Title: Time

Authors' Names: Carol and Michaela aka Michi

Rating: T (please see AN for special note)

Spoilers: None that would really matter.

Disclaimer: JAG and its character are the property of Bellisario Productions, CBS, and Paramount.

Summary: Memories from the past can bring realization of the now and the futurewhen Harm finally finds out how Mac does the time-thing.

Feedback: Always welcome, very encouraging and for sure appreciated…

Authors Notes-

1 Special Note – this FF has mentions of child abuse. If this topic bothers you then you may want to skip this FF. We both agree, and so does our beta-reader, that this FF is somehow "dark". This means it is different from our usual fanfiction stories.

However, in our eyes it is the only or at least the most plausible explanation about how Mac can tell the time and why she always avoided the issue when someone asked her how she'd do it. Therefore, we hope you'll give this story a chance. Thank you.

2 Big thanks to our beta-god Witchy V!



September 22, 2005

Harm's Apartment

9:15 PM

"What's this?" Harm asked with a raised eyebrow as he pulled an old wooden box out of the bigger box in front of him.

Mac looked at what he was holding in his hands and walked over to the bed. "I haven't seen this in years. This was the only thing I took with me from home before I left my father," she quietly explained and took the box out of Harm's grasp.

"There must be some important stuff in it if you kept it with you all these years," Harm gently commented while Mac slowly opened the lid of the box.

She let the small trinkets take her back to her forgotten and painful childhood. "Just memories," she replied with a shrug.

Mac lifted a few pictures out the box. She had to smile while looking at them; they were the few happy memories she had. "That's my grandmother and me." She handed Harm the picture of an elderly woman holding a little baby girl.

"You're still cute," Harm said with a wink while looking at the picture.

"Thanks," Mac replied and laughed when she looked at another picture. Then her laughter suddenly faded and Harm looked at her.

"What?" He asked in worry. "What's wrong?"

Mac gave him the picture she had just looked at. "These are my parents with me. It was taken the day before my mom left."

Harm looked at it. Mac stood between her parents wearing a red dress. At the first look they looked like a normal happy family to him. Joe and Deanne had their arms around Mac's shoulders. However, a closer look at the eyes of the little child in this picture revealed that happiness wasn't the right word to describe the situation in this family. Harm could clearly recognize the look in Mac's eyes. They seemed nearly lifeless to him, absolutely hopeless and just empty. Harm didn't know what to say so he didn't comment. He just gave the picture back to Mac. She placed it in the pile next to her and pulled some other items out of the box.

"Mood ring, Matt's dog tags, and Ruggles' dog tags."

"Ruggles?" Harm asked with a raised eyebrow.

Mac laughed at his confused expression. "Ruggles was an old mutt I had as a kid."

"Oh, okay. I was worried for a moment." Harm smiled.

"He was a good dog," Mac quietly said before she started to go through the box again.

Harm watched her as she pulled out item after item that linked her to her past. Every little item had a special meaning and brought back a memory for Mac. Even if she didn't tell him what it was, he knew it was something. "What's that?" Harm asked as he looked at a piece of torn cardboard in Mac's hands.

"Nothing." Mac quickly placed it back in the box and started to pick up the other items to place them back in there too.

Harm quickly looked into the box. "It's a face to a clock."

"It's nothing, really," Mac told him, but her shaking hands and voice betrayed her statement.

Harm noticed the sudden change in her body language and placed his hand on her shoulder to give it a gentle squeeze. "Sarah?"

"Please drop it, Harm."

"Tell me what it is, Mac," Harm told her. "Please."

Mac closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "If I say no, will you drop it?"

"No," Harm admitted with a little smile. "I asked because I care and I want to know why it is bothering you."

Mac reached into the box and picked up the piece of cardboard. She glanced at it and took a deep breath. "When I couldn't fall asleep as a kid I would count the seconds on this clock. It kept perfect time."

"Have you always suffered from insomnia?" Harm asked as he recalled the few times he would wake up alone only to find her sitting on the couch reading a book or watching the rain fall.

"Yeah. But when I was a kid it was because my parents kept me up." Mac stood up and walked to the window.

"Fighting?" Harm asked, even though he already knew the answer.

"I would always worry Dad would come in my room late at night and hurt me. I slept with the blanket right up to my neck, so when he would come in I could easily hide under it." Mac chuckled once. "A few times he was so drunk he wouldn't notice the lump under the blanket. After a while he realized that lump was me though, so I found a new hiding spot."

Harm watched her from the bed. "Where did you hide?"

"In my closet. I quickly learned not to be scared of the dark. That's a tough thing for a little kid. I would fall asleep in there, a spare blanket over me, with my teddy bear and clock in my hands. I couldn't see my hands or the clock, but I could still count the seconds," Mac said as a tear fell from her eye and her voice cracked.

Harm noticed the change in her voice and walked over to her. He carefully wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her against his chest. Mac didn't resist and let him hold her in the safety of his arms.

"One night Dad was really drunk. He stormed into my room and when he didn't find me in the bed he started to throw things. He picked up the chair from my desk and threw it at the door of my closet. The chair and the door broke and I screamed in fear. Dad moved to the closet, pulled the chair out of the door and saw me on the floor of my closet with my bear and clock in hands. He grabbed my arm and forced me out of the closet."

Mac stopped for a moment and took a deep breath, which made Harm softly intensify his hold on her. "He pulled me so hard I thought he was going to pull my arm off." Mac rubbed her arms as she spoke, she could feel the pain of the memory in her arms. "He forced me to stand in front of him. Then the yelling started, he told me I was stupid and I would never amount to anything. He pulled my bear out of my arms and tore his head off. He looked at my face and demanded that I stop crying. I tried to stop but I simply couldn't. My lips were moving, but I wasn't saying anything. He towered over me and ordered me to talk louder so he could hear me and I did."

"What were you saying?" Harm held her closer.

"I was counting the seconds. Once Dad realized what I was doing he grabbed the clock out of my hands. He raised it above me in his hands and for a second I thought he was going to hit me with it, but he didn't. Instead he threw it against the wall, slapped me and stormed out of my room."

Mac turned in Harm's arms and wrapped hers around his neck. She buried her head in his chest and let the tears fall. Harm held her as tight as he could, soothing her tears with broad strokes of his hands on her back. He wished part of him could have been there all those years ago, when Mac really needed him.

After a few minutes Mac lifted her head from his chest and looked at him through her tear-filled eyes. "How am I going to be a good parent?"

"You just are." Harm wiped a tear off of her cheek and kissed her forehead.

"How do you know?"

Harm smiled softly. "I just know. I've seen you with kids and I know you're going to be great with ours."

"You've still got time to get out of this," Mac quietly stated to him.

Harm moved his arms and lightly held her upper arms. "Now you listen very carefully. I am going to marry you in a week. Then we are going to start working on our family and spend the next fifty plus years together in love. There is nothing about you that could ever make me change my mind and not marry you. Okay?"

"Okay. I just needed to hear that," Mac said as she rested her head on his chest.

Harm moved his hands back to her back. "Anytime you need to know just ask. I love you."

"I love you, too," Mac echoed.

They held each other very quietly as their hands rubbed down each other's backs. "How old were you when this all happened, Mac?" Harm suddenly asked in a whisper.

"Four," Mac told him as she felt him chuckle. "What?"

"At four I couldn't tie my own shoes and you could already tell time."

Mac lifted her head and smiled. "Actually, I couldn't tell time. I was just able to do the time thing."

"I didn't learn how to tell time till I was in second grade," Harm admitted.

Mac looked at him mischievously and smirked. "Honey, you still can't tell time."

"Oh, now you're going to be 'Little Miss Funny'. I think I'm going to have to do something about that," Harm warned and couldn't hide his own smirk.

"And what are you going to do?"

"This," Harm just said, picked her up to gently place her on the bed before he hovered over her.

"Should I be worried now?" Mac asked while she watched Harm gaze over her.

"Never." Harm leaned down and kissed her. "Never with me," he affirmed his statement before they were lost in their very own world where time didn't matter.

The End