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Classification Angst, Romance (H/M)
Length Approximately 25,000 words; 64 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Anything from Season One through Season Ten. Also this is very loosely based on the story told in the movie “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.”
 
Rating GS
Author's Notes All aboard the Starship Enterprise...because this one is definitely AU. I have been pondering the concept of true love and ‘meant to be.’ The question came to me, what if Mac and Harm had just missed each other? Would love have found a way in spite of it all? Being the romantic that I am…I decided to try and find out.

I will also play with the dates here. Season two aired in January 97 but we will begin in May of that same year. The story begins at the start of Season two.

 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

 

 

1635
Monday
May 3rd 1997
North of Union Station

 


Major Sarah Mackenzie stepped into the building that looked more like a warehouse than a potential home. She had heard that the place was available through Lieutenant j.g. Bud Roberts, whom she had met just this morning. She just had attended an awards ceremony at the White House Rose Garden with her new commanding officer, Admiral AJ Chegwidden and the lieutenant. The Distinguished Flying Cross had been awarded posthumously to Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb Jr.

As she stepped off of the elevator she smiled, thinking that she liked the sound of his name. ‘Too bad you didn’t stick around, Commander,’ she thought.

The real estate agent droned on and on, but she hadn’t really been listening to him. He seemed a bit pretentious to her and not a little condescending. He had tried to discourage her from the moment she mentioned that she wanted to see this property, warning her that this was no place for a woman alone. She had thought of reminding him that she was a Marine, but somehow as she looked at him, with his every hair in place and buttoned up exterior, she didn’t think he would understand the concept.

They walked into the apartment, and the room that Mac took in, was a real work in progress. A ladder sat just to her left with a paint bucket still sitting on the floor beside it. A brush rested atop the paint can, as though the person painting had merely taken a break and would be back at any moment. The kitchen island was covered in plastic, as were some of the windows.

“Has the owner hired painters to finish the job?” Mac wondered aloud as she walked through the apartment.

“Yes, some were hired but they didn’t finish, as you can see. You understand that the original owner, Commander Rabb, died before the project was finished. His mother, Mrs. Burnett, hired painters, electricians, everyone necessary to finish this job. The painters, however, refused to finish. They insisted that the building was haunted.”

David Parker looked at his client, hoping to finally discourage her from taking on this dilapidated building, in a neighborhood entirely too crime ridden for her. He had a nice brownstone in Georgetown that was just what she needed. He would never understand women, especially headstrong women like Major Mackenzie appeared to be; they were their own worst enemies, in his opinion.

Mac stopped where she stood in the apartment and turned to look at the real estate agent. She had finally had enough of his patronizing attitude. She was not a child and she was perfectly capable of finishing this apartment and making it work well for her. Besides, this was much less expensive, and given the state of her social life, she much preferred making this apartment a home than looking for love in all the wrong places… which was a habit she intended to break immediately.

“Mr. Parker, my decision will be based on what works best for me and my lifestyle. I am single, I have a very demanding job that takes me away much of the time, and I think this may very well be the place that suits me best. I don’t appreciate your efforts to scare me away from this property. I am perfectly capable of making this place my own without any help from anyone. Do you really think a ghost story will keep me from choosing this property instead of the brownstone in Georgetown?”

“No, ma’am, of course not. I only meant to….” His voice died in his throat as she turned away from him.

Mac walked up two steps into what had to have been the bedroom. The bed had been left where the previous owner had placed it. She looked just above it and what she saw nearly took her breath away. It was a portrait of a man in uniform, in khakis with his cover low over his eyes. She recognized the collar devices as those of a lieutenant commander and the wings that rested above his ribbons on his chest. He was leaning against what looked to be the rail of a ship. The sky was blue above and the sea was gray, blue and green behind him. It was a casual pose, his arms folded across his chest, and he was smiling. His hair was dark and his eyes very similar in color to the sea painted in the portrait behind him. He was strikingly handsome; his penetrating gaze seemed to see her as she moved around the room.

Mr. Parker walked up behind her.

“That is a portrait of the original owner, Commander Rabb. Mrs. Burnett, his mother put it up and never had the heart to take it down.”

Mr. Parker’s voice had startled her, but she recovered quickly, hoping that he hadn’t noticed.

“I see.”

Mac looked around the room, studying the custom closets and the glass blocked shower. She considered the light in the front room that she could see through the louvered glass divider, between the bedroom and the rest of the apartment. At that moment, Mac decided that she liked it here.

She turned to walk out of the bedroom back into the kitchen. It was a gourmet kitchen with windows to the ceiling – not that she was much of a cook, but hey, she could certainly learn. The longer she was there, the more she knew this place was for her, for reasons she could not explain. She looked toward the bedroom, her eyes drawn again to the portrait of the commander.

Mr. Parker followed her gaze and commented, “You know, Major Mackenzie, it is said that the commander committed suicide here. He was apparently despondent over the death of an old flame from his Academy days. There is no proof, of course, just gossip.”

The lights in the kitchen flickered and what sounded like an electrical circuit sizzled.

Mr. Parker appeared to break out in sweat and looked around the room warily.

Mac smiled in amusement. “What’s the matter, Mr. Parker, do you think your comment angered the ghost?”

“Not at all.” Mr. Parker walked slowly toward the open door, continuing to look around the room.

“It’s just that…. well, there was some question about the gas line to the apartment. The commander had insisted on doing all the work himself, so there is no way of really knowing if it was an accident… or if he just couldn’t go on with out his former lover.”

Mr. Parker had nearly reached the door when it suddenly slammed shut and barely missed him as he approached it. He jumped back from the door for a moment and then grabbed the handle, flinging it back open as he nearly ran for the elevators.

“I’ll meet you downstairs!” he called over his shoulder as he opened the elevator doors.

Mac began to laugh; she couldn’t help herself. She didn’t believe in ghosts, and she certainly wasn’t going to be scared away by the possibility of one. Her laughter echoed off of the walls in the nearly empty apartment. It was though someone was laughing along with her. She looked at the portrait again and made her way out of the apartment and into the elevator.

Mr. Parker waited beside his Mercedes Benz, wiping his brow and thanking God that whatever inhabited that apartment had shown itself. There would be no way the major would take this apartment now.

“I’ll take it, Mr. Parker.” Mac smiled at him, as calm as she had been when they entered the building.

“But Major, you saw…you heard. Do you mean to tell me you’re still going to take this building with whatever is inside it and in this God-forsaken neighborhood?”

Mac looked up at the row of windows that let the light into the kitchen of what would soon be her home. “Yes, I am.”

Mr. Parker merely shook his head and got into his vehicle.

Mac turned to join him, and for a moment she could have sworn she saw someone in the window looking down on them.

“Ridiculous,” she said quietly under her breath. Mr. Parker’s ghost story had made her think she was seeing things.


Inside the apartment…


Harm looked down at the woman getting into the car. Who was she? She looked like Diane, so much so that when she walked into the apartment he thought he had finally found her. He had been looking for her since he finally understood that he was dead. He had fallen asleep and had never woken up.

He still felt a rage at the unfairness of it all. Diane murdered and now this, his life over with before it had even begun. Now it seemed, as in life, he could not reach her. Diane was always just out of reach. To top it all off, people were actually saying he committed suicide. Surely no one who really knew him would believe that.

Now this person, this Major Sarah Mackenzie, was going to come into his place, the place he couldn’t seem to leave, and make it her own. He could not fathom it.

She didn’t appear to scare easily, but time would tell. Before he was finished he intended to be sure that the major believed in ghost stories, without a doubt.


0900
Monday
May 16, 1997
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, Virginia



Major Sarah Mackenzie made her way out of the conference room after staff call and started toward what would be her new office. This was her first staff call since returning from Arizona. Admiral Chegwidden had informed her that she would be occupying Commander Rabb’s office. He had asked her if she would have a problem with that and she had not. Personally, she didn’t understand why everyone was making such a big deal about her taking his apartment and now occupying his office. It hadn’t been so much what they said, but the looks on the faces of the staff, when they learned she had taken it.

She walked toward the office, already thinking about how she would make it her own, just as she had dreams of making the apartment her own, as well. She was to sign the final paperwork on the property this afternoon at 1600. Mac couldn’t wait to begin her new life, and the apartment was just the first step. As she neared the office she noticed a petty officer standing on a step ladder, removing Commander Rabb’s name plate and replacing it with hers. She smiled, thinking, ‘Headquarters JAG.’ Being stationed here was definitely a step up.

When she had been summoned here to assist in the investigation into the theft of the Declaration of Independence, she had known that there was more to the story than she had initially been led to believe. Mac assumed that once the investigation was over she would be returning to San Diego. She’d never dreamed she would have a permanent position here.

“Ma’am?” Lieutenant j.g. Roberts’s voice pulled her from her thoughts.

“Yes, Lieutenant, I’m sorry.”

She was suddenly aware that she was still smiling and that she was surrounded by some members of the JAG staff, who were not smiling at all. In fact, some of them had tears in their eyes. Her expression returned to one that was more serious and appropriate for the moment. She felt slightly ashamed of her thoughts just now. Commander Rabb had been dead for over a month, but no one on staff had had the heart to take down his name plate, until now. She made a mental note to tread carefully for a while.

‘Sorry, Commander,’ she thought. Her thoughts had turned to the commander quite often of late. Since she had decided to take the apartment she had become curious about every part of his life. She also occasionally found herself talking to him in her thoughts as she did now, as though she had known him, as well as anyone else at JAG.

The small group of people that congregated at the office door turned and acknowledged the major with a ‘ma’am,’ then quietly returned to their duties.

Mac stepped into her new office, and Lieutenant Roberts stood just outside the door. “Ma’am?”

“Yes, Lieutenant?” She refocused on the lieutenant as she turned toward him.

“If I may, ma’am, are you all right?” The lieutenant’s expression was sincere.

He had accompanied her to Red Rock Mesa and had helped handle the ‘special assistant to the Undersecretary of State’ Clayton Webb very well. It had been difficult, and there were moments when she’d thought she and her uncle were going to lose more than their careers, but somehow she had been able to convince her uncle to turn himself in. He would be serving time in Leavenworth, but his sentence had been only eight years as compared to the 25 years that the prosecution had asked for.

“I’m fine, Lieutenant. Thank you for your concern.”

She had a very good feeling about this particular naval officer. He seemed a bit too eager at times, but she believed that in time, he would make a great officer and attorney. She sat down at her desk and began absentmindedly opening and closing drawers.

“Is there anything I can help you with, ma’am?”

“No, I’m going to send Petty Officer Tiner to Supply so that I can get my basic office supplies and get rolling. There doesn’t seem to be anything left in here.”

She opened the top drawer in the middle of her desk and saw a piece of paper; she picked it up and started to toss it in her trash bin.

Bud saw the other side of the paper and realized it was a picture of Commander Rabb and someone whose face he didn’t recognize right at that moment.

“Oh, ma’am, I can take that. I’ll just have it sent to the commander’s mother.”

Mac turned the paper over and saw a picture of the commander and a woman who, if she had not known better, could have been her.

“My God.” She turned the picture back toward Bud. “This could be me.”

The lieutenant walked further into the office and then recognized the woman in the picture as Lieutenant Diane Schonke.

“Yes, ma’am.” He told her the name of the woman and that he had served with her aboard the Seahawk.

Mac looked again at the picture. The commander was standing behind Diane with his arms locked loosely around her waist. They were both smiling for the camera; it appeared to have been taken very recently.

“Did you know the commander well, Lieutenant Roberts?”

“Not well, ma’am. He conducted a few investigations aboard the Seahawk when I was the public affairs officer.” Bud paused a moment. “I do know that he was a good officer, ma’am. His and his father’s exploits were legend aboard the Seahawk. His father was an aviator too. He went MIA during Vietnam, I think.”

Mac listened without comment. This guy must have been something else. She would have liked to have met him, she decided.

“Here…ma’am, I’ll take that picture.”

“No, that won’t be necessary, Lieutenant. I have a number of things in the apartment that will have to be shipped to Mrs. Burnett. I can take care of this.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“You are dismissed, Lieutenant.”

“Ma’am.” Coming to attention, Bud turned on his heel and left the room.


1800

Later that afternoon…



Mac opened the door to the apartment while juggling two bags of groceries and her dinner in the form of a Beltway Burger and large fries. She left the door open while she made her way to the now cleaned and cleared kitchen island. The painting was finished, with the exception of the bedroom, and her furniture would arrive tomorrow.

The windows were trimmed in white and the walls painted in the palest yellow. She looked around the room, satisfied with what she saw. Her eyes came to rest on the portrait still hanging over her bed. She smiled, wondering what the commander would think. Then, as though someone had read her mind, her front door once again slammed shut.

She was startled and turned toward the door; she walked to it and placed her hand on it. Mac felt around the frame of the door, looking closely to see if the door had been hung straight. Maybe the floors weren’t level. She’d had the apartment inspected and everything seemed to be in order according to the home inspectors report. Pondering this, she continued to inspect the door and the frame around it. Finally, she decided this was a huge and drafty old building. It was still officially the spring season; storms and winds blew up out of nowhere. The longer she thought about it, the more she knew that there had to be some reasonable explanation for this.

She turned and walked toward her kitchen, deciding dinner was long overdue.


Harm had been waiting for the major to come to the apartment all day. He thought that all he needed was to have her alone in the apartment for one night and that would be the end of any more intrusions from her or that pest David Parker. He could see now that this was not going to be as easy of a task, as he had thought. The evening was young, though, and a good strong storm was on the horizon. He had only to wait until dark.



2230

That evening…



Harm had learned that in his present state that he could be everywhere at once, within his apartment. He watched, from a position that seemed to be far away, but he could be immediately be as close to an object or person, as he chose. He watched as Sarah Mackenzie showered and sang to herself, bits of and pieces of songs that he did not recognize. She really did appear to be a nice person. He was beginning to have to work very hard at not liking her, and he had to remind himself at almost every turn that she was not Diane. There were times, though, when it was very obvious that she was not; right now, for instance, it seemed Sarah Mackenzie, in addition to appearing to be physically stronger than Diane, was a bit more voluptuous too.

He leaned unseen against his bathroom sink, unable to keep from smiling as he watched her finishing up her shower and decided at that moment that being a ghost…had its advantages.

Mac walked out of the bathroom after her shower, and wrapped herself in a thick terrycloth robe that she had found stuffed in one of the closet drawers. It was entirely too long and the sleeves had to be rolled up to fit her, but she loved the feel of it around her. As she walked out of the bedroom she lifted the sleeves to her nose and breathed in its clean and masculine scent. She laughed out loud at herself as she entered the kitchen and said aloud.

“Commander Rabb, you’re just the kind of man I need, tall, dark and handsome….and never ever in the way.”

She shook her head and set about making herself a cup of tea before she went to bed.

Harm discovered that all his senses had not disappeared. As she passed him, she smelled of soap and shampoo, and her laughter was such a sweet sound that it reminded him of just how lonely he had been in this apartment, before she had come into it.

She had unpacked most of her clothes after dinner and had been able to get her kitchen squared away as well. She filled her teapot, set it on the stove and turned on the burner. While she waited for her water to boil, she remembered the picture that she found in her office that afternoon. Mac walked over to her purse and took it out and looked longingly at the couple. They seemed so happy. To anyone who knew her by sight, they would believe that this was a picture of her, wrapped in the arms of a man who loved her.

“Oh, to be loved like that,” she said, heaving a huge sigh, and walking back into the kitchen.

Harm could see the picture she had in her hands. He was suddenly so angry, that every kind thought he had about the major, left him immediately. Who the hell was this woman? That picture belonged to him – what was she doing with it, anyway?

He watched as she slipped the picture into the pocket of *his* bathrobe.

The storm that Harm had been waiting for seemed to strike at the most opportune moment. It was as though the heavens opened and the rain suddenly came down in sheets. The lightning was streaking across the sky, with the thunder booming so loudly that it made the windows in the kitchen rattle.

Mac seemed unfazed by the storm and took a mug out of the cabinet and began to make her tea. She turned off the burner on the stove and just as she began to pour the water in her cup, the lights in the apartment went out.

“Just great.” Mac said aloud, her voice seeming too loud, in the now dark apartment.

She set the teapot down on the stove and went in search of her flashlight. She had left it in a box, she believed, near the front door. She had only taken a couple of steps when a bolt of lightning lit the room and she was face to face with the specter of Harmon Rabb Jr.

She drew in a breath sharply and stepped back.

Harm was feeling very pleased with himself. He hadn’t had to say anything; maybe this would be all it would take. Just as he thought he had won, she seemed to steel herself and began to stare back at him. She swallowed hard and lifted her chin slightly, as if she were challenging him.

“Who are you?”

“Don’t you recognize me, Major?”

Mac continued to stare, and as she did, she realized who she was seeing; it was the commander in the portrait. He was a bit paler and it seemed that his hair was darker. His eyes also seemed even more penetrating than in the picture. His lashes were black and thick in sharp contrast to the pale blue color his eyes seemed to have become, a difference so stark, that they seemed to cast an iridescent glow.

“You’re Commander Rabb.”

“Very good, Major. Now what the hell are you doing here?” He narrowed his eyes, trying to convey just how unwelcome she was.

“This is my home; I signed the final paperwork on the apartment this afternoon.”

“Correction, Major Mackenzie: this is my home and you are not welcome here.” He had raised his voice, making it carry and bounce off of the walls, as the thunder had.

Mac shivered as the room’s temperature seemed to drop 20 degrees.

Harm smiled smugly; counting backward from five, four, three … She should be running for the door any second.

Mac suddenly felt anger rise within her. This was the first and only home that was completely hers. She had always had to share with roommates, and as with many people in military life, a place called home could be difficult to find, at best. No one was going to scare her away. She clenched her teeth. Although she was afraid, she was not going to be chased away.

“Now you listen to me…whoever you are. I’m not leaving here. You could shake this building until it falls down and I will still be standing here in whatever is left of it.”

She didn’t understand the attachment she had to this place. She only knew it was her home and no one or nothing would make her leave it.

When she stopped speaking, Harm could see her chin begin to tremble and he knew instinctively that there was nothing he could do to make her go away. Truth be told, she was beginning to break his heart with her courage, in the face of what he had been throwing at her. He felt ashamed as he saw the tears starting to slide down her cheeks.

“All right, enough of that. I didn’t mean to make you…”

Mac didn’t let him finish. “Don’t flatter yourself, you didn’t make me cry…it’s…it’s been a long day and I’m tired.” Mac swiped at the tears on her face, still staring at him, still trying to comprehend that she was speaking to the ghost of the man who had lived here before her.

“Whatever you say, just stop.” The fierceness that had been in his voice was replaced by an almost pleading sound. He could feel her pain as though it were his own; he felt connected to her for some inexplicable reason.

“Then you’ll leave me in peace?” Mac asked hopefully.

“I didn’t say I’d leave….I’m not sure I can, to be honest.”

“Is it because you….committed suicide?”

“What?”

“Mr. Parker, the real estate agent, he said that you might have committed suicide.”

“Mr. Parker is an idiot and he doesn’t know anything about me. I didn’t commit suicide. I had a huge lapse in judgment, yes…I should have let a professional help with that damn gas line…but I did not commit suicide.”

Mac reached into her pocket and took out the picture of Diane and Harm.

“Where did you get that?” He still hated the idea that she had a picture that had been so precious to him, in his lifetime.

“It was in your desk at JAG. The Admiral assigned your former office to me.”

“My office – you’re in *my* office?”

“Yes.” Mac suddenly felt sorry she had mentioned that particular fact.

“My apartment, my office…” He gave her an appraising look. “….my bathrobe. It seems that you have almost everything that was mine.”

“I’m sorry.”

She noticed now how young he was, and how handsome. He must have had some life. An aviator, a JAG attorney, obviously loved by his coworkers and by the woman in the picture. She could only hope to have what he had, in the short time he was here.

Harm answered her thoughts as though she had said them aloud. “I did have a lot of good things in my life. I lost Diane, though. She was murdered.”

“Lieutenant Roberts told me.”

“Roberts is at JAG?”

“Yes, he seemed genuinely disappointed that he would not be working with you.”

Harm was silent, his mind returning to the problem at hand. How would they make this work? He knew now he could not make her leave, but if she painted another thing in this apartment ‘pale yellow’ he fully believed that this was meant to be his hell.

“You and I have to think of a way to coexist, Major Mackenzie.”

“All right…I think I can do that. But my friends call me… Mac.” She smiled a half smile; okay…she was introducing herself to someone who happened to be a ghost named Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr.

“Harm.”

“Harm?”

“It’s short for Harmon.”

“Oh…well, Harm…I think we can do this.”

“On one condition.”

“And that would be?”

“Leave my bedroom as I left it and whatever you do don’t paint it yellow. And I want my portrait to stay there. I am proud of this place too. It was the first home I ever had on my own as well.”

Mac turned to look at the bedroom through the louvered glass as the lights flickered and then came on to stay.

“I can do that.” She turned to look at him and he was gone.

She yawned and suddenly felt so tired that she forgot her tea and walked back into the bedroom, turning off lights as she went. Mac stood at the side of the bed and began to untie the robe she was wearing; she looked up at the picture and remembered that she wasn’t wearing anything under the robe. She suddenly closed it. She took an oversized T shirt from her closet with her to the bathroom and quickly slipped it over her head. She quickly turned off the light and slipped into bed.

As she settled under the comforter she heard a soft and husky chuckle. “You really know how to dress up a T shirt, Mackenzie.”

Mac turned onto her side and slid the comforter up to her chin. She smiled, thinking about how insane this was, and how much less lonely it felt, to get into her bed alone tonight. It wasn’t actually her bed, though, was it? It had been ‘Harm’s.’ She snuggled deeper into the pillow and covers, trying to detect the slightest scent of the man whose home she was sharing, in her own personal ghost story. She giggled…in spite of herself. This really was insane.


0930
Tuesday
September 23, 1997
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, Virginia



Major Sarah Mackenzie and Lieutenant Bud Roberts left the Admirals office nearly skipping with happiness. They were headed to Alameda Naval Air Station, in California, to investigate the discovery of the remains of a lieutenant found in the void of a ship. Inspectors who were checking, the now decommissioned, USS Hornet, for corrosion had discovered it by accident, or so they said.

She was ready to get out of Washington D.C. for awhile and back to all the things there were to see and do around Alameda. Bud had been following her into her office when Mac stopped short at the sight of Harm, standing near the window, behind her desk. She startled Bud who was following her too closely and ran into her.

“Oh… I’m sorry ma’am” Bud stepped back straightening his uniform self consciously. He could not see Harm, only Mac seemed to have that ability.

“Not a problem lieutenant, get your gear together and I’ll meet you at Dulles at 1400. You’re dismissed.” She made a special effort to focus on Bud and not to look in Harm’s direction.

“Yes ma’am” The excitement had returned to his voice, he couldn’t wait to get out of headquarters and out to California. He came to attention and turned and left her office.

Mac had followed him as he left, closing the door and her blinds. She turned to look at the place where Harm had been standing. He was no longer there.

“Okay…are you still here?” She said aloud to, what appeared to be, no one in the room.

Harm was now standing behind her. “Yes, I am.”

Mac drew in a breath sharply. “I wish you wouldn’t do that.”

“Sorry,” he said with a sly grin and then quickly returned to the serious expression he held as she had entered the room.

“What are you doing here?”

She had never seen him in the office before. He had always been in the apartment. In the months since their ‘agreement’ she had seldom seen any sign of him. Harm made himself known from time to time, he even laughed out loud at her at times, when she appeared to be startled by his slammed door or flicker of lights. He kept his promise to coexist with her peacefully; he just felt the need to remind her from time to time that he was still there and that this was his apartment too.

“I’ve been ‘getting out’ more lately. As a matter of fact I heard your briefing with the Admiral. You’re going to the USS Hornet to investigate a body found in the ships void.”

“Yes…why are you so interested?”

“My father was on that ship; as a matter of fact, I was on that ship during a Tiger Cruise, when I was about 4 years old.”

Mac listened and as she did, she was amazed at how totally normal he looked to her. He was dressed in the khakis that he wore in his portrait; he wore no cover this time. Harm looked real enough to touch. His appearance the first time she saw him, though strikingly handsome, was a bit frightening, but here; he looked as though he were just another of her coworkers here at JAG.

“Mac, I have some letter tapes in the apartment that may help with your investigation, if you’re interested you can listen to them. My father sent them while he was stationed aboard the Hornet. She was still in commission during the time when Saigon fell; maybe there is something that someone may have left behind, that may give me some idea about happened to my father. The day Saigon fell, refugees fled to the ships in anything that would fly or float.”

“You think he may still be alive, don’t you?” Mac folded her arms across her chest, still giving him an assessing look.

“I know the chances are a million to one, but yes, I do.”

“Someone always had to win the lottery, right?” She smiled at him.

“Yeah, something like that.” His expression turned warm and admiring. “Thanks, Mac.”

She seemed willing to help him without question. His father’s MIA status haunted him in life and in death.

“If you don’t mind my asking, why you can’t communicate with him now…since you’re…I mean, you know since you’re…”

“Dead.” Harm folded his arms across his chest.

Mac looked away self consciously, “Yes”

“I don’t know… I don’t seem to be able to go far from my apartment or here at JAG.”

He didn’t understand it either; it seemed he wasn’t able to be anywhere that she hadn’t been, though he wasn’t going to tell her that. For whatever reason: Mac was his touchstone, his link between this world and the next.

“You’ve been here at JAG often?”

“Often enough” He smiled at her smugly. “I have to be sure you’re not having the walls in my old office painted ‘pale yellow’ too.”

She returned his smile and turned toward her desk for a moment to begin clearing it and gathering what she would need to take with her to Alameda. When she looked back to where he had been standing, he was gone.

She really hated it when he did that. He had disappeared as quickly as he appeared.

“But where will I find the letter tapes?” She shook her head, if he wasn’t going to tell her she wasn’t going to worry about it.

“Just go home Mac…You’ll see them.”

She sighed…this was insane…but she would do it. Maybe it would help her with the case, the faster she finished, the faster she got to her San Francisco steak.


1635
TWA flight 337
Somewhere over the Midwest

 


Mac sat back in her seat listening to the letter tapes on her Walkman. They were found conveniently centered on the counter in the kitchen in her apartment, just as Harm had promised. The box also held what appeared to be other keepsakes that Harm had hidden away for safe keeping.

She listened as the calm and reassuring voice of Harmon Rabb Sr. spoke to his wife Trish. “Give little Harm a hug and a kiss for me and stay strong honey, I’ll be home before you know it.”

Sarah Mackenzie had never witnessed a loving exchange like that between her parents, Harmon Rabb Jr. had been fortunate in his childhood to have had parents like that. It must have seemed so safe and secure…so normal.


1900(Pacific Standard Time)
Alameda Naval Air Station
Aboard the USS Hornet



Mac walked across the hangar deck of the old ship, feeling a strong urge to whistle in the dark. She held her flashlight and walked quickly across, cursing herself for not asking Bud to come along. He was on the pier using his laptop to do some research for her about the ships history. Ensign Harriet Sims, who had just come aboard at JAG, was on loan from the IG’s office and was assisting him from the US Naval Historical Center in Washington.

She was being observed by more than one pair of eyes, as she looked for the bulkhead number 2D42Z8V, the void where the body was found. A KGB agent on a mission of vital importance to his country and two others were observing. The two observers were spirits, drawn to this place, each unaware of the other, but drawn for the same reason. They were both seeking a truth, long hidden from the light of day.

For reasons Harm did not understand, he was there with Mac, watching her as she stepped through the passageways. He had never been farther away from his apartment than JAG since his death. Harm supposed that because this case dealt with a subject so close to him, he had to be where she was performing her investigation. He could hear her thoughts as she refused to give in to the fear she felt, as she explored deeper and deeper into the ship. He smiled as she did, in fact, begin to ‘give a little whistle’ as she neared the void she had been searching for.

As Mac found it, and started to step into the opening cut by the ‘inspectors’, she saw Harm standing to her left, beside her.

“Oh...damn it Harm! I hate it when you do that!” She felt the shock all the way to her feet. She had nearly dropped her flashlight.

Harm was almost sorry when she looked up at him, her face paled from fear. “Sorry Mackenzie…I’ll give you a better warning next time.” He gave her his most charming smile.

“I thought you hadn’t been anywhere but the apartment or JAG”

“That was true…until now.”

He knew there had to be a reason he was able to be here; maybe he would learn something that would give him the answers about his father that he had been searching for since he was 6 years old. Maybe he would finally find some peace about his loss and be able to let go of this life and go on to the next.

“Nice way to let me know.” Mac was beginning to regain her composure.

Just then what sounded like a tearing, mournful wail seemed to blow down the passageway of the ship.

Mac’s eyes grew larger. “What was that?’

“It’s just the ship cooling as the sun is setting. The metal expands and contracts, you don’t hear it on a working ship but in the quiet here in the shipyard, there’s nothing to mask the sound.”

Mac nodded and just as she began to relax, she heard the pounding of footsteps, somewhere close to them in the void. That sound was definitely not metal expanding and contracting.

“Kill that light.” Harm said urgently.

“No.” She whispered matching his urgency and clutching it more closely to her. There was no way she was putting the light out now.

Mac felt herself being pushed back against the bulkhead and her flashlight suddenly went out. What must have been Harm’s body pushed against her, he was solid as a rock and very, very cool. She had pushed her arm back against him instinctively and she could feel no heart beat. Her own heartbeat accelerated as the footsteps neared the place where she stood.

A flashlight was shone in her face. “What are you doing down here alone…Major”

The man with the flashlight had recognized her insignia, she assumed. “Who the hell are you?” She said in her toughest Marine bark.

“Lieutenant Mark Falcon, Alameda Police.”

“I was told that the Alameda Police were turning over jurisdiction to the Navy since this happened while the Hornet was still commissioned.”

“It was turned over to the Navy; I just wanted to follow up in my spare time. Do a little investigating on my own.” The lieutenant seemed charming and Mac was so glad to see a friendly face in the god forsaken hull of a ship, that she almost hugged him.

As she began to introduce herself to the police officer, Harm had backed away, allowing Mac to return to a somewhat normal posture. She had forgotten he was there and began to talk with the lieutenant, filling him in on all they had been able to discover since she and Bud had begun their investigation.

As Harm watched them walk back across the hangar deck, he felt as though something were pulling him back toward the void. There was more to know here, something in that void or on this ship.

“How about dinner?” Mark looked at her hopefully. “It’s got to be after 10 o’clock Washington time. You’ve got to be starved.”

Mac was hungry and then she remembered Harm. Trying to look around discreetly, as if she were trying to decide, she saw him further back on the hangar deck. He waved her away as if telling her to go. He would stay here and follow up on the feeling he had about this ship.

“Sounds great.” Mac followed the lieutenant, as she glanced over her shoulder at Harm, who was, again…nowhere to be seen.

“Do you mind if I bring my partner along?” Mac knew Bud had been working on the case non stop since they left Washington.

Falcon looked disappointed but agreed.

Later that evening…
 


2200
VOQ
Lieutenant Roberts’s quarters

 


Bud sat with his lap top resting on his legs. He was saving all the information Ensign Sims had sent earlier in the day. They had learned a lot about the body found in the void, since their arrival earlier that day.

It was that of Lieutenant Brian Tate, he had been an aviator, stationed aboard the Hornet during the fall of Saigon. He was reported missing at sea on April 30 1975. The medical examiner had told him that the lieutenant had a Skoshi Tiger patch clutched in his hand. Apparently he had it clutched in his hand after the struggle that had killed him. They had learned that a South Vietnamese aviator and officer by the name of Colonel Nguyen had been his bunkmate. The patch was that of his squadron.

The major suspected that Nguyen was involved in Lieutenant Tate’s murder but could not pin point a motive, as yet.

The phone rang startling him from his thoughts. It was Harriet calling from JAG.

“Bud?”

“Harriet? What are you doing at JAG this late?”

“I’m still following up on some of the information about the Hornet. I just had a visit from Clayton Webb.”

“Why would Webb be visiting you?”

“Apparently, he is following our investigation. He had some information that might answer a few of our questions.”

She told him all that Webb had told her about SOG agents being aboard the Hornet around the time Lieutenant Tate was reported missing. The most compelling thing that Webb had said was that Colonel Nguyen had a list of American pilots that were transferred to Russian custody by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. He also had warned her that the KGB was aware of this and were trying to get to the list before anyone else was able to discover it.

“I have to get in touch with the Major right away.”

“Okay”

“Tell Mr. Webb that we appreciate his help.”

“I will…but …”

“What Harriet?”

“I don’t know, there is just something about Mr. Webb…he just seems…creepy”

“Maybe it’s because he’s a spook.” Bud chided her and ended his call so that he could inform the Major.
 


2346
USS Hornet
Alameda Naval Air Station



Harm had no sense of time and space as he searched the inside of the ship. For all he knew, Mac could have left ten minutes before now and it would have made no difference to him. He felt a presence of some type here, one very similar to his own. He hoped it was his father…he knew that whatever it was, it was at least connected to him somehow. Just as he returned to the hanger deck, he saw the shadow of a man on the other side of it that seemed to be waiting for him.

“Dad?”

The figure was dressed in working khaki’s, a flight jacket and a USS Hornet ball cap. It was hard to discern his features. Could it be his father? Harm called out again but the figure only turned and took a few steps, then looked at him again. Who ever it was wanted him to follow him, Harm knew.

As he followed him through the passageways, to the officers berthing, he stopped at #03l421P. This was not his father’s quarters; he knew his last 4 digits were 226P. Why here? Harm followed the apparition into the room and he turned facing Harm.

It was not his father.

“Who are you?”

The figure faded into the bulkhead and disappeared. Harm knew it had to have been the man who had been found in the void.

Why had he wanted him to come here?


0600
Wednesday
Pier 7
Alameda Naval Air Station



Mac stood on the pier beside her Navy issue vehicle. Falcon was late…and she was champing at the bit to get inside the ship. Mac believed that the list might be hidden in Lieutenant Tate’s quarters.

She began to pace back and forth, her mind beginning to reel with the possibilities. It could blow the MIA issue wide open…possibly free men who had been stolen away from their families for decades. She remembered the good man, whose voice she had heard on the tapes on the flight over here. Harm’s father.

She had waited long enough; she walked to the brow of the ship and began to climb.
At that same moment, Lieutenant Falcon’s vehicle pulled up beside hers.

“Hey wait!” He called as he opened the door and stood on the pier.

“Come on!” Mac’s patience was at an end.

Mac felt as though her legs were moving of their own volition. She couldn’t get to Lieutenant Tate’s quarters fast enough. She was nearly sprinting across the hangar deck when Falcon called to her again.

“Sarah!....wait!”

Mac did not answer…she had begun to hear Harm calling her and she was focused on the sound of his voice, honing in on it, as though it were magnetically pulling her toward it. She arrived at Tate’s quarters and stood just outside the hatch. She looked inside and saw Harm standing there looking at her, his eyes boring into hers, as intensely as ever, his chest heaving as though he had been running.

“It’s here Mac.” He pointed to vent beside the bottom bunk. “I can’t get to it but I know its there…the list. Get it Mac, please!”

“Okay, let me find something to open the vent with.” She took a key from her pocket and used the flattened end to turn the screw securing the cover. She reached inside and removed a small book, with a hardback cover, and she opened it.

“It’s written in Vietnamese, Harm”

She turned the page and then saw the names of Americans, with their rank and branch of service plainly written.

“Oh my God…they really took them.” She paused as she read down the list. “Harm, its here, your father’s name is on the list, Harmon Rabb Sr.”

She looked up and Harm was looking at her with eyes bright with pain. “I knew it Mac. I knew he hadn’t died. Maybe that’s why I can’t find him. Maybe he’s still out there...alive.”

“We’ll find him Harm” She suddenly wished she could touch him now, just to reassure him somehow.

The voice of Mark Falcon broke the spell that seemed to have fallen over the room with this revelation

“Who are you talking to Sarah?”

Mac chose to ignore the question. “I found it, Mark.”

“What did you find?”

“If you had gotten here sooner you would know. I have here a list of American POW”s that were taken to Russia during the Vietnam War. Some of them could still be alive. Don’t you see, that’s why Lieutenant Tate was killed”

“Amazing” Falcon seemed to be only mildly surprised.

Just then an explosion rocked the ship, causing Mac to drop the book.

“Let’s get out of here!” Mark grabbed Mac by her arms and started to drag her out of the room.

“The book!” Harm was practically wailing but only Mac heard.

“I have to get the book!”

“I’ll get it” Falcon hurried back and slipped the book into his pocket.

They made it to the hangar deck as two hatches blew open rocking the ship again, sending flame and intense heat into the air. Mac fell against a bulkhead hitting her head hard and it nearly knocked her unconscious. As she tried to clear her head, she saw Harm and someone else she didn’t recognize pointing the way out. Mark helped her up and began to pull her in the opposite direction.

“No!” She was yelling at the top of her voice because of the roaring sound of the fire aboard the ship that was nearly disintegrating under their feet. “This way!” She tugged him in the direction in which Harm was guiding her.

Mark followed her and in moments they had followed their guides all the way out into the daylight and rescue.

Paramedics rushed to Lieutenant Falcon and Mac but Falcon waved them away from him, insisting that they treat Mac. He assured them he was fine.

“The book…where is the book?” Mac could not lose what was so precious to Harm and now to her.

“I have it Major. I’ll be sure it is locked away in the evidence room at the Alameda Police Headquarters. Just pick it up there after they are finished with you here. You’ve got a nasty gash there Major, you may need stitches.”

 

 

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