The doctor awakens me in the morning. He comes in and tells me that they'll be taking me in for x-rays in about two hours, followed by brain scans. Later in the afternoon, they want to unwrap my knee, take a look, and maybe do an ultrasound to see how it looks inside. But that will be my day, stuck here, in Bethesda, alone.
I start in on my book again, waiting for breakfast. Suddenly, next to me, the phone rings. I startle, not expecting the sudden noise. By the clock on the wall, it is only 0713. "Hello?"
"Harm!" It's Mac. "I am so sorry. I meant to come back, I really did. I just…" she trails off, laughing softly.
"Mac?" I ask.
"Sorry. You won't believe this, but I walked in to my place, set my stuff down, and my bed looked so comfortable, I lied down to take a nap. That nap turned into a seventeen hour and 16 minute nap."
I start laughing. "I don't think that can be classified as a nap anymore."
"Guess not. But I really am sorry, Harm. I really wanted to come back."
"I don't know what you would have done, besides watch the Discovery channel with me because that's about all I did."
"But still, I said I'd be back and then I wasn't. I let you down and I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it, Mac. Consider yourself forgiven, not that there is really anything for me to forgive. You needed to sleep. It was probably the best sleep you've had in weeks."
"Well, yeah. Pretty much. That one night with-" she stops herself short. "I mean…" she drags on, as if unsure how to continue.
"I know. Best sleep I've had in awhile, too. That night, not last night."
"I just can't wait to get back into my own bed again," I sigh heavily.
"You want some company?" Mac asks, suddenly changing the subject.
"Only if it's you."
"Well, I think the Admiral will be by later, Harriet will stop by with the boys, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a few other people."
"And I'll be happy to see them. But right now, it's you I want to see. Breakfast wouldn't be the same without you."
"It hasn't been served yet?"
"I'm on my way!" she says excitedly.
"It's a date," I say to dead air. She is already gone. Half an hour later, she strides into my room. "What did you do, take a Tomcat here?" I ask.
"Only if they make them to stay on the ground and they happen to look like cherry red Corvettes."
"You missed it, didn't you?"
"I did. That car is my baby."
I smile. "You ready to eat?" My breakfast had arrived while I was waiting for Mac.
"Always," she grins, pulling a bag out from behind her back. Beltway Burgers. I should have known.
"You missed those, too, I see."
"You would, too, if you'd ever eat one. You don't know what you're missing."
"Grease and fat."
"You keep telling yourself that, Harm. If you don't eat it, that leaves more for me," she says, smiling happily.
"And I'll gladly leave you to them."
"You're no fun," she pouts. "Besides, it isn't even a burger. Think breakfast."
"An egg smeared on a dry biscuit?" I ask.
"You make it sound so appealing."
"As long as you like it, you shouldn't care what I say about it."
"I don't," she shrugs. "Are we going to eat anytime soon?"
"Sure," I smile at her. "Plop yourself down in that chair."
She does just that. Plops, no graceful sitting, nothing ladylike, just a plop. We start on breakfast. I was right; she has eggs smeared on biscuits, topped with bacon. I think I'd rather eat hospital food over anything that comes from Beltway Burgers.
"So," I ask her, "when does the Admiral expect you back at JAG?"
"He didn't exactly say. He said he would leave it up to me, for the time being. Give me some time off; come to terms with what I, what we, went through. Spend some time with you. I might start back part time, ease the load from Bud and Sturgis a little. And Commander Willis."
"That's nice of him."
"I told him that. He just said he was glad to get us both back and he plans on keeping us around for a while, so he wants us healthy when we come back."
"You don't have to be here with me, Mac. If you want to go back to JAG, go. I'll be fine here."
"I know you will. I like being here, being with you. This has, despite everything, been nice, just spending time with you. We've been so busy this summer that I feel like we haven't had the chance to just get together, hang out, you know, be us."
"Yeah, I know. Maybe that's why this hasn't been so bad. Something good has come out of it. I feel like we've gotten our friendship back." I completely agree with Mac and perhaps that's why I've handled this so well. Maybe that's why I need her so much, because without her, I'd be forced to deal with what happened instead of reconnecting with her.
The doctor enters my room. "Are you ready, Commander?"
I nod, not entirely happy about it. The x-rays probably mean more pain.
"We're getting the machines warmed up," he states matter-of-factly.
"Harm, what's going on?" Mac asks.
"X-rays. And more brain images, just to make sure I haven't completely lost my mind." I can see Mac sigh with relief. A nurse comes into the room with a wheelchair. "Will you be here when I get back?" I ask.
"Yeah," she nods and I smile. "I'll go out into the waiting room," she says, nodding at the doctor. Probably tired of seeing them try to drag me from the bed. And my ass that hangs out every time. Stupid gowns with their back ties, they could have at least made them close all the way.
"See you later," I call after her.
"You bet," she says as she exits my room.
I'm taken downstairs where x-rays are taken of my arm and my ribs. Then it's back upstairs for the CAT scans. I'm back in my room for lunch. As soon as the nurses leave me, Mac is in the room with me. "They seem to think I still have a brain," I say, wanting a smile from her.
"There may be a brain in there, but I don't think it's connected anymore," she says, giving me the smile I want to see. "You hungry?"
"I'll go out, get you some non-hospital, non-Beltway Burger food. That okay?"
"I'd like that."
She places her hand on my shoulder. "I'll be back."
"I'll be here."
She leaves me to myself. I lean my head back and close my eyes. I might take a nap while she's gone. I'm not alone for long as the Admiral comes in to pay a visit.
"How are you, Commander?"
"Good as can be expected. Tired of being poked and prodded."
He nods, "I thought the Colonel would be here."
"She was. She's on a lunch run."
"I see. That's just as well. I wanted to talk to you for a few minutes."
"About what, Sir?"
"I'm giving the Colonel time off. I want her to have a chance to work through whatever she needs to so she can come back with a clear mind. I'm making you the same offer, after you're cleared for duty. I don't want either of you back until you are ready, because if you aren't ready, you won't be of any use to me or the Navy."
"I understand, Sir, and I'm sure Mac… Colonel MacKenzie does as well."
"Honestly, is she okay, Commander?"
"I think so. I mean, she seems like she's doing fine." I pause and think about things. "She's had her moments, both of us have, but we are just taking it one day at a time. Even though she wasn't as physically beaten as I was, something happened. That experience, being held hostage like that, it changes something on the inside. I guess we're both getting used to those changes within ourselves. But you'd have to ask her if you really want to know how she is."
"She would say she was fine. You know that. But you guys have spent a lot of time together lately and I wanted your opinion. And what about you? How are you holding up?"
"I'm okay. I'm not going to fly again, Sir. I'm not real happy about that. But other than that, I'm fine."
"You said it yourself, Commander, that being through that changes something inside. Are you really okay with everything?"
I think about this for a moment. I really don't know. I guess only time will tell, but for the moment, I'm happy with what I have, what I have been given. And in the end, I think I'll be fine, no matter what happens. So, yeah, I think I'm really okay with everything. "I think so."
"Have you guys talked about it? What happened?"
"Maybe you should."
"I don't know. She hasn't brought it up and I don't think I really want to relive that. At least not yet."
"Think about it. It may help things in the future."
"I will, Sir."
Mac returns with lunch: a fresh salad, no over-ripe tomatoes and wilted lettuce. The three of us talk over lunch. When the Admiral leaves, Mac and I are left alone and it is like we never left Italy. The doctor comes and takes me away again. They look at my knee, poke and prod it, and I am in agony. They drug me up again and everything is fuzzy.
Harriet and the boys stop by; Bud and Sturgis come in after work. Tiner and Coates come to visit. Those two are closer than I remember. Mac leaves when visiting hours end, promising to return tomorrow and I go to sleep.
A few days later I meet Commander Willis. Mac is out and she comes in to meet me. She knocks on my door, holding a basket of fruit in front of her, and asks, "Commander Rabb?"
"That's me," I respond, puzzled.
She walks in, shifting the basket to one hand, and holds out the other one for me to shake. I raise my right hand in its cast and she withdraws hers, smiling sheepishly. "Sorry. I'm Lieutenant Commander Willis. I just wanted to come by and introduce myself and see how you are doing."
"Nice to meet you, Commander," I smile at her. She is nothing like I expected.
She approaches the table and puts the basket down. "I heard that you were kind of a health nut, so I thought you'd enjoy the fruit, Commander."
"Call me Harm."
"Okay, Harm. I'm Kaya."
"That's an interesting name."
"Yeah. It's my great-grandmother's name. She was from Scandinavia. Growing up, I never had to share my name with anyone."
"Well, I appreciate the fruit, Kaya." She is taller than Harriet, but shorter than Mac. Her skin is golden and her hair is blond, and even though it is pulled back into the required bun, I can see a few tiny ringlets that have escaped. Her green eyes are blazing and her smile is radiant. I can see her as a typical California surfer-kid growing up.
We talk for a while. It turns out that she grew up in Northern Virginia and joined the Navy to follow in her grandfather's footsteps. She decided to become a lawyer like her father. She doesn't stay long because she is expected back at work. She's a very bright young woman and I'm willing to bet that she is well liked at JAG and fits into our family rather well. I hate to think it, but I am not sorry to have Singer gone if Kaya is her replacement. I am sorry for what happened to her, and her daughter, because that shouldn't happen to anybody. I am glad to have met Kaya, though. A visit from anybody adds an extra ray of sunshine to my day.