Disclaimer: JAG is property of Donald P. Bellisario, Paramount Pictures, CBS Television and Belisarius Productions. Don't sue me. I have no money and am very, very, broke.
Author's Note: Thank you for ALL of your wonderful reviews for the first chapter! My thanks also go out to both Katie and Erin for beta-ing and the motivation! I also want to make a note that I meant "summer whites" instead of "dress whites" in the last chapter. I have changed that and I'm sorry for that error. :o I'll try to not let it happen again. Finally, enjoy! Please read and review. :) Lunch with Catherine and David would be nice.
Summary: How many hits can a relationship take – before eternally being destroyed? How about just one? Harm and Mac have taken their relationship to the next level, but chaos comes all too soon.
Chapter Two: The Replacement
One Month Later
0900 Local Time
Falls Church, Virginia
The JAG bullpen was as busy as ever. Colors of blue, white, and Marine green, quickly zipped from one end of the room to the other. Talks of dispositions, briefs, and case files loudly echoed off the walls. He felt so out of place.
Being the new kid on the block was always hard, but he figured he would be used to it by now. The Navy never kept you in one place for a long period of time, and usually moved you within two years. This was something he knew all too well.
Taking long strides towards the office marked, "General Cresswell", he forced himself to appear confident – he had to, he was a lawyer for heaven's sake. Yet, inside there were butterflies flipping, turning, and tumbling, making him sick to his stomach. He hated getting re-stationed, and he really hated having to get new bosses. Hopefully this boss was nicer than the other ones he had.
By the time he reached the office, the sweat on his palms became unbearable. The briefcase he was holding in his hand was slowly slipping out, which made him grip that much harder. The sweat on his back seemed to seep through his undershirt, and he wondered if there was a mark through his white shirt. That would have been embarrassing.
He noticed a young brunette sitting behind a desk and smiled briefly at her before telling her why he was there.
"Hi, my name is Commander Jon Wilkinson, and I have an appointment with the General at 0915."
The Petty Officer smiled at him and checked her computer. "Yes Commander, the General will see you in a moment. Please take a seat."
She motioned to the seats lining the wall, and he settled himself down. Time seemed to pass by so slowly, and the tick on the wall couldn't have gotten any louder. He shuffled his feet nervously, and the Petty Officer eventually glanced over at him to see what was wrong. Mumbling a soft, "Sorry", he sat up and leaned his head back against the wall. The coolness was soothing.
A beep sounded and the gruff voice of the General came through the intercom.
"Petty Officer, is my 0915 appointment here, yet?"
The noise startled her. "Yes sir, he is here. Shall I send him in?"
"Of course. Next time, page me will you?"
There was a click that ended the conversation, and the Petty Officer cringed. Jon gave her a sympathetic smile, and straightened himself out before knocking on the door.
"Enter." The booming voice bellowed.
Jon quickly entered and shut the door behind him. Walking towards the desk and standing at attention in front of the General made him feel like he was a piece of meat on display at the market. The General looked him over and nodded.
"At ease. Please take a seat." He motioned to a chair and Jon gratefully sat down. He didn't know if he could have stood much longer, his knees were quivering. Nervousness and anxiety never did him any good.
The General sat down also, and clasped his hands on his desk. Jon tried to look straight at him, but his eyes diverted from one object in the room to another. He settled his briefcase next to the chair and his hands found their way to the arm rests.
"Commander, is there a reason as to why you won't look at me straight in the face?"
Jon's eyes finally met his. "No, sir." Was his quick reply.
There was an awkward silence, and Jon attempted to smile. The General huffed and continued the appointment. Flipping through a folder on his desk, Cresswell silently read through his record.
"You are from Miramar, right?"
"Yes, sir. I worked as a JAG lawyer for about two years there."
This meeting was not going as planned. What happened to his confident plan?
"Hmm…" The General flipped a couple pages over, and read from his file some more.
"It looks as if you're quite a good lawyer, actually. You've won about three-fourths of your cases within the past year."
Jon sat up, and his hands folded in his lap. "If that is what my record says, sir."
"Do you know why you were transferred, Commander?"
"From what I've been told, you are a lawyer short?" Why was he questioning what he was told?
"That would be correct. Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. is temporarily stationed on the USS George Washington right now, until we can find a suitable replacement." The General peered over at Jon, and his eyes revealed nothing.
"Have you met the rest of the staff here at JAG?"
With a shake of his head, Jon replied, "No, sir."
The General nodded. "Very well. Welcome to JAG headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. I assume that you have settled in already?"
"Settled in, sir?" His voice cracked a bit.
"Yes. Settled in. You have a place to stay?"
Jon's head nodded. "Yes, sir. I've found an apartment a couple minutes from here."
"Good. Petty Officer Coates will show you to your temporary office. Settle in there, and you will note that some cases are already on your desk. Please review those, and prepare for court within the next two weeks. If you have any questions, I'll be here in my office. However, if the question is not JAG related, it might be better to ask one of your colleagues." Cresswell smiled and stood. Holding out a hand for Jon to shake, he officially greeted his new employee. "Welcome to JAG, Commander."
The tense atmosphere in the room faded, and Jon shook the General's hand firmly. "Thank you, sir."
"You are dismissed. Ask the Petty Officer to show you around."
"Yes, sir." With a click of his heel, and an attention stance, Jon turned around and left the office. He was glad the appointment was finally over.
The young Petty Officer again greeted him with a smile, and stood. He couldn't help but return the same, and finally spoke. "Petty Officer, the General just told me that you would show me to an office?"
She nodded. Walking around her desk, she held out a hand to shake. "Petty Officer Coates, sir. I'd be more than happy to show you to your new office."
As they busily made their way around the bullpen, Coates introduced him to many of his new colleagues. From a Lieutenant Commander Roberts, to a Commander Sturgis, the introductions never seemed to end. Reaching the end of a hallway, Coates stopped abruptly and turned around with another bright smile. Did she ever stop?
"Well Commander, I wasn't able to introduce you to Colonel Mackenzie, but I'm sure you two will meet eventually. This is your office, and if you need anything, please let me know. Welcome to JAG, sir."
Jon smiled politely and nodded. "Thank you, Petty Officer. I think I'll settle in now."
It was a silent dismissal, and Coates left. Jon sighed in relief and took a look at his new office. The walls were bare, there was a single oak table in the middle of the room, two chairs sat on the other side, and a couple of filing cabinets sat in the right corner. A window was miraculously placed right behind him, and he was grateful that he would have some sort of natural source of light on well weathered days. Putting his briefcase on his desk, he sat down and let himself relax. At last, there would be some peace and quiet.
2200 Local Time
USS George Washington
Somewhere Near the Persian Gulf
The familiar tapping of keys and the soft hum of the computer fan stirred him from his sleep. Sleepy eyes slowly opened and in an attempt to ignore the annoying noises, he turned to his side and pulled the blanket tighter around himself. He didn't feel well, and with his bunkmate typing carelessly away – he didn't know if he could survive. His body ached, and the bunk was less than comfortable. Peeking over the edge of the bed, Harm sighed. His bunkmate, a Lieutenant Nicholas Reinhart was giggling softly and hovering over the computer like a mouse to cheese.
Reinhart was a young rookie. The only thing he and Harm had in common was law, and the discovery of the love of their lives. Except…Reinhart was already engaged to the love of his life, and Harm wasn't. The fact that Reinhart was at least fifteen years younger than him made Harm feel more than just old – he was ancient! If only he and Mac had gotten their acts together much earlier in life. Perhaps they would have children by now…why was he even thinking of this? Did Mac even want to raise a family with him? There was no doubt in his mind and heart that Sarah Mackenzie was the woman for him – but did she feel the same? Questions and insecurities plagued his mind and he soon found himself spiraling in a thoughtful whirlpool.
"Commander? I see that you're finally awake. How are you feeling, sir?"
The random question cleared Harm from his thoughts. With a shake of his head, Harm decided to act nonchalant. "Fine…just fine, Lieutenant. What are you doing up? Talking to Erica again?"
Nicholas blushed slightly and turned back toward the computer screen. "We're discussing wedding plans, sir. She and I are debating where to have our honeymoon."
He sat up, and wiped the sleep from his eyes. "If you don't mind me asking, what are your options?"
"Hawaii, New Zealand, or the Florida Keys. We're leaning towards Hawaii." Nick smiled.
Harm nodded sleepily. "Hawaii is a great place…it would be a good choice."
"Where would you take your fiancée, sir?" It was an innocent question, yet Harm still froze midway in his actions. Hopping off the top bunk, he stretched innocently and stalled quietly, but saw that Nick was still anticipating an answer.
"I don't have a fiancée, Nick." Harm hoped the subject would disappear. There was no way he was ready for this conversation – especially with a man he had only known for a month.
"Hypothetically speaking, sir. Where would you take Mac if you two were engaged?"
Harm sighed reluctantly. "Hawaii…it would be Hawaii."
Nick nodded, and turned back to continue his online conversation with his fiancée. Harm shook his head, and reached for his clothes hanging in the small closet. Although the room was quite small, Harm and Nick managed to live together for the past month. There were two bunks, two small closets, and one desk. The desk contained a computer and a small shelf for books. Because there were no other open rooms on the ship, Harm agreed to this arrangement. This was only temporary, and Harm had no choice but to put up with it.
After he suited up, Harm headed out the door and towards the legal office located on the ship. Since Nick was using the computer in their room, he figured he would use the one in the office. No one would be in there at this time of night, and he needed to grab the Tylenol pills from his desk anyway. With a flip of his wrist, lights came on and he shut the door behind him.
Harm quickly logged on, and smiled. There were two messages from his sweetheart. It was time to read, write, and terribly miss.
Two Days Later
0800 Local Time
Falls Church, Virginia
Her heels clicked against the tiled floor as she walked toward the JAG offices. She held her briefcase in her right hand, and her left hand clenched onto her cover. Using her shoulder to push through the doors of JAG Ops, she exhaustingly made her way over to her office.
Harm had called last night, and they spent about a half an hour talking about almost nothing. Work didn't seem to ever fit in, and the usual "miss you" was said. She could only hope that Harm would come home soon – life was getting difficult without him. Well okay, not really. She just missed him terribly. E-mails and phone calls weren't the same as seeing a person every single day. She missed his touches, his smiles, and most of all, his hugs. It wasn't kisses that she missed most. No, she missed being in his arms – falling asleep in them, and the strength and support she felt when her world crumbled. His arms were where she found her safety, and her strength. Without him, she couldn't help but mope through her days.
After putting down her things, she headed straight for the company kitchen. Only coffee could fix her exhaustion – other than sleep. Mac was greeted by Bud on the way over, and seeing him made her miss Harriet. Things just weren't the same without her in the office. Harriet was one of her closest friends, and she missed her. Making a mental note to visit her that weekend, Mac turned the corner, and entered the kitchen.
A nice, freshly brewed, coffee pot sat on top of the counter. It was all she could see, and she began to have tunnel vision. Her goal? The coffee pot. Rushing over to pour some into her cup, she graciously sipped the hot liquid. She was so lost in the fact that she had finally gotten coffee, that she didn't notice the person coming up behind her with the same goal.
A large hand came around her and grabbed the pot. Mac was startled and jumped slightly – almost spilling coffee onto her uniform. That would have been a disaster.
"Sorry." She moved over and turned around to face the fellow coffee addict. His dark brown hair reminded her of Harm, and so did his height. He was decked in summer whites, and from what she could tell, he was a commander. The JAG insignia next to his shoulder board stood out. Strange, she had never seen him before.
The man sipped some coffee from his cup and visibly relaxed. "This is good coffee. I wonder who made it."
He was mainly speaking to himself, but Mac decided to answer. "Commander Roberts did. I believe he makes the best coffee."
He nodded. "Agreed."
There was a moment of silence, and Mac continued to drink her coffee. She caught him looking at her once or twice, and smiled slightly. He finally put a hand out.
"Hi, I'm Jon Wilkinson. Well, Commander Jon Wilkinson." Jon smiled, and waited for the return greeting.
"Commander Jon Wilkinson, I'm Colonel Sarah Mackenzie. But everyone calls me Mac." Reaching out her right hand, she took his hand to shake.
Jon nodded. "Colonel, it's a pleasure to meet you."
"Likewise." Mac turned around to put her cup in the sink, and Jon couldn't help but admire her obvious beauty and silent charisma. She was absolutely stunning. He subconsciously glanced over at her left hand – and mentally noted that she did not wear a ring. Interesting.
By the time Jon was done observing, Mac had already turned around to face him. "So…I'm assuming you're new here?"
"Yes ma'am. Just got transferred over from Miramar, San Diego."
"Oh. When did you get transferred?" Jon walked to the sink and placed his cup in.
"A couple days ago. I'm one of the main lawyers now. Supposed to temporarily replace a Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr."
Mac nodded in response. "Yeah, Harm's overseas right now. I'm a JAG attorney, also." A glance at the clock made her realize that she should have been in her office by now. She had an early appointment with a client, and opted to dismiss herself politely. As much as she wanted to meet every new person in JAG, she had a job to do. "I'm really sorry to just abruptly cut this conversation short, but one of my clients will be here soon. It was really nice to meet you Commander. Welcome to JAG." She flashed a grin and Jon nodded in response.
"I guess I'll see you around, Colonel."
Mac smirked and waved a hand. "See you around."
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