Characters aren't mine, just borrowing, etc, etc, you know the drill. I hope you enjoy it. Feedback delightfully accepted. Please let me know what you think of it.
Just Thought You Should Know
Major Sarah MacKenzie pushed open the door to her apartment with a sigh of relief. It had been a very long day. It had also been a very bad day. They had known going into court that morning that the prosecution had an open and shut case against their client. The military police had caught him in an off limits area downloading files that he had no business having. Then, he had compounded his problems by resisting and assaulting the arresting officers.
He was obnoxious, rude, and condescending and she and Harm had agreed that they would both prefer to let him rot in the brig. Fortunately for him, though, they were both able to put aside personal feelings to offer him the best possible defense.
Unfortunately, that wasn't very much.
Even though he had given them nothing to work with, he still complained to the judge that his representation was incompetent. That had led to a dressing down in the judge's chambers, followed by another in the admiral's office later.
On her way through the bullpen, Harriet had told her that records would be sending up the files she had requested...as soon as they could be located. They were in the midst of some updating and renovations and things were a bit hectic right now. If she had sent in her request a day or two earlier, they might have been able to do more, but now, she'd just have to wait.
Things went downhill from there.
On the way home, her car started making one of those odd noises. A very expensive sounding odd noise that the mechanic said he wouldn't even be able to take a look at until the day after tomorrow because he was so busy. She knew it was all a part of a conspiracy. The mechanics in the city had a deal with the highway department. There was no other possible explanation for the condition of the roads. All those potholes could not just happen.
The mail had held more unpleasantness. Two of her credit card companies had sent her past due notices on bills that she knew she had paid. According to them, her checks had been returned for insufficient funds. She sat down on the steps of her building and called the bank to find out what the heck was going on.
There had been some computer problems a few days ago, which had resulted in some problems with a very few accounts. It was quite possible that hers was one of those affected, but they really wouldn't be able to say for certain until the troubleshooters were finished with their work. That would probably be sometime early next week. In the mean time, they'd be more than happy to offer her a low interest loan.
After explaining in detail what the young man could do with his low interest loan, she gathered her things and retreated to the sanctuary of her apartment. She shed her clothing as she headed for the bathroom. What she wanted more than anything in the world right now was a long hot soak in a bubble bath. It might not be the sort of thing marines did, but tonight she needed it.
Again, fate laughed in her face.
There was no hot water.
She called the landlord.
Surely she remembered the note he had posted on her door last week? The one about the hot water heaters being drained today?
She was out of town last week.
"Oh. So sorry."
She flopped on the couch, close to tears only to be interrupted by a knock on the door. With a groan, she got up and walked over to look out the peephole. It was her partner, Harmon Rabb, with his arms full of bags. He looked almost as bad as she felt.
She opened the door and gave him a tired smile.
"What's up, Squid? Can't find your way home without a flight controller?"
He smiled back, and somehow, they both felt a little bit better.
"Actually, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home and picked up the stuff to make my veggie lasagna, but when I got home I found out that my electricity is out. I thought maybe you'd let me use your kitchen if I offered to feed you."
She took one of the bags from him and stepped back to let him enter.
"You know I never say no to food, even if it is your health food junk."
"Hey," he said, a wounded look on his face, "Some of us care about what we put into our bodies. Do you have any idea what goes into one of those Beltway Burgers you almost live off of?"
"Yeah, all kinds of good stuff."
"And fat and cholesterol and sodium and preservatives..."
"I'm a marine, Harm, I can handle it."
He shook his head. "Well, at least I can get some decent food in you every once in a while."
"I didn't know you cared," she shot back.
"Of course I care. You know how much I dread breaking in a new
As they talked, they emptied out the bags onto the kitchen counter.
"Oh, by the way...I found this laying on your front steps. You must have dropped it when you were coming in."
He held up a white envelope.
"Unless you really didn't want to read a letter from Jessica Cox."
She hadn't heard that name in years. What could Jessica Cox have to say to her?
"Mac? Are you okay?"
"Sure. It's just been one of those days, you know?"
She tried to smile, but to Harm's eyes, it looked rather weak and sickly.
"You know this Jessica Cox?"
She remembered Jessie.
She was a petite, blonde headed package of tight jeans, leather jacket, attitude and smart mouth.
Mostly, though, she remembered her eyes.
Eyes just like her brother's.
"Jessie was Eddie's sister."
She looked up to meet his sympathetic gaze.
"I haven't heard from her in years."
She stuffed it in her back pocket.
"Aren't you going to read it?"
"Later. If you're going to feed me, the least I can do is help with the preparation."
Harm grinned at her. "Boy, you really don't want to read that letter, do you?"
"Well, if you'd rather do it all yourself..."
"Too late. You already offered. Besides, I'll probably need your help to find everything. No flight controller, you know."
He got the laugh he was hoping for and the two got to work.
While the dinner cooked, they cleaned up the kitchen, fixed glasses of iced tea and headed into the living room to relax.
They had commiserated over the case and their client during preparations and now they sat on the sofa in silence. While Harm picked up the newspaper, Mac pulled the envelope from her pocket. She could feel his concerrned gaze, but every time she looked up, he seemed fully engrossed in the latest world events.
Finally, she took a deep breath and opened the letter with a trembling hand.
I don't know whether you remember me or not, but back when you were in high school you were good friends with my brother, Eddie.
First off, I want you to know that no one blames you for what happened to him. He was on a path of self-destruction long before he ever met you. Our home life was pretty miserable and he had discovered years earlier the escape of alcohol.
Some of my friends and I used to follow you around. We thought that the two of you were incredibly cool. You said and did as you pleased, regardless of what anyone else thought of you. We wanted to be just like you.
The night of your graduation, we were at a party when someone came in with the news that you had both been in a bad car accident. I was ready to race off to see for myself, but someone convinced me that I was entirely too drunk to face my parents at the hospital. Instead, a bunch of us spent the night at the bus station, calling the hospital to find out what was going on.
When I found out that Eddie was dead, I went numb all over. It just didn't seem possible. Only a few hours earlier, I had helped him fix his hair...you remember that one little piece up front that kept falling down in his face?
I was relieved that you hadn't been killed as well, but we were told that you were in pretty bad shape.
This probably sounds horrid, Sarah, but I was glad that he wasn't alone when he died. He was with one of the few people in the world that he really cared about. I know it was probably hard on you, but I'm glad you were with him.
It was a wake up call for us. The people we wanted to be like were either dead or in the hospital. That night, all of us swore that we would never drink again.
Of course, as time went by and the shock wore off, some forgot and went back to their old ways.
Some, though, stuck to our vow.
One of the guys, Mike Jacobs, had an uncle who knows your uncle. Through him, we have been able to keep up with your progress. It might not mean much, coming from a bunch of people you barely knew, but we've been inspired by the way you turned your life around and the success you're having.
Mike joined the Coast Guard. He's living down in Florida now and has a wife and two beautiful children.
Will Davis is a social worker. He works with at risk kids in the inner city in Boston. He's also disgustingly happily married. He and his wife have a varying number of kids, due to the foster children they constantly take in.
If you remember any of our group, you probably remember Gary Wyatt. He
always stood out in a crowd...very big and burly with long hair and a black leather jacket, the classic biker image. He now has a beard to go with his ponytail and rides his Harley to the hospital in LA where he is a pediatric nurse in the neo-natal unit. It's so strange to see this hulking, hairy man holding a tiny crack addicted newborn,
singing and talking to it as it screams from withdrawal pains.
Susan Brady was the tragic poet in our gang. She was tall and rail thin. After being treated for an eating disorder, she went into the police academy. She is now a sheriff in a little county in the middle of the Nevada desert. She says it's good for the soul to be there.
As for myself, I teach English in a high school outside of Dallas, Texas. So many of these kids remind me of where I was at that age and I love being able to spend time with them, to find out what's going on in their lives, what concerns them. Society gives them far too little credit.
Last weekend, we lost four of our best student in a drunken driving accident. They were on their way home after a football game when a pickup truck struck them head on.
As you can imagine, everyone here has been in shock. There's a great deal of anger and pain. Most of our classwork and activities have been set aside as everyone struggles to deal with this tragedy. One of the comments I've been hearing the most is "I never told her how much I respected her" or "I wish I had thanked her for her help". I decided to turn that into a writing assignment. I asked my students to write a letter to one of the girls, to tell her what they would tell her if she were still here. After that, they were to write a letter to someone who was still here, to someone that they admired or respected or to someone who had had a profound impact on their life. Many of the students told me later that it was a very positive experience for them, that they were able to express themselves in ways that they never thought that they could. I also received some phone calls from parents and from some fellow teachers who were touched by the letters they received. They never realized how much impact they had had on the lives of these young people.
Which brings me to the point of this letter. Many times, I've started to call you or sat down to write to you, but I've always lost my nerve. Now, I've asked my students to take the risk of writing about their feelings and I feel that I should be willing to do the same.
You may not remember us or care, but I want you to know that you have made a difference in the lives of five people who once idolized you and have now come to admire and respect you in a whole different way.
I just thought you should know.
Best wishes always,
PS If there's someone who's had an important impact in your life, please, let them know today. Tomorrow may be too late.
Mac felt a tear running down her face as she carefully refolded the letter. Harm leaned across the sofa to hand her a box of tissue.
"Are you alright?"
She accepted the tissue and looked up at him with a smile.
"Yeah, partner, everything's fine."
At that moment, the timer went off in the kitchen. Harm looked at her intently.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yes, but I won't be if you let my dinner burn. Besides, it's a wonderful day!"
"Now that sounds like the marine I know," he grinned as he headed through the door to finish dinner.
Mac rose and walked over to the desk. She laid the letter on top of the "immediate response" pile. Harm's cheerful whistle cut into her thoughts and she smiled suddenly. She sat down at the desk, grabbed a pen and paper and thought a moment before beginning to write furiously.
Harm came back into the living room to get their glasses for a refill. He paused to look at his partner, sun streaming through the window illuminating the highlights in her dark hair as she bent over her work. He didn't know what was in that letter, but her certainly approved of the effect it had had on her.
"Everything ready, Sailor?" she asked brightly, entering the kitchen.
"Pretty much. If you'll put a hot pad down on the table, I'll be right in with the lasagna."
He placed the steaming pan in the middle of the table and took a seat across from her. A white envelope rested against his tea glass.
"What's it look like?" Her smile really got his curiosity up.
"Should I read it now?"
"If you want to."
"This isn't a plot to distract me while you eat all of my lasagna, is it?" he teased.
"Just read it."
He grinned as he carefully ripped the envelope open.
Mac suddenly felt very nervous. She shouldn't have done that; it was really silly. Surely he knew how she felt after all this time. She had to fight the urge to grab it out of his hand and tell him to forget the whole thing.
She jumped up suddenly and headed for the kitchen. "Forgot the napkins."
Harm wondered what could be in the envelope that would make her so nervous. He unfolded the letter and began to read.
I just want to take an opportunity to make sure that you understand how much I value you and the gift of your friendship. From the first time we met, you showed your strength and integrity. Even when I tried my best to keep you at arm's length, you kept smiling, kept trying, kept reaching out to me.
When the government (or Clayton Webb, to be specific) went after my uncle, you didn't just blindly accept their word, you asked questions, you found the 'why' behind his actions and stepped up to defend him even when you knew it could damage your career. You showed understanding and integrity.
At first, I thought that maybe it was an isolated incident or that you were just trying to impress me (Don't you smile like that; It has happened!), but day by day, I continued to see it in all your activities and interactions. I have learned to reach further inside of myself, to find, I hope, a similar strength and character. I have learned to look for the good in people and to trust. Even when I've failed, fallen back on old habits and fears, you've always stood by me. You haven't always understood, but you've always been there regardless. I think that may be even harder.
When my trust was betrayed, my world turned upside down, you were there for me, encouraging me to keep going and reminding me not to give up and never saying 'I told you so' even though you had. I don't know if I ever thanked you for that.
You have been a true friend in every sense of the word and have, I hope, helped me to be the same. I think the world of you and consider myself fortunate to have you in my life.
I just thought you should know.
When he finished reading, Harm sat there a moment, absorbing what he had just read. He carefully folded the letter a put it in his breast pocket, turning around just in time to see the kitchen door swing shut.
He walked into the kitchen to find her standing at the sink intently scrubbing dishes.
"Look, I know that was really silly..."
He didn't say a word, just grabbed her in a tight bear hug.
She relaxed a little and wrapped her arms around his neck.
After a few moments, Harm moved his head so that he could whisper in her ear.
"I don't know where that came from, but thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me."
After another blissful moment, she stepped back and looked up into his eyes.
"It's been inside for a long time. That letter from Jessie just reminded me that we need to tell the people who are important to us. That hasn't been a major problem for me because there haven't been many, but I needed to let you know."
"Thank you. I hope you know how important you are to me, too."
She shrugged and looked away, embarrassed.
"Yeah, well...let's eat."
He followed her back into the dining are, but instead of taking his seat, he walked around to squat next to her chair. He gently took her chin and forced her to look him in the eyes.
"From my perspective, I have received far more from you than I've ever given."
When she started to protest, he shook his head and placed a finger over her lips.
"Mac, you talked about me standing by you. You've done your share of standing, too, you know. When I was facing that murder charge, you believed in my innocence. You took me in and defended me in spite of the evidence against me.
Even when everyone else tried to tell me I was nuts for going to Russia to look for my Dad, you didn't criticize or judge. You just packed a bag and came along with me, regardless of the risk to your own life. I could never imagine anyone who would ever do so much for me. You could easily have said 'I told you so' when we found out the truth, but you didn't. You knew that as much as I had hoped to find him alive, finding the truth was what really mattered.
Yeah, you've made some mistakes and I don't always understand some of the decisions you've made...your choice in men comes to mind... but I'll always care about you and your feelings and I will help you to pick up the pieces and start again, just like you've helped me when I've blown it.
You are my truest and best friend and, as much as I hate to admit it, I am truly grateful to Clayton Webb for bringing you into my life."
He was glad that was all he wanted to say, because he didn't think the lump in his throat would let him say any more.
He looked into her eyes, waiting for her reaction. She started to protest but paused when the saw the vulnerable look in his eyes.
Instead she took a deep breath and leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek.
After another moment lost in each other's eyes, Mac decided it was time to end this.
"So, are we going to eat or are we going to wait for this stuff to get cold and really disgusting."
"Hey, that's my lasagna you're talking about! If you don't like it, I'll just take it and leave."
"There's no need for that, Rabb. I'm a marine, I can eat anything."
They laughed and sat down to their meal.
After dinner was completed Mac started clearing the table. She noticed a distracted look in her partner's eyes and tapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey. You're not worried about court tomorrow, are you?"
He shook his head and returned to the present with a smile.
"No, of course not. I only worry about court when I'm facing you. Actually, I was thinking about someone I should write to. Do you have some paper I could borrow?"
He noticed the plates in her hands.
"After we've finished cleaning up, of course."
She smiled back at him. "There's really not much left to clean up. We did most of it earlier. I'll take care of this; you go write your letter. There's a pad on the desk."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. I left it over there less than an hour ago."
Before he could respond, she grabbed his plate and walked into the kitchen.
Harm walked over to sit at her desk. He picked up a pen and thought a moment before beginning to write.
A few days later, Mac was sitting in Harm's office going over their next case when his phone rang.
He listened a moment.
"Frank! It's good to hear from you."
He listened again.
"You got my letter?"
He looked over at Mac and smiled.
"Well, I just thought you should know."
I'd like to dedicate this story to one of my truest and best friends.
In the past twenty years (it can't really be that long!) we have grown from giggling junior high school girls to grown women on very different paths. When I have good news, it's not complete until I can share it with you. When I'm hurting, it's a little easier to bear when I've told you.
We have laughed together, cried together, been down-right silly together and have talked and listened to each other for hours on end with no concept of time. You are one of the greatest treasures that God has chosen to bless me with. I admire the way you have allowed Him to use you and I look forward to what He has in store for both of us.
"In the Father's hands we know,
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends."
Thank you, Shannon. I just thought you should know.