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Classification Action, Angst, Romance (Mac/Harm)
Length Approx 68,000 words, 163 pages (8 ½” x 11”)
Spoilers Through Season 9
Rating SLSV for strong language and violence
Author's Notes This story takes place in an alternate timeline for season 9. I am working with the premise that Harm accepted the offer of Field Agent status in Secret Agent Man. Upon accepting the offer Harm is sent to Field Agent Training at the Farm. Upon successful completion of his training Harm is sent for special warfare training at the SEAL training facility. After this he is sent for anti-terrorism training with the SAS in England. Since then Harm has made a name for himself in the CIA as a top notch asset in combating the wave of terrorism.

The story opens one year after returning from Paraguay. I’m not too sure where this story is going to go, but for all the shippers out there, rest assured that getting Harm and Mac together is one of the goals of this story.

For the purposes of this story Harm was obviously never fired from the CIA, he avoided being captured on tape when he landed the C130 on the Henry. This means Harm never took the crop dusting job, and never took custody of Mattie.

I’m also going to apologize for taking some liberties with the character of Harm. I’m working on the assumption that his year away from JAG in the service of the CIA has changed him to a great degree. If you don’t like reading stories that explore the darker side of the characters of JAG, then you might wish to stop here. To a lesser degree Harm’s absence has also affected those closest to him, Mac, Bud, Harriet and AJ have also changed.

 

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

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Slowly the man turned the key to his apartment and opened the door. Dropping his sea bag on the floor he walked in. The apartment was cold, and a thin layer of dust covered everything. He'd been away for three months and wasn't surprised at the uninhabited look to his apartment. Walking over to the answering machine he saw the light flashing to let him know he had messages waiting. Pushing the button he walked over to the fridge to grab a bottle of water. Good thing about bottled water, it didn't spoil.

"Ghost, it’s Webb. We have a meeting at the office at nine tomorrow morning. You're needed for another job. Don't be late this time."

"Fuck off Webb," The man muttered after hearing the message. Taking a pull from the water he waited for the next message.

"Harm…it’s Beth. Heard you were coming back soon…we should get together. I'll bring Allison and we can go out for dinner. Give me a call, ok?"

Well that wasn't so bad…Beth O'Neil was his first partner when he joined the Company. Not many people called him Harm anymore though…sometimes he thought he'd forgotten who Harmon Rabb Junior was. And then the nightmares came back.

Tossing the now empty bottle of water into the sink the man opened a cupboard door and pulled out a bottle of scotch. Not even bothering with a glass he took a pull from the bottle. When the next message came on he spit out some of the scotch in shock.

"Harm…it’s Mac. I don't know where you are or when you're going to get this. I don't know if you're ever going to get this…I don't know why I even bother anymore. Anyway…call me if you want."

Swearing to himself Harm threw the bottle against the wall and watched the amber liquid slide down the surface. He thought she'd given up months ago. He'd hoped she'd given up. Webb made a habit of throwing his relationship with Mac in Harm's face every chance he got.

Feeling the rage washing through him Harm strode over to his answering machine and snatched it off the desk and threw it across the apartment. For the thousandth time he thought to himself that he needed to change his phone number.

A knock at the door caused him to turn around quickly with his hand reaching around behind him for the .45 he had hidden behind his back.

"Mr. Rabb…you're back from your business trip!" Mrs. White said.

Harm slowly moved his hand away from the weapon when he saw it was the old lady who lived downstairs.

"Just got back Mrs. White,” He said after taking a breath to push the rage down.

"I'm sorry for disturbing you Mr. Rabb…I heard noises and thought someone had broken into your apartment. Welcome back,” Mrs. White said as she tottered off back down the hallway.

Picking up his phone Harm dialed a number he knew too well.

"Webb."

"I'll be there,” Harm said and then hung up. It wasn't like he could not go and say he wasn't here; Webb knew exactly when Harm had gotten back. Whatever the job was, if Webb wanted him chances are it would go to hell. In the years he'd known Clayton Webb Harm had come to know that no matter how well Webb planned his missions something always happened to send them south. With a sigh Harm collapsed on the couch and put his head in his hands. For a year now he'd worked for the Company…for a year he had jumped when called on. He'd learned things that allowed him to take advantage of his unique…skills. For six months he'd been making a name for himself in the anti-terrorist trade. For the last four months he couldn't go to sleep without the dreams haunting him. Every night he remembered the people he'd killed in the name of his country; he'd killed before as a pilot, and he'd even killed people when he was a lawyer for JAG, but it was never like this. He regretted the lives he had taken before, but they'd never given him nightmares.

He needed a drink. Picking up the phone he dialed Beth's number.

"Hello?"

"It’s me,”  Harm said hollowly.

"Harm! You're back. How are you?" Beth asked excitedly.

"I am,” Harm answered simply. Beth would understand.

"I see. A bad one?"

"No worse than any of the others. You still want to get that dinner?" Harm asked trying to change the subject.

"Sure…Allison and I weren't up to anything tonight. Where do you want to meet?"

Pausing Harm tried to think of a place where he wouldn't run into anyone he knew. Eight years had pretty much ensured that the people from his past life occupied most of the places he was familiar with and enjoyed frequenting. "Pick something dark,” He said shortly.

"Murphy's?"

"No."

"The Farmhouse?" she offered naming a fake country western dive that was frequented by his current co-workers.

"It'll work. I'll meet you there in an hour."

An hour later Harm was sitting in a booth in the back corner of the dark dining room. He looked up from his fourth beer to see Beth and Allison walking towards him hand in hand. Nodding at them he stood while they sat down. Well at least his mother would be proud the manners she'd instilled in him hadn't been forgotten.

"Harm…it’s nice to see you again,” Allison said politely. He'd met her on a few occasions since he and Beth had been partnered up flying for the Company.

"You too Allison,” Harm said politely. Tossing back the rest of his beer he signaled the waitress for another. It wasn't enough to get him drunk yet, but the pain was dulled a little.

"How many is that Harm?" Beth asked in concern.

"One too many, and one too few."

"So how long are you back for?" Beth asked trying to get his mind off of his drinking.

Shrugging Harm waited for the waitress to put the glass of beer in front of him and take Beth and Allison's drink orders. Running a hand through his hair he scanned the room warily. "Not sure. Spider left a message I have to go into the office tomorrow morning."

Beth would know who he was referring to…he had to admit it was childish but he got some sick pleasure from referring to Webb as Spider. Clayton hated it, and had even threatened to shoot him the next time Harm called him that. Harm didn't care. He knew Clayton didn't have it in him to shoot another agent. A terrorist, sure. An enemy soldier, no doubt. But not another agent. At least he enjoyed the nickname they'd given him when he was training with the SAS in England a few months back. Ghost. They'd started calling him that when no one could find him during training maneuvers. They didn't hear him sneak up on them, and they didn't see him sneak away once they were 'dead'. The instructors had called it unnatural, and some of the guys had taken it to heart.

Picking up her menu Beth scanned over the food offerings in the bar. "What are you having Harm?"
"Not hungry. The beer's fine,” Harm said absently. He hadn't been eating much lately, and he knew he was losing weight. It wasn't like he was starving himself, he couldn't carry out missions if he was weak from not eating. He just hadn't been hungry lately.

"Harm, you should eat something. You're getting as thin as a rail,” Beth said insistently.

"Look mom, I said I'm not fucking hungry,” Harm said harshly.

Holding up her hands Beth shook her head. "Don't take it out on me Harm. Just a concerned friend here. What are you having Ali?" she asked her girlfriend.

An hour and three beers later Harm stood up from the table with a barely perceptible lurch. "Thanks for dinner ladies. I'll see you around."

As he pushed his way through the doors he saw two familiar faces crossing the parking lot. Just his luck to run into them here. Why the hell did he have to bring her to a place like this? Wasn't a five-star restaurant more his style?

"Harm?" a hauntingly familiar voice said in shock. Ignoring her he turned down the street and thrust his hands into the pockets of his leather flight jacket. Picking up the pace he walked down the sidewalk to try and walk away from his past again.

"Harm?" he heard her call out again, desperately.

"Sarah…that wasn't Harm,” Webb's familiar voice said from behind him.

"Let me go Clay…that was Harm! How can you say it wasn't? I know that was Harm … why wouldn't he talk to me?"

"Trust me Sarah…" he heard Webb say.

Quickly turning a corner Harm stopped and leaned up against the wall pushing his head back as far as he could as he looked up into the cloudy night sky. In his mind he saw the shock that had changed to excitement on her beautiful face. Her hair was longer than he remembered…it looked good on her. And the music of her voice…he choked back a sob when he thought of how much he missed her voice. God, her eyes were still the deep pools of brown he had struggled to not let himself get lost in so often in the past. Pushing himself off the wall he turned and continued down the street towards his apartment. He'd left that part of himself, of his life behind…he'd left her behind and he couldn't go back.

"You can never go home again,” He muttered to himself as he walked into the night.

The next morning he was up and showered at six. Looking in the mirror he ran his hand over the slight stubble that showed on his face and decided against shaving. What the hell did he care what the suits thought? Chances are they'd be sending him back out into the field soon anyway.

Flipping through the morning paper Harm slowly drank his coffee as he delayed heading out to the CIA offices until the last minute. He knew it would piss Webb off when he walked in a few minutes late. And he'd tauntingly tell Webb that he was just being "fashionably late". God, how he detested Webb and his high society ways. Scratch that…he just detested Webb period. And not just because Webb was with Mac. Getting up he grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and a bottle of Tylenol® from the counter. Tossing back the two red pills he chased them with a swig of water and grabbed his coat. At least the beers and the scotch had chased away the nightmares. Striding out the door Harm slammed it shut and entered the stairwell leading down to the street. Time to go face the suits.

At 0906 Harm pushed his way into the briefing room and slumped into a chair near the door.

"Hey guys,” He said insolently.

"Rabb. Why can't you ever be on time?" Webb said in irritation.

"Stick it up your ass Spider,” Harm said quietly.

"Don't call me Spider."

"Gentlemen!" Director Kershaw said without bothering to hide how much their wrangling was annoying him. "We have an op to discuss."

"Shoot,” Harm said with a slight wave of his hand.

"So glad we have your permission to continue Mr. Rabb,” The Director said. "Now then…we have learned recently that someone at one of the naval bases in Iraq has been providing information to the dissidents. Agent Webb has planned a sting that will allow us to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible. Mr. Webb?"

"Thank you Director. Our information leads us to believe that the leak is located on this base here,” Webb said indicating a spot on the map that suddenly sprung up from a digital projector. "We are going to be working with the Navy on this one in order to flush out the man or men we are looking for."

"Whoa. Hold your horses there Spider. You know I don't work with Navy personnel,” Harm said sitting up straight at Webb's words.

"Chances are you won't have to Rabb. Your job is to provide high cover…we need you and that rifle of yours to make sure that everything goes as planned. We are hoping to set up a meeting with the individuals in question by posing as information brokers who can get him a better deal for his information. The Naval personnel will be working with me directly on this one posing as disgruntled personnel with information to sell our informant. Rabb, you will be stationed on top of a building across the street from the meeting location. Your job is strictly cover, you hold position until the naval personnel and I are clear after the individual or individuals have been apprehended by the capture team."

"Sounds easy. Why do I get the feeling it won't be?"

"Because you've saved his butt before,” Someone at the table muttered.

Barely containing his annoyance Webb continued on with his briefing. "Once the subjects are secured and the sting team withdrawn, you will rendezvous with an extraction chopper here,” He continued pointing to another spot on the map.

"Who's Navy sending?" Harm asked warily. If he knew Webb it would be someone from JAG, and if he knew Webb it wouldn't be just anyone.

"Don't worry. If all goes as planned they won't even see you."

"Who. Is. It." Harm said levelly.

"Turner and MacKenzie,” Webb said after a minute's pause.

"Fuck no,” Harm said standing up from the table.

"Sit down Mr. Rabb,” The director ordered. "As Agent Webb stated, the plan does not call for you to be in direct contact with the naval personnel. I've decided that this does not violate the…request…you've made about not working with Navy. You will be going to Iraq ahead of Webb and his team, and you will be extracting after they are safely out of the area. There will be no exposure. You go."

With a frown Harm took his seat again. He'd make damn sure they didn't know he was there…hell he'd been to Mac's apartment and she didn't know he was there. Biting his lip to keep from chuckling he thought back to that night.

It had been four months ago. He'd just returned from his special warfare training with the SEALs and had been told he was going to England for two months to train with the SAS. He'd been thinking about her a lot, and missing her even more. One night he'd gone out for a drive…he was planning on having a few drinks before he crashed, but he'd found himself outside her apartment. Not really knowing why he'd driven himself there he watched as Mac and Webb walked up to the front of the building and kissed. He watched as she invited Webb upstairs and he'd watched them go in. Without really thinking about it he'd found himself scaling the fire escape to her building and eventually found himself outside her window. He didn't know what he was doing there…he wasn't some perverted peeping tom, but he just couldn't help himself. Silently he'd watched as Mac and Webb entered the apartment and Webb had opened a bottle of red wine and poured a single glass. Good to know she hadn't fallen off the wagon; Harm knew Webb had more than a few drinks most nights. It came with the job. After they had started kissing again and began moving towards the bedroom Harm had finally allowed himself to climb back down the fire escape. It wasn't until he was back on the sidewalk that he felt the tears on his face. Wiping them away with a quick savage motion Harm walked back to his car and never came back.

"You leave this afternoon Rabb. Webb and his team will be six hours behind. Your contact will have your equipment ready for you when you arrive. She will meet you at the airport and take you to your perch."

"Go team,” Harm said bitterly. He knew they hated his attitude, but they couldn't argue with it, he was the best at what he did.

Looking at his watch Webb stood up. "I need to get going sir. I have an appointment with the Admiral and his people in forty five minutes. Care to join me Rabb?" Webb asked snidely.

"No…I need to go prepare to save your ass again,” Harm replied just as snidely.

When Harm left the briefing room a few minutes later Webb was waiting in the hall.
"Thought you had an appointment."

"I do…but I needed to talk to you,” Webb said taking Harm's arm and leading him down the hall. "What were you doing there last night?"

"I was having dinner with Beth and Allison. Shouldn't I be asking you that question? Couldn't get a reservation at somewhere fancier?"

"Sarah picked. I don't know how she heard about it, but she heard the burgers were good and wanted to try them,” Webb said pulling the face he normally did when discussing Mac's eating habits.

"Well I'll have to remember to avoid it now."

"Damn it Harm, she almost broke my arm when I tried to keep her from going over to your apartment."

"Too bad. Then she could have nursed you back to health,” Harm said bitterly.

"Look Harm…I didn't know you were going to be there, I wouldn't have brought her if I did. Honest."

"Yeah right. Don't do me any favors Spider…you love tormenting me with her."

"Don't call me Spider,” Webb said with a sigh. Looking at his watch he continued. "I really do have to get to Falls Church. I'll see you on the other side."

"Count on it. I won't let anyone shoot your ass off. That's my privilege,” Harm said with a slight grin that could only be described as ghoulish.

Watching Webb walk off after shaking his head Harm decided to go down to the rifle range and squeeze off a few magazines to relax before he went home to pack.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Marine Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie, or Mac as she was known to her friends, slowly made her way into JAG ops for the day. Passing through the bullpen without looking up she quietly slipped into her office and sat down heavily in her chair, dropping her briefcase at her side. She was sure that had been Harm last night; not the Harm she remembered with his ready smile and quick charm, but a darker, harder Harm. She had almost fell over when she saw him walk out of the bar, and he had to have seen her … he looked right at her and Clay. But his eyes…thinking about his eyes almost brought the tears back that she had shed all through the night. Where once life and mirth had reigned in his eyes, now there was nothing. They were flat pools of steel, the eyes of the dead.

With a sigh she noticed how badly her hands were shaking and decided she needed some coffee to calm her nerves. Dreading having to pretend to be cheerful she cautiously stepped out of her office to make her way to the break room. She almost turned around when she saw Harriet's sunny face coming out of the room as she got there.

"Colonel! How are you this morning ma'am?"

"Just fine Harriet. Excuse me,” Mac said and then bit her tongue. She hadn't meant to sound so harsh with Harriet, it was just sometimes she didn't know how Harriet could be so cheerful all the time.

"What's wrong ma'am?" Harriet asked with concern written upon her face.

Mac bit her tongue even harder. She couldn't tell Harriet, could she? She had to tell somebody! It was killing her to know that Harm had walked away from her, his closest friend for eight years, without a single word or a glance back. Holding up her hand to motion Harriet to not go anywhere Mac hurried into the break room and grabbed a cup of strong black coffee and then grabbed Harriet's arm and dragged her off towards her office. Closing the door behind Harriet Mac slumped back down in her chair and looked up at her friend with tears in her eyes.

"I saw him last night Harriet,” She sobbed.

"Who ma'am?" Harriet asked and then stopped. There was only one person who could make the Colonel cry. "The Commander?" she asked in a hushed voice.

Nodding slightly Mac dashed the tears from her eyes. "Clay said it wasn't him, but I know it was him Harriet. I know it,” She said with a fierce conviction.

"Where was it?"

"Some country western bar…the Farmhouse. I made Clay take me there for dinner instead of one of his fancy five-star restaurants. We were just walking across the parking lot when he came out. I couldn't believe it Harriet…it was Harm. He looked so skinny Harriet…and his eyes…" she said plaintively.

"Did you talk to him ma'am?" Harriet asked in concern. She knew how distraught the Colonel had been since Commander Harmon Rabb had been required to leave JAG. The only contact she knew anyone to have with the Commander was her son AJ. Every couple months a package appeared in the mail from Harm to his godson; never a letter for anyone else, just AJ.

"I tried to…but he just turned away and left. He didn't even look back Harriet…it was like I was a stranger to him,” Mac said with another sob as she brought her hand to her mouth.

Harriet jumped up and came around Mac's desk to wrap her in a sisterly hug. "Oh Mac … I'm so sorry. I know how much you've missed him."

"He's been gone so long Harriet…I can't even feel him anymore,” Mac sobbed quietly.

A polite knock at the door caused both women to look up to see the concerned face of Petty Officer Jennifer Coates. "Ma'am…are you all right?" Jen asked quickly when she saw Mac's tearstained face.

"The Colonel just had an upsetting evening Petty Officer,” Harriet said quickly.

Nodding slowly Jen just said "The Admiral would like to see you for your meeting Colonel."

"The meeting…I totally forgot!" Mac cried jumping to her feet. "What time is it?"

"You were supposed to be there five minutes ago ma'am,” Jen said politely. When she'd first started asking what time it was everyone had been shocked; they all knew of the Colonel's uncanny ability to tell time without a watch.

"Thank you Coates. Please tell the Admiral I'm on my way,” Mac said as she started grabbing things off her desk. As she started to leave she felt Harriet's hand on her arm.

"Colonel…don't you think you should freshen up first?" Harriet asked quietly.

Realizing she must look horrible from her recent fit of tears, Mac just nodded as Harriet led her to the bathroom. Five minutes later she was knocking on the Admiral's door with the signs of her tears washed away. Opening the door at the Admiral's bellowed "Enter!" Mac walked up to his desk and came to attention.

"Sit down Colonel. I'm sorry you had to take time out of your busy day for this,” The Admiral said with thinly disguised sarcasm.

"I'm sorry I'm late sir,” Mac said without making excuses and sat down in one of the leather chairs nodding to Sturgis Turner who was already there.

"It’s ok Sarah,” A familiar voice said as Clayton Webb stepped away form the Admiral's bookcase.

"You both know Mr. Webb,” The Admiral said crisply.

"Yes sir. Good to see you again Mr. Webb," Sturgis said politely.

"Commander, Colonel,” Webb said just as politely.

"SecNav has decided that Mr. Webb is going to be able to borrow some of my officers yet again. That would be you two."

"I like to think of it as working with AJ, not borrowing."

"Whatever…just tell them what they need to know," the Admiral said.

"We have intelligence that indicates someone at the Naval Base in Umm Qasar is leaking information to the dissidents. With the cooperation of the Navy we're hoping to operate a sting that will allow us to capture the individual or individuals responsible."

"What's our role in this?" Sturgis asked after waiting a moment for Mac to ask the questions.

"You and the Colonel will pose as dissatisfied personnel with information you want to sell. You'll contact the individuals we tell you to and see who bites. When they bite you will get them to join you at a café in the bazaar that I indicate. We are hoping that the suspects will contact their buyers and set up a meeting…and once they attempt to get the information from you we can close the sting."

"Sounds risky Webb,” The Admiral said harshly. "I'm not going to let you get my people killed."

"We've taken every precaution…we're going to have a man watching from a sniper's perch the whole time. His only task will be to ensure the safety of the sting team."

"He better be good,” The Admiral said quietly.

"He's the best we've got."

"Who is he?" the Admiral asked suspiciously.

"Need to know AJ."

"I need to know Webb. Who. Is. He?"

"Ghost,” Webb said after a moment's thought.

"What kind of name is Ghost?" Sturgis asked.

"The SAS gave it to him in the summer when he was training with them on counter terrorism tactics. They were impressed when none of them could find him during their training…he got more 'kills' than anyone else and managed to elude being 'killed' himself. Like I said, Ha…he's our best,” Webb said barely catching his slip.

Mac looked up and asked quietly "When do we leave?"

"Tonight, 1835 from Dulles."

"Colonel, Commander. Clear up your paperwork and have everything squared away by 1430. You can secure then and go home to pack for your trip."

"Aye aye sir,” They both said coming to attention and turning to leave. They both knew a dismissal when they heard it.

"Webb…stay a moment,” The Admiral said in a dangerously quiet tone.

"AJ?"

"Who is this Ghost? I've never heard of him.”

"I'm surprised you haven't AJ…he trained with SEAL Team 2 in the spring. Impressed the hell out of them too. He's one of our new additions…something of a late bloomer,” Webb said unable to resist throwing out hints.

Narrowing his eyes Admiral AJ Chegwidden stood up and moved over to where Webb was standing. "Rabb,” He said in quiet shock.

"You're good AJ. I wasn't sure you'd pick up on the clues."

"Does he know Mac and Turner are going to be there?"

"He does…he almost told Kershaw to go screw himself when he found out."

"Why?"

"Rabb doesn't work on ops that involve Navy personnel for some reason; it’s one of his demands about how his ops are run."

"Some things don't change I see. Kershaw lets him make 'demands'?" the Admiral asked with a shake of his head.

"Like I said…he's our best. I wasn't pulling your leg about the SAS and the SEALS. There's even talk the SAS want to bring him back as an instructor next time they run their anti-terrorism training program."

"Well that's Rabb for you. No matter what he puts his hat to he always comes out on top. Hell if he wanted to be a dentist, I'm sure he'd be the best damn dentist around,” The Admiral said attempting to hide the regret in his voice. He'd been kicking himself ever since that damnable 'Go wrestle alligators' speech he'd given Rabb. He had no idea Rabb would go work for the CIA instead…and as a counter-terrorism specialist. "Why isn't he flying?"

"He started out that way…but soon caught Kershaw's attention with some of his other skills. He was given Field Agent status without any previous training when he and his partner pulled an op out of the drink and salvaged it, saving hundreds of lives in the process."

"Well, I know Sturgis and Mac are going to be glad to see him…everyone worries about him."

"They won't see him AJ…not if he has his way. The only way we could get him to agree to this op was to plan an early insertion and late extraction. He won't leave his perch until they are secured on the chopper leaving the area. If everything goes according to plan they won't even know he was there. AJ…" Webb paused here. He knew how much the Admiral cared for Harm, his leaving JAG notwithstanding.

"What?" the Admiral asked suspiciously.

"He's not the same person they knew,” Webb said hesitantly.

"What do you mean?"

"He's changed. A lot. He's seen and done too many things that have changed him,” Webb said quietly, sinking into the chair that Mac had vacated. "I think you should know that Sarah saw him last night."

"That would explain her distraction this morning."

Nodding Webb looked up at AJ. "We were going to dinner and he happened to be at the place we were going to with some people he knows. He was leaving when we were coming in. Sarah tried to talk to him but he left without even looking at her."

"What the hell is that boy thinking?" the Admiral said sinking into the seat next to the one Webb was in.

"AJ…as much as anyone I can hazard a guess at what he's thinking. He doesn't want those who he loved to see the man he's become. You were in Vietnam AJ, you know what happened to our lone wolves out there. You know what happens to Special Forces people when they have to put their souls in storage."

"My god…what have I done?" the Admiral asked himself quietly.

 

Chapter 2

 

Harm was lying in bed just staring at the cracked and pitted ceiling above him. For three days he'd been in Umm Qasar waiting for word from Webb. He hadn't gotten much sleep because he didn't drink when he was on an op, and if he didn't drink at night he couldn't escape the nightmares. Instead of facing the memory of those he'd killed and those he'd left behind Harm just didn't bother with sleep. As long as the op didn't run too long he would be fine…he could get by with a few hours of sleep a day snatched when he could combined with wake up pills.

Rolling away from the slumbering woman sleeping beside him he sat up slowly and reached for the rumpled black BDUs he was wearing on this op. Pulling them on he looked over his shoulder at the woman he'd shared his bed with. Sweat damped strands of her fiery red hair were spread over her stained pillow, her pale white skin wet with the same sheen of sweat from the heat. Amy Charleston was his contact here in Umm Qasar for this op. A British national she was put here by MI-6 with the cover of an international photojournalist and was currently on loan to the CIA. From what he'd seen of her work Harm figured she probably made a tidy sum on the side selling the photos she took to keep her cover intact.

Standing up Harm made his way over to a table up against the wall by the big window facing west. Picking up a single spotter's scope he looked down on the café where Webb had planned for the sting to close. The regular morning traffic, looked like journalists and contractors, getting their morning coffee. The radio on the table next to him crackled to life and Harm picked up the headset waiting for the transmission.

"We need a ghost to watch over us when the sun is high." was all he heard. The message repeated twice more and then the radio went dead once again.

Walking over to the bed Harm threw Amy's shirt onto her slumbering form. "Get up. We're a go for noon,” He said harshly.

Sitting up while rubbing her eyes Amy's smile at Harm died when she saw him turn away and go over to the table to start inspecting the equipment they would need. He didn't really care if she was happy that she'd spent the last two nights with him or not. She wasn't anyone special to him, just a warm body to try and fill the ache that lived where his heart had once been.

"How's it look this morning?" she asked after she'd pulled her clothes on and came to stand next to him.

"Quiet; a bunch of journalists filling up on morning coffee and swapping rumors. They're going to be coming in at noon so I want to be upstairs in an hour,” Harm said tossing the case that now held the spotter's scope to Amy. "You'll spot for me."

Amy just nodded and put the case back on the table and pulled the scope out to look down at the café.

Harm opened the long hard case that contained his rifle and began to assemble the weapon. Once it was together he grabbed some rags and some gun oil and solvent and began to clean it and check the action of the weapon. When this was done he took three magazines from the case and began to load them carefully with the ammunition he'd decided to use for the job. He had no idea how many people he might need to take down, and he had no idea if they'd be armored or not so hollow point armor piercing rounds would be best in his estimation. If they weren't wearing it would just mean a bigger mess, which would give the reporters a bigger story. Once the magazines were loaded he broke the weapon back down and placed the pieces and the magazines in the case and snapped it shut.

Looking around Harm grabbed up the portable radio unit and strapped it on. Grabbing the black BDU jacket he pulled it on and slipped on a black ball cap and sunglasses. Picking up the case he took a last look around to make sure that nothing was left behind. If this went down today he wouldn't be returning to this room and he didn't want to leave anything behind.

"Dust it and then meet me on the roof,” He instructed Amy and then walked out the door without waiting for her reply. Climbing the stairs in the hallway Harm ignored the looks those he passed in the hallway gave him. Pushing open the door to the roof he looked around quickly and didn't see anyone. Making his way across the roof in the midmorning heat Harm took a moment to pick the best spot to set up. Setting the case down near the spot he picked Harm opened it and began to assemble the weapon again. Sliding a magazine home Harm slid the cocking handle back to chamber a round and then put the weapon on safe. Reaching down to the case he flipped open the cleverly concealed chamber in the back of the case and pulled out a thin foam pad that he laid out where he would take up his position.

Lying down on the pad Harm extended the bipod on his rifle and rested it on the crumbling lip of the short wall in front of him. Opening the scope Harm scanned the café below him.

Reaching up to his throat Harm keyed the mic to his radio. "The graveyard is haunted." God how he hated these codes…they seemed corny to him for some reason. Well Webb knew he was here now and would set things in motion soon. Nothing to do but wait until they showed up. Harm doubted Webb's plan would hold together, they rarely did. Reaching into the case he pulled out the two extra magazines and put them within easy reach.

As he was settling in to wait Harm heard Amy slide up next to him. "Everything's clean in the room…no prints, no fibers," She said quietly.

Nodding he just looked at the box holding her scope pointedly. "I have a feeling things are going to go to hell with this…Spider's plans usually do. Make sure you keep me aware of what's going outside my scope."

Amy just silently nodded as she pulled the scope from the hard plastic box and began to scan the occupants of the café.

At fifteen minutes to noon Harm saw two familiar figures walk into the open sided café and take the seat Webb had told Harm would be reserved for them. He knew Amy had felt him tense, but she didn't ask him any questions. Two days of him telling her to shut the hell up had finally cured her of her curiosity about him. Reaching up Harm adjusted his scope to zoom in on Mac's face. He knew he couldn't take the time to watch her, but he couldn't help himself…he just wanted to look at her, to memorize every line. As he was watching her he saw her look up and in his general direction and shifted the scope off of her. Mac always had seemed to be able to sense when something wasn't as it should be, and a sniper on the roof wasn't a good thing for someone that day.

"You know her, don't you Ghost?" Amy stated quietly beside him.

"In another life," Harm answered just as quietly.

"She's beautiful."

"Focus on the job Charleston. Those two people will be dead if we don't. It doesn't matter who they are, or if I knew them or not. We're here to make sure they go home."

Nodding Amy went back to scanning the other occupants of the café. "There's our guy,” She said when caught sight of a Navy Lieutenant Commander making his way to Mac and Sturgis' table with Webb beside him.

Harm watched as the two met up with Mac and Sturgis and handshakes were exchanged all around. Something wasn't right about the situation a small voice in Harm's head told him. He watched as Webb ordered coffee for him and the others and then he noticed something. Running his scope around the café he cursed.

"What?"

"There's a hell of a lot of muscle there. And I don't think it’s all Spider's,” Harm said as he counted off the number of overly large men he had seen in the café. Most of them appeared to be of Arabic descent and probably weren't working for Webb. As he watched another man made his way to the table with three very large goons around him. This would be the contact.

Harm made an effort to slow his breathing. He needed to get it as slow and shallow as he could so he could shoot between breaths. This was it…things were going to go down. "Keep that scope moving Charleston. Things are about to go south."

"How do you know?"

"I know Spider. Things are going down, now,” Harm said as he watched Webb stand up and offer to shake the new man's hand. Instead one of the goons grabbed Webb's hand and forced him to the ground. All around the café men were standing up and moving towards the table.

"Fuck,” Harm said softly to himself as he squeezed off a shot that smashed into the head of the man holding Webb. Quickly shifting his scope he squeezed off two more rounds into the other two goons the man had brought with him.

"Two at eleven o'clock,” Harm head Amy say. Shifting his scope to the left he killed two more men in-between his heartbeats.

"One o'clock, red hat,” One more man fell into a heap as Harm squeezed the trigger of his rifle.

Without saying a word Harm listened to Amy call out his targets and he worked his way through everyone who was threatening the people he was told to protect. Soon Mac, Webb, Sturgis and the suspect were the only four people standing in the café. Working on the assumption that everyone who hadn't run and was threatening the four people were targets Harm was fairly happy with the way things had worked out.

Suddenly Harm heard the squeal of tires as vehicles sped down the street in their direction. Looking over the edge of the building he didn't see the nondescript cars he expected to be there with the capture team. Instead he saw beat up old trucks full of men holding automatic weapons coming in their direction.

"Shit,” He said quietly as he keyed his mic again. "Spider, this is Ghost. You have some party crashers coming your way."

"Can you give us some cover?" Webb asked over the radio.

"Negative. There are too many…I didn't come prepared to take on an army. Hold your position…damn it Webb I knew this would fucking happen!" he almost screamed into the radio. Grabbing up the single magazine he had remaining Harm slung the rifle over his back and sprinted to the door leading back into the shabby building he had been hiding out in. He hoped Amy was good enough to clean up the mess and pick up the brass before she went to ground.

Pushing his way through the people in the hallways Harm flew down the stairs of the building until he hit the ground floor. He had to get her out of there, he said he'd keep her safe. Bursting through the door that led into the building Harm glanced down both sides of the street to see the men from the trucks walking carefully towards the café hugging the buildings on his side of the street. Chuckling to himself he couldn't help but be pleased at how much fear these men had of him when he sat up high with his rifle. Pulling the .45 from behind his back he squeezed off a few rounds at the men closest to him and then sprinted across the street towards the café.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Mac was just overcoming her shock at seeing the head of the man holding Webb on the ground explode like an overripe melon. Two more shots rang out and the other two goons dropped. Mac pushed the table over and took cover with Sturgis and the Lieutenant Commander behind it as the sniper watching over them went to work dropping everyone else who came close to them. Looking around the table she had to admit he was good…not one shot was wasted; every time he fired a man dropped dead. Probably a marine in a past life she thought to herself with pride. Everyone knew the Marines turned out the best snipers around.

Just then Webb pulled himself around the table and sat down next to her. He didn't even look at her as he listened to something being said on his radio. "Can you give us some cover?" he asked the person on the other end and then listened to the reply.

Swearing to himself he looked at the three people watching him. "That was Ghost…he says we've got some company coming hard and fast. He's unable to continue to provide support from his perch…sounds like he's on his way down to get us out. Sarah…" Webb started to say as they heard the distinctive sound of a .45 handgun being fired across the street.

Looking over the edge of the table Mac saw a shockingly familiar figure sprinting across the street with a rifle over his shoulder and a .45 he was using to provide his own cover fire. "Harm!" she said in shock.

"Harm?" Sturgis asked as he looked over the table to see his oldest friend making his way towards them under fire.

Stopping near a pillar Harm dropped to one knee and holstered his .45. Unslinging his rifle he slid the last magazine home as he looked over at the table. "Get them the fuck out of here Spider, or I will shoot your ass off this time."

"Where do you suggest we go Ghost?" Webb asked sarcastically. Obviously the street was out.

"There's a door behind you that leads down into the kitchen. Take it and take cover in the kitchen until I can get you out,” Harm said as he brought the rifle to his shoulder and started to squeeze off rounds at anyone who showed themselves to him. "If they die Spider, so do you."

Mac felt Sturgis pulling her to her feet and pushing her towards the back of the café. Stopping she looked back at the sight of Harm kneeling by the pillar firing his rifle every couple seconds. She was shocked to see the look of intense concentration on his face as he focused every fiber of his being into killing anyone who walked into his sights.

"Harm?" she asked quietly still not believing he was there…wait! Clay had called him Ghost. Harm was the CIA's best counter terrorism agent? He was the one the SAS had dubbed Ghost?

Without even bothering to look at her Harm just said "I didn't save your ass to let you get it shot off Marine. Get into the kitchen NOW!" and continued to fire his rifle.

Letting Sturgis pull her towards the back of the café Mac looked over her shoulder to see Harm slide behind the table they had been using for cover. He cradled his rifle against his chest like it was a baby and she couldn't help but feel shock at the intense hatred that emanated from his eyes. 'He hates me now' she thought to herself.

"GO MARINE!" he screamed at her as he popped up and squeezed off three quick shots and then dropped back down.

With a final tug Sturgis pulled Mac into the stairway that led down into the kitchen and she could only hear the shots as his rifle rang out above them. Surrendering to Sturgis' insistent tugging Mac followed him down to the kitchen and moved over to where Webb and the Lieutenant Commander, a man named Black, waited.

"Why didn't you tell me Clay?" she asked quietly.

"That Harm was working for the Company? It was need to know Sarah."

"You could have told me…us."

With a sigh Webb looked into her eyes and said softly "He told me not to Sarah. He didn't want anyone to know where he was."

Sturgis looked like he was going to choke on something and then suddenly hauled back and drove a punch into Webb's jaw. "You should have told us."

"Damn it Turner, I wanted to. But he's not the man you remember,” Webb said once he'd picked himself up off the ground again.

"What do you mean?" Mac asked sharply.

"Sarah…Harm's…different. He's changed."

"He's Harm,” Mac said insistently. "And he hates me…" she sobbed. "I saw it in his eyes."

"Sarah…he always looks like that when he's on an op,” Webb said softly. "It’s scary how into his work he throws himself…he scares the hell out of me and about half the people at the office. And I've known him as long as you have. Trust me it has nothing to do with you."

Just then they heard the sound of someone making their way stealthily down the stairs. Webb pulled his Sig handgun from inside his suit jacket and Sturgis and Mac looked around for weapons. Expectantly they watched a single tall shadow fill the door. A mocking laugh echoed throughout the large stone kitchen when the shadow came to a stop.

"Put that away Spider. You're going to hurt yourself,” Harm said bitterly as he stepped into the kitchen. Mac instantly saw the blood that was flowing down the side of his face. Rushing up to him she put her hand on his cheek and looked into his eyes. She couldn't suppress a shudder as she saw once more how dead they looked.

"You're hurt,” She said softly.

"One of them got a lucky shot…just grazed me. I'm fine. Move,” Harm said as he gently pushed Mac out of his way and went to the back of the kitchen. Reaching a large wooden shelf unit Harm gripped the edge of it and threw it to the ground. Behind the unit was a darkened arch and more stairs leading down.

"Those lead to the sewers. It's the only way you're going to get out of here. Turn right at the end of this hallway and then keep to the right hand side of the passage. I'll be right behind you,” Harm said with a gesture at the stairs.

"How'd you know about that?" Webb asked.

"I've had a couple days to kill waiting for you to pull your shit together."

"Buddy, what are you doing here?" Sturgis asked with the shock still on his face.

"Fixing one of Spider's screw ups."

"Spider?"

"Him,” Harm said with a short gesture towards where Webb was rubbing his jaw.

"Damn it Rabb…" Webb started when Harm pointed at him.

"Shut up Spider. I told you this was going to go to hell, but you didn't fucking listen, did you? Now get down those god damned stairs and take your people with you. I said I'll be right behind you."

Silently Webb started herding everyone down the stairs while Harm bustled through the kitchen looking for something. Mac stopped at the bottom of the stairs and called out "Harm?"

"I said I'll be right behind you. What the fuck is with you people? GO!"

With one hand on the wall Mac followed the others down the passageway as she tried to get her mind around what she had witnessed in the last half hour. All of a sudden Harm was there, but he wasn't Harm. He was harsh and cold and brusque. He'd killed countless men and hadn't stopped to blink. Mac knew that in combat you couldn't allow yourself to think about those you were killing, that you just fired your weapon and hoped you made it through everything in one piece. But there was something…cold…about Harm that went beyond not thinking about it.

As the four of them reached the end of the passageway she heard hurried steps down the passage and watched as Harm caught up to them with a ghoulish grin.

"Might want to get out of the way…" he said ominously.

"What did you do?" Webb asked warily.

"Rigged a little surprise for our friends when they break down that door. Should be going off…right…about…now."

As Harm finished the word 'now' an explosion rocked the building above them and they could clearly hear the screams of the dying.

"Hmm. Thought it would be bigger,” Harm said with a shrug and then started off down the passageway without a look back.

"Did Amy get out?" Webb asked rushing up to Harm.

"No idea. When your plan went to hell I left her on the roof; she was cleaning up the last I saw. She's a bright girl…she'll be fine."

Mac had no idea who this woman was that they were talking about, but it wasn't like Harm to leave a woman alone when she might be in danger. What had happened to him? A little voice in the back of her head told her she knew exactly what had happened to him. He'd lost just about everything and everyone he'd ever loved and found himself with nothing. All because he'd gone after her and Clay in Paraguay.

Soon Harm had led them through the sewer system and up a small drainage ditch outside town.

"Viper 1, this is Ghost. We need a pickup a half mile west of the city at extraction point three."

Mac watched as Harm listened to the reply for his extraction request and noticed just how thin he'd become, how angular his features were now. She also saw faded scars she didn't recognize on his face. Where had he gotten those? What had he been doing? She knew nothing of his life anymore.

"Your ride will be here in five Spider."

"Where are you going Harm?" Mac asked reaching for his arm when she saw him start to walk up the side of the ditch.

"To take up a cover position and then go catch my own ride."

"You're not extracting with us?" Sturgis asked shocked.

"Don't ride Navy anymore,” Harm said simply and then continued his walk up the ditch and took up a position above them with his .45 in his hand watching to make sure they were going to make it out in one piece.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Squinting, Harm looked blankly at the empty bottle that he could just barely see sitting on the table in front of him. Slowly he closed his eyes and then opened them again as if in an attempt to make something disappear. With a heavy sigh he sat up and realized that he’d passed out on his couch again. He’d gotten back from the op in Iraq three days before and had been hitting the bottle even harder than usual since his debriefing.

It wasn’t that the op had degenerated into a free for all in front of the café, or the fact that he’d probably killed somewhere around sixty men between the initial fire fight, the dash across the street and the bomb he’d planted in the kitchen. And it only had a little to do with the nightmares. This time he was trying to chase away something even more haunting than the nightmares; he’d seen the look in Mac’s eyes when he’d been trying to get them back into the kitchen. He’d seen the fear and revulsion when she looked at him. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the looks of terror she was giving him and he couldn’t help but feel weak. He needed to be strong, he needed to be sharp. He couldn’t afford to be weak, not anymore. Weakness on an op would cause people to die.

Running a hand through his hair he noticed for the first time how stiff and greasy it felt. Carefully he stood up and started to make his way to the shower only to stop when he saw the chair propped up against the door knob. He stared at the chair for five minutes without remembering why it was there and then it all came rushing back to him.

First it had been Webb banging on his door yelling that he wanted to talk to him. Then it was Sturgis’ baritone trying to be reasonable but demanding answers. To each of these the only response he had made had been to continue to play the blues on his guitar as if their answers could be found in the sorrowful riffs. He was pretty sure it was hours later when he heard a softer knock at his door. Knowing Mac wouldn’t take silence or blues as an answer Harm had pushed the chair up under to the knob to prevent her from using her key. He should probably get the locks changed…too many people from his past life had keys to the apartment. For hours Harm had sat on that chair playing all of the blues songs he knew and then launched into some of his own creations. Finally he had heard her leave and he hoped she had found the answers she was looking for in the weeping of his guitar. That was when he’d opened the fresh bottle of scotch and hit it with a vengeance.

Shaking his head Harm viciously kicked the chair away from the door and then continued on his way to the shower. Stripping off the sweat stained and dirty shirt he was wearing Harm turned on his shower and cranked up the hot water. As steam filled the glass enclosed bathroom Harm pulled off the rest of his clothes and stepped under the scalding water. After what felt like hours but was probably closer to twenty minutes Harm slowly turned the knobs to stop the flow of water. Grabbing a towel Harm stepped out of the shower and went up to his bedroom to find some clean clothes.

Pulling on a pair of faded jeans and a plain t-shirt Harm made his way down towards the kitchen when he realized how ravenous he was. As he got to the bottom of the short flight of stairs he came to a stop when he saw Mac standing in his doorway. Hungrily his eyes took in the sight of her as he noticed everything about her. Her uniform was rumpled, he would even go so far as to say it looked slept in. She had been crying, he could tell by the puffiness around her eyes. He had to push down the instinctive urge to go comfort her; she wouldn’t want to be comforted by someone she feared. Her lips were slightly parted as if she were ready to give answer to a question. At first he could only stand there and stare at her but when she lowered her gaze to look at her feet he felt the surge of rage he’d become accustomed to.

”Do us both a favor and just turn around and leave,” He said harshly as he walked across the apartment to the kitchen to look for some food.

“What happened here?” Mac asked as she looked at the wreck of his living room. Empty bottles were laying everywhere, dirty plates sat on the table and the floor, and clothes were piled in small heaps all over the place.

”I gave the maid the month off. Sorry it doesn’t live up to your standards. What are you doing here?” he asked bluntly.

Walking silently into the living room Mac picked up one of the empty bottles and sniffed briefly at it. “And this?”

“Used for medicinal purposes only,” Harm said through clenched teeth as he strode into the living room and snatched the bottle away from Mac.

“Medicinal purposes? Harm, listen to yourself. What happened to you?” Mac asked trying to catch his eyes.

“Nothing. You should leave,” Harm said coldly.

“I just got here,” Mac said with an attempt at humor.

“Well now you can just leave,” Harm said tossing the bottle onto the couch and returning to the kitchen in his search for food.

“Where have you been? What have you been doing? Talk to me Harm…it’s me…Mac. I haven’t seen you in almost a year and now when I do I find…this?”

With a sigh Harm slammed the fridge he’d just opened to continue his quest for food. Turning towards Mac he put his hands on the counter and looked at her levelly. He knew she was there out of some misguided sense of loyalty to their long dead friendship. But he’d seen the way she looked at him in Iraq…knew she thought he was some kind of monster. ‘And she’d probably be right’ he thought to himself.

“Colonel MacKenzie, if you’re here to thank me for getting you and your team out of Iraq, fine. You’re welcome. Good bye,” He said as coldly as he could. He needed for her to leave before he fell apart again. “Get the fuck out of my apartment,” He added quietly.

Mac looked at him like he’d slapped her when she heard him. With three quick steps she was in front of him and her hand made contact with the side of his face. Fine, he deserved it. Maybe now she would go away and he could find a way to get her to stop haunting him. “What happened to you Harm?” she asked after taking a deep breath to calm herself down.

“Harm’s dead; he died in Paraguay,” Harm said bitterly. “Sorry you missed the funeral.”

Mac put her hand to mouth and looked at Harm like he’d just killed her best friend. Maybe he had…or at least killed the memory of him. Grabbing his jacket off the back of the chair it hang from he shrugged into it. “Fine; you don’t want to go, I will,” He said and then walked out of his apartment. When he hit the street he got on his bike and kicked it to life. As he was pulling the sunglasses out of his pocket he saw Mac come out the door and look around until she saw him. She hurried up to him yelling for him to wait. Some twisted part deep down inside where he used to keep his soul kept him from putting the bike into gear and driving away before she got there.

“Harm…wait. Why won’t you let me help you? Why won’t you talk to me?” she asked him plaintively.

Looking at her Harm just shook his head. “I told you Colonel, the man you’re looking for is dead. He doesn’t live here anymore,” He said before he put his bike in gear and roared off.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Admiral AJ Chegwidden didn’t like feeling useless, but that’s exactly how he’d been feeling since Harmon Rabb Jr. was thrust back into the lives of all the JAG personnel a week before. The initial shock and dismay he’d felt at Webb’s confession that Harm had become a deep insertion black ops agent of the CIA, had been replaced by a slow burning anger. Anger at himself for letting Rabb go, for forcing Rabb into this. Anger at Kershaw for using his officer so badly. Anger at Mac for not having the presence of mind to see what was right in front of her, but mostly he was angry at Rabb for allowing himself to be used like this.

Stabbing his phone’s intercom button, he waited for his yeoman to answer. “Admiral?” Coates’ voice drifted through the speaker phone.

“Coates, has MacKenzie decided to grace us with her presence yet?”

“I haven’t seen her yet sir,” Coates answered hesitantly.

“DAMN THAT WOMAN!” Chegwidden roared as he stabbed the intercom button again to break the connection. Picking up his phone he dialed the familiar number quickly and waited for his wayward officer to pick up.

“MacKenzie,” Mac’s voice echoed from the speakerphone.

“Are you all right Colonel?” Chegwidden asked in a deceptively calm tone.

He heard Mac take a deep breath before answering. “Honestly sir, I’m not too sure.”

“Then may I ask you this Colonel? Where the hell is my chief of staff? She certainly isn’t in the office.”

“Admiral...sir...I’m at Harm’s,” Mac answered hesitantly. “At his apartment sir.”

“Is he there with you?” Chegwidden asked.

“No sir...he left when I refused to.”

“What do you mean he left?”

“He got on a motorcycle and drove off sir. He left, he’s gone again,” Mac answered testily.

What the hell was she saying? Rabb didn’t run away from a fight...if anything he ran headlong into trouble every chance he got. “Do you know where he was going Mac?”

“No sir,” Mac answered after a moment’s hesitation.

Taking off his glasses the Admiral rubbed the bridge of his nose briefly. Had senior officers always been this much trouble? “Here’s what you’re going to do Mac. You’re going to get into your car, and then you’re going to drive to the office. When you get to the office you will report to me immediately. Do I make myself clear?”

“But sir...” Mac began to protest.

“What part of my order did you not understand Colonel?”

“Sir...I need to speak to him...”

“Colonel, allow me to remind you of the consequences of disobeying a direct order. The next words I want to hear out of your craw better be aye aye, sir.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Mac said trying to mask the sarcasm.

“Good. This conversation is over,” Chegwidden said and then pounded the cancel button on his phone. Punching the intercom button again, he simply said “Get me Roberts.”

A couple of minutes later, as he was going over some papers the intercom buzzed. “What?” he asked.

“Lieutenant Commander Roberts is here sir.”

“Send him in,” Chegwidden said, returning to his paperwork. Having come to attention in front of the admiral’s desk, Chegwidden looked up at Bud Roberts expectantly.

“Lieutenant Commander Roberts reporting as ordered sir.”

“I am in need of your uncanny ability to ferret information out quickly Commander.”

“Sir?”

“I understand when Rabb went...off the radar almost a year ago, you conducted a little investigation to see if you could locate him.”

“Ah...yes sir. I...that is, we were worried about him sir,” Bud said with a slight blush to his cheeks.

“Ah, and you felt that because I was the one who chased Rabb away I wouldn’t be interested in knowing what you found out, is that it Commander?” Chegwidden asked harshly. The very idea that he wouldn’t care about Harm struck him as ludicrous.

“Not exactly sir. It’s just...well, you’ve been preoccupied Admiral,” Bud said hurriedly.

“Well...now I need that information Commander. Do you have any ideas where I might find Mr. Rabb?” Chegwidden asked.

“It’s true then sir?”

“What’s true Mr. Roberts?”

“That the Colonel and Commander Turner...they were rescued by the Com...by Harm sir?”

Shaking his head the Admiral cursed to himself silently. He should have known that scuttlebutt would race ahead of anything he might say about the matter. “Between us Commander, it’s true. It appears that Harm is working for the CIA now and his talents were required for the mission that Colonel MacKenzie and Commander Turner undertook. Now then...do you know where I might find him?”

“Ummm...not really, sir,” Bud said hesitantly. When he saw the look the Admiral was giving him he continued quickly “But I have a thought as to a place he might have been at some point sir.”

“Well Mr. Roberts? What is it? I don’t have all day.”

“Sarah sir...his plane, not the Colonel. Last we heard, he was keeping it out near Blacksburg with a guy named Pops. I can’t imagine the Commander not going out to fly once in awhile sir,” Bud said, not even noticing having referred to Harm as ‘the Commander’.

Rubbing the bridge of his nose again the Admiral nodded. “You may be right Commander. Good work.”

“Thank you sir,” Bud said with a rush of joy. It had been far too long since the Admiral had praised anyone.

“Dismissed,” Chegwidden said. After Bud came to attention and walked out, the Admiral hit his intercom button again.

“Sir?” Coates asked timidly.

“Clear my schedule for the day Coates. And get Colonel MacKenzie in here as soon as she shows up.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Coates replied.

Packing up the paperwork on his desk, Chegwidden barely looked up at Mac’s knock on his door. “Enter!” he called out.

“Colonel MacKenzie reporting as ordered sir.” Mac said anxiously.

Looking up the Admiral almost fell out of his chair at what he saw. Normally Mac was one of the most squared away Marines he had ever seen, but right now her uniform looked like something pulled out of a dirty laundry basket. “Good lord Colonel. Did you get dressed in the dark?”

Mac took a quick look down at her uniform and blushed. Quickly she tried to come up with an explanation that didn’t include the phrase ‘I spent the night sleeping on Harm’s doorstep’. “No excuse sir.”

“Damn right there’s no excuse,” Chegwidden said unsympathetically and then sighed. “What am I going to do with you Colonel? You’ve been a mess for the last two days since you returned from Iraq.”

Wisely Mac held her tongue and simply stood there looking past the Admiral at a point on the wall waiting for him to continue.

“Colonel, I am going to be out of the office for the rest of the day. If you can get yourself squared away, I expect you to run things while I am gone.”

“May I inquire as to where the Admiral will be going in case we need to get a hold of you sir?”

“No you may not. I will have my cell, but don’t call unless it’s an emergency. I’ll be checking in regularly,” Chegwidden said as he stood and grabbed his cover. “That will be all Colonel.”

“Aye aye, sir,” Mac said hesitantly.

“You wish to add something else Colonel?”

“Permission to speak freely.”

“When in the past have you ever not, Mac. Speak.”

“Sir...I’m worried about Harm.”

“Mr. Rabb is not your concern at this time Colonel.”

Shocked, Mac just stared at her commanding officer. “How can you say that sir?”

“Colonel, right now your concern is running the office while I am away. I believe you are also due in court this afternoon, so I suggest you set your mind on the tasks at hand. Pining for Harmon Rabb won’t solve anything today Colonel.”

“Yes sir,” Mac said stiffly, coming to attention once more.

As Mac marched out of his office the Admiral followed stopping at Coates’ desk. “Petty Officer, I am going to be out of the office for the rest of the day. If you need anything, see Colonel MacKenzie.”

“Aye aye, sir” Coates said with a quiver in her voice.

“Oh for God’s sake Coates, I’m not going to bite you,” Chegwidden said harshly then strode out of the office.

It wasn’t much to go on, but hopefully Bud’s information about Harm’s plane was accurate. He didn’t like what he’d heard about his one time officer, the man who had become something of a son to him. He needed to see him, to talk to him, to look into his eyes to see for himself what had happened. He needed to find the man they called Ghost.

 

 

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