Summary: Yet another reaction piece to the finale.
A/N: I don't really think this is the way I want this to go. But it's the way it wrote itself. Practically, it would make so much more sense to have him move to San Diego. Since he could still practice law there and she can't in London. Still.
AN2: I'm a shoe-a-holic. I needed to get that out so you understand why I noticed Mac's shoes.
A/N3 (and the most important AN and more like a preemptive thank-you. I'll still be around…): This is dedicated to several people. To Babs and Lola, first, because they didn't think I was sad when I said the only thing getting me through the week was JAG. And because they're the only ones who know me and know that I write fanfic. And because they just rock. To Kay, Vivienne, Pixie, Cristina, Annie, Tracy, lska, manette, and anyone who has written fanfic or sent me notes in encouragement. You have made this a wonderful experience and I cannot thank you enough for all of that. Thank you all so very much for everything. :)
When she bought the shoes, even she thought that she was being ridiculous. They were high-heeled and silver, completely impractical and just about the prettiest shoes she'd ever seen. There she was, accidentally at a sale in a store she couldn't afford, staring at shoes so fragile they looked like they'd break in the gentlest breeze. Even on sale, they were beyond her budget. She'd never have an occasion where she could wear them. They were far too frivolous; so, she bought them and felt guilty for the rest of the day. She didn't even shop - much - after buying them.
They sat in her closet day after day, delicate and silver in their box. They were nestled between practical shoes, her pumps for work, and other going-out shoes that fell in and out of season and style. Occasionally, she tried them on. She'd wait until after she'd had a pedicure and then she'd slip her feet into the strappy, silver heels and wiggle her toes. She'd walk around bedroom and scuff their soles on her kitchen floor and living room rug. After all, she didn't want to humiliate herself the first time she wore them in public. She would roll up her pants' legs and twist in the mirror, studying the angles and where the heels' straps fell, before taking them off and slipping them into their bag and then into the box. She'd close the door on the pretty shoes and go out into the living room, wondering where she would eventually wear them.
She never thought she'd wear them to McMurphy's. She never imagined that she would celebrate her engagement in a bar. Years ago, when she bought the sandals, she imagined wearing them to a ball or a formal wedding. She thought she'd wear them on her honeymoon or on a cruise. Instead, they made their debut in a place that smelled like stale cigarette smoke and where people could spill beer on them. And it was absolutely perfect.
Her fingers fiddled with a button on his jacket as they watched the coin arc above their heads. It flipped, end over end and silver in the dim light of the bar. His hand was warm and steady on her back and his fingers tensed on her hip when the coin reached its zenith and began to fall.
Objects in a vacuum fall at the same rate of speed, she remembered, although she couldn't remember what that speed was. But it seemed like the coin was falling so slowly as it dropped to the floor. The group stepped back as the coin landed with a plink and began to roll. Seven pairs of eyes followed its track as it wound in a tight circle and rested, still spinning by her pretty, silver shoes. She stepped on it, flattening it, and bent down to pick it up.
"Hey, you cheated." Harm swatted her lightly on her backside.
She straightened and clutched the coin in her hand. Her breath rushed out in a small sigh and she held the coin tightly to her chest. "It doesn't matter," she said, "you won."
"But, Colonel, you didn't even look," Bud objected.
She uncurled her fingers and the let the coin drop into Bud's palm. "Sure I did."
"Mac," Harm began and she loved the way he drew her name out, low and long. She eased a hip on to the bar stool and raised an eyebrow at him. He sighed and turned to Bud. "We should do it over again." He turned and looked at Mac, who smiled sweetly back at him. "This time without interference."
"Best two out of three, Sir?" Jen asked. She held her hands behind her back and crossed her fingers. She didn't want the Captain to lose, but, now that she'd made up her mind, she could almost feel the sand between her toes and the sun on her face.
"That's a good idea, Petty Officer." General Cresswell toasted her with his martini glass. Five pairs of eyes locked on Bud, so no one saw Mac's elbow slide along the bar until it jostled Harriet's arm. Harriet glanced at her and saw Mac nod her head slightly in Bud's direction. Harriet nodded once and stood.
"This time you should call it, Harm," Mac told him, standing once again to kiss his cheek lightly. She brushed a thumb over his cheekbone and wiped away a smudge of lip-gloss.
"That seems fair," Harriet chimed. "Sir," she added quickly when he looked at her.
Bud tossed the coin in the air and Harriet scooted closer to Mac. Light caught on the silver edges and the coin winked as it spun in the air. "Heads," Harm said. Mac's fingers tightened on his lapel. Her foot slid forward slightly and he pushed against her thigh until stepped back against the bar. She glanced up at him and he mouthed, "Cheater."
She shrugged a little, her bare shoulder grazing over his shirt buttons and medals. His stomach muscles contracted and tensed beneath her arm. She smiled up at him and he forgot to watch the coin. It hit the floor with a light thud, landed flat on its side, and by her foot again.
Harriet pounced on it before anyone else could see it. "Heads again," she announced, stuffing the coin in her husband's hand. "So, Sir, it looks like London after all."
Mac shook her hair back from her face and looked up at him. "How's that feel, Captain?" She ran her fingers over his shoulder boards and smiled. He grinned back at her, a real smile with teeth and his whole face, not the half-smile, half-smirk she'd gotten used to seeing until tonight. She tried not to think about her resignation. She tried not to think about the promotion she'd never get and the command she'd never assume. Instead, she concentrated on his smile and the way his arm enveloped her waist. She thought about the wall of his chest behind her and the way his voice rumbled through it, vibrating against her back as they accepted their congratulations.
She thought about the way his cheek felt, rough and warn, against her skin when he bent down to whisper in her ear. "You still cheated," he said again.
She traced a finger around the cuff of his sleeve and between his fingers. "You'll never be able to prove it," she laughed.
He spun her around. "I don't have to prove it. I saw it."
She shrugged and walked her fingers up his arms and hooked them behind his neck. "Eyewitness testimony," she told him, "isn't always the most compelling. It's your word against mine, sailor."
"Uh, Mac," Sturgis raised his hand, "we all saw it."
She glared at him. "Shut up, Sturgis."
"Yes, Ma'am." He stepped back, raising his hands in surrender.
Harm glared pityingly at him this time. "Scared of a woman? Oof," he grunted as Mac's hand connected solidly with his stomach. "Sorry, a Marine?"
"Ahem," the general cleared his throat quietly.
"Right," Harm said. "Shutting up, too."
Everyone laughed and drinks were refilled. Bud and Harriet said good-bye and hugged their congratulations again. They promised to call before they left for the airport the next morning. The general left and Sturgis followed. Jen said good-bye to them and silently said good-bye to the beach and the sun. And then it was just them and then they were gone too. Back to her apartment to finish packing in between kisses.
She kissed him when unzipped her dress and told her to change or they would never finish packing. He kissed her when, over a pile of clothes and hangars, she caught his gaze and said, "I love you," as she dropped a pile of sweaters on the bed.
Her silver sandals went back in their bag and back into their box. She close the lid and laid them in the packing box with her other shoes. He taped it shut and she pasted the label on it. Her fingers lingered on the tape and the corners of her mouth turned up. Her shoes would look lovely on London's streets. She turned away and went to tell him that she wanted their wedding rings to be silver-colored and light. He would never know that they would match her shoes exactly. Just as he would never know that the coin landed tails up. Both times.