Disclaimer: Property of DPB and CBS
A/N: This stemmed from reading an interview with Catherine Bell in one of the local magazines.
What the Heart Wants
Sarah MacKenzie groaned as she felt the familiar feeling of a tension headache coming on. She had won her last case in court, though she didn't have the heart to celebrate her triumph over the new lawyer. He was still somewhat inexperienced, although she did see a lot of potential in him, and she knew he would be a damn good lawyer too… if only he weren't so damn arrogant. Now she had almost nothing to work on and she decided the paperwork cluttering one corner of her office needed to be removed, and so she set down to work on them. It was, to say, a task that was easier said than done, but she was determined to rid her office of them.
Even though she knew caffeine was not the best solution for a headache, she made her way to the staff room to make herself a cup of the steaming, strong, bitter brown liquid she called coffee. She took a sip of the scalding drink and waited for it to take effect as it raced down her throat, through her oesophagus and straight to her stomach before she knew it would be absorbed into her blood stream. It took all of three minutes before she felt the calm settling in on her and she began to relax somewhat, until Harriet made her entrance into the break room.
"Mac," she greeted chirpily.
Mac turned to face the new addition to the room and was not surprised when she came face to face with a red nosed, red cheeked and watering eyes Harriet.
"Harriet," Mac greeted in return and offered a small smile to the woman standing opposite her.
"Would you like a mug of coffee?" Mac asked the shivering woman and Harriet nodded her head in acceptance as Mac turned to pour her friend of the still steaming liquid.
It was the middle of winter and it had snowed non stop for the last three days, dropping the already freezing temperature to lower levels. They were at least comforted by the fact the building had a central heating system that was working, unlike the system at Mac's apartment which had packed up a few days before the snow storm had hit. She had called the super the day after it had broken but the holidays were just over and some people had yet to return to work, so he had no idea when the repair man would be over to have a look at the heating system.
"Mac, did you think about my invitation for you to join us for supper tonight?" Harriet asked tentatively, and for a few seconds both women stood silently in the closed room.
When, after a few minutes Mac still didn't respond Harriet continued hoping to sway Mac's decision in the direction of accepting the invite, "AJ hasn't seen you in a long time and Commander Rabb will be there too. And besides, your heating system hasn't been working for the past week, you'll freeze sitting in your apartment all alone."
While she had every intention of saying yes, simply for the fact the she had not seen her godson in a long time, and she really should not be punishing him for something he had not done or even understood; she was not at all looking forward to a dinner with Harm.
"Thank you for asking Harriet, but I already made plans with Alex," she answered softly, not meeting the other woman's gaze.
"Alex?" It was a male voice that cut into their conversation. Apparently both women were so caught up in their own thoughts neither of them heard Gregory Vucovik, the still somewhat inexperienced, but very arrogant lawyer, who had a vast amount of potential entering the small staff room. She had no intention of discussing Alex with anyone at work, and specifically not one Gregory Vukovic.
"I need to get back to the paperwork on my desk," Mac said with a hint of finality, and headed in the direction of her office, with her now cold mug of coffee in her hand.
Mac had been in there for almost two hours before she was interrupted by a soft knocking in her door. She couldn't help the small smile wanted to form on the ends of her mouth, or the small bubble of happiness that had risen in her chest at just the sight of him…
"Colonel MacKenzie," The sound of his voice made her want to jump out of her chair and race into his arms, but now was not the place or even the time for it, so she settled on giving him a nod of her head in acknowledgement.
"Commander Rabb," her reply came out more with force than she wanted it to and she knew he noticed it by the slight flinch of his head as he heard her greeting.
"I thought you weren't getting back until the first week of next month," she said as he carefully took a step into her office.
"I wanted to spend the holidays, or well what's left of the holidays with family," he replied.
Harm took a good look at the woman, sitting on the opposite side of the desk. In the eleven months that he had been gone, he saw that she had lost weight, her once sparkling chocolate brown eyes were now dull and lifeless, she looked like she hadn't had a good night's rest in years and she had aged ten years.
A small smile made its way to her lips, and he noted it didn't reach her eyes. He realised in that moment why he needed to come back home for the holidays. Nobody was meant to be alone at those times of the year, especially not when they had people who cared about them around. He was meant to come back specifically for her. He shifted uneasily on his feet as his thoughts made its way from his mind to his mouth.
"Sarah I was wondering if…" but the rest of his sentence was cut off when a green eyed, very attractive and clearly extremely interested in Mac, Lieutenant Gregory Vukovic barged into Mac's office.
"Mac, I need you," he stated simply and without waiting for a response from her he turned around and retraced his steps out from her office and toward the centre of the bullpen waving a folder in his hand.
"Wait for me in the bullpen Greg," she said to his already retreating back, and she stood up with a tired sigh and made her way to the bullpen.
As she attempted to walk past him, Harm caught her wrist in his grip and her steps faltered slightly.
"I need to talk to you. Tonight." There was no space for debate or protest on this subject, and he didn't even give her a chance to think about it.
Harm watched her walk up to the bullpen to where the newbie lawyer was standing and assessed him thoroughly as he watched 'Greg' talking animatedly to the group huddled at the desk in the centre of the large room. Harm didn't fail to observe that Greg was very similar to him. He was almost as tall as Harm, had the same eye colour, they talked animatedly when something excited them or they knew something the opposing team didn't. He was also very attractive and he had sights set on wooing the petite brown haired, whiskey coloured eyed Colonel MacKenzie.
Harm's hands balled into fists and his jaw clenched unconsciously. While he had Mac weren't in an exclusive relationship, or even a relationship at all, Harm still felt like he needed to protect her from being hurt. He stood observing her for a few minutes longer, and then bowed his head in defeat and headed back to his office, shutting the door securely behind him after he had entered it.
The rest of the day passed with no other disturbances and Mac was happy to see the depleting stack of files in the corner of her office. At least now they could be filed and it would be out of her hair until they were needed and brought up from the file storage room. She was still considering changing her mind and actually taking Harriet and Bud up on that dinner invitation, and off course it had been a long while since she had last seen AJ. When Harriet had mentionedearlier that Harm was going to be there she was all ready to decline the offer, but now that she had seen him, in the flesh, her heart instead of her mind was taking over and she was very close to saying yes.
It was still a while before she could pack up her stuff and head home to get ready for her date. She just wasn't sure which one she was going to attend just yet. She was so caught up in her thoughts that an hour later she did not notice Harriet standing in her doorway. The blonde woman frowned at her reaction; or lack thereof of her presence and decided to wait until Mac became aware of her leaning against her door jamb. After what seemed like a really long time, Mac looked up from the documents crowding her desk.
"Something I can do for you Harriet?" she asked as she surveyed the other woman's expression.
The blonde haired woman stepped into her office and closed the door behind her, causing Mac to raise a questioning eyebrow at her.
"Mac, I know Harm hasn't been the easiest person to get along with recently and that if you do decide to join us for dinner tonight it will be a bit uncomfortable at first, but he's Harm and you're Mac and you guys will figure it out. You always do," she said as she watched the brunette's face for some sort of reaction to her words.
I'm sorry Harriet, I can't make it tonight," Mac replied after a short silence and carefully avoided eye contact with the woman standing opposite her.
"Mac, you've seen Alex for the last four nights this week, if you don't see him for one evening I don't think he'll mind," Harriet tried to sway Mac's decision.
"Harriet, I know you mean well, but I really can't make it for dinner tonight, maybe another time," Mac suggested as she tried with as much patience to politely decline Harriet's offer.
Knowing that once the Marine's mind was made up, there was no chance of her changing it, no matter what, so Harriet turned to leave the office. She was about to turn the door handle and let herself out of the small room, when she suddenly did a 180 degree turn and opened the door anyway but was now once again facing Mac.
"Okay you've been out with Alex on a few occasions already, and I don't know anything about him. What if Commander Rabb asks us what Alex is like? What are we supposed to say?" she questioned Mac, while her hand rested on the door knob and her one foot halfway out the door.
Mac sat in her chair, deliberating on what she should say, knowing the information would undoubtedly reach Harm's ears by tonight.
"Harriet," she started slowly, "Alex has been there for me for the whenever I needed a friend. Actually Alex had been there for me since Commander Rabb left eleven months ago and just because he returned and now wants to have a family dinner I am not going to blow Alex off," she said as she watched Harriet's brow furrow deeply. Harriet was really giving this a lot of thought, so Mac simply continued on, watching the blonde woman's reaction.
"Alex is good looking too. Tall, lean, has the greatest legs I have ever seen, blonde hair, blue eyes, has a smile that will melt anyone's heart…" she said dreamily.
"Mind telling us where we can find him?" Vukovic had somehow made his way to her office and was once again eavesdropping on their conversation.
"Get back to work Greg," Harriet shooed him away from the office.
"Well you're still welcome to join if you change your mind," Harriet said as she settled on leaving Mac to make her own decision.
0 - o - 0 - o - 0
Admiral Chedwiggen had left sometime earlier, citing that he had to read a memo on an upcoming meeting and Sturgis had a date with his girlfriend who had finally gotten a night off from work. Harm had expected Mac to come to the dinner, seeing as everyone else was there, but when she still hadn't arrived after half an hour, he knew she was not going to attend. She was never late, with that weird internal clock of hers that worked so damn well.
When AJ had seen Harm for the first time that evening he was ecstatic, but the novelty soon wore off when he realised that Aunt Sarah was not able to make it that evening. He had pouted and refused to eat until Harm assured him that Aunt Sarah would attend their Sunday lunch. Harriet simply raised her brows in question, as there was no way Mac was going to come anywhere near Harm for a long while. Vukovic was the first to actually point that out and didn't fail to mention that Mac was seeing a guy named Alex. Harms heart sank to below his knees, he felt like he had been winded and was struggling to breathe.
It was almost eleven o clock when Harm stood up to leave the Roberts' home. Dinner had been a pleasant affair and he was so glad to see AJ after almost ten months that even the prospect of Gregory Vukovic didn't deter him from having a bit of fun with his godson. They had been playing practical jokes the entire evening, and usually Gregory Vukovic was the target of them all, but he couldn't well complain to his superiors about Harm's childish behaviour seeing as Harm was his superior.
He was ten minutes away from his apartment building when he took unconsciously took a U turn and headed in the opposite direction. The direction of Mac's apartment. Harm arrived there fifteen minutes later, only to discover she was still out, but that was absurd, her car was in its allocated parking bay outside her building. Maybe she was asleep and she didn't hear him knocking. He pulled out his cell phone dialled her number and waited for her to answer. After the sixth ring he hung up. He then tried her land line, where he was met with her answering machine, promising she'd call as soon as she returned.
He made up his mind that since he was already here, he might as well wait until she arrived. He leaned against the door for a few minutes and then he got bored, and being Harm, he couldn't sit still for a few minutes. The curiosity got the better of him and for some reason he found himself walking in the direction of the underground parking lot to Mac's building. And that was when he heard it. He couldn't have mistaken it for anything else, though he didn't know of anyone that actually owned a motorcycle. He couldn't wait to see the look on Mac's face when he told her that someone in her building actually possessed a motorcycle.
Harm himself was not a fan of motorcycles or superbikes or whatever it was that kept Mac interested in them. As far as he was concerned they were death traps on wheels and he was convinced that nothing would change his mind on that matter. Still, he waited a few moments longer, in the hope that he would catch a glimpse of the person riding the beast of a machine so he could at least tell Mac who it was that she had to become friends with in order to maybe take a ride on said death trap.
A load roar filled the air and Harm saw a headlight entering the parking garage, heading in his direction. He shielded his eyes from the glare and once his eyes had adjusted to the new lights, he moved his arm away from his face, only to reveal a second rumble of a machine followed a few seconds later by a headlight. He watched as the two riders parked their bikes in the allotted parking bays and waited for his heart to stop thundering in his chest. Yes, while he did think these machines were not the safest way of travelling, he had to admit the roar of their engines certainly did give him a thrill.
He observed as the first rider pushed the bike stand down and dismounted the huge metal machine. He wanted to turn his face away and not look at the person, but he was entranced by the fluid movements of the rider. The second rider copied the motions of the first and within a few seconds the garage was secured in silence once again.
Harm watched with rapt attention as the first rider finally took a step away from the bike and turned in his direction, but not really looking at him. Even if he wanted to he found that he could not divert his attention away from them. He was colossally surprised when he saw the leather clad biker pull off the helmet from the top of her head, only to reveal long luscious blonde locks tumbling from her head to halfway down her back. Without meaning to, he gave her a thorough once over, from her stiletto heeled boots, all the way up her leather clad body to finally settle at the base of the neck, where the black ended and her pale flesh could be seen.
Harm allowed his gaze to move slowly to her face, noting the amused smirk her lips had settled on, her cheeks flushed red with the cold wind and the racy sparkle that glittered in her sapphire eyes. When she finally noticed him looking at her, she offered him a small smile and a questioning glance, before she continued to rid herself of the many layers of leather she had adorned her lithe body. Harm was so enthralled in with the woman that he had completely forgotten about the second rider.
The blonde woman moved away from her bike toward her mate's and waited as her mate repeated her actions of pulling her helmet off first. To say that Harm was left speechless was the understatement of the century. Out of all the people in the entire universe, he had never expected her to actually buy a damn motorcycle let alone ride one. He watched her as she ran a hand through her chocolate coloured hair and it settled just above her shoulders. From where he stood, she looked absolutely incredible, and he couldn't help the nervous feeling that settled in the pit of his tummy.
She was dressed exactly as her fellow rider had been, leather clothing fitting her in all the right places, three inched stiletto heeled leather boots, and now that her jacket was unzipped more than halfway he saw the khaki USMC T-shirt she had on. He was sure he was going to go into cardiac arrest if he stood there any longer, but his attention was so focused on the woman in front of him, he had completely forgotten what his initial mission was. He was brought out his stupor when he heard a voice break the silence.
"That was a good ride, Mac. Same time tomorrow?" the blonde woman asked Mac and she nodded her head to accept the invitation.
"Only, tomorrow I get to kick your ass," Mac replied.
The two women made their way to the door that would lead them away from the parking garage and to the flight of stairs that would take them to their respective floors in the building. Harm took this as his opportunity to step into her path and ask her about apparent 'date with Alex.'
"I thought you had a date with Alex," he said, his words laced with hurt at the thought of her lying to her friends and most of all, lying to him.
"I did," her innocent brown gaze met with his storming blue ones.
"She doesn't look like any Alex to me." Harm nodded his lead in Alex's direction and waited for her to answer, but it was Alex's snort of laughter that took him once again by surprise.
"Sorry to disappoint you but, I actually am Alex, or Alexandra if you insist," she said as she held out her hand for him in greeting, "and you must be the Harmon Rabb," she emphasised his name when Harm remained silent, though he accepted her outstretched hand and shook it firmly, and kept his gaze steady on the brown haired woman standing opposite him.
"Well I think I'll leave you two to it then, but it was nice to meet you Commander Rabb," Alex ventured when neither Harm nor Mac made any means to move or talk. She stepped lightly past Harm and headed toward the door, and looking back only once hoping that Mac wouldn't shut him out as she had said she would do on one too many occasions.
Once she was sure Alex was out of earshot she started with the questioning.
"What are you doing here Harm?"
"I was waiting for you, Mac," he replied as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Mac steeled herself, hoping that Harm would just leave her alone for a while until she sorted out her thoughts and feelings. He couldn't do this to her, she couldn't let him do this to her. He had no right to simply walk back into her life after leaving eleven months ago without saying as much as a damn goodbye. With this thought in mind she sidestepped him and traced Alex's footsteps toward the staircase and ultimately to her apartment.
Harm gave her a good two minute lead before doing the same, and Mac had barely unlocked her door before he was behind her, his chest almost brushing her back and his hand sliding down hers to help hold her helmet as she fed the key into the keyhole. He was purposely invading her personal space and she although she wanted to yell at him for doing so, she had missed him so much that she fought the urge to actually turn around and slap him. His other hand settled on her waist and she drew in a sharp breath at the contact, her heart rate was pulse was increasing rapidly and her heart was thudding against her ribcage.
Instead, she turned to face him, her face devoid of any expression that would give away her body's reaction to his touch. The words came tumbling out of her mouth before she could examine them and try to put them in a nice was as possible.
"Harm, you should go." There was no harshness to her words but there was finality to it, a clear sign that she did not want to see him or talk to him at this point in time.
He knew she was going to react like this, hell if she was the one who had walked away, pushed him put of her life without so much as a warning he would have reacted in the same way, if not worse.
"Mac…" he started but stopped when he found that he couldn't find the words to tell her what a colossal mistake he had made when he left eleven months ago. But he realised he needed to start somewhere to get her to actually talk to him.
"Why didn't you join us for dinner tonight? AJ said he hasn't seen you in a long time," he knew telling him about their godson would get her attention fast enough.
"I've been busy Harm," as though that was an explanation enough and it would satisfy his need to know everything.
"Yeah I can see. You led us to believe you were in a relationship with a man who doesn't exist, Mac," he said but regretted the words immediately. ,
"No Harm, you people assumed Alex was a man; I didn't specify whether Alex was in fact male or female. All I said was I was seeing Alex, my friend," she clarified for him.
He was getting tired of this conversation; it was going on in circles.
"Mac, you can't keep pushing people out of your life simply because you think you're going to get hurt. You can't shut everyone out."
"It seemed to work fine for you, Harm," she retaliated. "You didn't see any problems in leaving from here without saying a word a year ago," she defended.
He flinched at the sound of her words, though he knew it was true. He had run as far and fast as he could before their relationship could change into something more a year ago. At that point he thought he was sparing her the hurt that would come when she found he was not the man she was looking for, but now when he was on the receiving end of it; it somehow just wasn't the same. He had only been back a day and he was already hurting with her seeming disinterest in him and his life.
"Sarah," the sound of her first name tumbling from his lips made her aware of just how serious he was being. His hand that had settled on her waist earlier had now found it's way under her T-shirt and his thumb was tracing circles on her hip bone. He placed her helmet on the floor and stood up to his full height, towering above her, but managing to pin her against the outer wall of her apartment at the same time.
"I am tired of running Mac, I'm tired of being scared, and I am tired of waiting for you to fall in love with someone else so that you become unavailable so I don't have to dream of you every single night," he admitted softly, his breath tickling his ear.
Her eyes closed involuntarily and she savoured the feel of his hands holding her gently, securely, and his body brushing up against hers. Her head began to swirl and her mind was fast losing concentration on what exactly was going on around her. Harm took a step closer to her, annihilating the minute distance between them. All she had to do was tilt her head a few degrees and she could have been kissing him with all her heart and soul, but the sound of a banging door brought her out of her stupor, and the fog cleared from her head.
Mac lifted her hands and splayed them across Harm's chest. She needed to think straight, and in order for that to happen she needed him to be standing at least five feet away from her. She had every intention of pushing him away from her, but the steady heartbeat she felt under her palm made her reconsider her decision.
"No Harm, you can't just walk out of my life without saying a word and then come waltzing back into it, and expect me to act like nothing happened," she hoped her voice sounded stronger than she thought it was. "I can't do it, I refuse to do it," she said softly.
"Mac," his voice was a whisper, but she could feel the emotion dripping from just that one word. She had clearly forgotten how he could make her name sound so sinfully alluring when he wanted to.
"I'm not leaving you," he tried to convince her.
"Yeah, I've heard that one before." He winced once again.
"I promise I am never going to leave you ever." Surely his promise would count for something.
"Don't make promises you can't keep Harm, we both know how well that turned out the last few times," she reminded him.
"Fine, then what can I do to make this better?" he asked now fully aware of how bad the situation was.
"You can start by leaving," she informed him curtly.
"If that's the way you want it, then I will. But here's a little something to let you know just what you're missing out on."
With that he lowered his head and fused his mouth with hers, not giving her a second to think about a response to his actions. He slowly massaged her lips with his, tugging gently and applying pressure when he thought she would break the contact.
Mac was caught so off guard that she didn't even notice when his hand had left her body to turn the doorknob leading into her apartment. He guided her slowly into the dark room, keeping his hands firmly on her waist and his mouth glued to hers. She let out a sigh and he took it as an opportunity to deepen the kiss, leaving her craving for more when he finally detached his mouth from hers to heave in some well needed oxygen into his lungs, and allowing her to do the same.
"Still want me to leave?" he asked as his back hit the door to her bedroom.
"Yeah, in the morning," she smiled up at him before leaning in to kiss him again.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is always welcome.
Thanks to Alix for the quick betaing for me.
And if you are a House MD fan you if you want you can check out my new fic there called Catalyst. Also I have an NCIS/JAG crossover in the works but it'll still be a while before that gets posted. I want to write a bit more before I start posting so I dont suffer from writer's block in the middle of the fic.
Happy lent eveyone.