Approximately 6,000 words; 14 pages (8 ˝” x 11”)
||GS for a
little violence and language
I’ve really got to stop getting sidetracked into these
episode-reaction pieces. But after realizing that “Salvation”
marks the second time that someone’s had a vision of Harm on the
losing end of a gunfight – well, you know what they say about
idle minds. I wanted to make this as realistic as possible, so I
apologize if it gets intense. This story picks up directly after
the scene at the railroad tracks (won’t make sense if you didn’t
see the ep), and proceeds as if there had been no vision to
prevent the future events: in other words, the ambush DID occur.
And you know what that means. Just trust me. P.S. This is
pro-shipper, but not blatantly so.
for Sergeant Major Krohn’s vision, how many lives could have
“ … there but for the grace of God go I …”
Somewhere outside Baltimore …
The pain wasn’t as bad as he’d expected it to be. There was something
strangely peaceful about lying here, staring up at the stars, even as
his life drained away. It was truly over – nothing short of a miracle
could change his fate now. There would be no last-minute heroics this
time. As dire as it was, that knowledge had not been difficult to
accept. So he simply watched the stars.
He didn’t know how many times he’d been hit: it was all finished before
his awareness could catch up. The backup he’d arranged had never
arrived, and when the first shots rang out, all he could do was aim his
service pistol against an automatic rifle. He hadn’t even gotten a
single shot off before a hail of bullets slammed him to the ground. He’d
felt the burning agony then – four, maybe five, all to the chest – but
now it had all blurred into a dull, chilling ache over his entire body,
and a growing weariness that threatened to overtake his mind as well.
His life wasn’t flashing before his eyes. He wasn’t angry that Palmer
had won, or frustrated that he’d failed, or scared that he and three
other good men were dying. None of it mattered now that he’d lost the
strength to move, lost the feeling of the rough gravel beneath him, lost
the bizarre sensation of his own blood forming a shallow pool around
him. The only things that pervaded his consciousness with any clarity at
all were the steadily-slowing pulses of his weakened heart … and those
The stars had been there before him, and they would remain long after.
Something about that unwavering light gave him comfort. As the sirens
grew nearer, as his eyes fell closed, he imagined he could still see
them shining serenely in the distance. And he was at peace.
Mac sat up in bed, not sure if she’d been awakened by the persistent
ringing of the phone or by the eerie feeling that had settled over her.
Only one could be easily rectified, so she stumbled across the apartment
in search of the phone. “Mackenzie,” she mumbled, still waking up.
She recognized the voice, but not the tone. “Admiral? What’s wrong?”
For the first time in her memory, A.J. Chegwidden sounded completely
uncertain. Lost, even. And it was ‘Mac’, not ‘Colonel’. Something had
“Is Brumby there with you?”
She glanced up. Mic was leaning against the bedroom doorframe,
half-asleep but concerned. “Yeah, he’s right here. Sir, what – ”
“I need you both to come down to JAG right away. Don’t worry about
uniforms or anything – just come. All right?”
Now she was definitely worried. But the Marine in her didn’t question.
“We’ll be there in fifteen, sir.”
Mic, bless him, didn’t question, either. The drive was a haze in her
mind: suddenly she was standing in the Ops bullpen in her worn-out OCS
sweats, with no recollection of how she’d gotten there. Bud and Harriet
were sitting on Harriet’s desk, just as disheveled and worried. Little
A.J. was fast asleep on his mother’s shoulder.
When the admiral emerged from his office, all of them were shocked by
his haggard appearance. This man, who’d seen the horrors of war from the
front row, now looked utterly defeated. His uniform jacket and tie were
gone, his collar open in a very non-regulation manner, and his eyes
seemed empty. Whatever awful news he’d received had aged him ten years
in a matter of hours.
“Admiral, what’s happened?” Bud asked in a hushed voice.
He shook his head. “Not until everyone’s here. I don’t know if I can do
this more than once.”
Mac started to remind him that Harm was down in Baltimore, on that
ridiculous stakeout with Krohn and Palmer, but she stopped herself.
Right now, her C.O. knew more than she did.
The waiting was mercifully short. Nevertheless, she’d been ready to
scream when the glass doors opened; and the group looked up to see Renee
Harm’s girlfriend had never before set foot in JAG HQ without looking
entirely put-together. Tonight, she was makeup-less, and her hair was
pulled into a careless ponytail. In an obviously-borrowed Navy T-shirt,
she looked more … normal, more like someone Mac could actually picture
her partner dating. But Harm wasn’t here.
And in a flash of terrible inspiration, Mac knew why they were there.
She sank into a chair, unable to breathe. Please, God, let me be wrong.
The admiral’s grim words sounded hollow and faraway in her ears. “I
wanted you all to hear this from me, not from the news. Commander Rabb’s
mission tonight was set up by Clark Palmer. Somehow he contacted other
DSD agents from inside Leavenworth, and they ambushed the van. Harm was
…” He faltered for a moment, but pushed ahead. “Harm was shot multiple
times. The paramedics did everything they could to save him, but he … he
was gone before they even reached the hospital.”
There was an unearthly silence in the room. Renee stared into nothing,
her features crumbling. “He’s dead?” she whispered, the tears already
springing to her eyes. “No, he can’t be, he’s – oh, god …”
She dissolved into quiet sobs, leaning against the wall for support.
Admiral Chegwidden moved to take her in his strong arms, not knowing how
else to console her. She had no one else. Harriet was crying freely in
her husband’s embrace, and Bud just kept shaking his head, his own eyes
bright. Even Mic looked stunned. But Mac shook her head, disbelieving.
“That can’t be true,” she stated bluntly. “Palmer wouldn’t just kill
him. He’s tricking us again, with some switch-around. He could have
taken Harm and left someone else, or maybe …”
“Sarah – ”
“No, damn it!” she shouted, flinging herself away from Mic’s gentle
touch. “Harm is not dead!”
“Mac, it was him,” the admiral said softly. “They called me to Baltimore
General to identify the body. There was no switch. Could the DSD have
duplicated his fingerprints? The scars from his crash?” At a loss, he
swallowed a few times before feeling steady enough to continue. “I know
he always seemed invincible, but we have to accept it. Even Harm
couldn’t have survived this – he never had a chance.”
She looked at him with unseeing eyes. “No,” she choked out, stumbling
blindly toward Harm’s office. Mic moved to follow, but the admiral held
him back with a silent shake of his head.
“Not yet. Give her some time.”
Barely hearing them, she collapsed to her knees in the office, desperate
to feel some of his spirit somewhere, anywhere. A framed picture on his
bookshelf caught her eye, and she seized it with a trembling hand. The
four of them at Bud and Harriet’s wedding, smiling broadly as if no
sorrow could ever reach them. She traced his perfect smile with a
finger, ignoring the tears that dripped onto the glass. Could it really
be? If Harmon Rabb, the quintessential Hollywood hero, could fall, was
there anything left to believe in?
“How could you?” she demanded, her voice low and tortured. “How could
you leave us like this?”
It was a good twenty minutes before the admiral approached the doorway,
waiting patiently. She lifted her head and spoke tonelessly. “How’s
“The same as the rest of us. Numb.” He moved into the room. “How are
“Angry, I think.” Mac gestured, unsure how to explain. “It wasn’t
supposed to happen like this. If he had to die, he shouldn’t have been
alone – we never got to say goodbye …” She swiped at the tear tracks on
her cheeks. “Does his mother know?”
“I called the chaplain’s office at Miramar.” Behind his steely gaze, a
deep ache lingered. “Right now, two men in uniform are walking up to her
door, and she already knows why they’re there, because she remembers the
way it happened thirty years ago. Except this time, she doesn’t have her
son to hold on to. This time, they’re coming to tell her that her only
child is never coming home.”
She didn’t know how she’d gotten here, either. Hours and days had begun
to swirl together into one continuous experience, and she found herself
going through the motions of life without seeing or feeling. If she
allowed herself to pause and look around, there would inevitably be
something that reminded her that her best friend was gone, and the
realization cut deeper each time.
Now, as she stood in his apartment in her dress blues, memories washed
over her. Countless evenings spent hashing out their cases over whatever
food was available, countless shared glances that had always given her
an inexplicable comfort. She’d always felt secure here. But she’d never
once been here without him, and without him, it was no more than an
“Where are you from, anyway?”
“Where friends don’t sandbag friends.”
“That’s somewhere in Ohio, isn’t it?”
Despite herself, she smiled wistfully. She’d been a regular here even
before she really knew just who and what Harmon Rabb, Jr., really was.
His flawless record and effortless charm hadn’t won her over: it was the
little things, like the mineral water he stocked just for her, or the
way he could navigate the chaos of her office without disturbing a
single file. And the not-so-little things, like his unyielding passion
for truth at any price. Somewhere in those first few months, she’d
realized that this was a friendship worth fighting for, and more. So
she’d followed him to the ends of the earth, putting everything on the
line, just as he had for her. But this time, she hadn’t been there, and
that fact would haunt her forever.
“It’s time, dear.”
Patricia Burnett stepped inside and held out a hand to her. “The service
starts in half an hour.”
Mac had never met Harm’s mother before this week, but the two women had
felt a connection immediately. They both understood the other’s pain in
a way that no one else could. “I don’t know how you did it, Trish,” she
said with quiet awe. “You lost your husband, your son’s father – and you
“I didn’t do it alone.” Trish moved toward her with the measured pace of
one who knew all too well how to keep her grief. “I had a very brave
little boy who helped me remember all that was good about life. Now, I
take solace in believing that they’re together, somewhere, and that
somehow there’s a reason for all this.”
Mac shook her head. “I stopped believing in reasons a long time ago,”
she replied softly.
Trish watched her for a moment. “You know he loved you, don’t you?” Her
head whipped around, and an unmistakable expression of anguish flickered
across her features. The older woman continued, forestalling her
protests. “I know. Renee’s a lovely girl, and I know you’ve got someone
else as well … but if you could have heard his voice when he told me
what he’d done in Australia, you’d understand. He never really forgave
himself for that.”
“We left a lot unsaid, didn’t we?” Mac sighed, forcing back tears for
the hundredth time.
“Don’t hold on to regrets, dear. He’d want you to go on with your life.
Just like his father wanted for me.” Trish grasped her hand tightly.
“Come on. It’s time to say goodbye.”
Walking into the church was like stepping into the past. Dozens of
people whose lives Harm had touched, close friends and passing
associations alike. Clayton Webb, Jack Keeter, Kate Pike, Meg Austin,
Tom Boone, Annie and Josh Pendry, Bobbi Latham, Teresa Coulter,
Elizabeth Hawkes … none of these were surprising. Less expected were
Corporals Sibley and Tesla of the Recon Marines – Commander Rice from
the Coral Sea – Captain Alexandr Volkonov – and many others whose names
had long since fled her memory.
Trish and Frank were already standing near the front, with Renee and the
admiral. Most of the JAG crew was hovering nearby, drawing close to each
other for comfort. Mac almost didn’t dare advance. Every step toward
them was a step closer to the casket, and she simply wasn’t ready to see
him. Until she did, there was still a way to deny it all, to pretend
that he was off on an investigation or out flying. After that, there
would be no going back.
Mic tightened his grip on her elbow, offering silent support. She
steeled her nerves and moved down the aisle. Just keep breathing.
As she approached, Trish attempted a watery smile. “It’s harder than I
thought,” she said, a tremble in her voice. “Before, there was no
funeral, because we didn’t know …”
“It’s for the best,” Frank soothed, a protective arm at her waist. “You
won’t have to wonder this time. There’s closure here. He can rest.”
Mac watched Harm’s stepfather struggle with his own emotions, and
realized just how much he’d cared for the once-resentful young man who’d
come to accept him at last. He’d lost the only son he’d ever known.
“Frank’s right,” she said quietly. “It’s good for all of us, to see all
these people who loved him.”
“I know. I just …” Trish brushed uselessly at her eyes. “It’s so hard.”
The chaplain appeared at her elbow and gently suggested that they say
their goodbyes before the service began. She nodded, and Harm’s closest
friends moved to the altar to pay their final respects.
Mac’s heart pounded as she neared, and she prayed silently to be
somewhere far away from this tragic place. “I – can’t,” she gasped,
turning to flee. “I can’t do this.”
“You can do anything, love,” Mic urged, holding her steady. “And you’ll
regret it if you don’t.”
With her fiancé’s hand gripping hers, she stepped up to the casket.
He still looked handsome, his dress whites and gold wings still
pristine. And peaceful, she reflected, in spite of the violent manner in
which his life had ended. But it all felt so wrong …
A soft cry escaped her lips, and Mic gathered her in his arms. She was
determined, though, to do this. For herself, and for him. “Goodbye,
flyboy,” she whispered brokenly. “You’ll always be with me.”
Then she allowed Mic to guide her toward one of the pews, as the last
person in line reached the front.
Trish leaned down to kiss her son’s forehead. “You’re safe now,
darling,” she said tenderly. “I hope you know how many people are here
for you today. You really made a difference in this world. I love you,
sweetheart.” Standing proudly straight, she raised her eyes and spoke
reverently. “Harmon, take care of our little boy.”
Mac squeezed her eyes shut and forced herself to be calm. There were
enough tears here already. She knew death: it was familiar to her in a
way that few others ever understood. But this death had claimed a truly
good man, a man who’d dedicated his life to protecting the innocent. The
world wasn’t right today. Maybe it never would be again.
Admiral Chegwidden moved to the lectern and cleared his throat. “On
behalf of Harm’s family, I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to all
of you for coming to celebrate his life. It was an honor to be asked to
speak today, but I’m certain that this will be one of the hardest things
I’ve ever had to do. So I ask for your patience.
“Commander Harmon Rabb, Junior, was a hero in every sense of the word. I
don’t say this lightly: I honestly believe it. It was my privilege to be
his commanding officer for most of the past five years, and I can state
without hesitation that he was one of the finest and most dedicated
officers I have ever served with.” The admiral smiled slightly. “I’m
sure a lot of you are finding that hard to believe, given the number of
times I’ve had to pull him out of trouble. But sometimes the world we
live in doesn’t conform to the rules that we set for ourselves, and Harm
never let any concern for his own safety or career stand in the way of
seeing justice done. That’s a tough choice to make; yet he did it time
and again without question. It’s difficult to make sense of his loss,
but I tell myself that he died the way he lived much of his life – in
pursuit of the truth.
“Harm learned very early about the sacrifices we make in the name of
duty. Losing his father at six years old forced him to grow up all too
fast, but instead of making him doubt what he knew, it drove him to
follow his father’s path. He pushed himself to achieve his dream of
becoming a naval aviator, and he quickly became one of the best. When
that was taken from him, he could have left the service, but he didn’t.
He still felt bound by duty to protect those in need, and this time he
did it with the law. Sometimes his methods were what you’d call
unorthodox: when I heard he’d fired a weapon in the courtroom, I almost
threw him in the brig myself. But I’d rather have an officer with that
intensity any day over one who gives less than everything he or she has.
And in five years, I have never seen Harmon Rabb surrender even an inch
to anyone or anything not deserving.
“A lot of people who came through JAG thought he was larger than life.
He wasn’t. For every one of his passionate closing arguments or
adventurous investigations, there was a wisecrack at staff call or a
paper airplane sailing through the bullpen. He had run-ins with just
about everyone, because that kind of thing is inevitable when you hold
firm to your beliefs. Very few people could ever stay mad at him for
long, though. Harm’s sense of duty meant even more when it came to his
friends. He would go to hell and back for any one of them, and I
consider myself very fortunate to be counted among that number. I will
forever be grateful for the risks he took for my daughter and me. I’d
recently ripped him apart on a case, but when I needed help, he was
there without a second thought. I think there are quite a few people who
still have their lives simply because Harm was their friend.”
The admiral wiped at his eyes for a moment before continuing. “The Navy
lost a hero this week, and justice lost a champion. More importantly, a
mother lost her son, and a little boy lost a godfather whom he’ll never
even know. But until I saw this church today, I had no idea just how
many people lost a dear friend. I know we’ll all remember Harm in our
own ways, but I’ll remember him as someone who, when he saw that he
could help, never said no and never gave up.
“I’m not as familiar with the Bible as perhaps I should be, but I once
saw this verse on a statue of an aviator from ages past. I think it
captures Harm’s spirit better than my words ever could. From Isaiah:
‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will
go for us?” And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’ ”
Mac felt the wind on her face and the ground beneath her feet, but she
still wasn’t sure she was really there. The service had been difficult,
but now that she stood here at Arlington National Cemetery, it had all
become so surreal, as if she were watching her life unfold from some far
distant place. When she’d first started to comprehend that Harm was gone
that awful night, it was as though one world had ended and another
began. And she realized that she didn’t have the first clue what to do
with herself in this new, colder world.
Around her, the solemn honor guard carried out their duties, but it
scarcely registered in her mind. She dimly heard the admiral’s words:
“On behalf of the President of the United States … in honor of your
son’s service … with the thanks of a grateful nation.” She saw Trish
accept the folded flag with surprisingly steady hands. The rifle squad
barely made her flinch. But when the roar of the jets sounded overhead,
she lifted her eyes to the heavens, and saluted her friend one last
Where do I go now, Harm? How do I do this without you?
The assembled crowd began to disperse before she even noticed it was
over. A hand on her shoulder brought her swiftly back to herself, and
she looked up into Renee’s tormented eyes.
“I loved him,” she said quietly. “I hardly knew him, but I loved him
just the same. So I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you.”
Before Mac could ask what she meant, Trish was in front of her, pressing
a small object into her hand. “He wanted you to have these. Don’t try to
argue – it was the first thing in his will. You were everything to him,
She looked down, already knowing what she held; his wings. And with
that, her last defenses crumbled. The overwhelming grief broke through
her Marine façade, and she fell to her knees by his grave and wept.
“I can’t, Harm,” she sobbed, not caring who could hear. “I can’t let you
go like this. I see you everywhere – I hear your voice in the halls …
Don’t you understand? Someone like you isn’t supposed to die! It
destroys all the faith I ever had in – God, in everything. And there’s
nothing I can do. I can’t do a damn thing about any of it …”
Oh, but you can. The thought rose unbidden in her mind. This hadn’t been
a random act. Harm’s killer had a name and a face, and he was out there
somewhere. In that moment, she knew that whatever it took, she would
find Clark Palmer and bring the fury of hell itself down on him. For her
own sanity, and for her fallen partner. This one last thing she would do
“Sarah? What are you doing?”
Mac jumped a little, startled by Mic’s disoriented voice. He wandered
out into the living room, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “It’s three
a.m., love. Please don’t do this to yourself.”
She looked down at the files and charts strewn across her desk, trying
to remember what had compelled her to come back to this right now. “I –
couldn’t sleep,” she answered distractedly. “I think I might have a lead
on the weapons they used. I just have to track the supplier.”
“Sarah, this can’t go on.” He sat down next to her and spoke gently but
firmly. “Palmer is long gone. He and his friends are very good at making
themselves invisible. You’re only going to drive yourself mad if you
keep up this hunt.”
“You don’t understand. Palmer – ”
“ – is not your responsibility,” he finished. “Defense Intelligence and
the FBI are working on it, and you know that Clayton Webb will move
heaven and earth to bring him in. You’re letting this become an
obsession, and it’s tearing you apart.”
She smirked faintly. “Funny. I used to accuse Harm of the same thing.”
“Then you understand why I can’t bear to watch you destroy yourself this
way.” He reached out to take her hand, and found that she’d been
clutching Harm’s wings, so tightly that they’d left angry red marks
across her palm. His expression wavered between hurt and pity. “Sarah,
you can’t help Harm now. He won’t come walking through the door on
Monday, no matter what you do or don’t do about Clark Palmer. Even if
you succeed with this chase – even if you stare the bastard down at
gunpoint, it won’t make a difference to Harm. The only way to get your
life back is to let him go.”
The words immediately took her to another place, more than a year ago …
“You still can’t let go?”
And suddenly she understood. She felt that same despair that had driven
him to the edge on a rainy night in Norfolk, three years before.
“Maybe I don’t want my life back,” she replied in a dull, lifeless
Comprehension flashed in Mic’s dark eyes. “You really loved him.”
She echoed Harm’s words from that night so long ago. “I didn’t realize
how much until he was gone.”
He nodded silently, then abruptly left the room. When he returned, he
was dressed and holding his coat. With a jolt, Mac realized that he
wasn’t just leaving for the night. “Mic, no,” she begged, a catch in her
voice. “Yes, I loved Harm, but what does it matter now? We weren’t going
to be together, even if – even if he’d lived. It doesn’t mean that I
don’t love you. I know how that sounds, but … please don’t go now.”
He shook his head in resignation. “I know you love me, Sarah, at least
as much as you can. But I can’t watch you do this, and I know I can’t
stop you from doing it. If you ever find what you’re looking for, maybe
we can try again. But until you do … this is goodbye.”
She didn’t even move as he kissed her cheek and walked out the door.
Maybe she didn’t really want to go after him. It was probably safer for
him to walk away from her with only his heart broken. God knew, the rest
of the men in her life hadn’t been so lucky. Harm had been different –
he’d always been different – but her curse had found him just the same.
If she’d had any tears left, she would have cried for the hopelessness
of her life. Instead, there was nothing. Without conscious thought, she
left the desolate apartment and drove aimlessly until something told her
to stop. Recognizing the forbidding gates of Arlington, she sighed.
Whatever force was guiding her right now clearly wasn’t going to let her
go just yet.
Among the hundreds of rows of bleak white markers, she found her way
without faltering. The night was cool, but she didn’t feel it as she
knelt by the still-new stone. Harmon Rabb, Jr. Commander, United States
Mac brushed her fingers over the carved insignia of the Distinguished
Flying Cross. “Hi, sailor,” she said softly. “It’s me. I’m starting to
understand you more every day. You went to the Wall … I come here. I
don’t know why. It’s not like I believe you can hear me better here than
somewhere else. I’m not sure I believe you can hear me at all. But I
don’t have anywhere else to go. I can’t make anyone else understand – I
can’t even make myself understand. I just know that this wasn’t supposed
to happen. Not like this.”
She closed her eyes and willed the ever-present ache in her chest to go
away. “This is going to send your ego through the roof, but now that
you’re gone, I don’t even know which way is up. I end up places without
knowing how I got there – it’s all been running together in my head. I
can’t think straight. I can’t face anyone at JAG – they treat me either
like a china doll or a ticking bomb. Did everyone except me know how
much I needed you? Did you know? I don’t think you did. If you had,
maybe we would have done some things differently … maybe you’d still be
here, and I wouldn’t be so screwed up …”
“Nah, you’d still be screwed up.”
At that voice, her heart went cold with instant hatred. She turned
slowly. “Come back to admire your handiwork, Palmer?”
“Something like that.” The agent-turned-mercenary-turned-fugitive was
leaning against a tree with a self-satisfied grin. “Harm was bright,
I’ll give him that. But he tended to let emotion get in the way of good
judgment. Can’t believe it took me this long to get him.”
“Congratulations,” Mac spat out.
“Don’t get bitchy, Colonel. It’s not your style.” Palmer folded his
arms. “You’re more suited to the hard-ass, semper-fi thing. Especially
seeing as you’re armed and all.”
With a start, she felt the cool grip of her service weapon against her
palm. Had she brought it with her? It didn’t make sense, but instinct
kicked in, and she whipped it up toward him.
Before she could even aim, she was looking directly into Palmer’s own
pistol. He chuckled. “Now it gets interesting. What makes a girl bring a
gun to her friend’s grave? You weren’t planning to end it all, were you,
Her name sounded hideous in his mocking tone; so unlike the way Harm had
always said it, with a quiet familiarity. She narrowed her eyes. “Only
for you, asshole.”
“Wow, you’re a few steps above spunky, aren’t you? How come your Boy
Scout partner wasn’t this much fun?”
In response, she only clicked back the hammer, and his sneer grew
colder. “Think it through, sweetheart. You can shoot me, but my reflexes
are pretty freaking good. Do you really think I won’t get you, too?”
“Do I look like I care?” she shouted, letting her fury take over. “I
don’t give a damn what happens to me, you son of a bitch! It doesn’t
matter anymore, none of it! It hasn’t mattered since the night Harmon
“Then what are you waiting for??”
With a cry of both rage and anguish, she pulled the trigger –
– and sat bolt upright in bed, gasping for breath.
Next to her, Mic rolled over, bewildered. “What’s wrong, love?”
She stared at him as if he were a stranger. What the hell was going on?
Mic had left – hadn’t he? Had she only dreamed that? Had she dreamed the
confrontation with Palmer, too? It was all jumbled in her mind. It had
seemed surreal somehow, but if that had been a nightmare, was it
possible that some of the other things had been, as well? Could it be –
Hope surged through her. If everything since that phone call had been a
part of this twisted scene … Harm might still be alive …
Mac flung herself out of bed and rushed to the phone, not daring to let
herself believe. She’d been in that church – she’d felt his wings in her
hand. Was this some cruel cosmic trick? Her hand trembled as she dialed
the numbers. Please, God, I’ll do anything if you’ll just make this
There was a click, and with one word, Sarah Mackenzie’s life began
She choked on unshed tears, reveling in the warm tenor of his voice.
“Harm,” she managed to croak out.
The weariness on the other end immediately turned to concern. “Mac?
“Nothing,” she whispered. For once, everything was right. “Are you
“Sure. We got ‘em, Mac. Palmer led us right to his buddies, and all
three of them are coming back to Leavenworth with us. It was the
weirdest thing, though. Sergeant Major Krohn knew we were headed into an
ambush, and he warned us off. If we’d crossed those tracks without
backup … well, I’d rather not think about it too hard. Suffice it to say
that I think we got lucky tonight.”
“Doesn’t sound like luck to me, flyboy,” she responded, smiling through
the tears that coursed unnoticed down her cheeks.
“Maybe not.” She could almost hear him smile back. “We’re getting on a
plane back to Kansas in forty minutes. What did you call for, anyway?”
“Nothing important,” she lied. “I just … I needed to hear your voice.”
There was a pause. “Mac, are you all right?”
“Yeah. I’m okay.”
“Because if you need me, I can hand these guys off to the MPs. They can
do without me back at Leavenworth. I could be out there in an hour.”
She was tempted to take him up on it, just to see with her own eyes that
he was alive and well. “The admiral would kick you squarely in the six.”
“I’d risk it. Just say the word, and I’m on my way.”
The sincerity that radiated through his voice sent her flying. “No, I’m
fine. I’ll have it together by the time you get back tomorrow. Go put
that bastard back where he belongs.”
“With pleasure. Good night, ninja-girl.”
“When you get back … we need to talk.”