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Additional Disclaimer "I Hope you Dance" belongs to LeAnn Womak. No copyright infringement intended.
Classification Angst, Romance (H/M)
Length Approximately 41,000; 106 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Through “Surface Warfare”
Rating IM-15 for sexual situations
Summary Harm's family intervenes to insure he finds his destiny. But is it enough?
 

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

 

 

 

HARM'S APARTMENT
NORTH OF UNION STATION
WASHINGTON D.C.



It had been a rough night and he just wanted to sleep in especially this morning, but the minute the sun rose he found himself jolted back into the reality he had created for himself. Now he found himself sitting at the kitchen counter with his third cup of coffee and the vision of red still swirling in his mind. He could still feel the incredible sensations. He could still feel the ache when their eyes locked, questioning all that was happening around them. He could still smell her perfume and he could still remember the last words of that damn song!

 

SURFACE WARFARE BALL
The Night Before . . .

 

He had waited all night to ask her to dance and it was late now. Brumby was back and somehow he suddenly knew time was quickly running out, to night, tomorrow and forever. The moment of holding her in his arms tonight, if but once, his only focus now, as he extended his hand to her.

"Mac?"

"Mic, excuse me?"

"I guess Rabb can have one dance with you luv, since I'll have all the time with you I need and want now that I'm back for good."

"Thanks, Brumby, that's very generous of you."

Taking her hand hesitantly in his, trying to forget the implication in the Aussie's words, he guided her to the far end of the dance floor, away from their table, away from Brumby, away if just for one intensely charged moment, from reality.

"Did I tell you that you . . . look . . ."

"Nice, surprised, content, what Harm?"

". . . beautiful tonight. You look beautiful tonight, Mac."

"No, but thank you. You know, I think this is only the second time you've ever passed me a compliment about my appearance, Flyboy."

She was right, he could only remember one other time. It was in Colombia, when she almost . . . Did she remember everything he had forgotten? Comfortably, yet uncomfortably, he took her in his arms moving her even further away, totally out of the Australian's steady gaze. Pulling her too close subconsciously, he felt her tense and he moved back slightly to look at her.

"You OK?"

"Fine, why wouldn't I be?"

"You've been quieter than usual tonight."

"Just a bit overwhelmed."

"Not comfortable with the return?"

"What would you know what I'm comfortable with?"

"Mac, this is me."

"Yea, Harm I know and that's the problem."

Silenced immediately by the tone in her voice, not wanting to ruin this moment when he had her all to himself, he silenced the words and just pulled her to him again listening to the song drifting around them. Mesmerized by the feel of her in his arms. . . for this intensely charged moment in time.

If I'm not in love with you
What is this I'm going through, tonight
And if my heart is lying, then
What should I believe in
Why do I go crazy
Every time I think about you baby
Why else do I want you like I do
If I'm not in love with you

Feeling her relax against him, the words between them forgotten for the moment, he pulled her closer. Closer than he should have, losing himself in the sheer pressure of her warmth and softness . . . wondering if his heart was suddenly lying to him in this intensely charged moment in time.

And if I don't need your touch
Why do I miss you so much, tonight
If it's just infatuation, then
Why is my heart aching
To hold you forever
Give a part of me I thought I'd never
Give again to someone I could lose
If I'm not in love with you

Feeling her hand slip to the base of his neck, her fingertips light and soft against his skin, he leaned his head down slightly. Catching his breath at his action and when he breathed the enticing scent of her perfume . . . wondering why his heart suddenly ached so in this intensely charged moment in time.

Oh why in every fantasy
Do I feel your arms embracing me
Lovers lost in sweet desire
Oh why in dreams do I surrender
Lying in a maybe
Someone help explain this feeling
Someone tell me

Feeling her gently pull away from him as the song ended, his feelings were in turmoil while the sensations of her closeness still spun around him. He heard her suddenly excuse herself, saw her faint smile and watched her walk away from him towards the ballroom exit . . . wondering if his fantasies would always have him lying in a world of maybes.

"Damn it! If I'm not in love with you, Sarah Mackenzie. Then what the hell is this I'm going through tonight." The words were spoken whispers to no one but himself, unrecognized emotions washed over him and left him cold, as he watched the vision in red disappear through the ballroom doors.

 

HARM'S APARTMENT
Back to the present . . .

 

He didn't know how long he had been lost in the memories of last night before he heard the insistent knocking at the door.

"Hang, on a minute." Shaking the sensations that had quickly overtaken his body he made his way to the door. "Mom? Frank?"

"Hello, darling. I hope we didn't wake you. I know it's early."

"No, no it's fine. I've been up for awhile." Harm gave his mother a tight hug, more than surprise written on his smiling face. "Frank, it's good to see you."

"And you, Harm." Frank Burnett returned the offered handshake with the same strength and warmth.

"What are you doing in Washington? You didn't mention you were coming the last time we talked."

"No, it was a sudden trip. Frank, had some business to take care of on the Hill, so I decided to come along, check out some of the local artists for the gallery and visit with my son."

"That's great, Mom. How long are you planning on staying . . ." He caught the blur of beige out of the corner of his eye, he heard the sleep dazed voice and as the blush started to creep up his face his only wish was that this was all just a dream . . . a very bad dream.

"Harm, what's with the incessant banging? God, I'm going to be so puffy, without my 8 hours. Who in their right mind would visit this early on a Saturday? Honestly!"

Trish Burnett watched as Renee Peterson, wrapped only in a bed sheet stumbled down the stairs from her son's bedroom. She had to remind herself she had seen plenty of things in her fifty some odd years raising a son, that she was a lady, that she had an open mind, that she could . . .

"Mom, Frank, this is Renee Peterson. Renee is . . . a . . . my . . ."

" . . . his girlfriend. Mrs. Rabb!" Tangled and tumbling, looking as bedraggled as a pigeon caught in a badminton game, Renee walked towards Trish with her hand extended slowly, appearing to be losing her fight with the sheet that covered her precariously.

"It's Mrs. Burnett, Renee." Harm smiled apologetically at Frank, while sub-consciously pinching himself trying to wake up from what now was turning into more than just a dream . . . it was turning into a living nightmare.

"Of course . . . it's just that Harm speaks so little of his family." Entangled still in her cover, she moved to stand by Harm slipping her arm through his possessively.

"It's an understandable mistake, dear . . ."

"Oh, great coffee! Just want I need after last night." Winking seductively at Harm, she turned her attention back to their guests. "Would anyone like a cup?"

"Renee, why don't you go and . . . put . . . go . . . get . . ."

"Oh, yea. I must look a fright. Now everyone stay put, I'll be right back."

Harm tensed visibly as Renee kissed his check and as he felt his mother's heated gaze, suddenly remembering another time when she had that same look in her eye. He was a babbling idiot then too. Was it Joanne Carlson or Carol Withers? Was it in Bellville or La Jolla? The last time she had caught him with his hand in . . .

"Harmon!"

"Coffee?"

"Thank you." Trish Burnett graciously composed herself and offered a weak smile to her son all the while trying to comprehend what had just happened. What had possessed him to end up with . . . Temporary insanity induced by over active male hormones was the only reason that could justify . . . her.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Harm tried to listen attentively to his mother and Frank as they talked about their sudden trip to Washington, but he couldn't concentrate. His thoughts were fully anticipating with apprehension, Renee Peterson's next entrance.

"So, how's Mac?"

"Engaged."

"Really? You never mentioned it."

"No, not really, not exactly. Look Mom it's a long story and one I'd rather not get into right now."

"Oh. Well, I was hoping we could all get together for dinner on this trip since we missed her on your last trip to California."

"I don't know if that is such a good idea . . . her fiancee . . .her friend, well, he's just returned from Australia, I'm sure they are busy . . ."

"That's a great idea! How about dinner tonight? I know this great little French Restaurant that just opened and it's just the in place in Washington now. I'm sure that Mac and Mic can tear themselves out of their lover's embrace long enough to join us for dinner. Even lovers have to eat, don't they Harm?"

Was it her pouting voice that made the hair on the back of his neck stand at attention? Was it her sexual inferences that made him wince inwardly? Was it her appearance again wrapping her arms around his waist tightly that made him flinch outwardly? Or was it the vision she had painted in his mind of Mac in Mic's embrace that grated his nerves like fingernails scrapping down a blackboard. This was not just a living nightmare . . . it was the worst of all possible living nightmares.

Dinner plans were made, Trish calling and extending the invitation personally to Mac. Thrilled at her acceptance, Trish set the time and they all agreed to meet at the restaurant 30 minutes earlier than their reservations for drinks.

As the limousine made its way through the early morning traffic back towards the Capitol, Frank Burnett knew he could no longer ignore his wife's solemn mood.

"Trish, he's a grown man and he certainly knows his own mind. Going over there unannounced just made for a very difficult situation." He took her hand when she turned and he saw the look in her eyes.

"My son is unhappy, Frank."

"Trish, you met the woman under not the best circumstances. Just give yourself time to get to know . . ."

"He's unhappy, with who he is and who he has become."

"Trish how do you . . ."

"A mother knows. A mother just knows, Frank."
 


SARAH MACKENZIE'S APARTMENT
GEORGETOWN
0930HRS (EST)

 

"Dinner with Rabb's mother and stepfather? Now there's a reason to have flown 10,000 miles."

"Mic."

"Sorry, luv, but I had just assumed we would spend my first full night in DC alone. A nice warm meal, a nice a warm bed, a nice warm . . ."

"Didn't I once tell you not to assume, Mic and besides you'll like Trish and Frank."

"Trish and Frank is it? What are they like?"

"The perfect couple . . . the perfect parents . . ."

"Just like you and I will be, eh, luv?" Mic took her in his arms forcefully and settled them both on the sofa.

"Yes, just like I've always wanted to be." Mac tensed at his sudden assault, not wanting to go where Mic so obviously wanted to take her, but . . .

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

She felt his wet needful kiss and felt his hands roam over her body heatedly. His need for her more than evident in all his forceful movements. Mic Brumby was a good man and she knew he loved her. He had left his home, his family, and his career for her. Swept up in the moment she allowed herself to satisfy his needs and some of her own pent-up suppressed desires.

She lay in the arms of her lover, wondering about honesty, about integrity, about truth and about love, especially about love. As she turned away from him she allowed a single tear to slip silently down her cheek, cursing her weaknesses, her insecurities and her inability to forget the vision of dress whites and gold wings that would forever be part of her heart. She didn't have to wonder however, how she had gotten to this point in her life . . . a ferry ride on a warm summer night across Sydney Harbor had been the single impetus that had propelled Sarah Mackenzie away from who she was and into the reality that was now her world.

 

HARM'S APARTMENT
NORTH OF UNION STATION
WASHINGTON, DC
1000HRS (EST)

 

"You didn't mention they were loaded."

"What?"

"Your parents. I know my fashion and I'd say her entire ensemble, less the jewelry, must have cost about what you net a month. With the jewelry, about what you net a year."

"Renee, if you mean my 'mother', Frank makes a very good living and they live comfortably. He's been very good to her . . . to us both."

"I'll bet. Her engagement ring is quite an eye full. I wouldn't mind having something like that on my finger, Sailor. It certainly makes the ring Brumby gave Mac, look like, well, a 'pop top'."

"I'm sure you'll never end up with a 'pop top', Renee."

"Is that a promise, Harm?" Renee was pleased with the sudden prospective windfall sauntering seductively over to where Harm stood.

"Nobody would ever dare give you less then you deserve." Harm tensed at her touch, not wanting to go where she so obviously wanted to take him, but . . .

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

He felt the pressure of her body against his, her hands expertly undoing the buttons of his shirt, her lips hungrily following the path her fingertips blazed. His initial reaction was to stop her. But Renee Peterson was an experienced lover and though completely self absorbed, she was sometimes fun, definitely uninhibited and stroked his ego when it seemed he needed it the most. He wanted to get away from her, but his own sexual needs pushed him to take what he thought he needed and give what he knew she wanted.

Laying with her pressed firmly against him, he closed his eyes and wondered about honor, about integrity, about truth and about love, especially about love. He cursed himself for his weakness, for his insecurities and for his inability to forget the vision in red that was starting to try and untie the knot that had somewhere along the way become his heart.

He didn't have to wonder however, how he had gotten to this point in his life . . . a ferry ride on a warm summer night across Sydney Harbor had been the single impetus that had propelled Harmon Rabb away from who he was and into the world that now was his reality.

 

THE DELMONICO SUITE
HYATT REGENCY
WASHINGTON DC
1830HRS (EST)

 

Trish Burnett clasped the pearl necklace around her neck and stood straightening the jacket of the pale gray silk suit. She smiled at her reflection in the mirror, noting with satisfaction that the years had been good to her, even the bad ones. She signed at the loving memories that suddenly appeared to her, like welcomed old friends from the past. Memories of the man that had been her first love, memories of the man that had been her life, memories of the man that had given her a son.

"Ready, Trish. The car is waiting downstairs."

"As ready, as I'll ever be."

"Trish, promise me you'll just give her a chance tonight."

"Frank, my concerns are not for her. I am concerned only for my son. Something is wrong with Harm. I can see it in his eyes and as his mother I can feel it in my heart. And besides, Frank Burnett, when have you ever known me not to give anyone the benefit of the doubt."

"Never, my love. You've always shown everyone compassion with strength and dignity . . . . or at least given them enough rope to hang themselves only after showing them the error of their ways in the most diplomatic fashion possible."

"Frank, really!" She tried to feign irritation, but when she felt him kiss her cheek she couldn't suppress the small smile that crossed her face.

They walked from the suite arm in arm, Trish safe and comfortable in the arms of her present. The man who had helped her through her most darkest hours with his love, the man who had made a home for her with his love, the man who had loved her son as if he was his own.

 

SARAH MACKENZIE'S APARTMENT
GEORGETOWN
1845HRS (EST)

 

"Mic, we're going to be late. Let's go!"

Mac clasped the single strand of pearls around her neck, signing at the memory of Dalton Lowne that suddenly mixed for a fleeting second with her reflection in the mirror. She let the smooth strand slip through her fingers, remembering the life that had slipped away that night in the cold darkened alley. Shaking the memories of yet another man who had loved her, but couldn't be loved by her, she returned to the present, a slight shiver the only remnant left by the memories of the past.

"Mic . . .Oh there you are. Ready?"

"You're beautiful, Sarah."

"Thank you. This isn't too . . . "

"It's perfect. You could wear a potato sack and you'd still be the most beautiful woman in the restaurant. I'll have to keep an eye on Rabb tonight, once he catches sight of you."

"Please, Mic, stop it. Harm has Renee and I have you."

"But Renee isn't you, Sarah. She isn't you."

As Mic handed her the shawl and they quietly left the apartment, she wondered for a fleeting moment, if he knew what she was trying so desperately to bury in her heart, if she was that transparent. Slipping her hand through his arm, she promised herself that she would try to do better. She would try to love him, she would try to make a life with him . . . . and give herself the life she had always dreamed of in the arms of a man that truly loved her.

 

HARM'S APARTMENT
NORTH OF UNION STATION
WASHINGTON, DC
1830HRS (EST)

 

"Let's go, Renee. It's getting late!" Harm slipped his jacket on, shaking his head at how one woman could take two hours to dress for a simple dinner.

"You know I hate to be rushed when I'll getting ready. What?"

"You're not going to wear that tonight?"

"What's wrong with this?"

"There's just not very much of it."

"Harm, you've seen this before. I've worn it out a couple of times."

"Not with my mother and step-father, you haven't."

"Would a Nun's Habit be more appropriate? What's wrong with you anyway lately?"

"Nothing. Forget it. You look fine. Let's just go, we're going to be late."

He grabbed his keys, not wanting another last minute shrill confrontation with Renee Peterson and headed to the door. Everything would be fine. Frank would be the perfect host and his mother would be the commensurate hostess. They would have drinks, they would have dinner, they would make small talk over coffee and then they would all go home. Frank would take his mother back to the hotel. He would bring Renee back to his apartment and Sarah . . . Sarah . . .would go home in the arms of Mic Brumby.

As he slammed the passenger side door of the SUV the vision in red swept through his mind again surrounded by the last strains of that song . . . and he wondered . . . wondered once again what the hell was happening to him.



LE MAISON
WASHINGTON DC
1915HRS (EST)



Frank Burnett escorted his wife to a table in the restaurant lounge, the restaurant much more crowded then one would have thought for a perfect summer night. After ordering their drinks, he made his way to the maitre d' to confirm their reservations, while Trish seated herself in the small alcove.

Left alone for a moment, she scanned with a perceptive eye her surroundings. The restaurant was tastefully decorated in muted tones of brown and sand, the walls only adorned with impeccable prints of some of the great masters in unobtrusive frames. Frames that only served to enhance the painted subjects without over-shadowing their beauty.

As she watched her husband return to their table, she noticed with relief that even though the bar was a press of bodies, with soft classical music drifting down from the ceiling, it still appeared quiet enough to allow its patrons to carry on a conversation without shouting themselves hoarse. A small smile played across her lips. Other than the apparent air of wealth that hung around her, this just didn't strike her as the type of establishment that the 'princess of the sheets' would frequent often. Perhaps, there was more to the beige bedraggled bundle she had encountered at her son's apartment earlier that day, then she thought.

"That's what I like to see. . . your beautiful smile." But as fast as her smile appeared, Frank Burnett watched it dissipate, replaced with a thin mask of veiled confusion.

"Trish, honey, what is it?"

Trish Burnett tried to focus and refocus on the sudden explosion of fake fur that entered the restaurant hanging possessively on the arm of her son.

"It's just . . . I . . .I just can't decide whether she's on the inside of that outfit trying to get out, or if she's on the outside trying to get in."

Frank followed his wife's dazed expression, noticing Harm and Renee approaching them from across the crowded lounge. He shook his head sadly understanding the hungry stares of the lounge male clientele that followed Renee Peterson's entrance. He had been young once and he remembered when what a woman was on the outside was much more important than who she was on the inside. He had been young once and he remembered watching a woman's neckline go down and her hem line go up and he remembered hanging around hoping to be there when both ends met. He was young once and as he glanced back at his wife, he was ever thankful that he had been lucky enough to find the best of both in Trisha Rabb.

"Mom, I'm sorry we're late."

"Nonsense, darling you're right on time."

Frank watched the veil of confusion lift from his wife, only to be replaced by the perfect shield of propriety she wore so well in difficult situations. He participated in the greetings they all exchanged. And when he watched, Harmon Rabb hold Renee Peterson's chair, he swore he saw a perfect shield of propriety mask his step-son like the shield that now protected his wife. And Frank Burnett, thought maybe just maybe Trish was right . . . maybe just maybe . . .A Mother Knows.

 

LE MAISON
WASHINGTON DC
1930HRS (EST)

 

Trish watched as Harm settled into the booth, Renee attached to him like a second skin. She kept reminding herself, that he was a grown man, that he was a decorated naval officer and that he was an accomplished attorney. But he was also her son and her son had totally lost his mind! Temporary insanity induced by a male hormonal imbalance was the only explanation why her son was involved with a woman who had no more on her body than she had on her mind!

Frank Burnett saw the look in his wife's eyes, read her body language and knew that as Harm's mother she was poised to give Renee Peterson and anyone else enough rope to hang herself.

"So, tell me Renee, what is it exactly that you do? You're certainly not the military type."

"Oh, God no. Hardly, nor would I ever want to be. I'm a Director."

"Oh, really. A Director of what exactly?"

"Rock videos, limited documentaries, commercials. In fact, Harm and I met when I directed him in the commercial I did for the Navy. I'm sure you've seen it."

"No, I can't say that I have, dear. So, Harm, are you my son the star now?"

"Hardly, Mom. It was just a recruiting commercial for the Navy, in which I had no choice participating."

"Listen to him, he is being much too modest! The camera loved him and other than him being a bit too stiff, till of course I loosened him up, he was fantastic!"

"Renee, it was a damned commercial for a branch of the Military Services, not some Demented Dead Soul's video. Stiff is what we do best!"

"Demented what . . ." Trish carefully watched the exchange tuned immediately to the intonation in her son's voice.

". . . Dead Souls. It's a rock group I sometimes direct and you're right Harm 'stiff' is what you do best, Sailor."

The innuendoes in her words were crystal clear and not lost on Trish Burnett who grimaced inwardly as she watched Renee Peterson lean closer to her son. As clear as the director's inferences appeared to be, her son's reaction seemed muddled in a maze of defeatist indecision. There was no fire, no conviction, no purpose, and no spirit in her son's normally brilliant eyes.

"Renee, cut it out." Harm flinched wanting to know how he was ever going to survive a night of this, when he hadn't even been able to survive 15 minutes without his temper flaring. But as he saw his mother rise, heard her call her name, he knew the nightmare was just about to truly begin.

"Mac!"

"Trish, Frank it's so good to see you. Trish and Frank Burnett this is Mic Brumby . . . . my . . . friend."

Mac felt Mic tense, for a moment, at her introduction and she silently cursed herself for not being able to call him anything more than a friend. She took his hand openly in hers and squeezed it relieved to see the tension slowly dissipate with her action and seeing him return the pressure with a smile.

But Mic Brumby's tension paled in comparison to that of the handsome naval aviator. Harm stood watching the introductions, watching the warm embraces like a stranger. Like a stranger who arrives in a foreign city alone, only to deplane and walk through the arrival gate of a distant airport and watch all the other lonely passengers being met by people who they love and who love them. Passengers no longer lonely, their journey complete, safe in the arms of their loved ones. He tried to shake off his bout of self-pity, only to see the touch, the squeeze and the returning smile of love, forcing him to acknowledge again that the vision in red was and would be Mic Brumby's.

And Trish Burnett just watched . . .

They exchanged civilized greetings, Mac and Harm never looking directly at the other, even when Harm extended his hand to Mic Brumby. It was as if they thought that if they didn't look at each other, they wouldn't be forced to see, they wouldn't be forced to feel and they wouldn't be forced to care.

"Darling, you look just wonderful! Doesn't she Frank? Here sit by me. How long has it been?"

"At least a year if not more. I believe it was the Hobbs Investigation at Miramar the last time Harm and I visited together."

"Yes, when he brought you to the Gallery for the first time. That's right. And since then I understand you've been promoted to Lt. Colonel. Congratulations, Mac I know how important your military career is to you."

"Thank you, Trish. It has been my life."

"Until, now luv."

"Yes, now it is a part of something much more, Mic."

"Well, I must say Mic, may I call you Mic?" Accepting the Aussie's nod of confirmation she continued. "I've never seen Mac look better something certainly does agree with her."

"Thank you, Ma'am. I take that as a compliment hoping that I'm that something."

Trish Burnett was not being the least bit insincere with her compliments or her remarks towards Mic Brumby, but perhaps she pushed a little further then she should have so early. Mac had never looked better to her outwardly, but like her son, there was no fire in the Marine's eyes, there was no spirit in her voice . . . there was just the same maze of defeatist indecision behind her words.

As the conversation continued around her, she discretely glanced towards Harm and caught his look of stifling discomfort because of the direction the conversation was taking. She couldn't stand the look of pained discomfort in his eyes, so she expertly guided the table chatter to a more neutral topic.

A shudder of conviction and understanding passed through Trish Burnett when she recognized the charged undercurrent that ran between her son and his partner. She recognized it was more than professional . . . that it went much deeper . . . and that whatever was passing between them was quickly extinguishing the fire of a rare friendship between two perfectly paired souls . . . a friendship she had always known could be so much more.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Once they were escorted to their table away from the confines of the small alcove, the oppressive atmosphere seemed to lift and they shared a meal with impersonal conversation. Mic clinging possessively to Mac. Renee clinging possessively to Harm.

And Trish Burnett just watched . . .

She caught the body language of the small group and she saw the discreet fleeting glances between her son and Mac, glances that went unnoticed, except she was sure by her. She studied Harm's demeanor each time Renee Peterson leaned towards him, slipped her hand under the table in his direction or placed her arm through his. She studied Harm's demeanor each time Mic Brumby leaned towards Mac, kissed her gently or took her hand in his openly.

The meal finished, the party waited for the coffee, dessert and the after dinner drinks that some had ordered. Noticing the heavy silence that now hung over the table, Trish remembered all she had covertly witnessed and decided it was time to start to uncover the fool . . . . Was it the stubborn Commander or was it the pig headed Marine?

"So Mic, have you lined up any interviews?"

"Actually, I have Ma'am. One in Alexandria and two in Washington."

"Mic, your plans are to go into private practice? Good for you!"

"I'm certainly going to try, Renee."

"You know, Harm and I have discussed the benefits of him going into civilian law."

"Renee . . ."

"Really? Harm, you're thinking of leaving the Navy? When on earth did all this come about?"

"Mom, Renee and I just discussed it in passing one night."

And Trish Burnett just watched . . .

"Harm, you're not seriously thinking of leaving JAG again?"

"Mac, no. Renee and I were just discussing the future . . . . my future and the discussion came up."

"There are other opportunities with real benefits out there, Mac, other than just playing dress-up."

"Dress-up, is that what you think we do? Tell me Renee, what exactly are the real benefits of a non-military career?"

"Mac, look I certainly wouldn't expect you of all people to understand."

"Try me."

"All right, for a real career, for real connections, for real prestige and certainly for real money. For God's sake, some of my set people make more than you and Harm and they barely have a high school diploma!"

"Renee, I don't think this is the time to discuss any of this . . . ."

"Harm, darling, Renee certainly has the right to her opinions and I'm sure Mac is open enough to hear them."

And Trish Burnett just watched . . .

"Yes, let her talk, Harm. I'd like to hear what she has to say. And exactly why do you feel I wouldn't understand?"

"Why would you care about those things? You've got your man hooked. Besides you've always struck me as the domestic type. The way you always carry on about babies and such . . . the way you always 'ooh' and 'aah' over . . . over . . . you know . . .what's his name."

"Our godson, A.J.?"

"Yes, Harm, him."

"Now I like the sound of that . . . the baby part that is. Sarah, I wouldn't mind coming home to you, luv, and a house full of kids."

"I would imagine that you wouldn't Brumby, but I know that Mac wants all those things AND a good career."

"Well, you may be right mate, but with me she wouldn't have to work and personally if the truth be known, I would prefer she didn't."

"Mic, perhaps this is something we should discuss privately?" Mac was struggling with her temper, but when she felt the slight pressure of Trish Burnett's hand, for a reason she couldn't explain she fell silent.

"That's a very unique perspective nowadays, Mic, I take it you would prefer that Mac then resign her commission after you are married."

And Trish Burnett just watched . . .

"Not immediately, but yes, Trish, once I have established myself and we start having kids, I would prefer she didn't work. There would be no reason for her to work. She would have me and the kids to fill her life. She wouldn't need anything else. My mum was a great lady in her own right and it was good enough for her, so I can't see why it wouldn't be enough for Sarah."

"That's crap, Brumby. Don't you think that should be a decision you make together?

"I'm sure, Sarah would want to do what ever makes me happy, Rabb."

"But what about what makes her happy, Brumby? What about what she wants?"

"Being with me is what makes her happy and what she wants, Rabb, or haven't you figured that out yet, mate."

Trish watched as Harm and Mic stopped suddenly and just glared at each other. She was amazed at how they had kept the dripping stinging sarcasm at a normal conversation level . . . there was no shouting . . . there was just two very highly agitated sailors now glaring at each other . . . over the needs and wants of one woman.

And Trish Burnett decided it was time to just move it along . . .

" So, tell me Renee, how do you feel about having children and a career, dear?"

"Oh, God. I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out 1 by 1. The idea of having kids is just not something I would ever consider. Pregnancy, stretch marks, diapers, screaming, labor, delivery, cravings, weight gain . . . I don't think so. Not me. No. No. No. That's just not me."

"You find the thought of having kids that offensive?"

"No, Mac. For some people it's fine, but not for me. No thank you. Never. No way."

"Well, what if . . . if . . . the man you marry wants a family and a home. You found a man who loves you, a man who knows you and respects you. If you know children are important to him and what is important to him is important to you, wouldn't you do what you could to give him the happiness he deserves? What if you love him more than anything and want to share a child, only his child . . . more than anything. You want to feel a life you've both created together grow inside of you, a life that is a part of both of you, a life to love and a life to share together. What if you found someone you loved more then . . . then . . . the world. You could have a great career, a good man . . ."

"And lots and lots of comfortable shoes . . ."

And Trish Burnett just watched the spark of life, the spark of love, the spark of need, and the spark of understanding that suddenly surfaced in their eyes, focused only on each other, only needing each other, their world only one another.

And Trish Burnett knew . . .like any mother knows . . . that she would do anything . . . anything on God's earth to make her child happy . . . happy in the arms of his Marine.



VIETNAM WAR MEMORIAL
WASHINGTON DC
1600HRS (EST)



He watched silently with his tortured thoughts, obscured by the growing afternoon shadows and his ability to blend into any surroundings like a chameleon, the interaction of the small group standing just beyond. He stood silently as he witnessed their good byes and watched her turn back to the wall, left alone with her thoughts. He turned and watched as she moved back down the path towards the parking area, and he knew the time was finally approaching. The time when Harmon Rabb Jr. would be left alone, alone only with his tortured thoughts of what had been, of what was, and of what would never be.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

The late afternoon sun sent shards of light cascading down, bouncing off the Memorial like sparkling tiny diamonds of light as Trish Burnett followed the wall to the exact spot, almost as if she had been there yesterday. It had been a long time since she had visited Washington . . . it had been a long since she had taken this walk along the path that for her represented the loss she once thought she would never survive and for the losses of so many others.

"Hello, Sailor, it's been a long time." Laying the two while roses at the base of the smooth granite structure, she stood and slowly traced the letters of his name cut in the smooth surface, letting the memories of love and loss flood her. The distant memories of their time together were brief, too brief, but they had shared the love of a lifetime. They had shared a love that had given them a son, a son she would love for a lifetime and beyond.

"Ma'am . . . Ma'am . . . can ya lift me? I kinda can't reach . . . Please."

Trish Burnett shifted her gaze when she felt the tug on her pant leg and found herself looking into the deep blue eyes of the most amazing little boy. "I think I can do that." Smiling, she gently lifted him into her arms and moved him in the direction he was pointing excitedly.

"Thanks! That's my granpy. You here to visit granpy too?" His innocent eyes focused on her for a moment, before his attention shifted back to the charcoal granite wall.

"No, I'm here visiting my husband, but I'll visit with your granpy, too, if you'd like?"

"OK. See right there. Just like me, John Jesse Rodell. See? Just like me!"

"Yes, I see. My name is Trish, John. You're not here alone are you . . . " Before she was able to finish her sentence or hear the young boy's reply, she heard the deep voice and turned to see a tall Naval Officer quickly approaching, his arm securely guiding the very pregnant woman at his side.

"John, you scared us to death, son. Oh, Ma'am, I'm so sorry." Smiling apologetically, he extended his arms to his son who immediately lunged for the safety of his father's embrace.

"Daddy, this is Trish. She's visiting, too, and she said hello to granpy!"

"Captain. He seems like quite a handful."

"He is, Ma'am, quite a handful. Captain John Rodell, and this is my wife, Adrian."

"Trish Burnett. Very nice to meet you, Captain. Mrs. Rodell."

"Trish . . . which one is yours. Show me . . . Show me . . ." John Jr. squirmed against his father, trying to get Trish's attention.

"Right, here. See John . . . Lt. Harmon Rabb Sr. Right here, see dear." She took the little hand in hers and traced the letters slowly, the memories of love sparking, if only for a moment, again.

"Yea, I got it. I've got him and I'll put him, right here!"

Trish glanced in confusion at John's parents as she heard the small boy's laugh and watched him place his tight little fist against his chest.

"It's something that he's done since we first brought him to the Memorial, Ma'am. He likes to think that he takes a piece of his grandfather with him each time we visit, and places it in his heart. This way he thinks he always has him with him. It might seem a little strange . . . "

"Not at all, Mrs. Rodell, not at all."

Left alone again with her memories, Trish Burnett watched as the couple made their way slowly away from her along the path, their arms around each other, their son firmly held between them. She sighed and turned back to the name on the wall.

"You know, Harm, sometimes I think all that our son is going through now is somehow my fault. I sometimes wonder if I did too much, or just didn't do enough. If I said too much or . . . I didn't say enough. I want him to have what we had and more. I don't want time to be his enemy like it was ours."

She lovingly traced the name, again, slowly with her fingertips and then placed her trembling hand on her heart and whispered, "You're always in my heart, Sailor. Our memories will always be an important part of my life. And I promise you, Harm, I promise you that one day there will be the small hand of your grandchild tracing your name and keeping your memory in their heart forever. I promise you, my love."


HARM'S APARTMENT
NORTH OF UNION STATION
WASHINGTON, DC
1700HRS (EST)



He violently threw his keys on the counter and collapsed on the sofa, trying to get his breath, trying to regulate his breathing. What the hell was wrong with him? He knew better than to take his run during the heat of the day, but he just had to get out, get away from the incessant ringing of the phone . . . get away from her.

Relaxing and closing his eyes, he drifted . . .

The night before . . .

Their intimate moment slipped away, carried on the wings of reality, as he watched Mic Brumby wrap his arm around Mac and pull her towards him . . . away from the moment . . . away from him . . . back into the reality of what was and what was destined to be.

They had said their stilted good byes, parted ways, and he had found himself once again alone, like on so many other nights, alone with Renee Peterson. And when the valet had brought their car, he looked back, again, and all be saw was the vision in red walk off in the arms of the Australian . . . He had looked back, and once again he was reminded that all the joys of looking forward were left somewhere on that ferry ride across Sydney Harbor one warm summer night.

The confines of the SUV suddenly became suffocating as he cringed outwardly when he felt her hand slid longingly up his thigh. Suddenly all that washed over him was the intense look of understanding in his mother's eyes and the truth that spilled from his heart. Truths about the woman who didn't want his children, truths about the woman who didn't want what was important to him, truths about the woman who had helped take him to where he was today, and truths about the woman who had helped him become someone he didn't recognize.

He gave lame excuses why he couldn't. He gave lame excuses why he wouldn't. And as he watched her pull away from his apartment with the screeching of tires splitting the night, he knew the time for the truth had come. It didn't matter anymore if he couldn't have what he had always wanted. It didn't matter anymore if he couldn't have what he had always needed. If he had to, now, he would find a way to move on without the love of Sarah Mackenzie, and he resigned himself to the fact that he no longer wanted it to be in the self-absorbed arms of Renee Peterson.



Back to the present . . .

 

Back into the world he had created for himself, Harm reached for the phone and dialed Renee's number. It was time. It was the time to move forward. It was time to find Harmon Rabb once again.

 

SARAH MACKENZIE'S APARTMENT
GEORGETOWN
1730HRS (EST)

 

The incessant ringing of the phone woke her again out of the depression-soaked sleep she had left herself wallow in all day. She heard the thick Australian accent in the distance leave more words on her machine, but she didn't move, burying herself again under the shield of pillows scattered over her bed. Not wanting to deal with him, she found herself drifting . . .

The night before . . .

Their intimate moment slipped away, carried on the wings of reality, as she felt Mic wrap his arm around her and pull her towards him . . . away from the moment . . . away from him . . . back into the reality of what was and what was destined to be.

They had said their stilted good byes, parted ways, and she had found herself once again alone, like on so many other nights, alone with Mic Brumby. And when the valet had brought Harm's car, she surreptitiously glanced at the passing vehicle, as it pulled into the late night traffic. Noticing their intimate closeness in the dimly lit vehicle, all she saw was the vision of dress white and gold wings drive off with Renee Peterson into the night. She tried not to think back and once again remember that all the joy she had of looking forward was left somewhere on that ferry ride across Sydney Harbor one warm summer night.

They had returned to the apartment in an uneasy silence, she neither wanting to ask him why nor wanting to hear again the opinions he had voiced so openly in the restaurant. But he sensed her discomfort and continued to probe until she couldn't stand it anymore, until she wanted to scream. And when she finally heard him answer her questions with questions of his own, she knew that the love of his man would suffocate what was left of the her spirit, her will, and mold her into someone she wasn't . . . someone she couldn't be.

She gave excuses why she couldn't. She gave excuses why she wouldn't. And as she felt his light kiss on her cheek, and as she closed the apartment door, she knew the time for the truth had come. It didn't matter anymore if she couldn't have what she had always wanted. It didn't matter anymore if she couldn't have what she had always needed. If she had to, now, she would find a way to move on without the love of Harmon Rabb, and she resigned herself to the fact that she no longer wanted it to be in the self-absorbed chauvinistic arms of Mic Brumby.



Back to the present . . .


Back into the world she had created for herself, Mac reached for the phone and dialed Mic's number. It was time. It was time to move forward. It was time to find Sarah Mackenzie once again.

 

JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA
1130HRS (EST)



Both relieved that the Monday case briefings had been postponed due to the Admiral's impromptu visit with the SECNAV, they had successfully avoided each other all morning. Sequestered in their respective offices with the doors closed, they tried to bury themselves in the lives of others. They tried to bury themselves in the problems of their clients. Their professional lives now destined to fill the void the truth had left once again in their personal lives. The special friendship they had once shared still also absent because of their stubbornness, their insecurities, and the reminders of the individual rejection they blindly believed they had each inflicted on the other in the past.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

"May I help you, Ma'am?"

"Yes, Gunnery Sergeant, I'm here to see Commander Harmon Rabb."

"Does he expect you, Ma'am?"

"No, I'm sure he doesn't. But could you please just tell him Trish Burnett is here to see him."

"Certainly, Ma'am. If you could wait right here, I'll see if the Commander is available."

"Thank you."

Trish Burnett looked around at the immaculate offices, wistfully remembering that in the six years that Harm had been assigned to the Judge Advocate General's Office, this was the first time she had visited her son at his duty station. Hearing his voice she turned and for a moment she was transported back to another place in time. Back to another handsome naval aviator who had stolen her heart. He looked so much like his father . . . he looked so much like Harm Sr.

"Mom! What are you doing here? I thought you left for LA last night." Harm hugged his mother and with her hand securely in his, guided her to his office.

"No, I decided to stay the week . . . visit a starving artist fair in Pennsylvania and spend some additional time with my son."

He settled her in the chair in front of his desk, glad she was there and very glad he would have some additional time with her. "And Frank?"

"I sent Frank home. He had to finish the project that brought us to Washington, and, besides, I didn't want to force him to tramp through the Pennsylvania countryside with me in search of the next Norman Rockwell."

"You know he never minds."

"I know that, darling. He's always been wonderful when it comes to the gallery or things that I find important."

"He wants you to be happy."

"Yes, he does. I guess when you love someone you have to put up with their little obsessions. So, what do you say your mother takes you and Mac out to lunch?" She noticed the sudden spark in his eyes, only to see something else she didn't quite recognize extinguish it.

Before she could gauge the tone in his response, they were interrupted by a voice over the intercom.

"Commander, I have the Admiral on line one for you."

"Thank you, Tiner. Mom, I have to take this call, and then I'm due in court at 1300. I'm afraid I'll have to skip lunch, but why don't I make it up to you and cook you dinner tonight?"

"I understand, and dinner sounds wonderful. Do you think Mac is free to join me for lunch?"

"I'm not sure, but why don't I have the Gunny show you to her office."

"Thank you, dear. Then I'll see you tonight. Say seven?"

"Seven it is."

After kissing his mother lightly on the cheek, he watched the Gunny escort her to Mac's office. He saw them embrace warmly, always so obviously comfortable in each other's presence. Slamming his door with a little more force than was necessary, he sat back at his desk, a headache with the strength of a jackhammer starting to pound in his head along with the memories of the weekend.

"Damn it, Rabb, your life is a mess." His words echoed in the silent space that now spun around him.

"Commander?"

"What is it, Tiner?"

"Sir, the Admiral is still holding on line one."

"Oh, God. I'm a dead man."

 

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