I've been dusting off my old fics, and found that this section has been pretty much written for a long time. It's nice to have the muse interested again so I can get some of these finished and off my conscience.
Honor's Loss 5/?
Secure facility, just outside Washington, DC
"I guess you were right," Mac comments, glancing in to the room where the morning routine is about to begin.
"It wasn't until the following day I was actually allowed in to see him. Even then it was pretty hard to tell; they had him hooked up to every conceivable machine. He was extremely thin and pale; you could tell then, and still can to some extent now, some of the things they did to him during the year he was gone. Of all the wounds he received that day, it was the self-inflicted ones that were the most life-threatening, but against all odds he pulled through. We had all the necessary arrangements—this warehouse as you see it, the necessary personnel, properly vetted, and all the equipment we could possibly need—in place within 48 hours We had to wait an additional 36 before it was safe to move him, but he's been here ever since." He finishes just as the door opens, allowing a much larger contingent of guards than usual to enter the room.
Inside the room, no one knows what to expect. Already the day is starting differently—Harm hasn't made a move to get out of bed, although those watching through the window can see him tense with the first sound of movement. "Sit up, put your hands on your head and lace your fingers together," Masters, the head guard instructs—he and his colleagues are taking no chances this morning; their weapons are held at the ready.
Slowly, carefully, Harm complies with the order, confusion written all over his face. Satisfied, Masters allows the next part of the routine to be completed; breakfast and a clean change of clothes are quickly left on the small table. No one wants to even chance a repeat of the day before, but Harm remains where he is, meekly compliant.
The staff and most of the guards exit, leaving Masters and his partner, Douglas, with Harm. While Douglas watches with his weapon at the ready, Masters steps a little closer and lowers his own weapon. "Someone will be in to talk to you after you eat and shower," he advises gently, responding to the myriad of questions plainly showing in Harm's eyes. Without breaking from his position, Harm nods once in acknowledgement and waits until the door is closed behind the two men before cautiously moving toward the table. He sits slowly; studying the contents of the tray in front of him and cautiously begins to eat. He is apparently surprised at the taste of his meal, caution turns to enjoyment and soon he has cleared most of the tray.
Hunger satisfied, Harm turns his attention to the bundle left with the meal. There is a change of clothes, a presumably charged electric razor and other toiletries. Casting a doubtful look at the large mirror dominating the far wall of his room, Harm gathers as much privacy as he can using the short wall and is shaved, showered and dressed in short order.
Tasks done, Harm then prowls around the small room, looking at anything and everything. He pauses beside the small bunk and straightens it with military precision. The discarded clothes are folded into a small bundle and placed on the table next to the breakfast tray. After a moment of hesitation, the toiletries are placed on the tray, and another circuit of the room is made.
He comes to a restless stop next to the mirror; those observing have a rare chance to study him up close—pencils scribble furiously describing the openness now present in his features, noting it is well tempered with both wariness and confusion. He stands there until the door once again opens to reveal Masters, Douglas and the woman who brought the tray earlier. She quickly grabs the things left on the table and darts out of the room, not quite trusting the change that has apparently come over Harm. On the heels of her departure, another figure enters, a younger man wearing a lab coat in place of a suit jacket.
Douglas places a plastic chair opposite the seat at the table and nods an answer to a request from the young doctor. By the time the doctor has found his place in the folder he carries and laid it on the table, Douglas has returned with two Styrofoam cups of coffee. He sets them on the table and again takes up a position in the doorway.
In the meantime, Masters approaches Harm slowly, careful not to startle him. He's opted away from the rifle he carried earlier, instead choosing a sidearm he keeps holstered. "Sir, there is someone here to see you."
On the other side of the mirror, the watchers are delighted to see curiosity and interest on Harm's face before he turns to follow Masters to the table. He sits, but does not speak, waiting for the other man to make the first move.
The conversation that follows is frustratingly encouraging. Although Harm will not initiate conversation, he does answer questions asked of him, but with simple one word answers…usually "no".
An hour later, having exhausted his list of questions, the doctor leaves. Harm remains sitting passively at the table under the watchful eye of Masters and Douglas, clearly bothered by the man's frustration, not knowing what he can do to make it go away. When Douglas and Masters follow the doctor out of the room and the door shuts behind them, he moves from the uncomfortable seat at the table to the slightly more comfortable bed.
"Well?" Webb asks when the doctor joins them at the window.
"He obviously understands the language, but he wouldn't give me an answer to any of my questions. All he kept saying was 'no'."
Masters has followed the doctor and feels compelled to speak up. "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't believe he was avoiding your questions, I believe he didn't know the answers to them."
"What do you know about it?" the doctor demands. "Are you trying to tell me you can do my job better than I can?"
"Calm down, Chambers," Webb instructs, turning to the guard. "What did you see, Masters?"
"I've been observing him since he woke up. He doesn't seem to understand what is going on. Doctor Chambers, you were looking at your notes rather than at the man you were speaking to. Every time you asked him a question, he thought about it before he answered you. Had you been watching his reaction, you would have seen the confusion and frustration there."
"Don't you go telling me how to do my job; you're just a glorified babysitter."
Masters stands his ground. "This 'glorified babysitter' knows how to read people, sir. You have to pay attention to what they're telling you with things other than your ears if you want to know what they truly are saying."
"Gentlemen, please," Webb interrupts before the argument can turn physical. "We're all here for the same reason. Masters, since you've been observing, what kind of threat do you think he poses?"
"Mr. Webb, I was present for the problems yesterday. I've been stationed here from the beginning, and to be honest with you, I've been wary of him since then. But there's something very different today. I see nothing that, if I were to walk into this compound for the first time today, would make me think he was anything but a very confused individual."
"Not violent at all?"
"No, sir." Masters glances at Chambers who has been silently glaring at him during this exchange. "I would suggest trying a friendly face or two; someone he knew before all this happened. See if that jars any memories."
Webb exchanges a thoughtful glance with AJ and Mac. "What do you think, Chambers?" he asks.
Chambers has finally calmed down enough to respond without spitting fire. "I don't know if it will hurt or help," he says finally, "but if you really want to try, I'm not exactly in any position to stop you. However if this backfires, I won't be held responsible."
"That won't be an issue. Get your report to me before 5; we can discuss it tomorrow." Webb turns his back, effectively dismissing the doctor.
Chambers leaves reluctantly. He wanted to watch the careful façade the man in the room was putting on crumble first hand so he could say 'I told you so', but it looks like he'll have to wait until later to rub that glorified babysitter's nose in it.
Harm looks up when the door opens again. He holds his ground, waiting for instructions that never come; instead three people enter the room—a man in an expensive but rumpled suit followed by a man and a woman in uniform. There is no flicker of recognition for the newcomers, but an acknowledgement of the uniforms—or the authority inherent in them—brings all sorts of questions to his eyes; he actually almost comes to attention before slumping onto the bed with a hand to his head.
"Do you know who we are?" Webb asks his old friend.
Harm studies each of the newcomers for a long moment before he slowly shakes his head, "No."
His response both delights and frustrates Webb; he's definitely responding, as Masters reported, but even with the information his colleagues received from Patrov, the fact that he doesn't recognize any of them is to be expected, but disheartening nonetheless.
"My name is Clayton Webb; this is Admiral AJ Chegwidden and Colonel Sarah MacKenzie."
Harm doesn't know what to say; having the names to go with the faces doesn't help at all, but given the way they're all looking at him, they must know… "Can you tell me who I am?" he whispers, sounding more like a scared child than a grown man. "And please, tell me what I've done." He doesn't have any real reason for his second request, except for a feeling he can't pin down that he knows the statement's true. Perhaps it is the presence of the armed guards, the room with the door that will only open from the outside, or maybe just something in the air, but despite not remembering a single thing other than what has transpired this morning, he somehow knows his current predicament is the result of something serious he's done.
"Oh Harm," Mac whispers, distressed to see the man standing in front of her. Now that they're in the room with him, it's easier to see that he little resembles the proud and sometimes cocky officer she once knew—his frame is thinner than when they first met and although he's remained as active as he can by prowling the small quarters and doing what exercises he can without equipment, he's lost a lot of muscle tone. It's his eyes that bother her the most; when the questions and the confusion fades, they are lifeless and dull, not at all like the like the man who used to say so much with just a look.
AJ chooses to speak up first, looking for any sign of the sometimes overconfident officer in the frightened man standing in front of him. "Your name is Harmon Rabb; you were a Navy Commander, under my command, before you disappeared."
"Disappeared? I don't understand…"
Webb sighs. He knew this would be difficult, he just didn't know how bad it would be. "Before we can answer any of your questions we need to get your version of events from you. We don't want anything you remember to be tainted by what we might tell you."
"I don't think that will be a problem, Mr. Webb; I don't think what I remember is going to help you much anyway."
"Why not?" Webb asks, more than a little annoyed at the statement.
"Because the first thing I remember is your guards waking me up a while ago; I can't even recall dreaming anything last night," Harm confesses.
Webb stares at him with narrowed eyes for a few minutes, as if trying to delve into Harm's mind and extract the information he's looking for by the force of his gaze. To his credit, although he has no basis for the reason behind that unforgiving stare, Harm doesn't flinch. He meets Webb's stare and returns it openly—more openly than he's ever looked at anyone before. It's that openness that convinces the three of them that the apparent amnesia is real and not an attempt at subterfuge. "Would you be willing to submit to a few tests? Perhaps we'll be able to figure out how to access your memories."
"Yeah, sure. Whatever you want," Harm acquiesces with a shrug. "I'll do anything if it will help me remember something."
The few suggested tests turn into several. Those several morph into many more over the next week or so. Every test they can think of is run at least once, many twice, and several more are made up on the spot. At the end of the first week Harm isn't any closer to having his memory return, and they're not any closer to determining just what it is that was done to make him forget. The biggest surprise and a minor setback for the testing process comes on the second day—when presented with a written list of instructions for one of the tests, Harm simply stares at the paper for several minutes before announcing he can't read it.
"I know what reading is, in theory; I just can't determine how to put it into practice."
Visions of months of retraining dance through the minds of those observing that particular session; they are dispelled a few hours later after the basics for both reading and writing have been covered and in a very short time he's as proficient with both as he was before. Without fail, when other areas are found that require a learned proficiency, Harm attempts each and every one on his own before admitting defeat and asking for help. For each of these, he is again given enough basic instruction to get him through the test, and every time his comprehension is excellent. "Some part of his brain must remember how to do all of this, but for some reason he is unable to access it until he is basically retrained," one of the testers comments near the end of their testing. As tests are completed and there is no sign his memory is going to return despite the ease of retraining previously learned skills, an idea begins to form in the minds of several of the scientists.