Vignette, Romance (H/M)
Approximately 1,500 words, 4 pages (8 1/2" x 11")
the universal set, for my fellow math geeks out there)
roads diverged in a yellow wood (gosh, I love that poem), and
this time I could travel both … so I did. This is the
second of my two post-finale fics, and the one I’m unabashedly
using to ‘fix’ some of the little things the devil on my
shoulder wanted to see in the finale.
potential ending to the JAG series finale, “Fair Winds and
Following Seas.” A year through Mattie’s eyes.
Harm came to see her in the hospital one day in April. He told her about
his promotion and the associated transfer to London, looking deeply
conflicted about the situation. Mattie nodded bravely, as if her life
hadn’t been upended yet again, and told him to take it. He immediately
promised not to go anywhere that she couldn’t follow. Just like that, a
trans-Atlantic move was staring her in the face. It didn’t scare her as
much as she’d expected. She thought she might like life better in a new
home for a while; this one hadn’t done her any favors lately.
The very next night, he came back, but with Mac at his side, and
together they told her about their joint epiphany and potential ‘happily
ever after.’ Mattie listened to their tentative promises about becoming
a family on her timetable, leaving it up to her. She was so happy for
him in that moment that she would have agreed to anything if it would
keep that smile in his eyes. He’d so rarely been truly happy during all
the time she’d known him, and if Mac did that for him, then they had to
be together. It was that simple.
He left soon after that, to start his new post and find them somewhere
to live. Mac had to go to San Diego to fulfill her last obligations to
her Marine service, and then she came back to help her new
sort-of-daughter prepare for the move across the ocean. They talked
about London for a while, and what Mac might do there, and it became
clear that as hard as it had been to resign her commission, Mac had been
fully prepared to do it. There were oblique references made to what Harm
had done for her in Paraguay, and although Mattie had never been able to
get the full story behind that disaster, spending this time with Mac
helped them forge a bond, built on a foundation of common experiences
and a shared fondness for a certain flying lawyer.
One morning in late May, they were reunited outside the customs area at
Heathrow Airport. Harm stood there with a bouquet of flowers in each
hand and the broadest smile either of them had ever seen, and as they
moved as a trio through the terminal, Mattie felt her trepidation begin
to ease. This could work; this could be home.
For weeks in June and July, she learned why many people call physical
therapy ‘pain and torture.’ The therapist drove her insane, smiling in
an oh-so-friendly way while firmly insisting in that clipped British
tone that she rise above the pain. So many times, the only thing that
kept her out of full-blown misery was Harm’s gentle voice, telling her
about his recovery from his ramp strike and letting her know that she
wasn’t alone. Mac hung back from those tough nights, sensing that she
couldn’t relate in the same way, but she was always ready with a hot
bath or a bowl of fudge-ripple ice cream before Mattie even realized she
wanted either one.
One day in August, she took her first tentative steps with the crutches.
She fell into Harm’s waiting embrace at the end, allowing herself at
last to hope that the life she’d once had might not be entirely out of
reach. They sank awkwardly to the floor, and he held her for the longest
time, stroking her hair and drying her tears and telling her over and
over how proud he was of her. Only late that night did she hear Mac’s
low voice across the hall in their bedroom, soothing him in a similar
manner as he cried out his overwhelming relief.
The next morning, Mattie awoke with the warm, secure sense that,
nontraditional though it was, she had an incredible family.
One morning in September, she started attending the American school,
restarting the eleventh grade because of all the time she’d missed. She
was still using the wheelchair during the day, and Mac picked her up
each day from school to take her to physical therapy. Mac had been able
to enter the Marine Corps Reserves and was serving as an administrative
officer for the embassy’s Marine detachment. She joked that she
sometimes felt as much like a parent to the nineteen-year-old corporals
as she did to Mattie. There was something incredibly normal about all of
it, and it was good to feel normal again.
For a week in October, they took a trip back to D.C., and she watched
alongside Bud and Harriet as these two people whose lives had been so
intertwined for ten years at last were united. It took weeks for both
Harm and Mac to stop glancing at the rings on their left hands, as if
they still couldn’t quite believe it all. Mattie once caught them both
doing it at the same time, and they jumped at her exasperated snort,
then gave in and laughed.
For fourteen hideous hours in November, she and Mac sat in a small room
in the American embassy as a gunman held Harm’s office hostage. She
watched Mac alternate between pacing and staring at the wall, and knew
that it was driving the Marine insane to be dependent on the CIA station
chief’s periodic updates, powerless to take any action herself. But it
was someone else’s duty now, and so they suffered in near-silence until
a combination of Harm’s calm negotiating and the response team’s actions
resolved the situation without firing a single shot. That night, the
three of them fell asleep together on their couch, none of them wanting
to lose contact with the others.
One dreary morning in December, when things had been strained between
Harm and Mac for a few days, she gave them an early Christmas present by
walking across their flat entirely unassisted. They’d both watched with
identical expressions of surprise and delight, finding each other’s
hands unconsciously, and as soon as they realized just how intertwined
their reactions had become, the tension between them seemed to vanish
into the winter air.
On a few afternoons in January, she rode the tube home from school with
her friends, because Harm and Mac were at the doctor’s office. She knew
it was related to their desire for a baby, and realized for the first
time that underneath the calm exterior, Mac was having a hard time
accepting all the changes in their lives – questioning the identity
she’d so carefully crafted, feeling like less of a Marine and less of a
woman all at once. So Mattie didn’t press for details, knowing it would
be exceptionally awkward and possibly painful, and instead simply got
dinner ready for them when they returned.
One day in February, Harm was called out to the NLSO in Italy to smooth
over some feathers ruffled by a brash young JAG on temporary assignment
from Headquarters. It took him approximately six hours to size up the
situation and put Lieutenant Vukovic on a plane back to D.C.,
accompanied by a recommendation for an Article 32 hearing for jury
tampering. As he recounted the tale at the dinner table the next night,
Mac flashed what could only be described as a devious grin and
complimented his newfound abilities as a disciplinarian. Harm swiftly
tossed back a comment about learning a thing or two from the Marines.
Mattie looked from one to the other, felt the sudden spark in the air,
and decided that this was an excellent time for her to go work on her
homework. With her headphones on.
One weekend in March, Sturgis came for a brief visit on his way to an
investigation in the Baltic. At first, everyone was uneasy, but over the
duration of a Premier League football game, the frost that had formed
between him and Harm showed signs of thawing. By Sunday, they’d agreed
to meet up at the upcoming maritime law conference in Lisbon.
One uncharacteristically bright Saturday morning in April, Mattie found
Mac frozen in place in their kitchen, staring at a white plastic stick
in her hand, and she knew that the last detail of their ‘happily ever
after’ had fallen into place.
*** The End ***