Title: The Need To Feel Free Again – Revised Edition

Author Name: Michaela aka Michi

E-mail: see Personal Profile for Information

Website: see Personal Profile for Information

Classification: Harm & Mac / Romance

Summary: Sometimes a vacation is the only thing that can help you to find something that seems to be missed…

Rating: somewhere between IM15 and SLSV

Spoilers: Everything up to Season 9 - Story takes place after the season's final episode Hail & Farewell. The rest of the JAG era we know, never happened in this story

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

For your information, next to the badly needed re-beta read, this revised edition has quite a few changes and additions to the original story 'TNTFFA', which was first published 7-3-04. The concept and central theme are still the same… but that's about it LOL

A huge thanks goes out to my beta and advising team and a special one to Kathy, who's also my co-author of this story:-) I never thought it would be that much fun to learn the fine art of American English and I can only hope you won't 'fire' me LOL. I love you girl! ... Any mistakes left are mine…


Thursday

May 27, 2004

JAG Headquarters

Falls Church, VA

9:14 AM

"Hey Harm," Mac uttered barely audible, a smile gracing her face as she stood in the doorway of Harm's office. She was not in uniform and appeared relaxed leaning against the doorframe with her arms crossed loosely over her chest. Her attire was civilian casual; merely faded jeans and a white French cuff button down shirt while her feet were clad in thong sandals, making her bright red toe nail polish, acquired from her recent pedicure, visible.

Harm was so pre-occupied with law books and the papers that were spread out all over his desk that he wasn't immediately aware of her presence or of the way that she was intently watching him.

When he finally did look up, he instantly gave her a big smile of his own. "Hi Mac. Come on in," Harm stated pensively and put his pencil down on the notebook in front of him.

"Thanks… umm… I really would like to talk to you about something. Can you spare a few minutes for me?" Mac asked while she slowly sat down in one of Harm's visitor chairs, nervously nibbling on her lower lip.

"For you? Always! Is this about your appointment at Bethesda? How did it go? How do you feel? What did the doc say?" Harm asked worriedly without taking a breath. He quickly stood up and walked around his desk to his office door to close it so that they would have some privacy before lowering himself into the other visitor chair right beside Mac.

"Whoa! Slow down, Harm." Mac laughed softly. "I'm fine and there's no need to worry. Just the same soreness as before and some pain here and there. But all in all it is barely noticeable. However, that's not what I needed to tell you… umm... I just talked with the Admiral about taking a few days off, and he granted my request and gave me permission to leave DC as soon as I leave here."

Harm looked at her a little taken aback. "Oh… where are you going?"

" Vermont."

" Vermont?"

"Yes. I had a long conversation with Chloe yesterday. She called me and somehow during the course of our conversation, her intuition told her that things weren't quite right and that something was bothering me She asked me if I would like to take a few days off and come to Vermont. It sounded like a good idea."

"Yeah, it sure does," Harm quietly said. "Well, it has been a while since you've seen her, hasn't it?" He asked, wondering how the girl who is not so little anymore was doing these days. It still seemed like it was just yesterday when he'd found her in the elevator shaft 'Time certainly goes by,' Harm thought to himself.

"True. But I won't get to see her on this trip either," Mac informed him.

Harm gave Mac a puzzled look but said nothing and she took it as sign to continue. "Right now she's on her way to Paris as part of a student exchange program. But it's not really a bad thing… I think… I just need some time alone."

"Oh," was all Harm could say, not knowing exactly what to think about it.

"Chloe told me that her grandparents have a cottage near their farm, which is right next to a lake. She said that I could go over whenever I wanted to."

"But why? I mean, you said you need to be alone. Is it me? Am I too... I don't know, am I too clingy?" Harm sadly asked confused and slightly hurt. "Maybe I've overdone it a little. I'm sorry if I overstepped…"

Without thinking twice, Mac placed a hand on Harm's cheek and reached down to take one of his hands into her other one.

"Harm, no! You didn't do anything wrong, nor did you overstep any boundaries. This has nothing to do with you or your care for me. It's me and only me. I just need a change of surroundings for a little while. I need to find something that I've lost. I've tried to do it here, but it's just not working."

"What do you need to find?" Harm asked. "You're not running away, right?"

"NO!" Mac replied louder than she intended to and then took a deep breath. "No, I'm not running away," she answered forcefully and slowly removed her hand from his cheek.

"So… why?" Harm wanted so badly to know, and to understand her reasons.

"I need to find Sarah. I know she's in here." Mac pointed to her heart. "But I can't reach her. I can't even explain it. I just need to do this. I need to feel free again. Can you understand that, Harm?"

Harm didn't need to think twice about his answer. "Yes. Yes, I can. Very well actually… So… how long do you plan on being away?"

"The Admiral said I could take off the rest of this week as well as the next one. I'm not quite sure whether or not I will spend the entire time in Vermont. I simply don't know yet."

Mac waited for a response from Harm, but the only response she got was seeing a very depressed looking Harm.

"Harm? What's wrong?" Mac worriedly asked, giving his hand a gentle squeeze.

She could feel something was bothering him and she was pretty sure that it didn't have anything to do with her taking a short vacation.

"Nothing… nothing is wrong," he quickly answered and gave her a little smile that didn't reach his eyes. "When does your flight leave? And what airline are you flying?" Harm asked and Mac knew he was intentionally changing the subject. "I could drive you to the airport."

"Thanks but that won't be necessary. Air Vette is taking off in a few minutes," Mac stated with a grin on her face. "To be exact… as soon as I'm out of this building." She couldn't wait to take this ride. It would feel great. She wanted to soar like a bird, she wanted to feel free.

"You're driving all the way to Vermont?" Harm asked in astonishment. "Isn't that too strenuous for you?"

Mac chuckled and shook her head. "No, it's not. And just to be on the safe side I asked my doctor if it was okay to make a seven plus hour drive to Vermont. She told me it would be okay and suggested that when I feel too sore I should take a little break and get out of the car for a few minutes. And that's what I'll do when it's needed."

"You promise?"

"I promise."

"You'll call as soon as you get there?"

"Okay, I can do that too." Mac gave him a soft smile.

"Good. Drive careful please," Harm stated and tenderly squeezed her hand which was still placed in his.

"Will do…. Are you sure you don't want to tell me what's bothering you? I can feel that something is wrong with you and I'm sure it has nothing to do with my vacation plans," Mac paused and looked into his eyes for some answer. "What's wrong, Harm?"

"It's nothing, Mac. I'll just miss you that's all. And of course I envy you for being able to take this vacation," Harm answered with one of his flyboy grins.

But it wasn't the flyboy grin Mac knew and loved so much. She was sure there were other reasons why Harm looked so sad and dejected. He was hiding something, but she knew at this point that Harm wasn't about to open up to her, so she just had to let it go... at least for now.

"I'll miss you too, Harm." She reached into her pocket and handed him a slip of paper. "Here is the address of the Anderson's and their phone number. I'm sure Martha wouldn't mind taking a message if you can't reach me on my cell phone. So whenever you need me or if something is wrong, please call. Okay?"

"I'll do that. Now get out of here, before you have to drive in the middle of the night."

"Take care, Sailor," Mac said before giving him a kiss on his forehead, letting her lips linger there for a few seconds.

"You too, Marine," Harm whispered. He gave her hand a final squeeze before letting her stand up and walk out of his office.

"Do you need me to water your plants?" Harm questioned behind her.

Mac laughed and shook her head, immediately remembering the time when she had once asked him the exact same question. "Sorry, flyboy. I don't have any plants."

"Too bad," Harm quietly said and followed her into the bullpen, watching her until she reached the elevator and with one last wink Mac was out of his sight.

He stood there in the bullpen with his eyes fixed on the closed elevator doors when he suddenly felt that he couldn't let her go yet. He turned around and quickly walked back into his office, closing the door behind him. He knew that he could see her car from his office window and that's what he needed to do.

Mac must have sensed his gaze, since she didn't get into her care immediately. Slowly she turned around and looked up to his window with a big smile on her face and gave him a wave. Harm had to laugh about how transparent he was when it came to her. He waved back and watched her as she got into the car. He remained at his window as she drove out of the parking lot and out of his sight.

Now he was alone. Much more alone than Mac could have possibly known.

TBC..