Title: What A Long Strange Week It Has Been

Chapter/Day Nine

By: Liz D

Normal Disclaimers – Thanks for playing along.

Spoilers: Post-Paraguay / Pre Season 9

Written: September 2003

A New Week Is Dawning

Saturday

Harm woke alone in bed still fully dressed. He took him a moment to realize why. Then he remembered - Mac. He had slept holding her all night long. He woke occasionally and was surprised and flattered to find, every time he woke, that Mac had not moved. She looked very content where she was. He was also surprised to find the cat stretched out between them – looking pretty pleased with her self: their self appointed chaperone.

Mac's voice softly drifted in from the living room. He dragged himself out of bed. She was at his desk, cat in her lap, coffee steaming in a mug next to her, talking on the phone. The whole scene looked very natural, normal, right. He watched her unnoticed for a moment.

"No, really. - - - It's OK. - - - I understand. - - - I have been there myself. - - - Apology accepted. I am just glad you two have worked it out. - - - Yes, I know. Talking is always a good way to start." Mac laughed. "Exactly - - - as long as it is just a start," she looked over at Harm, smiled and nodded to the coffee pot. "Meredith, that is more information than I really want to have about my commanding officer," she laughed again. "We'll talk soon. - - - No, not today. - - - OK. Bye-bye," she hung up.

"You and Meredith speaking again?" he asked.

"They set a date."

"Good for them," he stretched and poured himself a cup. "How did you sleep?"

"Like a baby. You?"

"Very well considering there were two females taking up most of the bed," he smirked.

"This cat is amazing. I never knew that a cat could purr so much. Or eat – she needs some more food. I fed her the left over bass."

"You what?"

"She's a cat Harm. She can't live on tofu and meatless meatloaf."

He smirked at her.

"I got another piece of good news this morning. They found my car."

"Great – where?"

"In South Carolina – in a ditch. But they are saying that the damage doesn't look too bad. I guess it was just a joy ride."

"Should we go pick it up?"

"They are towing it to a mechanic and I should know in an hour or so if it is drivable."

"Are you hungry – do you need some breakfast?"

"I'm Ok with coffee," she eased the cat off her lap, got up and placed her gently on the chair. She turned her attention back to Harm. He was leaning against the counter as she took a seat at the island. The cat of course immediately jumped off the chair to join them in the kitchen. "Thank you for last night."

"Just a little dinner."

"It wasn't. You took care of me and gave me a safe place to be – no questions asked. You have to know how much that means to me or else you wouldn't have done it."

"I am glad I was able to," he looked a little uncomfortable. He sometimes didn't take compliments too well. "I am glad that you let me."

"Harm, I need you to know that I don't expect you to take care of me," she cleared her throat and corrected herself quickly. "What I mean is that I am not looking for someone to take care of me 24/7."

"I know," he looked down. "But every now and then everyone needs a little taking care of."

"They do," she took a deep breath. "Do you know what I have recently accepted? Well – at least I am trying to accept. Last night was a first – I must say."

He nodded for her to continue,

"That part of generosity is allowing someone to give back kindness in turn."

"It's a concept."

"It's hard for me to buy into that," she owned

He shrugged.

"You too?"

"Yeah, me too," he admitted.

"Why is that – do you think?"

"Why is it hard to accept something from someone else? To put yourself in someone else's hands? To trust that the person won't let you down? That their actions are true? That their words are to be believed? To let yourself become defenseless and vulnerable?" He grinned. "Gee – I can't imagine."

She took a moment. "It comes down to trust." Mac's cell phone rang. "I'm sorry I need to take this."

He waved for her to do what she had to do. Harm refilled his cup and sat down in the living room in his chair. The cat was immediately in his lap demanding attention. Mac got off the phone quickly.

"It is drivable but they would prefer I not pick it up until tomorrow. Guess they still need to do some finger printing – whatever."

"Do you want me to drive you down there?"

"Let's get back to what we were talking about." The fact that she avoided the question was not lost on Harm. "We were talking about trust," her cell phone rang again. She turned it off. "I can say with complete resolve that the only person I trust 100% is me – and sometimes it's closer to 86%."

"You don't trust me?"

"In certain respects. I trust that you will move heaven and earth to help me or save my life; without a doubt. But when it comes to matters of the heart – well that is a whole other issue. Do I trust that you won't break mine? I am not sure I could say that about anyone."

"You were going to marry Brumby – you must have trusted him."

"You know that is a very complicated messy can of worms you just opened."

"I'm not going anywhere Mac," he stated simply as this were his plan all along. "For good or bad we should hash this out now – today – this weekend – as long as it takes."

"Really?"

"Yes, really. I have no idea where or how it will end – I just know that I can't live like this anymore. We are going to put this – this – this thing we have between us to bed."

"Literally or figuratively?"

He snorted a laugh. "Yeah, I guess so."

"Should we start there?"

"Where?" he asked.

"Literally."

"Literally … as in 'to bed'?" he didn't think she would turn that table on him.

She laughed. "Not that literally … tell me … honestly … truthfully … you are attracted to me."

"Since the day I met you," he stated simply.

"Yet… Sydney?" She asked.

"You are not a roll in the hay Mac … not a one night stand and not a torrid affair destined to burn out quickly … not for me."

"So you said no …"

"Correction … I said 'not yet.'"

"And now?"

"Now I can't stop thinking about you," he also stated simply.

"Tell me what you want, Harm?"

"Honestly?"

She nodded.

"Honestly … I want you to tell me the same thing."

"I asked you first," she pressed.

He was serious. "Mac … your track record with men is not so great … I am no star either … but I am worried that you will say you want what I say I want just because I said it … so here it is …I love you … OK? … plain and simple words … right?… I love you … not as a friend. I want more … more from you, more for us."

She hated his assessment of her but the assertion of his love and desire for more seemed to please her. It was more definitive than he had ever been before, so that was a step in the right direction.

"I want to know … what do you want?"

She would try it his way. If it blew up in her face, so be it. She summoned up her courage in one deep cleansing breath and answered without thinking. "I want the one great love affair that will see me through all the days of my life … I want romance, passion and desire … I want love, respect and admiration … I want commitment, hard-work and compromise … I want the house, the dog and two point five children … I want soccer practice, college tuition and grandchildren … and I want to be holding the hand of my partner in this life when I leave this world having those years behind us with the knowledge that we were the one great love affair that eludes most people."

He laughed. "Is that all … something to drink? Bag of Chips to go with that?"

She shrugged, "you asked."

"I can see why it might be hard to –"

"Oh I don't believe I am going to get that … hell I am not convinced I will get any part of that … nor do I believe I deserve it."

"Stop," he scolded. "You deserve everything you want and are willing to work for in life."

She nodded weakly.

He got serious again. "So … you want that with just anyone … or do you have someone in mind."

She came close to him and took his hand. "Honest to God, Harm … I never wanted any of that … and for the last seven years I have been convincing myself that I could live without it."

"What changed?"

She exhaled slowly. "You came into my life."

"Me?"

"Yes."

"Me?" he asked again. "What did I do?"

"I can't say for sure … sure as hell didn't promise me any of that … but … but," she looked away. "Maybe it is as simple as adding you to the list of things I want in life but can't have."

"I am no prize," he said in mock modesty.

"Please, Harm … humble doesn't work for you." She moved away to sit on the couch.

"What I am saying is," he leaned forward. "You can have me, if you want me … all you have to do is let me know."

She smiled weakly, "Or maybe you are a way to ensure that I won't get any of that."

"Hey," he barked. "You think I don't want or aren't capable of wanting a life and a wife and all that goes with that … what did you say, soccer, tuition, grandchildren?"

She shrugged again, "Your actions don't show that you are working toward that goal."

"Maybe I was waiting for the right woman … maybe I was waiting for the right woman to look in my general direction … maybe –"

"Maybe, maybe not."

"Mac … Sarah … Does the fact that I love you mean anything in all of this?"

"Yes," she said simply.

"So let's start there, shall we?"

She nodded.

"Do you love me too … do you think you could?"

"I could and I do."

"More than as a friend?"

"Harm," she laughed. "I stopped having friendly feelings for you about the time you left to go back to flying."

He shook his head, "wasted time."

"Well, Jordan was in the way."

"Not really … not so much," he shook his head. "This is old news … the past … history." He came over and sat down next to her on the couch. "Let's not waste any more."

She looked a little confused.

He leaned in and kissed her; without a word.

She pulled back, "Harm?"

"No," he kissed her again. "No more talking, no more confessing, no more bringing up the past. No more wasted time. I don't know if I am the man to give you all that you want … but I would like to try." He kissed her again.

"A good start," she wrapped her arms around him and pulled herself onto his lap. "So are we ready to put this thing between us to bed?" She smiled slyly.

"A better place to start," he lifted her up to carry her to the bedroom.

His phone rang.

His cell rang.

Her cell (which had been off) rang.

There was pounding on the door.

People were yelling up from the street.

"What in the hell …?" he started to put her down to find out what was going on.

"Don't," she turned his face back toward hers. "It's just the network trying to keep us from jumping the shark."

"Well that is up to them, isn't it?"

"Way too late in my mind … ignore them." She leaned up to meet his lips.

They disappeared into the bedroom and soon all was quiet again.

"I guess they gave up," he mumbled.

"Thank God," she sighed. "Now … how about we focus on OUR story with no interference."

"I like the sound of that," he agreed. "LIGHTS!!!!"

Ending Revised 3/24/09 ... hope it was fun