Breaking In Is Hard to Do
By ScoobieD

ADVANCE \d 4Summary: Breaking in a new partner isn't always easy

ADVANCE \d 4Notes: This takes place some time early in Harm and Mac's relationship - probably between We The People and Full Engagement.

ADVANCE \d 4Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, etc., etc.

ADVANCE \d 4Any and all feedback is welcome at

ADVANCE \d 4______________________________________________________________________________

ADVANCE \d 4"Where's your evidence, Major?" Harm asked Mac across the table. "We have nothing solid on which to base a recommendation for further investigation."

ADVANCE \d 4Mac stared defiantly at him. She heard challenge in his tone. She wasn't quite comfortable with her new partner, and she was continually fighting the urge to defend herself. She forced her emotions down and tried to concentrate on the facts.

ADVANCE \d 4Admiral Chegwidden had sent them both to Norfolk to investigate a petty officer suspected of being involved in the theft of military equipment, more particularly assault rifles. They'd spent three days at the base looking into the accusations and had come up with nothing. There was no reason to think the petty officer was involved with the missing arms. His record was clean, and his CO spoke highly of him. They had uncovered no reason why the young man would want to steal thirty assault rifles. His financial records revealed no recent influx of cash. There was nothing to link the young man with this crime.

ADVANCE \d 4Despite the lack of evidence, Mac felt, no, she knew that Petty Officer Milburn was somehow involved in the theft. She knew it as surely as she knew her own name, but she couldn't prove it. And she couldn't convince her skeptical partner. Harm was staring at her as she processed these thoughts. "Well?" he finally said.

ADVANCE \d 4"There's something we're missing," she said. "I can feel it."

ADVANCE \d 4"You can *feel* it?" he scoffed. "We need a little more to go on than just your feelings."

ADVANCE \d 4"Come on, Commander! Don't tell me you've never had a gut feeling that something wasn't right. If we spent a couple more days poking around, looking into Milburn's friends and family, watching him, I know we'd find something."

ADVANCE \d 4"You *feel* it?" he asked, with what Mac thought was a sneer.

ADVANCE \d 4"Yes, I do! I guess I'm asking you to trust my instinct."

ADVANCE \d 4Harm stared at her again, and she could see the doubt in his eyes. Before he could respond, Tiner knocked on the door. "Sir, ma'am, the Admiral would like to see you both."

ADVANCE \d 4Harm and Mac looked at each other for a moment, a moment that lasted long enough to make Tiner uncomfortable. Finally, Harm rose and said, "After you, Major."

ADVANCE \d 4Mac stared defiantly at him and rose to her feet.

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4"Have you wrapped up the Norfolk investigation?" the Admiral asked.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm looked at Mac before speaking. "We spent three days there, sir."

ADVANCE \d 4"And?" the Admiral prodded.

ADVANCE \d 4"And we found no conclusive evidence that Petty Officer Milburn was guilty of jaywalking, let alone theft," Harm told him.

ADVANCE \d 4"Admiral," Mac spoke up. "I think if we spent a couple more days out there, we'd be able to find something."

ADVANCE \d 4AJ looked from one to the other. He could sense the tension between them. "Commander, do you feel further investigation would be beneficial?"

ADVANCE \d 4Harm cleared his throat. "Sir, I see no reason to continue this investigation."

ADVANCE \d 4"That settles it, then. Get me your report," AJ ordered.

ADVANCE \d 4"Sir, I . . ."

ADVANCE \d 4"Major, do you not have an adequate case load? Because I can pile some more on if you don't." The warning was clear drop it and move on.

ADVANCE \d 4"No, sir," Mac said. "I mean, yes, sir. My case load is more than adequate. I just think if we dug a little deeper on this one, we'd find something."

ADVANCE \d 4"Commander Rabb seems to feel otherwise," the Admiral stated.

ADVANCE \d 4"I didn't realize Commander Rabb was the only one allowed to have an opinion, sir," Mac challenged hotly.

ADVANCE \d 4The Admiral's eyebrows shot up. He crossed to the front of his desk and stood almost nose to nose with her, piercing her with a steely gaze. "I don't care for your tone, Major," he growled. "Or the insinuation. Now I suggest you get yourself under control. This investigation is over."

ADVANCE \d 4"Yes, sir," Mac barked, staring straight ahead.

ADVANCE \d 4"Dismissed!" AJ spit out.

ADVANCE \d 4"Aye aye, sir," they said together.

ADVANCE \d 4After the Admiral's door had closed behind them, Harm said, "He was rough on you in there."

ADVANCE \d 4Mac whirled to face him, seething in anger. "Don't placate me!" she hissed. "You're the reason I just got my six chewed off in there!"

ADVANCE \d 4"Me?!" he protested innocently.

ADVANCE \d 4"Yes, you! If you'd backed me, even a little, the Admiral would have let us go back there!"

ADVANCE \d 4"There's no reason to go back, Mac!"

ADVANCE \d 4"Says you!"

ADVANCE \d 4"Well, it's over. Let's just move on."

ADVANCE \d 4"It may be over for you," Mac said. "It's not for me." She was *that* sure.

ADVANCE \d 4"Mac, the Admiral ordered us to drop the investigation."

ADVANCE \d 4"No, he didn't. He just said it was over. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an *adequate* case load to take care of." She stalked away, leaving him staring after her, shaking his head.

ADVANCE \d 4______________________________________________________________________________

ADVANCE \d 4Saturday morning, Harm went into the office to pick up some files he'd intended to work on at home and had forgotten. It was early, and the office was nearly deserted. Only Mac worked away at her desk.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm stuck his head in her office. "You're working hard on this beautiful Saturday morning," he said pleasantly.

ADVANCE \d 4She looked up at him. There was no warmth in her eyes. "Just working on my *adequate* case load."

ADVANCE \d 4Harm sighed. "Are you still upset about that? Come on, Mac. *You* challenged the Admiral's decision. I had nothing to do with it."

ADVANCE \d 4"You had *everything* to do with it!" she countered.

ADVANCE \d 4"How do you figure that?"

ADVANCE \d 4"This conversation is pointless," she said, and she bent her head back to her work.

ADVANCE \d 4"All right," he said, and he backed out of her door. He wondered about his new partner. She was friendly and pleasant enough on the surface, but when pushed or challenged, even a little, she was quickly defensive and angry. They would be working together quite closely, and he'd like to get to know her better, but she was not the most approachable person he knew, and getting her to share anything personal was like pulling teeth.

ADVANCE \d 4A thought occurred to him, and he stepped back to her door. "You know, it will get better if you give it some time."

ADVANCE \d 4She had no idea what he meant and told him so.

ADVANCE \d 4"You're new here," he said. "You feel you need to prove yourself. That's natural. But give it time. You'll find your groove, and things will get a little more comfortable for all of us."

ADVANCE \d 4"You're a pilot, a lawyer, *and* a psychiatrist?!" she asked sarcastically. "What a find for the Navy!"

ADVANCE \d 4"Just trying to help."

ADVANCE \d 4"Go help someone who needs it," she suggested. "I've got work to do."

ADVANCE \d 4Dismissed again, Harm left. For good, this time.

ADVANCE \d 4Mac sighed. Why was she such a jerk to him? she wondered. His insufferable arrogance, for one, she answered herself. She'd known immediately that Rabb was the "golden boy" in the Admiral's eyes and that she'd have to prove to both of them that should could do this job and do it as well as anyone. But they weren't giving her a chance. Harm dismissed her intuition about Petty Officer Milburn, and the Admiral had just accepted his recommendation without a second thought.

ADVANCE \d 4Well, there was something she could do about that, and she was doing it. This morning, she'd called Norfolk, and any moment now, she expected a faxed copy of the visitor's log for the three weeks prior to the theft. It was one of the things she wanted to look at when they went back. She planned to call Clayton Webb and ask him to run the names of Milburn's visitors through the computer and see if they came up with anything. She figured Webb owed her a favor since it was his shenanigans that got her assigned here in the first place. If he came up with nothing, she wasn't sure what she'd do next, but it was a start. She'd learned in her phone call that Milburn was taking some leave time tomorrow. Maybe she'd follow him and see what he was up to.

ADVANCE \d 4She heard the fax machine ring and got up to get the fax before Harm could intercept it. She took the pages back to her office and perused the list of everyone who had visited the base in the three weeks prior to the theft. He'd had only two. Then she called Webb. It took Mac's persistent persuasion and agreement to go out with him some time to get him to agree to help her. She gave him the names and told him she'd wait for his call back.

ADVANCE \d 4While she waited, she worked on other things. Finally, her phone rang. "Major Mackenzie."

ADVANCE \d 4"It's Webb."

ADVANCE \d 4"Have you got something for me?"

ADVANCE \d 4"I'll say," Clayton said. "Gerald Carpenter."

ADVANCE \d 4"Yes?"

ADVANCE \d 4"He's a very active member of the Michigan Militia. He's been fined twice for disorderly conduct, and he was convicted three years ago of assaulting a police officer while resisting arrest."

ADVANCE \d 4Mac could feel her blood pressure rising. She *knew* it! "Do you have any idea how he's tied to Milburn?"

ADVANCE \d 4"They're cousins. Mothers are sisters."

ADVANCE \d 4"Thank you, Webb," Mac said. "This is very helpful."

ADVANCE \d 4"Are you gonna tell me what's going on now?"

ADVANCE \d 4"Maybe later. Thanks again."

ADVANCE \d 4"You owe me a date," Clay reminded her.

ADVANCE \d 4"Call me," she said and hung up.

ADVANCE \d 4Before leaving for the day, Mac left some notes prominently displayed on her desk, just in case.

ADVANCE \d 4______________________________________________________________________________

ADVANCE \d 4Mac had been following Petty Officer Milburn for almost an hour. He'd been picked up at the base this morning by a man she suspected was Gerald Carpenter. They had been driving into more and more remote portions of Virginia ever since. Mac had to stay back far enough to avoid detection, and she was in constant danger of losing them. Finally, she saw them turn off the main road onto a gated dirt road. Milburn got out of the truck, unlocked the gate, and then locked it again after Carpenter had driven through.

ADVANCE \d 4After they had driven out of sight, Mac slowly drove by the gate. She could see no one and nothing out of the ordinary. She continued down the road until she came to an old logging trail. She pulled her vehicle in as far as she could, then got out and prepared to continue on foot.

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4Harm had been trying to reach Mac all morning. He'd called her at home, intending to invite her for a run and then to apologize for whatever he might have done to anger her, although, frankly, he wasn't sure exactly what that was. He'd gotten her machine at home, then tried her at the office. He was told she hadn't been in, so he tried her cell phone. No answer. He was beginning to get a little concerned. Had she decided to do something on her own about Milburn? He had a feeling that something was wrong, and he couldn't help but think how ironic that was, since it was ignoring Mac's feelings that had gotten them to this point. He decided to go into the office to see if he could find some clue as to her whereabouts.

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4Mac had prowled carefully through the woods, keeping the dirt road at the edge of her sight at all times. She guessed she'd walked about a mile when she heard voices. She froze, one foot up in the air, all movement arrested. Yes, she definitely heard voices; several men, she guessed, a hundred yards or so through the trees to the east.

ADVANCE \d 4She slowly put her foot down, making no noise as she did so. Whoever they were and whatever they were up to, she was close to their lair, and she'd need to be extra careful now.

ADVANCE \d 4She walked slowly, testing each footfall for sticks or leaves before putting her weight down. Her eyes moved constantly, searching for sentries, trip wires or traps that might give away her presence.

ADVANCE \d 4After what seemed like hours, Mac began to make out the shape of the buildings through the trees. The voices were definitely louder now, and Mac guessed there were six or seven men. Suddenly, a shot rang out, and Mac dropped to the ground

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4Harm could see Mac was not in her office. He went in anyway, planning to check her calendar for some idea of where she might be. The feeling he had that something was wrong was growing. Her calendar yielded nothing. Just as he was about to turn away from her desk, he saw the papers she'd left on her desk. On the visitor's log, she had highlighted Gerald Carpenter's name. On a post-it note, she'd written "Carpenter is Milburn's cousin. Webb says Carpenter is in MI militia. Milburn leave on Sun. at 7 a.m."

ADVANCE \d 4"What have you done?" he asked the empty office. It didn't take a genius to put this together. Mac had learned that Milburn was related to a member of a state militia. She's also learned that Milburn had a scheduled leave today. She'd evidently decided to follow him. That much was obvious. What he didn't know was where she might be now, what he could about it, and just how much trouble she was in.

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4When Mac hit the ground, a pain seared through the palm of her left hand, and she bit her lip to keep from crying out. She concentrated on not breathing or making any sound. Finally, she decided that she hadn't been shot at. But someone had fired a weapon, and they weren't far from where she was. Slowly, Mac raised herself up. She could see no one. When she heard the gunfire again, she didn't duck. She knew what she was now hearing was more than one AK-47, and she'd bet her life they were the same weapons taken from the base. She had to be sure, though, what was going on, and betting her life might be just what she was doing.

ADVANCE \d 4She became aware of the dull ache in her palm, and she looked at her hand for the first time. A large gash ran from just below her thumb to just below her pinky. At least, she thought it did. There was too much blood to know for sure. She didn't think she'd bleed to death, but it sure hurt like hell. She sat up and cradled her hand in her lap. She put the hem of her shirt in her mouth and tore a strip of her shirt in her mouth and tore a strip off the bottom. As best she could, she wrapped the strip around her hand. She looked around to see what she'd cut herself on. A ragged piece of shale jutted out of the ground, her blood running down both sides.

ADVANCE \d 4Forgetting her hand for now, Mac decided the lower she stayed, the better. She slithered on her belly in the direction of the gunfire. Finally, she crept to the edge of a field and carefully lifted her head. What she saw chilled her.

ADVANCE \d 4Seven men had their backs to her. All held an assault rifle to their shoulder. On a signal from the man at the end of the line, they fired repeatedly at man-shaped targets fifty yards away. When they finished firing, their targets had been cut in half. The men exchanged pleased looks and high fives.

ADVANCE \d 4Mac crept backwards into the shelter of the trees. What should she do now? Trying to apprehend these guys on her own would likely be suicidal. So far, she didn't even have any evidence that they'd committed any crime. But if they *were* guilty, and if she didn't do something now, they'd likely disband. She only knew the identity of one of these guys, and could only guess at one of the others. Finding them later, when and if it was determined that they had committed a crime, might prove impossible. Her options were limited, but she knew one thing. She needed help.

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4Harm sat in Mac's chair in her office, no closer to knowing where she was than he had been when he'd first arrived here. He'd spoken with Webb, and the spy had told him everything he'd shared with Mac. But Mac hadn't told Webb her plan, so he was of no use there. Harm had then called Norfolk and learned that Petty Officer Milburn was not on base, that no one knew where he was, and that no one would be concerned about his whereabouts until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, when he would become UA if he hadn't returned.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm had been trying Mac's home and cell phone numbers repeatedly, with no success. He was startled when his own phone rang.

ADVANCE \d 4"Rabb," he said.

ADVANCE \d 4"Harm, hi," Mac said. "Where are you? I tried you at home."

ADVANCE \d 4"Mac!" Relief flooded through Harm at the sound of her voice. "Where are *you*? Are you all right? I've been trying to find you for hours!"

ADVANCE \d 4"Gee, it's nice to know you care."

ADVANCE \d 4"You want to tell me what's going on?"

ADVANCE \d 4Mac filled him in on everything she'd done and seen. When she finished, she said, "I hiked back to my car. Now I'm just trying to figure out what to do next."

ADVANCE \d 4"That's easy," Harm said. "Nothing. Sit tight. Tell me where you are exactly, and I'll come get you."

ADVANCE \d 4"But I . . ."

ADVANCE \d 4"Mac, don't even think about it! You're out-numbered *and* out-armed."

ADVANCE \d 4"Don't worry. I have no wish to die in a hail of bullets. Not today, anyway. I was just wondering what I should do if they leave."

ADVANCE \d 4"If they leave together, call me and follow them. If one leaves, try to get a license plate number, but stay put," Harm suggested.

ADVANCE \d 4"Okay. I'll just sit here and do my nails while I'm waiting," Mac joked.

ADVANCE \d 4"Mac, this is serious. Don't do anything that might get you killed."

ADVANCE \d 4"You know, if you'd stop talking, you'd be here by now," she pointed out.

ADVANCE \d 4"Sit tight, Marine," Harm warned. "I'll be there soon with reinforcements."

ADVANCE \d 4"Take your time," Mac answered flippantly.

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4Mac had been sitting in her car since speaking with Harm almost two hours ago, watching the road to make sure no one came or went, fighting fatigue. She'd been up early this morning, and now that the adrenalin had worn off, she was finding it difficult to keep from nodding off. Mac heard a twig snap beside her car and turned to find herself staring down the barrel of a gun. The man on the other end of that gun said, "Get out of the car."

ADVANCE \d 4Mac slowly opened the door and got out of the vehicle.

ADVANCE \d 4"Who are you?" the man asked.

ADVANCE \d 4Mac recognized him as one of the men who she'd seen shooting recently. She cursed herself for letting him sneak up on her. "I'm lost," she said innocently. "Can you tell me how to get to I-95 from here?"

ADVANCE \d 4"On your knees," the man ordered, clearly unimpressed.

ADVANCE \d 4"I don't think so," Mac said, controlling the cold fear in the pit of her stomach.

ADVANCE \d 4Suddenly, the man raised his arm and struck her on the head with the butt of his pistol Mac crumpled to the ground, blood oozing from the cut on her forehead. The man dropped to his knees beside her and grabbed a handful of her hair. "Maybe you'll listen to me next time," he said, releasing her and reaching for a two-way radio hanging from his belt.

ADVANCE \d 4"Listening isn't her strong suit," a voice behind the man said. The man beside Mac felt the barrel of a gun just behind his ear. "She's a Marine. Drop it."

ADVANCE \d 4The man dropped his gun. Harm pulled him to his feet and pushed him toward several waiting Marines.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm knelt beside Mac and helped her to sit up. "You okay?"

ADVANCE \d 4"Yeah," she said groggily, gingerly touching the growing lump on her forehead. "Ow!"

ADVANCE \d 4Harm noticed the wrap on her hand. "What happened to your hand?"

ADVANCE \d 4"Cut it on my nail file," she joked feebly. Her head was spinning, and she was having a hard time staying upright.

ADVANCE \d 4"Let me look." Harm carefully unwrapped her hand and looked at the deep cut. "This will need stitches."

ADVANCE \d 4"Make sure they use green thread," Mac said before the world went dark.

ADVANCE \d 4"Is she okay, sir?" one of the Marines asked.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm swept Mac up into his arms and stood up. "I think she'll be fine. You'll let us know what happens? We'll be at the base hospital."

ADVANCE \d 4"Certainly, sir."

ADVANCE \d 4* * * * *

ADVANCE \d 4Mac sat up in a hospital bed, a bandage pad taped to her forehead, her hand wrapped. She still had a slight headache, but it was getting better.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm entered the room and smiled at her. "How are you feeling?"

ADVANCE \d 4"Fine. What happened?

ADVANCE \d 4"The Marines went in and captured all of them while they were eating lunch. Never fired a shot."

ADVANCE \d 4"Leave it to the Marines," Mac said proudly.

ADVANCE \d 4"Most people do," Harm finished for her with a smile. "Inside the camp, they found plans for a local bank. Looks like they were planning a heist."

ADVANCE \d 4"And Petty Officer Milburn provided the fire power."

ADVANCE \d 4"Looks that way," Harm said. He was quiet for a moment before he said, "Look, I owe you an apology. I should have listened to you. You were obviously right."

ADVANCE \d 4"I'm waiting," she said expectantly.

ADVANCE \d 4"You're gonna make me say it, aren't you?"

ADVANCE \d 4She only smiled in response.

ADVANCE \d 4"All right, all right. I'm sorry. You happy now?"

ADVANCE \d 4"I'll be happy when you learn to trust me," she said, no longer joking.

ADVANCE \d 4"*Me* trust *you*? *You* don't trust *me*!"

ADVANCE \d 4"I called you, didn't I?" Mac asked.

ADVANCE \d 4"Yeah, you did," he conceded. "I'm glad."

ADVANCE \d 4She looked at him, obviously surprised by these last two words.

ADVANCE \d 4"Well, I don't want to have to break in another partner already, you know," he explained with a grin.

ADVANCE \d 4"What makes you think *you're* breaking *me* in?" she asked with a merry twinkle in her eyes.

ADVANCE \d 4Harm smiled back, but he was actually a little nervous. Maybe he'd met his match with this one.