Falls Church, Virginia
Thursday, September 18, 2003
1046 Hours (local)
"Commander Rabb," Harm said as he answered the phone.
"Commander, this is Detective West."
"Detective, I wasn't expecting to hear from you. And please, call me Harm."
"Okay, Harm. Call me Denise."
"Well, Denise, to what to I owe the pleasure of your call this morning?"
"I have Seaman Johnson's autopsy report."
"Anything interesting in it?"
"Nothing remarkable. No drugs, some alcohol, she was killed by the knife wound on her throat. She bled to death."
"Ugh… That's not pleasant."
"No. It was probably a pretty slow death, too. Her larynx was cut through. She couldn't make a sound."
"That's horrible," Harm said, sighing heavily. That was a terrible way to go. "I've taken a look at her military record and in her brief career she has received excellent remarks."
"And Seaman Ellis?"
"Same thing. Ellis also had a clean record."
On the other end of the line, Denise sighed. "Harm, do you honestly think these two murders are related?"
"I think it is too much of a coincidence to not be related. Have any other murders similar to this occurred in other clubs in the area in recent months?"
"Aside from the normal threats and fights, nothing."
Harm echoed Denise's previous sigh. "So, I guess basically, we don't have much to go on?"
"No. The murders were four months apart, the only apparent relationship between the two is that both women were in the Navy and tended to go towards this lifestyle. The bouncers at the club don't take names; they only remember the regulars. There were no witnesses at either murder and we have no suspects. There's not a lot to go on."
"Don't sound so defeated," Harm teased.
"Oh, I'm not out of this one yet."
"That's the attitude," Harm encouraged in a teasing tone. "Have you spoken to the Colonel yet?"
"No, I called you first."
"She's in court right now. She'll probably be there most of the day. I'll give her an update when I see her."
"And the autopsy report?"
"Can you fax it to me?"
"Yes, I can, but don't you need an original copy for your file?"
"It is preferred…" Harm trailed off.
"I've also got a copy of the tape recorded during the autopsy for you."
"You can't fax that."
"Not unless they just changed the way the machines work."
"Can I come up and get it later today?"
"Sure. About what time can I expect you?"
Harm thought for a moment. "How late do you work?"
"Sometimes all night."
"I'll be by around six. You're on my way home."
"Sounds good. I'll be here."
"I'll see you there," Harm said with a smile he knew she couldn't see.
He couldn't see the smile she had on her end of the phone either. "I'll see you later then, Harm."
Olde Towne Grille
Thursday, September 18, 2003
2037 Hours (local)
"So, tell me what you think about this idea, Harm," Denise began.
"Okay," Harm said. He had met Denise at her office and she had given him an official copy of the autopsy report. They had looked over the report and discussed the case before listening to the tape. There wasn't much more on the tape than there was on the paper. Afterwards, they had decided to go out and grab a bite to eat before parting ways. They had shared a few drinks and a meal as they had gotten to know each other. Denise had grown up in the area and had always loved helping people, so after college, she decided to join the police force. She had a knack for figuring things out, paying attention to the details, so she took some courses and became a detective on the force. Harm had told her about his duties at JAG and some of his adventures.
"Well, neither of us has really been to a place like Catacombs before. We've heard and read the descriptions of it, but I know that sometimes you have to actually be there to understand it. So, I was thinking that on Saturday, we go in and check it out. We can try and blend in as much as possible for us old folks, but just check it out and get a feel for it."
Harm pondered it for a moment. She had a point. They had looked at the crime scene and heard descriptions of the place, but they really didn't know what it was like. "You've thought a lot about this, haven't you?"
"The idea popped in my head back at the Station, so I've been thinking about it while I was listening to you babble on," she said with a grin, teasing him.
"I see…" Harm responded with a grin as well. "You don't care at all about what I have to say."
"Nope," Denise said, her grin widening.
"Well, in that case, does it matter whether or not I agree with you?"
"Not really, since I've already decided that you'll be coming with me."
"Okay. I'll ask Mac about it tomorrow."
"No, don't," Denise said, suddenly serious.
"Why not? She's a part of this investigation."
Denise sighed and leaned back slightly in her seat. "Yeah, she is, but we would be less conspicuous if we went as a couple as opposed to a threesome."
Harm didn't like leaving Mac out. She was as much a part of this investigation as he was. And she would get angry if he shut her out and that's the last thing he wanted: a pissed off Marine. "I can't just shut her out. I have to give her the chance."
"We can tell her that it was a spur of the moment decision."
"A spur of the moment decision?"
"Yeah. I call you Saturday night, looking for something to do, we agree to go check out this club, see what its like, and include the information in the investigation."
"And after you call me and make these plans, how am I supposed to not call Mac?"
"It slips your mind, you thought she might have had plans, you couldn't get a hold of her…" Denise trailed off.
"It wouldn't work. Mac knows I wouldn't just forget about her on an investigation, I know she probably won't have plans, and I can always get in touch with her."
"Okay…" Denise trailed off again, thinking. "I guess you could just ask her, but tell her that a group of two would look more natural and balanced than a group of three," she said, giving up on not telling Mac. It was obvious that Harm wasn't going to go behind her back.
Harm sighed. He really didn't want to push Mac out of this, but Denise seemed determined to get him to go. "I'll talk to her."
Falls Church, Virginia
Friday, September 19, 2003
1523 Hours (local)
"Hey, Mac," Harm said as he knocked lightly on her doorframe.
"Hey," she said, smiling brightly.
"You got a minute?"
Mac's smile faded slightly as she responded, "Yeah. Come on in."
Harm entered her office and took a seat in a chair opposite her desk. He had updated Mac on the murder case earlier that morning, but he hadn't mentioned Denise's plan. "Are you doing anything tomorrow night?"
Mac studied him carefully, unsure of what to make of his question. "No. Why?"
Harm winced internally. It shouldn't be this hard. "Well, Denise and I were talking last night-"
Mac interrupted him. "Who's Denise?"
"Sorry, Detective West. She and I were talking last night and we decided that since we don't have much to go on in the murder case, that we would check the club out ourselves while it was in action."
"You mean go in undercover?"
"Basically. And we thought we'd do that tomorrow night."
"Without discussing it with me?" Mac sighed.
"That's what I am doing. I mean, Denise and I are going to go and the question was whether or not you would join us."
Mac regarded Harm for a moment before answering. "You know what, since I wasn't included in this discussion, nor have I been included in a lot of this investigation, just go. I'm not sure I want to be included in this part, either," Mac said, irritated, as she returned to the case file in front of her.
"Mac, I didn't want to exclude you. I'm informing you now and asking if you want to join us."
Mac looked back up at him. "You didn't tell me this morning when you updated me. You didn't inform me last night that you were stopping by to see Detective West, oh, sorry, Denise, I haven't been given any information first-hand and I have to work in order to look at it. I don't really think I'm wanted tomorrow night."
"That's not true," Harm insisted.
"Go, Harm, have fun and I hope you learn a lot."
"Mac, come with us," Harm said. He didn't want her to be mad at him.
Suddenly Mac smiled. "Come to think of it, Harm, I do have plans tomorrow night."
"You do?" Harm was puzzled.
"Yeah. I have a date with a good book, my bathtub, and my bed. I'm really looking forward to it, so I'd hate to change my plans. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm trying to work here." Mac looked back down at the case in front of her. She began reading where she left off, making small notes to herself on a legal pad.
Harm knew he had been dismissed, so he rose to his feet and walked out of Mac's office, his heart heavy with guilt.
Saturday, September 20, 2003
2017 Hours (local)
Mac sighed as the phone rang. She knew it was Harm. He would be the only person able to time it so that he called right after she got settled in the bathtub, bubbles up to her neck and book in her hand. She dropped her book on the floor and rose out of the tub. Normally, she wouldn't answer it, but she was feeling generous. Wrapping her towel around herself, she padded out of the bathroom and into the bedroom. Grabbing the portable off the nightstand, she answered, "MacKenzie."
She was right; it was Harm. "Hey, Harm."
"Did I interrupt you?"
"I just got into the tub."
"Oh. I didn't mean to."
"I know. So, what's up?"
"I just wanted to ask you if you wanted to come with Denise and I tonight."
"We went over this yesterday, Harm. I'm not interested."
"Yes. Besides, I'd feel like a fifth wheel."
Mac rolled her eyes. Away from the office and Harm's face, it was easier to say things. "Because I think Detective West is only interested in having you out tonight. I think she just wants to get you alone, without me."
"What makes you think that?"
"Please, Harm, don't act like you don't know. She was interested in you when we met. She spent more time talking to you, she gave all the information over to you, she called you, she wanted you to come pick the information up, and she invited you out to dinner. I don't think she's looked at me since we shook hands."
"I'm sure that's not true," Harm insisted.
"Yeah, you go on believing that," Mac scoffed. "You are always oblivious to these things."
"Where is this coming from, Mac?"
"Never mind. It's just what I think. Don't mind me."
"No, I want to know what you think. And I want you to come with us tonight."
Mac shook her head and smiled sadly into the phone. "I don't think so, Harm. I wouldn't be comfortable. You go, have a good time, and tell me about it on Monday."
Harm sighed. "Okay, Mac. I just wanted to give you a chance. Call me if you change your mind, okay?"
"I won't change my mind. But, thank you."
"You take it easy tonight."
"You, too." Mac paused for a moment before she continued. "Hey, Harm?"
"Be careful, okay?"
"I will. I'll see you Monday."
"See you Monday," Mac echoed as she hung up the phone. She walked back into the bathroom and climbed back into the tub. The water was still warm, but she would probably have to refresh it in a little while.