Holiday Sweets by LizD
As always, JAG, its cast, crew, creators and producers are not mine. With love and thanks.
Another holiday season is rapidly coming upon us! Some of you might remember the holiday stories I have posted in the past. Maybe even a few of you were hoping for the repost this year and didn't expect it to come so soon. On the other hand, some may have been glad to see them get pulled down last year (these tend to be a little shipper sweet). In any case, I am reposting them this year. These are all one-off stories posted under this one title. One chapter has nothing to do with another other than the fact that they are set during the holidays.
Just like reruns, I hope you will re-read them and let them bring a little bit of seasonal joy to you even if it is not one of your MAJOR holidays.
Happy Holidays and may 2010 bring you peace, joy, posterity and health – good, good health.
Title: All Play and No Work Makes Mac an Anxious Girl
Written: Labor Day 2008
Spoilers: Season 7, post Capital Crime, after Jag-a- thon when Harm and Mac "decided" that they would go back to being friends, and after Mac blurted out to Sturgis that she was "in love with" Harm and PRE the rest of the ugly parts of JAG. Note: taking a little poetic license with the timeline (I know Capital Crime aired in January, but bear with me – just for fun).
Friday of Labor Day Weekend
Falls Church Virginia
Bud Roberts pounded on Mac's doorframe.
Mac didn't look up; she was too engrossed in the paperwork that was spread across her desk. "Enter!" she barked.
"Ma'am, I have those files you were asking for," he said stepping in.
She looked up, confused about what he was referring to.
"LT Walsh and Domino," he reminded her.
"Right, right, sure." She reached for them. "Thank you, Bud."
"Colonel, you are not planning on working all weekend on this, are you?" It was a real question. "I mean, I don't have to go out of town if you need my help."
It was not that Mac had forgotten that it was a three-day weekend. It wasn't as if she hadn't make plans for herself (cleaning out the closets, repapering the shelves in her kitchen, going to Bed Bath and Beyond to get new towels, sheets and a down quilt for her bed, and there was an Iranian film at the Bijou that she had been anxious to see, not to mention a ton of laundry that had been piling up).
"No, Bud. Of course not." She quickly recovered. "Just want to get these notes together while the facts are fresh in my mind."
"I would be happy to change my plans, ma'am," he offered again.
"Don't be silly." She closed the file on her desk. "I'm almost out of here myself."
"Ok, well have a good weekend." He started to leave. "Have you heard from Commander Rabb?" He asked innocently.
"Harm?" She stood up. "No, why would I hear from him?' She could hardly contain herself. She had been pointedly NOT thinking about or talking about Harm since she had her little slip of the tongue with Sturgis a few days prior.
"Oh no reason," he said casually. "I just over heard Commander Turner talking to him."
"Turner?" She was immediately interested. "What were they talking about?"
Bud felt like he was being cross-examined. "Nothing, I don't know … I mean, I wasn't eavesdropping," he explained. "He just told me that the commander would be getting back today."
"That's all?" she demanded.
"Ok, thank you Bud." She was dismissing him. "Have a nice weekend."
"Yes, ma'am. Thank you." He backed out slowly. "You too."
Mac slumped back into her chair, the files, the case, the work she had been so completely engrossed in not moments before completely forgotten. Her head was again filled with her own voice saying words she never expected to say out loud much less in earshot of another living soul in fact she wasn't sure she believed it herself.
Because I am in love with him.
Thos words resounded in her ears in her waking moments and echoed in her dreams for days.
Because I am in love with him.
Did she really mean it? Was it a Freudian slip? Or was it just something to say to shock Sturgis. Maybe Sturgis was right, maybe whatever she was feeling for Rabb was just something she had to get past, get over, move on from. Maybe it was something else entirely and had noting to do with love.
Because I am in love with him.
She couldn't possibly have meant it, could she?
After reflecting on her outburst for days, and convincing herself that Sturgis would not out her to Harm and threatening him with bodily harm if he did, she had to ask herself: what would be so wrong if Harm knew? What would be so wrong with trying a relationship with him? What was the worst that could happen? It wouldn't work out and they would break up. They were certainly adult enough to maintain a friendship and a working relationship. God knows Harm could compartmentalize anything.
On the other hand, it could be a very messy break up – one-sided, petty, mean … acrimonious. If they did need to continue to work together it could get very uncomfortable. She might have to ask for a transfer and that would affect the one thing she had been working toward that she would let no one take away from her – her career.
There was a third option. What if they did date, fall completely in love, get married, have children and live happily ever after? How could she deny herself the possibility of a happy ending?
Because he is NOT in love with me.
She had been convincing herself of that since long before that missed opportunity the night Brumby left and Renee's father died, since long before he alluded to it the night of her engagement party and kissed her as he shouldn't have, since long before Sidney Harbor. And she had done a really good job. She even dismissed his following her out to the Guadalcanal as guilt, ego or just plain competitiveness and not love. Why would she do that?
Because he is NOT in love with me.
It wasn't because she wanted to believe that, it was just easier. How else could she reconcile the fact that he gave up so easily? He took her offered friendship and nothing more without argument. He had never actually said the words to her – that was typically Harm's way of getting someone else to fill in the blanks and never committing himself. The facts were that he never actually did anything to ensure that they could have more than a working friendship.
Because I am in love with him and he is NOT in love with me.
Reason enough not to pursue a relationship. Reason enough to push him away. Reason enough to have conflicted feelings that needed to be suppressed.
All very good rationalizations, but that was not the real answer. The real answer was complicated and it had little to do with Mac's feelings for Harm or his for her. The real answer was something that two years of therapy might get Mac to acknowledge on some conscious level. The real answer was at the very core of Mac's being and it affected all her relationships. The real answer was that Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie honestly didn't believe that she deserved the happy ending – with Harm or anyone else. That realization and the permission to allow her self to find real happiness wouldn't come for some time.
"Hey, working late?" Harm's voice came from her open door.
She looked up into his smiling face. He looked tired from the travel, but still very handsome and bright eyed.
"Just trying to finish some things up before the long weekend," she said softly.
He stepped in and dropped his briefcase by the door. "Got plans?"
"Sure," she replied a little too quickly. "You?"
"Not any more," he sighed and slumped down into her guest chair. "Was supposed to go sailing with a buddy and his wife, but the kid came down with the flu … so, as they say … all dressed up and no place to go?"
"All dressed up?" she asked.
"Yeah, the boat is rented and stocked and waiting for us at the marina." He tapped his cover on his knee.
"Sailing … just the three of you?" She didn't want to hear about another person much less a woman, but would not have been surprised. Harm was not the THIRD WHEEL kind of guy.
"His sister-in-law was going to come, but she can't make it either … something about getting ready for school next week."
"She's a student?"
He shrugged. "Don't know … think she is a teacher or something." He wanted to change the subject before Mac got the idea that the sister-in-law was his 'date', though that was exactly what she was supposed to be – a blind date no less. "So what's on your agenda?" he asked.
She started organizing the files on her desk. "My plans pale in comparison to sailing."
A spark of an idea hit Harm. "Anything you can put off until next weekend?"
"Excuse me?" she asked.
"Well, I was just thinking that the boat is paid for, stocked with enough food for four … I could sure use a few days out on the open sea…"
"You just got back from the Patrick Henry," she reminded him.
"Not the same … skippering a thirty-seven footer has got nothing on --."
"Jumping off the deck and slamming it into overdrive?" She smiled stuffing files into her open case.
He laughed and flashed on Mac at home watching Top Gun and thinking of him. "I didn't say sailing was better than flying, but it's a hell of a lot better than sitting a home doing laundry or reading through case files." He nodded toward her briefcase.
"True." She snapped her briefcase closed trying not to look as if he had seen right through her 'weekend plans'.
"Come on Mac … let's go sailing," he asked.
"What?" She was seriously taken back by his request.
"Hey Harm … you're back." Sturgis stepped into the office.
"I am indeed." Harm reached his hand over to shake Turner's but didn't get up. "Thanks for the intel." He said cryptically.
Turner didn't look at Mac. "Sure."
"Heard you two did some pretty fine work while I was away." Harm continued unchecked.
"I was just along for the ride," Sturgis stated. "Mac was the one with all the answers."
The room went silent briefly.
"What are you doing this weekend?" Sturgis asked.
"Sailing, I hope. Help me to convince Mac to go with me." Harm stated easily.
Turner and Mac exchanged a brief look. Sturgis tried to save her, "Not sure I would trust a pilot on a boat Colonel. Particularly a sail boat."
"Hey!" Harm protested.
"Why don't you two go." Mac suggested.
"My father is in town this weekend." Sturgis explained. "And he lost his sea legs many years ago."
"Come on, Mac." Harm asked again. "Tell me you have something better to do. Wind in your hair, sea spray on your face … enough food to choke a horse. Supposed to be a beautiful weekend," he cajoled.
"I'll let you two work this out." Sturgis made a hasty retreat with a brief look at Mac that said: 'go'.
Mac waited until he was gone. "What did he say to you?" she demanded of Harm.
"Me? Nothing." He was taken aback. "What should he have said?"
"The intel?" she pushed. "What was that about?"
"He found something out that he thought I needed to know." He didn't understand why she was so interested. "Why?"
"Forget it." She was sorry she had asked. If Turner had told, Harm would never own it.
"Mac?" he prodded.
"No, nothing," she dismissed. "Can't go sailing this weekend, Harm. Thanks for the offer."
He completely ignored her. "I'll pick you up in an hour … take us about an hour to get there, we will be watching the sunset from the open sea." He got up quickly and grabbed his briefcase. "In fact … you don't need to go home at all." He stated. "I'm sure that you have a bag packed and in your trunk right now … leave the brief case … you won't need that." He came around the desk and was herding her out.
"Harm!" she protested.
"Get the lead out marine … not going to refuse a challenge from some swabbie –"
"So now it's a challenge?" she accused.
"Apparently it has to be … and I know you Mac … you can't back down from a challenge."
She did feel challenged; challenged to survive a weekend at sea alone with Harm. "Fine, but we are stopping at my apartment so I can get a suit."
"A suit?" He grinned. "You mean that two piece you wore in Sydney? Bottoms and a Hat? Totally optional of course." He had to force himself not to lick his lips.
"In your dreams, Sailor." She walked out.
"Yes you are." He said under his breath. For the first time he realized that that plans for the weekend had taken an unexpected turn. The offer to Mac had been innocent enough, but even he had to own that a sailing trip for three nights and three days alone could be very, very dangerous – or it could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. By Sunday it would all be over, or just getting started.
Friday of Labor Day Weekend
Off the Coast of the Eastern Seaboard of the USA
"I'm going to turn in," Mac announced after a very uncomfortable dinner where everything he said, every compliment he gave her, every casual touch supported the theory that Turner had disclosed her secret.
"OK." He was disappointed. He knew there was reason to be uncomfortable, but he was doing his level best to pretend otherwise but it seemed that nothing he could say would get her to relax. "I'll clean up." He stated not moving from his position at the helm.
"No, No … I'll do it ... you cooked." She offered.
"You're my guest Mac, please … let me," he stated.
"How about we do it together?" she compromised.
He agreed but did little more than put the food away and clear the table. He came down with the last of the dishes and placed them by the sink. "The moon is rising," he announced softly.
She nodded. "I'll be right up."
She wasn't. She rewashed the dishes, repackaged the leftovers and pretty much did everything she could do short of stripping and repainting the cabin to avoid going topside.
He waited. He was in his own thoughts but noticed her absence. To be totally honest he was not sure what to do with her. It was impulsive to ask her, it was confusing how best to treat her (as a friend or as a woman he loved but was refused, or as someone he had a chance with). It all happened so fast that he hadn't really decided what he expected the result of the weekend to be. The only thing he knew for sure was that she was there and he was happy about that.
She came up and handed him a fresh cup of tea. "Dishes are done."
He didn't respond. His focus was on the horizon – the stars, the moon and the stray bit of clouds that shadowed the night sky.
She followed his line of sight. "It's beautiful." She sat down next to him.
"Yes it is," he said distantly.
"Thank you for forcing me to come," she added.
He was sorry he had to 'force' her and he was even more sorry that she had felt forced. "I'm glad you're here."
She turned toward him. "Are you?"
He reached out to touch her face. "I am, in fact I'm sorry we didn't do this a long time ago," he stated with more sincerity than he would have ever allowed particularly with her.
She was stunned by his honesty.
The seas calmed, the heavens slowed, the winds held a breath. They should have kissed – it was clearly what both wanted, but again he waited a moment too long and she felt rejected.
"Good night." She pulled away from him and went below.
He listened as she locked her cabin door. It made him sad. Not that he would have expected an invitation nor would he have forced one on her, but the idea that she felt she needed to lock him out to feel safe alone with him. Another man might have thought that had more to do with her than it did with him, but Harm knew that almost everything revolved around him. She was locking him out.
"Good night," he said to the night.
Monday of Labor Day Weekend
Harm opened the door for Mac and let her precede him into the apartment. He was being overly solicitous (as he had been all weekend) in that adolescent teasing way he had, and it was really beginning to annoy her.
"I am fine," she stated for the 100th time in three days.
The weekend was a total bust. She got sunburned pretty badly the first day out, stung by a jellyfish, seasick (which she claimed was food poisoning but Harm was fine), and she was tossed over the side in a 'tacking' incident that left her treading water for nearly 30 minutes – all of which could have been avoided if she weren't keeping Harm at a 10' distance. It is really hard to keep away from someone emotionally or physically on a 37' sailboat when you are the only two people on board. The worst part came when they met up with a boat full of women who were having some trouble with their sail and Hero Harm did more than his share to help them. By Monday morning she was more than ready to come back and was sorry she had gone. Through it all Mac remained on guard for some sign that he knew something and challenged every comment he made. Harm didn't take it well, but hadn't confronted her on it. It made for a very uncomfortable three days.
"Harm," she shrieked when he offered to make her some tea. "I am not an invalid, I can take care of myself."
"All right, Mac" he snapped. "What the hell is going on?"
"Excuse me?" she snapped back.
"Look, I know that this weekend didn't turn out how either of us had expected --."
"I had no expectations," she corrected.
"But that doesn't explain why you are defensive, nervous and down right hostile with me," he bellowed.
"I'm not!" she defended.
"Evidence to the contrary," he retorted. "I want to know what rotten, mean and nasty thing I have done now to deserve such scorn from you."
"You haven't … I'm not … I don't know what you are talking about."
"Please Mac …"
"Look, I am just tired, sunburned and still a little sick to my stomach -."
"All of which could have been avoided," he tossed back at her.
"You wouldn't have gotten sunburn if you had allowed me to put lotion on your back, you would have been stung by a jelly fish if you weren't swimming away from me and you wouldn't have gotten tossed over the side if you had been listening to me rather than trying to ignore me."
"Ignore you?" He was right and she had no defense.
"Something must have happened while I was away," he stated. "I want to know what it is."
She looked away.
"Did Turner say something to you?"
She snapped her attention back to him. "What would Sturgis have said?"
"I have no idea … all I know is that I went away and we were fine, I come back and you can barely look me in the eye, you challenge my every move and God forbid I do something nice for you." He waved toward the door. "I think you owe me an explanation."
"I don't know … it's not … it's nothing."
"It's a lot more than nothing," he stated. "Are we friends or not?"
"No … Yes … Of course we are."
"Then tell me what's going on."
She shook her head. She didn't know how to get out of the conversation. "I'm sorry. It's me … I've been working too hard and I have this case ---."
"No good, Mac," he stated. "You are not going to put this off on work ... this is about you and me."
"I don't know what you think is going on -"
He cut her off. "I have no idea … you tell me."
"All right," she shouted. She was backed up against the wall and needed to give him something. "I said something to someone I shouldn't have … and it's on my mind."
"Said what to whom?" he challenged.
"I just told you I shouldn't have said it … what makes you think I would say it again to you?"
"Because it's on your mind and because you're taking your guilt out on me."
"I never said I felt guilty." She shook her head. "Of all the arrogance … I swear to God you have the biggest ego I have ever met." She looked away. "How can I possibly be in love with someone like you?" She hadn't even realized that she had said it until he asked her to repeat it.
"What did you just say?"
"I said you have an ego." She avoided the question.
"After that." He stepped closer to her. "You're in love with me?" he repeated.
"I didn't say that."
"I believe you just did," he challenged.
She shook her head.
"I don't understand," he said gently. "Why do you want to keep that a secret particularly from me?"
She slumped down on the sofa. She was caught. "What difference does it make?" she said dejectedly.
"It would have made a whole lot of difference this weekend for starters." He sat down next to her.
"Harm --- don't," she warned.
"Don't what?" he asked. "You know how I feel about you."
"Do I?" She turned to him. "How would I know that?"
"You were the one that wanted to go back to being friends," he reminded her still pointedly not stating his feelings.
"And you didn't object," she reminded him.
"Anything to keep you in my life," was his too easy response.
"Don't Harm … please … I'm embarrassed enough already."
"I think you should go." She stood up and moved toward the door.
He followed her. "Why?"
"We work together … we need to maintain a professional –"
He cut her off with a kiss.
She pulled away quickly and tried not to meet his eyes. It was no use.
"Do you really not know?" He tilted her face up to his. "I'm in love with you too." He kissed her before she could respond.
Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend
Falls Church Virginia
Mac stood staring out the window of her office. She was watching the parking lot, waiting for him to arrive.
"Morning, Colonel," came Sturgis' voice from the doorway. "How was sailing?"
She turned to him and smiled. "Possibly the worst experience of my life."
He cocked his head. "You seem to be taking it well."
"Do I?" she asked.
"Something else happened," he offered.
She let the Cheshire Cat grin fade slowly from her face, but made no response.
Turner nodded. "I won't ask."
"Good," she opened a file on her desk and Turner backed out of the office.
A moment later a cup of mocha latte was placed in front of her. She looked up at Harm who was beating a hasty retreat with his own grande in hand. Before he disappeared around the corner he looked back at her. They shared a knowing smile. "Dinner tonight? He asked casually but it was anything more than casual.
"I'd like that," she said. "My treat … to make up for this weekend."
"All the same," she added.
He nodded and continued to his office. "Morning Turner," she heard him say. "Beautiful morning, isn't it?"
"How was your weekend?"
"Enlightening and productive."
"Very good." Harm corrected. "Very Very Good." He started whistling How Deep Is Your Love – that ridiculous Bee Gees song – he had been whistling since getting into the shower that morning.
Mac looked back down at her files and started humming to her self. "I know your eyes in the morning sun, I feel you touch me in the pouring rain, And the moment that you wander far from me, I wanna feel you in my arms again."
She looked up and saw Turner in her doorway.
"It's about time," he said and walked away.