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Classification Action, Angst, Romance (Mac/Harm)
Length Approx 54,000 words, 145 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Through Season 9
Rating GS
Author's Notes This started out as a what if, and has been growing on me--what if Harm had never been captured on camera and become a full-fledged CIA agent? Then what if Sadik suddenly resurfaced, complete with a vendetta against Harm? This is also my attempt to explain AJ's inexplicable behavior. Bonus points if you can spot the show, episode, and season that I stole, um… borrowed, the title from. Spoilers up to season nine's Touchdown… with a slightly different ending for Harm. Other spoilers through season nine. My thanks to my super-secret beta reader and Ann, both of whom have assured me that the concept isn't too angsty. Knowing me, you'd better hang on anyway. ;)


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6




Chapter 1:
Sun and Shadow

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
--1 Corinthians 13:12

2115 Zulu
20 May 2003
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, Virginia

Admiral AJ Chegwidden stared at the letter of resignation in his hand. He had followed the SecNav's orders, and now one of his best officers had gone haring off to South America in search of another. He wasn't sure why the SecNav had engineered this mess, but he was sure that he probably wouldn't like the outcome.

"Admiral?" Tiner's voice came over the intercom.

"What is it, Tiner?" he said irritably.

"The SecNav's on line one."

"I've got it," he said brusquely, and picked up the phone. "What can I do for you, sir?"

"Admiral, has Commander Rabb resigned as expected?"

"Yes, sir. I'm planning on holding his papers until he gets back. With any luck, he'll be back before his terminal leave is over; I need all of the O-5s I can get." AJ picked up Harm's resignation and looked it over.

"Admiral, you are to bring Rabb's resignation, service record, and paperwork over to my office, is that clear?"

"Yes, sir. May I ask why?"

"No, you may not, Admiral; it's need to know. Have them hand delivered over here by the close of business today. Is that clear?"

"Yes, sir." After a few pleasantries, he hung up, and called Tiner in. "Tiner, I need the Commander's service record."

"Yes, sir," came the response over the intercom. A few minutes later, he came in, carrying a large file. Tiner laid the file on his desk. "Might I know why you need the Commander's file, sir?"

"The Commander resigned, Tiner. His time with us is over, and his record needs to be closed out."

"But sir--Commander Rabb has done so much for so many people--"

AJ looked up at his earnest face and frowned. "Be that as it may, Commander Rabb *made* his decision, now it's up to him to live with it. This discussion is *closed*, Tiner."

"Yes, *sir*," Tiner said, coming to attention.

"Now, I need Commander Turner in here to watch the shop for me. Will you find him for me, please?"

"Yes, sir," he repeated.

"Dismissed." AJ put Rabb's resignation in the file, then looked up just in time to see Tiner leave his office, shooting a furtive look back at him. He sighed, he wasn't sure what the SecNav had in mind for Harm, but it probably wasn't a good thing. If Rabb survived Paraguay, he had a feeling that his favorite officer was in for a world of hurt.


2130 Zulu
20 May 2003
SecNav's Office
Washington, DC


Sheffield flipped through Commander Rabb's service record and smiled. "Thank you, AJ," he said.

"It's all there, resignation and everything." AJ said woodenly.

Sheffield pulled out a single sheet of paper, examined it, then ripped it in half. "You mean this?"

"What'd you do *that* for?" AJ asked.

"Mr. Rabb has just been called up," Sheffield said with a smile. "Officially, he won't be Navy anymore, unofficially, he'll be working for me via Kershaw."

"Sir, and you're telling me this *because*?"

"Because I think that he wasn't living up to his full potential as a JAG. He'll be much better off working for me; I'll send him out for some special training, then assign him to the Company Air Wing. From there, who knows?" Sheffield leaned back in his chair and shrugged. "He has too many talents that have been wasted working for you, AJ, and *I* intend to use them."

"With all due respect, *sir*, you'd better be careful with him, or so help me--"

"Are you *threatening* me, AJ?"

"More like promising… *sir*." AJ said stiffly. "Rabb hasn't been on the top of his game this last year because a lot of things went to hell in a hand basket. I *don't* want to see him more messed up than he already is."

"That's not your concern, anymore." Sheffield said with a tiny smile on his face.

AJ brought his fist down on the desk. "Let me straighten something out for you, Mr. Secretary. Rabb is one of *my* people, and I refuse to abandon him--there was enough of that last year. It's bad enough that Colonel Mackenzie is TAD to the CIA, and I can't officially sanction her rescue."

Sheffield smiled, reminding AJ of a snake. "You *will* cut Rabb off, AJ, or I can have your little family reassigned. Commander Turner would do well on a carrier, Lieutenant Sims can be sent to where she's officially assigned, Colonel Mackenzie can either be assigned a position as a line JAG, or I can send her permanently TAD to the CIA or the NSA, and I'm sure that Lieutenant Roberts will do well in a civilian law firm." He flashed another snake-like smile. "Tiner need not return to Headquarters after OCS."

"But that would scuttle *all* of their careers," AJ sputtered.

"Just think, AJ, is one man worth the destruction of so many lives?"

AJ looked down at his feet and sighed. He knew when he was beaten, and there didn't seem to be anything he could do to rectify the situation. "This *isn't* over, *sir*; I intend to get him back on my staff as soon as I can."

"Just keep telling yourself that, AJ, and I'm sure you'll be fine." Sheffield smiled and leaned forward on his desk. "When he comes and asks for his job back, tell him to go wrestle alligators or something. He needs to not *want* to come back to JAG."

"Yes, *sir*," AJ said stiffly, turning to leave. Worry for Harm and anger at him for placing himself in this situation raged through him in equal measures. Slowly, the anger began to take over, mingling with the worry until they became one. AJ hurried out to his car, determined to pull what strings he had to keep *his* Commander where he belonged.


2300 Zulu
23 October 2003
Harm's Apartment
North of Union Station


Harm flipped another card towards his baseball cap and grimaced as it missed. This was what his life had been reduced to. It had been five and a half months since the beginning of his tenure at the Company, but he hadn't managed to get himself killed yet. More's the pity. He was to leave for another mission in the morning, and this time, perhaps he'd get lucky.

The most important person in his life had said never, so there wasn't a chance to make anything work out between them; friendship just wasn't enough anymore. Harm flipped another card at the hat and missed. He'd briefly considered suicide, but he couldn't hurt his mother, Frank, and Grandma Sarah that way, so he'd given up on the idea.

Being killed in the line of duty was another matter entirely. Suicide would waste his death, but if he died serving the greater good… Sometimes how you used your death was just as important as how you used your life.

He only had about a year and a half before he got his twenty, anyway. After that he could retire, but he wasn't sure what he'd do with his life after that. Better that he died before his employment with the Company was up. At least then, he wouldn't have to face the fact that his entire life had been a waste of effort.

Harm sighed, tossed the remainder of the deck of cards back on the table, then headed towards his bedroom, shedding clothes along the way. He had a mission in the morning, and he knew that he needed to at least *attempt* to sleep between now and then.


2356 Zulu
24 October 2003
USS Seahawk
Undisclosed Location


Captain Johnson paced back and forth on the bridge, hoping that this damned fool plan of Rabb's would work. He glanced at his watch and noticed that they were fast approaching deadline before he remembered the slight… problem he had on board. "Sh*t," he muttered. "Ensign, I need you to get that news crew and escort them to the mess. They're to be held incommunicado until tomorrow afternoon, and *no* word of the identities of the pilots of the airplane are to be released, is that clear?"

Ensign Smith saluted. "Yes, sir," he said, then left.

Captain Johnson motioned to his XO. “Commander, I need you to arrange temporary quarters for our guests, and send Rabb and O'Neill up here as soon as they get off that plane.”

“Yes, sir,” the Commander saluted, and left to take care of the situation.

“We're almost there, Skipper,” the Air Boss's voice came over the comm.

“Hurry it up, Air Boss. After Rabb lands that thing, we're gonna have to scuttle it so that the press doesn't figure out what happened tonight.”

“Aye, sir.”

Captain Johnson watched as the last few planes were launched, just in time for Rabb to barely land the crippled airplane on his deck. A few minutes later, Rabb and O'Neill walked onto the bridge, flanked by his protocol officer. “Thank you, sir,” Rabb said.

He simply nodded. “Glad you were able to land that bucket of bolts. We've got a slight problem until we can get all of you out on the COD; there are some reporters aboard, and we can't let them know what you've just done.”

“Yes, sir,” the two pilots said in unison.

“The way I see it, I've got two options; I can convince the CAG here to lend you a ride out of here, which I'm not inclined to do, or we can rustle up some spare uniforms and hide you in plain sight.” The captain leaned back against the wall and smirked.

“You could do that, sir,” Harm answered neutrally.

Captain Johnson could see him fighting the instinct to tell him that neither of them was Navy anymore, and shouldn't be wearing the uniform. “Damn straight, I can. Damn Captain's privilege.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” they answered.

“I see you haven't lost the instincts,” he said dryly, motioning to another junior officer. “Lieutenant, find some uniforms for these two, and talk to the XO to find out if they've got a berth.” He looked at Harm and Beth and grinned. “Hope you don't mind being enlisted until we can get rid of the reporters, but it can't be helped.”

“Not a problem, sir,” Harm answered. “Sir? We need to report in as soon as possible. Would it be possible to get a ship-to-shore call on a secure line?”

“Get down to communications, and we'll make it happen--dismissed.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” Harm and Beth said. They suppressed the urge to salute, and headed out the door.

Captain Johnson smiled; if Rabb was still Navy, he would've had to put him in for a commendation for that last trick. It wasn't every day that such a large bird landed on a carrier; it'd been a superior piece of flying to manage it. It was just as well that he'd resigned; the man seemed to land in trouble every time he climbed into a cockpit.


2400 Zulu
20 October 2003
Mac's Apartment


Mac stared at the phone. “C'mon, Harm, *call* me,” she muttered. She reached for the phone, and dialed the familiar number. She listened to it ring until the machine picked up, then set it back in its cradle.

It hadn't been so long ago that she'd told Bud that she didn't miss Harm at all, but it wasn't true. His absence was a nagging, constant ache. Oh, after some time, working without him had gotten easier, but she still found herself wanting to call him or just drop in at his apartment to talk.

It was worse than the time he'd spent in the brig. At least then, she'd known he was safe. Hell, she'd even started pseudo-dating Webb, just so she could pump him for information about Harm.

She still wasn't too happy about the way Spook-boy had interrupted them in Paraguay; if he hadn't, their relationship might be in a completely different place than it was now. Mac frowned, something just didn't feel right. It was almost as if Harm was in trouble, and needed her to watch his six.

Their parting hadn't been all that great, and Harm had been downright *nasty*, but he was still her best friend, damn it, and he *needed* her. Mac reached for the phone and dialed his number again. Sooner or later, he'd *have* to answer, and then she'd know for sure that he was okay.


Chapter 2:
Into The Woods

“In vino veritas.”
--In wine, truth.

0145 Zulu
26 October 2003
Harm's Apartment
North of Union Station
Washington, DC


Harm leaned back against the couch and rubbed his eyes. They'd managed to escape the reporters, so his CIA position was safe... until he managed to end his career serving his country. That, he thought, was only a matter of time. He was tired because he hadn't slept in over 48 hours. They'd kept him busy acting like an enlisted man, complete with scut work, and he'd been short on sleep before that.

Harm reached for his guitar, then changed his mind, got up, and wandered towards the fridge. He opened the door and stared at the almost non-existent contents. A yellow box of baking soda, a month old carton of Chinese take-out, bottles of water, a clear plastic container that was full of a blue, fuzzy substance, and some brown, slimy carrots were all that greeted him. It looked like a great night for take-out, that is, if he even bothered to eat.

Harm shut the door, and rifled through the cabinets until he found an unopened box of crackers. It was faster than take out, and it meant that he could go to bed sooner. Maybe this time, he wouldn't wake up. There was always that hope. He walked back into the living room, flopped onto the couch, and opened his box of saltines. It wasn't much, but eating right wasn't high on his list of priorities. What did it matter when he could get killed on his next mission?

He pulled out a package of the crackers, but just as he was about to open the white plastic, he heard a knock on the door. Harm shrugged, tossed the crackers on the coffee table, and got up to answer the door. He unlocked it, and pulled it open. “Hey Beth,” he said, his voice dull with exhaustion.

Beth half-smiled and held up a twelve pack of beer. “I come bearing gifts,” she said. “Harm, I know it's a lot to ask, but my place is being fumigated, and I was wondering if I could crash on your couch tonight.”

Harm opened the door wider and motioned her inside. “Sure... but you can have the bed; I'll take the couch.”

Beth walked inside and set the beer on the table. “No way,” she began. “I'm *not* kicking you out of your bed.”

Harm looked like he was going to argue, then shrugged, giving up. It just wasn't worth fighting over. “So what's the beer for?” he asked before he flopped down in his favorite chair.

Beth grinned. “Well, it's been a rough couple of days, and I could use a drink.” She tore open the cardboard, pulled out two cans, and handed him one. “I figured that you probably could, too, and I didn't want to come empty-handed, so here I am.”

“But why a twelve pack?” Harm asked, then popped the top on his can and took a long swallow.

Beth shrugged. “I'm not trying to get you drunk and seduce you, if that's what you think, sailor.”

Harm winced at the nickname, then rolled his eyes. “I'm not a sailor anymore, Beth,” he reminded her. “And you'd *never* try and seduce me, because I'm not your type.”

Beth grinned. “What? Tall, dark, and handsome not good enough?”

Harm drank another long swallow of beer. “I know you've got the same taste as I do in women,” he pointed out dryly.

Beth got serious and smiled. “Yeah. You've just seemed so down lately that I wanted to help. We haven't exactly been sitting around knitting, you know.”

Harm started to drink more beer, grimaced as he noticed it was empty, and set the empty can down on the table. “I know. We've been... busy lately.”

Beth tossed him another can and leaned back on the couch. “You've been even busier than I have. When was the last time you had a whole weekend off, Harm?”

Harm shrugged, opened the can, and took another swallow. The cold liquid felt good going down his throat, and he had some good company to drink with. “I'm not sure... maybe before I left JAG.” He shrugged before continuing. “It's not like I've really got anybody to spend down time with.”

Beth looked at him, startled. “What about Colonel Mackenzie? The two of you seemed... close.”

Harm just shrugged and nodded at the blinking light of the answering machine. “Those are probably from her. Mac's got her own life, and I'm not included in it.”

“But weren't the two of you best friends?”

“That was when I was at JAG,” he reminded her. Harm tipped the can up for another healthy swallow. It occurred to him that he was drinking far too fast, but he didn't really care. “Now that I don't work there, I just don't have much in common with her or any of my former friends anymore.”

“I find that hard to believe, Harm.”

“It's true enough.” Harm got up and grabbed his guitar from the stand before walking back over and plopping down in the chair. He cradled the instrument against him, stroked the smooth wood, then began to fiddle with the tuning pegs so that he wouldn't have to look at his partner.

“Got anything to eat?” Beth asked, abruptly changing the subject.

He rolled his eyes at her, and nodded at the box of saltines on the table. “Help yourself, I find that I'm not hungry anymore.” Harm chugged the rest of his beer, and began to play simple chords, hoping to be able to ignore Beth long enough to keep from saying things that he'd rather not have out.

Instead of reaching for the crackers, Beth grabbed the phone and started to dial. “Hello, yes, I'd like to order a vegetarian pizza.”

Harm blocked out his partner's voice, reached for another beer, put down the guitar, and got up to check his messages. He pushed the button and frowned as Mac's voice came on. What she'd said to him in Paraguay still hurt, and the Admiral's words afterwards had only increased the agony. Between the two of them, they'd essentially managed to kill him. All that was left was to bury the remains... and the Company was good for that.

Harm's frown deepened as the Admiral's voice came on. “Harm? If you're home, pick up, son. We're all worried about you. You've got the number.” He hit the delete button and erased all the messages. Why wouldn't they let him bury himself in peace? He sat back down, popped open the can, and took another drink. Maybe if he was lucky, he could drink enough to blur his raw edges. Maybe he could... forget.

Beth hung up the phone, then resettled herself on the couch with one leg underneath her. “Okay, Harm, what's the matter?” she asked. “I haven't seen you really smile in *months*, and I'd be a lousy partner if I didn't worry.”

Harm shook his head and drank some more beer. “Nothing,” he murmured. “At least nothing you can help with.”


1903 Zulu
25 October 2003
Mac's Office
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA


Mac shuffled through yet another case file. Since the discovery of Caroline Imes's record falsifications, they'd been extremely busy going through her case files. It didn't help that her court martial made them even more short-handed, either. There simply weren't enough lawyers at headquarters to handle all of the pending cases at the moment.

If only the Admiral had let Harm come back! At least then, they'd have someone else to help with the backlog. She'd heard Coates begging the Admiral to reconsider, and had finally advised the girl to stop before she scuttled her own career. Mac looked up when Bud knocked on her door. “What can I help you with, Bud?” she asked.

“Do you have the Jackson case file, ma'am?” he asked, walking in. “I'm to review that one, and I can't find it. I thought that some of those cases might've gotten mixed up.”

Mac sifted through the stack of files on her desk and pulled it out. “Here you go, Bud,” she said with a smile.

“Thank you, Colonel,” he said, then headed out the door.

“Bud--” her voice stopped him in his tracks.

“Yes, Colonel?”

“Have you heard from Harm lately?”

“Yes, ma'am. Harriet called to say that we got a package from him in the mail this morning. It was a present for the baby... Harriet said that it had a nice card with it.”

Mac leaned forward. “Did it say how he's doing?” she asked as she played with her Marine Corps ring.

“No, ma'am,” Bud answered. “It just said congratulations about Jimmy, and it had a really cute stuffed plane in it.” He grinned. “I think Harriet had a talk with him about how train sets aren't appropriate for newborns.”

“Thank you, Bud,” she said quietly.

“I know you said that you didn't miss him, ma'am, but you really do, don't you?”

“He's been my best friend for eight years,” she said, smiling crookedly. “What do you think?”

“Just what I thought, Colonel,” Bud said. “I'll tell him to call you the next time he calls to talk to little AJ.”

“He does that?” Mac asked. “I didn't think that he was keeping in touch with any of us.”

“Yes, he does, ma'am. But he doesn't talk to Harriet or me, just AJ. He says that just because he's away doesn't mean that his godson doesn't need to speak to him every once in a while.”

“Thanks, Bud.”

“No problem, Colonel.” Bud left, carrying the thick file with him.

Mac tried to concentrate on her file again, but the words swam before her eyes. She *had* said never in Paraguay because it was right. It wasn't like he had tried to fight for a relationship with her. However, she still wanted to be his best friend, and the feeling kept coming that he needed her. Somehow, she'd make things work out, there had to be a way.


0300 Zulu
26 October 2003
Harm's Apartment
North of Union Station


Beth threw her napkin in the pizza box and looked at Harm. He'd only eaten half a slice of pizza, and he looked to be dropping some weight. “Harm,” she said, “finish your pizza.”

“Huh?” He looked at her, then at the pizza in his hand and ate it. Harm reached for another slice and ate it slowly, washing it down with more beer.

Beth got up, walked behind him, and began to rub his shoulders. “What happened to get you to work for our mutual employer, Harm?” she asked softly.

Harm finished the last of his fourth beer, rubbed his eyes, and looked at her. “Webb FUBAR'd another mission,” he said finally. “Only this time, he almost got Mac killed.”

Beth started stroking his hair as if he were a small child. “What happened after that?” she said as she tried to encourage him to tell her everything. She had figured that between his exhaustion and the alcohol, she could get him to talk about it, and perhaps find a way to help him. He was her partner, and that made it her responsibility to keep him healthy.

“The Admiral wouldn't let me go, so I had to resign to go save her.” Harm's eyes started to close in remembered pain. “I *couldn't* let her die, because I hadn't told her, and I *can't* lose her, too.”

“Tell her what?”

“As long as she's alive,” he whispered, not hearing, “I can probably be okay.”

“What did you need to tell her, Harm?” Beth prodded.

His eyes started to close as the alcohol caught up to him. “That I love her,” came the answer as his eyes drifted shut.

Beth started to smile. She'd figured that he'd been in love with his JAG partner, but it was nice to hear confirmation. “What happened?” she asked.

“She said *never*,” he mumbled. “Doesn't love me 'cause I'm not good enough. Never good enough. Don't deserve it, I guess.”

“That's not true,” she said gently.

“Yes, 'tis. Ev'rybody I love leaves 'cause I'm not good enough,” he whispered, his eyes sagging shut. “Dad left, Mom married Frank... Diane left... Sarah doesn't care, so she lef' too.” He trailed off as his head slowly came to rest on the back of the chair.

Beth caressed his hair gently, suddenly feeling very protective of him. Her mouth tightened as she thought of the Colonel. She almost wished she could deck the woman for that. How could she have been so insensitive? She sighed and reached down to tug gently on Harm's arm. “C'mon, Harm, let's get you to bed to sleep it off.”

Harm got up and followed her as she tugged on his arm to guide him. He seemed more than half-asleep as she got him upstairs and sitting on his bed. Beth untied his shoes and pulled both them and socks off. As if on autopilot, he pulled off his t-shirt and jeans before collapsing completely. She pulled blankets over him and kissed him on the cheek. “For what it's worth, Harm, *I* care what happens to you because you're my partner and my friend.”

Beth walked out of his bedroom and into the living room to start picking up. She glanced back over her shoulder and smiled. “I don't envy the hangover you'll have in the morning,” she murmured, then she finished her self-appointed task. She made up her bed on the couch, turned off the lights, and lay down. She wasn't sure how she could help, but something had to be done before he managed to get himself killed and she'd figure out a way to fix things.


Chapter 3:
Dark and Deep

"We always have a choice
Or at least I think we do
We can always use our voice
I thought this to be true

"We can live in fear
Extend ourselves to love
We can fall below
Or lift ourselves above

"Fear can stop you lovin’
Love can stop your fear
Fear can stop you lovin’
But it’s not always that clear"
-- Morcheeba, “Fear and Love”

1332 Zulu
27 October 2003
Harm's Apartment
North of Union Station
Washington, DC


Harm rolled over and groaned. His head hurt, his mouth tasted like the inside of a dirty sock, and he *really* had to go. He threw back the covers, climbed out of bed, and shuffled to the bathroom. He emptied his bladder with a sigh of relief, washed out his mouth, and rummaged in the medicine cabinet for some Tylenol (tm).

Harm found the medication, swallowed a couple, and headed back to bed. He fell asleep quickly, only to be woken up a few hours later by racket coming from the direction of his kitchen. He grabbed his robe, threw it on, stumbled out into the living room, and into the kitchen. "Beth?" he said groggily, "what are you doing here?"

Beth turned, pulled some milk and eggs out of the fridge, and deposited the items on the counter. "You said I could stay on your couch because my apartment is being fumigated, remember?"

Harm yawned and rubbed his hand over his face. "Oh, yeah, right. You came over with beer last night."

"Uh huh." Beth broke an egg in the pan and gestured towards the table. "Sit down, and I'll have breakfast ready in a few; then you can go back to bed." She picked up a spatula and pointed it at him. "You, my friend, are in dire need of more sleep."

Harm shuffled over to the table and sat down. Part of him wanted to argue, but it felt damn good to have somebody take care of him for once. He rested his head on one hand and watched her cook. "So why are you cooking?" he asked finally.

"You've lost weight, Harm," Beth said softly. "My guess is that you haven't been eating, and *somebody* needs to make sure that you do." She stirred the contents of the pan for a moment before she turned towards him. "I've no wish to break in a new partner for a while, so it's up to me to make sure that you're okay."

Harm drew circles on the table with one finger. "I *am* okay," he protested.

"Suuure," Beth said. She pulled the pan off the stove, dumped the contents on a plate, added toast, then walked over and placed it in front of him. "That's why you're so miserable that you haven't been taking care of yourself." She grabbed a glass out of the cupboard, opened a new carton of orange juice, filled the glass, and put it next to the plate. "Eat," she ordered.

Harm poked the pile of scrambled eggs on his plate and frowned before he took a bite. "I haven't been hungry lately," he admitted hesitantly.

"Why is that?" she asked.

"Paraguay," he admitted with a grimace. "I realized that Mac was *right*. I've got nothing…"

"No, she wasn't," Beth insisted. "Mac is an idiot. If I were straight, and a guy like you did what you did for her, I sure as hell wouldn't treat him that badly." She patted him on the shoulder. "You've got me, Harm, and I'm no fair weather friend to desert you when you get into trouble; I swear I won't."

"She never really did--until I ended up in the brig for something I didn't do. I wonder... if I'd ended up in Leavenworth, would she have come then?" Harm laughed humorlessly. "I guess we'll never know, because it seems like I'm destined to stay alone, and I'm damned tired of it! Why do I *always* have to be the lone hero? Can't I ever be allowed to have what I want the most?"

Beth leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "No, you're not *destined* for that. Remember how I said that if you called her, you'd know if it was over?"

Wordlessly, Harm nodded.

"I could be wrong," she offered. "It seems to me that she was pretty on edge in Paraguay; maybe she didn't really mean it. You *are* entitled to be happy, perhaps you just need to reach for it. Talk to her, Harm, make her listen to how *you* feel."

Harm took a deep breath and nodded. "I'll think about it. Maybe after our next mission." He glanced at the clock. "Speaking of which, don't we need to get going?"

Beth shook her head, and headed over to the stove to cook her own breakfast. "I talked to the boss this morning, and we've got a few days off. You're *not* allowed to sub for anyone, either, because you need sleep. Now eat your breakfast and go back to *bed*."

Harm sighed and picked up his fork. "Yes, Mommy."

Beth rolled her eyes and grinned mischievously. "Well, kiddo, it's a dirty job, but *somebody* has to do it."

Harm grabbed a towel off the back of a chair, balled it up, and threw it at her. Beth caught the towel and stuck her tongue out at him. He chuckled, shook his head, and started to eat. Maybe things weren't as bad as he had thought. No matter what the JAG crew thought of him, he still had *one* friend in his corner, and it was a good feeling to know that *somebody* still cared.


2006 Zulu
15 November 2003
AJ Chedwiggen's office
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, VA


AJ picked up a file and winced as he heard shouting coming from the bullpen... again. In the eight months that Rabb had been gone, he'd heard more fighting and more strife in his offices than ever before. He grimaced and realized once more how *good* the Commander had been for the morale at Headquarters. The hole he left due to the SecNav's orders just couldn't be filled. He'd found replacements for Singer and Imes, but he didn't have anyone who could fit into Harm's shoes.

Part of him didn't want to because replacing Harm would be admitting defeat. He *needed* the other half of his best team back; Mac wasn't happy without him around and she was making everyone aware of that fact. As time passed, the likelihood of getting him back faded. After so long, it was unlikely that he could pry Rabb away from the Company and have a whole man.

AJ had worked enough covert ops with them to know that working long term with agencies like the CIA could easily steal parts of a man's soul. He hadn't found anything he could do about that, but there might be something he could do to fix Rabb's personal life. He pushed the intercom button. “Coates, I need Colonel Mackenzie.”

“Yes, sir, I'll go get her.”

AJ leaned back in his leather chair, and sighed. It had to work. When Mac had come back, she'd acted as if nothing untoward had happened, and treated Rabb's sacrifice as if it meant nothing. *Somebody* had to talk some sense into her, had to make her see what she'd done to the man who'd given up absolutely everything he had left for her. Since nobody else was stepping up to do it, he guessed it was up to him.

AJ looked up as Mac walked in and came to attention in front of his desk. “Colonel Mackenzie, reporting as ordered, sir.”

“At ease, Colonel. Take a seat.”

“What is it you needed to see me about, sir?” she asked.

“First of all, Mac, I'm not talking to you as your CO, but I *will* order you to stay put until I've finished if I have to.” AJ leaned forward and clasped his hands together.

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you heard from Harm lately, Mac?”

“No, sir.” Mac said, looking subdued.

“Considering what I've heard about Paraguay, I'm not surprised,” AJ returned ruefully.

Mac's head snapped up and she glared at him. “What *have* you heard, sir?”

“I got an email from Gunny after all of you got back that filled me in on just about everything,” AJ folded his arms over his chest and looked at Mac. He knew his people, and she was reacting exactly as he thought she would.

“He didn't *have* to come after us,” she muttered. “Gunny could've rescued us all by himself.”

AJ shook his head. “You don't know, do you, Mac? Gunny was waiting for Harm to show up; Webb had told him that he should be waiting for him as backup.”

Mac's eyes widened. “You mean they were going to just *leave* us there?”

AJ shrugged. “That's the Company for you; you screw up, you die. Mac, I'm not even going to go into the number of men Harm had to kill, some with his bare hands even, but have you *really* thought about what he did?” AJ sighed and started fiddling with a pen from his desk. “I asked him what he'd give up to keep you, and he's proven that. My question for you is what are *you* willing to give up to get him back?”

Mac sputtered as if she didn't know what to say.

“I've been his CO and friend for longer than I've known you, and he has problems saying what he feels. *Think* about what you know about him Mac. You two have been best friends for eight *years*.”

“On and off,” she muttered.

“*Everyone* he's ever said those words to that you want so much has either died or left him, so he doesn't say them.” He swiveled his chair around to face her more fully. “He's already proven that he loves you, Mac; what in hell more could you want?”

“The words?” Mac whispered.

“The words you want will come eventually, Mac, but you have to let him in and let him know how *you* feel.” AJ looked at her earnestly. “Have you ever come out and told him how you feel? Have you ever said, 'I love you, Harm'?”

Mac twisted her hands in her lap, a blush rising in her cheeks. “Sort of... well, no. I think he thought I was propositioning him for a one night stand or something.”

AJ leveled a glare at her. “Mac, *fix* this. Go camp out on his doorstep until he shows up or something, but get your act together! He's not in my chain of command anymore, so when the two of you get married, there won't be those problems.”

“Don't you mean, 'if', sir?”

“No, Colonel, I mean *when*. I've rarely seen what the two of you have, and if both of you ever get your heads out of your sixes, I'll expect a wedding invitation. Harm did it, so now we're just waiting on you.”

“Are you *sure*, sir?”

“He wouldn't have gone to Paraguay and thrown his career away for anyone else, Mac. Now, go try and talk to him, *that's* an order.”

Mac stood and snapped to attention. “Yes, *sir*.”

“Dismissed.” AJ watched as Mac left his office, then sighed. He hoped it wasn't too late; those two needed each other. He dismissed his officers' love lives from his mind and reached for some paperwork. He had things to take care of.

Chapter 4:
Before I Sleep

"All warfare is based on deception. We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors."
--Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” (fl. 400-320 BC)

1924 Zulu
3 November 2003
Golf Course
Washington, DC


"Harm, Beth, I've got an assignment for both of you." Blaisdell teed off and glanced over at the aviators.

"What is it, sir?" Harm asked.

"Sadik has resurfaced," Blaisdell said.

"I knew he was still out there," Harm muttered. Beth put her hand on his shoulder.

"For the record, we didn't expect it to be this fast; it's only been six months since Paraguay, after all."

Harm nodded. "So our mission is to stop him?"

"In a way. Your report said that he never saw your face; is this correct?"

"As far as I know, sir," Harm responded as he stuffed his hands into his pockets.

"Good. The two of you are to infiltrate his organization. You're in this because you're one of the few that can recognize him; Webb isn't up to this kind of work yet."

"Do we know where, sir?" Beth asked. "Usually, the two of us are just aviators..."

"You have approximately four hours to get packed before your plane leaves." Blaisdell turned to face them, his face serious. "This may be a long term assignment. Sadik must be stopped--we've received word that he's planning on blowing up several major universities that have high concentrations of exchange students here in the US. Webb and *his* new partner will be by with the tickets and give you everything we have before you leave for the airport."

"Yes, sir," the duo answered, then turned to leave. They walked to the car and got inside without saying a word. Only when they had started to drive back to Harm's place, did Beth venture to speak.

"I still don't get why they tapped me," she grumbled.

Harm smiled for the first time in what felt like forever. "Because you're my partner--we now go together like peanut butter and jelly."

Beth made a face. "I never liked that kind of sandwich. Couldn't it be something cooler, like Superman and Lois Lane? Batman and Robin? Hell, Bert and Ernie?"

Harm laughed. "Well, Lois was in love with Superman, I've already been partnered with Robin, and we both know how *that* worked out… I guess Bert and Ernie are possibilities, but are you *sure* you want to be a Muppet?"

Beth rolled her eyes. "Good point. Hmm... perhaps the Lone Ranger and Tonto? I'll have to think about it."

"How about Peter Parker and Mary Jane?" Harm suggested with a smirk.

"They got married," Beth said, then punched him lightly on the arm.

"Hey! That's not fair. I'm driving here," Harm said indignantly. "How about the Cisko Kid and Pancho or the Green Hornet and Kato?"

"I think I like the Green Hornet and Kato," Beth said thoughtfully.

"As long as I get to be the Green Hornet," Harm teased. "I'm older than you, so it's only fair."

Beth stuck her tongue out at him. "Fine. Now, what was that about Webb having a *partner* now?"

Harm shrugged. "Maybe they got sick of FUBAR'd assignments and assigned some poor sap to keep him out of trouble."

"Webb needs to go back to spook school," she muttered. "You're probably right. I've heard rumors of a new guy that's on loan from the NSA..."

"I suppose it's possible." Harm turned on the radio, and the two sat in silence, contemplating the new assignment that had the possibility of easily going south if they didn't hurry. There were too many easy targets that could kill not only thousands of students but had the possibility of taking cities with them as well.


1445 Zulu
30 October 2003
CIA Headquarters
Langley, Virginia


Deputy Director Kershaw smiled at his guest as they waited for Webb. He didn't know the man personally, but his record was excellent. Perhaps he could get Webb to actually listen for once, since he'd been a contemporary of Neville Webb.

Kershaw looked up as Webb entered. "Director, you wanted to see me?" Webb said.

Kershaw motioned to the other chair in front of his desk. "Have a seat, Agent Webb."

Webb sat down, shot a puzzled look at the unidentified man, then turned towards Kershaw. "What is this about?" he asked.

"Agent Webb, this is your new partner, Agent Jack Olsen from the NSA."

Webb glanced at the older man next to him, then glared at Kershaw. "Partner? I don't work with *partners*; I work *alone*!"

"You work with a partner, or you fly a desk," Kershaw said with a wave of his hand. "Jack Olsen *is* your partner, whether you like it or not." He stood up and walked around the desk. "I'll leave the two of you together to work things out; I have to go check on a project."

"I don't need a partner," Webb insisted.

"Nice to know you think that, kid. If it weren't for who your old man was, you'd have ended up behind a desk or as a star on the Company's wall a long time ago." Jack leaned back in his chair and put his feet on the director's desk. "I don't work with partners, but I agreed, because I owe your dad. Neville and I worked together more than once, and he saved my life."

Webb got up and started to pace, dismissing Jack's words with a flap of his wrist. "I don't need you," he said.

Jack smiled indulgently and ran a hand through his graying dark hair. "Well, kid, I've been working for the NSA since you were in diapers, and you've got more FUBAR'd missions than I do to your credit. I've never had to have JAG officers pull me out of tight spots, and you make a habit out of it." He stood and stretched out to his full height.

"I'm not a kid," Webb said, irritated.

"Yes, you are," Jack smiled, his brown eyes twinkling with mischief. "My son isn't that much younger than you are."

Webb rolled his eyes and moved away from the man. "I've been involved in several successful missions," he began.

"In which you almost managed to get all of your allies killed, and the Company refuses to give you backing unless you've got a baby-sitter." Jack smiled charmingly, stood up, and leaned against the deputy director's desk. "That's *me*, kid. Now you can accept your role as junior partner who's got a lot to learn, or you can choose to ride a desk, or we can send you back to training with the recruits. It's your decision."

Webb stuck his hands in his pockets. "I guess you're my partner," he said grudgingly.

"Well then, *you*, boy, have a lot to learn. Your first lesson is that whatever I say goes; you follow *my* orders."

"Yes, sir," Webb said stiffly.

"Now, if you'll come with me, the first thing we need to do is look over your latest case to see where you went wrong." Jack picked up a file from the desk and started flipping through it. "The way I see it, your planning was only half-cocked, nobody knew exactly what the hell was going on, and you just didn't blend in well enough." He put the file down on the pile, picked it up, and started walking.

Webb groaned inwardly and followed, wondering what he'd ever done to Kershaw to get super-spy as his babysitter. It was humiliating enough to be babysat like a screw-up, but having Jack Olsen do it was even worse. He'd only read about some of the man's cases, but Olsen was worse than Rabb; most of the time, he could do no wrong on the job. At this rate, he'd never get his old position back.


0300 Zulu
16 November 2003
Harm's Apartment
North of Union Station
Washington DC


Mac knocked on the door, waited, and then started pounding on it. When no one answered, she fished out her keys, unlocked the door, and slipped inside. "Harm?" she called.

No one answered. Mac looked around the apartment, taking in its unlived-in look. It looked as if it had been unoccupied for quite some time. There was a fine layer of dust covering things, as if the owner hadn't been around to clean. The answering machine light was blinking, probably with all the messages she'd left in the past few weeks.

Mac walked into Harm's bedroom and checked the closet. Damn. His sea bag was gone, and heaven only knew when he'd come back. She walked back into the living room and smiled when she saw a blank legal pad on the desk. There was one thing that she could do to let him know that she still cared.

Mac walked over and sat down in the desk chair before grabbing the legal pad and a pen. She took a deep breath and started to write what she thought might be the most important document of her life.

"Dear Harm," she wrote.

"I've recently received a Chegwidden wake-up call, and I've discovered a few things that we need to talk about. The first thing I need to say is that I'm sorry. Yeah, I know you never thought you'd hear that from me, because I've said that apologies are signs of weakness, but it needed to be said. I'm sorry I didn't realize how thoroughly concussed you were after the plane crash in Paraguay, and I'm sorry I said *never*.

"Flyboy, the Admiral made me realize that I've never exactly said how I feel about you, and I've never made what I want clear. I've never really said this and meant it before, so I'm not too good at it, but here we go. I love you. I want my best friend back, and I want us to reach for something more, something better. And as for what I want, well, I want us to make good on our deal. Before that, I'd like to marry you, so I can tell all the blonde bimbos of the world to keep their mitts off of you because you're mine.

"Yes, I know it's possessive of me, but I'm hoping that you still love me enough to want to stake a claim of your own. Sailor, come back to me. I'd camp out on your doorstep if I thought it would help. It wasn't until after you stopped talking to me and the rest of the JAG crew that I realized how much I need you in my life. I love you, Harm. I miss you.


Mac thought about it for a few minutes, then signed the note with, "your Sarah." He rarely used her first name unless he was completely serious about something, and by using it now, perhaps he'd realize how much she meant what she was writing.

Mac ripped the page from the legal pad, folded it, wrote his name on it, and laid it in plain sight on the desk. "Hurry home, Harm," she murmured to the empty apartment.

In her hurry to leave, Mac jostled the desk, knocking over a tall stack of bills. Not noticing, she left, locking the door behind her. The bills fell on top of her note, completely obscuring the yellow paper.


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