Disclaimer: not mine
Chapter Thirty Three
"The Future Belongs To Us"
May 14, 2004
Webb Family Residence
Mac had no idea something so beautiful existed in the world of the Webbs.
Their mysterious lives were so chock full of lies, deception, and trickery. It was hard to believe that their lives contained any sense of normalcy at all! Still, maybe it was possible that the only thing left to find would be something magical and lovely. The salty sea air was certainly doing her some good.
Unfortunately, this magical world was just an illusion. There would always be more of the dangerous spy stuff and that unbearable mistrust. There would always be the nature that was Clayton Webb and she simply couldn't deal with that anymore. She couldn't keep pulling him along to satisfy her own loneliness. He had to know that.
Even still, they were here and he was still trying.
Manderlee was just breathtaking. Clay had decided to bring her to this gorgeous estate in a last ditch effort at being romantic. He wanted them to spend a little time there together, alone. Time to sort out their problems and be happy again. The truth was, she wasn't sure they were ever really happy to begin with and she knew he was having a hard time admitting that. He wanted to keep his job and have her at the same time, which was already proven to be damn near impossible.
Especially when one of the parties was really in love with someone else. She always had been.
Mac played nice for as long as she could, then asked politely if Harm could join them as well. After all Harm had been through, he deserved a break too, she reasoned. She suppressed her amusement at Clay's dejected expression, but he reluctantly conceded. What kind of friend would he be if he said no? Even with their strange relationship officially over, Clayton Webb would always be putty in her hands.
Porter Webb had heard her son was bringing friends to their ancient family abode, which just delighted her to no end. It wasn't often Clay let Porter meet the people in his life, but for good reason. From what Mac could get Clay to say about his mother, Porter would rather prefer her son take up a vow of celibacy and strictly adhere to the Religion of the Spooks for the rest of his natural life. Her interest in his friends or significant others was merely a facade to show she could be a good and caring mother.
So the bed sheets that had been protecting the furniture were removed, revealing vibrant colors and elegant style. A teapot was found, whistling a herbal scent throughout the house. The mansion truly was amazing and Porter was being startling civil and warm.
Harm and Clay were being typically macho, exchanging words about the weather or ribbing each other about past missions. For a few brief moments, it was like years past when Clayton Webb was somewhat tolerable and Harmon Rabb, Jr. wasn't afraid of anything. Then the wind rustled the wind chimes outside, shocking them back into reality. It was indeed the year 2004, not 1995. Nine years had gone by and so much had changed. Clayton Webb had a broken heart and a cold future to look forward to. Harmon Rabb, Jr. had discovered he truly was vulnerable; that his future was clearly uncertain.
Eventually, the two men parted ways. Clay retreated to a study.
Harm walked out to the beach.
Mac didn't need to think twice about which man needed her more.
She found him there, his hands jammed into his pockets. His toes dug deeply into the sand; his sandals tossed haphazardly in front of him. His long locks whipped in the wind. His intense eyes finding something interesting on the horizon. The sun was setting on a pleasant day and he looked absolutely content. He had been home for two days, officially. Even though she could see he was happy to be home, something else was ailing him deep within his soul.
She wasn't really sure how long she stood next to him, trying to find whatever he was searching for out there on the horizon. She couldn't really remember when his hand enveloped hers, but suddenly she could feel the pressure of his fingers intertwined with her own. This tranquility was heavenly, but she could tell something was on his mind. Unfortunately, she had to break the silence.
He looked at her with saddened eyes, but with a bright grin. "I was just thinking about Mattie. My apartment. Jenn. Tiner. Everything."
His smile, for once, was too blinding; too fake. He was putting on a brave face. Mac let her expression fall slightly as she coaxed, "It's okay to cry, Harm. You've been through a lot."
Once he had permission to do so, he let it out. With difficulty. He was trying desperately to keep it together in front of her. A tear or two trickled down his cheek, but he wiped those away quickly. She imagined the dam holding his sorrow back was ready to burst, but he was doing a hell of a job of staying placid. Maybe he would let it all out later, in private. That was his way.
He shrugged hoping to show indifference, but he tightened his hold on her hand like his life depended on her.
He mumbled, "I lost Mattie. I don't think I can get her back."
Mac reminded him, "Didn't she call? Doesn't she want to see you?"
"I don't want to see her, Mac. I want her back in my life," Harm emphasized, then shook his head as if feeling guilty. "I sound so selfish. I'm not her real father."
"Harm. . ."
"And Tiner. God, that poor boy," Harm said, lips quivering. "He was forced to stalk you. Ordered to - - "
"Let's not revisit that, please," Mac joked lightly.
Harm never let go of her hand. It wasn't like she wanted him to, but she was beginning to wonder if he would ever be able to support himself. Would he always need her as a crutch? What if she couldn't fulfill that need? What if she couldn't hold him up? She could admit that her strengths lied within her military capabilities, not her emotional ones. It was obvious he would need something she couldn't give him and that was sound judgement and professional advice. She suggested with mild jest, "Well, I know this doctor. . ."
His objection was immediate, "I don't need a shrink, Mac."
"Well, I didn't think so either, but we all know how well that turned out," Mac smiled sadly. She tugged on his arm and he looked at her. "I want to help you, you know I do. I just can't help you with everything. I wish I could, but I can't."
"I don't need a shrink, Mac. I don't need help," he protested sternly. "I just need you."
As sweet as his omission was, she was steadfast in her claim, "Harm, you have me, but I'm not enough and you know it."
Harm finally conceded, then shrugged again, "Maybe you can give me the number."
"I will give you the number."
His gaze returned to the horizon and her curiosity got the best of her. "Harm, what are you looking for?"
"A sign. Something to say that what happened was for a good reason," Harm sighed. "I don't see one."
"What about your father?" she inquired thoughtfully.
"Andy died. Chris Locke died. Too many people were killed," Harm shook his head. "No, I wouldn't have risked all those lives just to find out one more thing about him. Not a chance."
"Maybe there isn't a good reason, then," Mac said, knowing her reasoning wouldn't make him feel better. She let the wind blow hair from her face, trying to find the right words. "Fate has a strange way of telling us things. Letting us know what's important. How to reach certain goals, even if that means risking something as precious as our own lives. "
"Fate always brings us together," he added softly, searching for and finding her thoughtful gaze. "No matter what happens, we're always standing side by side in the end."
Mac chuckled lightly and nodded in agreement, "Yeah, we are."
"So, what are we going to do about it this time?" Harm asked solemnly. He continued to give her an acute stare that spoke volumes of his sincerity. She didn't know how to answer. He turned to fully face her, taking both of her hands in his. He spoke softly, but strongly, "I know you and Clay are, well. . .I just want you to know that I'm here. I always have been. If you want to start a family, I'm ready. If you just want to remain the closest of friends, then I can live with that too, but. . .I can't bear the thought of not having you in my life, Mac. You need to know that. So don't tell me never because I won't accept that. Not this time."
Mac took time to let each word sink in, then firmly grasped his hands as well and chuckled, "You know, sometimes you scare me."
"I'm not trying to joke," Mac smiled apologetically, reverting her gaze to the sandy surface at her feet. "The compliments. The sincere gestures. All through the years I passed them off as pure Harmon Rabb, Jr. charm. The stuff you said to all the women in your life. I kept wondering why someone like you would want a stubborn Jarhead like me."
Harm lifted her face by her chin and said, "Because I love this stubborn Jarhead and like an idiot, I didn't tell her until I thought I would never see her again." He paused then requested, "Now I need to know if you meant it too."
Mac couldn't believe they were actually having this conversation, but did she just expect it to wither away and die? Well, yes. Usually, they did just that. No matter what confessions of love slipped from their mouths, they just let it alone and moved on. Harm wasn't doing that this time. Maybe she shouldn't either.
"Harm, I do love you. . ."
"I feel a 'but' coming," he almost groaned, but managed to plaster an amused grin on his face.
"But we still work together. . .at JAG," she pointed out, keeping a small smile on her face as well. "I just don't think . . ."
"Don't think. What do you want?" Harm asked. "Because I'm technically not back yet. I don't have to go back."
"Harm, don't say that. The Navy is your life," Mac said, clearly befuddled.
"Not anymore. My father apparently got wrapped up in some prophecy. Maybe he forgot about the important things in life because of it," Harm reasoned. "In the past year, after being around Mattie, after what you went through with Sadik. All I want is to do is protect the people I care most for. I want that family. I want that responsibility."
Mac's smile grew broader with each word. Yes, this was possibly even better than she had imagined. A simple mention of his love again probably would've been enough, but this verbalization of his feelings was much more than she had hoped for. She inched closer to him and said jokingly, "You're sure? You won't have some urge to fly an F-16 in the near future?"
"An F-16? What's that?" he asked dumbly, that infamous smile back in place and very genuine. He leaned down and captured her laughter in a kiss.
In that moment, they both realized the huge step they were taking. One kiss wouldn't solve all their personal problems, but a moment later, they didn't care. Sure, it took them nine years to get to this point, but boy, was it worth it.
Mac pulled back, he rested his forehead against hers. Then, just for added confirmation, she asked, "It's over?"
"Yeah, it's over," he replied confidently. "We won't have to worry about Rambaldi ever again. It's just you and me."
Yes, at that moment, they believed the future belonged to them.
May 14, 2004
Somewhere in the hills of Russia
They had all failed him.
They were either too dubious, or too zealous or too. . .stupid. They had all failed the original belief system that they had established all those years ago. He stared out at the vast sky and asked towards the heavens, Oh Rambaldi, how could they have been so brainless? After knowing the wisdom that you brought to us, how could they screw up so badly?
Somewhere in these ruins would be the body of a man who looked exactly like Harmon Rabb, Jr.. Somewhere in these ruins would be the pieces to the mold that would give the greatest vision known to man.
It would take years to reconstruct it, if reconstructing it would even be possible at all. In reality, they would have to find all the pieces and fit them back together exactly. Not one speck of dust could be left out of place. On top of that, even if they could get it back together, so much time would've passed that one of Harmon Rabb, Jr's descendants would be required to ever try and achieve the ultimate goal ever again. If they had to use the child of Sergei Shukov, then so be it. Somehow this was going to work again.
Mark Daniels had been so close. Now he was dead.
He adjusted his aviator sunglasses and scowled. If only he could've been overseeing this. If only he hadn't had to keep watching from a distance so his cover wouldn't be blown.
He had lost everything, thanks to Harmon Rabb, Jr.. His job. His wife. His credibility. He wanted nothing more than to ruin that man's entire lifetime, but something always tugged at his brain. The prophecy. It was clearly Harm's father they were addressing. It just seemed so obvious that Harm's DNA would help trigger the vision. What went wrong?
Former Commander Ted Lindsey leaned on a tree as he watched the bulldozer barge into the tough rock surface. It had been nearly a year since he lost his job. He had to go into hiding after trying to contact his former friends through unfriendly channels. Not wanting to arouse more suspicion, he just disappeared. Krennick did all the leg work for him. She had been brilliant, just lost her head in the end. Her unrequited love for Harm an issue he didn't contend with like he should have. Just like he never contended with his utter hatred for Harm.
Back then, when he still had some influence, Lindsey had hoped his damning report on the JAG staff would knock Harm off his high horse. Then, when Harm least expected it, they would grab him and tell him the truth about the prophecy. Unfortunately, Lindsey overdid it. He was fired for his lack of patience.
"Well, not this time," Lindsey muttered aloud.
"We found something!" Came a shout within the cave. Lindsey smiled and made his way over to the mess, using a flashlight to illuminate the dark caverns. He reached the spot and saw the remains of some human flesh and a severed limb. He wrinkled his nose slightly at the odor, then nodded. That had to be Mark Daniels. They were getting close.
He stood back to watch his men work. Well, they weren't his men, per say. When he had heard Allison had failed, he could only turn to one man for help. These men worked for that man now.
"How's it coming along, Mr. Lindsey?"
Lindsey smiled and turned to meet his new boss, "Well. I think we'll be finding most of the pieces before dark, Mr. Gareth."
Yes, Gareth was now in charge of the The Seven. It only seemed fitting, seeing how Allison was once his sweetheart. He played the part of jealous boyfriend for years, using his closeness with her to learn every detail about Rambaldi. Allison kept him along for pity, not knowing his true intentions or aspirations.
Gareth had originally planned on overthrowing her himself, but thanks to Ari and his "good heart", his former girl was stuck with NCIS and her multiple terrorism charges. She would no longer be a problem that The Seven had to deal with.
Gareth smiled, watching the men dig with great trepidation. He could already sense the power they could potentially unlock.
Lindsey also grinned, "I'm confident we can put it back together, Mr. Gareth."
Gareth nodded and patted Lindsey on the back, "Good. Rambaldi's vision is not dead. Not yet. I do believe with the utmost confidence, Mr. Lindsey, that the future belongs to us."
Author's Note: A huge thank you to the readers! Your encouragement and kind words kept this story alive! This is by far the longest saga I've ever written and I hope you enjoyed every bit! (It also took the longest to write and I couldn't apologize enough for the delay, but I hope it was worth it!)
A special thank you to Katie, who beta'd most of this and gave me pointers. You rock!
Until next time, be safe and have fun.