Monday, July 28th, 2003
1604 Hours (local)
Mac dialed the familiar number and waited for the voice on the other end. She wasn't sure of what she was going to tell him or how he would react after her display at the office that afternoon, but she had to say something. He deserved that much.
"Admiral Chegwidden's office," Tiner answered.
"Tiner, it's Colonel MacKenzie. Is the Admiral available?"
"He sure is. Hold on just a moment, Ma'am," he said before he transferred the call through.
The Admiral picked up the phone halfway through the first ring. "Colonel!" he bellowed.
"Sir, I just wanted to apologize for my behavior this afternoon and let you know that I won't be in for the remainder of the day."
"I expected as much," the Admiral said to her. She heard him say something else, but it wasn't directed towards her and his voice was softer. "Tiner, get the door." This was followed by the sound of his office door being shut. His tone of voice still soft, the Admiral returned to Mac. "Do you want to tell me just what happened to set this off?"
"Respectfully, no, Sir. It's just…" she trailed off, unsure of how to continue. "It's just something that has come up between Commander Rabb and myself."
"I figured as much," the Admiral admitted.
"Admiral, Sir, I know that what took place today was totally inappropriate for the office and I apologize for my behavior. It will not happen again."
"Apology accepted. I've turned over your part of the Marshall case to Commander Turner."
"I think that's best for the moment," Mac agreed with his decision.
"Given recent events, I felt it was as well. Take the rest of the day and do what ever you need to do. Do you need tomorrow, too?" he offered.
"No!" Mac practically shouted through the phone line. "I mean, no, Sir, I do appreciate the offer, but I will be in tomorrow."
The Admiral had jumped at the ferocity of Mac's initial refusal, but he recovered quickly. "Very well."
"Thank you, Sir."
"Mac," the Admiral began, talking to her now as a friend, not a superior officer, "are you going to be okay?"
"I'll be fine," she said. She didn't believe it herself, and from the Admiral's response, she didn't think he believed her either.
"Get some rest tonight, Mac. You look exhausted. And if there is anything I can do for you, let me know."
"Thank you, Sir."
"I will see you here tomorrow, then," the Admiral concluded.
"Yes, Sir," Mac said as she hung up the phone.
The Admiral put the phone to rest in its cradle and pinched the bridge of his nose. His two best attorneys were going at each other's throats and neither one would explain why. And judging from the sound of their argument this afternoon, it wasn't work related. For two grown adults, sometimes they could act like a bunch of children.
By the time Mac hung the phone up, the tears were welling in her eyes again. Damn Harmon Rabb! He had not only broken her heart, but he had made her a mess at work and she had probably lost a lot of respect this afternoon. Marines weren't supposed to lose control like that. Marines weren't supposed to cry!
But what about a woman with a broken heart?
Mac curled into a small ball and let the tears come. Her shoulders shook with the strength of her sobs and the world around Mac had gone blurry. She had never felt as much hurt inside as she did right now. She had cried when Dalton died, she cried when Chris died. She had cried when Mic left her and again when Harm had turned her away then. She had shed tears for Clay when he died in that hospital in South America. But all the tears she had spilled before couldn't rival the tears she was spilling now. The only death she was crying for now was for the death of her own heart.
Falls Church, Virginia
1616 Hours (local)
Sturgis knocked on the door to Harm's office. He hadn't stepped out of it since Mac had run off and nobody had bothered to disturb him. Nobody wanted to, afraid of how he would react. A short time ago, the Admiral had handed Sturgis the Marshall case and he had found the folder sitting on top of Mac's desk. Sturgis had looked over it, along with Harm's notes, and he was ready to sit down and discuss it with Harm. The only problem with that was that it meant braving his friend's office.
"Enter," Harm called.
Sturgis opened he door and stepped in, shutting the door behind him. "You okay, buddy?"
"Yeah," Harm said, not looking up at Sturgis. His tone of voice let Sturgis know that he didn't believe his own words.
"You want to talk about it?" he offered as he took a seat in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the desk from Harm.
"You could call her, Harm," Sturgis offered.
"She wouldn't answer."
"At least she would know you are trying."
"It wouldn't be enough."
Sturgis was hurting for his friend. "It'd be a step."
"Probably backwards. I think that's the only direction Mac and I can go in."
"You don't believe that."
Harm looked up at his friend for the first time since he had entered. He had been staring at a file, but it wasn't making any sense to him. "And why shouldn't I believe it?"
"She loves you, Harm."
"Sometimes, love isn't enough. She walked away, Sturgis. I told her everything, and she left."
"If you do nothing, you'll never be able to get her back."
"She's not going to come back anyway. She gave me one last chance, and I blew it."
"She won't give up on you completely. And you won't give up on her. You're both too damn stubborn. Look, when I first came here, I didn't know where I fit in with the two of you. I felt like a third wheel. There was tension between the two of you. There still is. It's always there. I asked you if you were involved with her and you denied it, but I wasn't entirely convinced. There are a lot of levels of involvement, a lot of variations on the term relationship, and however you look at it, I think the two of you have always been involved in a relationship in some manner. I even got into it with Mac one day. Like you, she denied everything, even going as far as to say that you'd never slept together."
"I think that's where we went so wrong," Harm interrupted quietly.
"Not sleeping with her?" Sturgis asked. The pained expression on Harm's face gave him his answer. "You slept with her, didn't you?"
Harm gave him the slightest of nods, dropping his gaze to the floor beneath his feet.
"I don't even want to know what you did to mess it up. Look, the other thing she told me during that conversation was that she loves you. Plain and simple, she said there was no problem, but she couldn't get over it because she was in love with you. Her words, not mine."
Harm looked up at him, hope in his eyes. "You're serious, aren't you? She really said that?"
"Oh, God, Sturgis, I fucked up."
Harm looked doubtfully at the phone.
Sturgis rose to his feet. "Let me know when you are ready to talk. About either the Marshall case or Mac. You know where to find me."
Sturgis opened the door and stepped out of Harm's office, pulling the door shut behind him.
Harm stared at the phone for a few minutes before he picked it up.
1627 Hours (local)
Mac's sobbing had finally eased, but the tears were still flowing, when the phone rang. Mac let the machine pick it up. "Hi, you've reached 202-352-2636. Leave a message," she heard her own voice say on her machine with a cheerfulness she didn't feel.
"Hey, Mac, it's me," she heard Harm's voice.
She threw one of the pillows from the couch at the machine. "Asshole!"
"Look, I know things have been kind of bad today. I'm sorry about earlier," he paused for a moment, "but I don't regret the last thing I said to you before you left. I meant that. I think there are some things that we need to talk about. I want to talk to you. So, please, call me." He was quiet for a few more seconds before he went on. "Sturgis has the Marshall case now, so it isn't work related and I know you said you didn't want to have anything to do with me unless it was about work, but we need to get past this."
Mac was staring in the direction of her answering machine, the tears flowing down her cheeks.
"Call me. Please. Sarah," he pleaded.
Mac almost picked up the phone right then, but a knock at her door stopped her. He wasn't out there calling her, was he? Quietly, she rose off the couch and looked out her peephole. Harriet was standing out there, looking nervous. Mac wiped at her tears and opened the door. "Harriet?"
Harriet looked up at Mac, her blue eyes widening at the sight of her superior officer and friend in tears. "Ma'am, are you okay?"
"Been one of those days," Mac explained as she opened the door wider to let Harriet in. "Come on in and have a seat." Harriet moved across the floor and took a seat in one of the chairs in Mac's living room. After closing the door, Mac sat across from her on the couch, clutching a pillow to her chest. "Everything is all right, isn't it? The baby is okay?"
"Oh, no, everything's fine."
"Then what are you doing here?"
"Ma'am, don't take this wrong, but you look horrible. Really, is everything okay?"
Mac sighed heavily as she leaned back into the cushions and closed her eyes.
"Bud called me from work. He told me that you and Commander Rabb had a huge argument in front of everybody."
"Oh, God," Mac said wearily. "Did he tell you everything?"
"I think so. I told him he had lost his mind, the two of you would never act like that, but he insisted that it was true. He told me that you took off out of there like a bat out of hell, really upset. He wanted me to come by and check on you. I still didn't believe it, but now I do. What happened, Ma'am?"
Mac shook her head. "A misunderstanding?" she offered, hoping Harriet would drop it. She really didn't want to go into it.
"It sounded like a lot more than just a misunderstanding."
"Something happened between Harm and I and I just interpreted it differently than he did."
"Whatever it was, it sounds like it must have been a big thing." Harriet studied her friend's curled position on the couch, the hurt etched onto her face, clutching the pillow like it was all she had. "It wasn't about work, was it?"
"No," Mac answered simply.
Harriet continued to study Mac, knowing it was personal, but afraid to ask if it was what she was thinking. Bud had told her about the whole argument, plus the scene that morning, almost word for word. "Did you and the Commander…" she began, not sure of how to continue.
Mac looked up at Harriet. The question she was going to ask was in her eyes. "Yeah. We slept together."
Harriet gasped, her hand covering her mouth. "You and he…"
Mac nodded. "And then he got up early in the morning and took off, he didn't even say good-bye."
"Did you ask him why? Maybe there was a reason," Harriet suggested, trying to defend the Commander and ease Mac's pain.
Mac rose to her feet and began pacing. "He didn't call, he hasn't said anything, he acted like nothing was wrong."
"I can understand that at work, but he didn't call you at all?"
"Maybe he was busy."
"He offered that to the Admiral when he said we hadn't discussed a case, but I don't believe him. He could have called. He could have left a note before he left. Or even said good-bye."
"But what he said before you left today. The last part…"
"That he loved me?"
"Yeah. What about that? Do you believe that?"
Mac stopped. The man hadn't just said it to her, he'd announced it in front of all of JAG Ops. But why right then? She had given him plenty of chances before: Sydney Harbor, before she switched Mic's ring from her right hand to her left hand, her engagement party, on the Guadalcanal, after his split with Renee, Afghanistan, either of the last two Christmases, before she left for Paraguay, after Paraguay, last Friday night. Why today, in front of everybody? He either really meant it, or he wanted her to think that she did. "No," she said softly to Harriet. "I don't believe what he said."
Harriet's heart broke. "But…" she didn't know what to say.
"I've given up, Harriet."
By the pained look in her eyes, she knew Mac was serious. Harriet rose to her feet. "Well," she said, looking down at her watch. "I've got to go get AJ from daycare and with traffic at this time of day…" she trailed off.
"Yeah, you better go," Mac agreed as she led Harriet to the door.
"I'll see you later, Ma'am," Harriet said as she stepped through the open door.
Mac nodded as she shut the door behind her. Harriet could see the tears welling again. Once the door was shut, Mac slumped up against it and slid down to the floor, giving in to the tears again.