Title: What A Long Strange Week It Has Been

Chapter/Day One

By: Liz D

Normal Disclaimers – Thanks for playing along.

Spoilers: Post-Paraguay / Pre Season 9

Written: September 2003FRIDAY - 1930 EST MacKenzie Residence

Georgetown, VA

Mac dragged herself in to her apartment grateful that it was the end of her wretched week, grateful that she had no obligations until Monday and for the first time in a long time grateful that she was going home ALONE on a Friday night.

Between:

Harm's non-committal, soulful eyes, don't-hate-me-because-I-can't-express-my-feelings act,

Webb's desperate invitations to lunch, dinner, a movie, a snowcone, anything to be with her,

Mic's cryptic messages on her answering machine (third in a week - which only served to make her feel guilty all over,)

Sturgis's general annoyance factor,

The admiral's over solicitous concern for her well being,

Bud's 'happiest man a live' routine,

The dry cleaner's incompetence,

The parking attendant's inability to remember to lock her car,

The neighbor's ever watchful eye and

The guy (it had to be a guy a woman would never do that) who kept calling her machine and hanging up,

She was SICK OF MEN. After the week she just had she was DONE. D-O-N-E. Stick a fork in her; she was done. She was ready to shut it all down for three days – well three nights at any rate. She needed some MAC-time. And she was just the marine to give it to her self.

She stopped at her favorite take out place and picked up food, chai tea and a bunch of lilies. Her plan was to go home, have a lovely quiet dinner, listen to music that she liked, take a long hot bath, light a fire, read some trashy novel for pleasure, crawl into her freshly made bed in her new silk pajamas and sleep until Monday. Nothing was going to keep her from her plan.

That was the plan.

She had just snuggled in. The sheets were cool, crisp and clean. The down quilt was fluffy and warm. She let her breathing slow down to enjoy a wonderful stress free night's sleep. She ordered herself not to think, dream or otherwise let the past week – or the following week - enter her thoughts. She should have ordered her self not to hear the knock on her door. It was past midnight, she was not going to answer it. Nothing was going to pull her from that bed short of a fire in the building, and even then she would have to think twice. The knock came again followed by a familiar voice.

"Mac?"

It was Harm. She was in no mood to talk to him. She wasn't mad at him; she was just in no mood. He had bailed on her in court that day. He called in to work before she got there and left a message with Tiner that said he wasn't going to be in and that was all. No other explanation and no phone call to her. She was left doing some pretty fancy footwork for the judge. In the end she was actually able to get their client acquitted; no thanks to Harm.

"Mac?" he said again.

There was something different about his voice. He wasn't yelling and it wasn't even raised above what would normally be needed to get through a door. If she had only closed her bedroom door or gone to bed 10 minutes before he would not have been an issue.

"Mac?" he was just calling to her.

She got up, went to the door and was about to send him away.

"Mac?" he called one more time.

She could be wrong but it sounded like he had been crying. She opened the door. Harm stood before her looking completely disheveled. He was still in his uniform but it looked like he had been wearing it for two days. He barely was able to make eye contact and he was nervously pulling at the band on his hat. Had he been drinking? He was unsteady, but no. His eyes were puffy and red – he had been crying.

"What happened?" she asked gently (her irritation gone instantly at the sight of him).

"I'm sorry. I didn't want to wake you." He didn't want to wake her, but he needed her to be awake.

"Come in," she stepped back to let him in but he did not move.

"I needed to see you," his voice started to crack again. "I didn't want to be alone."

"Harm – come in and tell me what's going on."

He allowed her to lead him into the apartment and over to the couch. He slumped down and continued to play with the band on his hat.

"Harm?" she sat down very close to him.

"I'm sorry. I should go."

"Harm," she put her hand on his arm to prevent him from leaving.

He took her hand in both of his. He got very serious and his voice scared her a little. "You've always been so good to me. Always there for me, always willing to do whatever it takes, always willing to put yourself second when I need you."

"That's what friends do," she was confused.

"Friends," he looked up into her eyes, briefly and then looked back down at their hands entwined.

"You've done it for me," she continued.

"I have? Have I really?" he said unconvinced. He pressed and released her hand. "Yeah, we're friends – best friends," he sounded so sad. "My friend Sarah."

"I am," she turned his face toward hers. "Talk to me."

"I lost my other Sarah today."

Mac was confused. Did he mean his plane? Was he really this upset about a plane? It had a lot of history to it, but it was, after all, a plane. "Harm?"

"My grandmother died this morning or maybe it was last night or yesterday. I don't know --," his voice cracked and he could not finish his next thought.

"Oh, Harm. I'm sorry," she took his hand back into both of hers.

He squeezed them gently - grateful for the contact. "She was all alone," he began by way of explanation. "I was supposed to see her last Sunday, but she said she wasn't feeling well and we had that case to prepare for, so -," he broke off. "I was supposed to go this Sund- . . . She was all alone." Tears fell from his eyes and he turned into her.

She wrapped her arms around him, pulled him close and rocked him.

He put his arms around her and buried his face in her shoulder. "She was so strong," he mumbled. "I never thought - - - She was never sick a day in her life. I should have been there."

"Shhh." Mac tried to calm him. She continued to hold him and buried her own face in his neck.

"Thank you, Sarah," he said after a moment to calm him self. "I'm sorry to dump this on you," he pulled away from her and wiped his eyes.

Mac sat back a little but was unwilling to completely let go. She wanted to be there for him. It was so rare that Harm showed his vulnerable side so completely. She wanted to respect that.

"I'm sorry," he said again.

"Don't," she smoothed his hair back and wiped a last tearstain away. It was easy for her to be gentle and kind to him when he allowed it. He looked so sad; like a young man in profound pain. She just wanted to take that pain away. She leaned in and gave him a quick kiss and pulled him in to a hug.

"Thank you," he hugged her back.

She pulled back and looked for sign of his pain lessening. She kissed him again. What she had originally intended as a comforting contact between friends the first time, turned into something a little different the second time. The third kiss lingered a little too long and Mac realized that this was not comforting to him. She pulled away.

It was too late for Harm; he felt it too. Slowly she saw him transform from a boy full of hurt to a man full of desire. His eyes were searching for an answer to a question that she did not know. He must have found his answer. He touched her cheek, combed her hair off her face and pulled her to him. Their lips met and their tongues tangled. Softly and sweetly at first but it became deeper and more passionate. Mac's mind was reeling as she returned the intensity full fold. So many thoughts were spinning around in her head and were kept spinning by the numerous emotions that were taking over her actions. He was holding her. He was kissing her. He wanted her; there was no doubt in her mind. And she wanted him.

But was this a wise thing to do on this night? Would they - rather HE - regret this later? Her apprehension must have signaled him. Harm drew back before it went too far – if it hadn't already. "Oh God, Mac. I'm sorry."

She saw panic in his eyes.

In his mind, he had gone too far. He quickly got up. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean -. I'm sorry." He grabbed his cover. "I never should have – this is not why I came – I don't want you to think - I have to go."

He bolted from the apartment, leaving her dazed and confused and alone. He didn't want her. He was just momentarily looking for physical comfort and for whatever complicated reasons he had going on in his head when it came down to it; he didn't want that from her. Why did he always run? Why didn't he want that from her?

Mac's night was ruined; a fitting end to a lousy week. There was no way she was going to get any sleep and if she actually did close her eyes there is no way she was not going to think about him or dream about him or those all too brief moments when they were totally real with each other. There was no order she could give herself to wipe that away.

Mac being Mac took most of the responsibility on herself. Where she learned to protect and forgive the man, just because he is the man was beyond her. It must have been societal because it sure wasn't learned at home. Of course it might have had more to do with the self-deprecating voice in her head telling her that she was wrong, she was always wrong. She had spent her entire life telling that voice to SHUT UP. And she did it loudly again that night. It was not her fault. He kissed her. She was just trying to comfort him in a time of need and he pushed it too far. He was the one. Damn you Harmon Rabb. You did it again. You pulled her in just to push her away.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Harm ran from the apartment. Ran down the stairs taking them three at a time. Lost and found his car in the parking lot. Lost and found his keys in his pocket. Slammed his car in reverse. Nearly slammed into the car next to him pulling out. Put as much distance as he could between Mac and himself without breathing. He made it down the block before the voices in his head became too loud to think for him self and he needed air.

== Pull over. PULL OVER – you're going to kill yourself.

Harm did what he was told.

~~ What the hell is wrong with you? Go back and finished what you started you - - - TEASE.

Harm looked in his review mirror.

== Just take a moment and breathe – you'll be OK. Everything will be OK.

~~ Everything was great. Go back. She is expecting you.

!!! Don't be ridiculous. You should never have gone to see her so late. A phone call –

~~ Did you see what she was wearing? Had to be silk. And fresh from the bath? Damn, she smelled good.

!!! You should have called.

== A phone is too impersonal. But you should not have kissed her.

~~ SHE kissed YOU first – and second – and third. She knew what she was doing.

!!! She was taking advantage of you, the HUSSY.

== She was not taking advantage of you. She was consoling you.

~~ Consoling? I'd say that was pretty damn invigorating. GO BACK.

!!! Your grandmother just died; do you really want to use that as an excuse to get a girl into bed?

== Mac isn't just A GIRL.

~~ I'd say she is all woman. Go back. Do it. Do it. Do it. Go. Go. Go.

!!! SHUT UP! YOU ARE NOT GOING BACK, HARMON RABB JUNIOR. JUST FORGET IT.

Harm shook his head to stop the noise.

!!! Now drive.

~~ Spoil sport.

He started the car and pulled out slowly and drove. He didn't know where, he just drove.

~~ It wouldn't have been a bad thing – she wanted it as much as you did.

!!! Until she backed away.

== Why do you think she backed away?

!!! You know why she backed away, Mac is a lot of things – but in the end she is a FEMALE and females are always ambivalent when it comes to stuff like this.

~~ She seemed pretty committed.

!!! Mac is not ambivalent. She is practical. It wouldn't have been a good idea to do that on this night.

== What do you think she is thinking?

~~ Probably kicking herself for letting you run.

!!! Probably thanking her lucky stars that it didn't get any further.

### She is probably confused.

She is probably HURT.

She probably thinks that you didn't want her because of her?

~~ Why would she think that?

!!! All women think that.

&&& She probably thinks that this is just another time when you couldn't follow through.

== You need to get a handle on why you left before you talk to her again.

~~ Why did you leave?

!!! You left because it would have be WRONG to stay.

~~ RIGHT? Wrong? Please this isn't a test.

== Mac is your best friend; you need to talk.

!!! Best friends don't kiss – at least not like that.

~~ Best friend, schmest friend – you got chemistry. Combustible chemistry. If it didn't happen today it will happen eventually.

== OK enough – this is what is going to happen. You will call her tomorrow and you will make arrangements to talk.

~~ She isn't going to want to talk.

== She will.

!!! God knows it is what she is best at.

~~ I'll bet she has a few other talents.

== Give yourself and her a chance to cool off and gain a little perspective.

~~ Take a cold shower.

!!! What is there to talk about? You need to just plain and simple apologize and forget about it.

== This maybe the opportunity you have been looking for.

~~ Missed opportunity.

!!! This is no time to advance any agenda like that.

== I think Grandmother would understand. If it took this kind of tragedy to make you see the light, then so be it. Call her tomorrow.

!!! Forget about it.

~~ Go back – now!

Harm leaned over and turned on the radio. He turned it up very loudly. He turned the car for home.