Approximately 4,000 words; 10 pages (8 ˝” x 11”)
ends another pilot's career, and hands Mac the bench... What is
going through his mind? Set directly after Friendly Fire. Fluff
warning... Yes, you read right. Fluff. I know, I know. I must
have hit my head somewhere. Enjoy it while it lasts. Okay...
Starts only SLIGHTLY angsty... not even worth a full grain of
angst salt. What? Why are you all looking at me like that?
After being dismissed by the admiral, Mac and Harm
walked out to the bullpen, each headed to their respective offices,
ready to call it a day. As Harm walked ahead of her, Mac saw his proud
bearing slacken somewhat, as his shoulders slumped and his feet dragged
slightly on the floor. She'd noticed his dark-rimmed, puffy eyes and
self-deprecating remarks in the admiral's office, but she hadn't made
much of them at the time. He reached his office, closed the door and
shut the blinds.
Mac's steps halted as the meaning of the gesture registered. Harm never
closed the blinds, unless he was working on something highly sensitive
or unless... Unless he didn't want people to see him deeply troubled, or
very angry, or... extremely upset. The closed blinds carried a simple
message from the usually open officer, and all who worked in JAG OPS
knew its meaning: back the hell off.
Mac was puzzled. What had upset him enough to prompt the gesture?
Although she was reluctant to admit it, Harm had been true to his word.
There had been no payback. Well, almost none. She had expected him to be
an ass and give her some form of payback, but he was true to form:
honest, and truth-driven, if overeager at times. She had wanted so much
for him to do what she expected: give her a hard time, make her work the
edge constantly. In fact, he'd only acted to the letter of the law.
Okay, he lacked a little in the protocol department, but still... She'd
just decided that he WAS being hard on her, because of their
relationship. It suddenly dawned on her that she actually had wanted him
to go easy on her, and to let her get away with her tactics... even if
it was only editorializing her opening statement.
Ignoring the clear signal to leave him alone, she walked up to his door
and knocked. "Harm, it's me." She knew that regardless of the reason
he'd drawn the blinds, he was not likely to refuse her entry.
After 30 seconds, she hadn't received an answer. She turned the knob.
She entered Harm's office and closed the door behind her, and took a
chair. His back was turned, his chair leaned back as far as it would go.
He didn't move or utter a sound at her entrance.
"I'm sorry for giving you a hard time. You actually did keep your word.
You didn't dish out any payback. I'm sorry I questioned your
"You're pretty brave, Marine, coming in here when the blinds are
closed," he replied softly, ignoring her apology. He sounded exhausted
and something else... Defeated...
"Harm, what's the matter? The admiral is right, you know. You did a fine
"I'm tired, Mac. I've been here since 0830 yesterday."
"Yeah. Coates and I spent the night looking for a way to get the
evidence out in the open without compromising the proceedings, or my
conduct," Harm explained quietly. Mac didn't miss his thinly veiled
reproach, despite her earlier apology.
"You don't close those blinds because of a simple sleepless night.
What's really going on?"
Harm gave an explosive sigh. "Sometimes, I hate this job."
Harmon Rabb? Hate his job... No way. Mac chose her next words carefully.
The atmosphere was not as volatile as she'd first thought it to be, but
it was far murkier: dark, and filled with undercurrents of a tension she
couldn't exactly put her finger on. Maybe she'd been too hard on him.
"Whatever makes you say that? I told you already. You did good up
"Why is it, Mac, that I keep on taking away what I love from other
people?" Harm asked, instead of answering her again.
Mac was completely befuddled. What had brought on such a somber mood?
"Harm, I'm sorry, but can you tell me what you mean? I don't
"How many pilots have I grounded, Mac? How many wings were pulled on my
say-so? How many careers have I ended? How many lives have I ruined?"
When she didn't immediately reply, he started a precise countdown.
"First, I killed my RIO. Then, I grounded my mentor, Doug Hockhausen,
and then, there was Buxton, and Albrecht, and then today, Ridley...
"Harm, none of these men deserved to be in the air. And you defended
Buxton! Those men were reckless and had no place in the cockpit. You
know that, and as for you, well, it was an accident-"
"What's the difference between me and Albrecht? We both killed our RIOs.
"Your ramp strike was an accident, Harm! Albrecht committed murder."
"So did I, Mac..."
"If you had, you'd have been court-martialed for it, and at best, the
charge would have been involuntary manslaughter. Not murder," she
Harm heaved another deep sigh, and thought for a bit before adding, "I
still screwed the pooch, Mac."
"I had no idea those cases were so hard on you," Mac offered, her voice
filled with compassion.
"When the board pulled my wings, I thought I'd never live through it...
What I loved the most was taken from me, and I was being eaten alive by
guilt. And now, I'm the one inflicting that pain onto others."
Mac fell silent for a spell. Never had she had this insight into Harm's
psyche. None of them had even though to think of the effect his almost
assured participation in all cases involving pilots would have on him.
However, Mac saw a major fault in his logic.
"Harm, there is one major difference between you and all those pilots
who lost their wings as a result of your work: they all put lives in
jeopardy on purpose, knowingly. Hockhausen knew he couldn't see
properly, still, he went up and slammed his wingman into a power line.
Buxton, well, he thought he had the right to take a life, regardless of
whose, just because he had earned those wings. Albrecht committed
murder, and was willing to put more lives in danger by flying again.
Ridley may still keep his wings, but you know as well as I do he lacks
judgment. But you... Faith dealt you a harsh hand and you played it as
best you could. You and your RIO paid the price of that hand; it took
you a damned long time to fly again, and when you did, you didn't do it
at any cost to others. In fact, you saved a life, and that ribbon on
your chest attests to that. Never have you willingly put a life in
danger. Had you known you were night-blind, would you have gone up?
Would you have put your RIO's life in danger, as well as your own,
willingly? Just because you thought you had the right to fly?"
Drawing a shaking breath, Harm replied: "No. I wouldn't have. "
"You became a JAG because you live by the truth, and it's all that
matters to you. If a pilot's wings get pulled because of anything you
do, it's because it's right. And how those men and women deal with it is
their own cross to bear. Not yours."
"How can I discount the consequences of my actions, Mac?"
"They're not the consequences of your actions. They're the consequences
of those pilot's actions, of which you cannot be held accountable for."
Harm gave her something between a snort and a chuckle. He rubbed both
his hands over his face and righted his chair. After another pause, he
turned and faced her, a decisive look in his eyes, underlined with
something more -- but she wasn't sure exactly what...
"Good. Still, can I buy you dinner to make up for what I said?"
"As long as it's take-out at my place, and that you won't be offended if
I fall asleep on the couch after dinner."
"You got yourself a deal."
Harm rose off his chair and picked up his briefcase. Mac did the same,
and smiled at him.
"Well, let's go then," Harm told her, rising from his chair. He paused,
momentarily lost in thought and slipped a hand in his pocket. He smiled
at her, handing her a set of keys. "You drive."
Mac threw him a dubious stare. "Me. Drive your Vette?" she questioned,
as her hand closed over the proffered keys, never taking her eyes off
"Yes, you. You know how to handle a car like that. And besides, do I
look like I'm in any shape to drive?" he added, as he pulled on his
"Harm, you NEVER let anyone drive your Vette! You love that car. And
especially in this weather," Mac said, waving toward the window and the
"Ah, um... so, why me? Why now?" The sudden and complete shift of his
demeanor unnerved her slightly. When she came in, he was sullen, dark
and depressed. Now... She was ready to swear he was flirting with her!
Harm sat back on his desk, idly toying with his cover. "Maybe because
it's time I finally let go," he said, giving her a, timid, crooked
Mac was so completely surprised by his answer that she never noticed the
keys slipping from her grasp and landing on the floor with a resounding
clink. Okay, definitely flirting... A whole lot more than flirting!
"That's some reaction, Marine," Harm said shyly, still half sitting on
"What did you say?" Mac croaked, suddenly unable to breathe or think.
"I said I'm ready to let go."
Mac squeezed her eyes shut. Was she hallucinating? What the hell had
they done with her Flyboy? She felt his arms around her as she opened
her eyes. She cocked her head and looked into his smoldering eyes, now a
smoky gray-blue. There were so many things she wanted to ask, to
understand. She'd been horrible to him these past few days. So why now?
But regardless of the questions tumbling in her mind, she couldn't utter
a single word, completely mesmerized by the intensity of his gaze, by
the love and desire he let shine through.
"No one understands me like you do," he whispered, as his head lowered
to hers. He made sure their eyes were locked before speaking again. " I
am in love with you. Have been for a very long time. And right now, I
know who I am, who you are and where we are. And there are no other
reasons for me to kiss you other than I want to. And I'm going to kiss
you, now. So, if you have any objections, now's your chance to voice
A long pause ensued. Mac didn't pull away, nor did she speak.
"Good. No objections, then..." Harm stated breathlessly, as his lips
captured hers. Mac's entire body came alive with a million new
sensations: he knew who he was kissing, and why and... Oh dear... he'd
said he loved her... The gates of her heart flew open and warmth like
she had never known coursed through her veins. Her mouth pressed more
firmly to his as she dared to press her tongue against the soft seal of
his lips. He responded in kind and the kiss deepened.
After a minute, Harm pulled back, flushed and breathless. "I hope I'm
not too late..." he asked, his eyes now clouded with apprehension.
"No, you're not," Mac responded, her voice low and filled with promise.
For all the pain they had caused each other, for all the idiotic and
hurtful things he'd ever said, she could not deny him, nor make herself
take a step back. This was what she had wanted for so long! A marginal
fraction of her brain tried to reason with her, to tell her not to fall
into his arms so easily, but... Oh, what the hell! This was what she
wanted, and she was going to grab onto it with both hands, and never let
"No... But..." Mac tried to voice her own feelings, but her tongue
failed to cooperate.
Misinterpreting her hesitation, Harm started to pull away, defeat
filling his features.
Seeing the look on his face, Mac quickly shook herself out of her
stupor. She grabbed his arm as he turned away, forcing him to look at
"Hey! Give a girl a chance to breathe, sailor. It's not every day that
your dreams get handed to you in the form of a key chain," she teased
softly, letting the full intensity of her feelings shine through. "And
for the record, I do love you, Harmon Rabb."
As he heard her words, she could feel him relax under her touch, his
eyes closing, a soft smile gracing his lips. This particular smile, she
had never seen before. She could see relief, tenderness and... something
she could only describe as contentment. Slowly, his arms once more
enveloped her. One of his palms rested on the small of her back as he
used the other to cup her head and drew her close, ever so gently.
"You scared me there for a minute, Marine," he said, his voice rough.
Mac didn't reply as she nestled closer, her nose burying into his
jacket. As she inhaled deeply, filling her senses with his scent, she
felt his entire body tremble. When her eyes met his, she could only
stare in surprise.
"Harm?" she called softly, unsure of what to do. She reached to his face
and softly brushed at the two wet trails down his cheeks. As she did,
she saw two more fat drops escape his half closed lids.
He cleared his throat before attempting to speak. "I didn't know you
could do that..." he whispered.
Mac frowned. "Do what? Tell you that I love you?"
"Make me cry tears of joy."
"Oh, honey..." The term of endearment came naturally to her, as her arms
reached behind his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. Just the thought
of her bringing tears of joy to his eyes filled her with an
When they broke apart, both their eyes were shining. A few tears escaped
Mac's eyes, matching his. Forehead to forehead, both chuckled softly and
"I do love you, Sarah. I don't know why it took me so long-"
"Shh. Doesn't matter now. It's all water under the bridge... Um, over
the falls..." she amended, a twinkle in her eyes. It amazed even her to
see how little the past now mattered. She had what she wanted, so why
bother with the past? They'd lived through the past, and made it this
far. That was all she needed to know.
"You don't think we need to talk about it, especially the bridge part?"
"No. What's done is done, and the fact that we're here now means it was
meant to be. I happen to believe things happen for a reason. So, what
happened needed to happen to bring us to this point." She tenderly
stroked his wet cheeks with the back of her hand. " Let's get you home."
"Hang on a sec..." Harm leaned over his desk and grabbed a few tissues
from the box on his shelf. He wiped Mac's cheeks and eyes with one.
"There. No more runny mascara."
She grabbed his wrist before he could wipe away the remnants of his own
tears. She took the tissue out of his hand and gently caressed his
cheek, wiping away the tears. Cocking her head, she laughed softly. She
wrapped the tissue around her finger and wiped away the telltale traces
of her lipstick on his mouth.
"And there you go: no more lipstick."
Long moments of silence followed as their eyes bored into each other's
souls. Mac could almost see the walls falling from his heart, one by
one. As the intensity of their gazes grew, her lips parted slightly as
he licked his. Harm was the first to break the trance. He blew a quick
breath and backed up a step.
"We better go," he said heavily, a heated flush engulfing his entire
Both smoothed their uniforms before Harm reached for the door, briefcase
in hand. He stopped short of opening it, dropping to one knee. He
retrieved the fallen set of keys, once more handing them to Mac, still
"By the way, you can keep these. I have another set." With that, he hung
the chain on his finger and extended his arm so she could take them. Mac
palmed the proffered set and smiled lovingly at him. Despite her
surprise at his admission, she was amazed at how comfortable this felt,
after only a few minutes.
He locked his blue orbs on her chocolate ones, studying her intensely.
"I want you to know I want this to be for good. I can't give you
anything other than my life. Look at the key chain."
She opened her hand and flipped the keys over in her hand, to get a look
at the medallion holding them together. A solid brass plate, engraved
with a pair of Navy wings inside a thin circle. Around it was written
'Property of the United States Navy'. The key ring itself was an oval
with a screw clasp. And suddenly, she saw it: a bright sparkle of light,
from between two keys. Hands shaking, she moved the keys out of the way.
In her hand, stood the most elegant engagement ring she had ever seen: a
burnished, white gold band, crowned by a stunning amethyst solitaire.
Seven small diamonds surrounded the centre stone.
Tears sprang to her eyes anew, as a hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, Harm!"
He lowered his head, closing a hand over the keys, taking them from her.
He unscrewed the clasp and removed the ring from it. He held it between
two fingers, grasping both her hands.
"Sarah, I said already that I love you more than life itself. I know
I've waited far too long, but... Would you do me the honor of accepting
this ring, as a promise of my love, and a promise of one day becoming my
Her breath caught in her throat, effectively silencing her. Some
insecure part of her brain was whispering for her not to trust him, that
he'd hurt her before, that she must be dreaming... But for once, Mac
didn't listen to her doubts about the man she loved. She only listened
to her heart.
She saw him looking intently at her, fear and anxiety rivaling hope and
elation in his sea-colored eyes. After a few heartbeats of silence, Mac
extended her left hand to him. He gently slipped the ring on her fourth
finger, never releasing her hands.
"Diamonds symbolize eternity. The seven stones represent each year I've
known you. The amethyst, to me, is a symbol of who you are: beautiful,
exotic yet familiar... strong, unique... A Virginia amethyst, for my
ninja-girl..." he whispered, once the ring was in place.
Mac couldn't find a moment when she'd felt more cherished. The ring had
obviously been made for her, and only her. He must have spent a small
fortune on the stones alone, she thought. But the significance of it was
incredibly special to her.
Her arms flew to his neck and she drew him back to his feet. She hugged
him fiercely, tears once more running from her eyes. "This is so
beautiful... so perfect... Thank you so much!"
"You're welcome. You deserve it," he replied, his nose buried in her
"How long have you been planning this?" she asked tearfully.
"You really want to know?"
"I've had to have a stone added since I had it made..."
"Since the Jagathon, to be precise. You said we were back at the
beginning. I took your word for it, and had this made. I..." Harm
Mac laughed. "Well, that's one unusual way to propose, Navy."
"Shut up, Marine," he ordered, his mouth once more taking over hers.
Once again, they reluctantly parted, as they heard the admiral barking
orders just outside Harm's door.
"What's going on, people? Nothing better to do than stand around
Commander Rabb's office? Get back to work!"
They heard a chorus of "yes sir" from just outside the door. Both
officers' gazes widened in horror. Mac was the first one to find her
"Um, you don't think they..."
"Heard all that... Oh, god, they must have..." Harm groaned.
"What are we going to do? What if Harriet tells the admiral?" Mac asked,
completely at a loss.
"Well," Harm replied, a mischievous glint in his eyes, "if we're going
to be charged with fraternization, might as well make it worthwhile," he
whispered into her ear.
The sensual tone of his words left no doubt as to his intentions, as he
slowly backed her up against the door, devouring her lips. His arms held
her captive in his embrace, but she had no desire to flee.
Slowly, his right hand slipped lower and lower, to come to rest where
her back lost its name.
His touch burned through her as her body ached for his. She pressed
herself onto him and immediately felt him respond. His body tensed and
he drew in a sharp breath. Smiling inwardly, she slipped her knee
between his and pushed her hips into him, against the unmistakable proof
of his desire for her.
His head fell back, a low growl escaping his lips. "God..."
"You like that, don't you..." she whispered seductively. Feeling him
respond to her in such a way enthralled her.
"Mmmm... Jesus... Yes I do..." he murmured as he tilted his head and
kissed her neck.
"Are you sure we should keep this up?" she asked, her knees weak.
"No, but I don't want to stop..." he replied huskily, as he caressed her
breasts with the back of his fingers. Even through her uniform jacket,
the gesture raised goose bumps all over her body. His throat was now
only a hairsbreadth from her lips. Hungrily, she devoured it, as he drew
up her skirt.
Mac gasped in anticipation, eager for his touch.
A sharp knock at the door doused the fires and had them backing away
from each other, desperately trying to maintain decorum.
"Come in..." Harm invited, a bit breathless.
The door opened to reveal the admiral, a deep furrow in his brow.
"Commander, I need you to..." He stopped in the middle of his sentence,
casting a bewildered look at the two people standing awkwardly at
attention before him. He zeroed in on Harm like a hound smelling blood.
He stepped closer, tilting his head to get a better look. Seemingly
satisfied by his inspection, he turned to Mac.
"Colonel, next time you plan a private meeting with the commander,
please refrain from wearing lipstick. It shows quite clearly on white
uniform shirt collars, but I'd keep it out of the office to be on the
safe side. Good evening." With that, he turned on his heel and left
Harm's office, softly closing the door behind him.
"Did he... just, um..." Mac asked.