Title: No Hard Feelings

Chapter One

By: LizD

Written November 2003

With Love and thanks to the cast, crew and creators of JAG.

Time Line: Season 9 – Somewhere in the middle (Ignoring Mattie and literally written after Close Quarters/Posse Comitatus). Harm and Mac are both back at JAG and their relationship is at a professional level at best – for now.

2015 EST – JAG Headquarters – Falls Church, VA

Harm was working late, still catching up on the Imes' cases. He was in the copy room when he heard Mac's raised voice coming from her office. He loitered trying to determine if she needed a rescue. He heard her slam down the phone and then a loud thud as something was thrown at the window in her office. She had been on the phone; he could put his tights and cape away. He proceeded to gather his files to head back to his office. He averted his eyes and tried to appear invisible as he shuffled through the bullpen, but she caught him.

"I suppose you heard all that?" She declared across the empty office as she knelt down to pick up what was thrown.

"Not sure what I heard - sounded like a Hurricane." He smiled that smile.

She scoffed. "Men! Can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em and leave their bodies in a ditch." She went back into her office.

He followed. "I hate to be the one to break it to you Mac, but men say the same thing about women."

"Bring it on." She called over her shoulder. "At least it would be a fair fight."

He leaned against the doorframe. "Trouble in paradise?"

"I am not discussing this with you."

"The spook getting spooky?"

"Harm!" She warned.

"Not ranking on the need-to-know-scale wearing a little thin?"

"Shut up."

"You brought it up."

She glared at him. "Fine – riddle me this Batman: why do men think they own you after – never mind."

"Come on Mac." He leaned baited her. "I've seen you in your underwear; we have no secrets. After what?"

"After - - -" She fought to find the words. "They make their objective."

He smiled an arrogant smile with a tinge animosity at being close to the ONLY man in her life who didn't 'make his objective'. "Well, speaking as the official representative of the entire male population – most men don't."

"Has not been my experience." She was sorting through the files on her desk trying not to pay him the proper amount of heed.

"Really?" He waited for her to respond. She didn't. "I thought the biggest issue for your kind was men and their commitment issues – or lack there of."

"With one obvious exception – that has not been my experience either."

"Nice to know at least one of us stands out in the crowd."

She glared up at him. "Do you even know what I'm talking about?"

He shook his head in disgust and pulled a dopey accent. "Well being as I just fell off the turnip truck this morning and don't know the players from Adam, I will have to venture a guess and say that you slept with Webb and now he is all over you like white on rice." He gloated. "Am I in the ball park?"

She rolled her eyes. "Mixed metaphors aside - maybe even on base – albeit crudely – but on base."

"Further than I've ever been before." He said under his breath but loud enough for her to hear. "However – there is a flaw in your logic."

"How did I know THAT was coming?" She was less than amused.

"What most men will do does not apply to you. - - - You are not 'most' women."

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"You are one of those independent self-sufficient females that are hard to hold on to, Mac – makes the male of the species – well most of them anyway – crazy. You play the ultimate HARD TO GET game and when you finally give in; how can you blame a guy for wanting to hold onto what he won fare and square."

"Won! It's all one big sporting event to your team, isn't it?"

"Well we don't all have the same colored jerseys and we don't all read from the same play book – but yeah - battles are all about winners and losers – and you put up one hell of a battle, colonel."

She raised her hand in a 'stop' signal. "We are not going to talk about this. Not me. Not you. Not this. Not now."

"Why not?"

"You're still pushing an agenda and I am done with that." She stated flatly.

"Agenda! I have no agenda." He was dripping with mock affrontery, "Other than as trusted colleague offering a soft ear in your time of need."

"Oh, bite me." She jeered.

"If only I could." That was too low for Mac to hear.

She heard something and whatever it was – was not nice. "Care to repeat that, navy?"

"I'm crushed." He put on his best hurt look. "You think I would ENJOY listening to you rail against your most recent embodiment of Velcro known as Clayton Webb?"

"I never said it was Clay and yes you would enjoy it – hell you would feed on this for days."

"You have too low an opinion, Mac." He grinned. "This is fodder for six months to a year."

"Don't you have work to do?"

Unphased he ventured on. "So is this just another a bump in the road or the end of the line for the colonel and the spy?"

She was frustrated. "Do you care?"

"I do. Of course I do. Not that your personal life makes a damn bit of difference to me – but you are a lot easier to work with when you haven't put the entire male population on report."

"A report that some males will never get off."

He stopped the play and hit straight at the heart of HIS issue. "You have something to hash out with me, marine?"

"You gonna fight back?"

"Don't I always?

"No."

"Well I won't tonight either – like shooting fish in a barrel."

She rolled her eyes. "Gotta take the 'cliché a day' calendar away from you."

"HA – so answer the question."

"Which one?"

"Is it over or just something else to get through?"

"Why do you care?" She snapped.

"Assume that I do."

She studied him for a moment. His expression was unreadable. She relented. "Fine - just to get you off my back – we're done." She paused to see his reaction. If he had one, it didn't show. "Happy now?"

"Are you?" She looked away. He dropped his antagonism for a moment. "You being unhappy does not make me happy, Mac." He waited until she looked up at him. "You Ok?" He said softly.

She glanced away. He was trying to be nice. "I'm fine. - - - I'll be fine."

"Well, I knew that much." He paused briefly. "You are nothing if not resilient – one of the things I admire about you."

"Is that the nicest thing you have ever said to me?" She barbed back at him.

"Quite possibly." He smiled. "No, I am sure I have said something about your eyes that was nicer – but that was a long time ago."

"A VERY long time ago." She brushed past him. "I'm going home – hot bath, pint of Ben and Jerry's and all will be right with the world."

"That's all it takes to get someone out of your system? Hot water and ice cream."

"Works like a charm."

He followed after her. "Poor ol' Spooky Clay – 60 gallons of water and a pint of ice cream away from being a memory. That has got to be a hit to the ego."

"Well if it makes you feel any better – ran through the flavor list and at least one hot water heater on you."

"Should I be flattered?"

"No – turns out I was PMS." She hit the down button again.

"Is that what you really want to do?"

"What? Go home and immerse myself in Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch and bubbles up to my neck?"

"You bet."

"While I am enjoying that visual – " He scanned her up and down. "Really enjoying that – wouldn't you rather do something a little more proactive?"

"Like what?"

"Let's do something."

She looked at him suspiciously. "Why?"

"Why not?"

The elevator arrived and she got in. "Not a good enough reason, Rabb. See you tomorrow."

He stopped the doors from closing. "Come on, Mac. We used to be friends."

"We still are – to a degree."

"So come on – we'll go do something – just a couple of old friends."

"What would we do?"

"I don't know – a movie, a run, we can go play miniature golf if you want."

She thought about it and it didn't feel right. She shook her head. "No, not tonight – maybe another time."

"So you are just going to go home and lick your wounds, feel sorry for yourself and dive into enough sugar to put you into a diabetic coma."

"That's the current plan."

"Women!" Harm let go of the elevator door and walked away.

She followed after him. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing."

"Come on – no secrets – I have see you in your underwear too."

He turned and grinned, mostly grateful that he was able to engage her in this little tête-à-tête. "Well -- You are quick to blame all your problems on men – and tomorrow morning when you wake up pruny, five pounds heavier with a sugar hangover you will blame that on men too."

She didn't want to grant him his point, even though he had one. "So what do men do in this type of situation?"

"Well – most men go out, get drunk and pick up another girl – woman - female."

"Goodnight Harm."

"But I am not most men." He stopped her. "I usually play a little one-on-one."

"So now you are suggesting we play basketball?"

"No, there would be no contest. I'd have to tie one hand behind my back."

"Should do that anyway."

"But I do have an idea that any marine worth her salt could not turn down."

"I'm all ears."

"Not from where I'm standing."

"Knock it off, sailor."

The Cheshire cat grin almost prevented him from continuing on. "I defended the training officer at Quantico – Lieutenant Petrie. He runs the obstacle course among other things and told me about THE TOWN."

"THE TOWN."

"Yeah, it is a mock up of an Iraqi town - search and destroy type training."

"And."

"Well, I say we go head to head."

"Excuse me."

"Do the town – as they say. Just you and me and a little capture the flag with M16's."

"Live ammo?"

"Ha – no – blanks."

"What fun is that?"

"Alright - how 'bout paintball?"

"Paintball?"

"Yeah, less deadly than live ammo and much more gratifying than blanks – they sting and leave a nasty mark."

"You are asking me to play paintball?"

"You game?"

"You do know I am trained for this."

"Well I haven't been sitting home making model airplanes."

"All evidence to the contrary." She was thinking about it seriously. "Can we get in at this time of night?"

"You bet – Lieutenant Petrie owes me – kept him out of the brig."

"One on one – head to head – just you and me – and a couple of projectile weapons?"

"Sounds like a dream come true, doesn't it?"

She thought for a moment – "Should we bet?"

"Will it make it more challenging for you?"

"It would."

"What's the bet?"

"You choose, I have no intention of losing."

"Loser has to be nice to the winner."

"Nice?"

"Nice – no rude remarks, no snappy come backs, no innuendo – you know NICE."

"For how long?"

"A month."

"You couldn't do that for a month."

"A week."

"Why don't we just do dinner?"

"Chicken."

"A week. - Alright, fine."

"Fine?"

"Fine."