La Jolla, California
Friday, May 21, 2004
1203 Hours (local)
Taking a deep breath, Harm stepped through the doors of his mom and Frank’s house, and immediately felt out of place. He almost wished he were back in the hospital. Almost. Even though he was now free, his life was nothing close to normal and he would be reminded of that every time he moved to pick something up, put something down, put on his clothes, feed himself, brush his teeth… The list went on. In a way, he was glad to be out of the hospital, free from the constant beeping of the heart monitor and the pitying looks of the nurses, but at least in the hospital he could pretend that things would be better once he got out. Now he was out, and he could no longer pretend that things would get better, because they wouldn’t.
Stepping around him, Frank picked up Harm’s bag and said, “I know it’s a change, but things will continue to improve. The doctors are very hopeful.”
Harm sighed heavily and replied, “I know. I don’t have to like it, though.”
“No,” Frank agreed. “But a positive attitude helps.”
“Isn’t that supposed to be mom’s line?” Harm asked bitterly.
Frank glared at his stepson, saying nothing.
“Sorry,” Harm apologized quickly. “I don’t mean to take it out on you guys. You don’t deserve it. Both of you have been great through this.”
Frank’s gaze softened as he spoke, “I know you don’t mean it. You have every right to be frustrated. I’ll try to keep that in mind.”
Smiling sheepishly, Harm said, “Thanks. I’ll try to keep it in check.” Glancing down, he noticed Frank holding his bag. “I’ll get it,” he said, glad to do anything on his own. Frank extended the bag towards him and it took Harm several attempts to finally move his hand in the correct place to grab the bag. Slightly embarrassed by his own handicap, Harm moved towards the stairs. “I think I’ll go upstairs and take a nap.”
Frank watched him go and when he was halfway up, he called, “Why don’t you give Mac a call? I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.”
Harm turned back and glanced at his stepfather. “I might.”
Watching him go, Frank couldn’t help but to feel sorry for him. He and Harm had never been close. Trish was not especially close to Harm, as they had drifted apart over the years, but she was closer to her son than he was. Frank knew part of that came from being a stepfather and he had accepted it a long time ago. But he did know Harm well enough to know that he wasn’t taking the latest turn of events in his life very well. The last time he was like this, after his ramp strike, he had only lost his wings, but this time it was possible that he had lost a whole lot more than just flying. Frank had no doubt that Harm would make it through this, he was a survivor, but the question was, what kind of a man would he become because of this? Turning away from the stairs, knowing that if Harm could read his thoughts, he would resent his pity, Frank headed into the kitchen. Trish would be home from her errands soon and they would probably have lunch together.
Upstairs, Harm went into his old bedroom, dropped his bag on the floor, and lied down gently on his stomach on the bed. He was tired, but he didn’t really want to stay in bed. He had spent enough time in the last month in a bed. What he really wanted to do was get back to his life, or what was left of it. Rolling over, he glanced at the phone on the bedside table. Maybe calling Mac would be a good idea. Glancing at the watch on his wrist, the one he had for years, he figured Mac would still be at work.
Harm sat up quickly, the motion making him dizzy, and reached for the phone. It took him a few tries to pick up the receiver. He attempted to dial the number that had become so familiar to him over the years several times before succeeding, and grew more excited with each ring of the phone. After the fourth ring, it was about to cut to voicemail and Harm was about to hang up, when she picked it up.
“Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie,” Mac answered automatically, her voice breathless.
“Hey, Mac,” Harm said nervously.
“Harm!” Mac practically yelled, her voice loud enough that he had to pull the phone away from his ear. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” he said, smiling slightly, happy to hear her voice. “I just got out of the hospital.”
“They released you? That’s wonderful!” Mac exclaimed as she took a seat at her desk. She had just gotten out of court, losing the case to Bud, and was heading to the break room to find some chocolate to soothe her temper, but a phone call from Harm was much better.
“I guess it is,” Harm sounded dejected.
“You don’t sound too happy about it,” Mac replied quietly.
“I should be, I guess, but…” he trailed off for a moment, “it isn’t my life.”
“You’ll make it back here in no time,” Mac encouraged.
“I guess,” Harm shrugged his shoulders, staring at the blank wall of his room. His mom had taken down his posters of Navy planes years ago, but she had never really redecorated the room. In some ways, the blank walls were worse then the reminders of his childhood, and the dreams that had been. “I just wanted to let you know I was out.”
“Are you really okay?” Mac asked, concerned.
“It will get better, Harm.”
“So the doctors tell me,” he grumbled.
“Have faith,” Mac insisted. “You’ve made it this far.”
Sighing heavily, Harm slid down on the bed, resting his head on his pillows. He really was tired now. “Hey, Mac, I’m really tired. I think I’m going to take a nap.”
“Okay, you do that. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Yeah. Bye,” Harm said quickly, hanging up the phone. He rolled onto his side and closed his eyes, trying hard to think of something other than what his life had been, but failing at the task.
Three time zones and a continent away, Mac sighed sadly as she hung up the phone. Harm was out of the hospital, which was definitely good, but he sounded depressed. Mac knew there was more going through his mind than he was letting in on, and from the sounds of things, they weren’t pleasant thoughts. Glancing down at the calendar on her desk, Mac noted the date and decided to talk to the Admiral. Maybe it was time she take a few days and spend a long weekend in La Jolla.
La Jolla, California
Friday, May 28, 2004
1743 Hours (local)
Mac stepped through the door at Trish and Frank’s house, looked around, and dropped her bags when she saw Harm lying on the couch.
Harm sat up straight and rose up off the couch. “Mac, you’re here.”
“Harm,” Mac said quietly as she moved across the floor. When they met, Harm wrapped his arms around her and she nuzzled her head into his chest, closing her eyes, feeling him breathe against her. “You look good. A lot better than the last time I saw you.”
“So do you,” he spoke into her hair.
Behind them, Frank picked Mac’s bags up off the floor and moved to take them upstairs. Harm and Mac were oblivious, completely wrapped up in each other.
Harm was still having trouble with some movements, but with work, he was also relearning how to do simple things, like writing. When he was released from the hospital, he was ordered to stay with his mom and Frank, relax, and return to the hospital once a week for a check-up and to test his movements. In the meantime, he was to continue writing and working with his fine motor control. Light exercise was also acceptable, as long as he had some one with him.
Harm released Mac and sank down onto the couch, his hand holding Mac’s. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said simply.
Mac sat beside him. “I’m glad to finally be here.”
“Can I get a greeting like that all the time?” he asked, smiling, his eyes twinkling.
Mac smiled in return. “We’ll have to see about that.”
Harm squeezed her hand and looked away. For several minutes, there was an awkward silence, until Trish entered the room and broke the spell. “Mac!” she said excitedly. “I thought I heard you come in.” She crossed across the room quickly.
Mac released Harm’s hand and got to her feet to be enveloped by Trish’s hug.
When Trish released her, she stepped back and looked closely at the younger woman. “I’m glad to see you.”
“I’m glad to see you, too,” Mac admitted.
Trish looked around the room and noticed that Mac’s bags were nowhere to be seen. “I guess Frank already took your things up,” she said distractedly. “I was waiting for you to get here before I started on some supper.” Moving away, she said, “I’m sure Harm will be happy to show you to your room.”
Mac turned to Harm, concern in her eyes, “Is that okay?”
“I am allowed to move around, Mac. It’s my brain that’s damaged, not the rest of me,” he answered, a hint of bitterness creeping into his tone.
“Sorry, I just…” she trailed off, not sure of what she wanted to say.
Harm shook his head and got to his feet, heading towards the stairs. “I know. Come on, I’ll show you up. I’m sure you want to freshen up after your flight.”
“Do I look that bad?” Mac asked with a grin on her face, trying to lighten the mood, as she followed him.
Harm turned around, also wearing a grin, “No, you don’t look bad at all. You never do.”
Blushing, Mac muttered, “Thanks.”
At the top of the stairs, Harm turned right down the hall and gestured to the door on the right. “Here’s your room. You have your own bathroom. My room is right here,” he said, nodding his head in the direction of the room across the hall, “and that is mom’s office,” he added, indicating the room with the closed door at the end of the hall. “There’s a bathroom, another bedroom, and my mom and Frank’s bedroom at the other end.”
“It’s a nice house,” Mac commented. The whole time she had been out there before, they had never returned to the house, choosing to stay as close to Harm as possible. She turned the corner into her bedroom and saw her bags at the foot of the bed. The walls were painted a sky blue, the curtains and the comforter on the bed were white, and the sheets matched the walls. Along the top of the room was a trim of clouds. The windows were open, and even though the room faced the front of the house, a fresh ocean breeze moved through the room.
Harm stood in the doorway, hesitant to follow Mac into the room. “I guess I’ll leave you alone. We’ll probably be outside on the back deck when you’re done. Just go back downstairs, turn right, go through the kitchen, and out the sliding doors.” He turned to go.
“Harm, wait,” Mac called.
Harm turned back to her.
“Come in here,” she said with a smile. “Talk to me while I get my stuff out,” she said as she lifted a bag onto the bed.
Harm entered the room cautiously and took a seat on the bed, watching Mac as she began digging through the bag. For all her Marine preparedness, her bag looked every bit as disorganized as her desk usually did.
“Are you okay?” she asked seriously.
“Yeah,” he said, his voice calm. “They wouldn’t have let me out of the hospital if I wasn’t.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Mac said, pausing in her search for her soap, raising her eyes and leveling her gaze at him. “Are you okay… with everything? I don’t mean us, but…” she trailed off.
Harm nodded weakly. “I have to be. Things won’t be the same, but it will be okay,” he said, his words sounding more sure than he really felt.
Mac resumed her search, pulling out her shampoo bottle and setting it next to her conditioner, which she had already located. “You’ll be back at JAG in a few weeks and things will be fine. You just have to have faith.”
“I don’t know, Mac,” he responded, turning away.
“Do you not want to come back to JAG?” Mac asked, suddenly concerned.
“It’s not me I’m worried about,” Harm said, quickly spotting the bottle of soap and reaching in to pull it out, dragging with it a pair of light pink string bikini underwear. He handed the bottle of soap, and the underwear, to Mac.
“Thanks,” Mac said, accepting the proffered items. Pulling the underwear off, she tossed it down on top of the items she already had out. “I needed those, too, but it is kind of scary how you knew that,” she said, grinning.
“Well, I didn’t picture pink as your color…” Harm trailed off, grinning, trying hard not to picture her in nothing but the underwear. At least that part of him still seemed to be functioning normally.
“So, what are you worried about?” Mac asked, returning to the subject at hand, continuing to dig through the bag for her comb and brush.
“It’s whether I’m wanted back at JAG or not that I’m worried about.”
“Why wouldn’t we want you back at JAG?” Mac asked as she pulled her brush and comb out. “We all miss you.”
“It isn’t you guys. I miss all of you, too, but it’s the Navy.”
Setting the bag down on the floor, Mac took a seat on the bed next to him, suddenly catching his drift.
“With Bud there, we already have one person with a… limitation, why would the Navy be inclined to keep me?”
“Why wouldn’t they?” Mac asked, incredulous to the fact that Harm was even having these doubts. “You are an incredible lawyer. You work hard and you are good at what you do. You work to find the truth, and it isn’t always about winning and losing to you. Sure, you sometimes have your ‘loose cannon’ moments, but that’s what makes you so good.”
“Thanks, Mac,” Harm said, without a smile. “And if they did want me back, what are the odds they would want to station two of us with limitations at Headquarters? And I couldn’t push Bud out, even if that’s what I had to do to stay in.”
Mac shook her head. “It isn’t going to be a problem, Harm. You can still be a lawyer. I’m sure you are just as sharp as you were before the accident. At this point, the only thing the doctors expect you to have any trouble with is perhaps driving. And you won’t be able to fly, but the Navy isn’t going to care.”
Harm turned to Mac, a hurt expression on his face.
Realizing what she said and how it sounded, Mac quickly recovered, “I didn’t mean it like that. They have obviously lost an incredible pilot. And I know how much flying meant to you and I’m sorry that this has happened, but at least you’re alive. Even if you can’t fly planes for them, I’m sure they will still want you as a lawyer. You don’t need wings to do that.”
Harm rose off the bed and started for the door.
“Harm, I just…” Mac began and sighed heavily. Since his accident, she was very unsure of what to say to him. “I didn’t mean to make you angry.”
“You didn’t,” Harm responded quickly, looking down at his feet. “I know you’re right. I also know that my days of flying for the Navy were limited anyway. But it has been taken away from me, again. It wasn’t my choice and I can’t get it back this time. And it isn’t just not flying for the Navy, but I’ve also lost my ability to fly Sarah.”
"You don’t know that. Flying her isn’t like flying a Tomcat.”
“No, it isn’t, but who in their right mind is going to allow me to keep my pilot’s license when I have brain damage?” he asked disdainfully, his gaze meeting hers.
Mac knew he was right, but she didn’t like Harm’s depressed mood and his negative attitude. She knew it wasn’t doing any good for the healing process. “You don’t know that it's permanent.”
“It probably is. The chance for any improvements is slim. Reality is, Mac, this may be the best I get, and I’ve been lucky to get it. I know I should be grateful for my life, but it is a lot easier said than done.”
Looking at the floor, Mac spoke quietly, “Just don’t give up, Harm.”
“I haven’t yet.”
Suddenly, looking back up at Harm, her eyes shining with happiness and a broad smile on her lips, she said, “You know what? If things don’t work out and you can’t fly Sarah again,” she started, feeling weird for using her given name, “I’ll take you up.”
Harm chuckled lightly, “Thanks for the offer, but you don’t know how to fly, so I think I’d be safer on the ground.”
“I’ll learn,” Mac countered.
Harm continued chuckling. “I’m glad you’re here. I need your sense of humor. Go take a shower. I’ll see you in a few minutes,” he said as he stepped out of the room, pulling the door shut behind him, thinking he needed more than just her sense of humor, he needed her.
"I wasn’t kidding,” Mac whispered behind him.