Disclaimer: JAG and it's characters are property of Donald P. Bellisario, Paramount Pictures and CBS.

Author's Note: Just something I wrote in an attempt to make sense of the Mac and Sturgis scene that probably had others scratching their heads too.

Summary: Sturgis and Mac talk. Post Capital Crime

Stranger

by e-dog

It was uncanny how much that woman could make his blood boil with confounding madness. After a night like tonight, the thought of a long, tall drink sounded really nice, but he was still here in his office. He was sitting at his desk wondering about her. Had she left for the night? How did she unwind after a day like today? Did she go home and dream again? He didn't even really know why he cared. So what if she dreamed? That was none of his business.

Then again, maybe it was his business.

It was no secret he was a stickler for hardcore facts. It was rumored that Sarah Mackenzie lived by them as well, but after working this last case with her, now he wasn't so sure. Her willingness to follow intangible leads based on completely normal REM cycles? Impossible, yet possible. Her gut led them in the right direction (for the most part) and stopped another sinister plot from ever lifting off the ground.

So now he was sitting in his office, wondering if she had gone home. Wondering if she was dreaming again. Wondering what she was dreaming about. He still wasn't sure why he cared.

He rose from his seat and decided that once and for all, he was going to check on her. Make sure she had closed up for the night. If not, he was going to walk her out and see her on her way.

She had scared him today. He barely knew her and yet she scared him to death just the same. It wasn't just this dream, this vision that bothered him so. It was the fact she so willingly confessed her love for his best friend to him! He had to admit, that little bit was eating at him. In such a small amount of time, she had exposed so much of herself to almost a complete stranger. He had to know why.

The light was still on indicating she was still here. He tapped on the doorframe lightly, didn't wait on a reply and opened the door. She was slouched in her seat for a moment, then realized that someone was actually standing before her. She hastily pulled herself into a more appropriate upright position and forced a smile, "Hey, you're still here?"

"I was on my way out," he lied, before shutting the door behind him. "I'm surprised you're still here, though."

"Just catching up on some things," she said. He could tell she was lying too. He suddenly found he had a million questions for her. She was like this mystery novel with no ending. You could read the title, possibly a chapter or two, then turn the page to find it blank. Right now, this woman was that blank page and he wanted to pen the rest of the tale.

He took a seat, crossed his legs and leaned back into the chair. He had to figure out how to start this conversation without appearing like a snoop. He couldn't think of a way. He rubbed his lips before speaking, "What's going on with you, Colonel?"

His bluntness was bold, as usual. She was taken aback by his question and appeared unsure as to whether she should be offended or appreciative that someone noticed her odd behavior. He involuntarily sighed, knowing how snotty that sounded, but he was confused. He had to know more about her.

She took a moment to think about it. He could tell she was debating on whether to go for the truth or to sidestep his question. She ultimately choose the latter, "Nothing is going on with me, Commander."

She remained formal with him, just like he had with her. If they started using first names, it might feel too personal. They might feel too vulnerable. Unfortunately, honesty was usually easiest to convey when one was allowed to feel unconfined. Sturgis sighed, dropping the hard tone and formalities.

"Sarah, uh, I don't know how to ask this," he began. It wasn't exactly the most genius thing to say, but he had her attention.

Her features had hardened some, but she surprised him with a smile, "You can start by calling me, Mac."

Sturgis chuckled nervously, wondering if his use of "Sarah" was forbidden or something. So he repeated, "Mac."

"Yes, Sturgis?" she continued to smile softly at him. It was no wonder his buddy Harm could never look her in the eye. She was beautiful, yet intimidating. Strong as an ox, yet delicate as a spring flower. His own insides began to bubble in queasiness at the sappy, poetic thoughts going through his mind. He had never associated such blossomy words with any other woman in his life. Why was Sarah Mackenzie so different?

"Sturgis?" she called him again, now her face falling into one of fear. His silence; his unabashed staring had made her uneasy.

"I know I haven't been working here that long, but today. . .," Sturgis spoke again, chortling in an attempt to ease the tension. He had never felt so uncomfortable in the workplace before. This office was unconventional, to say the least. The tactics of the lawyers. The crazy office politics. The complications of having a deceptively beautiful Marine Colonel to work alongside.

This time, Mac sighed. She folded her hands, her gaze drifting toward a stack of files on her desk. She whispered softly, "I know. I'm sorry."

Sturgis frowned, "You know?"

"My behavior today. The visions I had," Mac explained, her voice stronger. She shook her head in total bemusement, "I'm not usually this scatterbrained, I swear."

"Why did you tell me?" Sturgis blurted out. His curiosity had won out. The urge to know was too strong. New and confusing feelings rising within him added to his need to understand. He leaned forward and pushed, "Why did you tell me?"

Mac's eyes darted to the door, as if she expected to find the entire office listening in on this conversation. If it was one thing Sturgis had picked up on easily, it was her paranoia. Her constant state of readiness. She then locked eyes with him and answered honestly, "I don't know. You kept pushing. . .asking questions. I didn't know what to say."

"So it's not true?" Sturgis asked, squinting his eyes. "You just said you loved him because I overwhelmed you?"

"No, it's true," she laughed ruefully, leaning back in her chair now. She closed her eyes, suddenly her expression light and airy. He watched with great scrutiny. What was she thinking about? Was it about Harm? Would she fall asleep at this very moment, with that peaceful expression and start to dream about things she couldn't have? Surely, he could drift off into a restful slumber with this vision of complete happiness as his last memory. She was beautiful.

"I don't know why I told you," she repeated again. Her eyes opened. Her face hardened again. "You just felt. . .safe. Trustworthy."

Sturgis could only smile, as he rubbed his lips with a skittish index finger, "You've been keeping this secret for a long time. You had to tell someone."

Mac nodded, "Yeah, I guess you could say that."

He remained quiet, not once breaking eye contact with her. She had scared him today. The visions, her confession of love. His heart still pounded from time to time, mostly out of reverence for the woman sitting in front of him. Partly because he could now understand how Harm could so easily fall in love with her. How any man could fall in love with her.

She tilted her head to the side thoughtfully, watching him. He was staring again. He had never been good in social situations. Moments that required one-on-one interaction. He wanted to apologize for his obvious gawking, but he wasn't sure how to. Instead he asked dumbly, "Will you dream again tonight?"

He still wasn't sure why he cared about her dreams. Maybe he just wondered if he would ever be the star in one of her visions. In what capacity, he didn't know. Could she predict his death? His next love? How many kids he might have, if any? Maybe she could tell him if a promotion was in the cards for him or not.

"I can't really control it," she answered slowly. "It just happens." She then rose from her seat, walked around her desk and stood before him. He stood up to meet her, not wanting her to have the high ground. Not wanting to have her looking down at him. She spoke apologetically, "Sturgis. . .I don't know what to say here."

"You don't have to say anything," he insisted. "I was just curious."

Mac smiled sadly, "A lot of men are. Just one man pretends that he isn't."

Sturgis suddenly felt sorry for her. He felt as if he had to try and fix whatever was wrong. "Harm is a good friend of mine, but even I know he's a bonehead when it comes to women. Why do you wait for him?"

Her smile was still sad. Her eyes, however, reflected happiness and hope. She grabbed his hand and said sincerely, "I already told you I love him, Sturgis." She leaned up and placed a chaste kiss on his cheek, "You're not the first man to try and rescue me. But thanks anyway."

She let go of his hand and returned to her desk to grab her purse. He smiled at her, opened the office door and led her out. A brief stop at his office to grab his things and they walked to the elevator together. While waiting, he turned to her and asked, "So, really. Is this how you treat all your friends?"

"So you really do consider us friends?" Mac teased. "I thought threatening to kick your six today might scare you away."

He laughed. It was true. She did scare him.

The End