FF Tile: As Different As Night And Day

Author: Jackie – aka: Radiorox

Summary: While recovering from a near-fatal crash, Harm's heart is tested as he finds himself questioning his feelings over Mac, the lawyer who's defending him and Diane, the woman he thought he loved. The uncanny similarities are chipped away to find they are as different as night and day.

Authors Note: Yes! Finally! It's posted!!

Okay, this story will stretch a few JAG storylines, add to some and completely discombobulate a few others. Here's what you need to know:

This takes place during JAG Season 4 however, Harm's not at JAG and has never been a JAG. He is a pilot serving on an aircraft carrier. The ramp strike takes place in season 4, not when it did in the show and we assume everything was just dandy with him until then. Mac, Bud, Harriet, AJ and Tiner assume the same roles they had during season 4.

Diane is still alive and never went through the whole crap with Holbarth. On some occasions she has served with Harm on the carriers. Oh, and she's not the most charming of persons. ;)

Tidbits – Originally, this story was going to be written in Harm's point of view. Once I started to get some different ideas, I opted for third person as I thought the audience needed to know what the other characters were thinking without jumping point of views.

So that's it. The first chappie is slow and it'll move quickly after that. I expect at max to have between 10-15 chappies.

Enjoy!

Jackie

Chapter 1 – Broken

1230 Local

Bethesda Naval Hospital

Bethesda, Maryland

"That's it darling. Easy does it." Patricia Burnett cooed as her heart skipped a beat when her son's eyes began to flutter. "Harmon, come back to us." Part of her always believed that she'd get 'the call' which signified that her son had suffered a fate like his father's. And yet, the other part was cautiously optimistic in hoping that an angel would watch over him.

Harmon Rabb Junior was every bit like the man that fathered him. Tenacious, attractive, intelligent, honorable and heroic to a fault. Worst of all, he had jet fuel running through his veins which prevented her from rationalizing her fears of his designator. He was born to be a pilot for the US Navy and, from what she understood, he was a damned fine one. However, even the best had their worst moments. Harm's came in the form of night blindness which took him by surprise. . .

One Month Earlier

USS Patrick Henry

Virginia Capes Operating Area

. . .The brown haired, brown eyed woman sitting across from Harm at the officer's mess had always held his interest. From the moment they met at the Naval Academy, he was smitten. She didn't really feel the same and some would say that she never would. Oh, she adored him, liked him even, but would never reciprocate his affections. If one would put a name to it all, their relationship was built solely on lust, only he was too blind to see it. Nah, maybe he wasn't blind – the word was 'love starved.'

"I'm what?" Harm said, his eyebrow rising slightly at her brazen comment. He'd been trying to discuss a future, something that would cut short his bachelor days. It would be an experiment, really, to see if he could last with just one woman. Diane, in his mind, was worth it.

Her soft giggle was an indication of her feelings on the matter. "Love starved. I think you need to be with someone at all times. It's fine, a lot of people go through that. . .I just. . ." She sighed. Lieutenant Diane Shonke didn't want to hurt his feelings; part of her really did love him on some level, just not the one that counted. "Let's get off of this tub first and we'll see how it goes, okay?"

What confused him was her earlier want to "discuss the future", something that seemed to suddenly be tabled. "Okay, back up one second." He leaned in closer in his chair. "Twenty minutes ago, you head over to my stateroom to talk about the future and now you want to table it?"

Diane shrugged. "Harm, you have this vibe about you and a smile that can knock a woman to her knees. You have a good heart and are a decent guy, but we can't discus the future when just a couple weeks ago we were with other people." There went torpedo number one, crashing straight into him without so much as a warning. Her desire to discuss their relationship off of the ship was more for his sake than hers. A pilot needed to have his head in the game. Part of her hoped that in the next month he'd forget about it all together. She rather preferred the casual relationship and greatly yearned for the casual sex that came with it. They were good in bed; spectacular, actually. That was pretty much the sole reason why she bothered with him any more. Any guy that good in bed was worth keeping around; even if it meant keeping him at a distance.

"It was our mutual consent to see other people, Di. When I suggested exclusivity you. . "

"I said I needed more time." She was curt with him.

Hadn't he given her enough time? Not that he'd been actively chasing her, he'd just put his two cents in. They were good together and he thought she felt the same way. "I've given you plenty of time. . .Since the Academy, and I. . ."

Leaning forward, she placed a hand on his cheek. "I care for you. I really do. In some ways I love you. But I don't know what you want from me."

"I just want you. . .just you."

But it wasn't that simple; life in the military seldom was. With a long term relationship came sacrifices and with her new billet to the Pacific Fleet, it wasn't something that Diane was looking for. She didn't love him enough to give herself up. "I am not giving up my career in order to be with you. . . We are both young, successful. . . I like being on a tour and I like being at sea." She chuckled slightly and then shrugged. "Guess it's all of those sailors in my gene pool."

"So you don't care for me enough to make this work, but you do care enough to sleep with me?" He felt used, betrayed and enraged. Harm had been like her love slave, willing to please her with hopes of getting the great prize.

"Sex between us is good." She whispered flippantly. Her eyes shined with mischief as she let her foot caress the inner side of his ankle. "I can honestly say that you do things to me that others haven't."

Harm stood up abruptly, the motion causing his chair to fall back. "Well, I hope you enjoyed it Lieutenant, because it's over." The finality of his voice did well to hide the pain he felt. People in his life always seemed to come and go. He believed Diane to be different, with her sweet smile and cute flirtation. Now she was different, much different than the woman she pretended to be.

"We can still be friends, can't we? With benefits?" She took a cautious look around, noting that they were now alone and such comments would not be caught by others. The dangerous look in his eyes told her differently. "Oh, c'mon, Harm! Think about us in the past. We've always been that way – simple, unattached, uncomplicated. Why do you want to change that now?"

"Because I thought it meant more than that. I guess I was wrong." Angrily, he stormed out of the mess and headed to change for flight ops.

There was an unwritten, golden rule that came to any line of work – 'keep your personal problems at home.' However, when you lived at the same place that you worked, the lines were often blurred, scattered even. Everywhere he looked there was something that reminded him of Diane. It was paranoia, but on his way to the ready room it seemed as if everyone was staring like they knew their secret.

"Something wrong, Hammer?" RIO's had a knack for sensing problems with their pilots, no matter how long they'd been a team. There were certain things you'd certainly pick up. "Yo, Hammer?" Lieutenant Jason "Reaper" Mace could often be like a dog with a bone.

"W-what?" Glancing around, Harm realized that he was sitting in an empty ready room, dressed in his flight suit and just a few steps away from slipping into the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat. Had he missed the whole meeting?

Reaper shook his head and pointed upwards to the large bolt that was taped over their seats. "Look, buddy, that can happen to anyone. Besides, the fucking deck was listing over so far I lost sight of the meatball. That storm last night sucked." Bolts over the chairs of pilots and RIOs had become a Naval prank throughout the years. It signified a 'bolter', when the aircraft missed the arresting wire which was needed to stop the plane once it landed on the aircraft carrier.

Though not uncommon, it wasn't something that Harm had ever experienced. Still, even the most seasoned flyer was not immune to the elements. "Don't sweat it too much, man. Everyone knows you're the best stick in the Navy."

Harm's preoccupation was not on the bolt, but more on a woman who'd turned from caring to cold hearted faster than he could comprehend. There were easier ways to turn a man down, though he knew that his persistence could irritate a saint. "It's nothing, partner. Just women troubles."

"Ah, sometimes that's the best kind of trouble. . .Let's head out and I'll buy you some coffee when we get back. We can shoot the shit about it then." Reaper had his own women trouble, a wife at home who was divorcing him over the mistress he had in Washington. The two women were nearly identical and he claimed to love them both. In truth, neither relationship was working well. Not that it mattered; Reaper seemed to live in the moment. There was, however, his daughter, four year old Natalie, which he loved to death. It was the only relationship with a woman that actually worked.

Perhaps women troubles were indeed the best kinda of troubles. For the most part, Harm had a charmed life with a rich step father and a mother that he rarely spoke to on account of his work. He loved her but couldn't stand the lectures and the constant 'seed planting' of him leaving carrier life for law school. "Listen, Harm. . .About yesterday."

Harm waved a hand to stop the apology he knew was coming. "Reap, it's alright."

The two had gone at it pretty hard in an argument that had surprised the whole squadron. It came as a result of Harm's poor landing and Reaper's reluctance to take the blame after trying to help him correct the landing. "No, it's not. . .I could have gotten us killed. Hell man, you knew what you were doing and you did it better than anyone else. . .I should have kept my mouth shut. That's why I'm the backseater and you're the stick."

"Hey, you made a judgment call. It's not exactly fair that I hold your life in my hands, is it?" He grinned wickedly and punched Reaper on the arm, hard enough to leave a mark.

"Oww, hey! That's conduct unbecoming there, buddy." Reaper pulled Harm to his feet and put him in a playful headlock. "Look, about your girl troubles. . .it ain't no trouble at all. You're the stick, I am the backseater and the sticks always get the chics." He chuckled, dragging Harm behind him. "And with your reputation. . ."

After all of the usual checks that came with being the crew of a supersonic jet, both pilot and RIO hopped inside, hoping to get a little action out of this particular mission. From the cockpit, Harm watched as a Hornet took flight, he shook his head in disgust. "Sometimes I think they want to replace these babies with those bugs."

Reaper groaned, "May God take my life before I strap my ass in that piece of shit."

"Amen to that." Harm finished going through his checklist and not a moment later they were being shot off the ship and sent airborne. The mission had been a simple training round in order to get familiar with a top secret device newly installed in the F-14. After refueling, they headed back to the island. "Damnit, why do we always get shoved with the shit weather?" Harm commented to his RIO as he peaked through the rear mirror.

Reaper looked slightly nervous and had a right to be considering they'd almost suffered a ramp strike a night prior. "Fate, maybe? I don't know, just keep your eyes on the ship, Hammer."

Taking a breath, Harm began to align the plane when he noticed something very wrong. He brought his hand up to his eyes pressing against the bridge of his nose. The lack of control swung the plane violently to the sides in a move that forced him to correct suddenly. "Shit."

"Harm. . .What's going on?" He heard his RIO ask, his voice tense and worrisome. "Call the ball and get us home."

Harm swallowed hard, he wasn't too far from the ship now and between the haze that the weather was creating and the sudden change in his eyesight he couldn't find the meatball. "Reap. . . I can't see."

"What do you mean you can't see?!"

The plane swung again, enough for the crew to break radio silence. "Rabb, what the hell is going on?" He heard the LSO ask and forced himself to concentrate harder. "Take control, now!"

Fighting his eyes and the weather, Harm didn't register just how close he was coming, nor just how low. "One. Seven. Three. Tomcat, ball. Three. Point. Seven."

"Roger, ball!"

"Stay on the glide path, Hammer."

"I got it." He reassured, but his eyes said something different. He felt the plane listing left and made the correction too quickly."

"You're a little low!" The voice came over the communication unit and his senses were soon assaulted by both the ship and Reaper's orders.

"Damnit, Harm pull up!" Reaper yelled.

"Power! Power! Power!" The LSO urged just a little too late for their sake.

Reaper reached for the ejection handle. "We have to punch out!"

"No! I got it!" One thing that Harm never doubted was his abilities as a pilot. He was good. The best in the Navy. His judgment was cutting edge and his reflexes locked into perfection. His eyes couldn't see just how low he was coming in until it was too late. He managed to raise the plane up, but a sudden jerk took his hand off of the stick. "No!" He felt Reaper's seat eject and next came his own as he was hurled into the air and through the fireball caused by the Tomcat crashing into the deck. . .

1230 Local

Bethesda Naval Medical Center

Bethesda, Maryland

. . .Harm's eyes scanned the room, eventually stopping on a familiar face that he couldn't quite put a name to. "It's going to be alright, darling." The voice soothed him and so did the words, which he'd heard long ago when the woman was comforting him.

That's when the memory came of being five years old and cradled in his mother's loving arms. 'It's going to be alright, darling.' She used the same words when they'd learned that his father – Harmon Rabb Senior – had been shot down over Vietnam. "Mom." He croaked out, regretting it once pain rippled through his body. He groaned in agony and tried to lean over only to find that it was impossible. His eyes went wide with shock. "Mom? Where am I?"

"Bethesda." Trish Burnett brushed a hand over her son's face, the caress easing him. The bruises were gone, so was the nasty gash that he'd sustained. The tube that was forcing him to breathe had been removed a few days prior and now, the only thing left was a thin tube that supplied him with oxygen along with the various IVs that helped stop infections. "It's okay, sweetheart . . .You have a couple of broken ribs and you hurt your left knee. . .All in all, the doctor believes you are very lucky." She hoped he wouldn't ask about his RIO or the funeral she attended several weeks prior. "Tom is keeping me informed of everything that's going on."

Harm turned his head and sighed, wincing at the pain. Captain Thomas Boone had been Harm senior's wingman during the Vietnam conflict and somewhat of a mentor for Harm Junior. Now CAG of the USS Patrick Henry, the man had always kept Harm abreast of certain on goings and was no doubt looking into the accident with an eagle eye. "Mom, what happened to Reaper?" His mother didn't need to say a word, the look in her eyes was answer enough. "Oh God. . .he's. . .dead?"

"Yes, Harm. . .I don't know the details, they won't tell me, but. . .Your step father and I attended the funeral." She left it at that, choosing not to elaborate on the tiny details that she knew. Reaper's wife never went and neither did Natalie. While he was at sea, the woman had found another man and could care less about her, soon-to-be-ex, husband. "It was a beautiful ceremony."

It hurt him to cry, to know that everything he'd prepared for in life was practically over. That was usually the case with an accident of this nature. Some pilots just never got back in the saddle. "Mom, what happened to me? Why couldn't I see?"

"Harm, according to the doctors, you were fine. You are fine. . .No trauma to the brain. . ."

No, he couldn't be fine, there was something wrong with his eyes. He knew it and had been suffering for a few nights believing it was lack of sleep. "But, I couldn't see."

"It'll be alright." With a sigh, she leaned forward and ran a hand over his face. "Get some rest, darling. You're going to need it."

He didn't want to rest or sleep. All he wanted to do was find out what had happened and why. His vision had failed and he'd screwed the pooch. Harm couldn't help but feel like a failure and the guilt of Reaper's death would surely haunt him for life.