By: Liz D
A Future Fic based on the AU created in Old Friends and Old Friends, New Relationships
Spoilers/Prereqs: Sequel to Old Friends and Old Friends, New Relationships
Disclaimers: No disrespect to JAG's cast, crew or creators. With love and thanks.
Some of you might remember my past fanfictions – many have been reposted. I started this sequel last February right before the JAG show took its final turn for the worse. I won't discuss the last year or two of the show except to say that I was sincerely disappointed with everyone associated with that show. What a horrible way to end a show that lasted nearly a decade (I can't count the last half of season 10 and the first half is hardly memorable). Anyway, it killed my JAG muse. However I find that I have a NEED to write. So I thought I would toss this chapter out there to see if there is any interest in JAG or this particular version of Harm and Mac to continue. Please know that if you have not read Old Friends, or Old Friends, New Relationships these characters have little in common with the character that were on screen in S10 of JAG.
Letting The Days Go By
1746 EST – August 2007
Fall Church, VA
Harm entered the JAG offices. It had been nearly three years (actually thirty-four months) since he left JAG. He had been back to the offices often in that time, but it had ceased to feel like home. All the memories were still there, but they now felt like they had happened to another man. He smiled and greeted the people that he never got to work with; they all knew him by his relationship to Mac and his reputation. Harm was a legend. The men wanted to be him and the women wanted him to fall in love with them – well the younger version of Harm.
What these people didn't notice or care to see was that the fire had gone out in Harmon Rabb, Jr. He was older and wiser; that came with the passage of time – it was inevitable. But Harm had ripened in the past three years – ripened to the point of dying on the vine. With his job, his marriage and his fatherhood role he had learned the value of compromise. He had learned about working as a member of a team. He had learned that being the star was not a role that he got to play anymore; he was now a supporting character in his own life. He had learned about sacrifice, unfulfillment, disappointment and loss without blame. He learned his lessons well. Yes, he learned them well, he accepted them – accepted them without question … all for the team. He even accepted them when there was no team to accept them for.
Mac had open boxes in her office. She was packing up. On top of one was SARAH. Harm didn't notice. He didn't fly anymore - that was something else that happened in another life, to another man.
Harm banged on Mac's doorframe. "Hey."
She looked up. "Hey."
Mac looked much the same as she always had. Still beautiful with eyes that could draw him in or hold him at bay depending upon her mood. Her features were striking as ever – maybe they struck a little harder now. Mac had learned the same lessons Harm had, however she never felt more alone. She did not feel like a member of any team, she was alone in a crowed room and that made her sad. As always, Mac was willing to yield to the forces of the universe, but she would be damned if she would like it.
"How did it go in court?" He asked casually.
"The members are still out." Her response was just as casual. Like two good friends checking in with each other.
"That's a good sign, yes?"
"It can be. I am not so sure in this case."
Harm nodded. He had distant memories of what it was like waiting to see if the members bought your arguments or your opponent's. He remembered the game, and he might even have remembered how to play, but he would be very rusty.
"I brought the papers by." He said matter-of-factly handing her a large envelope. "I wanted to give you some time to go over them before you left."
"You didn't need to do that."
"I was coming by anyway, the admiral wants to see me." He reminded her.
Mac pulled out the legal documents out. One was the deed to the house; one was the sale of the house and the final set were three copies of the divorce settlement. They had worked the arrangements out together the day they agreed to the divorce, the day she accepted the assignment in Okinawa, four months after they agreed that she would move out. The agreement was nothing if not fair and equitable. He would buy her interest in the house; they would split the remaining assets in half – though most would stay with Harm for the moment – and there would be no alimony. It would be as if they were never married, as if the previous thirty-plus months was annulled or just simply ignored. But they would remain friends; there was absolutely no reason that had to change. They agreed on that. They agreed on nearly everything these days.
When speaking to people about the separation and divorce, both Harm and Mac got comments like, "Well, it's a good thing there were no children involved, it always gets messy when children are involved." Neither Harm nor Mac responded to those comments, but both knew in the deepest part of themselves that if children had been involved, the divorce would not have been necessary.
Mac proceeded to sign in the places marked for her signature.
"You don't want to read through them first?" He asked.
"I am sure they are fine."
She replaced all but her copy of the divorce decree back into the envelope and pulled out the cashier's check. She looked down at it. It was exactly what they agreed it would be. She still felt that it was too high, but they had done the math together. The value placed on the 'sweat equity' that Harm had put into the house was too low, according to Mac, but since the work was still not complete, Harm insisted on keeping it low.
She nodded sadly at the check. It was more than what she had started the marriage with. Apparently it – the marriage - was a good short-term investment – financially speaking.
"I am opening a trust account for Mattie for school." She said softly, slipping the check into her briefcase. It was her way of forcing Harm to take some of the money back. He would never refuse her help with Mattie.
"Mattie told me. Thank you, it will help her a lot."
"I know I said I wasn't going to ask, but where did you get the cash?"
"I have no secrets Mac. I sold the house to Frank. He needed an investment property. I am leasing it back from him with an option to buy – if I choose to do that. We both – all three of us, made out well on this arrangement." He added, "Financially speaking."
"Good." Mac didn't feel like she made out at all, but it was fair, it was what they had discussed and it was a compromise.
How had Harm made out exactly? Frank had put more into the house than was necessary. Harm was able to draw some cash too, which would allow him to pay for the final remodeling. Also it brought the mortgage payments down to what he could afford by himself.
"Will I see you before you go?" He asked.
"Of course." She answered.
They had been having lunch or dinner almost once a week since the separation. Usually it was some quick and easy meal caught between meetings and almost always away from the house, full of newsy talk of the days they had missed. It was understandable for Harm to expect that she would make time for him before she would leave the country – this was not an out of the blue request.
"Can we have dinner?" She offered. "Maybe Saturday night."
"I'd like that." It had been a long time since they had had dinner on a 'date night.'
"I was going to bring some boxes by the house on Saturday, are you sure you don't mind storing them?"
"Of course not." He confirmed. "Do you need some help?"
"I am going to borrow AJ's truck, but I wouldn't fight you if you wanted to help me unload."
"No, I imagine not." He smiled sadly.
No, Mac and Harm didn't fight at all any more about anything.
"Thank you." She said – she had been saying that a lot to him of late.
"Look, I am free on Saturday. I would be happy to help. Don't borrow AJ's truck. I will come over and get the stuff and we can have dinner at the house."
She let the plan sink in. It made sense. "OK … OK, thank you … I do the shopping." She stated. "You will get me the list?"
"I will." He said evenly before his face broadened into a sly smile. "Anything?"
Her eyes shone with a light he had not seen in months, probably years. "Yeah, sure … why not?"
Mac had fond memories of some very playful banter in the history of their marriage – ancient history - about just such a topic. At the beginning of the marriage, Harm and Mac had really tried to have at least dinner together everyday. As time went on and their jobs got in the way, it was narrowed down to at least once a week they would make and effort to have a meal together. Sometimes they went out, but it was easier to eat at home, no reservations to make and the dinner hour could be shifted, as needed. Unspoken they had a settled into an arrangement that Harm would set the menu, make the list of ingredients they needed, she would shop, he would cook and they would clean up together.
Where the banter came in was that when that 'arrangement' had become a routine, Harm's menus started becoming more exotic (read: pricey) and some of the ingredients were not typically found at the local Stop and Shop. Mac would comment on the fact that he was sending her on wild goose chases for things that he only read about. She stopped calling them shopping lists and started calling them treasure hunts. But she never failed to find anything on the list and they had some great meals. Sadly, that kind of playing and those kinds of arrangements were short lived.
Was Harm bringing up this ancient memory with some design or intent? Did he have an agenda? Why should that night – their last night for a long time – be a reminder of better times? Or were there no ulterior motives, just another logical plan and good compromise – as it had started out being years ago? Maybe it was just nostalgia. But then why that 'anything' question? Mac was now wondering if it was such a good idea that they have dinner together in such a private setting. The separation was not Harm's idea, but he didn't fight to prevent it. Had he changed his mind? She would convince him that they should go out instead, maybe even invite Gates and AJ along. But she would do that over the phone, it was too hard in person.
"We can go out if you would rather." He said, reading her expression. He learned to read her like a book. That was something else that Harm had been able to acquire during their time together. "Maybe we should make it a real send off and invite AJ and Gates, Harriet and Bud, and anyone else you would like."
Mac was stunned a little. It occurred to her that she was actually looking forward to spending some quality time with him privately. Now she was a little sad that she had been concerned and it seemed that Harm was willing to let it go so easily.
"Excuse me, colonel, commander?" Petty Office Michael's voice broke through the moment. "The admiral will see you now, commander."
"Thank you." Harm said. He looked back at Mac. "Should I start making some phone calls?"
"No." She shook her head. "No big thing … just the two of us … at the house … I would like that."
He nodded. "Good, I'll e-mail you the shopping list." He flashed her his smile – the one he saved only for her, and went to his meeting.
1832 EST – Saturday Night
Mac walked down stairs. She had clearly dressed for the evening. She had chosen tight black jeans, boots and a silk shirt. Her shirt was a deep lilac and she had left it tucked out and open with a lighter lilac lace camisole underneath – her bra and underwear were also a shade of lilac. Her hair was long and loose and slightly curled – the way Harm liked it. She was lovely and she felt attractive for the first time in a long time. Every time she looked at herself in the mirror – really looked at her self – she noticed how much her body had not changed. She was thin and tone and she looked just like she had years ago. If she had had a baby, that would not be the case. She was trying to look at the upside.
Gates' wolf whistle greeted Mac.
Mac looked over at Gates. "You don't look so bad yourself, there girlfriend." Gates was also dressed for a date – a date with AJ. They were very close after all this time.
She bowed an acknowledged the compliment. "Thought you were having dinner with Rabb tonight." She asked. Gates and Harm had actually become sparing partners. Neither would admit it, but they did like each other and really enjoyed the banter.
"I am." Mac replied without a tone.
"Rabb … the ex-husband?"
"And?" Mac challenged.
"Baby … that ain't no way to dress for the EX anything."
Mac had moved into Gate's apartment when she and Harm had separated. Gates was hardly ever at home, so it was perfect for Mac and Gates had someone at home for Kibbix and Moose. The time they did share together was nice, like old sorority sisters. Gates loved having her around, but assumed that it was only a matter of time – a very little bit of time – before Mac and Harm came to their senses and got back together.
Gates had not been in favor of the divorce – frankly she had not been in favor of the separation and had only let Mac move in under protest. Gates' position on the Rabb/MacKenzie marriage was that they were giving up for all the wrong reasons. Gates was shouting in the wind. Mac would not hear and Harm was too busy trying not to make waves. She decided to sit back and watch. That came from AJ. He explained to her that Harm and Mac were two people who could not be reasoned with particularly as it pertained to each other. It killed Gates to keep her mouth shut, but she believed AJ was right.
"Trying to blot out the X in your life?" Gates teased.
Mac looked down at her self after Gates' comment. "It's jeans and a shirt, if I were looking to bed the man, I would have worn a skirt … or at least put on some make up."
Gates shook her head and laughed. Mac would never admit how much she missed Harm. How much she still needed him. She had done everything a woman could do to keep him tied to her, yet continued to make decisions that 'proved' that she had moved on. That's what Okinawa was all about. Gates had called Mac on it when it was first mentioned. Gates' direct and uncushioned comment was, "Do you honestly think that putting half the globe between you will make any difference?"
"Gates, Look … it is over for us … huh? … We are friends. Shouldn't you be happy for me that we have maintained a friendship?"
"Baby doll … let me ask you this … just one more time … just to see if anything you say makes any kind of sense."
Mac had heard all this before. She rolled her eyes, looked away and shook her head.
"You still love him." Gates pressed.
"I will always love him … but that doesn't mean --."
"Answer the questions that are asked." Gates stated. "You have a better relationship now than you did – hell before you were married and better than any time while you were married."
"That is only because we both finally realized that we should never have been more than friends."
"You don't fight … you don't believe he cheated on you … God knows you would never cheat on him … money is not at issue …you are attracted to him, aren't you?"
Mac shook her head and looked away. She had long since stopped looking at Harm – or any man for that matter – in that way – as objects of desire. After they had been married, it was the little things that used to 'turn her on': when he took her hand in public, when he would lean in and whisper some dry remark in her ear, or they way he would pull her to him in his sleep. He didn't do any of that any more … for obvious reasons.
"Come on, MacKay … you are attracted to him, right?"
"I suppose – I don't really think about it anymore. He is who he is."
"Look Gates, it boils down to this …the life we have … the life we had together was not what either of us wanted."
"So change it."
"Gates … we got what we asked for … we got what we paid for … we can't undo it. In the end … it wasn't enough."
"Why because you turned Harm into the most compliant man on the planet? Hell, Gumby would put up more resistance."
Mac was getting annoyed. "I didn't do anything to Harm … he did it to himself."
"If that helps you sleep at night, sister."
"Gates, stop this."
"Ya know, I am just so disappointed. I thought you were a fighter, I though you – of all people – would fight for what you wanted."
"I wanted children … who the hell am I supposed to fight about that!" Mac was red faced and her voice was cracking.
Gates came over to her and wrapped her arms around her. "Honey, if kids are all it will take to make you happy … adopt them … get a whole damn litter."
"It's too late."
"It's only too late if you don't do anything to change it."
1726 EST – Saturday Night
Harm had just gotten out of the shower. Alphonse and Gaston, the Bengal cats they had gotten for Mattie when they first moved into the house were waiting by the bathroom door as always.
"Excuse me, guys!" Harm said shooing them out from under his feet.
They were actually not both males, but since they were never apart and Harm could not tell the difference between them – that is what he said - he sort of merged them together. If you were to ask him, he didn't like cats, but he liked these two. They had attitude and personality and – unlike their namesakes – were constantly at odds to the detriment of anything that could be knocked over and broken regardless of the shelf height. Mattie had offered to take them with her, but Harm 'compromised' and said that it would be better for them if they stayed at home rather than in a dorm room. It was actually better for him. It was a big house for one man.
"You ready for supper, kids?"
He was met with a chorus of yowls that nearly drowned out the ringing of the phone. It was Mac saying that she was going to be fifteen minutes late. Harm always ran fifteen minutes late, but it was nice that she called.
Harm dressed with care that night too, even though it was only Mac and it was dinner at home. He wasn't going to wear just sweats or shorts. Interestingly enough, he also opted for black jeans, boots but with a burgundy silk shirt – tucked in to show his trim self. He checked himself out in the mirror. He was older and grayer – that was true – but he still looked good, if he did say so himself, better in fact then he looked the day they got married – well, leaner and toner.
It was important that he be dressed to fit the occasion and the meal. He had pulled out all the stops for that night's menu: lobster and crab and special dessert that he found a bakery that he knew Mac would love. Neither one did dessert much these days, but this was too good to pass up. (He had done the shopping; he wanted that evening to be all about Mac.)
What was he expecting that night? Nothing out of the ordinary – good conversation and an enjoyable companion for a good meal – someone to cook for, some thing to make an effort for. He would miss Mac - he would miss not seeing her. He knew there would be phone calls, e-mails and the occasional visit, but she wouldn't be driving distance anymore. Nothing much else would change for them. This transfer was good – very good for her career – and as it turned out, good for him as well - well not his career so much as his daily life.
The admiral had asked him to come back to JAG. She knew that he was being wasted where he was, and she needed a good lawyer now that she was losing Mac. She would have asked him back years ago, but that little stickler about married people not serving in the same chain of command got in the way. The interagency task force was little more than a media relations group. They were not allowed to make a difference – the administration made sure of that. After the first six months that was made painfully clear to Harm. Sadly at that point, Harm was dealing with other things and changing jobs or fighting for what was right – professionally – was not something he had time for or interest in. Work became a place to bury himself, not a place to stand out.
It was at that time – six months into the marriage - that Harm and Mac became concerned that they were not conceiving. They had hoped that by not putting pressure on themselves; it would happen naturally. But they had been 'unprotected' since November, it was June and still nothing. Mac was worried that with each passing month the endometriosis would take hold of her as it had the prior year. What followed was eight months of jumping through every hoop and enough narcissistic injuries to last a lifetime for each of them. Mac was tested again – endometriosis was evident but she was fertile. Harm was tested – not the best swimmers in the pool but not something that should have been a problem. They tried all the reasonable fertility and medical procedures, but after eight months, Mac put a stop to the whole thing. They doctor had said that it was too soon to give up, but Mac was forty. She was done. They had been trying for well over a year. She couldn't take the disappointment anymore. She needed to move on – it wasn't going to happen for them. Harm understood and felt her pain. The only thing he never understood or accepted was her guilt for him. She could not provided him with a child – he did not own that – so she would not mention it. Harm believed that there was still the adoption option, but wanted to give her – and if he was being very honest, himself – time to come to terms with their failure. Neither really realized how much that failure would cost them.
At any rate, Admiral Schnarr had stayed in the loop on the goings on of the agency (which never actually got a name). Schnarr's attention was not unwarranted; Harm was still being paid through the JAG budget. So when Mac had asked for the transfer to Okinawa and her position opened up at JAG HQ, Janet saw an opportunity.
At first Harm was reluctant – read nervous – to go back to JAG. Could he really go home again? Kate, Lillian and Tracy had formed and unholy alliance and were a clique that would be hard to break. The admiral thought that having Harm back – the cock of the roost, so to speak – might break up their little clique. She didn't like thinking of Harm as an object that would motivate the 'girls' to work, but she had to do what she had to do. Mac was her top attorney, she had been given all the tough assignments and met and exceed them. With Harm's departure, Mac flourished as a lawyer. Janet really never understood why, she did not know of the personal problems that Mac was burying under her workload – she really didn't want to know. All that the admiral knew was that she had one lawyer that she could count on in the difficult high profile cases – well two; Bud was a fine attorney. But somehow he got tasked with reining in or cleaning up a mess made by the Unholy Trinity.
Harm had discussed the transfer with Mac on the phone and they agreed that it would be a good thing for him and probably a good thing for JAG. They would be working together again – sort of.
That night they had a very nice dinner and some wonderful conversation about Mattie, about their friends (who were not asked to pick sides) and about JAG and they laughed – laughed a lot.
At one point Mac got a serious look in her eye when they were discussing him going back to JAG.
"What?" He asked.
"Just do me one favor?" She asked.
"If I can."
"Anytime you go up against Kate Pike … make sure you are in a court room."
Kate has been relentless with Mac in the past three years. Harm had even taken Kate aside one day – unbenounced to Mac – and asked her to back off. He was livid. It had been one weekend, more than ten years before. Move on! Kate had smiled and said – "That is how you play the game. You need to psyche your opponent with everything in your arsenal." Kate should have spent more time with the law books. Mac had won each time she and Kate faced off in a courtroom. Mac never stooped to her game and never bought into the psyche – at least not enough to let it affect her ability to do her job – but Kate and Mac did not have lunch together – ever. And there was a time about a year ago that Mac was not so sure it was just a psyche and that her information was based on more recent events.
Mac of course was wrong, and came to see that, but not before the seed was planted in her brain that Harm may not be satisfied.
"Have I made myself clear?" Mac pushed.
Harm did not know how to answer. Not that he had – or ever did have – any intention of starting a relationship with Kate – particularly now that they were working together, but he was more interested in why Mac was asking. She had divorced him, why should she care?
"I know I don't have a right to ask you that." Mac continued. "But I am."
Harm took it as a minor point in his column. If she were jealous of Kate or of anyone, then she cared about him more than as a friend. "How about I go you one better." He smiled and took her hand across the table. "How about if I promise to beat the pants off of her each time we are in court?"
Mac shook her head slightly. "I would prefer that you leave her pants alone."
Harm realized his misspeak. She seriously thought that he might pick up with Kate again. Well of course she would, she had assumed they had a year ago – or at least pretended she did.
"Strictly professional – now and in the future." He assured her – again. "And that is my choice – not a favor I am doing for you."
That topic closed they moved on to others. Mac finally got around to noticing all the work he had done on the house. The big one was the fireplace in the living room. They hadn't ever been able to build a fire – not an issue, but one that came up on occasion if they were having dinner at home, as they had been on a night like that night. Mac never said anything overtly about his inability to complete a project in the house, but she didn't like living in a constant state of construction. That was clear.
Harm had finally gotten around to the fireplace – and the hundred or so other projects that had been left unfinished before Mac had moved out. The house was very nearly done. All that was left, were a couple of major projects that would require hiring outside contractors (plumbing and electrical, hence the reason Harm needed the money) and it would be over.
With dinner finished and the dishes done, he suggested that they move into the living room with their coffee and dessert. The dessert was a big hit. Mac made all the noises women make about not needing the calories, but she had no problem savoring every bite of the chocolate and raspberry soufflé/torte/cake thing – or making the noises that go along with that.
The conversation turned to Okinawa and what she was expecting. She was able to disclose to Harm that she was more than a little nervous. This would be her first command position. He did not give her the standard lip services that another friend or ex-husband might have. He let her talk, listened to her concerns and asked what her plans were to meet the problems head on.
The one noticeable thing that had changed in their relationship was the trust and respect that each held for the other. It was not unrealistic praise or acceptance from a loved one; it was honest to goodness respect. It was because of that respect that they had remained such good friends through all their trials and tribulations.
Mac made an off the cuff comment about wanting to change her mind and stay, but laughed it off.
Harm got very serious. He hadn't realized it before, but he had been waiting for such an opening.
"Sarah … If I asked you not to go?" He proposed.
It just all of a sudden hit him that he loved this woman and could not imagine his life without her. Again, she would stay in touch with him from half a world away – but he wanted more. He would never marry again – he knew that without saying it – there would be other women – other lovers, but no one would rise to the rank of wife with him. Mac would always be his wife – his first and only wife - no matter where they were living or who either of them was sleeping with. He would always be there for her in any capacity that she needed.
She got serious too. She was clearly grateful that he had asked. There was a little voice inside of her that said he had given up too easily on her – on them – and she worried that the love was not there. His request for her to not go was all she needed. She reached out and laced her fingers through his.
Her voice was soft and sincere. "It would make it that much more difficult for me to go," was her honest answer.
Harm nodded. So she would go regardless. He had suspected as much. At least he was compensated with the knowledge that he could make it difficult for her to leave him. He had no plans to, but he needed to know that it wasn't going to be easy. He squeezed her hand back, so grateful for the contact of her soft hand in his.
The fire crackled and the candles flickered in the silence of the room as they held on to the physical connection too soon to be broken.
"If I ask you to stay … for just tonight?" His voice nearly failed him and he was afraid to look into her eyes for fear of what he might see.
Her eye filled with tears almost instantly, but she held them back. It was a sweet loving request that pulled at her heart and washed over her with the years of hope and despair they had shared.
"It won't change anything, Harm." She warned with a cracking voice – worried that he would agree, worried that he would send her home, worried that the last time they saw each other she would know that she had a chance to be with him one more time, and she ruined it.
"I know." He looked back at her. "Stay … for tonight."
She gave a silent assent.
He leaned in and kissed her softly. She was giving him, giving herself – giving them – one last night.
Comments welcome, encouragement needed to revive the old JAG muse.