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Classification JAG Story, Angst, Romance (H/M)
Length Approximately 57,000 words; 151 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Everything from all 8 seasons
Rating GS
Author's Notes This is going to start out with more angst than I normally write, but for some reason, this fic demanded to be written. So if you don't like angst, it's not for you. My faithful betareader has assured me that it's neither "too angsty" nor forced angst, if that helps. And if you have any doubts about the ultimate outcome, just remember how my other fics have turned out. ;) So if you will, please bear with me. Harm just had some things that he needed to say. I used a psychological term which doesn't really translate well into anything else, but isn't one that people outside the profession commonly know. It is "affect" as a noun: Feeling or emotion, especially as manifested by facial expression or body language: “The soldiers seen on television had been carefully chosen for blandness of affect.” (Norman Mailer). (www.dictionary.com). The pronunciation puts the accent on the first syllable.
Summary Harm is having a bit of a rough spot after all the events of last spring. This is how he deals with it.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9



Chapter 1


Office of Stan Webber, L.C.S.W.
Washington, DC


"Harmon Rabb?" A tall, angular man stood in the doorway separating the waiting room from the rest of the office suite. He was ignoring the clipboard in his hand as his eyes scanned the people sitting in the slightly uncomfortable chairs in the outer office. Stan Webber had learned early in his practice that if the chairs were too comfortable, some patients balked at leaving the relative safety of the waiting room to go into the more dangerous inner offices.

At the sound of his name, a tall, athletic-looking man unfolded himself from a chair and carefully returned the magazine he'd been reading to the shelf. 

Stan watched the man's action with interest, knowing that he often learned more from his patients' actions than from their words. As Harmon Rabb approached him, Stan held out his right hand in greeting. "Hello. I'm Stan Webber. It's nice to meet you."

Harm nodded politely as he returned the greeting. "Nice to meet you too."

"Please follow me," he said, holding the door open for his six o'clock appointment. Once Harm was in the corridor, Stan led him to the end of the hallway and ushered him into his private office.

Harm looked around the room, taking note of the comfortable-looking leather chairs and sofa and the deep mahogany desk that resided beneath a large window. Late afternoon sunlight streamed in through a bank of windows on the western side of the room. The office looked like a well-appointed den or study. 

"Have a seat," Stan said, gesturing toward the sofa. He took up residency in a large wing-back chair that was across from it. "The first thing I want to say is that anything you tell me in this room comes under the laws of patient privacy and therapist-patient confidentiality. So whatever you tell me stays here in this room." As Harm lowered himself to the couch, Stan asked, "So Mr. Rabb, why don't you tell me a bit about yourself?"

"You mean like why I'm here?"

"Not right away. First, I'd like to get to know you a little. Find out a bit of who you are." Stan leaned back casually in his chair. "You know, things like what do your friends call you, where did you go to college, what's your occupation, how many brothers and sisters do you have. That sort of thing. By the way, please call me Stan."

Harm took a deep breath. "All right, Stan. There's not a lot to tell. My friends call me Harm or Rabb." When he heard his own voice, a shadow moved across his face. Harm blinked and the lines that had appeared in his expression smoothed themselves out.

Stan made a note of the odd reaction Rabb had had to hearing himself say what his friends called him. 

"You can call me Harm, I guess." Harm licked his lips. "As for college, I went to the Naval Academy and to law school at Georgetown. I'm a commander in the Navy JAG Corps. My family is kind of different."

"In what sense, Harm?"

"My mother lives in California with my stepfather. I have a half-brother in Russia. No sisters. Oh, and my grandmother lives in Pennsylvania."

"Are you all close?"

Harm blinked. "My family?" He chewed on his bottom lip. "Closer than we used to be, I guess. It's hard though, when I live a continent away from my mom and an ocean away from my brother." Another shadow crossed his face as he heard his own words.

"Are you married? Any children?"

Harm gave a short laugh. "Not hardly. You know what they say, don't you?"

"No, what do they say?" 

"That if the Navy had wanted you to have a wife, they'd have issued you one."

Stan chuckled. "That's good." He looked over his notes briefly. "Do you mind telling me what happened to your father?"

"No, of course not. He was shot down over North Vietnam when I was six."

"That must have been hard."

"Yeah, it was Christmas Eve."

"That's doubly hard then."

Harm nodded. "He ejected from his plane and was captured by the North Vietnamese. He never came home, though, when the other POWs were released at the end of the war."

"So he died in a prison camp?"

"No, he had been taken to the Soviet Union for questioning about American aviation technology. They never released him. He escaped in 1980 in Siberia." Remembered pain flickered in Harm's eyes. "He was killed by Russian soldiers there in 1982."

"That must have been difficult to deal with. I am curious, though, Harm. How on earth did you learn that?" Stan looked curiously at his new patient.

"Actually, I can't tell you all of it. It's classified."

"You're kidding."

"No. I can tell you that a few years ago, I found out that my dad had been taken to Russia. The first chance I got to take leave, I went to Russia to try to find him. But all I found was that he was dead." He pinched the bridge of his nose and then ran a careless hand across his eyes, surreptitiously swiping at the moisture in them.

"That must have been a terrible disappointment." Concern and sympathy filled the therapist's voice.

"It was. I'd believed he was still alive for so long..." His voice trailed off. "It was an adventurous trip though. My partner and I got shot down and had to eject from a plane, and we almost got killed by a rogue former KGB agent. So it was an interesting summer vacation."

"I can imagine," Stan said dryly.

"Now that I think about it, I seem to have had a fair number of interesting summer vacations."

"Really? Do they have anything to do with why you're here?" Stan asked gently.

The naval officer nodded, his tongue slightly between his teeth. "Yeah. This last one about did me in."


"I almost lost my best friend, a couple of other friends, oh, and did I mention the plane crash?"

"The plane crash?"

"It's a long story."

"And no doubt classified." 

"Unfortunately, yes." Harm ran a hand through his hair. "I don't know. To be honest, I thought I was handling things pretty well, but then this friend of mine at work was talking about a client who had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and suddenly I felt like the walls were closing in on me."

"Why do you suppose that was?"

"Because he was talking about the symptoms and going over the questionnaire for diagnosing the disorder--I guess he wanted to use it as a defense for his client. He wanted my opinion. Anyway, as he went over the symptoms and the description of it, it suddenly hit me that maybe I have it too."

"And you want to find out?"


"Any particular reason why?"

Harm looked at him, perplexed. "I want to know if I've got it, so if I do, I can do something about it. You know, fix it."

Stan nodded. "All right. We can do an assessment. I'll be asking you a lot of questions. You'll need to answer as truthfully as possible."

"No problem." Harm relaxed back into the sofa cushions.

"All right. First of all, have you experienced any trauma recently?" Stan's pen was poised above his notebook.

"Like I said, there was the plane crash. My partner and I were on a mission, and I was flying an antique biplane..."

"You're a pilot? I thought you were a lawyer."

"I'm both. Anyway, I had just rescued her from being tortured, and we were trying to complete the mission. We ran out of fuel and crashed into a pine forest."

"Were you all badly injured?" 

"Amazingly enough, no. Just some scrapes and bruises from the tree branches. I guess the trees slowed us enough that we survived relatively unharmed." His voice had gone down to almost a whisper as he related the incident. "The first words out of Mac's mouth were, 'Damn you, Harm. Every time I get in a plane with you at the controls, we crash.' Then she burst into tears."

"Understandable." Stan's voice was level.

"I suppose. But for some reason, it really hurt. I mean, I know what she said was true, but there wasn't anything I could have done to make it be different." His voice very low, he murmured, "And she didn't even thank me for rescuing her from the people who were going to torture her. Instead, she yelled at me for crashing the plane." He let his head drop into his hands, his elbows on his knees.

"How long ago was this?"

"A couple of months. That's what really bothered me about the client. I mean, it's been months, and I'm still having nightmares about it all. I feel so damn stupid."

"Why do you feel stupid?" 

"I don't know. I just do. I guess maybe I should be able to control it better. And that bothers me. I hate feeling the way I've been feeling lately."

"And how is that?"

"Like I've lost control of my life. Frustrated. Numb. Scared sometimes." He sighed bitterly. 

"Are you able to function?"

"What do you mean?"

"Are you able to get up every morning and go to work and do your job?"

Harm nodded. "Yeah. I can function. I just feel lousy. Like there is nothing to smile about."

"That's a good sign. What are you frustrated about?"

"I'm almost forty years old, and I'm where I was eight years ago. I feel like I haven't made any progress in my life at all." He shifted on the sofa. "I remember telling someone six years ago that I hoped to have a wife and family one day. At thirty-four, that seemed like a reasonable goal. But now..." He trailed off.

"When you said that, were you in a relationship that made marriage a possibility?"

"No. It was more a dream at that point."

"Any particular reason that you weren't in a relationship, other than the Navy hadn't issued you a girlfriend?"

"It's complicated. I had had a girlfriend a couple of years before. But the night before we were going to get together to discuss our future, Diane died."

"I'm sorry to hear that. Was it a car accident or had she been ill?" Stan asked.

Harm shook his head. "No. She was murdered."

"It must have been difficult for you when you were notified of her death."

"I wasn't notified." Harm rose and walked over to the windows to stare out into the early evening sky.

"Not notified? Then how..."

"Did I find out? I'm a JAG. She was in the Navy. We investigate crimes committed against and by our members. I was assigned to investigate the murder. I found out when I arrived on the crime scene that it was her."

Stan made some more notes. "I see."

"Do you? Or is that shrink talk to let me know you're listening?" Harm turned back toward the center of the room. "I apologize. That was uncalled for." He returned to the sofa and sat back down. "That's the kind of thing I'm worried about. I don't normally talk to people like that. It's out of character for me. But I've been doing it a lot lately."

"Believe it or not, Harm, I do see. It must have been a hell of a shock to see your girlfriend right after she was murdered."

"Well, they already had her in a body bag."

"Jeez." Stan scratched on his pad. "So did you solve her murder?"

"Finally, but not for about two years. And then I couldn't prove it."

"So the murderer got away with it?"

"No, he fell off a pier and got crushed to death when the ship squashed him between the hull and the pier." Harm took a deep breath. "I can't say that I'm sorry it happened."

"I imagine not, especially if you knew you couldn't bring him to justice." He looked at Harm appraisingly.

The naval officer gave a brief smile. "And no, I didn't push him off the dock. He saw my partner and thought he was seeing a ghost. He fell off the dock as he backed away from her."

"Why would he think he was seeing a ghost?"

"Because Mac could be Diane's twin."

Stan took a deep breath. "Okay, let me make sure I've got this straight. You used to date a woman named Diane who was murdered several years ago. Your current partner looks exactly like her. And you recently were involved in a mission in which she was almost tortured and could have been killed."

"Yeah. That sums it up pretty well."

"Any more traumas in your life?" Stan was trying to get his head around what this man had had to contend with.

"A few."

"Care to tell me about them?"

Harm shrugged. "How do you want them--in chronological order or by category?"

Stan raised an eyebrow. "You're serious." It wasn't a question.

"Yeah. Chronological or categorical?"

"Chronological order. Age at the time of trauma has some bearing on a diagnosis. You already said that your father was shot down when you were six. So that is event number one."

"I don't suppose your mother remarrying when she doesn't know for sure that your father is dead counts as a trauma?"

"It could. If you really believed that your father was still alive, it would have been traumatic to see her go on with her life. Might have made you wonder if she was likely to give up on you at some future point. How old were you when she did that?"

"Twelve, almost thirteen." Harm sighed. "Intellectually, I knew it was good for her, but it seemed like the worst sort of betrayal at the time."

Stan's pen flew across the page. "Okay. That one counts. Go on."





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