Title: "What Hurts the Most"
Author: Daphne Saxton
I don't own them so don't sue me )
Category: H/M Romance, Episode rewrite, song fic
Summary: Rewrite of "Farewell and Following Seas", Mac didn't go to Harm's apartment that night.
Spoilers: Anything's fair game.
Song: "What Hurts the Most" by Rascal Flatts

Harm sat alone at the bar, silently nursing a beer. An hour ago, should've been one of the proudest moments of his life. He took his oath in front of his closest friends. Now he was waiting for them all to arrive for their joint goodbye/congratulations party. They had all gone home to change into more comfortable clothes, but he knew that if he didn't force himself to drive straight to McMurphy's, the temptation to ditch the party would've been too great. He wasn't ready to say goodbye...not to her.

He sighed heavily as he looked at the new stripe on his shoulder boards. The stripe should've been a sign of his success. He was a captain in the United States Navy. He was about to take a command position and was on track to be the JAG. But to him, the new stripe was a sign of his failure. Nine years he'd put off taking that next step with her. Nine years he let his fears prevent him from risking their friendship for something so much more. For nine years he'd taken her for granted. He'd assumed she'd always be there. He'd assumed there would always be tomorrow to tell her what she meant to him. Now it was over. As of tomorrow, they'd be living their lives 5485 miles apart.

Sure, they'd promised that they'd keep in touch. They'd promised to send e-mails, to make calls and to visit whenever possible. But, a part of him knew that once they boarded their respective flights, they'd never speak again. For him, holding on to even a little part of her would just serve as a reminder of what could've been. And he knew that she felt the same way. As soon as the ceremony was over, he'd seen her slip out. Unlike in previous ceremonies, she'd spoken no words of congratulations. There was no congratulatory embrace. She'd simply left without saying a word.

He'd always been so good about keeping people at arms length. He'd learned how to do that at an early age when he lost his father. From then on, he prided himself on his ability to remain stoic. But somehow, she'd slipped past all his carefully built barriers. Tomorrow he'd fly to London, but his heart and soul would be moving to San Diego.

He cursed himself for waiting until it was too late. It wasn't like he was holding out for someone better because no such person existed. He knew from their first assignment that Sarah Mackenzie was a rare creature. She was breathtakingly beautiful, yet she didn't seem to realize it. And he'd be lying if he said there was another woman that he had a stronger physical desire for. Mac had always prided herself in staying fit and he had definitely noticed. But he knew her and knew that her physical appearance was the tiniest part of why he'd fallen so hard for her. A tiny smile graced his features as he mentally listed all the reasons; her smile, her laugh, her heart, her mind, her sense of humor, her loyalty, her honesty...and that was just for starters. He loved everything about her and it pained him to see the men that "loved" her just because the way she looked. So many people never looked past that to see the amazingly complex woman behind the beautiful exterior.

Harm was so lost in thought that he didn't even notice his friends gather around him. Bud, Harriet, Jen and Sturgis all watched the emotions play across the new Captain's face. They all knew who had him so engrossed in his thoughts. They'd watched the pair dance around a relationship for years and knew that this separation was going to be hard on both of them.

When the front door opened, Harm could feel her presence enter the room. His gaze lifted from the bottle in his hands to the lean brunette who made her way over to him. He took in the sight. She'd straightened her hair, wearing it down for a change. He loved the longer hair on her. Something about it was so very feminine. His gaze traveled further down. Her body was poured into a dark red dress that hugged all her curves perfectly and showed off her long legs. The color set off her skin tone perfectly, but what he noticed the most was the sad smile that graced her lips and the tortured look in her eyes. She tried to hide it, but she couldn't hide from him, not after everything they'd been through.

It wasn't until she greeted their friends that he became aware for their presence. He shook himself out of his thoughts and ordered a round of drinks for the group. But, he didn't speak to her. Mac followed his lead as they chatted with their friends, but never addressed one another. The group talked for over an hour, each taking turns buying the drinks. Either Harm or Mac would occasional steal a look at the other, but quickly look away when they were caught. Their friends ignored the exchanges for awhile before Harriet interrupted the current discussion. "I'm in the mood to dance, aren't you, Jen?"

Jen studied her, a bit taken back by the sudden question. "um, sure, that sounds like fun."

Bud groaned inwardly, knowing his wife was up to something. But he knew that he couldn't convince her otherwise, so he simply handed her some change and watched as she made her way over to the junk box and inputted her selection. A smile graced her face as she led Bud over to the open area of floor. Her smile turned into a grin as she saw Jen dragging Sturgis along behind them.

Mac swallowed hard when she was left alone with Harm. She noticed the petrified look that crossed his face. When he began to open his mouth to speak, she quickly interrupted, desperate to save them from traveling down a road they couldn't go down again. "Well, sailor...how about one last dance for old time's sake?" She didn't want to be in his arms, but at least if they were dancing, they wouldn't be alone and perhaps wouldn't feel the need to start a conversation.

Harm nodded slightly, the same thoughts going through his head. He followed wordlessly behind her as they joined their friends, taking a deep breath as she moved into his arms. He groaned inwardly. She always smelled amazing. The scent of her shampoo, lotion, perfume and her own unique scent combined to create the intoxicating aroma that haunted his dreams. He tried to ignore how perfect she felt in his arms. She was so warm and soft, yet he could feel the toned muscles beneath the silkiness of her skin. She fit against him perfectly. He couldn't help but wonder for the billionth time if their bodies would fit together perfectly in other ways. He felt her tense in his arms and was grateful for the distraction it gave him to keep him away from the dangerous thoughts. But that gratefulness was gone when he saw the immense pain in her eyes before she looked away to stare at a random spot on the wall. He began to ask her what was wrong, but when he listened to the words of the song, he knew why that pain was there.

I can take the rain on the roof of this empty house That don't bother me I can take a few tears now and then and just let them out I'm not afraid to cry every once in a while Even though going on with you gone still upsets me There are days every now and again I pretend I'm ok But that's not what gets me

What hurts the most Was being so close And having so much to say And watching you walk away And never knowing What could have been And not seeing that loving you Is what I was tryin' to do

He unconsciously pulled her closer, causing her to gasp softly as her body pressed against his. They'd been so close so many times. He'd even admitted to loving her, but that was to Mattie, not Mac. He'd been so close to saying it so many times. The truth was, he even had a ring for her...he'd had it for years. His grandfather had bought a princess cut diamond for his grandmother because of her name...Sarah which means princess. He hadn't had much money, but had made sure to find the perfect ring anyway. Years later, his father had bought a princess cut diamond for his mother...to follow in his father's footsteps. Harm had been given both of the rings when he graduated from the Academy. He'd taken both of the diamonds and had them put in a new setting with a larger princess cut diamond in the middle with rose engravings in the gold band. He always thought that the perfect moment would arrive and he'd slip it on her finger and live happily ever after with his Sarah, but as of tomorrow...

It's hard to deal with the pain of losing you everywhere I go But I'm doin' It It's hard to force that smile when I see our old friends and I'm alone Still Harder Getting up, getting dressed, livin' with this regret But I know if I could do it over I would trade give away all the words that I saved in my heart That I left unspoken

What hurts the most Is being so close And having so much to say And watching you walk away And never knowing What could have been And not seeing that loving you Is what I was trying to do

But, was it really too late? He stopped their movement and waited for her gaze to meet his, his eyes locking on hers. They still had tonight. If she wanted this as much as he did...then one night could be enough. He just had to say the words that he'd never been able to tell her. He felt her tremble in his arms, her lips parting slightly. He could tell that she was holding her breath.

What hurts the most Is being so close And having so much to say And watching you walk away And never knowing What could have been And not seeing that loving you Is what I was trying to do

Not seeing that loving you That's what I was trying to do

His lips descended on hers quickly. He had to stop her from walking away. He had to make her see that they couldn't just ignore this thing that had grown between them. Their friends froze, watching the passionate kiss that was escalating between the former partners.

Mac pulled away as if she'd been burned, tears filling her big brown eyes. "I...I can't do this again." She whimpered helplessly. "Goodbye, Harm." She quickly told her friends goodbye and rushed out, never looking back at him.

Harm swallowed hard. The pain that ripped through him was unbearable, making him feel almost faint. He watched the door shut behind her...and their future. After nine years, she was gone. He forced a smile and said his own goodbyes before driving home in silence. He leaned back against his loft door, looking around at all the packed boxes. He could still taste her lips...still feel the warmth on his own. He'd never cried over a woman before, but now silent tears made their way down his cheeks. He angrily threw his cover across the room. "Damn you, Sarah Mackenzie! Why can't I hate you?!" He crossed the room, flopping heavily onto the couch before running his hand wearily through his hair.

Tomorrow, he'd be flying out of one airport on his way to London. She'd be at another airport on her way to San Diego. He'd wondered if when Jen had booked their flights, she'd done it on purpose...to ensure that they both got onto their respective planes. Tomorrow they'd be on opposite sides of the world. And that would be where their story would end.

He stayed awake all night, staring up at the ceiling. The song played through his thoughts constantly. It provided the soundtrack to images of their history together. So many times they'd been at odds, yet they always found their way back to each other. There were so many moments when they were so close emotionlly that it was almost scary. Even when she'd told them that they'd never be together, he didn't believe her. He knew that eventually they'd find their way back to each other and be closer than ever. And that happened. That past Christmas, he was sure that they were ready for everything. He was sure they'd spend the next Christmas together...as a real couple...maybe even married or at the very least engaged.

Harm didn't realize how much time had passed until the alarm went off on his cell phone. He half-heartedly got ready and began to make sure everything was ready for the moving company. Sturgis was supposed to come by tomorrow to let them in and ensure all the boxes made into the shipment. But what did he care? None of this stuff mattered. The only thing that he needed was something you couldn't pack in a box...at least not legally. He grabbed his suitcase and made his way down to the waiting cab. He knew that she was already at the airport...she always made sure to be early for everything. He watched the city pass by. Soon, this would all be nothing but a memory.

Harm went into auto-pilot. He got checked in and headed over to security, his thoughts on the woman that had been his life for nine years. The woman that he'd never see again. When the security agent asked to look in his check on, he nodded wordlessly. The agent smiled when her eyes fell upon the small black velvet box nestled in the corner of his suitcase.

"Who's the lucky lady?" She smiled

"What?" Harm looked up, seeing the box. "Oh...that was...she's..." He smiled faintly. "The most amazing person I've ever met...she's my life and...I...I can't say goodbye to her..." His smile grew. "I'm not going to let her walk away this time. I...I have to go...I have to stop her." He grabbed the ring from his bag, not bothering to zip his suitcase, it would only slow him down and he could come back for it later. He sprinted out of the airport, weaving through the crowds. He thanked the heavens that a cab was waiting outside.

"Go! I'll pay extra if you get me there fast." He gripped the tiny box, praying that he'd be able to get there in time and convince her to give them a real chance. He dug several twenties out of his wallet, tossing them into the passenger seat as he jumped out of the cab before it even came to a full stop. He ran straight to security, cursing when he realized they wouldn't let him through without a ticket. He ran to the ticket counter. "I need a ticket...to San Diego..."

"Sir, I don't know that you can catch that flight...we do have one leaving tomorrow..."

"No, I'll catch it...I have to." He eagerly took the ticket before rushing back to security. He couldn't help but grin, feeling real hope for the first time in a long time.

After making it through security, he checked the monitor to ensure the flight was still departing from the same gate. He again thanked the heavens, this time for giving him long legs as he sprinted towards the gate...towards Mac. His grin spread as he saw her standing in line to board the flight. She looked exhausted, but beautiful as always. He could see the sorrow in her eyes and hoped that he could erase that momentarily. "Mac..."

She froze in the middle of handing her ticket to the agent. She turned slowly, her heart leaping at the sight of him. "Harm..." She whispered. "I...what are you doing here?"

He made his way to her, taking her hand and gently pulling her out of line. "Why did you run away from me last night?"

"Harm, I can't do this with you again. I know we're good at saying goodbye. I knew that much the night of my engagement party, but I can't go down that path again. So, let's just say goodbye the way everyone else does." She shook his hand. "Goodbye, Harm. I hope you and Mattie have a great life in London and if you're ever in the San Diego area, give me a call and we can do lunch."

"You don't understand...I don't want to say goodbye, Sarah."

"Harm...I can't do this. I'm going to miss my flight."

"There are other flights...but if you're determined to get on this one then I'm coming with you."

Her eyes widened. "Harm, you're supposed to be on your way to London right now."

"No. I'm supposed to be wherever you are." He tenderly tucked her hair behind her ear. "I can't lose you."

"I told you once that you'd never lose me. I'm only a phone call away, Harm."

"That isn't enough for me. And if you're honest, it isn't enough for you either. Your lips don't lie, Sarah. And last night..."

"Last night was about saying goodbye, Harm."

"No, it wasn't and you know it."

She sighed softly. "Harm, don't do this. You have a job waiting for you in London and I have one waiting in San Diego."

"So what? Don't we deserve a chance, Mac?"

"We had nine years of chances, Harm."

"Again...so what? Forget the nine years we wasted...what matters is the future...our future."

"Our future?! Harm...this is so like you. I've got one foot out the door and you're showing interest. Why are you doing this to me? Do you hate me that much?!" Tears of frustration streamed down her cheeks. she looked up at him, getting angrier when she realized he was smiling at her. "What is wrong with you?! Why did I ever fall in love with you!? I must be insa..." She stopped as his smile transformed into a full force flyboy grin. "What?!"

"Do you realize what you just said?"

"Basically that you're an..."

He shook his head chuckling. "Nope...not that part."

Mac groaned. "I don't have time to play games with you, Harm, but fine, I'll humor you. I said that you must hate me and that I...oh God.." The color drained from her face.

"That would be the part I was referring to."

"Look, Harm...I didn't mean that."

"Yes, you did." He smirked. "And for the record, I love you too."

"No, I didn't, I...wait...what did you say?"

He took her hand in his, pulling her closer to him. "I said...I love you, Sarah. I've been in love with you for...years. And that's why I'm here. I can't lose you. You're everything to me. And..." He knelt in front of her. "If you'll give me that chance and not walk away from me...I'll make sure to keep showing interest."

Mac glanced around quickly, noticing the crowd that had gathered around them. "Harm...I...um...what about London and San Diego and..." She tried to keep her hands from shaking. "I just...what are you doing?"

"Well..if you'd keep your mouth shut for a minute.." He teased, "I'm planning on asking you to marry me." He pulled out the ring, opening the box slowly with his free hand. "So...how about it, Ninja Girl..I know it isn't the most romantic proposal in history, but...will you marry me."

Fresh tears began to stream down her cheeks, her free hand moving up to cover her mouth. "Oh my God...Harm...I...oh wow...I..don't know what to say."

"Well...the customary response is normally 'yes'." He held his breath as he slid the ring onto her finger. "C'mon, Jarhead..you're making me nervous here."

"I...Harm...yes...of course I'll marry you."

"Really?" He grinned, standing and pulling her into his arms before finding her lips with his own. "Mmm..salty." He grinned, resting his lips against her forehead as the crowd around them cheered.

Mac laughed softly, gazing at the ring on her finger. "It's so beautiful."

"Just a little thing I had put together."

"Harm, it's perfect...I've never seen anything like it."

Harm shrugged slightly. "Well, you deserved something special..."

"Harm...what...what about our jobs?"

"Sarah, I love you and...all I want is you."

"But you love the Navy and..."

"I love you more, Sarah...more than the air..more than the sea...without you, nothing else matters."

"Harm..." She buried her face against his shirt. "Stop making me cry."

He smiled, wrapping his arms around her more. "Sorry, babe...so...ready to go to sunny San Diego?"

"You're going to give up the Navy for me?" She whispered in disbelief.

He rubbed her back. "Not necessarily for you...but for us. And I'd give up anything for us."

"Harm...are you sure about this? I mean, we can talk and..."

"I'm sure. I mean...my mom and Frank live just outside of San Diego. Mattie'll like it there better and get a chance to have a real family. It's easier for me to get work in California than it would be for you in London. And Jen's getting ready for San Diego...it's really the best thing for everyone. And I own some land out there...a gift from Frank when I graduated flight school. "We can build our own little dream house on the beach...start our family."

Mac pulled back slowly, sorrow filling her eyes again. "I can't marry you, Harm."

"Sarah, why not? What it is?" He began to panic. "Don't do this. Please...I love you and I can't watch you walk away from me. Last night almost killed me and now...don't do this."

"Harm...you're already going to be giving up the Navy...I can't let you give up the chance to be a father too."

"Oh, Sarah...that's..." He took her hand in his again. "Don't worry about that. I told you before that I don't care how it happens..as long as it's between us."

"But it won't be between us, Harm...I can't..."

"You don't know that. You never got a second opinion. There are amazing doctors in California. And there are so many options...you just never let yourself consider them before...and we have Mattie...and if we can't have one of our own, we can adopt another...but it won't come to that. You underestimate me, Marine. I'm a squid...my little guys know how to swim."

Mac laughed. "Nice..."

"I'll make it happen for us...don't worry...give me a few months and our kid'll be growing inside you."

"You're pretty confident."

"Hey...I convinced you to marry a 'loose cannon'...everything else'll be a piece of cake."

"You're something else, you know that?"

The final boarding call came over the intercom.

"Well? Is my beautiful fiance ready to go to San Diego?"

"You're sure about all of this? The Navy, the baby, the location...the fiance?"

"Of course, I'm sure. I love you."

Mac beamed. "I love you too...but what about your stuff?"

"I'll call the movers from San Diego...give them a different address...then I'll call Mattie and tell her the great news."

"Jen's going to be quite surprised."

"I doubt anyone'd be surprised, hon." He joked, handing the agent their tickets. He led her onto the plane, his arm wrapped around her waist. For once in his life, he had everything he could possibly want. And he would never give it up again.