San Diego

Disclaimer: Not mine….not even sure if I would want them in the state they're in currently. : p Anyways! Not mine, DPB's please don't sue. :nods:

Author's Notes: I wrote this kinda under the impression that Harm and Mac are 'stealth dating' (dating in secret). That explains the very end of the phone conversation…just in case any of you guys wonder when you read it. :nods: And I know it's been awhile since you guys have 'seen' me around, but I've been pretty active over in the NCIS category, so if you want some fairly good Kate/Gibbs fics, scamper on over there! Hopefully my JAG muse has come back to me, and ya'll will see some more from me!

Mac just got into her room when her cell phone rang again. She looked at the id, and gave a strange look. It was ten o'clock here, meaning it was one in DC, so why in the world was Harm calling her? "Hey, Harm, what are you still doing up?" She remembered the broken tone in his voice earlier tonight. "What's wrong?"

"Uh…" Mac sat down, letting him take his time. "Mattie was in an accident. She's in a coma right now…If she wakes up she could be paralyzed from the neck down…that's if she wakes up at all." Harm said softly.

"Oh my god Harm…I'm so sorry." She whispered. "I'm going to come home."

"Mac, don't do that, you're at the conference. I just need someone to talk to…" Harm said, trailing off.

"Harm, Mattie and I grew closer during the past year, and I care for her. And I care for you Harm. I'll go to the General tomorrow and get permission to go back." Mac said, feeling weak at the thought of the spunky little girl lying in a hospital bed, helpless. "I'll get back as soon as I can…are you going to be okay?"

Harm bit his lip. "I'll be fine, Mac. I'll be better when you get home." They both cracked a smile at that.

"Me too. I'll be home soon, okay?" Mac said. "Get some sleep, Mattie won't want you to be exhausted when she wakes up. Don't want to scare her with the bags under your eyes."

Harm cracked another smile. "I'll try."

"I love you Harm." She murmured.

"I love you too Sarah." And with that their call was disconnected.

The next morning…

Mac walked into the General's temporary office and knocked lightly on the door. "Enter." He said, without looking up.

"General." Mac said quietly. The General looked up, switching his attention from the files in front of him to his chief of staff. "Sir, I was wondering if I could get permission to return home today."

"Why Colonel? That eager to get back to the blizzard?" The General asked, leaning forward in his seat.

"No Sir." Mac said smiling. "While I've enjoyed getting out of the cold, there's something back home that requires my attention."

The General raised his eyebrow, curious. "Expand please Colonel?"

Mac sighed. "Sir, Commander Rabb was the legal guardian of a teenager last year, and part of this year. She went back to her biological father a few months ago, but they've kept in touch." Cresswell nodded, showing that he understood. "The girl, Mattie, just got into a serious accident, and is in a coma right now. Over the past few months she and I have gotten closer, and I would like to be there for her…and for Commander Rabb."

"Well Colonel, the Commander is a big boy, I'm sure that he can take care of himself."

Mac smiled softly, and nodded. "Yes Sir, he is, but I'd feel better if I were there, for support Sir. Plus I am very concerned about Mattie, and would like to be there to learn more about her condition." She said, hoping that Cresswell would approve her request.

After a few seconds, Cresswell nodded. "Permission granted. Are you taking a civilian flight or waiting for a transport?"

"I have a ticket for a civilian flight in four hours." Mac said, blushing slightly.

"You were going to leave whether I gave you permission or not, weren't you?" He asked, semi-amused.

Mac smiled and nodded. "Yes Sir, I was. But it's nice to know that I will still have a job when you come back. Thank you Sir." She said, standing up.

She headed for the door, and was almost out of his office when he called out to her. "Colonel?" She turned around and nodded. "Give the Commander my condolences. I hope, for everyone's sake, that she's alright."

"Thank you Sir. I do too." Mac said.

In Mac's Quarters…

Mac was walking around the room, packing up her bag, checking her internal clock every now and then. She had the patio door open, soothed by the sound of the waves crashing against the beach.

"Packing already Colonel?" She turned around at the all too familiar voice. Vukovic. "We still have three days left here." He said, as he walked into her room.

She laughed wryly. "Come in Lt." She turned back to her bag, throwing in a pair of her sweats. "And I'm going back this afternoon."

He leaned up against the dresser that was across from the bed where she had her things. "How come?"

"Personal reasons Vukovic, and therefore, none of your business."

He smiled and laughed. "Why do you have so many secrets Mac?"

She turned around, a smile on her face. "I don't have a lot of secrets Vukovic. I just have a lot of secrets from you. And I intend on keeping it that way." She shook her head and continued packing.

He came up close behind her. "I'll tell you one of my secrets if you tell me one of yours." He said intimately into her ear.

Mac just laughed and turned around. They were close, but it didn't seem to be affecting her. "Alright. Spill Lt." She said, cocking her head to the side playfully.

He grinned down at her. "I was scared to death of chickens when I was a little boy." Mac just laughed and shook her head. "Your turn…Mac." He murmured.

Mac pursed her lips, and looked up at him. She leaned in close to him, and whispered in his ear, "I'm taken." And stepped back, going across the room to the dresser and pulling out a dress.

Vukovic turned around and looked at her, an incredulous expression on his face. "What?"

She smirked. "That's my secret for you. I'm taken." She walked up to him, and gave him a curious expression. "What you thought that all of your advances would go somewhere Lt.?" She asked, putting emphasis on his rank.

Vukovic shrugged. "So that why you're going home? Miss your boyfriend too much?"

Mac laughed. "I do miss him, but that's not the reason I'm going home. But like I said Vukovic, I'm going home for personal reasons, and my personal life is none of your business. No I'd appreciate it if you left now, I have a plane to catch in three hours."

"I'll see you back in DC then." He said, walking dejectedly towards the door.

"See you at work Lt." She said, already refocused on her packing.

Mac had called Harm to find out what hospital Mattie was at, and had grabbed a cab there. "Hi, I'm here for a patient. Matilda Grace, or it could be under Matilda Johnson." She said, looking around for the familiar frame of her best friend.

"Ahh yes, Matilda. She has quite a support system." The nurse at the station said. "She's in room 134. Down the hall to the left." Mac nodded her thanks, and headed down the hall.

She found Mattie's room quickly, and glanced inside. Mattie's curly red hair stood out starkly against the white linen of the hospital pillowcase. She looked so small and fragile, and Mac found tears welling up. How could this happen to someone as wonderful as Mattie?

She walked quietly into the room, and looked at Harm. He was holding Mattie's hand in his, and his head was bent, as if he were praying. She didn't want to startle him, but was suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to comfort him. She laid a soft hand on his shoulder, and he turned around with a start. She smiled softly down at him. "Hi." She whispered.

"Hi." He replied, letting go of Mattie's hand, and standing up. Before she knew what was happening, she found herself wrapped in his arms. He clung to her tightly, as if she were his only lifeline. She returned his hug fiercely, wrapping her arms securely around his waist.

He let go of her, but didn't completely break contact. They both turned to the bed, gazing at the girl that they both had become so fond of. "I'm sorry I wasn't here for you earlier." Mac whispered, taking his hand.

Harm glanced over at her. "It's okay. You had important things to do."

Mac shook her head, and squeezed his hand. "I had work to do. This," She murmured, looking over at Mattie again, "Is the most important thing to me right now." She turned to Harm. "You two are the most important things right now."

Harm let go of her hand, and moved his hand to around her waist, pulling her close to him in a sideways hug. He dropped a soft kiss to her hair. "Thank you for coming Sarah."

Mac looked up and gave him a soft smile. "Anytime Harm. Anytime."

Hope you enjoyed! Please review and tell me what you thought!