Rating: M for a few words
Summary: It's Father's Day and Mac's dealing with guilt.
Spoilers: Anything up through JAG San Diego I guess, but specifically "Second Sight"
Author Note: For the purposes of this story, it's June and they're still in DC. Harm has custody of Mattie after Tom fell off the wagon.
And yes, Amazing JAG Race is coming. I'm in the middle of finals but this story wouldn't leave me alone lol.
Song: "Hurt" by Christina Aguilera
It's Father's Day and I couldn't get out of the office fast enough. All day, I sat and watched Bud's happy face as he looked forward to a big celebration dinner with his clan. The General was anxiously making plans with his daughter. Sturgis was having dinner with his father and even Coates had set something to her father. And, of course, Harm was planning on spending the evening with Mattie. I'm not sure what they had scheduled because I walked away before he could fill me in.
To escape all the happiness, I hid myself away in the security of my office as much as possible. I wasn't all that surprised when Harm came in with more pamphlets and print outs. He looked so excited when he spread them out on my desk. Father's Day made him think about think about our deal even more and despite promising to let me come to him when I was ready, he couldn't help himself. I bet he was hoping that seeing Harriet happily planning stuff for Bud made me think of the possibilities, but…I bit his head off before he could even say hello. I didn't mean to and now I feel horrible about it, but today just wasn't the day to press me about the topic. He apologized, of course, and said he understood, but he doesn't. I'm sure he thinks that my bad mood was due to my 'condition', but it had nothing to do with that. The pain in his eyes when I asked him to leave ripped my heart to shreds, but when I opened my mouth to try to explain it to him, nothing came out. He turned and walked dejectedly out of my office, throwing the pamphlets into the trash on his way. He didn't even look at me for the rest of the day.
I feel so guilty about pushing him away. I know that today isn't an easy day for him either. Not only due to lack of children that actually called him 'Dad', but also because of his father. Somehow I'll make it up to him later, but right now I'm just too…lost in the past. I've been sitting here now for two hours sifting through a box of memories. I haven't been able to look at this stuff since I got back from Fresno. It's been tucked away in the very back of my closet under a mountain of other boxes. But for some reason, I dug it out when I got home today. I guess I owe him that much.
I look at my father's things, studying each piece of his past. These items are all that I have left of the man I hated for so long. Tears sting my chocolate brown eyes as I find a picture of him and myself. It was taken on one of his good days. He holds me up as I put the star on top of the Christmas tree and his smile is so hauntingly proud that it steals my breath away. I flip through more pictures and that smile is in them all. For so long, I forgot that smile. It matches the pride that is so easily visible in his eyes. I forgot how he'd brag about me to his friends…how smart I was and how beautiful I was becoming. For years, all I could remember was the screaming and the crying that came with the alcohol. I begin to sob as the lyrics to the song on the radio invade my subconscious. A voice sings along and I'm surprised to find that it's my own.
Seems like it was yesterday When I saw your face You told me how proud you were,
But I walked away If only I knew what I know today Ooh, ooh
I remember the day I walked out. He was drunk and I decided that I'd had enough. He was sprawled out on the couch with a beer when I came through with my bag. His eyes widened.
"Sarah, where are you going?"
"Not with that loser, I hope."
"Like you're one to talk…you're the only loser here. And it is none of your business who I go out with."
"It isn't my business what my stupid tramp daughter does? I beg to differ."
"Well, beg all you want, but I'm leaving your sorry ass." I spat angrily. "And I'm not coming back."
"Sarah, no! Please! Don't go." Panic filled his eyes followed quickly by pain, his beer falling to the ground with a thud. He struggled to find something to say, anything to keep me from walking away from him. "I saw your biology test…good job, kiddo. If you keep it up, you'll really make something of yourself."
"You're a pathetic man, Joe Mackenzie, and I hate you. Goodbye." I'd walked away. I remember him calling my name, begging me to come back. He tried to follow me, but he was so drunk that he ended up falling on his face in the middle of the room. I didn't look back. I walked out and climbed on the back of Chris's motorcycle and never spoke to my father again. Little did I know that even though I'd wanted nothing more to do with him, he'd followed my career until the day he died. He'd known everything he could about the woman I'd become…and he was proud of me…carried me around in his wallet and his heart until his last breath.
I would hold you in my arms I would take the pain away Thank you for all you've done Forgive all your mistakes There's nothing I wouldn't do To hear your voice again Sometimes I wanna call you But I know you won't be there
He was a miserable man, but he had a problem. And my mom leaving threw him over the edge. But despite his pain, he never hit me. He never even raised a hand to me. He made mistakes, but then again we all do. But he took care of me the best that he could. He cooked, cleaned, checked my homework and paid the bills. He kept a roof over my head, food in my stomach and clothes on my back and how did I repay him? I told him that I hated him and walked away. I didn't even want to be there when he was in his death bed.
When I got to work this morning, Harm was on the phone with Frank, wishing him a Happy Father's Day. And what did I do? Without thinking, I went into my office and picked up the phone to call…my dead father. It struck me as I held the receiver to my ear that he wouldn't be there. I'd tossed aside my chances for all those years and now I had no one to call. My father died thinking I hated him just as much as my mother did.
Oh, I'm sorry for blaming you For everything I just couldn't do And I've hurt myself by hurting you
Some days I feel broke inside But I won't admit Sometimes I just wanna hide 'Cause it's you I miss And it's so hard to say goodbye When it comes to this, ooh
Despite what I told Harm, I did blame my father of me becoming an alcoholic and it was partly because of him that I joined the Corps, even though the majority of my inspiration was due to Uncle Matt. And it was because of him that I never believed men when they told me that I was worth something. But my joining the Corps and my men problems weren't because I hated my father…they were because I loved him. It hurt so much when he'd yell at me in one of his drunken rampages. He was my father and I loved him. All I wanted was for him to love me back. And if my own father didn't love me…if he thought I was a stupid tramp, why would anyone else feel differently? He hurt me so I hurt him back, but I didn't see until it was too late that the person I was really hurting was me. I ran from him and my life got worse. Chris got arrested…Eddie died…and since then? Well, 'every man that's ever been involved with Mac is either dead or feels like they are'. It wouldn't hurt so much if it weren't true. I'm hard on men because I don't trust them. I heard onto my grudge against my father so long…and why? Because I was failing? That wasn't his fault, it was mine. But I couldn't take responsibility for it all, so I blamed him. I used him as an excuse.
I can't even count how many times since then I wished for him to be around for me to run to. Every time Harm was out of my life, I wanted to run to my father…when I found out about my condition, I wanted to run to my father…when Clay faked his death and then came back thinking we could pick up where we left off…for my adult years, I haven't had what most women do. I haven't had the protective father that would defend his daughter's honor without question. But that doesn't mean I didn't want to have that. And truthfully, it wasn't entirely his fault. He could've been there if I'd have let him…but boy would he have had a field day with the men in my life, but Clay and Vukovic in particular.
But my father did love me, I know that much. And I miss that proud smile…I miss crawling into his lap in the morning when he was reading the paper or in the middle of the night when I'd have a nightmare. He was my protector…when he was sober. He even held me after mom left. I took it all for granted…and now…I miss it.
Would you tell me I was wrong?
Would you help understand?
Are you looking down upon me?
Are you proud of who I am?
My voice begins to strain as I find myself screaming the words to the song. Why did I realize too late that it wasn't his fault? My mother walked away and never came back. She left me with an alcoholic and didn't care what became of me. She didn't know where I was or even if I was still alive. My father didn't drive her away. She drove herself away and chose not to contact me. She only cared about herself. Even when he was taking his last breaths, she wouldn't go in with me…all she wanted was lotion for her hands. She rejected me and she abandoned me. But my dad followed my career…he asked for me in the last week of his life. He wanted my forgiveness, but it's me that needs his. Why did I realize too late how wrong I was about him?! Why didn't I remember the good sober days when I was the apple of his eye…his whole world?! Why did I see through his angry words to see why he was saying them?! I was his precious angel, but I was too bitter to see it! He warned me about Chris…told me that I deserved better. I told him to go have another drink and leave me alone. All he wanted was for me to have a better life than he did. He wanted to protect me from the mistakes he was making, he just didn't know how. I wonder if he does watch over me now. Does he think I'm pathetic? Does he see me as a miserable failure? Sure, I've done well in the Corps, but what about my personal life? What do I have to be proud of there? But a little voice inside me answers, 'He'd be proud no matter what'.
There's nothing I wouldn't do To have just one more chance To look into your eyes And see you looking back
Oh, I'm sorry for blaming you For everything I just couldn't do And I've hurt myself, oh
I'll never forget walking into his room that day. He was so frail and so pale and all the oxygen tubes…the man that could hurt my mother so easily was now weak…his once toned muscles gone. He was so thin…nothing like the Marine I remembered. Sometimes I wonder what I'd have said if he would've opened his eyes. Would I have begged for his forgiveness? Or would I have been a coward and stayed hidden behind my own pain? I know that if I had that chance now, I'd tell him how wrong I was and how much I love him. If only I could get one more chance to make it right. The priest said that my father knew and was thankful for my forgiveness. I can still feel the pressure as he squeezed my hand. His hand was already getting cold and his grip was weak. Moments later he was gone. I wish I could be sure that he knew. I didn't want him to die thinking I hated him. I loved my father.
If I had just one more day I would tell you how much that I've missed you Since you've been away Ooh, it's dangerous It's so out of line To try and turn back time
I'm sorry for blaming you For everything I just couldn't do And I've hurt myself.
By hurting you
To be honest, I don't deserve another chance. He was my father and I treated him like scum. No matter what he did, he didn't deserve that…not from his own daughter. He didn't make my life Hell. It was my choices that did that. I chose to drink even though I saw what a miserable person it turned him into…it was my choice to throw myself at guys….and it was my choice to run away with Chris. I think back to what the priest said. Yes, my father would call me names. "My stupid tramp daughter" was a favorite phrase of his. But I was a tramp then…and I was being stupid. I was throwing myself at guys that were nothing but scum and the worst part? I thought they were princes. The priest was right. I didn't respect my father like I did those losers. And my father made a mistake in the way he handled it. He got hostile and drank more often. I pushed him over the edge. It was my constant rejections that threw him into a downward spiral. And from the sound of it, he fell even further after I left. I was all that mattered to him and I walked away and pushed him out of my mind until that phone call came to tell me he was dying and needed me.
I'm now sobbing as I scream the last few notes. The guilt and pain are ripping me to shreds. "I'm so sorry, Daddy…I'm so sorry. Please forgive me…I…I forgive you and I…I love you. I wish I'd told you before it was too late!" My voice is raspy, almost gone, but I can't stop. "I'm so very sorry. Please, Daddy…"
Gentle fingers touch my chin, causing me to jump. I look up through watery eyes to find the caring blue-green eyes of my partner. He must've used his key or maybe I didn't lock the door…I don't remember. I look into his eyes and see…understanding and concern. Earlier I didn't know how to explain this to him, but by what I'm seeing in his eyes…I don't need to. He very tenderly kisses away my tears, pulling me onto his lap. His arms wrap around me as he comforts me. "Sarah…he knows." He says softly, reassuringly.
I look up into his eyes again. How can he be so sure?
"He knows." He says simply and brushing my hair back out of my face. "And he'd be very proud of you…I know I am."
I break down again and he holds me until my sobs subside. I sniffle against his shirt which is now soaked with my tears. "I thought you had plans with Mattie?" I finally say softly, my voice still raspy.
"We had dinner and we were going to rent a movie, but…I knew a certain brown eyed, Marine beauty needed me." He kisses the top of my head. "Mattie understands quite well. In fact, after I told her, she went to call Tom. And while I wish you'd have come to me…I understand." He holds me tighter and I relax into him, playing subconsciously with a button on his shirt.
I don't know what to say to him. I feel so raw and vulnerable right now, so it probably isn't the best time to have any of 'those' talks. And while I want to reassure him about the baby thing, right now probably isn't the best time for that either. I want to tell him that I love him, but…that can wait until morning…or can it? I put off telling my father until it was too late and now…I take a deep breath. "Thank you." I whisper. My throat hurts too much for a deep discussion tonight anyway, but I have to tell him before it's too late. "And Harm? I love you." I say simply.
He remains quiet for a moment before hugging me tighter. "I love you too." His reply is simple and I silently thank him for understanding that right now is not the time to go in depth about it.
He holds me for an hour before joining me in my room. We don't speak another word; we just go through our respective nightly routines before lying down with him spooned up against my back. He simply holds me. No other man would be such a gentleman. I know that. It's one of the reasons that I hate letting myself be vulnerable. Men have always taken advantage of those moments, but Harm isn't one of those men. I can't but smile softly. I look up at the ceiling. "You'd really like this one, Dad. He's not even close to being a loser. He deserves me and my respect. He's what you always wanted for me…and what you tried to get me to want for myself…it just took me a little while." I whisper. "Maybe you could put in a good word for us up there…I think he'd be an amazing father…and he deserves that so…any little miracle you could get thrown our way…" I feel Harm pull me a little closer. "I love you, Dad…and…Happy Father's Day."