USS Patrick Henry
Saturday June 19, 2004
In the two days since he'd seen Mac Harm had been walking around with a
"big goofy grin" as Skates was calling it. He just couldn't help
it...after the last year and all the awkwardness and strain that their
relationship had been under he was finally starting to feel good about
where he and Mac were heading. He valued her friendship more than
anything outside of his relationship with Mattie and he'd just been too
blind to see what needed to be done. Glancing at the clock on his
computer Harm thought he'd check to see what email had come in...he'd
been a little wary of reading anymore email after getting the last
blistering lecture via Mattie's most recent email. His ward was
extremely vocal about the worry he'd caused her. Apparently Mac had kept
in touch with her during his confinement to keep her apprised of
everything that was going on. He'd also learned that Jen and Mattie had
been relocated to the Roberts residence by a very worried Harriet.
Double clicking on the icon to start his email program Harm was somewhat
shocked to see that he only had one email, and this one was from Mac.
Clicking on the little envelope to open the message he couldn't help but
feel his grin grow even bigger when he read it.
We're back in DC early this morning, Bud has now been recruited
into watching over your daughters by Auntie Harriet. The Admiral's
Dining Out has been planned for next Saturday, wish you were here. What
anniversary? – Mac
Smiling Harm clicked on the reply button and started a quick email of
Happy you and the Admiral and Bud made it back. A Dining Out?
Who's the Master Vice? Make sure that 'Auntie Harriet and Uncle Bud'
know that I want my daughters back when I come home; they'll probably
try to adopt them behind my back. See you when I get home. – Harm
Glancing over the email before he sent it off he grinned when he thought
of Mac's reaction to him deliberately ignoring her question about the
anniversary. He knew that she knew he wasn't answering it just to
irritate her. Chuckling he clicked on the button to send the email off
and then got down to work. Yesterday the Captain had put the crew
through their paces by simulating an attack on the ship. Half his flyers
had been up playing aggressors and half were defenders. While in the
most part both teams had done well, Harm had some plans for pushing his
people a little harder. He had to be careful though...too much of an
edge can be as bad as not working hard enough. He didn't want to tire
his people out when they were needed most.
Leaning back in his chair Harm pinched the bridge of his nose before he
realized he was unconsciously mimicking the Admiral. With a wry chuckle
Harm went back to easing the pressure he felt building up into a minor
headache. Maybe this was why he'd put off looking for a command position
until now. A headache and it wasn't even 1000 hours. Standing up Harm
stepped out from behind his desk and decided he'd head to vulture's row
for a bit. Exiting his office Harm made his up to the tower to make his
way out to one of his favorite spots on the ship. Casually he returned
the salutes that were given to him by the crew members he passed on the
way, stopping to chat with those who he'd gotten to know over the weeks
he'd been on board, plus his last tour here.
Half an hour later he was standing with his arms folded over the rail
watching the incoming Cats trap. As much as he wasn't sure if the deck
of a carrier was where he belonged anymore, he had to admit there
weren't many places he'd rather be than on a carrier watching the traps,
the sunlight off the waves, the ocean open before them. There were only
two things missing and he felt their absence acutely. He knew Mattie was
going to kill him when he got home...she'd promised it in her emails,
and he had no doubt she was going to try and make good on her threats;
especially since she'd assured him that Mac would probably help her get
ready. 'If he wasn't careful, Mac was going to turn a perfectly good
Navy prospect into a Marine' Harm thought with a smile.
He heard the hatch bang open and glanced over his shoulder down the
stretch of deck to see the Skipper step out onto the row. Looking
towards him the Skipper gave a brief nod and then moved towards him.
Harm looked back down to the deck and saw them move a Cat into position
in the port catapult.
"Skipper." Harm said with a nod. Ingles was a good man; Harm respected
him almost as much as he did the Admiral.
"CAG. Nice day for flying; thought you'd be up today."
"I'd love to be Skipper, but this job you found for me when I came on
board has too much paperwork. Almost like being a lawyer." Harm said
with a short laugh. "Needed some air to clear my head I've been staring
at so many forms."
Smiling, the Skipper stood beside Harm and watched the prepped Cat blast
off the deck. "Your kids are good CAG, better even than Keeter had them.
Don't get me wrong, Keeter's a good man, good CAG. But you've got
something about you CAG...the kids respond to it like nothing I've seen
"Thank you sir." Harm said simply. Wasn't much he could say to that.
"They're going to miss you when you're abbreviated tour is done."
"We've had word on Keeter?" Harm asked, wondering where the Skipper was
going with this.
Nodding the Skipper squinted into the sunlight. "He's been released from
Bethesda. Sounds like he's doing well. Docs figure two months."
"That's good Skipper. Keeter's a good man as you said sir. It’s tough on
him not to be flying I'm sure."
For a moment the Skipper just looked out into the waves and sunlight.
"I'm sure it is CAG." He finally said. With a deep sigh he turned to
look at Harm. "I watched you walk off this ship once CAG, it’s going to
be a shame to see you do it again. You know you belong with us
Harm...you belong where you are, doing what you are doing."
"I'm honored you feel that way Skipper." Harm said honestly.
"What I'm trying to say Harm, is if you decide that you'd like to extend
your billet here...perhaps something could be arranged. If you decided
to not return to JAG that is."
"Not sure I could step back into the ranks sir. I know it's just a temp
duty sir...but I've had a taste of the CAG's dinner so to speak."
"I know that Harm...you don't belong in the ranks. You belong at the
front, right where you are."
"Thank you sir, but as we both know, Keeter will be returning in time."
"Yes he will be Harm. But other ships need CAGs as well. As much as I'd
hate to lose you, I'm sure I could find something for you."
"Skipper...I don't know what to say." Harm said honestly. As touched as
he was by the Skipper's offer, his thoughts about how he didn't really
belong on a carrier anymore were still fresh in his mind.
Reaching up Ingles placed his hand on the younger man's shoulder. "You
don't have to make a decision yet Harm. But you know there are a lot of
people who are willing to make this happen. Any man who can nose a
wounded bird to safety belongs where we are."
Nodding Harm turned to look back out over the waves. He smiled wryly to
himself...well at least his life was rarely boring.
Patting the younger man's shoulder Ingles stepped back and made his way
back to the hatch to give Harm time alone to think.
Harm barely even noticed the Skipper's departure as he thought of his
words. He loved flying...he could never stop that. The thrill of
shooting off a deck propelled by the cats was unlike anything else Harm
had ever experienced...some things came really close...but not much was
better. The bond that a squadron of pilots shared...that was something
else Harm had never felt anywhere else. Sure, his friends at JAG were
almost family...some even as close as one could come without blood. He
couldn't help but think of Bud as his younger brother...he always had.
And from what he remembered of his father, the Admiral was a good stand
in for that job. Jen was as much his daughter as Mattie was...they joked
about it...but they both knew the other felt the same way. But there was
something about the group of men and women who faced death together
every day that forged a bond unlike any other. Now that he was back,
could Harm ever really give it up again? As Harm stood there lost in
thought it came to him that he knew the answer. He could never accept
the Skipper's offer, no matter how much he might want to, no matter how
much he appreciated it. The reason for this floated in his mind, sharp
enough that he could actually see it, floating above the waves. A
smiling face framed by curly auburn curls with sparkling mischievous
hazel eyes. He'd just found Mattie...he couldn't leave her now. This
half rotation was hard enough, what would six months out over twelve be
like? In his mind's eye he saw another face, behind Mattie's. Someone
else he wasn't ready to leave behind, not this time, never again. Soft
brown hair framed the deep brown eyes he longed to lose himself in for
an eternity and more. He and Mac needed to find a way to make it work as
he'd told the Admiral when he'd made much the same offer the Skipper was
Stepping back Harm turned to head back inside and stopped again. For the
first time in a long time someone had come up on him and he hadn't heard
them. Halfway down the row Meg stood leaning against the rail much as
Harm had just been. Walking down the row he stopped beside her and
leaned against the rail again.
"Just up for the view?"
"Went by your office and couldn't find you there or in the ready room. I
thought I'd find you up here. Just wanted to say goodbye, but you didn't
answer when I came up, and you looked so thoughtful I didn't want to
"Thank you for that Meg. There were some things I needed to work out in
my mind. Wait a minute...goodbye?"
Smiling, Meg looked over at her onetime partner. "Picked up on that, did
you? Yeah...I got word that the real replacement weapons officer is on
his way out on tomorrow morning's COD. I'm leaving when it heads back."
"Your investigation is done then?"
"No...it’s just leading me somewhere else. Listen Harm, I think what
happened to you is connected to what I'm following...watch your six,
"What do you mean?"
"You can't tell me. Right...need to know. You sure you never met Clayton
"I'm sorry Harm...I wish I could tell you. All I can say is that while I
think you're going to be all right here, there are no guarantees. Just
ask Riley about that." Meg said bitterly.
"How long did you know each other?"
"Four years. He was my senior partner when I got tapped for Naval
Intelligence. Showed me everything I know." Meg said solemnly as she
started out at the waves.
"I'm sorry Meg...I know it sounds trite, but I really am."
"Thanks Harm." Meg said quietly after a moment. Over all the normal
noises associated with a ship at sea Harm could barely hear her.
Something struck Harm as he watched Meg stand there lost in her own
"When you were in DC...was it because of your case?" Harm asked
"Partly. But I really did want to see you again Harm...I've thought
about you a lot over the years."
Smiling at her, Harm couldn't help but be flattered. Any man would be if
a beautiful woman had admitted to thinking about him.
"Harm?" Meg said hesitantly.
"Meg." Harm answered.
Biting her lip Meg looked closely at Harm before she answered. With a
deep breath she plunged on. "Harm...everything I said...I meant it Harm.
I just wanted you to know that."
Raising an eyebrow Harm stood there for a minute, trying to think of
what he should say. Before he could answer her Meg turned around and
walked back to the hatch. When she had it opened she stopped and looked
back at him. "Watch your six Harm...I'd hate to lose you again." And
then she was gone, and Harm still hadn't said goodbye to her. It wasn't
until he turned back to watch out over the deck again that it struck
Harm how similar Meg's last words were to what Mac had said to him.
USS Patrick Henry
Wednesday August 4, 2004
Harm popped the cockpit canopy as his turbines spooled down. The
squadron had been on high alert for the last 36 hours, and they all
needed sleep bad. Thankfully they hadn't lost anyone in the flurry of
danger that made the alert level necessary. Intel had indicated that an
attack on the carrier group was planned by dissident forces, but it had
never fully developed. What they had faced had been more than enough.
Stepping wearily to the deck Harm motioned the rest of his just returned
pilots inside. Once they were all off the flight deck he followed them
into the ready room. Leaning heavily on the podium at the front of the
room he looked over the tired faces before him. Good kids one and all,
they'd all proven themselves to him and everyone else more than they
should have had to. Even the rookies had the look about them now.
"All right people, the fun level seems to have tapered off in the last
six hours. We're going to stand down to having two elements in the air
for the foreseeable future. New patrol schedule is 2 and 4 element, then
1 and 3 element, with 5 and 6 bringing up the tail. I want 5 and 6 in
the air in thirty minutes. The rest of you are to grab a shower, grab
some grub and then hit the racks. 1 and 3 you go up in three hours. If
things remain as they are we'll stand down to regular 1 element patrols
in 12 hours. Any questions?"
"Yeah CAG…why aren't you taking first patrol?" Tuna asked with a smile.
He led the fifth element and just had to take a poke at his CAG.
"Because I'm an old man Tuna. And you young kids don't need as much
sleep as me." Harm said with a smile.
As the laughter died down he held up his hand. "All right folks. Let’s
get some rest."
"Aye, aye CAG" a chorus of voices answered his order. He smiled fondly
as they all filed wearily out of the ready room, still with that swagger
in their step. No matter how tired, how wore down, his kids would have
that swing to their step. As he followed them out of the ready room,
Harm decided to stop by his office and file his after action report and
just get it out of the way. No point in putting it off if he could get
away with it. Stretching a kink out of his neck he hauled open the hatch
to his office and stopped in shock.
"Jesus buddy, you look like hell." The man sitting behind his desk said.
"KEETER!" Harm said with a smile. "Thought you weren't gonna be out for
two more weeks."
"Nah. They got tired of me hitting on all the nurses when I went for my
physical at Bethesda." Keeter said with a grin as he stood up from
behind the desk. "Came in on that COD the kids escorted in an hour ago.
Ingles said I was to wait for you here."
"Good to see you buddy." Harm said as he grabbed Keeter into a
backslapping hug. "Let me get this report written and then we'll head
down for some chow. The kids are all filling up right now…I'm sure
they'll want to see you."
"Sounds good." Keeter said simply as he plopped down in one of the two
chairs in front of the desk. Harm couldn't help but notice his friend
still had quite a limp.
"Seen ol' Doc Johnson yet?" Harm asked referring to the flight surgeon
who'd need to clear Keeter back to an active flight status. Sitting down
heavily behind his desk he fired up the word processor and started on
"Not yet…he said he'd see me in the morning." Keeter said and then sat
silently as Harm typed up his report and then sent it via email to the
Leaning back in his chair Harm looked at his old friend. "Damn I'm tired
Keeter. It’s been a long three months."
"That's what I heard. I also heard you've handled yourself pretty damn
well…especially with that whole inquiry thing." Keeter said. "The
Company keeping you busy?"
"Not really…haven't heard from them since that 'whole inquiry thing'.
Guess two appearances on the evening news was enough for them." Harm
said wryly. "Not that I mind…I got enough flying for them long ago."
"You'll miss it buddy, trust me. I have." Keeter said with a wink.
"Not this time buddy. It’s about time I got back to Mattie…she's been
sending me four emails a day asking when I'm coming home."
"Is this the Harmon Rabb Jr. I went on my Segundo Cruise in Spain with?
Harmon Rabb Jr. wanting to get home to spend time with…his ward?"
"My daughter Keeter. I'm going to petition to adopt her as soon as I
can. I was going to do it in June, but coming out here kinda put a hold
Shaking his head Keeter looked at his oldest friend in shock. This was
not the Harmon Rabb Jr. he remembered. "She must be something if she can
wrap you up like this."
"She's everything Keeter…I can't imagine my life without her anymore."
Harm said with wonder. "She's…you wouldn't understand buddy."
"I don't know if I can put it into words buddy. She's…my life. As much
as she would be if she was my own flesh and blood. I couldn't love her
any more than I do if she was. I want to be there for every joy, every
pain, every moment she has, and I curse the fact that I didn't get to be
part of the first fifteen years of her life."
"Listen to yourself buddy." Keeter said in amazement. Where was the
freewheeling Harmon Rabb he loved to go cruising for women with?
"I know…amazing isn't it?" Harm said with a smile. "Seriously buddy,
check these out."
Harm fired up his email client and pulled up a couple messages Bud and
Harriet had sent. Pictures of Mattie were attached to each and he opened
them all up. Mattie at AJ's fifth birthday, Mattie with the Roberts
family at the JAG summer barbeque, Mattie with Mac and Jen at Christmas.
Grinning like the proud father he felt like Harm showed all the pictures
of Mattie that Bud had sent for him while he was on board ship.
Shaking his head Keeter simply put a hand on Harm's shoulder. "I'm happy
for you buddy. You've got something special in that girl." He said as he
looked at the pictures. "So how does she feel about Mac?"
"She loves her…Mac and Mattie have something special…ever since Mac
helped me get custody last Christmas." Harm said with a small smile as
he stared at a picture of Mac hugging Mattie outside the Falls Church
offices. He could feel the moisture start pooling in his eyes again. If
he wasn't careful he was going to start crying…in front of Keeter no
"Come on buddy, let’s go grab that grub." Keeter said softly.
"Yeah…that's a good idea." Harm said quietly as he sat staring at the
picture for a couple more minutes before closing his email browser and
all the open pictures.
"So I went out for some beers with Sturgis last week." Keeter said as
they made their way to the wardroom.
"How's he doing? I haven't had an email from him in awhile." Harm asked.
"Good…he kept talking about this singer he's seeing." Keeter said. He
winked at Harm and then asked "So you sure you want to go back to JAG? I
hear the interim JAG is a real nut buster. Even Sturgis was bitching
Harm had heard that an interim JAG had been appointed while the
selection committee made their final decision. Mac had run the office
for almost a month after the Admiral had retired before the interim had
been able to move out to Falls Church. Harm was a little shocked that
Mac hadn't been given the position, and a little angry. He still didn't
know who the interim was…no one at the office would tell him, and
honestly he'd been a little busy to find out on his own, and if he was
going to be completely honest with himself, he hadn't really thought
about it. Somehow who was running the JAG office really didn't matter
when he was flying sorties off the deck of the Henry.
"CAG to the bridge immediately. Commander Rabb please report to the
Well there goes some grub. "Guess I better go see what the old man
wants. I'll catch you in the wardroom when I'm done…go let the kids know
you're home." Harm slapped Keeter on the back and then set off for the
"CAG on the bridge."
"CAG. I take it you've been to your office?" the Captain asked looking
up from a print out that Harm saw was his report.
"Looks like Keeter was a bit anxious to come home."
"Looks that way sir."
"Have you thought about what we spoke of a couple months ago?" Captain
Ingles asked referring to his offer.
"I have Skipper. And I'm honored that you would make the offer to me.
But to be honest sir, I'm getting a little old for this game. And I've
got a little girl waiting for me to come home and adopt her." Harm said
with a smile. The Captain smiled back having seen all of Harm's pictures
of Mattie and having listened to Harm talk for hours about his ward.
"I have to say I wish you would stay on out here CAG, but I didn't
expect to win against that girl of yours."
"I'm glad you understand sir. She means the world to me, and I've been
away too long as it is."
"At her age Commander, you miss a day you miss a year. She's what?
"Fifteen sir…almost sixteen."
Rolling his eyes Harm thought back to the numerous emails Mattie had
sent him describing in detail the dates she'd gone on. Part of him hoped
she was just pulling his leg, but he knew she'd have boys flocking to
her. "Apparently sir. She did however wait until I'd been deployed to
mention that fact."
"And you didn't highjack one of my Tomcats to get back to her? CAG you
have more restraint than I do." Captain Ingles said with a laugh.
Setting the report down on the chart table the Captain picked up an
envelope that was sitting there. "I figured that would be your answer
CAG, I know what you've got to go back to. So I had these cut in case
you said you'd like to go back."
Harm took the proffered envelope and opened it to find orders for him to
return stateside and report to JAG. "Tomorrow sir?" he asked seeing the
date the orders were effective for.
"On the afternoon COD. That should give you time to square away and see
whoever you want to before you leave. I'm assuming Doc Johnson clears
Keeter for flight status, but even if he doesn't Keeter can fly a desk
"That would drive him nuts Skipper." Harm said with a smirk.
"I know…I just might have Doc Johnson keep him behind that desk for
awhile anyway. Wouldn't be the first non-flying CAG, probably won't be
the last. I spoke to the interim JAG…you don't have to report until
Monday morning. You should be back Friday night or early Saturday
morning, so you should have plenty of time to reunite with your
daughters and anyone else you may wish to see upon your return
Commander." Captain Ingles said, well aware of the unique family the
Commander had developed. A teenager and a Petty Officer for
daughters…and perhaps a mother on the way.
"Thank you for that sir." Harm said, grateful the Captain understood.
Harm stood to attention and saluted the Captain. "With your permission,
Returning Harm's salute the Captain nodded. "Of course Commander. Join
your kids in the wardroom, they're probably worried you passed out from
exhaustion somewhere. The last thing I need is the Raptors tearing apart
my ship looking for their lost CAG."
Harm smiled a little sadly. He wouldn't be their CAG much longer. "Thank
As Harm reached the hatch exiting the bridge the Captain called out
"Do you ever do anything the easy way?"
"Excuse me Skipper?" Harm asked confused.
"Well normally people find a wife, then have kids. You've had the kids
first, but I need to ask Commander. Are you going to provide those girls
with a mother any time soon?"
"I hope to sir. I've got someone in mind…just need to talk her into it."
Harm said with a smile.
"Good to hear son. Make an honest woman of her already, will you?"
"I mean to sir. I've already had an Admiral order me to do so, would you
like to add your order to his?"
"The Admiral's a good man son. If it means anything, consider yourself
"Aye, aye skipper." Harm said with a smile and then stopped.
"Skipper…did the JAG say if she told anyone else I was coming back
"Didn't say anything about that."
Harm nodded satisfied, he had people he wanted to surprise, then stopped
again. "Did you happen to catch her name Captain?"
"I did, but she ordered me not to tell you. Said it was a surprise."
A little shocked Harm stepped off the bridge without another word and
made his way down to the wardroom to let his kids know he was going
home. The Captain's comment about the JAG and the order not to tell him
the name was quite strange.
North of Union Station
Friday August 6, 2004
The cab pulled up to the front of Harm's apartment building. He'd known
that if he'd called Jen or Mac or Bud and Harriet would have come to get
him when he flew into the airport, but he wanted to surprise a few
people. He paid the cabbie and then got out and waited for the driver to
pop the trunk to grab his bags and a large duffel he'd picked up on his
way back. It was stuffed with more gifts than he thought he could carry.
Stuff for little AJ and Jimmy and stuff for Jen and stuff for Mattie.
Not to mention a few things he'd picked up for Mac he thought with a
wicked smile. Unlocking the side door Harm made his way up the stairs
until he was standing outside the door to Mattie and Jen's apartment.
Setting his bags down softly he reached up to knock on the door.
After only a couple moments he heard Mattie's muffled voice call out
"Pizza's here Jen…where's the credit card? I'll get it."
"It’s on the coffee table." He heard Jen call back. Smiling he waited
until Mattie opened the door.
As the chains and locks were thrown he tried to wipe the smile off his
face but failed. When the door started to open he heard "How much do
we….." and that was it. The door swung free as Mattie saw him standing
there, and her mouth hung open in mid-sentence.
"I hope there's room left on that credit card young lady." Harm said in
mock severity. When Mattie still hadn't said anything Harm smiled and
motioned to her still open mouth. "You know that can become permanent if
you leave it like that long enough."
Finally Mattie closed her mouth as a big grin split her face. "HARM!"
she cried and then nearly bowled him over as she jumped up into his arms
and hugged him. As she buried her face against his neck Harm could feel
the tears flowing freely down her cheeks.
"Mattie what is it? Is everything….Commander!" Jen said as she came out
to see what her roommate was up to. Harm had to be careful not to fall
over when the next wave hit as Jen ran up to wrap him a hug as well.
They stood there, Harm and the two daughters of his heart, for almost
fifteen minutes as he wrapped them both in the biggest hugs he could.
"Hi guys." He said softly.
"When did you get back?" Mattie asked. "Oh…just now I guess." She added
when she saw his bags.
"Can I come in?" Harm asked with a laugh and was pulled in from both
sides as Jen and Mattie each grabbed an arm and pulled. Once he was
inside fully Jen went out to the hallway and grabbed his bags.
"Do you want me to take these to your place sir?" Jen asked.
"Jennifer." Harm said in a warning tone of voice.
"Yes Harm?" Jen answered in an innocent tone of voice.
"Just bring them in. There's a few things for you guys in there too."
"Really? What'd you bring us?" Mattie asked eagerly.
"Airline peanuts." Harm said jokingly as he sat down on their couch.
Both girls climbed up, one on each side of him and snuggled close. It
had been far too long since he'd seen his girls. Wrapping an arm around
each one he was completely content.
Quietly the three just sat there on the couch until there was a knock at
the door. "That'll be the pizza." Jen said. "I'll get it."
As Jen went to pay for the pizza Harm grabbed the duffle on the floor
and opened it. "Let me see…what do we have here?" Harm asked as he
pulled out a large stuffed bear wearing a flight jacket. He'd seen it in
the shipboard PX and knew he had to get it for Mattie. It even had a
Raptors squadron patch on the jacket.
"For me?" Mattie asked in a little girl tone of voice.
"For you sweetie." Harm said with a smile. Then he pulled out a
Henry ball cap and plopped it on her head as she was examining her bear.
By then Jen had returned with the pizza and was just standing there
smiling as Harm brought out his gifts for Mattie.
"What are you smiling at Jen? Sit back down and we'll get to you next."
"Me sir? You shouldn't have sir…"
"Nonsense. You're one of my girls. I couldn't come home without
something for you." Harm said as he pulled out some first edition books
he'd found that he knew Jen would like. "I know it’s not a fighter bear,
but when I saw these I thought of you honey."
Looking at the books Jen couldn't help but smile. First edition Jung and
Freud, along with a couple copies of some of Plato's works to add
philosophy to the mix. Reaching out she wrapped her arm around Harm and
pulled him close. "Thank you sir….Harm….dad." she added with a smirk.
Harm reached into his bag and pulled out another cap he plopped down on
Jen's head just like he had to Mattie.
"So." Mattie said. "Mac's wearing a jacket just like this lately. A
lot." She added holding up her bear. "Know anything about it?"
"No…can't say I do. But you know what? Some no good lowlife stole my
flight jacket. Couldn't believe it. I bet it was Tuna." Harm said with a
"Liar!" both girls yelled as they started tickling Harm.
After they had tired of tormenting him in that way Mattie looked at him
with her head cocked to the side. "Have you seen her since you got
Harm didn't have to ask who 'her' was. "No…I came right home to my
girls. I'm going to head over there when you guys kick me out."
"Got anything in there for her?" Mattie asked curiously as she started
to grab Harm's duffle.
"Maybe. Most of it is for AJ…" Harm said evasively. With a warning
glance at both girls he slowly zipped the bag up to keep them from
"Want some pizza dad?" Mattie asked as she suddenly remembered their
"Ah…I can smell the meat on there from here. I think I'll pass. I'll let
you two have your dinner. I have another stop to make before I can rack
out for the night."
"Come back soon?" Mattie asked in her little girl voice.
"I'm back honey, and I'm not going anywhere for awhile."
Harm had been standing outside Mac's door for ten minutes now. He'd been
trying to think of what he should say…what could he say? Finally he
steeled himself and raised his hand to knock on the door and then
stepped to the side, knowing she'd use the peephole and ruin the
surprise. He knew he was chancing her not opening the door when she
didn't see anyone there, but he had a feeling. Leisurely he leaned up
against the wall with his arm resting at an angle behind his head.
Slowly Mac's door opened and he heard her say "Yes?"
"Hey Marine." He said softly. "Looking for a good time?"
"Harm?" he heard her whisper as she stepped out into the hallway and
looked at him. He barely had time to notice she was wearing his jacket
as he was suddenly once more under assault as someone barreled into him
and wrapped him in a hug. Man she could get up a lot of speed from a
complete stop. Wrapping his arms around her he pulled her even closer
and rubbed his hand gently up and down her back. He raised his other
hand to her hair and softly stroked it as he said "Hey there."
"You're really home?" she asked softly into his shoulder.
"Really, really." He answered.
Suddenly he felt her shake as she broke out sobbing. "I can't believe
you're finally home!" he heard her whisper fiercely.
"Sarah, as nice as this is…do you think we should take it out of the
hallway?" Harm asked and then was forcibly pulled into Mac's apartment
and the door was slammed behind him. Then he found himself in exactly
the same position as she pushed into him for another hug.
Looking down at her smiling face as she looked up at him Harm reached up
and gently wiped the tears from her eyes. "Hi." He said softly.
"Hi." She answered just as softly.
Smiling Mac blushed as she said "I missed you and it reminds me of you."
Smiling at the twinkle he saw in her gorgeous eyes as she said that Harm
slowly bent to touch his lips to hers as he murmured "I missed you too
Silently Harm stepped away from Mac and just looked at her standing
there wearing his flight jacket over a pair of Marine sweats. She was,
at that moment, the most beautiful woman he'd ever know, and would ever
know. He knew she had her flaws, lord knew he knew that he had his share
of flaws. Somehow though, he had to make her see that he was ready to
make it work.
"When did you get home?" she asked softly.
"Got in a couple hours ago. Stopped off to see Mattie and Jen to let
them know I was home and then came over here." Harm answered just as
tenderly. It was almost as if they were both afraid to speak too loud
for fear of waking from a dream.
"You could have called for a ride you know?" Mac said reprovingly. "I
would have come to get you."
"And ruin the moment we just had…never." Harm said with a smile.
"So we just had a moment did we?" Mac asked with an arched eyebrow and a
smile to show him she was only teasing.
"We did." Harm confirmed seriously. The silence that followed his
earnest statement could almost be felt, touched.
"Harm…" Mac said.
"Mac…" Harm said at exactly the same time. "I'm sorry, you first." Harm
sat down on her couch and patted the couch beside him.
When Mac had sat down on the couch beside him and curled her feet up
underneath her she finally looked up at him. Wiggling herself a little
bit on the couch Mac managed to move right up to him and rest her head
on his shoulder with a small sigh of contentment. "So you didn't lose
anymore of the government's aircraft?" she asked with a sly smile.
"Ah…no. But I'm sure the Iraqi dissidents are going to be looking for
some replacements soon." Harm said. Lifting his arm he reached over and
pulled Mac even closer and left it lying on top of her shoulder. "Is
that what you wanted to tell me?" he prompted softly.
"No." Mac said quietly into his shoulder. She looked up at him and he
could feel her lips brush against his neck and send a jolt through his
spine. He was sure she hadn't meant to do that, but all the same it was
thoroughly enjoyable. "Harm…what is this?"
"What is what Mac?"
Harm thought about that, really thought about it. What was what he and
Mac had? Was it friendship? In a way. Was it love? He knew he loved her,
and he hoped she could love him one day, but that wasn't what it was
either. Harm really couldn't answer that question to himself.
"Mac…Sarah. I don't know what this is. But I've had the time to think
about a couple things. Honey, I know things haven't been easy for you
lately." He said avoiding mentioning Webb's death and their difficulties
directly. "Things have been wrong between us for too long Mac…I don't
want to let you face anything alone…not anymore."
"Harm…" Mac said with a catch in her voice.
"Mac, please let me finish…I've been trying to think of what to say to
you for so long…I just have to say it now or I'll never get up the nerve
to say it again." Harm said pulling her close. "I know we've got a long
way to go to make things right…we've come a long way…together and apart.
I've spent the better part of the last six months wishing that you and I
could have what we once had Mac."
Harm could feel her low, bitter laugh more than hear it. "Me too Harm."
"But Mac, that Admiral said something to me at Al Basrah that made
sense. Mac, he told me that we can't live in the past, that you and I
have changed too much for that. We're not the people we once were. And
that makes sense to me."
"What are you saying Harm?" Mac asked with a note of something almost
unfamiliar to him in her voice. Fear.
"Mac…I'm not sure what I'm saying. All I know is that whatever we do, I
want it to be an ‘us’, a ‘we’. I want to make things right between us."
They both sat there quietly thinking about his words for a long time
before Mac answered. "Harm, I miss him." She said and then she started
to sob quietly. He knew instinctively that she wasn't referring to the
"I know you do sweetie." Harm said softly as he held her while she
cried. If he had to put money on it, he would have guessed that Mac
hadn't cried for Webb yet. Harm waited patiently for her to finish
crying on her own, it was too important for her for him to interrupt.
"What are we going to do Harm?" she asked finally. Immediately following
her question her stomach growled loudly.
Raising an eyebrow Harm looked down at the woman in his arms. "Is that a
Marine meal call I hear?"
With a little smile Mac just said, "Well you know me."
"Always hungry. Want to order pizza?"
"You read my mind. Half and half?" Mac asked recalling he'd told her
earlier that he hadn't eaten with Mattie and Jen.
"Sure…my treat." Harm said as he pulled his cell phone from his pocket.
"Not on your life Flyboy. You come home from three months at sea and
won't let me buy pizza? I won't stand for that." Mac said with mock
severity. He knew better than to argue with her and simply handed her
An hour later they were looking over the devastated remains of what was
once a large half meat lovers, half vegetarian pizza. Mac had a
contented look on her face as she snuggled close to him once more.
Sensing that Mac wasn't quite ready to resume a serious conversation
Harm instead started to tell her stories about his weeks and months on
the carrier and the people he had served with.
"Harm?" Mac asked interrupting one story about how Tuna had filled
Skates' locker full of dry oatmeal on her birthday.
"Yeah?" he asked quietly. His long flight had finally caught up to him
and he was starting to wear down.
"Is it true you called Skates by my name?" she asked quietly. She was
obviously just as drained as he was and starting to tire out as well.
"Where'd you hear about that?" he asked surprised she knew about it.
"Skates and Tuna told me in Al Basrah."
"Well she said she took it as a compliment and I agree with her." He
said giving her a squeeze.
"mmm. That's nice of her to say." Mac mumbled.
"Well she knows how I feel about you Mac." Harm said quietly. When he
didn't get a response he looked down and saw that she'd fallen asleep.
With a small smile he laid his head back and closed his eyes giving
himself to the weariness pulling at him.
Falls Church, Virginia
Monday August 9, 2004
Harm smiled to himself as he walked into the building. For the first
time in a long time it felt good to be coming to work at JAG. He and Mac
had talked some more Sunday morning when they'd woken up on the couch in
Mac's living room. Most of their conversation was light hearted and
trivial. She'd let him in on some of the office gossip, but had also
refused to tell him who the new interim JAG was, saying she would be in
"direct violation of a direct order" if she did. Now he was really
curious; but he was trying his best to not let it show. He and Mac had
also touched on their relationship a little, and Harm had decided that
he wanted to move slowly for now…Mac had been through a lot lately, with
Webb dying. Harm didn't want to make it look like he was just looking
for a rebound. First, he would work on rebuilding his friendship with
her, gain her trust back. Nodding to the few people who greeted him on
the way to the elevator Harm smiled when he saw Mac waiting for him.
"Good morning Colonel." He greeted her with a smile.
"Early for a change? I'm impressed Commander…or is this some trick? Did
they send a robot back from the Patrick Henry instead?" Mac teased.
"You've been spending far too much time with Bud." Harm said with a
smile. "Speaking of Bud, I'm going to go over to Bud and Harriet's after
work…spend some time with AJ and Jimmy. Care to join me?"
"Sure…sounds like fun." Mac said with a smile as the elevator got to
their floor and the doors opened.
"Great…want to grab lunch today?"
"I'd love to Harm." Mac said happily.
"All right…I'll see you later? I need to report to the mystery JAG."
"Bye." Mac said as she moved towards her office.
Harm turned around to find Bud and Harriet standing in front of him.
"Good morning Lieutenant Commander, Lieutenant."
"Commander!" Harriet squealed with obvious joy and a huge smile.
Bud just stuck out his hand and smiled. "Welcome home Commander."
"Thanks guys. Hey listen…I was wondering if I could stop by…"
"Commander Rabb. I will have you in my office. Now."
Harm stopped and closed his eyes. He knew that voice, and he was more
familiar than he wanted to be at the low and sultry way it was pitched.
Krennick. It had to be Krennick. He tried his best to ignore the double
meaning of her words…knowing Krennick she'd phrased it that way on
purpose. He caught sight of Mac and the shocked look in her eyes and
knew she'd caught the sexual overtones as well. Well…one more thing to
talk to Mac about.
Turning towards the JAG's office Harm came to attention and simply said
"Aye, aye ma'am." Turning back to Bud and Harriet he saw the pitying
looks on their faces…and a hint on mirth in Harriet's eyes. "Laughing at
a superior officer is an offense Harriet. Anyway…I'll come find you guys
later and talk. I want to see Jimmy and AJ tonight…I brought them back
"Oh they'd love that Commander." Harriet said with a big smile.
"Good…now I need to go see how long I'm going to live." Harm said wryly
and moved towards the Admiral's….Krennick's office. When he got to
Coates' desk a through struck him. Turning abruptly to face Jennifer he
smiled at her. In a low voice he asked "Jen…in five minutes could you
buzz in and say I have an important call?"
"I need you to spring me Jen." Harm said with a wink. Suddenly a thought
struck him and he grinned evilly. "Say that it's a Maria Elena Carmen
Gutierrez, and that I have to take it."
"Commander, are you trying to get me in trouble?" Jen asked with a
disapproving tone. Only the sparkle in her eyes gave away the mirth that
was always lurking below the surface with her.
"Not at all Petty Officer, I'll take whatever heat there is."
"All right sir, but it’s going to cost you."
"Mattie and I need some new DVDs…the ones we have are getting old…sir."
"Petty Officer, where is Commander Rabb?" Krennick's voice came over the
Picking up her phone Jen answered "He's on his way in right now ma'am."
And then winked at Harm.
Shaking his head Harm set his briefcase and cover on Jen's desk. "Could
you put those in my office please?"
"Aye, aye sir. Good DVDs too. We'll make a list."
With another wry shake of his head Harm set his shoulders and marched in
to face the dragon lady.
Coming stiffly to attention in front of her desk Harm said crisply
"Commander Rabb reporting as ordered ma'am."
Slowly Krennick's gaze rose from the file spread out on her desk. A
quick glance showed Harm that it was his own service jacket. This should
"So, the golden boy has returned from his joyride. It’s been a long time
Commander. Have a seat."
"Thank you ma'am." Harm said simply. He wasn't going to say anything
more than he had to get out of this. A quick glance around the office
showed how bare it looked without the Admiral's touches. That would take
a lot of getting used to.
"Admiral Chegwidden still speaks highly of you Commander, but I've been
going over your service record since we last saw each other and I must
say I am slightly shocked."
"Shocked. An automatic weapon in the courtroom? Defending the man who
stole the Declaration of Independence? A hospital full of terrorists? It
appears your penchant for attracting danger has increased if nothing
else over the last few years Commander."
Harm just sat there silently, there wasn't much he could say. It’s not
like he went out looking for the danger, it just usually found him.
"Two more DFCs, one of them awarded for your actions while flying with
the CIA no less? Resigning your commission to go down to Paraguay to
rescue Colonel MacKenzie and a CIA agent named Webb? Playing tag with a
dirty nuke? I can't even go on Commander, there's more in here than we
have time to talk about today. Is this the sort of behavior I can expect
from you in the future?"
Harm bit his lip to keep himself from making a sharp retort. "I merely
do my duty ma'am. In the past that has unfortunately sometimes required
me to take extreme steps."
"Indeed." Krennick said seductively as she stood up from behind her
desk. With slow steps she walked around her desk and sat on the edge
facing Harm. "As I said Commander, it has been a long time."
"Commander, I understand that you've been away temporarily assigned to
the Patrick Henry. Your caseload has been placed in your office and I
would like to know your thoughts on the cases assigned to you. Say,
tonight over dinner."
"Ma'am, I regretfully will have to decline. I have a pressing previous
engagement this evening."
"What is it?"
"I'm having dinner with my godson and his brother at the Roberts'." Harm
said swallowing the lump that was suddenly in his throat. Keep it
together Rabb…you're not a young Lieutenant Commander being chased by
this woman now.
"We'll make it a late dinner then. Don't eat too much at the Roberts'.
And yes Commander, that is an order. Get my address from my yeoman…"
Krennick was interrupted by the sound of her intercom buzzing. Leaning
across her desk she punched a button and said "Yes Petty Officer?"
"I'm sorry to interrupt ma'am, but there's an urgent phone call for the
Commander. A Maria Elena Carmen Gutierrez ma'am."
"What?" Krennick shouted.
"A phone call, for the Commander ma'am. I'm told it’s urgent and he
needs to take it." Jen said nervously.
Harm had to keep from smiling when Krennick whirled to face him with her
anger plain on her face. "That…that…that woman!" she hissed, forgetting
that her intercom was still active.
"You remember her ma'am?"
"You still talk to that woman?"
"Yes ma'am…I really should get this call, I'm sorry ma'am. If I may be
Krennick took a moment and visibly calmed herself down. "Very well
Commander. You are dismissed. Remember, we'll discuss your case
load….later." she said in a low pitched voice.
Coming to attention Harm took two steps back turned and started for the
hatch. He needed to get out of here, now. As he reached the hatch
however Krennick called out to him again.
"It will be good to have you beneath me again."
Surprised at the heat he felt rising in his face Harm simply nodded and
left the room. As he got to Jen's desk he couldn't help but notice the
shocked expression on her face. Obviously Krennick had neglected to turn
off her intercom before her last comment.
"Lieutenant Commander Roberts said you used to call her the dragon lady.
Is that true?"
"All the time Jen, all the time." Harm said then made his way to his
Two hours later as he leaned back from his desk Harm looked up to see
Sturgis standing in his office doorway.
"Welcome back buddy. I take it you've met our interim JAG, Captain
"Unfortunately I knew her years ago. She used to be the Admiral's aide."
"Oh I feel a story here."
"More than you know buddy."
"And your thoughts on having her back?"
Harm paused for a moment and then answered wryly. "I'm thinking I should
have taken Captain Ingles up on his offer to let him find me a CAG
position with the fleet."
Falls Church Virginia
Tuesday August 10, 2004
Harm sighed as he got off the elevator and made his way to his office.
Last night had been up there in his "nights from hell". He'd had a great
time playing with AJ and Jimmy…he couldn't believe how big Jimmy was
getting. Just thinking about the time he spent with the boys and Mac
brought a smile to his face. If there was one place he and Mac could
relax with each other completely it was with the boys. Dinner was a
light pasta filled affair that Harriet had made in honor of Harm's
return home. No meat in sight much to Mac's despair. He was touched by
the whole evening, not to mention Harriet's inability to stop from
tearing up every time she saw him playing with the boys. AJ wore his
Patrick Henry ball cap everywhere…which was nothing new according to
Bud. Apparently there had been some calls from preschool about his
refusal to remove it because it came from his Uncle Harm who was away
fighting the bad men.
And then the hell portion of the evening's entertainment started. He'd
given Mac a long hug and promised to call her later and then headed over
to the Dragon Lady's lair.
Flopping down on his chair Harm dreaded the staff meeting he knew was
coming up soon. A little knock at his door caused him to look up and no
matter how bad his mood, seeing Mac standing there brought a smile to
"Come on in Marine. And close the door."
"How was your second dinner last night?"
"Hellish, thanks for asking."
"Well…I tried to keep it on work, but she had other ideas. It was
getting bad enough around the time she finally brought food out that I
was seriously considering shooting myself in the foot when I got home."
"You just want us to come visit you in the hospital again." Mac said
with a wink.
"I wish. At least that way I wouldn't have had to come in to work with
her for awhile."
"Poor baby. What time did you leave?"
"Not that late actually…thankfully Mattie called just as Dragon Lady was
serving dessert. She sounded really worried and said she needed me home
right away. You should have seen Krennick's face when I told her my
daughter needed me to come home right away." Harm said with a grin.
"Is Mattie ok?" Mac asked in a worried tone. He knew she cared for the
girl almost as much as he did and was extremely touched by that.
"She's fine. Apparently Jen let slip some of the things she accidentally
heard when Krennick left her intercom on yesterday during the last part
of my meeting with her. Mattie decided that I needed rescuing and
figured that a daughter in distress would be a good reason for me to
leave. They actually just wanted to know which movie I thought they
should watch. I now have to find a suitable way to say thank you to my
Smiling Mac looked up when there was a knock at the door. Jen poked her
head in and said "Excuse me sir, ma'am. Commander, Captain Krennick
would like to see you when you have a moment."
"My hero!" Harm gushed as he batted his eyelashes at Jen.
"Heroine sir." Jen said with a laugh and a wink and then left.
"So what are you going to do?"
"Buy them a new TV." Harm said absently.
"Excuse me?" Mac said in surprise. She knew that Harm felt most TV was a
waste of time. He refused to buy himself one, and now he was talking
about buying the girls a new one when he'd bought them one at Christmas.
"They wanted DVDs, I figured a new TV would be better for them.
Something bigger than they have."
"That's nice Harm, but I was referring to Krennick. From what I've seen
already, she's dangerously close to crossing the line Harm. I can't
believe she'd act that way…even if she wasn't interim JAG."
"Well the selection board sits next month, hopefully we'll have some
good news. If she gets voted in, I'm requesting a transfer." Harm said
"Don't say that Harm." Mac said softly. "You just came back to me."
Harm knew she was talking about more than his just returning from his
duty station aboard the Patrick Henry. The steps they were taking in
resolving their relationship issues were a delicate subject with them
both. Standing up he walked over to where she sat before his desk and
placed his hand on her shoulder. To everyone outside it just looked like
he was comforting her, but he knew it was more than that. Squeezing
gently he said "I told you I'm not leaving you Mac…and I'm not going to.
I made a promise."
Mac smiled up at him sadly and then nodded. "Well…you'd best go to visit
Rolling his eyes Harm nodded and then opened the door to his office. He
then stood aside and waited for Mac to exit before him and then wandered
through the bull pen towards Krennick's office. When he got to Harriet's
desk he stopped and cleared his throat. She looked up at him with a
"Could you ask Lieutenant Commander Roberts to see when he gets a moment
"Aye sir. Can I tell him what it’s regarding Commander?"
"TVs." Harm said simply.
"Are you looking for one for yourself Commander?" Harriet asked in mock
shock, she as well as everyone else knew his views on televisions.
"No, I'm thinking of getting one as a gift for some people I know." Harm
said and then excused himself to continue his trek into the lair.
Pausing at Jen's desk he looked at her and said wryly "Could you tell
the Captain I'm here now Jen?"
"Aye, aye sir." Coates said with a sympathetic look in her eye. As much
as she'd like to do something about Krennick and her predatory behavior
towards Harm, she couldn't do much because Krennick was a Captain and
she was only a Petty Officer 1st Class.
"You can go in sir."
Stopping in front of Krennick's desk Harm came to attention and said
"Commander Rabb reporting as ordered ma'am."
"At ease Commander. Why didn't you tell me you had a daughter."
"It's a part of my service jacket ma'am. I assumed since you were
examining it yesterday you would have read about Mattie."
"I did not, I was more interested in your duty related entries. Is
everything all right with her?" Krennick asked, obviously not worried in
the least bit what his answer was.
Thinking carefully Harm answered "It is now ma'am. She just needed to
discuss some things with me that she felt were important." He said. Well
it wasn't exactly untrue, Mattie and Jen had placed great stress on what
movie they picked last night.
"Commander you must have made quite an impression on Captain Ingles.
He's put you through for a commendation because of your actions while
serving as CAG."
"I'm honored the Captain felt my service warranted such ma'am." Harm
said simply. He'd never been comfortable getting any of his awards. He
simply did his duty and didn't understand why people kept pinning medals
on him for doing it. It’s not like there weren't thousands of other
servicemen and women doing the exact same thing all over the world right
"Commander I just got off the phone with SecNav. Can you guess the
nature of his call?"
"I would not attempt to ma'am."
"Oh sit down Commander, I always hated having to look up at you. Well,
the first thing the SecNav asked me was how you were settling back at
JAG…apparently you have a friend in this SecNav."
Harm remained silent after he'd taken his seat and just looked
impassively at Krennick. She wasn't even that attractive to him. He was
sure some men found her attractive, but why couldn't she take the hint
and leave him alone?
"The Secretary then went on to discuss with me the possibility of
reopening the investigation of the death of…Lieutenant Commander Riley.
I asked the Secretary if he didn't think that was better left to NCIS
and do you know what he said to me?" Krennick asked in an incredulous
tone of voice.
"No ma'am, I wouldn't begin to guess the SecNav's response."
"He said, and I quote 'Rabb can do a better job.'. He went on to say
about how you were there at the time and that would provide invaluable
insight. He also recommended I send Colonel MacKenzie with you. Why
would he do that Harm?" Krennick asked suspiciously.
"The Colonel and I have worked well together many times in the past
ma'am. We were partners for years and understand how each other works."
Harm said truthfully.
"Partners like you and Meg?" Krennick asked archly.
Harm nodded slightly. "Mac and I work well together, much as Meg and I
"You know Harm, she once admitted to me that she'd thought about
sleeping with you."
Harm didn't know which one, Mac or Meg, Krennick was referring to so he
didn't say anything. As far as he knew Mac had never met Krennick before
she came to keep the big chair warm, but he wasn't going to give
Krennick any more ammunition than he had to.
"It was while you were being kept by the Chinese. Sad really. She never
would have admitted that to me if she was sure you were alive. I was
shocked she gave up on you so easy Commander. I on the other hand knew
you were made of…stronger stuff."
Meg then. Harm thought. With a shock he realized he'd never really told
Mac about that incident. He'd wanted to forget it so much, and had until
Krennick brought it up again.
"Speaking of Austin, I heard she was here for awhile before you shipped
out. Did you two…reacquaint yourselves?" Krennick said with her innuendo
"Red light Captain." Harm said tersely.
"Oh Harm, I'm only teasing you. So, do you think I should send you and
Colonel MacKenzie on this investigation?"
"That decision is up to you and the Secretary ma'am. If you feel that
the investigation could benefit from my talents, or those of the
Colonel, then I would be more than happy to tackle it."
"Well the SecNav certainly appears to have an interest in you taking
this on, so consider it your first priority. Have MacKenzie leave her
files with that Coates girl…and you do the same. I'll reassign the
priority ones. For the time being this is the only case the two of you
are working on. Oh and Harm?"
"I've been hearing some things about you and Petty Officer Coates. Are
you being improper Commander?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
He couldn't believe it. This sexual predator was asking him if he was
being improper with a person in the office. What right did she have? It
took him a moment to get over his shock and shake his head. "No ma'am.
Petty Officer Coates helps me look after my daughter ma'am. She's a good
friend and colleague." Harm said coldly. It was none of her business the
depth of the relationship he shared with Jen.
"Is she the mother of your daughter Harm?"
Harm couldn't help but laugh. And he couldn't stop for a few minutes,
even though Krennick was staring at him like he'd gone nuts. "The mother
of my daughter Captain? No. Mattie's fifteen ma'am, and Jen's only
"Fifteen Commander?" Krennick asked in shock.
"Respectfully ma'am, even though it is none of your business, I am
working on adopting Mattie. Now, if that will be all I will get Colonel
MacKenzie and start this investigation."
"She asked what?" Mac asked sharply.
"If Jen was the mother of my daughter." Harm said indignantly. Even
though he saw the humor in Krennick making an ass out of herself with
the question, he was insulted she would even think to ask that question.
"Oh my." Mac said blinking her eyes in shock.
Before Harm could respond there was a knock at his door followed by the
ever cheerful Lieutenant Commander Roberts.
"Lieutenant Sims said you wanted to see me sir? Sorry it took so long,
court ran late this morning."
"It’s all right Bud, come on in…take a load off."
"Thanks sir." Bud said gratefully and then sat down in the chair next to
"Commander…I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am."
"That you have to put up with Captain Krennick again. I know how much
you had to go through when she was the Admiral's aide."
"Not your fault Bud, you didn't send her here. And you have to put up
with her too."
"Not in the same way as you sir. If I may speak freely Commander?"
"Go right ahead Bud." Harm said with a smile. No matter how much he
tried to get Bud to relax around him, Bud always seemed so formal.
"Why don't you get an investigation started against her Commander?"
"On what grounds Bud?" Mac asked. Harm was sure she knew the answer, but
he hadn't really told her everything about Krennick so she was probably
looking to formulate how things would go in her head.
"Sexual harassment ma'am. Meg told me about all these times that Captain
Krennick would show up at Harm's house after going for a run looking to
use his shower…or the time that she set up an officer's retreat for just
her and the Commander." Bud said, his disgust evident.
Mac just sat there in shock for a minute and then rounded on Harm. "Why
didn't you do anything about this before?" she demanded, anger evident
in the very way she now held herself.
"Krennick's too smart for that Mac. She's a lawyer, she knows the
loopholes and knows how to get away without leaving a trail."
"Damn it Harm, there's no way she deserves to be sitting in the
Admiral's office if that's how she behaves. You could have done
something about it."
"You think I'm the only one she's done it to? I'm sure there's dozens of
men out there she's slept with or tried to sleep with in her insane
quest to gather as many trophies as she can." Harm said bitterly.
"That doesn't matter Harm." Mac fumed. If he wasn't careful, Harm knew
this conversation would send Mac into Krennick's office looking for
blood. "Or don't you care?"
"You know me better than that Mac. She disgusts me, the way she keeps
throwing herself at me. You think I like that kind of thing?"
Taking a deep breath Mac notably struggled to get herself under control.
"Anyway…what are you going to do?"
"Nothing for the time being. I'm hoping finding out about Mattie scared
her away. Oh Bud, that's why I wanted to see you. What's a good TV to
get Mattie and Jen?" Harm said glad he could change the subject.
"You're buying them another TV sir?" Bud asked excitedly.
Harm couldn't help but smile. Bud enjoyed all things electrical, even if
someone else was getting it. "They…pulled me out of the fire last night
and I've decided to reward them."
"How big is the one they have now?" Bud asked thoughtfully already
apparently going over the catalogue of electronics toys he kept in his
"About this big." Harm said vaguely holding his arms apart.
"You don't know sir?"
"No…I just had the salesperson pick one out. I want to get them
something nice though Bud. They have no idea how much they saved me last
"How about a 32 inch? It’s not a big screen, but it's a good size."
"Is it good for watching movies on?" Harm asked thinking about the
primary use his girls put their TV to. Besides, he was known to wander
over there for the odd screening.
"It’s not bad sir. Not as good as a big screen, but I'm not sure you
could get one of those into their apartment anyway."
Nodding at what Bud had said Harm sat there thinking about how he wanted
to spring this on the girls. Maybe it would work best if he could get it
in there while they were out somewhere, but how could he ensure that
both Mattie and Jen were out of the apartment when he needed them to be?
And then it came to him and he smiled.
"OK, two things. You two want to go shopping with me later?"
"I'd love to sir!" Bud said with a huge smile.
"Boys and their toys." Mac muttered. "Sure, you two will need a woman's
advice or you'll end up getting them something for watching sports on.
You said two things though?"
Harm smiled his best Flyboy smile at Mac. "I need a favor from you
"What do you need?" Mac asked warily.
"A diversionary strike." Harm said with a grin. "While Bud and I are
setting the TV up I need you to keep the girls occupied."
"What did you have in mind?" Mac asked with narrowed eyes.
Harm sighed. He knew he didn't really have to convince Mac to spend time
with the girls, but he thought that she might appreciate getting
something out of it too. "As much as it pains me to say it….maybe you
could take them out for dinner. Maybe some…" here he shuddered
dramatically "Beltway Burgers."
As soon as he uttered the magic words Mac smiled blissfully and her eyes
lit up. If only he could figure out how to make her do that when it
involved him. "I'm in!" she said enthusiastically. "Tonight?"
"Yeah…and you and I can talk about the investigation while we're at it."
"Need me to bring anything?"
"Just yourself and a smile." Harm said with a wink.
"Yellow light Commander." Mac replied with an exaggerated frown.
Neither one of them noticed the smile on Bud's face as he looked from
one of them to the other. It had been far too long since he'd seen his
two friends this relaxed around each other.
North of Union Station
"They'll be home any minute Bud. How we doing?" Harm asked Bud as he
watched his younger friend play with some wires behind the TV. Not only
had they bought the girls a TV, but the salesperson at the store had
recommended a digital theatre surround sound speaker system and Harm had
decided to spend a little more on his girls. Not to mention the eight
DVDs he had ended up buying at the last minute. Some of them actually
looked like movies he'd enjoy…especially that one 'The Usual Suspects'.
Bud said it was a great movie, and agreed that Harm and Mac would enjoy
"Just about….done!" Bud announced triumphantly as he stood up straight
behind the new TV. Working his way out from beside the wall he and Harm
slid the TV back up against the wall and then organized the speakers
according to the chart provided in the box.
As Bud cleaned up the boxes and Styrofoam Harm had an idea. Running into
the girl's kitchen he tossed some popcorn into the microwave. He'd never
eat it, but if what he was expecting to happen happened he knew the
girls and Mac would. Even full of that Beltway sludge. Going back out
into the living room Harm tapped Bud on the shoulder. "Want to stay to
watch a movie Bud?"
"Sure…just let me call Harriet." Bud said happily. He always enjoyed
spending time with Harm and Mac and the girls.
Nodding to Bud Harm handed him the phone he'd figured Bud would need and
then started looking through the stack of new DVDs. Why not go with the
one Bud had recommended? Pulling the cellophane wrapping of the DVD he
inserted it into the player and then went to grab the popcorn from the
microwave. Setting it on the coffee table he sat down on the couch and
grabbed the remote. Bud settled himself into one of the mismatched
chairs the girls were famous for and Harm turned on the TV. He had to
admit, it did look a lot bigger. As the movie started the door opened
and the girls all walked in.
"Harm? What are you doing here?" Mattie asked when she saw him sitting
on the couch.
"Bud and I decided to watch a movie." Harm said casually. "If you ladies
aren't too tired you're welcome to join us."
"Well gee dad. Thanks for letting us watch a movie in our own…what is
that?" Mattie asked sharply.
"What's what? Oh…the movie." Harm shrugged trying to keep a straight
face. "Bud and I went and picked up some of the movies off that
blackmail list Jen gave me."
"No not the movie…what is that!" Mattie demanded pointing at the TV.
Harm looked at her and feigned concern. "Mattie, sweetie, that's a TV."
"That's not our TV."
Harm took a moment to look around. "We are in the right apartment aren't
we Bud?" he asked his friend casually.
"I thought we were sir." Bud said playing along.
"Maybe we're in the wrong apartment. But wait…that doesn't explain what
you're doing here." Harm said to Mattie struggling to keep his face
"Harm." Mac said in a warning tone.
"Play nice." Mac said raising a hand to hide her own smile.
"Explain sir." Jen said as she moved up to stand next to her roommate.
"Excuse me?" Harm said with mock indignation.
"Sir…we're missing the movie." Bud said with a smile.
"Why, I think you're right Mr. Roberts. We are missing the movie. All
because these two girls can't figure out that they are the proud new
owners of this fine TV."
"Don't forget the speaker system sir." Bud said.
"Thank you Mr. Roberts. And the speaker system."
"Speaker system?" Mattie and Jen asked at the same time. Then they both
jumped on Harm "Thank you dad!" they both chorused sweetly.
"So are we going to watch a movie?" Harm asked after his hugs were done.
"Yeah!" Mattie called and then moved over on the couch to leave Mac
"Harm, weren't we going to work on the investigation?" Mac said with a
"Later. Let's spend time with the girls." Harm said patting the couch
next to him. "At least this time I'm not outnumbered too badly." he
added with a wink at Bud.
As Mac sat down on the couch Mattie poked her hard in the arm. "Owe!
What was that for?" she asked.
"You were in on it." Mattie said.
"You were in on…this." Mattie accused once more.
"I will neither confirm, nor deny that counselor." Mac said with a
"Thank you." Mattie said and then she wrapped Mac up in a big hug.
"Look, he even made us popcorn. Are you sure they sent the right Harmon
Rabb back when they got tired of him?"
"You know I've been wondering the same thing Mattie. I think the real
Harmon Rabb stayed on the Henry." Mac said poking Harm in the arm.
"Can't we just watch the movie?" Harm asked in a pained voice. Even with
Bud there they still ganged up on him.
"Chegwidden." The familiar voice said on the other end of the line.
"Admiral. I hope I'm not disturbing you." Harm said respectfully.
"Damn it Rabb, I retired. If you don't call me AJ, we're not going to
have this conversation."
"I'm sorry sir, it's a hard habit to break." Harm said with a smile.
"Understandable. And don't sir me anymore either. I'm going to tell you
something I couldn't tell you before because of our working relationship
Harm. I've always looked on you and Bud as the sons I've never had, but
you don't need to go spreading that around. Now what's on your mind
"I'm not interrupting anything am I AJ?"
"Just about to have dinner with my daughter Harm."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you two…I can call back another
"Out with it Harm. You wouldn't have called me while I'm in Chicago if
it wasn't important."
Taking a deep breath Harm just let it all out. "It’s Krennick sir."
"She's still treating you like a piece of meat isn't she." The way AJ
said it didn't make it question.
"You could say that. To be honest I'm shocked at that kind of behavior
in someone who is for all intents and purposes the JAG."
"As you should be son. How bad is it?"
"Bad enough that people around the office are noticing."
"Anything that can be substantiated?" AJ asked intently.
"Not really. Coates overheard something when Krennick got flustered and
left her intercom on, but it was a very ambiguous statement. Nothing
that she couldn't brush off if needed."
"Are you going to be all right Harm?" AJ asked, the concern noticeable
in his voice.
"I don't think I'm in any danger AJ…not the kind you're worried about
"How's Mac taking it?"
"She's shocked…and appalled."
"I'm guessing she hasn't killed Krennick yet, I haven't seen anything on
"Not yet. She…doesn't know everything yet."
"You never slept with Krennick when she was in the office before, did
"No sir! I've never slept with her period, nor will I ever." Harm said
sharply. "It’s not that. I just haven't given Mac all the information
about how Krennick acted before."
"Don't you think you should son? I mean you two are working on getting
things right between you aren't you?"
It was weird having the Admiral express open curiosity about him and
Mac. He knew the Admiral was fully aware of the feelings the two have
shared for years, but he'd never really came out and said anything
because of the regulations. "We are sir. It’s going to take time…I don't
want to force her into anything."
"Don't take too long Harm. One time you'll let her get away once too
often. I know they say if you love something set it free, if it loves
you it will come back. But damn it Harm, don't keep forcing her away."
"I'm not the only one who's done the forcing AJ."
"I know son, and if she was there I'd tell her the same thing. Anyway,
back to Krennick. What do you want me to do?"
"I'm not sure AJ. I guess I was just hoping for some advice?"
"Well I guess it won't hurt to let you know something. One of the
reasons I had her reassigned eight years ago was because of the way she
was treating you. I thought she would get the message, but I guess now
that she's the one on top she figures she can play her games. Just watch
your six son. I'm going to call a few old friends and make some quiet
inquiries. I'll be in touch."
"Thank you sir." Harm said with his voice full of relief. It was good to
know he could still go to the Admiral if really needed. "Do I want to
know what kind of inquiries AJ?"
"Just about Krennick and her deportment at past postings. Usually
there's a pattern to this sort of behavior…if she saw you as a sort of
conquest, chances are she acted on this sort of thing at other
Thinking back to his conversation with Mac and Bud Harm unconsciously
nodded even though he knew AJ couldn't see him. "That's what I was
thinking too. I was going to talk to a friend and have them check up on
it…but if you're going to sir, I won't bother."
"Have your friend check as well. You know as well as I that you can
never have too many people looking at something."
"Can do AJ. Listen I should really let you get back to your dinner."
Harm said and then smiled. He really couldn't resist. "Give Francesca a
big hug and kiss for me."
"Rabb! Just because I said I thought of you as a son, doesn't mean I
won't review my SEAL training with you."
"Just kidding sir. Seriously, give her my best and apologize for me
"I will son. Take care of yourself…and watch your six with Krennick."
"Aye, aye Admiral." Harm said with a smile. Even though he was retired
AJ was still tossing out orders.
"Goodnight AJ." Harm said and then pushed the button to hang up his
phone. As he was putting it back down on the table he heard a knock at
the door. Looking at the clock he smiled. That would be Mac to talk
about the investigation. He went over to the door and opened it to
reveal Mac in his flight jacket and a pair of jeans. "Hey gorgeous. Come
on in." he said with a smile.
"I bet you say that to all the girls." Mac said with a return smile.
"You seem to be wearing that quite a bit. Mattie mentioned that when I
first got back." Harm said looking at his flight jacket. Mac just
blushed and smiled without saying anything.
"Got the files?" she asked after he'd taken the jacket and hung it up
"On the table. Want something to drink?"
"Coming right up. So what's your take on this Riley murder?"
"Other than what I know from the shipboard JAG and NCIS' investigations,
not much. Signs of struggle, but not much in the way of clues. No
prints, no sign of a murder weapon. A pretty dead end investigation."
Mac said as she sat at the table and started opening case files to look
over reports. "Defensive wounds on his hands, so he fought whoever
killed him. Autopsy results point to blunt force trauma as cause of
Harm handed her a bottle of water and sat beside her. Unconsciously he
started rubbing her back when she opened the file with the pictures of
Lieutenant Commander Riley after he'd been found in the supply locker.
He felt her put a hand on his knee and squeeze softly in thanks before
she started flipping through the photos.
"I just don't understand why he was murdered. There's no apparent
motive. He was new on board ship, there's no report of anyone having
previous contact with him…no grudges that we're aware of."
Delicately Harm coughed and Mac looked at him curiously. "I can add two
points to that Mac. Don't get mad…this is the first time we've talked
about the case. One, someone on board knew him previously. His partner."
"His partner?" Mac asked confused.
"Meg. Riley and Meg are Naval Intelligence…they'd been partners for four
years." Harm said in a rush.
"Wow." Was all she said.
"Meg told me when she was on board…that's why she was there. Her and
Riley were doing some kind of investigation…she wouldn't tell me what.
She just said they were NI."
"Well that changes things. Did NCIS know?"
"I would assume so." Harm said with a shrug.
"So now we have a possible motive. Someone found out he was NI…maybe the
person they were looking for." Mac said making notes on a legal pad Harm
had put out with the files.
Giving Mac's back one final rub Harm stood up and started to pace,
trying to think his way through the murder. He was so absorbed in his
pacing that he didn't notice the first time Mac asked him a question.
"Hmm? Oh sorry…was trying to get a grip on this thing." He said with an
"It’s ok Flyboy. I asked when the last time you saw Riley was before he
was found dead."
Stopping his pacing, Harm thought about that. "The sixth, just before
the mission." He said, mentioning the infamous day. He noticed Mac tense
up at his mentioning the date. Without a word he reached over and
squeezed her shoulder and felt her squeeze his hand with her own. "You
know I don't blame you for that, right Mac?"
"I know…but I blame myself. I think I should have asked to be removed
from the case because of bias. I was so worried you'd hate me."
"I could never hate you Mac. I may get mad at you…actually I get furious
at you sometimes. But after all we've been through? I could never hate
you." He said gently.
"Good." She whispered in reply. "So…you saw him on the sixth. Any time
"No. I didn't really have a chance. Once we were rescued we were brought
on board, sent to the bridge, then to our quarters. Once we were
confined, it was pretty much quarters or head until the trial." He said
with another squeeze of her shoulder. She was now gently rubbing his
hand with hers, and he didn't want her to stop.
"Meg said something to me once about how she had a hunch that what she
was investigating was linked to my difficulties."
Mac stopped writing notes at Harm's mention of Meg. Looking up at him
she bit her lip and then said "Harm, can I tell you something?"
"You know you can Mac. I don't want us to not talk, not anymore." He
said with a smile but inside he remembered that he needed to tell her
about Krennick. Just not right now.
"It’s about Meg."
"OK." He said warily.
"I'm…or rather I was jealous of her. That night we all had dinner here."
She said in a big rush.
"It’s silly…you'll laugh." Mac said self consciously.
"I promise, I won't." Harm said earnestly. "Tell me Mac, whatever it is
will be ok."
"I was jealous because you two talked to each other so easily…you were
finishing each other's sentences, laughing at each other's jokes,
telling all these old stories about each other. The way you and I…used
to. I was so mad at her because she had that with you and I didn't
anymore. It hurt me so much to see you sharing something that we had had
with someone else."
Harm didn't laugh; in fact he didn't say anything at first. All he did
was step closer behind Mac and wrap his arms around her. "Mac…it hurt me
that we'd seemed to have lost that too. You have no idea how many times
I wanted to tell you something that Mattie had said or done, or even
just talk to you about your day, but I couldn't because…well just
because." He finally said careful not to bring up her relationship with
Swallowing a lump in her throat Mac reached up and gripped Harm's arms
where they wrapped around her. "It’s ok Harm…you can say it. Because I
was with Clay." She said softly. "I know you don't mention him because
you don't want to cause me pain, and I appreciate that, really. But if
I'm going to accept it, I need to acknowledge the fact that it was a
part of me. I can't ignore it, and neither can you."
They stayed like that for a few minutes, neither one wanting to say
anything, just wanting to be next to the other. Finally Mac asked "Do
you think we should interview Meg?"
"That's a good idea…if we can find her. She left the Henry before me,
and I don't know where she went from there." Harm said feeling guilty
because he was glad they could get off the topic of Mac and Webb's
"Well, someone has to know where to find her." Mac said.
"Wish we had Gunny here. I bet he'd be able to track her down in a
morning." Harm said with a smile.
"Yeah, but if he was here, he wouldn't have found you in Iraq." Mac said
"True. Maybe Bud can dig something up. He's almost as uncanny as Gunny
at getting information together."
"Good idea, if his case load leaves him any time."
Sighing Harm looked over Mac's shoulder at her notes and the case files.
"We'll need to talk to the agent who did the investigation for NCIS…and
contact the JAG onboard the Henry. Do you think it would do us any good
to go back out there?"
"I'm not sure…the crime is over two month's old. There's nothing there
in the way of evidence…NCIS didn't find any when the scene was fresh.
But I guess it wouldn't hurt to speak to the crew about it. Someone
might remember something, especially if the mighty CAG was there to
scare it out of them." Mac said with a smile up at him.
Reaching up Harm gently mussed her hair and laughed. "Just the mighty
JAG lawyer now. Keeter's back in the driver's seat."
"Do you miss it?" Mac asked softly. That was the question she hadn't
asked him since he returned.
"A little. But I did some thinking while I was there. I don't think the
deck of a carrier's where I belong anymore. It just didn't seem right."
"What seems right to you?" Mac asked.
"This." He said softly as he gave her a gentle squeeze again.
"Mac…Captain Ingles offered to help me get a CAG billet on another
carrier if I wanted it. I turned him down because I needed to come
"To JAG?" she asked quietly.
"To you. We need to work things out Mac, and I can't do that out at
With a little smile Mac reached up and stroked his cheek. Catching her
hand in his Harm turned her hand over and placed a soft kiss on the
inside of her palm.
"I'm glad you came back." She whispered.
"So am I. Like I said, we need to talk about the anniversary we shared
this year as well." Harm said with a wicked smile.
"You never did tell me what you were referring to."
"It’s not time for us to talk about it yet...but soon. I promise."
Mac didn't look happy at his evasion, but she nodded. "And you keep your
promises. Fine." She said as she pouted.
Softly Harm ran the tip of his finger over her bottom lip as it stuck
out in her pout. She looked so sexy when she pouted like that…and he
longed to kiss the pout away. Before he could however she giggled and
the pouting lips were gone.
"So we should go out to the Henry?" she asked nervously.
"Looks like it. I'll talk to Dragon Lady in the morning…get her to clear
us to fly out." Harm said and then stopped as he saw her frown. "What's
"Krennick. God I'd love to knock her on her ass." Mac said fiercely.
Something had riled her Marine anger.
"What did she do?" Harm asked with a sinking feeling.
"She asked me if we'd ever slept together today. The nerve!"
"What did you say?"
"That we hadn't of course." Mac said as she stood up and disentangled
herself from his arms. Now she was the one pacing about his small dining
area, with her arms crossed over her chest. "The nerve of that woman is
mind boggling. First she all but undresses you in the office, and then
she's going around asking every woman in the office if they'd ever slept
"What did you say?" Harm asked sharply.
"You didn't know?" Mac asked incredulously.
"That's she's hunting for someone who's slept with me? No." Harm said
Suddenly Mac stopped and smiled. "I thought Harriet was going to grab
her by the hair and drag her outside for a knock ‘em down drag 'em out
"What happened?" Harm asked in alarm. For Harriet to get physical
something big had to have gone down.
"Krennick was interrogating Jen about why she's helping you with Mattie,
and why she lives down the hall and a bunch of other crap, trying to
find out if Jen was trying to…ahem. 'Get in your pants' I believe is the
term she used. Harriet happened to be close by and just about went off
the deep end at the way Krennick was drilling Jen. Don't get me wrong,
Jen was doing a good job of expressing her own indignation, but you know
what Harriet gets like when someone she cares about is threatened."
Harm stood there silently with his arms crossed chewing on his bottom
lip. The nerve of that woman, to launch a witch hunt in the office, and
attack Jen for being his friend…for being someone he cared about. The
more he thought about it, the angrier he was becoming. He didn't care
about her throwing herself at him…it disgusted him, but if she wanted to
make an ass of herself, that's her choice. But to go after the people he
cared about, to look for someone who'd slept with him…why she would….
"She wouldn’t." he whispered.
"She wouldn't what?" Mac asked.
"Nothing…just thinking. AJ was right…I need to watch my six with her."
"You spoke to the Admiral about this?"
Nodding Harm motioned vaguely towards the phone. "Tonight before you got
here. I needed his advice…she was his aide after all."
"What did he say?" Mac asked curiously.
"To watch my six, and that he'd get some old friends looking into if
there was a pattern of behavior."
"Are you going to make a complaint?" Mac asked.
"I don't know."
"What do you mean you don't know?" Mac asked incredulously.
"I don't know. It's complicated Mac."
"No Harm, it’s not. She's harassing you, make a complaint."
"Mac…it's not that easy. Can you imagine the bad press this would bring?
I can just see the headlines now 'JAG Gate – Interim JAG a man eater.'"
Harm said with a snort. "The Navy doesn't need that right now…the
military doesn't need it right now. Those prisoner abuse allegations are
too fresh in people's minds. The last thing we need is a scandal of this
Harm was so wrapped up in what he was saying that he didn't notice the
way Mac was staring at him shock. "I don't believe you Harmon Rabb. This
is just like you…you and your damn nobility." Mac said furiously.
"What are you talking about?"
"You can't see it, can you? You are so in love with the Navy that you
would offer yourself up as a sacrifice so that the Navy doesn't suffer.
Do you think anyone would thank you? Do you think anyone would care that
you didn't make a complaint so that a scandal could be avoided?" Mac
asked working herself up into a frenzy.
Harm looked at her with his confusion written on his face. "Mac…slow
down." He said as he stepped up to wrap his arms around her.
"You would let that…that….harpy get away with this just because you
don't want the Navy to suffer? I don't believe you Harm." She said as
she shrugged off his attempt to hug her. Going over to his closet she
pulled out his flight jacket and put it on. "You just don't see, do you
And with that she was gone again as the door slammed behind her.
Falls Church, Virginia
Friday August 13, 2004
Harm absently swirled his coffee around his mug while he leaned against
the counter in the break room. He'd been waiting in here for ten
minutes, hoping to catch Mac as she showed up for her second cup of
coffee. Her door had been closed when he got in this morning, and he
hadn't seen her yet. She hadn't talked to him any more than she
absolutely needed to the day before, and he was afraid she was still mad
Jen poked her head around the door breaking into Harm's thoughts. "Hey
Jen." he said with a smile.
"Morning sir. The Captain would like to see you." Jen said with rolling
eyes. Part of Harm wanted to bring her to task for her obvious
disrespect for the interim JAG, but could he really blame her? Krennick
hadn't exactly acted in the most professional manner lately, and he knew
Jen kept her feeling to herself with just about everyone else. It was a
measure of how close she felt to him that she felt free enough to relax
her discipline enough to do so.
"Thanks Jen. Hey, have you seen Mac?"
"She drove out to Norfolk this morning sir. The Captain had something
she wanted the Colonel to do out there. Sorry." Jen said apologetically.
"It’s OK Jen. Guess I better go see the Captain." Harm said trying to
keep the disappointment he felt at Mac's absence out of his voice.
It was funny, he thought. Harm could strap on a Tomcat and get shot out
of a cannon off the deck of a carrier, could play with the big boys up
where the air was rare and death came fast and hard, and yet he
hesitated to walk into his own boss' office.
Walking into Krennick's office Harm came to attention in front of her
desk. "You wanted to see me Captain?"
"Yes Commander, have a seat." Krennick said with her voice pitched low.
"I was wondering how the investigation into the Riley murder was
progressing. I received your request for orders to take a hop out to the
Patrick Henry to interview the crew. Is that really necessary Commander? NCIS and the ship's JAG officer already did that and you have access to
all the interviews."
Sitting down Harm looked up at the woman behind the desk. He'd been
thinking on what Mac had said, and he was still struggling with her
accusation that he was simply willing to make himself a sacrifice so
that the Navy didn't suffer. He wasn't so sure it was that simple, but
he wasn't going to discount what Mac said completely out of hand.
"Commander? Am I to assume that your silence is an agreement to my
question? Or shall I simply assume you are merely struck speechless at
my beauty?" Krennick added in a throaty tone.
Putting on a smile to hide his discomfort Harm laughed at her joke. At
least he hoped it was a joke. "Neither ma'am. I was just trying to
structure my thoughts into a suitably worded answer. It is my opinion,
and that of Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie that it is necessary to go back
out to the Patrick Henry to re-interview some of the crew members. We're
working on the assumption that NCIS or at the very least the shipboard
JAG were unaware of the fact that Riley was Naval Intelligence."
"Riley was NI?" Krennick asked in surprise. Obviously the Admiral had
left a few things out of his reports when he returned from Harm's trial.
"He was. He and his partner were in the middle of an investigation when
he was murdered…and that could provide a possible motive. Originally
NCIS and our man out there couldn't pin a motive on this murder, hence
the write off as a crime of anger. However if someone, perhaps the very
subject of the investigation, found out that Riley was NI then I can see
a definite motive for killing him. We think that a different set of
questions needs to be asked based on this information, questions that
NCIS and our man didn't ask because of their lack of information."
"How is it that you have this information and NCIS does not?" Krennick
"I stumbled upon it during my time aboard the Patrick Henry ma'am. As
for why NCIS did not have it, they didn't approach me at all. I guess
they figured because I was not aboard the ship for most of the period in
question and under guard for the rest that I would know nothing."
"And you didn't feel you should have volunteered this information?"
"I believed NCIS already had the information, but nothing in the files
of the investigation indicates this was the fact."
"Can't you just have the ship's JAG re-interview the people you wish to
question and have him send you the transcripts?"
"Respectfully ma'am, the men and women on the Patrick Henry know I'm
JAG, but they don't think of me that way. They think of me as one of
them…one who's served on their current cruise. To them I'm one of the
pilots, the CAG. They might answer questions differently for me than
they would for the ship's JAG."
"Very well. You and the Lieutenant Colonel fly out Sunday morning from
Dulles. You'll fly commercial to Saudi and then catch a COD out to the
Patrick Henry. I'll have Coates book the tickets." Krennick said after a
"Very good ma'am."
"Commander…there was something else I wished to discuss with you. How
would you like to be my aide?"
"Captain, Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie was the Admiral's chief of staff,
and she has done an outstanding job at it." Harm said uncomfortably. The
last thing he wanted to do was piss Mac off by taking on her job at the
office. Not to mention how close it would require him to work with
Krennick. If things were bad now, they'd be intolerable if he had to
spend most of his days with the harpy as Mac called her.
"I'm sure she has. But sometimes the office needs to be shaken up every
now and again, and I'd like to send the message that no matter how fine
a job Admiral Chegwidden did, I am not him. This is my office now."
"That is true ma'am, however I think you would be wise to keep
Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie in the role of chief of staff…between her
and Lieutenant Sims as Office Manager I don't think you'll find a better
team for running the office."
"Well that may be your opinion Commander, but I have yet to make mine.
Think on it Commander…you can let me know later. Just don't think on it
"Aye, aye ma'am. With your permission Captain, I would like to get back
to my review of the case files."
"Very well Commander…you may leave." Krennick said with a negligent wave
of her hand. Well, good to see the power hadn't gone to her head as he
feared it would Harm thought with sarcasm. Standing he saluted and left
He spent the rest of the morning reviewing the Riley files looking for
something that the previous investigator could have missed. At noon a
knock on his door brought his head up expectantly. Seeing Sturgis there
he smiled…he wasn't Mac, but he was a good friend. "Come on in Sturg.
How was court?"
"Bud kicked me around the courtroom. Sometimes I think you and Mac
taught him too well."
"He's a hell of a lawyer…and he does seem to get better the more
children he has. I think he and Harriet have a secret there." Harm said
with a smile. Every time Bud and Harriet had a child it seemed to settle
and mature him that much more.
"Well then we're all in trouble when the twins arrive."
Laughing Harm couldn't help but agree. "What's on your mind?"
"Whatcha doing for lunch?"
"Well I was hoping to talk Mac into getting a bite with me, but as far
as I know she's still out at Norfolk. Care to stand in?"
"Second best am I?" Sturgis asked in mock shock
"I can think of worse things to be." Harm said as he stood up and
grabbed his cover. "So?"
"Why not. Why don't we go to that little Italian place just down the
Ten minutes later Harm and Sturgis were seated and had placed their
orders at a cozy little six table Italian restaurant not far from the
office. Harm had ordered the linguini and a light cream sauce, and
Sturgis had opted for spaghetti and meatballs.
"So…are things as bad with Krennick as they look?" Sturgis finally
"Well she hasn't grabbed my ass yet." Harm said wryly.
"She certainly has a thing for you."
"I'm the one that got away."
"So It's true she tried the same thing before?"
Nodding Harm sipped his water. "When she was AJ's aide. She thought of
me as some sort of conquest…a trophy for her wall."
"You ever do anything with her?"
"God no. I had my eye somewhere else."
"That was when Meg was your partner, wasn't it?" Sturgis asked with a
grin and a wink.
"I gotta ask you buddy, how do you always get paired with great partners
like that? First Meg, then Mac? Lucky man."
"Don't forget Kate." Harm said with a smile.
"Lieutenant Kate Pike. She was my first partner…before Meg. She and Meg
were actually friends from way back." Harm said with another smile at
the memory of Kate Pike.
"Was she as gorgeous as the other partners you've had the pleasure of
"Of course." Harm said smugly. It wasn't every guy who could say he'd
served with three of the most gorgeous lawyers in JAG. As Sturgis was
framing a retort their food arrived and they both set to quietly. Harm
was glad he'd been able to move Sturgis off of the topic of Krennick…he
still wasn't sure how he wanted to handle that. They both finished their
meals shortly with a little more small talk and then walked back to the
North of Union Station
Harm was in the midst of cutting up some vegetables for a snack plate
for himself when he heard a knock at the door. Probably Mac or one of
the girls…they had probably gotten bored of waiting for him to prepare
something he could eat while the four of them enjoyed some movies.
Mattie hadn't been too happy when he called to tell her he and Mac were
going back to the Patrick Henry for a week or so. As a sort of peace
offering he'd made plans to stay in with her and Jen to watch some
movies tonight and then he'd take the girls out shopping in the morning.
He'd been pleasantly surprised when Mac had agreed when he asked her if
she wanted to join them when she'd returned from Norfolk late in the
Grabbing the tray of veggies he made his way to the door.
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Keep your shorts on." He said with a smile as
he opened the door.
"Oh, I'd rather we found something more interesting to do with them."
Krennick said with a smile.
When he took a step back in shock at her being at his door she followed
him into the apartment.
"Captain Krennick…" Harm fumbled for what he should say next.
"Commander." Krennick said as she stepped closer and ran a hand down his
shoulder onto his chest. "Going somewhere?" she asked looking at his
Nodding Harm took another step back and gestured in the general
direction of the girls' apartment. "Ah…red light Captain. I was just
going to watch some movies with Mattie and…"
"Oh Harm, let the kiddies have their movies…we'll play here." Krennick
said seductively, ignoring his warning.
Harm was trying not to swallow his tongue when he heard someone clear
their throat. Looking at the door he saw Mac standing there with her
arms crossed. "Mac!" he said relieved he wasn't alone with Krennick
"Harm. We were wondering what was taking so long so I thought I'd come
see if you needed a hand…I can see you've got enough already though."
Krennick took a quick step back from Harm and turned towards the door.
"Lieutenant Colonel." She said coolly.
"Captain." Mac said in an even cooler tone. Harm was amazed he didn't
get frostbite from the chill in the air. He knew by the anger in Mac's
eyes that she'd heard Krennick's comment about 'playing'.
"Well." Harm said with a smile and a nervous laugh. What the hell should
he say? He was at a loss…why couldn't everything in life come with an
"I didn't know that you were here Colonel." Krennick said with an arched
"Obviously. Now if you're done harassing the Commander his daughter and
her roommate would like to spend time with him before he has to leave on
At Mac's mention of the word 'harassing' Krennick's eyebrow rose even
higher. "Was I harassing you Commander? Perhaps I should ask what you're
doing here Colonel MacKenzie. Is there something the two of you would
like to share with me?"
"Captain, I really don't think that is any of your business." Harm said
indignantly. How dare she question who he spent time with. He was on the
verge of defending his relationship with Mac when he had the realization
that it was none of her damn business. Stepping around Krennick Harm put
a hand on Mac's shoulder and turned back to face Krennick and reached
out to open the door wider.
"Are you kicking me out Commander?"
"No, I'm not Captain, because you were never here. If you had been here
tonight, then I would have to raise questions about sexual harassment."
Harm could see the struggle clearly on her face. "Good night Captain."
He said in an effort to help her make her decision.
"If I were to ask if you and the Colonel were involved Commander, I
wonder what the answer would be." Krennick asked archly.
"The answer would be no Captain. We are not involved in the way you are
hinting at, but we are very close…as friends and partners. Now if you
would excuse me Allison, I am expected to spend the evening watching
movies with my daughter and some friends."
"This is not the end of this Commander." Krennick vowed.
"I think it is Captain. My friendships outside the office are none of
your concern, nor is how I spend my evenings."
Without another word Krennick glared at Harm and then stormed out of his
apartment. He couldn't hold back the feeling that life was about to
become a lot more interesting.
"It’s about time you stood up to her Harm." Mac said quietly putting her
arms around him and resting her head on his shoulder. "You know she's
going to try and make trouble for us Harm."
"She can try. She can't prove what hasn't happened."
"Hasn't it Harm?"
"Mac, we haven't broken regulations…god knows it’s been hard at times
but we haven't." Harm said quietly.
"No Mac, we haven't. I'd know if we had…because…"
"What?" Mac asked softly.
Harm looked down at her and smiled slightly. "You think I'd forget if we
did something to break regulations? You think I wouldn't remember a
dream coming true?" he asked huskily.
"Harm…" Mac whispered as Harm reached up and ran his finger along her
jaw. Slowly he lowered his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. Neither of
them noticed the plate of vegetables hit the ground when Mac let it go.
"Mattie and Jen will come looking for us soon." Mac said breathlessly
when they both had to come up for air. Harm smiled at the slightly
flustered look on her face and stroked her cheek with his finger.
"Maybe we can tell them to go ahead and watch the movie on their own."
Harm said with a little grin.
"Harmon Rabb. You are a wicked, wicked man." Mac said with a soft laugh.
"But you promised Mattie that we would spend time with her and Jen
before we left. And…"
"Yeah, yeah. I always keep my promises." Harm said with a sigh. "I
suppose we should go back."
"You might want to get some more vegetables." Mac said wryly with a nod
at their feet.
Pulling her close Harm gave her another hug and then went back to the
kitchen to get more food.