Falls Church, Virginia
Thursday, August 28th, 2003
1957 Hours (local)
Harm knocked on Mac's doorframe. "Hey."
"Hey," she said, as she smiled weakly up at him. There were a few lights on in the bullpen, illuminating him from behind, much like the night he had slipped out of her covers and broken her heart.
"Working late?" he asked as he took a seat in one of the chairs opposite Mac, the desk in between them.
"Yeah," she nodded. "Just trying to catch up." She turned back to the case in front of her.
"Are you doing okay?" he asked, concerned.
"Yeah," she nodded. "Just… I don't know. Yeah, I'm okay," she looked up at him again. She offered him another half-hearted smile.
In the near-month since their explosion, the two had tried to go back to being friends. It wasn't always easy and sometimes they just had to walk away, but they weren't verbally beating each other up. Most days, the two were fine. They didn't joke and flirt like they once did, but outside, they still looked like the great friends they had once been. Nobody ever mentioned the day that they shouted across the bullpen and Harm confessed his love for her. Nobody ever mentioned Mac running from the office in tears. Harm and Mac just avoided the whole topic of that time period completely, but that didn't mean they weren't aware of it. Sometimes, it was like the elephant in the room between them; they could both see it and knew it was there, but they didn't talk about it.
"Don't take this wrong, Mac, but you don't look good. I mean, you do, you always have, you're a beautiful woman, but…" he trailed off. "You look unhealthy. Your skin tone is off, you look exhausted, you have bags under your eyes, and you look thinner."
Mac sighed. "I've just been busy. Haven't been sleeping well."
"Is that it?"
"You look sad."
Mac looked up at him, her eyes brimming with tears. "Don't start this again, please. I can't handle it."
"Is that why you haven't been taking care of yourself?"
Mac bit her lip and closed her eyes. No matter how far apart they drifted, he knew her well. She nodded slightly.
"I'm so sorry…"
Mac reopened her eyes. "It isn't you, Harm. I feel like what happened between you and me was the last straw. There has been too much in my life to go wrong, and I always had faith that one day, we'd be right. But that isn't the case. And I just think that…" The tears began to fall from Mac's eyes.
"Hey," Harm said as he stood up and walked around to her. He knelt down and pulled her close to him, wrapping his arms around her. "It'll be okay, Mac."
She shook her head against his shoulder. "I don't see how. I can't sleep anymore. The last time I got more than three hours of good sleep was… that night. I can't stand to be in my apartment, so I go running every morning and every night. I can't eat anymore. I just don't believe that it will be okay."
Harm rubbed her back soothingly. "You aren't alone in this, Mac."
"I don't have you."
"Yeah, you do."
Mac pulled back to look at Harm. He released her and rose to his feet. "It's obvious to me, and I think everybody else here, that neither one of us is happy. I'm sure the Admiral is glad that we haven't been screaming and yelling at each other across the bullpen, but I think even he misses the excitement. The niceness is killing us. It isn't us, it's somebody else."
Mac looked down at her knees. "But it's better than what we were."
"No. When we were yelling at each other."
"I'm not sure it is," Harm said. "At least that was real. At least we were still us. I don't even recognize who we are anymore."
"It has to be this way, Harm. We discussed this."
"I know. And I know that I sort of agreed with you about the trust part. But I've been thinking about it."
Mac looked up at him, unsure of where he was going.
"I've laid awake in bed every night since then trying to figure out what I could do to fix this. I know you said you didn't think there was anything I could do, but I have to try. My mom hated it when I was younger, it has annoyed probably every one in this office at one time or another, including you, but Sturgis was right when he said I was too damn stubborn to give up. And I refuse to believe that you've given up, too."
"Harm…" Mac began.
"Let me finish," he said, his face brightening. "I thought of all the things I could do for you, massages, flowers, dinner, but it wasn't enough. I'll do all of that and more. I'll buy you coffee every morning, cook you steak every night, I'll give you fresh flowers every day, I'll give you massages on demand, I'll clean your apartment from top to bottom and wash and wax your car every weekend, I'll fly you anywhere you want to go when you want to get away. I'll do anything for you, Mac."
Fresh tears sprang up in Mac's eyes as Harm continued. "But I don't think all of those things would be enough. You deserve the world, Mac. You deserve a good career, a good man, and comfortable shoes, lots and lots of them. I will get you the shoes, I will get you a house, I will be the best man I can be. You already have a great career and I'll do anything so you can keep it. I will do all of this for you, Mac, because I love you. All I want in return," Harm said as he stuck his hand into his pants pocket and bent down on one knee. He looked up at Mac and met her gaze as he withdrew a ring from his pocket, "is for you to be my wife."
Mac's mouth hung open, the tears streaming down her cheeks again. It took her a full sixty seconds to find her voice. "You're serious?"
"I am," Harm stated. "You can wear it on a chain around your neck, your right hand, whatever, it doesn't have to go on your left hand. As long as I know you have it and you know I mean it and you're thinking about it, about giving this a chance, I'll be the happiest man alive."
"Harm…" Mac whispered as she looked at the ring he was holding. "I…" Her face broke into a smile and her eyes twinkled. "Yes."
Harm couldn't believe his ears. He knew it was a risk when he thought this plan up, but he knew it might be his only chance. He knew an affirmative answer wasn't guaranteed, but it was the best idea he'd had. He went out at lunch that day and bought the ring, not knowing how he would ask her. The only thing he knew was that he wanted this, wanted a life with her, more than anything else in the world and he was going to have to be completely honest to get it. Harm slipped the ring onto her left hand, got to his feet and dragged her up with him. He wrapped her tightly in his arms.
"You really mean this?" Mac asked.
Harm pulled back and looked Mac in the eye. "With all my heart. I can't promise you that I'll never hurt you again, but I can promise you that I'll be there to help you through it. I can promise you that I will never intentionally hurt you. If I break your heart again, I promise I'll be there to help you pick up the pieces. I promise I'll always be there for you, no matter what it is or where you are. I promise I will never betray you. And I promise that I will always love you as much as I do right now, if not more."
"Don't make a promise you can't keep," Mac warned.
"I haven't yet."
Mac just pulled herself to him again, totally speechless.
Falls Church, Virginia
Friday, August 29th, 2003
0807 Hours (local)
Mac was in the break room pouring herself a cup of coffee, even though Harm offered to get it for her, when the Admiral strode in. "Good morning, Colonel."
"Good morning, Sir," Mac responded cheerfully as she raised her cup to her lips.
The Admiral poured his own cup of coffee and turned and studied Mac for a moment before asking, "Are congratulations in order?"
Mac took her hand off the coffee mug and glanced down. When she had woken up this morning, she had felt like the previous night was a dream, but the ring on her finger reminded her that it wasn't. She looked back up and smiled as she nodded at the Admiral.
"Well, congratulations. I wasn't aware that you were even seeing anyone."
"I wasn't, Admiral, but seeing as how I'm in love with the guy who proposed, I couldn't turn him down."
"And who is the lucky man?"
As if on cue, Harm entered the room. The way Mac's face brightened when he entered and the thousand-watt smile Harm gave her was all the answer the Admiral needed. "Good morning, Sir," Harm said happily. "Mac," he beamed.
"Congratulations, Commander," the Admiral said.
"On what, Sir?" Harm asked as Mac held his coffee mug and he poured the liquid.
"On your engagement."
Harm looked at Mac and she smiled back at him and said, "I didn't tell him. Honest."
Harm rolled his eyes. "Yeah, sure, I believe you." Turning to the Admiral, he said, "Thanks." He glanced back at Mac as he said, "She's made me the happiest man in the world."
The Admiral smiled and nodded. "Congratulations. I'm happy for you both. Go set your coffee down and meet me in my office for a minute."
"Aye, Sir," they both responded as the Admiral left the room.
Heading back to Harm's office, he leaned down and whispered in her ear, "Here we go."
"It won't be that bad. We didn't even have to tell him, he did that for us."
The two officers left their coffee on Harm's desk and headed straight into the Admiral's office.
"Have a seat," he instructed. "Colonel, I was going to speak to you about this next week, without the Commander, but due to recent events, I've decided to inform you now. And it now concerns the Commander as well."
Harm and Mac turned to look at each other with worried expressions on their faces.
The Admiral smiled to them. "I have been informed that we need another judge to sit on the bench, as Captain Sebring will be leaving us for a time to tend to his wife for a while. He plans to return, but either way, the new judge will remain on the bench. Colonel, you have been selected to sit, if you want it. The SecNav has already approved your appointment."
Mac turned to look at Harm. She couldn't believe it. They wanted her to sit on the bench as a judge full-time!
"Sir," Harm began.
The Admiral held up his hand. "The Colonel would no longer be serving under my command. I will miss her and her skills as an attorney, but I believe this appointment would serve her career well, as well as your personal relationship."
"And when would this begin?" Mac asked.
"September 15th, if you want the position. There are other candidates on the list from out of the area, but you were number one, Colonel."
"I'll take it, Sir."
The Admiral's grin grew larger. "I suspected that you would."
Harm looked at Mac, "After the 15th of next month."
Mac nodded. "That's soon."
"We can wait," he offered.
"No. I think we've waited long enough."
The Admiral nodded, following their private conversation. "That's all. I'll inform the SecNav of your decision, Colonel, and we'll get into more details next week."
"Yes, Sir," she said as she rose to her feet. "And thank you."
The Admiral stuck out his hand. Mac gripped it and they shook hands. "It's been an honor, Colonel."
"That goes for you, too, Admiral. It has been an honor to serve under you."
Harm and Mac left the Admiral's office and headed back to Harm's office. "I don't believe it!" Mac squealed. "I don't think I could be any happier than I am right now."
"I think I could find a way," Harm suggested as he followed her into his office.
Once the door was shut behind them, Mac launched herself into Harm's arms and sent her lips crashing onto his. Their kiss was passionate, neither of the pair used to being able to kiss the other almost any time they wanted. Each felt as if they may never get used to it.
When they broke apart, Mac picked up her coffee mug and said to Harm, "I should go. I have work to do."
"Yeah," he nodded. "Congratulations, Mac. I'm proud of you."
"Thanks. But I couldn't have done it without you, partner."
Harm smiled. "Go, get some work done."
"Yeah," Mac said, nodding.
They had both been unaware of the open blinds and the show they had given the rest of JAG Ops. The moment Mac opened the door, a loud round of applause went through their coworkers, including the Admiral, who was leaning on the doorframe of his office.
Mac blushed. She turned around to Harm and said, "I guess the secret is out."
"Looks like it," he agreed. He stepped up beside her and smiled down at her, whispering, "Should we tell them everything?"
"Just the engagement, not the judgeship. One thing at a time."
When the applause died down, Harm spoke up, "I'm sure the Admiral would like us all to get back to work," he began, sending a ripple of laughter through the small crowd, "but I think we need to explain that little scene. You see, last night, I asked Mac to marry me. And she said yes."
The applauding started again, along with several cries of "Congratulations" and one or two "About time" comments.
When the applause died down for the second time, the Admiral issued his order for everyone to return to work. Everybody obeyed, including Harm and Mac.