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Chapter 6


Georgetown Mall
Saturday August 14, 2004


For the better part of the afternoon Harm had been dragged along from one store to another as Mattie, Jen and Mac shopped up a storm. Mac had suggested the Georgetown Mall when Mattie and Jen had invited her to go shopping with them, and the girls had readily agreed. He would never admit it to them, but Harm was actually having a good time. He couldn't help but smile when he saw the three of them gushing over shoes, outfits, everything that caught their eyes. Watching them shop brought back his conversation with Mac when she'd told him what she wanted in life. A good career, a good man and lots of comfortable shoes. Smiling to himself Harm stepped up and wrapped his arms around Mac and Mattie. Could this be a glimpse into what it would be like to have a wife and children?

"So girls. Have you maxed out my credit card yet?" he asked with a smile.

"Not yet." Mattie said with a smile.

Placing a kiss on top of Mattie's head Harm gave her a little push towards the smiling Jennifer. "Why don't you two go try on some more shoes or something. I was once told a woman can never have too many comfortable shoes."

"What are you and Mac going to do?" Mattie asked with an impudent grin.

"None of your business. Now shoo." Harm said with a mock frown.

As Jen and Mattie moved on to the next store arm in arm Mac grabbed Harm's arm. "What's up?" she asked.

Shrugging, Harm smiled at her and said "Just thought that we can talk. I was curious about something." Gently he guided her over to a bench with a hand on the small of her back. "We're being followed." He whispered.

"Where?" Mac asked just as quietly.

"Two o'clock…over by the fountain. Cheap suit…bad haircut."

"Got him. Do you recognize him?"

"No. Are the girls safe?"

"They're in the shoe store. Guess they took you at your word." Mac said with a smile.

"So speaking of shoes…how's your quest for comfortable shoes going?" Harm asked quietly.

"Not bad. That's not the part of the dream I'm having problems with." Mac said bitterly.

"Well maybe we can talk about that later. I mean, if you're having problems at work…"

"Very funny Flyboy."

"I thought so." He said with a grin. "Is our friend still there?"

"Wait one…yeah there he is. He's on the other side of the fountain now. How long has he been following us?"

"Spotted him about an hour ago. I wanted to make sure it was us he was following before I said anything. Looks like he wants to keep us in sight, but doesn't want to stay in one place. Next time he goes to shift nudge me. Stay here…I'm going to try and get around him and then we'll find out what he wants."

"You sure?" Mac asked, the concern evident in her voice.

"You think I can't handle it Marine?" Harm asked with a smile.

"I know you can Harm, just be careful ok?"

"You know me Mac."

"That's what I'm worried about…he's moving, go."

Harm didn't bother answering Mac, just got up off the bench and merged with the crowd. There wasn't much he could do about his height, but he did his best. With his head down and sticking to the crowd he looked up through the people to see if he could spot his tail. There he was, standing in front of the computer store trying to look like he was window shopping, but he was spending too much time looking back towards the bench that he and Mac had been sitting on. As he walked by the man Harm 'accidentally' bumped into him.

"Sorry about that." Harm said with a smile and then grabbed the man's arm in a tight grip. "I wouldn't recommend sticking your hand in your pocket. It would be very rude, and I don't like rude people. Let’s go for a walk."

Pulling the man towards a service corridor Harm glanced over his shoulder and saw Mac moving quickly towards him and the man. When they were in the corridor Harm shoved the man up against the wall and started patting him down.

"So…you seem like a smart guy. Why are you following my friends and me?"

"What are you talking about?" the man replied.

"Oh? You mean you haven't been following me and my friends? Just happen to be there every time I look for the last hour? What do we have here?" Harm asked as he found a .38 in the man's belt.

"How's it going Harm?" Mac asked as she came up to them.

Pulling the gun from the hiding spot Harm handed it to Mac. "Cover him."

"Listen, you don't want to do this." The man said as Mac casually pointed the gun at him, careful that the odd passer-by wouldn't see it.

"Oh I think I do." Mac said quietly.

Harm finally pulled out the man's wallet.

"Let’s see who you are shall? Your taste is a little tacky for the spooks I know…and there you have it. Private dick." Harm said holding up the man's wallet with his detective's license exposed. "I'm going to ask this one more time and then I'm going to let my friend here scratch her trigger finger. You know what women are like…she hasn't qualified on a .38 in awhile and she's been thinking about that a lot. Why are you following us?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Wrong answer. Mac?"

"No, no wait. OK I'll tell you what I know." The man said in a hurry at the grin on Mac's face.

"Talk." Harm said in a cold level voice.

"I work for a detective agency…but only the boss knows who hires us. He hands out the case with as much information as we need and nothing more. I just got a couple photos and some addresses where I could look for you and some instructions to photograph you two. I swear, I don't know anything else."

"Who would want us followed?" Harm asked.

"Harm…think about all the people who have a grudge against you or me or both of us for whatever reason. That's a pretty big list."

"How many of them would want pictures of us? How many would go through a detective agency. Give him back his weapon."

Mac emptied the rounds out of the six chambers and then handed the gun back. "You should be careful. Someone can get hurt with one of those." She said as she dumped the bullets into the man's suit jacket pocket.

Harm pushed the guy up against the wall again and reached into his jacket to pull out a digital camera. "Thanks. Now scram."

"What's the name of the detective agency?" Mac asked as the guy walked quickly back out into the mall.

"Bleaker Street Detective Agency. Would be a waste of time though." Harm said holding up the wallet. He knew what she was thinking when she asked the question.

"Why do you say that?"

"I have a feeling I know who hired these clowns. Come on, let’s gather the girls up."

"What's going on Harm?" Mac asked, stopping him with a hand on his arm.

"Nothing. Trust me Mac. Now…can we go get our daughters and go home?"

"Our daughters?" Mac asked with a smile.

"Mac…you're as much their mother as I am their father. You spend as much time as I do with Mattie…maybe more. And you and Jen answer all those questions I'm not fit to." He said with a grin.

"I like the sound of that." Mac said as she wrapped her arm around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. "Now who do you think hired that guy?"

"I'll tell you later; I want to make sure I'm right before I say anything. It doesn't happen often, but I may be wrong." Harm said with a smile to hide the anger he felt inside. He hoped he was wrong, otherwise he would be forced to wonder why Krennick was using a civilian detective agency to follow him and Mac.

"Oh I forgot to tell you, Harriet called and invited us over for an early dinner. I told her that we'd be there." Mac nervously said as they walked back out into the main mall area.

"When did she call?" Harm asked.

"While we were looking at shoes and you were thinking about flying." Mac said with a smirk.

"Ah. I guess we're going to Harriet and Bud's then. Did you tell them the girls were with us?"

"She said she'd have a few choice words for you if we didn't bring them." Mac said with a smile.

An hour later the four of them were pulling up to the Roberts house. Before they could make it to the door Harriet had it opened and was standing there with Jimmy in her arms. "Commander, Colonel…come on in."

"Harriet, please, call us by our names." Harm said with a smile.

"Of course Harm." Harriet said with a smile and a wink. Sometimes Harm thought she insisted on using their ranks in order to annoy then.

Laughing Harm gave her a hug before passing into the house.

"Harm!" Bud called when he saw Harm come past Harriet. "Can I get you a drink sir?"

"I'll have a water if it’s not too much trouble Bud. Thanks." Harm said shaking Bud's hand.

"I would like one too please Bud." Mac said as she came up next to Harm.

Behind Mac Harriet ushered the girls in and took them into the living room to show off Jimmy.

"UNCLE HARM!" AJ called out as he came barreling out of the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Harm's legs. Harm smiled when he saw AJ still wearing the hat he sent back for him.

"Hey buddy. Whatcha doing?"

"Playin’ wit uncle Sturgy. Wanna play with us?"

"Sturgis is here? Starting to looking like a JAG barbeque here." Harm said with a smile.

"Harriet invited him over as well sir." Bud said with a nervous smile. Now what could cause Bud to be nervous Harm wondered.

"Let’s go Uncle Harm." AJ said tugging on Harm's pant leg.

"Don't you want to say hi to Auntie Mac?" Harm asked.

"Yeah!" AJ said and then ran off to follow the sound of voices to the living room.

Walking out to the deck Harm saw Sturgis sitting on a deck chair with a beer in hand. "Hey buddy." Harm said as sat next to his old friend.

"Hey bro…how's it going?"

"It’s…going."

"What's up?" Sturgis said sitting forward in his chair. He knew Harm long enough to know when something was bothering him.

"I took the girls and Mac shopping in Georgetown this morning…and some guy was following us."

"Find out who he was?"

"Yeah. Some private dick."

Sturgis raised an eyebrow but didn't say a word. Bud and all the girls came wandering out of the house with drinks. Mac came over put a hand on Harm's shoulder and handed a frosted glass of water. Smiling up at her in thanks Harm sipped at the chilled water.

"So…someone schedule a barbeque and not tell me?" Harm asked with a smile.

"Something like that." Mac said with a smile. Harm looked over at Mattie to see her holding Jimmy in her arms with Jen standing beside her smiling.

"Actually buddy…we wanted to talk to you about something." Sturgis said slowly. He was obviously being cautious in what he said.

Harm had a sinking feeling he knew where this was going. "Go on." He said warily.

"Sir…we're worried about you." Bud said cautiously. "About what's going on in the office."

"With Captain Krennick sir." Harriet added.

"With Captain Krennick." Harm said with a sigh. "Listen, I appreciate the concern, but Krennick is my problem."

"With all due respect sir, I don't think we agree." Jen added. "She's still interrogating all of the female staff to see if they have ever been interested in you."

With a sigh Harm ran his hand through his hair. Why did Krennick have to come back after so many years, and not seem to have changed at all? "How bad is it?"

"Bad sir." Jen said sadly. "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but morale is not exactly high since the Admiral left."

Holding up his hand Harm stood up and stepped out in front of where his friends had all gathered. "Guys…please. Understand that I appreciate your concern…and worry. But what are you hoping to do?"

"Harm…you know my feelings on the matter. Krennick is sexually harassing you, and you should make a formal complaint." Mac said seriously.

"It’s not that easy Mac…and before you get mad at me again, please hear me out." Harm said stepping up and taking Mac's hand in his. When she nodded he continued. "It’s not that I wish to offer myself up as a sacrifice on the altar of the Navy."

Smiling sadly Mac raised her eyebrow. "Really?"

"Really. It is a complicated issue to consider…harassment charges are a very serious thing, and they can impact officers’ careers on both sides."

"Harm, I witnessed her actions." Mac said incredulously.

"And I've heard some of the things she's said to you sir." Jen said quickly on the heels of Mac's statement.

"Commander, I too have witnessed some of her actions." Bud said standing up. Harriet smiled up at her husband.

"It’s not that simple." Harm said quickly. "Not to mention that by this very gathering we are all treading the line of mutiny." He added quietly.

At his words every last one of his friends from work looked uncomfortable.

"And I won't allow you to do that. I admit something needs to be done about Krennick, but I will be the one to do it. Guys, I am touched that you were all worried enough about this to talk to me…but I won't expose any of you to danger."

"Are you sure Harm?" Mac asked quietly.

"I know you all only want to help, but let me handle it my way. I promise I will handle it."

All around they were all nodding. Everyone went back to chatting with each other, trying to return to a semblance of normalcy. After a few minutes Mac stepped up to where Harm was chatting with Bud and asked him to go for a walk. Nodding he followed her to the bench in the garden and sat beside her.

"Harm…I'm sorry about what I said the other day about you wanting to be a sacrifice."

"It’s ok Mac…I've thought about it and I can see where you were coming from."

"I think there's something you're not seeing though." Mac added.

"What's that?"

"Harm…maybe you don't think it’s so bad because you're used to what Krennick is doing on some level."

"How do you mean?" Harm asked not sure he knew where Mac was going with this.

"I've known you about nine years Harm, and I've seen a lot of women throw themselves at you. You're a good looking man, and as much as I hate to admit it because of the impact it’s going to have on your ego, when you put yourself into a set of dress whites, most women would be hard pressed to contain themselves."

 "You don't seem to have any difficulties containing yourself around me." Harm said with a hint of bitterness.

"Don't be so sure. I just have Marine discipline." Mac said with a frown. "My point is you've developed a bit of a blind eye to this. You've become used to women hitting on you…it’s hard not to when you get exposed to it as much as you do."

"So you're saying…" Harm said and then paused for her to continue.

"I don't think you see what Krennick is doing as seriously as we do." Mac said softly.

Harm reached down and took Mac's hand as he considered her words. Could she be right? Had he developed a blind eye? He was no stranger to women hitting on him…it happened a fair amount of the time. Sadly, there was really only one woman who he wanted to 'throw herself' at him…and she seemed to be immune to his charms. Most of the time.

Squeezing her hand lightly he looked down at her serious brown eyes. "Mac…can we agree to this…you and I leave for the Henry tomorrow morning. I guessing we'll be in the Gulf a week at the most…when we come back I will take care of everything."

"You'll raise charges against her for sexual harassment?" Mac asked dubiously.

"I will take care of everything. Trust me."

"Do you promise?" Mac asked with a sigh. He hadn't said he would press charges.

"I promise." Harm said with a reassuring smile. Absently he reached into his pocket and fingered the digital camera he had taken off the private detective. If he was right Krennick had the detectives following him and Mac, and she would only use a civilian agency for one reason. Blackmail. But he couldn't prove anything yet; he just had his suspicions.

"Mac…I'm going to see if Bud and Sturgis are up to helping with something. Can you take the girls home when you're ready, and I'll meet you guys at the apartment?"

"What are you going to do?" Mac asked suspiciously.

"Go see a detective." Harm said cryptically.

 

KLM Royal Dutch Airline Flight 652
En route to Al Dammam
Sunday August 15


Harm tossed the magazine he'd been trying to read into the pouch on the back of the seat in front of him. Turning to his right he looked at the woman sitting next to him. He'd let her have the window seat; no matter how much he loved looking out at the clouds, he loved looking at her more. However she hadn't spoken to him in…almost two hours he thought as he looked at his watch.

"It’s been one hour and forty seven minutes." The woman beside him said quietly. Well that was something, at least she'd said something.

"You ready to talk to me?" Harm asked softly.

Biting her lip Mac looked over at him and he could tell she was trying to find reasons to stay angry with him. For almost nine years Mac had been his friend, his partner. For the better part of that he'd been fighting a losing battle against himself about how he felt about her. What started as a wary friendship had blossomed into a close and personal friendship…he'd allowed her to see things he tried to keep from everyone else…she'd seen him at his worst, and she'd seen him at his best. And he liked to think that she'd allowed him to see into her soul the way she'd never let anyone else. He was finally able to admit to himself that he loved her…hell he'd admitted it to himself the year before…but things had never allowed him to explore that admission. And now more than ever he was afraid to let himself go around her…he'd just found out that his superior officer Captain Allison Krennick had hired private detectives to follow him and Mac looking for evidence they were more than just friends and partners. He couldn't allow himself to jeopardize everything Mac had strived for in her life. This thought brought him back to the angry Marine sitting next to him. After they'd boarded the flight to Saudi Arabia he'd finally told her what he'd found out at the detective agency.

"I can't believe you waited to tell me." Mac said bitterly.

"Mac…I knew you'd be upset about it, and I didn't want you going off half-cocked." Harm said trying to be reasonable. He knew why she was angry, but the last thing he needed was his partner in the brig for assaulting a superior officer. "What good would you be to me locked in the brig for assault?"

"What are you talking about?" Mac said with a sigh.

"Oh come on. You can't tell me that you didn't want to go teach Krennick some patented Marine hand-to-hand techniques. I saw the look in your eyes. I just figured it'd be safer if you couldn't leave for awhile after I told you." Harm said with a shrug, trying to keep the situation light and casual. The flight attendants had already admonished them when Mac started yelling at him when he did tell her that the guy at the detective agency had confirmed an A. Krennick had hired him.

"Well…maybe just a few." Mac said with what Harm could only describe as a vicious grin. "You have to admit it would be well deserved. That woman has gone too far!"

"I agree with you completely Mac…and I told you I would handle it." Harm said gently reminding her of the discussion that had taken place the day before.

"That was before you told me that bitch was trying to dig up dirt on us." Mac said viciously.

With a sigh Harm put his hand on Mac's knee. "Mac…as much as I would like to watch while you pummeled her into…something…that's not going to solve the issue."

"Harm, she can ruin our careers!"

"No she can't Mac…think about it for a minute. Number one, we haven't actually done anything that she can use to ruin our careers." Harm said thinking about how much he regretted that at times. He'd come to the realization the summer before that she meant more than his career, and had been willing to throw it all away for her. Too bad she didn't feel the same way. "And number two, if she was going to use it against us she would not be using a civilian detective agency, you know that."

"You've got a point." Mac admitted. "But what the hell is she thinking?"

"She's probably just trying to get some insurance in case you follow through on your threat to reveal her…indiscretions. If she was serious about trying to prove we've gone over the line she'd be using NCIS or someone from JAG."

With a sigh Mac nodded slowly. "I suppose you're right Harm."

"I know I am." Harm said with his biggest grin. He knew it annoyed her when he did that.

Rolling her eyes Mac threw up her hands. "All right. I'm not mad at you anymore…you win."

"Good. I like winning."

"Tell me again what happened when you boys went to that detective agency." Mac prompted.

With a sigh Harm launched into another recounting of how he, Sturgis and Bud had gone to the Bleaker Street Detective Agency the previous afternoon to see if they could find out who exactly had hired them to tail Harm and Mac. At first the head detective had been uncooperative; refusing to even admit that one of his detectives had been following them. Once Harm tossed the detective's wallet onto the desk the man had become a little more forthcoming. It hadn't hurt when Bud started quoting statute and law regarding illegal surveillance of private citizens, as well as those regarding treason. When Bud had pulled out that big gun the man had almost bolted. Bud went on calmly to explain how the surveillance of two senior military officers by an unknown agency could be considered as a lead to terrorism. Harm had almost started laughing at that…but he had to admit Bud was doing a good job of playing bad cop; hell he looked so happy and down to earth most of the time you couldn't help but believe him. Half an hour later they had all the information they needed including the files the detective had started on the case. After ensuring all the photos were erased from the memory card Harm had returned the detective's digital camera…he wasn't a thief after all.

"So what are we going to do?" Mac asked when Harm finished his account of the events.

"We are going to do nothing, I told you that. I'm going to handle it when we get back. I think it’s time Allison and I had a little chat." Harm said with a frown. He knew Mac could handle herself in any number of situations…lord knew he'd seen her in action enough times. But he was not going to expose her to something that could come back to ruin her career.

"Harm…" Mac said with a warning tone.

"Mac…please let me handle it? I promise, as soon as we get back I'm going to make sure it never happens again."

"If you don't…" Mac said slowly.

"Trust me." Harm said with a grin.

Muttering to herself Mac threw Harm one of her 'Don't piss me off' looks and then glanced out the window to see if she could see the ocean.

"So…what do you think should be our plan of action when we get out to the Henry?" Harm asked in an attempt to change the subject.

"Mr. I always have a plan is asking for my input?" Mac said sarcastically. He knew she wasn't thrilled with his 'John Wayne I'll Handle it Myself' take on the Krennick situation, but he also knew she'd get over her anger eventually. As much as he knew it annoyed her, he just couldn't help trying to protect her. He always would, no matter how much she told him he didn't have to; he couldn't do anything else.

"Yes, I'm asking for your input. We're partners right?" Harm said patiently.

"Well I think we should talk to the Hawkeye crews…maybe one of them will remember something. We should also talk to the flight crews…if anyone tampered with the Hawkeye before Riley took off for that mission they might have seen something. Oh, and we should talk to the machinists in the shop where they found his body." Mac said after a long pause.

"That's what I'm thinking." Harm agreed. "I'll also talk to the Skipper and some of the 'cat pilots as well. Somebody had to see something. We both know that no matter how big the carrier, there's people everywhere."

"Speaking of interviews, any luck getting a hold of Meg? We should probably talk to her again."

"I left a couple messages at the number that Bud dug up for me, but I haven't heard back from her yet." Harm said with a shrug. He smiled when he saw Mac try unsuccessfully to stifle a yawn.

"Mac, I'm sorry for boring you with case details. Why don't you try and sleep for awhile? We won't be landing for a few hours at least. We can talk about it more later."

"I'm sorry…Jen and Mattie kept me up later than I expected last night." Mac said apologetically. She'd taken Mattie and Jen home after dinner at Bud and Harriet's and then had spent some time indulging in girl-talk with his daughter and her roommate. He'd gone over to remind her they had an early flight and had been chased out for his efforts.

Taking Mac's hand in his he gave it a gentle squeeze and smiled at her. "Mac…never apologize for spending time with Mattie. You have no idea how much I love it when you spend time with her. She needs a few good female role models in her life, and I can't think of two better than you and Jen."

Smiling at Harm's words Mac nodded slowly. "Well maybe I am a little tired and should take that nap."

"Good idea." Harm said as she put her seat back and closed her eyes. He noticed she hadn't let go of his hand, and he wasn't going to break the contact if he didn't have to.
"Good night Sarah." Harm said softly after a couple minutes. "Sweet dreams."

He wasn't really expecting her to reply but he couldn't help but smile when she tried to mumble a reply.

For two and a half hours Harm had been going over the information he had on his laptop pertinent to the case and was still just as confused as he had been when the murder first happened. Other than the blown cover angle, Harm couldn't figure out why anyone would kill Riley. From the few times he'd spent any time with him, Harm knew Riley was a nice guy…funny, cocky like any other pilot, but a good guy. Feeling a gentle squeeze of his hand he looked over to Mac expecting to see her waking up, but instead her eyes were still firmly closed, and she still seemed to be sound asleep. As he watched a smile grew on her face and he was almost sure she was having some fun at his expense, but then she licked her lips and started to mumble something. He strained to hear what she was saying, interested to find out what she would be saying in a dream that made her smile like that. Interestingly the only word he could make out clearly was his name. Well, any dream that made her smile like that while saying his name couldn't be anything but good. Chuckling Harm turned to go back to the case file just as the soft bell toned to alert passengers to an announcement.

"We are making our final approach to Al Dammam and will be landing in approximately twenty minutes. Please ensure that your seats are in their proper upright position and your tray tables are stowed. Thank you for flying KLM Airlines."

Giving Mac's hand a gentle squeeze Harm leaned over and whispered in her ear "Hey there sleepy head. Wake up."

With a soft intake of breath Mac blinked her eyes a few times and looked up at him. Smiling when she saw him she said "Hey honey. What's going on?"

Biting his tongue to keep from saying anything that could be taken the wrong way Harm simply said "The Captain has announced final approach…we're going to land in Al Dammaam soon."

"Al Dammaam?" Mac asked with confusion evident on her face. Slowly a slow blush that rose to her cheeks replaced the confusion. Quickly she released his hand, hit the button and raised her seat back up straight and then looked out the window at the approaching airport. "Harm…" she said hesitantly.

"Yeah?"

"Did I…say anything in my sleep?"

Pushing down his first impulse to have some fun at Mac's expense he just shook his head. "Not really…you mumbled a bit, but no…didn't really say anything. Why do you ask?" He'd noticed recently that he was a bit more willing to forego baiting Mac than he had been in the past. Sometimes he did it to keep her on her toes, but he didn't really have it in him to fight her day and night. Maybe it was that raising Mattie was doing more than its share of tiring him out, or maybe he was getting soft.

"Ah…just the dream I was having."

"Bad dream?" Harm asked curiously. The smile on her face while she was dreaming didn't scream nightmare to him.

"Ah…no…not a bad dream. Just…a dream. I've actually been having it a lot lately." Mac said evasively. Well now he thought. What he wouldn't give to find out what was in her 'just a dream'. "We're landing?" Mac asked.

Nodding Harm slid his laptop into the carrying case and placed it back in the overhead baggage compartment.

An hour later they had claimed their baggage from the check and were making their way to the arrival lounge. Someone from the carrier was supposed to meet them and get them to the COD. Both of them were traveling in civilian clothes in order to avoid attention and Harm was guessing whoever was meeting them would be out of uniform as well so he was assuming he'd need to look for a placard with their names on it. Instead he saw the slender woman with the brown ponytail almost right away. A big smile broke out on his face as he moved towards her.

"Skates! What are you doing here? Don't tell me that they've assigned you to greeting new arrivals." Harm said happily.

"No sir…ooph." Skates said as Harm caught her up in a big hug. "Damn it CAG, put me down."

"Not your CAG anymore Skates." Harm said putting her down with a smile.

"You'll always be my CAG Hammer." Skates said. Looking over Harm's shoulder she smiled when she saw Mac. "Colonel MacKenzie. Good to see you again."

"Is it Skates? The last time we saw each other I was trying to prove you shot down a civilian aircraft."

"Ma'am, with all due respect, if the CAG doesn't hold it against you, I won't either." Skates said with a smile and a shrug. "Besides, we all know you're good people ma'am. You were just doing your job."

"Thank you for that Skates." Mac said gratefully.

"Well ma'am, the CAG sees something special in you, and we figure he can't be wrong about this." Skates said with a wink.

"Skates!" Harm said scandalized.

"Really?" Mac asked intrigued.

"Yes ma'am. You should have seen how he stared at that picture of you and him he kept in his locker…not to mention the picture of you he keeps in his flight suit." Skates said ignoring Harm's protest.

"Damn it Lieutenant Commander!" Harm said, resorting to using her rank to show she'd stepped over the line.

"Sorry sir." Skates said, but she didn't sound sorry.

"In his flight suit?" Mac asked Skates.

"Well ma'am…maybe we should talk about this later." Skates said with a look at Harm.

"I don't think you should talk about it at all Lieutenant Commander."

"I'm sure you do sir. We should get going though, the COD is waiting and the Skipper wants to talk to you." Skates said with a nod towards the doors out of the lounge.


Two and a half hours later the COD trapped on the deck of the Patrick Henry and the three of them left the aircraft to cross the deck to enter the superstructure. Pulling off the white vest and helmet they had worn on the trip out Harm looked around and smiled.

"You miss it?" Mac asked quietly as she handed her vest and goggles to the crewman collecting them.

"Sometimes; some of it." Harm said with a shrug.

"Sometimes we miss you too sir." Skates said with a smile.

"Only when Keeter's showing his crankiness I bet." Harm said with a smile at Mac.

"Excuse me sir, the Captain would like you to join him on the bridge." A young ensign said coming to attention.

"Thank you Ensign." Harm said with a crisp nod. "Guess we have a date on the bridge."

As they were making their way to the bridge Harm felt Mac put her hand on his shoulder.

"Harm?"

"Mac."

"What was Skates talking about?"

With a sigh Harm stopped and turn to face Mac. "Mac…you and I have a lot to talk about, and I guess you could say this is part of that conversation."

"So you're saying we're going to talk about it later, like usual." Mac said with a sigh.

"Mac…I know we've said we would talk about things later a lot in our time. Trust me when I say that everything I've ever said I've kicked myself for not saying, and I'm planning on saying everything, we just need to hold on until we get home. Please?"

"What else can I do Harm? Make you tell me here?"

"You could…but I was thinking somewhere a little more private. It’s going to take awhile for us to say everything." Harm said with a smile.

"Remember what I told you when we first met?"

"Uhh…that your name was Mac?"

"Very funny. I told you that you had a very nice smile and I was sure it normally got you wanted. I'll wait until we get back." Mac said with a smile and a sigh.

"Thank you Sarah." Harm said gently. Giving her arm a squeeze he and Mac started making their way back towards the bridge. When they arrived at the hatch they saw Skates waiting for them.

"Thought you got lost Hammer."

"Now why would you think that?"

"Might have something to do with your advancing years sir…but I wouldn't presume to say that."

"Well that's good Skates. Thank heavens for small favors. Open the hatch."

"Aye, aye Commander."

"JAG on the bridge" the Marine guard called when they entered the bridge.

"Welcome back Commander, Lieutenant Colonel." Captain Ingles said coming over to join them.

"Thank you Skipper." Harm said with a salute

"Just couldn't stay away, could you Hammer?"

"Just back for a visit sir." Harm said.

"What can I do for you?" Ingles asked curiously.

"Could we speak privately sir?" Harm asked.

Nodding crisply the Captain gestured towards the hatch.

"My wardroom."

"Aye, aye sir." Harm said.

"Now then…what can we do for you Commander? Lieutenant Colonel?" the Captain asked once they were in his office.

"We've been asked to reopen the Riley murder investigation sir." Mac said in her all business tone.

"NCIS and our JAG talked to everyone on board…they went over this carrier with fine toothed combs and didn't find anything."

"Yes sir." Harm said respectfully. "However sir, the SecNav felt that the Lieutenant Colonel and I could perhaps discover something previously missed."

"And you thought the crew would look upon your questions differently because they know you." Captain Ingles said with an arched eyebrow.

"I always said you were a smart man Skipper." Harm said with a smile.

"You damn better have Commander." Captain Ingles said with a smile. "Fine. I'll have you both given berths and assign an office for your use. How long will you be with us?"

"No more than a week Skipper." Harm guessed.

"Get it done. And damn it, find out what happened. I don't like unexplained killings on my ship."

"Aye, aye Skipper." Harm said with a salute. "Come on Mac, we have us a murderer to find."

 

USS Patrick Henry
Monday August 16, 2004
0900 Zulu

 

"Lieutenant Reed, what was the reason you were given for the early return of your aircraft from its mission on June 6th of this year?" Mac asked the young Lieutenant, the radar operator on the Hawkeye that was tasked to fly high cover for Harm on that ill-fated mission.

"Lieutenant Commander Riley said we had a mechanical problem ma'am. Raptor 1 ordered us to return to base."

"What was the nature of the mechanical problem Lieutenant?"

"Ah…to be truthful ma'am, I'm not too sure. Ghost…Lieutenant Commander Riley ma'am…he said we were losing power to one of the engines. We tried to trace the problem but couldn't see anything wrong. Ghost was worried we weren't going to be able to make it back…it's a good thing Raptor 1 ordered us back ma'am."

"Isn't it true however Lieutenant that when you returned the flight crews failed to find anything wrong with the aircraft?"

"Ah, yes ma'am. Can't rightly explain it. They went over everything and said it was all fine. If I may ask ma'am, we were asked all these questions already by NCIS and our JAG."

"And the question Lieutenant?"

"Well, respectfully ma'am, why are you asking us again?"

"We're hoping someone might remember something they forgot before."

Shaking his head the young Lieutenant looked truly sorry. "I'm sorry ma'am…all I remember is what I said before. Ghost told us we had a problem, we came back. Next thing we heard Raptor 1 had gone down in a dogfight and a SAR team was dispatched as soon as we could."

"'As soon as we could' Lieutenant? I thought the SAR team was dispatched immediately."

"Well, it was as fast as we could safely ma'am. The area was hot, so it was recommended we wait until we could get a read on how hot exactly."

"How much of a wait are we talking Lieutenant?" Mac asked with a rough edge to her voice. Harm pushed himself off the wall he was leaning against to step up and put a hand on her shoulder.

"It’s ok Mac." He whispered in her ear. Nodding at the Lieutenant Harm said, "You can go son. Thanks."

"Hammer…I'm sorry we left you out there like that. I don't know what we could have done if we stuck around, but maybe we could have done something…directed them to you if nothing else." Lieutenant Reed said in a tone that pulled at Harm's heart. The kids really did feel bad about his going down.

"It’s ok Keeper. Send Lieutenant Baker in when you see her."

"Aye, aye sir." Keeper said as he came to attention and then turned smartly to leave the office.

After he left Harm sat down next to Mac and put his hand on top of hers where it rested on the table. "Mac…we're going to find something…we just have to keep digging. But don't be hard on the kids for being kids."

"Harm…they disobeyed orders…they left you out there…" Mac said in a soft voice.

"No Mac…I ordered them back. As operational lead, my orders carried. If I issued those orders because of bad information, then we look for the source of bad information. Right now that's Riley, but he had to have a reason to lie. We just need to find it."

"You're right Harm…damn I'm saying that a lot."

Smiling Harm gave her hand a gentle squeeze before removing his from on top of it. "It’s ok Mac…I've been saying that to you for almost eight years."

A knock at the hatch prevented Mac from saying anything to his statement and Harm stood up and called out "Enter."

A willowy blonde woman with Lieutenant bars on her flight suit entered and came to attention. "Lieutenant Baker reporting as ordered."

"Have a seat Lieutenant."

"Thank you CA..sir." Baker said with a slight smile in apology.

"It’s ok Baker. Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie is going to ask you some questions. Just answer them as honestly as you can and we'll have you out of here in time for mess."

"Aye, aye sir."

Harm wearily rubbed his eyes. They'd been interviewing crew for almost nine hours now and from where he sat they were no closer to finding an answer as to why Riley had been murdered. Mac was making notes about the interview in his laptop to be sent back to the office when the instant messenger icon started flashing.

"Probably Bud." Harm said as he wandered over to see who it was.

"Austin" Mac said as she saw who was sending the message. "I'll give you some privacy."

"You don't need to Mac…really. She probably just wants to know what I wanted when I called her. Stay…you can ask her any questions that pop into your head."

"You don't want me asking her what I want to know." Mac said in a barely audible mutter. Harm wasn't too sure he'd heard her right, but let it slide.

Austin: Got your messages. What's up?

Flyboy: Need to talk to you about Riley
.
Austin: Heard you were looking into that again. What do you need?

Flyboy: Could he have been killed by the subject of your invest?

Austin: Maybe…we…I think that the subject was onboard at the time

Flyboy: Who was he?

Austin: Can't tell you here. Where are you?

Flyboy: On the Henry. Mac and I came out to poke around again and see what we could fine.

Austin: Say hi for me.

Flyboy: She's right here.

Austin: Hi LC MacKenzie.

Flyboy: <- Mac  Call me Mac Meg.

Austin: All right Mac. ;) This is getting a little long.

Flyboy: Tell me about it. Can we talk when we get back?

Austin: Leave a message when you get back and I'll call you. I hear you're working with Krennick again

Flyboy: Don't remind me.

Austin: She still bad?

Flyboy: Worse.

Austin: Maybe I can help
.
Flyboy: Maybe…we'll talk. Hey…did you really tell her what she said you did when we were in Hong Kong?

Austin: Regretfully.

Flyboy: Regret telling or regret feeling?

Austin: Telling. Made me feel like I was like her.

Flyboy. Never. Anyway…call you when we get back. Later.

Austin: Take care you two.


After he logged off the instant messenger he looked over at Mac to see her looking at him intensely. "What?" he asked.

"Nothing…none of my business." Mac said with a slight blush.

"You want to know what she told Krennick when I was captured." Harm guessed.

"A little…what do you mean captured?"

"I got kidnapped by the Chinese when I went to Hong Kong to advice on a position paper State was preparing. Naval law and all that."

"I didn't know that." Mac said shocked.

"It’s not something I like to remember. They kept me pretty drugged up…I thought I was talking to my father a lot of the time."

"Oh." Mac said softly at Harm's admission.

"As for what Meg said…sorry you'll have to ask her." Harm shrugged. He wasn't going to tell the woman he loved another woman admitted to wanting to sleep with him. Besides which he didn't have anyone but Krennick's word on the story. He wasn't going to trust what Krennick said enough to get Mac mad at him and risk pushing her away when he wanted to bring her closer.

Three days later they had interviewed all the flight crews, the Hawkeye crews, the Air Boss and his team, the Skipper, the fighter pilots and everyone else they could think of. So far the only lead they could come up with was two pilots who remembered seeing Riley talking with someone who fit the description of the CIA spook who was there to debrief Harm when Webb went missing. The Skipper said the spook said his name was Rivers when he came on board. Agent Rivers. Not a lot, but it was something.

"I can check with some of my agency contacts about Rivers…see what we can learn there." Mac said hesitantly.

"Thanks. If he was talking to Riley, Riley may have talked to Meg. When I meet her when we get back I'll see what she knows. At least we're not going to leave tomorrow empty handed." Harm said as he stood up and started to do a short pacing behind Mac. "Why would Riley be talking to Rivers?"

"That's the question, isn't it Harm?"

"Could Riley be double dipping?"

"What do you mean?"

"Working for NI and CIA at the same time?"

"That's a little far fetched, don't you think?"

"I don't know Mac…this whole thing seems a little far fetched." Harm said as he came to a stop in his pacing right behind Mac. Reaching over her shoulder he started pulling up information on his laptop. It was only after the files started opening that he felt Mac's breath on his face and realized his face was right next to hers. Feeling the blush rising in his face Harm stood up quickly. He didn't want someone to walk in on them and provide the image of them being improper in their conduct with each other; especially with Krennick looking for blackmail material. "I'm sorry Mac."

So quickly did Harm step back that he didn't see the momentary flash of sadness in Mac's eyes or hear the sigh that escaped her lips. "So you think Riley was really working for the Company?"

"I don't know." Harm admitted, deciding it was best to ignore the whole moment that had just happened. As hard as that was, he wasn't going to give anyone anything that could hurt Mac. "Maybe. Meg might know something when I talk to her."

A knock at the hatch prevented Mac from saying anything in response. The knock was followed by the hatch opening to reveal the ensign who had met them when they first came aboard.

"A ship to shore call from a Commander Turner for you Commander."

"Thank you Ensign." Harm said with a nod. When the young officer was gone he said to Mac "I wonder what Sturgis wants?"

"Only one way to find out." Mac said with a smile.

Nodding Harm left to make his way to the communications room.

"Can I help you sir?" One of the petty officers on duty asked when he entered the room.

"Commander Rabb. I was told I have a ship to shore?"

Checking a clipboard the Petty Officer nodded and gestured towards one of the phones. "You can take it over there sir."

"Thanks." Harm said and then picked up the phone. "Rabb."

"Harm, it’s Sturgis. How are things going out there?"

"Not that great. We've got a few new leads, but we've also got more questions than we came out with."

"Well it’s something at least."

"I suppose. You called all this way just to find out how we were making out on the investigation?"

"Not just that. Just thought you'd like to know that your friend knows that you know about the detectives."

"Really?"

"They found out yesterday…and they weren't happy about it."

"Any plans made?"

"Don't think so Harm. Just watch your six." Sturgis said seriously.

 

JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, Virginia
Wednesday August 18, 2004
0900 Zulu

 

Harm tossed his briefcase down on one of his extra chairs and set his cover on top of his filing cabinet. Sinking into his chair he looked over the case files that had piled up in his in basket while he was on the Henry. Not too bad all things considered. Turning on his computer Harm fired up his email program to see what had piled up in that inbox. Most of the messages were internal office mail, announcements and the like. One message however caught his attention.

            H.
                        I'll be coming by your office when you're back.
                                                -M


Well considering he'd seen Mac last night he would assume the message was from Meg, which was good news. He had questions about Riley and Rivers that Meg might be able to answer. Plus it would be good to see her as well. A polite knock at his door caused Harm to look up and smile when he saw Jen standing in his doorway.

"Morning Jen."

"Welcome back sir, it’s good to have you back."

"It’s good to be home Jen. Was Mattie any trouble while I was away?"

"I can neither confirm nor deny that sir on the grounds that to do so would implicate myself in her mischief."

"Really." Harm said with a raised eyebrow. He still was floored sometimes at how well the two girls got on. Ten years difference in age didn't seem to be a factor in their friendship; they really did act like sisters instead of friends.

"Indeed sir. Did you have any luck out on the Patrick Henry sir?"

"Some, Petty Officer, not a lot, but some."

"Good to hear sir. She wants to see you and the Colonel right away sir."

"She does, does she? Tell the Captain the Colonel and I will be right there, will you Jen?"

"Aye, aye sir." Jen said with a bright smile as she came to attention. Turning crisply she walked back to the front office.

Getting up and grabbing his notes from the investigation Harm went over to Mac's office and knocked on the door.

"Morning Marine. Care to join me?"

"Where are we going?" Mac asked as she looked up at Harm. He noticed right away that her smile was forced…now what did he do?

"The Captain has summoned us to her domain."

"Well then we must not keep her waiting." Mac said with a sigh.

The two of them made their way over to the front office and were informed by Jen that they could go right in.

When they had come to attention in front of Krennick's desk she made them wait while she flipped through some files on her desk. Finally she looked up and said "Commander, Colonel. Have a seat."

"Thank you ma'am." Harm said politely. He wasn't going to be the one to get this meeting off to a bad start.

"How did the investigation go out there?"

"Not too badly ma'am. We've got a few more leads than we did when we went out there; unfortunately we also have some more questions."

"Such as?"

"We know that Lieutenant Commander Riley was seen meeting with a man named Rivers. Commander Rabb has identified the man as the CIA agent who debriefed him after his mission on the fifth of June." Mac said in a crisp business-like tone.

"And this is important?"

"We think it is ma'am. Rivers disappeared around the time Riley was killed, and no one has seen him since. I'm hoping to get some more information from Riley's partner when I speak to her today. Colonel MacKenzie is also going to use her contacts at the CIA to try and get some information." Harm said.

"Anything else?"

"We've confirmed that there was nothing wrong with the Hawkeye when it returned to the carrier on the sixth of June. Apparently Riley faked a mechanical problem and got me to order him to return to the carrier."

"How would he know you would do that?"

"SOP ma'am. If an aircraft can't complete the mission profile it is to return to base so as not to jeopardize itself or others involved with the mission." Harm said matter-of-factly.

"I see. So where does this leave us?"

"Ma'am, I'm beginning to think that Rivers might be our man. I recommend we wait until we've checked out our sources here to see if we can find out more before we decide where to go with this."

"Very good Commander. Give me a written report by 1200. The SecNav is very interested to find out where you are with this, and I want…us…to look good for him."

"Yes ma'am." Harm said simply. "If that will be all?"

"Actually there is something else." Krennick said. Ah here it is Harm thought. He'd been wondering when she would bring it up. Squaring his shoulders he waited for her to continue. "I want to discuss your relationship with each other."

"What about it ma'am?"

"I don't think I will be sending the two of you on any more investigations together."

"Respectfully Captain, may I ask why?" Harm inquired.

"Why not?" Mac asked simply.

"Because Colonel, I don't think it would project the proper image." Krennick said through clenched teeth.

"And why would that be ma'am?" Harm asked resisting the urge to put a hand on Mac's knee to calm her down.

"I think it would be better if we discussed this in private Commander. Say over dinner tonight?"

"Well that depends on if the Colonel is available for dinner Captain."

"I wasn't inviting her Commander." Krennick said with an arched eyebrow. Harm realized that he'd played into her hands. "Do the two of you have anything you wish to tell me?"

"About what ma'am?" Harm asked warily.

"About your relationship with each other." Krennick said with a little smile.

"There is nothing to say ma'am. The Lieutenant Colonel and I are partners and friends. Working together for as long as we have has allowed us to develop a close and friendship and bond."

"Are you romantically involved?"

"No ma'am." Harm said harshly. He saw Mac stiffen up at his words and fought his urge to look at her and ask her what was wrong.

"Colonel? Do you have anything you wish to add?"

"Apparently not ma'am." Mac said sharply.

"Very well. Colonel you are dismissed."

Mac silently stood up and left the room. Harm watched her leave and then turned back to Krennick.

"What are you playing at Allison?" Harm asked when Mac was gone.

"Oh, we're on a first name basis are we Harm?" Krennick asked with an arched eyebrow. "I'll make it easy on you Harm. I'll look the other way while you do whatever it is you want to do with her, but in return I get what I want."

"And what is that Allison?"

"Why Harm, I thought you would have figured that out years ago. I want you."

"Why? Because I'm the one who got away? The only one to say no?"

"Admittedly that is part of it. But you're still the rising star of JAG, and I find you very sexy Commander." Krennick said as she got up and walked around her desk to sit on the edge and put her hand on Harm's knee.

"And if I say no?"

"Then I'm afraid that I'm going to have to start an investigation into the nature of your relationship with Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie. Since I got here I've noticed some very disturbing things about you two that I can not in good conscience ignore."

Harm couldn't help but laugh, and he laughed harder yet at the look in Krennick's eyes. Standing up he patted her on the shoulder and started to walk towards the door. Stopping with it half open he turned around to look at her. "Allison. You and I both know that you're not going to do that."

"Are you threatening me Commander?"

"Not at all Captain. But you and I both know that you wouldn't have approached a civilian detective agency if you intended to pursue this in earnest. You would have used a JAG from outside the office…or hell even Sturgis or Bud. But you know as well as I that they wouldn't find anything."

"You'd be surprised Commander Rabb."

"No ma'am I wouldn't."

"Think of your career Harm."

Harm laughed again at this. "Allison, I resigned my commission once already. My career isn't the most important thing in my life anymore. On the other hand, you will not ruin the Colonel's career. I won't allow that, and you and I both know that I can call your own career into question any time I want."

With that Harm walked out of her office and shut the door firmly. Turning around he saw Jennifer standing behind her desk with eyes as wide as saucers. Winking at her Harm walked out into the bullpen feeling very good about how he had handled that. As he was crossing to his office Harriet stood up from her desk and placed herself in Harm's way. (A/N I really hate putting these in the middle of things, they break up the flow but I just have to say…no pun intended!)

"Harriet."

"Commander…what did you say to the Colonel?"

"What do you mean Harriet? I didn't say anything to her."

"Well maybe that's the problem sir. Maybe you should say something to her sir. Isn't there something you want to say?"

"Harriet." Harm said in a warning tone of voice. "I don't think we should discuss that right now, do you?"

"Uhh no sir."

"Now tell me why you think I said or didn't say something to Mac?"

"Because of the way she stormed into her office and then two minutes later stormed out again. She only gets that mad at you sir." Harriet said quietly.

"Do you know where she went?"

"No sir."

"Did she go home?"

"No sir, her purse and cover are in her office."

"Thanks Harriet." Harm said with a hand on Harriet's shoulder.

He finally found Mac in the law library, the last place in the building he looked for her.
"Mac." He said quietly.

She ignored him and continued to stare out of the window she was standing in front of.
"Mac…sweetie, what is it?" Harm asked coming up to her and putting a hand on her arm.

Pulling her arm away from him Mac whirled and stared at him like he'd grown another head. "'Mac…sweetie'? Where the hell do you get off calling me that Commander?"

"What do you mean Mac?"

"You know Commander; I think the problem is you don't even know what you want. One minute it seems like you want me…you're calling Mattie 'our' daughter…you talk about us, and then next you're all professional and you get embarrassed at being near me."

"What are you talking about Mac?"

"Nothing apparently. So when is the Captain going to start the inquiry?"

"She's not. I talked to her and explained how things are between us."

"Oh you told her that we're 'just friends'? So now she can feel free to pursue you some more?"

"Mac, I told her we're friends, which we are. Anything beyond that is none of her damn business."

"Is there anything beyond that Harm? Really, is there? Because a week ago it seemed like you were opening up to me, that we were getting close, finally getting close and then you turned it off again. All of a sudden it’s all business with you Harmon Rabb. And I don't want you to do something you don't want. Maybe I should just request a transfer…that way we can all have what we want."

"What makes you think that's what I want Mac?"

"Don't you?"

"No Mac, I don't want you to leave. And I don't want to leave. And for god's sake I don't want Krennick."

"What do you want Harm? And be careful how you answer."

Harm looked at her incredulously. She was asking him this in the middle of the JAG law library.

Taking a deep breath he shrugged his shoulders. "Well Mac, this isn't where I pictured us having this talk, but if you want to have it now…" he started and then was interrupted by a knock at the door behind them.

Turning to the door Harm saw Meg standing in the doorway. "Sorry to interrupt." Meg said.

"Nothing was going to happen Lieutenant Commander, don't worry. You didn't interrupt anything." Mac said bitterly and then walked out of the library.

With a sigh Harm dropped into a seat and gestured Meg to the do the same.

"I see you still have such an easy time opening up to those close to you Harm." Meg said as she sat down. "Why don't you just tell her? Everyone can see you love her. Even I can and I haven't seen you in how many years? You never looked at me like that."

"Oh yes I did Meg, trust me. You just never saw it."

"Are you telling me you loved me sir?"

"Maybe not quite Meg, but it might have become that. It’s taken Mac and me eight years to get to this point…"

"How long until you loved her?"

"A heartbeat."

"Then tell her that sir."

"I don't know if I can Meg…I think I've screwed up too many times. I held my tongue too many times when I shouldn't have. If you've got a few days I'll tell you about them."

"That's in the past sir, this is the now. She's still here, all you need to do is find the words."

"Meg, with all that Mac and I have been through…"

"Harm…with all due respect shut up and listen to what I'm saying. You and Mac have years of history, true. You've learned a lot about each other in those years, you've hurt each other, and you've helped each other. Bud was telling me about how she followed you to Russia when she knew you for what? A matter of months? Harm you grow from those experiences, but you don't hold onto them. You use them to grow more experiences. If you hold onto what happened in the past and try to live in the then you never get a chance to explore the now. Where do you want to be Commander? In the past or in the now?"

"In the now Meg. When the hell did you get so smart?"

"Always was sir. I just figured you liked dumb blondes and played to that." Meg said with a wink.

"Very funny Lieutenant Commander. Now…tell me you didn't just come here to play my relationship counselor."

"Well as fun as that is sir, I actually came to give you this." Meg said handing Harm a thick yellow envelope that she'd put on the table.

"What is it?"

"A signed affidavit with my testimony as to then Commander Allison Krennick's misconduct and sexual harassment of then Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb Jr. while she was the Admiral's aide. There are a few other people around the office who have envelopes like this one if you need them Harm. You've got some good friends here…they're willing to put their careers on the line to protect you."

Taking the envelope Harm stared at it thoughtfully. He hoped he'd never need to use it, but having it made him feel more comfortable. "Thank you Meg. You have no idea what this means to me."

"I think I do sir. Like I said, you have some good friends willing to put themselves on the line for you, and I hope you count me one of them." Meg said sadly.

"Always Meg. You will always be my friend."

"Well if I can't have more, then I will always cherish that sir." Meg said with a sad smile. "She's a good woman Harm…you shouldn't let her get away."

"Well I don't mean to. I just need to figure out how I'm gonna keep that from happening. Meg while you're here I need to ask you…do you know anything about a man named Rivers?"

"I do Harm…but the most important thing for you to know is that he's here in DC, and he's looking for you."

 

North of Union Station
Thursday August 18, 2004
1200 Zulu

 

Harm knocked on the door to Jen and Mattie’s apartment insistently. He only had to wait a moment before Jen opened the door and peered out blearily. “Commander?”

“Jen. I need to speak to you about something.”

“Sir?”

Motioning Jen out into the hallway Harm led her down towards his own apartment. “Jen, I need you to stay home with Mattie today. I’m calling her school to tell them she won’t be coming in. I’m having a Marine guard sent over to spend the day as well.”

“Sir?” Jen asked confused. “What about the Captain sir?”

“I’ll take care of Krennick. Lock the door today and don’t let anyone in unless it’s Mac or me.”

“What’s going on sir?”

Harm looked at the young woman before him closely. In a short time she had come to mean a lot to him as the sister to his soon to be adopted daughter. “Jen, someone is looking for me and I’m afraid he may try to hurt those I care about. I want to keep you and Mattie safe.”

“Yes sir.” Jen said simply letting her training take over. An officer had given her an order and she would follow it.

Smiling at Jen’s crisp tone Harm put a hand on her shoulder. “You’re one of those people I care about Jen. I’ll call you guys today and let you know what’s going on if I can.”

The sound of feet on the stairs caused Harm to move in front of Jen as he moved towards the sounds. As he got to the door to Jen and Mattie’s apartment Mac and a Marine guard exited the stairwell. Sighing Harm smiled slightly at Mac.

“What’s going on Harm?” Mac asked curiously.

“In a minute Mac. Corporal, you will stay at this door and guard the people inside. Do not let anyone in unless they are accompanied by the Colonel here or myself. Is that understood?”

“Yes sir.” The young Marine said as he snapped a salute and then took up position outside the door.”

Taking Mac’s arm he nodded to Jen and took Mac inside his apartment. “Mac…I couldn’t find you yesterday…you were doing a good job at avoiding me.”

Mac blushed and looked down at her feet. “I’m sorry Harm…I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s ok Mac. Anyway…Meg told me yesterday that Rivers is in DC, and he’s looking for me. I just wanted to make sure Mattie and Jen were safe. I don’t want to take the chance that Rivers will strike out at me like Palmer did through the people I care about. Mac…if I could I would stick you in there with Jen and Mattie behind that guard, but I know how you’d react to that.” Harm said with a smile.

“I’d kick your six Flyboy.” Mac said fiercely.

“That’s my Marine.” Harm said fondly.

“So what’s the plan?” Mac asked uncomfortably.

“I’m going to give Rivers what he wants.”

“Excuse me?” Mac asked incredulously.

“I’m going to put myself in a position to draw Rivers out. If he’s looking for me, I’ll let him find me.”

“Harm…” Mac said warningly. “You know better than that…”

“Mac…I don’t know why he’s looking for me. All I know is he is. He has the answers we need about Riley…for all we know he was the last man to see Riley alive.”

“Harm why don’t you let NI or the CIA handle this?”

“Because it’s me he’s looking for Mac.”

“I’m going with you then.” Mac said as Harm walked over to the cupboard he kept his lockbox in.

Shaking his head Harm looked at Mac. “No.”

“Yes.”

“Mac, we’re not going to fight about this too. I know you’ll stand with me if I asked you to, but I still need to know what the CIA knows. I need you to use your contacts to find something out.”

Harm could see the struggle in her features as she looked at him while he pulled out his handgun and ammunition. “Please Mac?” he asked finally.

“Fine, but I will be coming to where you are when I’m done.”

“I would expect nothing different Mac.” Harm said wearily.

“I’ll get over to Langley now then.” Mac said.

“I’ll let Krennick know you’re unavoidably detained as well.”

Nodding Mac started to walk away and then turned and quickly threw her arms around Harm. “Stay safe Harm…I don’t want to lose you.”

“You too Marine.” Harm whispered into her hair.

As soon as Mac was gone Harm picked up his phone and dialed Krennick’s cell number. After six rings she finally picked up. “Krennick.” She said wearily.

“It’s Rabb ma’am.”

“What are you doing on my phone at this hour Rabb?”

“Ma’am I’m going to be late getting into the office today, I’m following a lead in the Riley murder. Lieutenant Colonel MacKenzie has gone out to Langley and will also be out the of the office.”

“Is that a fact Rabb.”

“Yes ma’am it is. I also require the services of Petty Officer Coates today.”

“What do you need her for?”

“I believe that there may be a danger to those near me and have ordered her to stay home with my daughter ma’am.”

“Am I running a baby sitting service Commander?”

“No ma’am.”

“Are you sure about this Commander?”

“Yes ma’am. I have had one of the Marine guards brought over to watch over them ma’am.”

“Making awfully free with my staff aren’t you Commander?”

“Respectfully ma’am, I would move heaven and earth to protect those around me.”

“I believe you would Commander. Very well, report to me when you have something to report.”

“Aye, aye ma’am.” Harm said and then hung up his phone. Now to decide where he was going to do this. He wanted to do it away from the apartment just to be sure he kept Mattie and Jen out of it, somewhere with lots of people, but not too many. Too many people can contain surprises that he didn’t see until too late. A slow smile came across his face as he found the place he wanted. The Washington Museum was having an exhibition of the history of aviation. He was planning on taking Mattie and Jen on the weekend, but he could give himself a preview.

Grabbing his jacket out of the closet Harm walked out into the hallway and returned the guard’s salute when he passed by and took the stairs down to the street. Getting into his SUV Harm turned the ignition and started the engine.

“Don’t tell me you’re going to the museum exhibition of aviation.” A quite voice said from behind him. As Harm reached for where he had his gun tucked into his waistband the man continued. “Tsk, tsk Commander. Let’s have it.”

Looking in the mirror Harm saw Rivers sitting in the backseat. With a sigh he slowly pulled his gun out and handed it to Rivers.

“Let’s go to the Museum Commander…wouldn’t want you to miss your tour.”

Can’t really argue with a man with a gun Harm figured. Besides if he could get out of the SUV he’d have a little more in the way of options. Mac wouldn’t be back from Langley for a couple hours at least, so he was on his own. With a sigh Harm put the SUV in gear and started driving.

“So…where’s your investigation led you Commander?”

“Into my car with a mad man?”

“Close. I’m not mad though.”

“Why’d you kill Riley?”

“We’ll talk about that in time Commander.”

Silently Harm drove through the early morning streets downtown.

“Relax Rabb…I’m not here to hurt you.”

“Really. Like you didn’t hurt Riley.”

“I told you, I’ll tell you all about Riley when we get to the museum.”

“Why the museum?”

“Same reason you wanted to go there first. Lots of people. I don’t expect you to give me a ride home later Rabb.”

“Well that’s good to know.” Harm said sarcastically.

Ten minutes later Harm pulled up outside the Washington Museum and got out of his car slowly. The fact that Rivers had not made an aggressive move against him so far had him confused. The black hearts that Harm had encountered in the past made no qualms about who they were. Palmer was about as bad as they came and Harm knew right from the outset that Palmer wished him ill.

“Well, shall we go see what the museum has to offer in the way of history of Aviation?” Rivers asked as he came up beside Harm.

“Why not?” Harm answered with a bitter twist to his lips.

“Oh chin up Commander. Isn’t that what you military types always say? Let’s go.”

A few minutes later Harm and Rivers were inside the museum walking through pictures and displays of aircraft and aviation wonders throughout the years. When they came across a mock up of an F-4 from the Vietnam War they stopped to look at it
.
“What carrier did your father fly off of again?” Rivers asked.

“The Tico.” Harm said shortly.

“I’ve heard you remind a lot of people of him, and not just physically. Word is you’re an even better pilot than he was. Pity you had to give it up to become a lawyer. You miss it?”

“We’re here to talk about you, not me.” Harm said.

“Give and take Commander, give and take. I’m interested by you…a crack pilot who becomes a lawyer, to go back to flying, to go back to lawyering, to go back to flying and then returns to being a lawyer. Did I miss any of your flip flops?”

“No…I think you got them all in there.” Harm said. “Yes, I do miss it sometimes. But there are more important things to me than flying.”

“Yes…I heard you are working on adopting a girl…Mathilda is it?”

“She’d rip out your spleen if you called her that…but yes, that’s her name.” Harm said with a smile. He could just picture Mattie tearing into this spook.

“I’m not the man you’re looking for Commander.” Rivers said quietly.

“You didn’t kill Riley?”

“Oh…I did that sadly…but not for the reasons you think.”

“And what is it I think?”

“That I killed him because he learned something, or found me doing something, or because I’m an evil traitor…something along those lines. Am I right?”

“To tell you the truth we don’t know why you did it, but we have reports you were the last man to see him alive.”

“Riley’s partner didn’t tell you why they were there?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Harm said in an effort to protect Meg.

“Oh come now Commander. I know you and Ms. Austin used to be partners, and I believe that you are still friends. Surely she told you why she was there undercover.” Rivers said disbelievingly.

“Actually she didn’t.” Harm confessed. “She refused to tell me even when Riley was dead.”

“Interesting. She’s more strong willed than we thought. Our analysts thought she had told you for sure. We figured you would have charmed it out of her.”

Smiling Harm shook his head before he remembered who he was speaking to. “No such luck. Meg’s a strong willed woman.”

“Interesting. Well then…I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Are you listening Commander? Because I won’t repeat anything I tell you here today.”

“I’m listening.” Harm said levelly. While Rivers was talking Harm was looking around for something he could turn into a weapon.

“Six months ago we began to suspect someone was selling information to the highest bidder.”

“What sort of information? Cookie recipes?”

“Very funny Rabb. Webb told me you had a sense of humor, but he also told me you were an intelligent man. Just listen or this conversation is at an end.”

“Fine…go on.”

“No, he wasn’t selling recipes. He was selling troops movements, times of aerial patrols, times of ground patrols and the like. Surely you had to notice that all of a sudden the Iraqi rebels were scoring some pretty heavy victories all of a sudden.”

Harm just nodded as he thought back to the news casts that he had been watching for the past few months.

“We were trying to figure it out when we found out that your Naval Intelligence had stumbled upon the same conclusions that we had…that it was someone deployed with the Navy who was involved with this.”

“How did you guys figure that out?”

“We have our sources Commander…it’s need to know.”

“God, you did know Webb didn’t you?”

“I did, and he was a good man. A disturbed man since Paraguay, but a good man. Now, we found out that Naval Intelligence was sending a team out to investigate the claims and see if they could track down the leak.”

“Riley and Meg.”

“Correct. What Naval Intelligence didn’t know was that our information pointed to one of those two as being the leak. Imagine our shock when we found out that someone had screwed up and sent the leak to hunt himself.”

“How do I know any of this is true?”

“You’re going to have to trust me Commander. Come on, let’s move for a bit, people are going to start looking at us funny if we stand here looking at this F-4 much longer.” Rivers said and then led Harm off towards a Space Shuttle display.

“How do I know you aren’t the leak?” Harm asked suspiciously.

“As I said, you’ll just have to trust me for now Commander.”

“That’s easy for you to say.”

“We’d noticed a few large purchases made by Riley over the last couple months. Nothing to extravagant…he was a smart man. But larger than normal all the same. Webb and Keeter were hoping to use Riley’s status as a pilot to trap him into showing himself, but unfortunately Keeter was injured and you were brought in. We knew we could trust you, but we didn’t know how far. Your…animosity for Webb is well known. And admittedly he does deserve some of it. He did have a habit of tossing you and Colonel MacKenzie into danger only to have you two pull him out by the short hairs.”

“That’s putting it mildly.” Harm said quietly. He didn’t like to speak ill of the dead, but the truth was the truth.

“We were shocked when we found out that Riley had arranged to not only give up patrol times and coordinates but your location when you went down. Apparently the Iraqis are looking for pilot prisoners for some reason we are unsure of. I came across him as he was relaying your location.”

“Awfully convenient.” Harm said suspiciously.

“Look…you want to know why I killed Riley? Because he attacked me. It was self defense, you have my word on that Commander.”

“All right, say he did attack you, say he was the leak. Why would you just disappear like that?”

“We weren’t sure if Austin was in on his plans or not…I couldn’t risk exposing my knowledge.”

Just then Harm’s cell phone rang and he flipped it open to see Mac on the call display.

“Go ahead Commander, take it.”

Hang pushed the send button on his phone. “Rabb.”

“Harm it’s me. I’ve got some information about Rivers…apparently he was trying to find the source of a leak that was giving information to the Iraqi rebels.”

“I know.”

“You know?”

“He’s right here with me. So you’re telling me he’s on the level?”

“It looks that way…I can’t get much information from my contacts, but they gave me that. Harm…they think the leak is Meg.”

“It wasn’t Meg, Mac. It was Riley. He attacked Rivers when he was found out.”

”Where are you?”

“The Aviation exhibition at the Museum.”

“I’m on my way.”

“Thanks Mac.”

When Harm put his phone back in his pocket Rivers looked at him expectantly. “So?”

“So it looks like you’re on the level. Go on.”

“Not much more to say; I took these from his computer before I left the Henry.” Rivers said holding out two CDs. “Information about his contact and the information he was selling. Those are copies of course…we have the originals. I hope you’ll use those to put an end to the investigation.”

Harm took the CDs and slid them into his pocket. “No one is going to hear about this investigation, are they?” Harm asked wearily. He’d had too much contact with the CIA to think this would go anywhere.

“Probably not. The Director assured me he would have it taken care of. But I thought you’d like to know all the same. Now if you’ll excuse me Commander, I think this interview is at an end.” Rivers said and with a slight nod he walked off into a passing tour crowd.

Harm walked slowly out of the Museum with his mind turning over all this new information. He needed to go somewhere and think about what he’d learned…to digest it. Unlocking his SUV he got in to find his handgun on the floor of the front seat. With a little shake of his head he picked it up and put it in his pocket and started the car.

 

Friday August 18, 2004
North of Union Station
2000 Zulu

 

Harm killed the ignition to his SUV and slowly exited the vehicle. He couldn’t remember a time in the recent past when he was so thoroughly mentally exhausted; not even when he was flying quick switch hops off the Henry. The conversation he’d had with Rivers that day, and the sudden revelation of his story had shocked Harm to the core. He’d never been so wrong about a case before, never so blind. As Harm walked up to his building a long dark government sedan pulled up against the curb next to him. The driver got out and stood at attention holding the rear door open.

“Commander Rabb, the Secretary would appreciate a moment of your time.” the uniformed Petty Officer said.

“Not much of a choice is there, Petty Officer?” Harm said walking around the car and sliding in. “Mr. Secretary.” He added when he saw Sheffield sitting inside the car.

“Commander. So good to see you again.”

“Is it sir?”

“I’ve always liked you Rabb. However I got a call today from Director Kershaw about a JAG investigation that was getting close to one of his agents he needed to protect. Would you know anything about this Commander?”

“I assume you’re referring to Rivers sir.”

“What has your investigation revealed?”

“Sir…I’m not sure that I can reveal that.”

“Commander…need I remind you who I am?”

“Not at all sir. I merely cannot tell you anything because I’ve come across new information I need to digest in order to form my opinion of the investigation sir.”

“What is this information Commander?”

Harm hesitated before he answered. He knew that this was the man who reported to the president, but he himself wasn’t sure about the information. “Rivers apparently killed Riley in self defense sir, not murder.”

“Why would it be self defense?”

“Apparently Rivers had been sent to investigate the same thing as Riley and Austin; the only difference was that Rivers’ information pointed to Riley as the subject of their investigation.” Harm said quietly. He noticed the utter lack of shock in the Secretary’s eyes. “You knew sir!”

“I just found out this evening Commander. I think you should discontinue your investigation Commander.”

“Are you ordering me to back off of a murder investigation sir?”

“I am Commander. You now know it is not a murder that you are investigating, there is no murder investigation. Let it drop Commander.”

“Aye, aye sir.” Harm said hesitantly.

“Excellent!” the SecNav said pleasantly slapping his hands against his knees. “Now then…it appears you have been a very naughty boy Commander.”

“Sir?”

“Captain Krennick has requested an investigation into your relationship with Colonel MacKenzie,” the Secretary said. Seeing Harm’s imminent protest he held up his hand. “Commander, let me ask you. Have you ever acted improperly with the Colonel?”

“No sir.” Harm said with steel in his voice.

“I know that Commander. AJ and I have had many a late night conversation about you and the Colonel. We both knew how you felt about each other, and it was, I admit, somewhat entertaining to see you both dance around each other in an effort to deny your feelings.”

“Then why the investigation?” Harm asked confused.

“I didn’t say I was going to act on the Captain’s request. In fact, she will no longer be the interim JAG as of Monday morning. Admiral Burke has been voted in as our new JAG. I think Captain Krennick would do well to oversee JAG operations in…Alaska I think.”

“Sir?”

“Let me ask you something Commander. Is it true that you have signed testimonies that Krennick has been sexually harassing you?”

Harm hesitated before answering. As it was he still wasn’t willing to ruin another officer’s career. Finally he nodded shortly. “I do sir.”

“I will send a courier to your office on Monday to collect the testimonies Commander.”

“Sir?” Harm asked, confused by the Secretary’s order.

“Captain Krennick has been…improper in the past. I’ve heard many rumors about Captain Krennick. I will be speaking with her on Monday about this…and if she does not take care to control her behavior then I would be forced to take your testimonies and convene a board of inquiry. Captain Krennick is no longer a concern to you Commander, and your honor remains intact, and many, many young officers do not have to worry about her treating them like a piece of meat.”

“I…thank you Secretary.” Harm said shocked.

“Do you love the Colonel, Commander?”

Harm was shocked at the Secretary’s question. “Sir, respectfully I don’t see how this is any of your concern.”

“Commander, everything relating to my people is my concern.” Secretary Sheffield said with a small smile. Holding up his hand he continued. “Commander, I do not mean to pry…I just wondered if you would be able to consider a possible solution to your…problem with the Colonel.”

“What sort of solution sir?” Harm asked warily. “I won’t do anything to hurt the Colonel.”

Holding up his hand the Secretary smiled. “Nothing so drastic Commander. It is just that Naval Intelligence finds themselves short an operative who is a qualified pilot. Interested?”

“Are you asking me to transfer to Naval Intelligence sir?”

“Commander, I could consider it a great favor if you would…consider…the option.”

Harm sighed. When the Secretary of the Navy asked someone to consider something Admirals jumped. “Sir…”

“Harm…I may call you Harm?”

“Of course sir.” Harm answered. He wasn’t about to say no to the Secretary of the Navy.

“Harm…I’m going to be blunt with you. When the JAG selection board next sits you will be my candidate. It is a shame I wasn’t able to suggest you this time around, but I can’t have a Commander issuing orders to Captains and Admirals. Admiral Burke has assured me he would give me five years as JAG, and then we’ll see about his retirement. I am of the opinion that a tour with Naval Intelligence would allow you an insight into another facet of the investigative procedure. You’ve more than proven you have what it takes Commander, you can be the best operative Naval Intelligence has.”

“Sir…” Harm began but the Secretary held up his hand again.

“Harm…I can promise you that you will be stationed here in Washington for the whole time you’re with Naval Intelligence. Obviously you will be in the field at times, but you will be working out of the Pentagon. You will be reporting directly to Admiral Denis, and you will be getting an early promotion to Captain.”

Harm was floored at this last statement. He still had another year to get his four before he was up for Captain. “Thank you sir. But why?”

“I have plans for you Harm, and I can’t have you questioned by every Captain in the fleet. You need to be free to do what needs to be done, and the rank of Captain will ensure that you can do this. As to why I’m asking you to transfer? Let me just say this Commander. You will remain in Washington; you will be able to see all your friends from JAG; and you will be able to act on certain feelings you have for a Marine lawyer you and I know. AJ’s last request was that I work out a way for you and MacKenzie to be together…this works out for both of us.”

Harm was floored. He knew he should be wary of a favor offered by the Secretary of the Navy, but if it let him be with Mac he was willing to take his chances. Swallowing hard he just nodded to the Secretary. “I’ll do it sir. And thank you sir.”

Sheffield held out his hand and Harm took it in his own for a firm handshake. “You report to the Pentagon on Tuesday. Take Monday to clear out your office and explain things to your friends Commander. Admiral Burke knows this is going to happen so you shouldn’t have any problems with him.”

Harm was barely listening to Sheffield as he thought about his relationship with Mac. He’d finally admitted to himself that he loved her…now he needed to admit it to her. Suddenly he had an idea…something that he had dreamed of many times. “Mr. Secretary…I hesitate to ask you for another favor.”

“Ask away Commander. I have a feeling you’re going to be repaying them back in full.”

Hesitantly Harm looked at his feet. “What would it take to get into the Rose Garden sir?”

“The White Houses’ Rose Garden Commander?”

“Aye sir.”

“Why?”

Harm bit his lip before answering. “That is where the Colonel and I met sir. I think it would be a good place to…well let’s just say I’d think it would be a good place for me to admit to the Colonel how I feel sir.”

“Let me check something Commander.” Sheffield said with a smile. Pulling his cell phone from his jacket pocket he hit a speed dial number and then waited. “Bailey, it’s Charles. How are you?”

“Good, good. Would I be able to speak to him for a minute?” Sheffield continued.

“Thanks Bailey. Listen…why don’t you and Linda come by for dinner this weekend? Emily will love to see you. Good. Thanks again Bailey.”

After a moment Sheffield continued. “Good evening sir.”

“Thank you sir.”

“Sir…I have a Commander in the Navy with a special request sir…”

“Commander Rabb sir.”

“Yes sir, that’s him.”

“He would like to gain access for himself and another to the Rose Garden.”

“Tomorrow? I’m sure that will be good for him sir. Thank you sir.” Sheffield said and then hit the disconnect button.

“The President has allow you access tomorrow afternoon at two Commander.”

Harm was shocked to his core. He had just been granted access to the White Houses’ Rose Garden. “Thank you sir.”

“Good luck son.”

“Thank you sir.”

“I’ll see you in my office at 1100 Tuesday Commander.”

“Aye, aye sir. Thank you again.” Harm said and then exited the Secretary’s sedan. With a new spring in his step he took the stairs up to his apartment two at a time whistling an unnamed song. He had to make plans…had to get Mac to come with him tomorrow.

 

Saturday August 19, 2004
Mac’s Apartment
1800 Zulu


Harm got out of his SUV and walked around the back to pull out his guitar and two dozen roses. He’d never done anything like this before, but somehow he felt Mac would appreciate it. He’d called her that morning to make sure she’d be home when he got here…he’d told her he needed to discuss the Rivers investigation. Walking up to the sidewalk Harm set down his guitar and began to spread the roses on the ground around him. Pulling out his cell phone he pushed the number 1 speed dial and waited for Mac to answer.

“MacKenzie.”

“Mac…it’s me.”

“Hey Harm…you on your way over?”

“Something like that. Mac…go out onto your balcony?”

“Why?” Mac asked suspiciously.

“Mac…do you trust me?”

“You know I do Harm.”

“Then please go out on your balcony.” Harm asked patiently.

As he watched the door to Mac’s apartment opened and he saw her walk out onto her balcony. Hanging up the phone he looked up at her with a smile.

“Harm?” Mac called down from where she looked down on him. “What are you doing?”

Without an answer Harm took up his guitar and started to play. For twenty minutes he ignored Mac’s questions as he sang every romantic song he could think of. He did his best to ignore the crowd that his singing was gathering as well and finally played the final chord and set his guitar down. Looking up at Mac he held up his hand and smiled.
“Come with me Mac. I have something I want to show you.”

“Harm?” Mac asked quietly enough that he couldn’t actually hear her…just see his name on her lips.

“Trust me Sarah.”

Nodding Mac disappeared back into her apartment and was soon standing beside him. “What are you doing Harm?” she asked quietly.

“Trust me Sarah.”

“I do Harm, but…”

Holding his finger up to her lips he silenced her question and took her hand to lead her to his SUV.

Forty minutes later they pulled up to the public gate at the White House. Rolling down his window Harm smiled at the gate guard and said “Commander Rabb and Colonel MacKenzie.”

“Thank you sir. Someone will meet you in the west parking lot.”

Nodding Harm rolled up his window and slowly drove his SUV down the street onto the White House grounds until he got to the west parking lot. Exiting the vehicle he walked around to Mac’s door and opened it for her. Taking her hand to help her out he smiled reassuringly to her and didn’t let go of her hand.

“Commander Rabb?” a polite voice said.

Turning towards the voice Harm smiled at the dark-suited man who stood there.

“Yes?”

“My name is Agent Burrows. He asked me to show you the way.”

“Thank you Agent Burrows.” Harm said with a smile as he gently pulled Mac’s hand to get her to follow him and Agent Burrows.

“What are we doing here Harm? Did you rack up another medal I didn’t know about?”

“Not exactly Sarah.”

“Then what are we doing here?”

“I thought it was a nice day…and I thought you’d like to join me here. Patience Colonel.” Harm said with a smile.

After a few minutes their guide stopped and looked at them seriously. “Here we go Commander. I will await you here.”

“Thank you Agent Burrows.” Harm said gratefully.

With a smile at Mac Harm led her through the low gate that took them into the Rose Garden.

“The Rose Garden Harm? What’s going on?” Mac asked suspiciously.

“I just thought I’d go for a walk today and hoped you’d want to join me.”

“Harmon Rabb…you’re up to something.”

“That I am. But you’re going to have to be patient a little longer. We’re almost there.” Harm said with a wink. Taking her hand again he led her deeper into the garden until they came to a stone bench and marble fountain. Gently guiding Mac to the seat Harm thrust his hands into his pockets and turned to face her. Slowly he went down on one knee.

“Harm?” Mac asked quietly.

“Sarah.” Harm said quietly fighting the moisture he felt in his eyes. Slowly he pulled out a worn ring from his pocket.

“Harm? What are you doing?”

“Something I should have done a long, long time ago Sarah. I’ve loved you for as long as I can remember Sarah…and I’ve fought it in the name of our careers. I can’t fight it any longer…I’ve had to live without you, and I can’t do it again.” Harm said quietly holding up the ring. “I know it’s not much Sarah…it’s a little battered but you have my heart and my love. I should have told you this so many years ago. What I’m trying to say…”

“Yes.” Mac said quietly with tears in her eyes.

“You’ll marry me?”

“Yes!” Mac cried and then jumped up to throw her arms around Harm.

A gentle cough caused both to turn around.

“Mr. President!” Harm said in shock.

“Commander, Colonel. I’m glad you two have finally decided to do this.”

“Sir?” Harm asked confused.

“Secretary Sheffield has told me why you wanted to use the Garden today Commander. He also filled me in on the…interesting…past you two share.”

“Congratulations you two.” The First Lady said from beside her husband.

“Thank you ma’am.” Mac said with a radiant smile.

“Excuse us…we didn’t mean to intrude…we were just taking a walk and thought we’d come by and congratulate you.” The President said shaking Harm’s hand while the First Lady gave Mac a hug.

“Thank you sir. You don’t know what this means to us.” Harm said as he put an arm around Mac’s waist. Smiling they watch the President and his wife walk down the path and into the deeper Garden with their silent shadows following behind.

As they stood there holding each other Harm felt Mac stiffen up next to him. “Harm…what about the regulations? What are we going to do?”

Turning her to face him Harm smiled down at her. “It’s ok Sarah…it’s all worked out. I’m changing my designator…”

Pushing herself away from him Mac’s eyes flashed as she said “Harm! How is this a solution?”

Putting his hands on each side of her face Harm quieted her with a kiss. “I’m not going back to flying, not exactly.”

“Then what?”

“The SecNav has ‘requested’ that I transfer to Naval Intelligence.” Harm said quietly.

“Why?”

“He thought I’d do well at it…and it would allow me to do this.” Harm said as he pulled Mac in for another deep kiss.

“But what about…”

“It’s all worked out Sarah. I’ll be working out of the Pentagon and the Secretary promised I would stay working out of Washington when I wasn’t in the field. He knows how important everyone at JAG is to me.” Harm said. He didn’t think it would be the right time to tell her that the Secretary wanted him to be JAG one day. “Oh yeah. And you won’t have to deal with Krennick anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“There’s a new JAG starting on Monday…Admiral Burke. Krennick is going to be overseeing JAG ops in…I think the Secretary said Alaska.” Harm said with a smile as Mac laughed.

Remembering he still held the ring in his hand Harm gently took Mac’s left hand in his and slid the ring onto her finger. “It’s so beautiful.” She whispered.

“It’s the ring my dad gave my mom, and his dad gave his mom. And one day we’ll give it to our child to give to his wife.”

“Our child.” Mac whispered with tears once more welling up in her eyes.

“You didn’t forget did you?”

“Forget what?” Mac asked with a mischievous smile.

“The anniversary we have this year; AJ is five sweetie. And that means that you and I…” Harm finished with a wink.

Mac laughed and threw her arms around him once more as she whispered fiercely in his ear “Then we should get started, don’t you think Commander?”

Laughing Harm pulled her against him tighter and kissed her passionately.

As they walked out of the Rose Garden hand in hand Mac looked up at him. “Why did you finally decide to ask?”

“Because I’ve wanted to for years…and besides a Lieutenant Commander, a Captain, an Admiral and the Secretary of the Navy ordered me to make you an honest woman. Can’t really say no to that if I wanted to.” He said with a laugh. Stopping he gently turned her chin so she was looking up at him with those beautiful eyes he was now free to loose himself in. “Sarah…you are my world, my everything. We have wasted too much time trying to live in the past…to have what we once had. I meant what I said when I said I should have done this years ago. I love what we had Sarah…but I want to build something new, something special with you by my side. We have a lot of time to make up, and I don’t want to waste another minute of it.”

Placing a quick kiss on her lips Harm wrapped his arm around his fiancée’s waist and led her out of the Rose Garden so that they could plan the rest of their lives with each other.



Epilogue

 


A/N Due to an overwhelming desire to see Krennick get hers I've decided to add an epilogue in which everyone can delight.

JAG Headquarters
Falls Church, Virginia
Monday August 22, 2004
1300 Zulu


Captain Allison Krennick walked into JAG ops with a spring in her step. If she couldn't have Harmon Rabb to herself, she'd ruin the hussy who stood in her way. Friday she'd submitted a request to SecNav to start an investigation into Rabb and MacKenzie's relationship. As far as she could actually tell there was nothing going on there, but there was probably enough to censure them…at the very least she'd be able to transfer one of them out. And it would be MacKenzie because she hadn't given up on getting Rabb to give in to her.

As Krennick walked into the front office area she looked at her annoyingly chipper yeoman with a frown. "Coates…get the SecNav's office on the phone. The JAG selection committee sat last week and I want to make it official today."

"Ma'am…" Coates began.

Krennick just kept walking to her office and said "Just do it Coates…or do I need to find you a new duty station as well?"

"No ma'am." Coates offered with a shrug.

Shaking her head Krennick opened the door to her office and walked in only to come to a stop when she saw an Admiral sitting behind her desk. "Sir?" she asked in confusion.

At her words another man stood up from one of the leather chairs in front of the desk and turned towards her. "Captain…do come in." Secretary Sheffield said.

"Mr. Secretary…what are you doing here?" Krennick asked in shock.

With a raised eyebrow the Secretary turned to look at the Admiral and then turned back to Krennick. "Why Captain, I've come to introduce my new Judge Advocate General to his officers. Admiral Burke, may I present Captain Allison Krennick. Allison has been acting as interim JAG while the selection committee sat."

At this Krennick's mouth opened and closed a few times.

"Captain, are you feeling all right? Perhaps you should have a seat." Admiral Burke said with a note of concern in his voice.

"Admiral." Coates' voice over the intercom.

"Yes Petty Officer?" Admiral Burke said kindly.

"Captain Krennick requested me to get the Secretary's office on the phone." Coates said dispassionately.

"Thank you Petty Officer." The Admiral said with a raised eyebrow.

"I…ah…" Krennick said as she blinked owlishly.

"It’s all right Captain." The Secretary said. "I needed to discuss something else with you today."

"Sir?" Krennick asked with a knot of fear forming in her stomach.

"I received a most unusual request in my office on Friday. Something to do with Rabb and MacKenzie?"

"Ah…yes sir. I have reason to believe that their relationship outside the office and in is…shall we say…improper?"

"Really." The Secretary said. Stroking his chin he looked at Krennick carefully. "Do tell me Captain, how is Captain Rabb's relationship with his fiancée improper?"

"Captain? Fiancée?" Krennick asked incredulously.

"Indeed. I have it on the authority of the President himself that Captain Rabb and Colonel MacKenzie spent the afternoon in the Rose Garden on Saturday. He was quite thrilled that two of his finest officers had decided to become engaged."

All through Krennick and the Secretary's discussion Admiral Burke had remained silent. Finally he turned towards the Secretary. "Secretary Sheffield, is this spurious investigation request the sort of thing I can come to expect from this officer?"

"But Mr. Secretary…the regulations…the chain of command…" Krennick said on the heels of the Admiral's question.

"Are no longer a consideration Captain. I have need of Captain Rabb in other capacities for now. And Admiral…sadly I am unable to answer your question. The Captain must be the one to answer it. Captain…in your new posting will you be doing a job this shoddy?"

"New posting?" Krennick asked in a shocked tone of voice.

"Yes Captain, a new posting. Admiral…is there not an opening heading up the Naval Legal Services Office in Anchorage?"

"I believe there is Mr. Secretary." The Admiral said simply.

"Well then it’s settled. Captain…I'm sure the Admiral can have your transfer orders cut today."

"But sir…" Krennick said quickly.

"Captain…do you question my orders?" Secretary Sheffield said quietly.

"No sir." Krennick said in defeat.

"Dismissed." Admiral Burke said.

As Krennick stood up and came to attention the Secretary held up a finger. "And Captain."

"Sir?" Krennick said in a cracked voice.

"I have taken custody of certain documents. Scuttlebutt has you being the one acting in a manner unbecoming."

"Sir?"

"Captain, you will be closely watched in your new posting. If I hear even a whisper of impropriety then you shall be recalled to Washington and it will not be for a cozy informal discussion such as this one." Sheffield said in a voice forged in steel.

"Sir, I protest!" Krennick said sharply.

"Protest all you want Captain. You have two choices; one, you can go to Alaska and continue with your rank and position, or two, we can start an investigation into the allegations of misconduct on your part. What is your choice?" Sheffield asked.

For a moment Krennick's eyes flashed with anger and then she lowered her head. "Alaska sir." she said, defeated.

 

The End

 

 

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