting down, anything, but you can't take responsibility for it!" Mac had risen to her feet and begun pacing in the middle of her tirade.

Harm watched her as she moved across the carpet, growing every bit as angry as she was. "You want me to take responsibility for it? Okay, I had sex with her! She is an attractive woman and it has been a long time, so I did want sex! Okay? Is that what you want to hear?" He was practically yelling by this point.

Mac stopped her pacing and glared at him. "And if she wasn't married? Would it have been a one night stand or would she be waiting for you now back at your place?"

"This marriage thing bugs you, doesn't it?" he asked.

"Yes, it does. I always though you were above sleeping with married women, too much of a Boy Scout."

"I didn't know she was married. And aren't you being hypocritical? What about Farrow and Dalton? You were married at the time! And how many other men did you sleep with while you were married to Chris?" Harm asked angrily.

Mac's mouth dropped open. How dare he have the nerve to ask such a question? What business was it of his to know how many men she had slept with? Before she had the chance to answer, he cut her off.

"I don't care! You aren't a saint, Mac, so you have no right to judge me for making a mistake. And you want to talk about marriage? What about Brumby? Would you have stayed faithful to him? Or would you have spread your legs for the first man that came along? What about Chegwidden? You ever sleep with him since, based on Farrow, you like to sleep with your superior officers?"

She wasn't even going to dignify that with an answer. "Are you calling me a slut?" Mac asked, incredulous.

"Are you? Would you have done it Mac, cheated on Brumby?"

"No! It was different with Mic. He wasn't Chris."

"What about me, Mac? What about me?" Harm asked angrily, his eyes narrowed, pointing to himself in his chest with his index finger. "If I had come to you and offered to have sex with you, would you have cheated on Brumby then?"

"No," Mac responded, her voice calm and level, even though she wasn't convinced of her answer. "And why are you asking me this? What does it matter?"

Harm started pacing again. "I'll get to my point, Counselor. So, you wouldn't have strayed from Brumby, not even with me?"

"I told you I wouldn't. I loved him. It wasn't like it was with Chris."

"Then what about your engagement party? What if I had come to you that night, after you sent Brumby home? Would you have done it then?"

"No," Mac said, shaking her head.

"Ha!" Harm said, laughing loudly. "I find that hard to believe! Considering that you were kissing me on the Admiral's porch."

"It was a kiss goodbye. You're the one that followed me, continued it."

"You didn't back away. I seem to remember you kissing me back. I can still remember the way you tasted, the way you smelled, the way your tongue felt inside my mouth, the way mine felt inside yours, the softness of your skin under my jacket. I remember it all, Mac. It has been burned into my brain forever. And I seem to remember inside, after the kiss, you stood closer to me than your own fiancé. I noticed it and Renee noticed it. She asked me later what went on out there. She knew something happened, just by the way we stood inside."

"And what about Renee? As you just pointed out, you were kissing me. She was inside waiting for you. You weren't very loyal yourself!" Mac was now on the defensive.

"I wasn't engaged to her. But do you get it, Mac? You have no room to judge me for sleeping with a married woman! A woman who I honestly didn't know was married!"

"I wasn't judging you, Harm!"

"It sure felt like you were!"

"I wasn't," she said quieter. She took a deep, calming breath and turned away from him. The situation was rapidly getting out of control.

Harm seemed to sense this as he backed up a few steps and also took a deep breath. "If you weren't judging me, than why are you so upset?" he asked in a calmer tone.

Mac kept her back to him. "Because you had sex with her."

Harm didn't know what to say.

"I don't have any right to know who you sleep with. I don't need to know your sex life. It isn't my business. You don't need to know my mine. But, seeing it, practically flaunted in my face…" she trailed off as she turned around to face him, tears burning a path down her cheeks.

"That's why I didn't want you to know," he said softly, as he took a step closer to her. He hated to see her cry.

"And what kind of a relationship would that build, Harm? You would always have that lie hanging over your head."

"Is that what you want? A relationship?"

"I did. And I thought we were working towards it. I thought you wanted it, too."

"I did, Mac. I still do. What happened with Denise, it shouldn't have happened. I regret that it happened, for so many reasons. I wish I could take it back, undo the whole night, but I can't. But I still want that, a relationship, with you."

Mac shook her head. "I can't, Harm."

"Why?" he asked.

Mac looked away, down at her feet. "There's nothing left, Harm. This went too deep. And it isn't because she's married. I know I'm no saint, I accepted that a long time ago. I thought you had, too. I didn't think you'd ever bring it up to hurt me."

"I'm sorry about that."

Mac shook her head again and looked back up at Harm. "But don't you see? You were willing to lie to me. You want a relationship, but you slept with another woman. Had we been in a relationship, would you have stayed faithful?"

She had a point. He had been willing to lie to her. It was one thing to lie for her, but another thing to lie to her.

"At my engagement party, I asked you how long I was supposed to wait. You said, 'As long as it takes.' I did, Harm. I've been waiting. And you went to another woman. That is what is tearing me up. That is why seeing you, knowing you were with Denise, hurt so bad."

"And what about Webb? In Paraguay? You kissed him. How was I supposed to interpret that? You kiss him goodbye, but I don't even get a thank you?"

Mac sighed. "Clay was dying. I wasn't sure he would live. I wanted to give him something to hold on to. And we got very close down there. He is the only one that knows what it was like to go through that. It was a kiss goodbye. I tried that with you, once, but it got out of hand. Besides, you weren't supposed to see it."

"So, you were willing to lie to me as well?"

"I guess so," Mac said, once again looking at her feet.

"Did you lie about Brumby, too?" Harm asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Did you really love him?"

"Yeah," she paused. "Enough to marry him."

"Then why didn't you go after him?"

"I did. I went to the airport. He knew I was there. He got on the plane anyway."

"Why didn't you follow him?"

"What was I supposed to do, Harm? Run screaming through the airport after him? It was bad enough I was running and crying. I was attracting enough attention. If I tried something like that now, I'd probably get shot."

"You could have bought a ticket, taken another flight. If I loved a woman enough to marry her, I'd fly anywhere in the world to bring her back," Harm said, looking Mac in the eye.

Mac looked away, thinking about Paraguay. She couldn't take the intensity of his gaze. "Did you want me to go after him?"

"This isn't about me."

"Yes it is. That's why he left. Because I went to you. And I'm willing to bet that he knew that when I left the airport that I went back to you."

"And why did you come to me?"

"Because you were my best friend. I needed one right then. You were there. Until Renee showed up…" Mac turned away.

"Her father died, Mac. I had to be there for her."

"I know. I don't begrudge you for that. But I was lonely, and I was hurt. I had no one else to go to."

Harm was silent. Once again, he didn't know what to say.

Mac turned away from him, also unsure of what to say. She took a seat on the couch and placed her head in her hands.

"So, where does this leave us?" Harm asked.

"I don't know."

"At the beginning?"

"We tried that once and look where it got us."

"Can I ask you something?" Harm asked suddenly.

"Haven't you been asking questions since you got here?"

"Why Webb? After Paraguay?"

"Why bring this up, Harm? Haven't we done enough damage already?" She looked up at him with fresh tears in her eyes.

"I want to know. I gave up everything for you, the Navy, my career, I was willing to give up my life to get you back, and you went to Webb. Why?"

"He was there. He knew what it was like to go through what we had been through. He didn't just say he was willing to die for me, he almost went through with it. He was hanging by a thread when you and Gunny showed up. He gave me attention. He wasn't afraid to say how he felt or what he wanted. I knew where I stood with him. And he wasn't going to run from a relationship with me."

Harm sighed and paced a few steps. "I gave up everything and I didn't get a thank you. I saved both Webb and yourself, and you never said thanks. What did I do it for? Why did I suffer for a few months with the Admiral's wrath for leaving, again, when I was just a few hours shy of officially being a civilian? I did it for you, Mac."

"I know."

"Then…" Harm stopped to look at her. She looked like a broken woman who had lost everything.

"I never thanked you for that?"


"Thank you."

"How come it took so long for that?"

Mac looked up at him. "I don't know."

"I felt like you resented me for doing it for a while."

"I guess I did."

"But…" Harm trailed off.

"When I was down there with Clay, he treated me so well. Better than Mic, who was a bit controlling, and Dalton, who didn't respect me. I wasn't sure of what I was feeling. And then you come in, the knight in shining armor, and saved all of our asses. I was on a mission, I'm a Marine, and I still needed you to tidy things up. I failed in what I was supposed to be doing. Sure, I had my life, but I was a failure."

"Don't look at it like that, Mac. You know how Webb's missions go."

"And knowing that, I went willingly with him. I knew how dangerous it was, but I went anyway. I thought I could do it and I couldn't. I guess that tells you something about my judgment."

"We all make mistakes."

Mac nodded.

"Hell, I made one when I left to return to flying."

"At least that didn't almost get you killed and nearly cost your best friend his career."

"No, but it nearly cost me my best friend."

Mac looked up at him, her eyes expressing a curiosity.

"I came back and you were completely indifferent to me. You had moved on. Brumby had taken my place. I wanted my best friend back, but I didn't know how to do that."

"You can't expect life to stand still and wait for you."

"I didn't. I just thought that we were still friends. I guess I should have realized that that wasn't really the case when you got promoted and you didn't tell me."

"I didn't know how."

"Easy. You could have said, 'Guess what, Harm? I got promoted!' I would have been happy for you."

"I didn't want to make you feel bad."

"I wouldn't have. It was my choice to leave and miss that opportunity. What made me feel bad was coming back and feeling like my best friend had left me. And to see someone else in my place."

"He wasn't in your place, Harm. You're the one who walked away."

"I felt like he was. And then you and him started your relationship…" he trailed off again.

"We didn't seem to be going anywhere. Especially after we went to Australia."

"You didn't really give me a chance."

"I didn't give you a chance?" Mac scoffed. "What do you think that was in Sydney Harbor?" she asked angrily.

"I didn't know. I still don't what that was. You blindsided me. It was a total change of character for you," Harm defended himself. "And how was I supposed to feel when you accepted Brumby's ring the next day?"

"You were supposed to realize that you could lose me!"

"So you took it to make me jealous?"

"Yes. No. I took it because he was willing to give it. He was willing to make a commitment to me. A commitment that you obviously couldn't. Still can't. It took a fake wedding for a dying woman for you to realize what commitment really is! And it wasn't real! How can you learn about commitment from something so… false?"

"It was still pretty scary to say those words! Even if I didn't mean them."

"Then you still don't know what commitment is."

"And you do? How did your marriage turn out? And what about your last engagement?"

Mac rose up off the couch and threw her arms up in the air. "We're done! We're running in circles!" She walked past Harm towards the bedroom.

Harm watched her go.

A minute later she returned. "You haven't left yet?"

"Why would I leave?"

"Because that's what you do. You run away if you don't want to deal with it."

"And you don't?"

"Just get out!"

Harm strode across the room to the door. As he reached out to open it, he turned back to Mac. "Now who is running away?" He quickly stepped into the hallway and slammed the door shut behind him. A moment later he heard Mac's scream of frustration and a soft thump on the door, like she had thrown something. "We aren't finished with this, yet, Mac!" he yelled through the door before he turned and left.



Back to Stories
Back to Home