Title: "What's Past is Prologue"
Authors: AeroGirl and Valerie
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Spoilers: "The Prisoner," "Death Watch," "Answered Prayers"
Summary: When a critical figure from Harm's past resurfaces, he is faced with some difficult realizations as well as a choice.
Disclaimer: Having two authors means twice the fun, but when it comes to character rights, twice nothing is still nothing.
From AeroGirl:Housekeeping stuff out of the way first. The story is set in the present (season eight), although there is no mention of Singer's current condition. Actually, Singer doesn't even get a cameo. (You're welcome.)
On a personal note – well, this was one highly entertaining experiment. I've never tried to write with a partner before, and I really started at the top, didn't I? It's truly frightening how much Valerie and I think alike sometimes – aero engineers of the fanfic world unite. This should have been difficult, probably, but instead it was a blast, and I think I'll be a better writer for it. Thanks, Val.
From Valerie:You know, we're probably the only two female aerospace engineers out there who are writing JAG fanfic... maybe any fanfic at all. I'm going to have to dub myself AeroGirl II or something. Anyway, I have to agree with AG—this was a blast. As for what I've learned from the experience, well, I've learned that it is possible for me to write a story that's not umpteen-bizillion chapters long J AeroGirl manages to pack an incredible amount of plot into few words, without sacrificing quality of writing. Definitely something I want to learn. So, enjoy. We certainly had fun writing it.
What's past is prologue; what to come
In yours and my discharge.
--The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
She was just closing up her briefcase when the director knocked on the open door.
"Sir," she greeted him automatically, her eyes straying to the file in his hand. "Is that my life?"
"For lack of a better word, yes." The older man stepped into the office and handed the folder to her. "We renewed your driver's license, passport, and Social Security card, as well as opened a bank account in your name with a little bit in there to get you started again." As he spoke, she inventoried the folder's contents, finding her identity cards as well as a brand new checkbook and various official notifications from the bank and government agencies.
She nodded. "Thank you."
The director shrugged, the corners of his mouth curling upward. "All part of the package. This isn't the first time we've done this, you know."
That made her grin as a mixture of excitement and trepidation filled her. To finally be going back to her life...
A new thought struck her. "What about the Navy?"
This time his shrug was less encouraging. "It's not as easy to pull strings at the Pentagon. Their bureaucracy doesn't handle this kind of thing very well, so I guess you'll have to look into it once you're settled."
She chewed on her lip for a moment, her heart growing heavy with uncertainty. "I have a... friend who should be in the Navy's JAG Corps somewhere."
He nodded. "A lawyer's probably what you'll need. It helps to know someone."
She looked down at her shoes. Friend, she'd called him. The term was singularly insufficient to describe their relationship. She wondered how their reunion would play out. Would he feel betrayed? Hurt? Overjoyed?
"Here's your plane ticket," the director went on, handing her the typical packet stamped with a familiar carrier's logo.
She fingered it, both relieved and overwhelmed by what it and the other papers in her hand signified. "Well, I guess I'd better head for the airport," she said after a moment. Despite the many doubts that plagued her, she knew she was doing what she needed to—for herself, her family, and her future.
The director gave her an odd smile. "I have trouble thinking of you by anything other than your cover name, so..." He stuck out his hand. "Safe trip, Alison. Good luck."
She gave him a genuine smile as she returned the handshake. "Thank you, sir."
Harm breezed into work just in time to catch Mac headed the other way, briefcase in hand. They met just shy of the doors fronting the bullpen, a gentle collision that produced a brilliant cascade of sparks. Mac rocked back a half step, cocking her head in an expression Harm had learned meant she would rather have avoided him at that particular moment. He bit back a sigh. Why was it that every time they tried to have a conversation about the future, it ended up becoming an argument over who was responsible for the past?
"Morning, Mac," he said with forced cheer, holding out a hand in an effort to corral his partner and keep her from slipping past without some kind of acknowledgement.
She flashed him a look of annoyance. "Harm, I'm due in court."
"And that's reason enough not to say good morning to your best friend?"
She bit her lip. "Good morning. Now get out of my way."
After a moment he stepped aside, allowing her to pass. Casting a resentful glance over her shoulder, Mac brushed past him and pushed through the bullpen doors, her stride swift and angry.
He shook his head as he turned away. Maybe she was just in a hurry. Reading Mac's emotions was not on his list of well-honed skills. And getting her to open up about it when she was mad at him fell even lower on that list.
Suck it up, Rabb. There's nothing you can do about it right now. Maybe, in a couple of days, they'd be able to talk about it. He would just have to live with the sick knot in his gut until then.
He wandered back to his office, intent on catching up on some of the paperwork that seemed to reproduce at an alarming rate when left alone on his desk for any length of time. He managed to distract himself with work for almost two solid hours before something tickled his radar, making him raise his head and look beyond the confines of his office.
To his surprise he saw Mac standing in the middle of the bullpen, dressed in casual civilian clothing and looking around like she'd forgotten something but couldn't quite remember what it was. As he watched, Bud passed by, folder in one hand and cane in the other.
"Good morning, ma'am," Bud said, his eyes never leaving the folder he was perusing.
Mac just stared at him.
Bud paused. "Aren't you supposed to be in court this morning?" he asked, glancing at her.
Her mouth opened soundlessly, then snapped shut.
Harm rose from his desk, concerned by the odd behavior. She was supposed to be in court and Admiral Morris was going to have her butt in a sling if she didn't have a good reason for not being there. He headed toward his partner.
As he approached, Harriet joined her husband. "Good morning, ma'am," she told Mac with a bright smile, which immediately turned curious. "Did you change your hair? It's cute."
Harm hadn't really registered the difference until Harriet said something, but Mac's hair was different. A little darker and curled under a bit, like she'd worn it back when they'd first met.
Mac's hand immediately went to her hair, fingers twining in the dark locks in a girlish gesture Harm had never seen her use.
Truly concerned now, but not wanting to further provoke his partner given her mood this morning, he opted for a lighthearted approach.
"Did you decide to play hooky from court today, Marine?"
Mac whirled at the sound of his voice, and on seeing him, her face lit with a dazzling smile of joy and relief. "Harm!"
His brow dipped in confusion for the complete one-eighty her behavior had taken. "Yes?" he asked warily. Somewhere in the back of his mind, a warning voice had begun to chatter an indecipherable message of caution.
Mac's face fell by degrees. She stared at him with a pained, confused expression. "Harm, it's me."
Harm stared at her as the warnings in his head intensified. That wasn't Mac's voice. It was too high, too soft. It was a voice he knew by heart, one that sometimes still floated through his dreams, taunting him with could-have-beens.
In an instant Harm's world shattered, demolishing his heart with it. He watched, stunned, as everything he'd believed to be true unraveled before his eyes, all because of this woman. Sagging against the corner of a nearby desk, he managed to choke out her name.