Title: A Night at the Movies
Spoilers: Everything up to and including Season 9. This picks up a few weeks after the Season 9 Finale.
Summary: Mac's been through a lot lately, with Clay and her own medical problems. Can Harm, Mattie, and a few movies help pull her out of her slump?
Disclaimer: Sigh… I don't own JAG. I never did. It was a good show, though, thanks to the people that do own it (that being DPB, Belisarius Productions, Paramount Pictures, and CBS Television). Me, I don't own much of anything other than what I purchased at the grocery store today, and some clothes. I'm not making any money from this, so please don't sue. I need my groceries and my clothes.
Author's Note: I wrote this some time ago, before Season 10 aired, and then forgot about it. I was doing a little organizing this evening, looking for another writing of mine, and stumbled on this one. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I did have a good laugh over this one. I figured I'd just put it out there. Better late than never.
Also, this does reference the movies Shrek and Shrek 2, two of my favorite movies. This was originally written just after Shrek 2 was released in theaters. Yeah, long time ago. There are no real spoilers for either movie in this story, just a few quotes and a mentioning of one of the themes of these two movies. If you haven't seen them, this won't spoil the movies for you, but I strongly recommend you watch them, as they are great! Oh, yeah, I don't own either of the Shrek movies (well, I have the DVDs, but that is totally legal). They, too, are owned by other people.
"Mattie says you have to come," he insisted.
"She does? I didn't know she cared about me that much."
"Come on, Mac, you know she likes you," he smiled.
"I don't know why she should. I don't know why anybody would," she said softly, sadly.
Losing his smile, he spoke seriously, "We all care about you, you know that. But this is exactly why you have to come with us."
"And what, may I ask, is 'this?'"
"It's been a few weeks, Mac. It's time for you to get out. I know you haven't done anything but work since… well, you know."
"That's not true," she responded quickly, lying through her teeth.
"You know that it is." No matter how early he had come in these last few weeks, she was always already hard at work, at least one cup of coffee into a stack of work. And no matter how late he left at night, she was always still there, lights on and computer blazing. She was in on the weekends, or so he had been told by others.
Daring to meet his gaze, she melted under his concerned stare. "So what if it is? What's so wrong with it?"
"Nothing," he answered firmly. His voice softer, he added, "I'm worried about you."
"You shouldn't be," she answered softly, breaking the gaze. "I keep telling you that I'm fine, Harm."
"I know you are," he smiled, "but I think you need a break."
Silent for a moment, she looked at the file in front of her. Perhaps he was right. All of this work could wait. "So, what do you want to do again?" she asked.
"Well, on Saturday, Mattie and I will meet you, either at your place or you can come over to mine, and we'll go out and see Shrek 2. After the movie, the three of us will go out to dinner, someplace fun like Ruby Tuesdays or Fridays. We'll stuff our selves with good food, drink diet sodas full of caffeine, and on the ride home, we'll see who can burp the loudest," he finished with a grin and a twinkle in his eye.
"A burping contest? Shrek 2? Don't you think these are a little juvenile for us?"
"Okay, the burping contest, maybe," he smiled, "but you can't tell me that the first Shrek didn't have any adult humor in it."
"I never saw it."
"You haven't seen it!"
"No. Never had a reason to, or the chance."
"Okay," Harm said, nodding his head. "We can work with this. We'll change our plans a little. You'll come over on Friday night for dinner, I'll cook, and you, me, and Mattie will watch the first one. She and I both love the movie, and you will, too."
"I don't know, Harm," Mac sighed. "What is all of this supposed to accomplish?"
"It's supposed to be fun and relaxing, a little break from real life. And I hope it'll make you laugh and smile again, 'cause you haven't done either one for a long time," he finished, his tone somber.
Mac knew he was right. But honestly, what was there to smile about these days? The new JAG was in place, and while he ran a tight ship, none of them trusted him just yet, and he didn't seem very likeable or approachable. Harriet was no longer around, taking with her a ray of sunshine. Clay was… And then there were her medical problems…
"I know what you're thinking," he started. "Don't back out, Mac. Come over tomorrow, we'll just relax and have fun and then we'll go out on Saturday. You'll feel better. I promise."
Meeting his gaze again, Mac weakly nodded her head. "Okay. I'll come for dinner on Friday and we'll go out on Saturday."
His grin broadening, Harm got to his feet. "You won't regret it, Mac."
"I probably won't be much fun," she warned, watching him as he moved towards the door.
"It'll be fine. You'll see. You'll have fun and you'll feel better about things." Pulling the door open, he stepped out into the bullpen and headed back to his office. A few hours with him and Mattie and two movies might not change some of the things in Mac's life, but maybe it would remind her that life isn't all bad. Good food and laughter wouldn't bring Clay back, nor would it ease the pain of her recent medical developments, but if he could make her smile, make her laugh, just for a moment, then he would know for sure that she would get past this.
"You look happy," Sturgis said as he fell into step with Harm, interrupting his thoughts.
"I am," he nodded, still smiling. "I just made some good plans for the weekend."
Looking towards Mac's office where she was sorting through some files on her desk, Sturgis asked, "With Mac?"
"Yup," Harm grinned, a triumphant tone to his voice.
Shaking his head, Sturgis asked, "What'd you do? Threaten to tie her to her chair and roll her out of here?"
"No," Harm shook his head, losing his smile. "I was willing to go that far if I had to, but I convinced her to come out with me and Mattie on Saturday to see a movie."
"I've been trying to get her out for weeks," Sturgis said. "She wouldn't take me up on any offer. I'm amazed you got her to agree."
"It took some work, I'll admit. But maybe she's coming back around, Sturg. Maybe she just needed some time to deal with things on her own and now she's ready to move on."
"I hope so," Sturgis responded solemnly.
"Me, too," Harm agreed. "She's been in this slump too long."
Nodding, Sturgis said, "I'm glad she'll be getting out for a while. I've got court, so I'll catch up with you in a bit."
"Yeah. I'll talk to you later. Good luck," Harm said as the men headed in separate directions. Having Mac to agree to go out with him this weekend was only half the battle. She could still back out, and as much as he might want to, Harm wasn't going to force her to go. As much as she had been through in the last few weeks, he knew she needed time to get through everything, but he also knew that she needed to know that they were all there for her.
She had arrived at his apartment on time, but she'd spent the last five minutes in her car, looking up at the windows and the movement behind them, debating whether or not she would actually go up, trying to figure out if a night with Harm, Mattie, and a kid's movie could actually make her forget her life for a little while.
Inside the apartment, Mattie was setting the table, glancing out the window at the sky as she moved around. "You think it'll storm tonight?" she asked, breaking the companionable silence between herself and her guardian.
Looking over his shoulder from where he was at the stove, he could see the threatening clouds. "It might." Turning back to the task at hand, he shrugged his shoulders. "The real question is whether or not Mac will ever come up."
Silverware in hand, Mattie moved towards the window and looked down at the street. Sure enough, Mac's red Corvette was parked along the curb, a lone figure inside. "How'd you know she was here?" Mattie asked, still gazing out the window.
"I always know," Harm smiled, glancing over at Mattie.
Moving back to the table, Mattie placed the last of the silverware out beside the empty plates and glasses. Once the task was completed, she looked back towards Harm and asked, "You want me to go get her?"
"Nah," Harm shook his head. "She'll come up when she's ready."
"What if she decides not to come?"
"That's her choice," Harm answered solemnly. He hoped she would come up, but it was her battle and she had to make the move. But the longer she sat there, not moving one way or the other, the more concerned he became for her.
Her voice full of concern, Mattie asked, "Is she okay?"
"She's fine," Harm answered automatically.
"No, Harm, is she really okay?"
After carrying the pot of boiling water and noodles over to the sink, Harm dumped the water out, catching the noodles in a colander. As the steam rose from the sink, he turned towards her. The look of concern in the young girl's eyes touched his heart. "I hope so," he said softly, hinting at his own concern for Mac. "She has to be," he added.
Studying Harm for a moment, Mattie nodded, then smiled slightly. "She will be. She has you."
Turning away from her to look down at the pile of fettuccini in front of him, he nodded, not voicing the questions in his head. Mac had him, heart and soul, but did she know it? Did she know that he would do anything for her? Did she know that he meant what he said weeks ago, that'd he'd be there for her, no matter what? Changing the subject, he turned towards Mattie once more and asked, "You want to grab that bowl and bring it over to me?"
"Sure," Mattie answered, moving quickly into action. Grabbing the bowl off the far counter, she placed it closer to Harm. After he dumped the noodles in it, Mattie grabbed the smaller bowl of melted alfredo sauce and moved to take Harm's place.
"Thanks," he smiled as he stepped away.
"I figured you need to get the veggies," Mattie shrugged, slowly adding the sauce to the still steaming noodles. Once all the sauce had poured out of the smaller bowl, she moved away from the sink, giving Harm space to empty the water from the pot of steamed vegetables.
"Well, I know I can't expect you to go anywhere near them voluntarily," Harm teased.
"Hey!" Mattie squealed, looking up from her mixing. "I'm not that bad!"
Laughing at her, Harm had to admit that she wasn't that bad. She did eat her vegetables. Usually.
Smiling back up at him, her eyes twinkling, Mattie joined his laughter.
Shaking his head at her, Harm placed the vegetables into another container. "The fettuccini ready?" he asked.
Stirring for a moment more, Mattie looked at it and nodded. "Yup."
Picking up the dish of steamed vegetables and moving to pick up the fettuccini, Harm carried both over to the table and set them in the center. Pausing as he started to move back towards the kitchen, he cocked his head towards the door. A moment later, there was a small tapping noise on the door.
As Harm moved towards the door, Mattie watched him, a slight smile playing at her lips. "You really do know when she is close."
"Always," Harm answered as he pulled the door open to reveal Mac on the other side. "Hey," he smiled to her.
"Hey," she responded, smile-less, her eyes down turned, and a few pieces of her long hair hanging over her face.
"I'm glad you came," Harm spoke as he stepped back, allowing Mac to enter the apartment.
Mac stepped in, her head still down. Once upon a time, entering Harm's apartment for dinner with him would have put a smile on her face and her stomach would have been growling in anticipation, but these days she didn't feel like she had much to smile about and her stomach rarely growled.
"Mattie and I made fettuccini alfredo and steamed vegetables," he said as she entered.
Looking up for the first time, Mac glanced around the apartment and spotted the young girl watching her closely. "It smells good," she responded. "Hey, Mattie."
Smiling broadly, Mattie moved towards Mac and said, "I'm glad you came, Mac." Pulling her into a hug, Mattie wrapped her arms around Mac and held her close. "I like having you around," she added.
Both Harm and Mac were surprised by the gesture. For a moment, Mac's arms hung lifelessly by her side, but then she reacted by wrapping her arms around Mattie in return. "I like being here." She meant it, too. Maybe coming in was a good idea after all.
Stepping back from the embrace, Mattie turned towards the table. "You're just in time, too. Dinner's ready."
Sometime later, Mac pushed her plate away from the edge of the table, leaned back in her chair, and said, "That was delicious, guys. You outdid yourselves."
"Seconds?" Harm asked, eyebrows raised, reaching towards the bowl of pasta.
"I couldn't dream of it."
Puzzled, Harm pulled away from the bowl. What happened to her voracious appetite? "You sure, Mac? You didn't have very much the first time around."
"I'm sure," she insisted. "I couldn't eat another bite."
Smiling, Mattie interjected, "Perhaps it's not a good idea to have seconds. Saves room for popcorn."
Harm cocked his head in Mattie's direction, a small smile on his lips. "She's got a point."
"I suppose," Mac agreed weakly, looking down at her plate.
"We've got dessert, too," Mattie added.
Lifting her head, Mac asked, "And what's for dessert?"
"Puss In Boots Chocolate Mousse," she answered firmly, grinning.
Also smiling, Harm added, "In honor of the occasion."
Unable to help herself, Mac let out a small smile, the first in weeks. "Of course," she said. Thinking to herself, she realized that perhaps Harm was right and this was what she needed, just to get away from her life, so she could feel better.
Rising to his feet, Harm picked up his plate, Mattie's plate, and moved to get Mac's. Seeing what Harm was doing, Mac let him take the plate as she rose to her feet and moved to collect the now-empty glasses. Mac followed him into the kitchen as Mattie picked up the containers of food on the table. The three of them set about cleaning the kitchen in companionable silence.
Later, Mac still leaning slightly against Harm on Mattie and Jennifer's couch, Mattie rose off the floor, where she had watched the movie stretched out, a pillow under her head, stopped the DVD player and asked, "Who wants ice cream?" Her eyes were twinkling and the grin on her face was large.
Shifting his position a little, Harm raised his hand. "Oh, me! I want some!" He, too, was grinning. Shrek was just one of those movies that made him feel good.
"Mac?" Mattie asked, one eyebrow raised.
"Nah," Mac said, shaking her head. "Not hungry for ice cream."
Pulling away from the couch, Harm's mouth dropped open in a gesture of surprise. He was exaggerating a little, but he was shocked.
Mattie continued to smile and winked at Harm as she walked away.
Harm didn't know what Mattie was thinking, and whether he wanted to know or not, he was sure he was going to find out what was going on inside that girl's head in a matter of moments. Turning to Mac, he asked, "You like the movie?"
"It was okay," Mac shrugged.
"Okay! Are you kidding me!" Harm exclaimed. "It's a great movie, a classic. No Top Gun, but still…" Shifting his focus from Mac to Mattie, Harm said loudly, "Hey, Mattie, Mac says the movie was only okay."
Coming out of the kitchen, Mattie handed Harm a bowl of ice cream, with two spoons in it, and sat back down on the floor with her own bowl. "Only okay, Mac? It's awesome."
Lifting a spoon full of ice cream to his lips, eyes on Mac, Harm smiled as he took a bite. "Umm… this is good." Turning to Mattie, he said, "Do you know the Muffin Man?"
"The Muffin Man?" Mattie smiled around her ice cream.
"The Muffin Man," Harm nodded.
"Who lives on Drewy Lane?" Mattie asked.
Watching the two of them, Mac couldn't help but to smile.
Harm saw her smile out of the corner of his eyes. "I see that smile, Mac."
"Okay," Mac surrendered, "the movie was pretty good."
"We can go on…" Harm threatened.
"Ogres are like onions…" Mattie began.
"They smell bad?" Harm continued.
Laughing lightly, Mac shook her head, "No, no, more won't be necessary. I liked the movie. It was good. Cute and funny." Her eyes on Harm, she saw the twinkle in his eyes and the smile on his face. This was a different side of Harm, a side she rarely saw, but would like to see more of.
"Okay," Harm said, making eye contact with Mac. "There is only one more thing you have to do."
Leaning closer to Mac, Harm had some ice cream on his spoon, "You need to try some of this ice cream."
"I told you I didn't want any."
"Try it, Mac," Mattie chorused. "It's really good."
Harm waved the spoon in front of Mac's face.
"Fine," Mac sighed, "I'll try it." Leaning forward, she took the offered ice cream from Harm's spoon. A moment later, she smiled, "It is good."
Harm offered her the bowl, the second spoon still in it, smiling.
Taking the other spoon, Mac took got her own spoonful of ice cream.
Leaning back in satisfaction, Mattie just smiled at the two of them.
Her eyes meeting Harm's once more, Mac smiled lightly and said, "Thanks, Harm. I needed this."
"I know," he nodded, reaching one hand across to place it on her bare knee, her shorts stopping in the middle of her thigh. "That's what friends are for."
When he walked her to her car a short time later, he smiled down to her and said, "I'm glad you came, Mac. It was nice having you here."
"Thanks for inviting me," she said, returning his smile. "I had fun and I'm glad I came, too." For a moment, both were silent as Mac looked down and studied her feet and Harm looked up at the stars above. Finally, Mac asked, "What time are you picking me up tomorrow?"
"Am I picking you up?" Harm questioned with a raised eyebrow.
"I'd like that," Mac said shyly.
"Good," Harm grinned, meeting her gaze. "I'd like to pick you up."
"So what time?" Mac asked again.
"I'll call you tomorrow when I find out what time the movie is, see what works for you."
"Okay. That works for me." Sitting down in her car, Mac inserted the key into the ignition and turned it, bringing the engine of the car to life. Looking up at Harm, she said, "Thanks, again."
"Any time," he responded, still smiling. Shutting the door for her, he remained on the curb and watched her drive away.
Stepping out of the theater and into the sticky summer heat of DC, Harm blinked his eyes at the bright sunlight and said, "I liked that one. It was good."
"I think it was better than the first one," Mattie said from by his side.
"I don't know," Harm mused, pulling his keys out of the pocket of his jeans. "I think the first one was better." Turning to look at Mac, he asked, "Which one did you like better?"
"I think they were both pretty good. I can't say one was better than the other," she shrugged.
Thinking that over, Harm nodded. "It is tough." Arriving at his SUV, he unlocked the doors and pulled them open wide to let the built-up heat come rolling out. Sitting in the driver's seat, Harm started the vehicle and cranked the air conditioner up. "It'll take a minute to cool off," he informed Mac and Mattie, who were both still waiting outside the car.
"Where we going to eat?" Mattie asked as she climbed into the vehicle.
"Ruby Tuesdays okay?" Harm asked, glancing at Mac and then Mattie.
Mac nodded as she climbed in, "Tuesdays is fine. They have good ribs," she grinned at Harm.
"Sounds good to me," Mattie nodded.
Shutting his door, Mac and Mattie followed suit, and Harm carefully steered the vehicle out of the crowded parking lot. "You know what I like about both movies?" Harm asked.
"What?" Mac questioned.
"They both have the same important message."
"Which is…" Mattie urged.
"Don't change who you are for somebody else. Stay true to yourself. A very relevant lesson these days."
"Hmm…" Mac mused. "I hadn't thought about that."
"Neither had I," Mattie said quietly in the backseat.
Glancing at Mac, Harm said in a soft tone, "That stands true for everybody, not just donkeys, princesses, ogres, and teenage girls."
Smiling softly, Mac turned and looked away. "And sometimes, it's something we all forget. It's a lot harder to do than you would think."
After dinner at Ruby Tuesdays and ice cream at Harm's house, Mac was relaxed, smiling, and laughing. Mattie went back to her place, leaving Harm and Mac to themselves. Claiming she had things to do, like laundry, Harm drove Mac home and walked her up to her apartment.
Standing outside her door, he smiled at her and said, "It was good to see you smile and laugh again."
"This was good. I needed this. I think you were right, Harm. It's been too long since I had fun." Smiling softly, Mac looked down at her feet.
"So you had fun?" Harm asked quietly.
"I did," Mac nodded, looking back up at him.
"We were all worried about you," he added.
"I know," she sighed. "It was just too much. I needed some time."
Thinking for a moment, Harm hesitated to ask the question on his mind. "Did you love Clay?"
Mac nodded again. "Perhaps not in the way I should have, and probably not as… intensely… as he loved me, but I did. I miss him." Shaking her head, she continued, "This hasn't been easy. Losing him, dealing with doctors…"
"I know that it hasn't been easy on you, Mac, but we're here for you. All of us."
"I know," she nodded, a small smile forming on her lips. Meeting his gaze, she said, "And that helps. A lot. Just knowing you're there."
Nodding, Harm grinned. "Always."
"Thank you for this," Mac said, for what must have been the hundredth time.
"Thank you for joining us," Harm responded. After a few moments of silence, Harm back away and said, "I should go."
Mac nodded. "Have a good night, Harm.
Turning and walking away, Harm turned back to you as he waited for the elevator. "You know I love you, right?" he blurted out quickly before he could change his mind.
For a moment, Mac said nothing, but then she smiled broadly and nodded. "I know," she said.
The elevator arrived and Harm hesitated before stepping on. As he did, he heard the words he wanted to hear.
"And I love you, too."
The doors shut and the elevator descended, but when it hit the ground floor, he didn't get off. He rode it back up to Mac's floor, and when the doors opened, she was waiting for him on the other side.
One more note: Puss In Boots Chocolate Mousse doesn't belong to me. Baskin Robbins owns it, as well as a whole list of flavors and treats that will make you drool. Okay, well, Puss In Boots Chocolate Mousse was an offered flavor when I started this, but you should go to the Baskin Robbins website and check out the list anyway!