Admiral Chegwidden's House
Saturday, October 18, 2003
2138 Hours (local)
The party had been going well. There had been no fistfights, no tears, no shouting, no drunken behavior, and everyone seemed happy. Meredith and the Admiral were glowing. Meredith may have been a little flighty and strange, but she was full of personality and made the Admiral happy. Harriet had come with Bud, leaving the kids at home, but more than happy to tell stories of their two-month-old son, James Kirk, and little AJ. Mac and Jen had grown closer during the undercover operation and the two of them spent some time talking. But Harm and Mac hadn't exchanged a word. If this was noticed by anyone, no one said anything.
Mac had shown up wearing a pale purple sweater with long sleeves and a v-cut neck, and a black skirt that fell to just above her knees. A pair of black heels and a pearl necklace completed the outfit. She stepped out the front door for a breath of fresh air. As she was leaning against a post, she wasn't surprised to hear the door open behind her or hear Harm's familiar footsteps. "You look nice tonight," he said.
Without turning around, Mac responded, "So do you." He had shown up wearing a simple suit: black jacket, tie and pants, and a white shirt. She could close her eyes and the image of him was imprinted on the back of her eyelids.
He moved behind her and stood close to her. Mac could feel the warmth of his body. "How did we get to this, Mac?"
"I don't know," she responded sadly.
For a few minutes, they were both silent. "He seems happy in there," Harm stated simply.
"He does seem happy. They both do. And Bud and Harriet seem very happy."
"Harriet is glowing. I think she misses work, though."
"I don't think she minds staying home with the kids."
"No. She just seems happy."
"They deserve to be happy."
Harm was silent for a moment, carefully thinking about what he was going to say next. "So do we."
Mac turned around to face him. She saw the love reflected in his eyes. "Don't start this again, Harm. Please."
He shook his head. "I don't want to."
Mac looked away again. Just talking to him made her sad. Looking out over the yard she said, "I want to be happy, Harm."
"I want you to be happy, too, Mac."
"Then why is it so hard to find? I thought I knew what would make me happy, but now I'm not so sure."
"You aren't happy? At all?"
"Sometimes I am. I've got a good career, a nice place, good friends. I love what I do and the people I work with. I thought I was happy. But lately, the last few weeks, it just all seemed to fall apart."
Harm reached out and placed a hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry about all this. I'm sorry you've been drawn into the middle of it."
"Don't apologize, it's a sign of weakness."
Harm's grip on her shoulder tightened for a moment before he let go. He moved and sat down on the top step of the porch. "You always have a comeback for everything."
"I try," Mac smiled.
Harm was silent for a moment. "Funny how things change, isn't it? Remember the last time we were out on this porch?"
"My engagement party," Mac said softly, as she moved and sat down beside Harm.
"Yeah. That was an interesting night."
Harm turned to Mac with a question in his eyes.
"I never knew you saw me as a desirable woman."
"You never knew?"
Mac shook her head. "I always thought you just saw me as a Marine, a lawyer, a friend…"
Harm looked at Mac. "You couldn't have been more wrong, Mac. I've always thought you were a desirable woman."
"Always?" Mac asked, her voice unsure.
"Always. Still do."
Thinking back to the night a few weeks ago, Mac looked away, blushing.
"What?" Mac asked, turning back to him.
"Nothing," Harm said with a grin. This time, he was the one blushing.
Mac smiled. "Oh no, it's something, and you're going to tell me."
Harm chuckled again as he shook his head. He was giving in and he knew it. "A couple years ago, I guess it was back when you and Brumby were engaged, I think it was before your engagement party, well… I had hit my head in the Admiral's office pretty hard and things just weren't making sense."
Mac nodded. She remembered the day he was talking about. He had been acting kind of funny. "I remember."
Harm looked at her with a sheepish grin. "I kept seeing things. The visions lasted for a couple days. And they were… strange. They all concerned you," he said, losing his grin.
Mac was now very curious. "Me?"
"Yup. You showed up at work in an evening gown and I don't remember what else. But the day after it happened, I woke up in the morning and," he paused, swallowing hard. "I can't believe I'm going to tell you this," he chuckled again. "And you stepped out of my shower, wet and wearing only a towel. You came over to me and sat down with me on the bed and said something about wanting to pick up where we left off the previous night. We leaned in to kiss and you said my name, I said yours, you know how these things go." Harm looked down at his hands dangling between his knees. He hadn't thought about that particular vision in quite some time, but now that he was, it was coming back to him clearly.
"Oh, God," Mac groaned, smiling.
"Wait, it gets better. Just before we kiss, Renee asked me, 'Did you just call me Mac?'"
Mac burst out laughing. She was blushing and shaking her head, a smile on her lips. "What did you say?"
"I, of course, said I didn't, but I think she knew. I asked her why I would call her by your name. I knew the difference between the two of you. And then Renee asked me what those differences would be, other than that your…" he trailed for a moment, "boobs are bigger," he finished, quieter, looking away, blushing again.
Mac kept laughing, also blushing.
"Your turn," Harm said.
"I told you an embarrassing moment, you have to tell me one. And since mine was about you, yours has to be about me."
"I don't have any," Mac said, shaking her head. She was thinking of one, but she didn't want to tell Harm.
"You're lying," he stated simply.
"No, I'm not," she insisted.
"Your mouth is doing that turning up thing."
Mac glared at him, smiling anyway. He knew her too well. "Okay. I guess this was after my engagement party. I was preparing to give a lecture about a court-martial back in the 1800s. I kept having dreams about what happened. The case was about a Commander unlawfully killing three of his men for mutiny. In my dreams, the Commander was Mic and you were one of the men killed for mutiny. It was weird and I couldn't figure out what it meant."
"Did you ever?" Harm asked her seriously.
"Not really. But it made me think about things. In one part of my dreams, I was on the stand to testify about my husband, Mic. When the lawyer, who was the Admiral, asked me if I loved him, I said I didn't know. It just made me pause and think about what I was doing. The whole thing was weird."
"No, not really. Our dreams are frequently made up of things in our life. I've been known to dream about the characters in books before. And work. Sometimes things become tangled up and wind together in ways they normally wouldn't. Dreaming about your lecture and your own questions about your marriage makes complete sense. They were both weighing heavily on your mind."
"I guess so."
"But that wasn't really an embarrassing situation, Mac. Try again," Harm said with a grin, trying to lighten the mood.
"Okay," Mac sighed. She thought for a moment before going on, "A couple years ago, Chloe was staying with me for a few days. You came by to tell me something, I don't even remember what anymore, and when you left, Chloe insisted that I was in love with you. But she also said that you were in love with me, too. And when she started singing that children's song, you know the one, 'Harm and Mac, sitting in a tree…' I thought I was going to kill the girl!"
Harm was laughing. "She said that? That you were in love with me?"
"Was she right?"
Mac looked away, down at her feet. "Harm…"
"Never mind. We don't need to get into it tonight. This has been nice."
"It has been nice," Mac agreed.
"You remember that bet we made before the Jag-A-Thon?" Harm asked.
"Yes," Mac smiled.
"You put up a good run," he offered to her.
"Good run? I believe we tied."
"You had a head start."
"I would have been right with you anyway."
"Yeah, right," Harm scoffed.
"Okay, well, at least they didn't have to worry about me having a heart attack."
"I wasn't about to have a heart attack! And how did you know about that?"
"Harriet told me."
"I'll have to have a talk with her about that…"
Mac laughed. "Doesn't matter anyway. We both lost."
They both dissolved into a fit of laughter.
When Harm quit laughing, he said, "The last couple of years have been pretty good, haven't they?"
"Yeah," Mac responded, smiling. "Although, that teasing you did to 'give away' those tickets to the Super Bowl wasn't very nice."
"It was fun, though." Harm glanced at Mac. "For me," he grinned.
"And you never had any intention of taking anyone but Skates."
"I needed a RIO. Besides, I dumped her in the ocean and she jumped me to bring me back, the least I could do was take her to the game."
"I guess. It still wasn't a very nice thing to do. And it drove me and Sturgis crazy!"
"How about you and your visions driving Sturgis crazy? At least I don't try to solve cases with crazy ideas."
"Hey, those crazy ideas saved your life."
"Yes, they did. Thanks, by the way."
"Has it been worth it?"
"Compared to dying? You bet it was. I've enjoyed these last few years."
"Even when I was on the bench?"
"Even when you were on the bench. I got my turn, remember?"
"Yeah, sticking up for your pilot buddies," Mac remarked sarcastically.
"And that's why sitting on the bench isn't for me. But you got another chance."
"Sitting up there wasn't a whole lot of fun when you were traipsing through the snow in the mountains looking for the Admiral."
"From what I understand, you handled it well."
Mac snorted. "Yes, that's why everybody knew the latest news but me!"
"You know how that place is. Word gets around."
"But it's a good place to be."
Harm nodded. "It is. I'm glad the Admiral took me back, even if he gave me grief for it."
"I'm glad he took you back, too." Mac paused for a moment before asking, "What would you have done if he hadn't?"
"Apparently, I had a chance to work for the CIA."
"You, a spook?" Mac studied Harm, as if she were trying to imagine him as a spy. "Nah, I don't see it. Too much lying in the Agency. You're too honest."
"It may have worked, you never know."
"Thank goodness for that. If Clay's missions never go right, yours certainly wouldn't."
"And what's that supposed to mean?" Harm asked with a smile.
"Nothing. You're just impulsive. Every life is important to you and you'd risk yourself to save it. In the Agency, a human life is expendable."
"Don't I know it," Harm sighed. That's why he went after Mac, because the Agency wouldn't.
Mac was silent. She shivered in the cool evening air.
"Hey," Harm said, unbuttoning his jacket, "you're cold."
"Keep it. You'll be cold and I'll end up giving it back to you."
"Mac, take the jacket," he insisted, having pulled it off. She was right, though, it was chilly without it.
She shook her head. "We should probably go in anyway," she sighed.
Harm nodded, pulling the jacket back, but not putting it on. He was enjoying this time with Mac, where they were both on neutral ground, merely talking, not attacking. "How about that tribunal we did on the Seahawk?"
"That was interesting. I like to think that something good came out of it."
"We got some of the bad guys."
"Not all of them. They're still out there."
"We'll get them."
"Not soon enough," Mac said sadly. "What makes somebody hate so many people like that, just because they live a different lifestyle or believe something different?"
"I don't know, Mac. I don't think anybody does."
"Where does that hate come from?" She turned to Harm, her eyes on fire. "Where does that capacity for hate come from? Who causes it? What makes them hate so much that these people are willing to slam a plane into a building and kill themselves to kill thousands of innocent people? What makes someone shoot random people as they go about their lives?"
Harm just shook his head. He had asked himself the same questions a thousand times since September 11th and the sniper shootings, and he kept coming back to the same answer: he didn't know.
"I mean," Mac continued, "it's our differences that make us who we are and makes our world such an interesting place. I just don't get it," she finished weakly.
"You and me both."
Once again, they were silent as they watched a plane move slowly across the sky above the Admiral's front yard.
"Bud's doing good," Mac commented.
"Yes, he is. He's come a long way."
Harm let out a chuckle. "I remember when he first joined JAG. He was just a kid in law school, trying to find his way in life."
"I think he found it."
"I'm proud of him," Harm stated simply.
"Me, too," Mac agreed. "Especially since Afghanistan."
"Lesser men wouldn't have survived it like he has. He got up, learned to walk again, fought to stay in the Navy and at JAG. He lost his confidence for a while, but he got it back. He got lucky out there that the mine didn't kill him, but only took his leg."
"We got lucky out there, too," Mac reminded him.
"Thanks to you. And the movies."
"And you say TV's bad for you," Mac teased.
"It wasn't just the mine. We got lucky with no radiation poisoning and only minor injuries from the air strikes."
"We were lucky. A lot of people weren't so lucky out there." Mac paused for a moment and looked up at the stars above. "It was incredibly beautiful that night, under the stars, before the air strikes."
Harm turned to look at Mac. "It was. Too bad it didn't last."
Mac turned to look at Harm, an expression on her face close to regret. "What would have happened, if those planes hadn't dropped the bombs?"
Harm looked down, breaking the gaze. "I don't know, Mac." He looked back up at her and asked, "What did you want to happen?"
Mac smiled sweetly and shook her head softly. "I'm not going to get into it." She was silent for a moment as she gazed into the blue-green depths of Harm's eyes. "I liked it, though, before it all fell apart."
"So did I. I was sorry the planes came and we had to keep moving all night."
Mac nodded. "But hey, we made it out. Lived to see another day."
"Batman and Robin."
Mac laughed lightly, breaking the eye contact. She shivered again.
"Take the jacket, Mac."
She shook her head.
Harm sighed. "Stubborn Marine."
"And that's why you like me," she teased.
"There's a lot of reasons why I like you. Your stubbornness merely annoys me."
"We're even then, cause you are just as stubborn."
He looked down at his feet. "What time is it?"
"Local or Zulu?" she asked with a smile.
"Local will be fine," he answered, returning her smile.
"We should go in," Harm restated.
Neither one moved, and for a long time, they sat in silence. At one point, Sturgis opened the front door, looking for the pair. He spotted them, slightly leaning towards each other, Mac's head resting lightly on Harm's shoulder, and his head resting lightly on top of hers. Harm's hand rested gingerly on one of Mac's bare knees and one of her hands rested on one of his knees. Spread across their fronts, covering their hands, was Harm's jacket. Sturgis quietly shut the door, leaving the pair undisturbed.