Okay, before I'm excommunicated from JAG fandom, hear me out! *g* This idea would never have occurred to me if it wasn't for my dad saying that DJE and NC's Inside Hollywood Marriages interview on ET was in-character with their JAG roles. So it's all his fault! *g* If you hate Loren Singer, this story is not for you! Loren isn't exactly in-character, but I'm going with the idea that pregnancy has mellowed her, so...
Timeline: after everybody finds out that Singer is pregnant, and she's back stateside. She is two months along when they find out.
Added Notes: This assumes that, y'know, she was never murdered for the sole purpose of introducing NCIS.
"Sergei " Harm trailed off, exasperated, cradling the cordless phone against his shoulder as he stirred the pasta.
"Harm, please," Sergei said over the line. "Just until I get back there."
"Okay, let me get this straight. You want me to what? Call her? Go over to her apartment? Hang over her shoulder and trail her every move?"
Sergei sighed. "Just call her every once and a while. Like, when you get home after work and when you go to bed. Maybe drop by once a week or so. I don't know, just watch over her for me!"
"All right. But just until you get here, okay? No longer!"
Sergei smiled and Harm could hear it in his voice. "Thank you, brother. It might take a while for me to get there, though."
"Yeah, I know. Don't worry, I'll keep the Lieutenant in my sights."
"Thank you, Harm. I appreciate it."
The next day
Harm peaked his head into Lieutenant Singer's office. "Lieutenant?" he asked, seeing her resting her chin on her balled fist and staring into space.
Loren jumped. "Commander! Um, sir, do you need help with anything?"
"Uh, no, Lieutenant. I don't." Harm entered the office and closed the door behind him.
Loren raised her eyebrow. "Then why are you here, sir?"
"Um, have you talked to Sergei lately?"
Loren frowned, wondering where this was going. "Not since I told him I was pregnant last week."
Harm sighed. "He called me last night and made me promise to check in on you. He wants me to call you twice a day, once after work and once later in the evening, before I go to bed. And he also wants me to stop by your apartment once a week."
Loren's jaw tightened. "I don't need a keeper!"
Harm smiled slightly. "I know. But Sergei made me promise. He's just worried about you, Lieutenant. God knows that if I was in his position, an expectant father, I would be the same way."
Loren sighed. "Don't call before 1730 or after 2200. If you happen to 'just stop by' please call first."
Harm smiled, glad that Loren was making this easier for him. "Sounds good, Lieutenant."
Loren smiled back. "Sir? Although I'm a little ticked that Sergei didn't call me about this, I am glad that he asked you."
Harm nodded and slipped out of the office. Loren sighed to herself. "Sergei, why did you have to leave?" she whispered.
Harm chuckled over the phone. "How'd you know it was me, Loren?"
Loren smiled. "Caller ID. But then, I would have known it was you anyway, Commander."
Harm sighed. "Loren, this call has absolutely nothing to do with JAG or work of any kind. Call me Harm. And I really can't believe that I'm the only person who would call you."
Loren rolled her eyes. "Maybe not the only person who would call, but the only person who would call at 1748. But thank you for the compliment."
"You're welcome. And next time you talk to Sergei, can you mention that I complimented you, please? He seems to think that I hate you and have never spoken a flattering word about you in my life."
Loren laughed. "I'll be sure to tell him, Harm."
Silence over took the line before Harm muttered, "Well, I guess I'll go now. I'll call again around 2200."
Two months later
"Rabb." Harm answered the phone on the third ring, it having awakened him from a light sleep.
"Commander Harmon Rabb?"
Harm frowned at the Russian accent. "Yeah?"
"Commander, I am Doctor Luka Pavlo. I regret to inform you that your brother, Sergei Zhukov, is dead "
Harm's mouth dropped open, and he heard no more of what Doctor Pavlo said.
Loren groaned and opened her eyes. Whoever the hell was pounding on her door at she glanced at her alarm clock 0013 had better have a damn good reason!
"Just a minute!" Loren yelled as she rolled out of bed and grabbed her robe, wrapping it around her. She shuffled to the door and opened it, squinting into the bright light of the hallway. "Harm?"
"Loren," Harm's voice cracked on the one word. "Can I come in?"
Loren frowned. "Yeah, sure," she mumbled, opening the door wider and stepping to the side. Once Harm was inside, she closed the door again.
"Loren, you better sit down." Harm's voice was strained as he took Loren's hand and led her to the couch, sitting beside her.
"Harm? What's wrong? What happened?"
"It's Sergei "
Loren gasped. "Please don't tell me the plane went down, please," Loren begged, her mind automatically going to the fact that Sergei was supposed to be flying over right then.
Harm shook his head and Loren breathed a sigh of relief. If anything, though, Harm looked more upset. "There was an accident on the way to the airport."
Loren's eyes widened. "No..."
"Sergei's dead, Loren. I'm sorry."
Her eyes filled with tears. "No..." she whimpered. Loren took a deep breath, willing the tears back for now. "How?" she managed, the lump in her throat not allowing her to elaborate.
"A drunk driver. He ran a red light and drove straight into Sergei's taxi. The driver was killed instantly, and Sergei died in the ambulance."
"Was he was he conscious?"
Harm nodded and cleared his throat a couple times before he was able to speak again. "The doctor said that he was. He..." Harm took a deep breath. "He was calling out for you. Asking you to keep the baby safe, asking me to remember my promise, and telling you that he loved you."
At the last statement, the tears broke through Loren's defenses. They trailed down her cheeks and she hung her head to hide them. "Please leave, Harm. I want to be alone."
Harm nodded and swallowed past the lump in his throat before answering verbally. "Okay. If you need anything, call me, okay?"
Loren nodded and Harm continued. "I'm going to tell the Admiral what happened and ask for both of us to have time off to go to Russia for the funeral."
Loren nodded again and Harm rose up off the couch. "I'll miss him, too, Loren," Harm whispered before exiting the apartment.
A week later
As the casket that held Sergei's body was lowered into the ground, Harm braced to attention, followed shortly by Loren, who had to take a moment to collect herself.
Once the funeral was dismissed, Loren approached the graveside where men were covering the casket with dirt. Tears slipped down her cheeks in silent rivulets.
"Wait," she said softly to the men. They gave her a questioning look and the one that understood English told the others to stop.
Loren got down on the ground next to the hole and jumped the few feet to the casket's top. Slightly disoriented, she took a moment to remember where the top was, where Sergei's head was, and, on her hands and knees, pushed the dirt away with her hand. Pressing her clean hand to the slightly dirty wood, Loren raptly stared as her tears made small spots of mud around her hand. "I love you, Sergei," she said softly. "I always will. I know we didn't have much time together, but I promise you, I will cherish and love our baby until the day I die. I wish you could have known your child, but I guess for some reason it wasn't meant to be." Loren's tears fell faster and harder and she felt her throat tighten, but she was determined to say her piece. "I wish that you and I had more time together, to explore what we had between us." She took a deep breath. "I know that I didn't express my feelings very well, and I never said the words. But I want you to know now what I should have told you before. I love you, Sergei. I always did. I always will."
Having said her bit, Loren knelt there silently for a moment, the sounds of the bilingual Russian translating her words, distant. Loren closed her eyes and when she opened them, she saw her hand wet and surrounded by mud, made from her tears. Choking back the sob rising in her, she leaned down and lightly kissed the muddy casket, then pressed, first her forehead, then her cheek to its surface.
"I love you, Sergei," she whispered again. She sat up then, and reached her hand to the side, picking up a handful of dirt. She turned her mud-streaked face back up and stood, seeing Harm gazing down at her and holding his hand out. She took his hand and he lifted her out of the hole.
Glancing around, Loren saw the watery eyes of the men around her. One man spoke softly in Russian to her and another translated.
"He says that he is sorry," the Russian said quietly, "because your love with the young man was cut so short. He offers his regrets and sympathies and prays that the baby you carry will help you heal from your loss."
Loren looked at the sad faces around her, all of them expressing agreement to the Russian's statement. "Thank you," she murmured, then let Harm lead her away.
Two weeks later
Harm watched Loren silently through the glass of her office walls. Lightly knocking on the door, he entered. "Loren? It's late, want me to drive you home?"
Loren shook her head, not looking up from her work. "No thanks. I can drive myself when I'm ready to go."
Harm sighed. "Loren, it's late," he repeated. "This can wait."
Loren put down her pencil and looked up at Harm. "I'm fine, Commander. I'll go home when I'm ready to go home."
Harm sighed again and ran his head through his hair, then sat down in the chair across the desk from Loren. Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, Harm spoke. "Loren, I know that you're trying to forget about what happened." Loren immediately looked away and started fidgeting with her pencil. "But working yourself to exhaustion it's going to help."
Loren looked back at Harm angrily. "Are you done, Commander? I have work to do. I will go home when I'm damn well good and ready."
Harm looked sadly at Loren and stood up. "All right. But call me when you get home, okay? No matter what time it is."
Taking that as the best answer he was going to get, Harm left Loren's office and headed to the elevator to go home himself.
A month later
"Lt. Singer, is the government ready for closing arguments?"
Loren stood up. "We are, Your Honor."
Stepping from her seat, Loren walked around the prosecution's table before starting. "You have seen the evidence. Cpl Winters, with flagrant disregard for human life, disobeyed the direct order of a superior, commissioned officer "
Harm, the defense attorney, let his mind wander as Loren spoke. She looked exhausted, a month and a half of working non-stop was taking its toll on her. Dark circles surrounded deadened eyes, her uniform hung on her, even with the six-month baby bulge. In short, she looked terrible.
"And so, that is why you have to find - AH!" Loren screamed and clutched her stomach, falling down on one knee.
"Loren!" Harm exclaimed, jumping up from his seat and rushing over to her.
"Court is recessed until further notice!" the judge exclaimed, then got down from her seat and came up to Loren. "Lieutenant, are you all right?"
"Hurts," Loren managed to whimper, still holding her stomach.
"Somebody call an ambulance. Lieutenant, how far along are you?"
Loren just gritted her teeth and didn't answer, so Harm did for her. "She's just over six months. Dammit! It's way too soon!"
"Calm down, Commander! Are you the father?"
Harm gave the judge a weird look and shook his head. "No, my brother was."
"He died two months ago."
"I'm sorry. Will you go to the hospital with the Lieutenant?"
"Good." The EMTs arriving cut off anything further that the judge was going to say.
The EMTs loaded Loren onto a stretcher, and, with Harm walking beside them, carried Loren into the elevator and down to the ambulance.
"Is the baby okay?" Loren asked anxiously as the doctor entered her room.
Doctor Sullivan gave Loren a disapproving look. "Yes. But it could very well not have been, Lieutenant. You are extremely malnourished and sleep-deprived. That's bad for the baby."
Loren's eyes filled with tears. "Will I be able to go home soon?"
Doctor Sullivan nodded. "In about an hour, as soon as the IV is finished. But I want someone staying with you for the rest of the week, okay?"
Loren nodded and the doctor left her alone as she went to check on another patient.
Harm jumped up out of his chair at the soft voice. "Loren! Are you okay? Is the baby okay?"
Loren nodded tiredly. "We're both fine. Could you stay with me the rest of the week? Doctor Sullivan doesn't want me to be alone and I really don't want to ask Colonel MacKenzie."
Harm smiled down at Loren. "Sure."
Two months later
"Just leave me alone!" Loren screamed at Harm, their voices long having since raised. "I never asked you to watch over me! Why the hell can't you just let me be?"
Harm raked his hand through his hair, then replaced it back on his hip. "I made a promise, Loren!" Harm shouted back. "Sergei asked me to watch over you and the baby, so that's what I'm doing!"
"He asked you to call twice a day! To drop by once a week! Not to drive me to and from work every day! Not to spend two hours here! Not to call me at least five times a day!"
"So I'm being dedicated! Big deal!"
"You're not dedicated! You're obsessed!"
"I made a promise, Loren! I never break my promises!"
"Don't you get it? Sergei's never coming back! You can't spend your whole life hanging over me because of some promise to someone who can't even tell if you keep it!"
"It's not just because I made the promise!"
Loren's eyes widened and she was silent for a moment, the stillness of the apartment only broken by their labored breathing. "Why are you doing it?" she whispered.
Harm took a couple steps back. "Nothing," he muttered. "Just nevermind." With that, he left the apartment, slamming the door behind him.
Three weeks later
Harm left his beer on the coffee table as he got up from the couch to answer the door. "Loren."
Loren shifted from foot to foot. "You sound surprised."
Harm shrugged and shifted to the side, allowing Loren to enter the apartment. He watched as she sat down in a chair, then he spoke. "Well, I haven't seen you outside of work for three weeks. I didn't think you'd just show up at my apartment."
"If you want me to leave "
Harm shook his head. "No, it's okay."
They were silent for long moments before Harm spoke again. "Loren I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to hang over you all the time and not give you space. I guess I was obsessing a bit." Harm saw Loren's raised eyebrow and amended, "Okay, a lot. Anyway I'm sorry about the fight. I shouldn't have gotten you upset."
Loren shrugged. "Well, I shouldn't have yelled at you, either. I'm sorry about the fight, too."
Another silent moment, then Loren filled it. "Harm? Why were you spending so much time with me if it wasn't because of your promise?"
"Loren, can we not talk about this now? I mean, you're pregnant with Sergei's baby, and Sergei has only been gone for four and a half months."
Loren cocked her head to the side. "Do you have feelings for me, Harm?" she whispered.
Taking the initiative, since it was obvious that Harm wouldn't, Loren leaned forward slightly. Her gaze flickered down to Harm's lips, then back up to his eyes and she saw him lean forward as well.
The doorbell rang.
Harm squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and when he opened them again, Loren could read disappointment in their blue depths.
"I better get that."
Three weeks later
Harm frowned. "Loren? Why are you calling me? Why not just come into my office?"
"Harm, I think I'm in labor."
"WHAT?" Harm's eyes widened and he saw Mac's confused face just outside of his office door. "Just a second, I'll be right in there!"
Harm hung up the phone and ran across the bullpen into Loren's office. Seeing her face pinched in pain, he groaned. "Aw, man, this is just like little AJ's birth! Okay, Loren, how far apart are your contractions?"
"About about five minutes, I think."
"Oh, man," Harm groaned and lunged for the phone, dialing 911.
The next day
Loren looked up at the knock on the door of her hospital room. "Come in," she called.
The door opened and AJ, Mac, Bud, Harriet and Tiner entered, each holding a gift of some kind.
"Hey," Harm greeted from the small couch in the room. "I take it you're here to see David?" Harm held up the baby in his arms.
"Oooh, he's adorable!" Mac exclaimed, crouching next to Harm and looking at David. She glanced over at Loren. "Can I hold him?"
Loren hesitated a moment. "Sure."
Mac grinned as Harm handed her the baby and helped her get settled.
"How did he get his name, ma'am?" Tiner asked, piling the gifts near the bed.
Loren grinned. "David Sergei Singer. Sergei, obviously, for his father, and David is Harm's middle name. Most likely I would have miscarried if Harm hadn't been there for me."
The five officers all looked at Harm and he explained quietly, "After Sergei died, Loren started working constantly, not sleeping and not eating. Finally, she nearly miscarried in court and I stayed with her after she got out of the hospital and helped her take care of herself and David better."
Harriet sat down on the couch next to Mac and gazed down at David. "His eyes are so blue!" she exclaimed, changing the subject before it got awkward. "I mean, I know that most baby's eyes are blue, but his are really blue!"
Loren smiled, obviously proud. "I know. And both Sergei and I have blue eyes, so David's will stay blue."
AJ finally spoke up. "Well, congratulations, Lieutenant."
"Thank you, sir."
AJ motioned to the pile of gifts. "Would you like to open them now?"
Loren shrugged. "If you want me to, that'd be nice."
Harm walked over to the side of the bed that the gifts were on and sat down on the edge. He picked up the first gift, glanced at the tag and handed it to Loren, saying, "From Bud and Harriet."
Loren opened the gift bag and pulled out a wad of tissue paper. "Oh, it's beautiful!" she breathed as she picked up the small crystal ornament. It was about three inches tall and perfectly crafted to portray a mother and child. Dye had been carefully added to the inside of the crystal to show vague colors following the lines of the sculpture. On the base was engraved, in delicate letters, Baby Singer, April 17, 2003.
Harm leaned over Loren's arm to read the inscription. He smiled and squeezed her arm. "It is beautiful," he agreed. Loren smiled up at him.
Mac and Harriet exchanged looks, as did AJ and Tiner. Bud just stared at the two of them.
Not noticing the looks, Harm reached down and picked up the next gift. "From Mac," he read as he handed it to Loren.
Loren pulled off the box lid and laughed, pulling out the olive colored top and Marine green pants and cover. "I can't have my kid wear this!" she exclaimed teasingly. "I'm Navy!"
Mac grinned and shrugged, hiding her surprise at Loren's teasing and genuine happiness.
Harm laughed as well and took both the sculpture and baby clothes from Loren, placing them on the table, then shoved the wrappings off the other side of the bed. That done, he grabbed another gift from the pile. "From AJ," he read, handing it to Loren.
Loren pulled the wrapping paper away from the gift and stared at the book. "'Shakespeare For Children'?" she asked, reading the title. Opening the book, she flipped through it, then laughed, looking at Harm and explaining. "It's Shakespeare's plays rewritten for children!"
Harm tilted his head and read a small portion, then grinned up at his CO. "That's a cool idea. Where did you find it?"
"A bookstore in McLean. They have all the classic author's works written up like that."
Loren smiled at him and handed the book to Harm to place on the table. After he did that, Harm picked up the last gift and handed it to Loren. "And this must be from Tiner."
Loren opened the large box and her eyes widened as she gazed in, then pulled out the large crocheted blanket. "Tiner, it's beautiful!" Loren exclaimed, looking over at the petty officer. "Where did you get it?"
Tiner blushed at the praise and answered quietly. "My grandmother made it. I told her that I didn't know the sex of your baby, so she did it in the yellow, green, blue and pink."
"I love it." Loren laid the blanket over her lap and looked around the room. "Thank you, all of you. I really appreciate this."
Smiles were passed around before David started crying and rooting at Mac's breast.
"Oops!" Mac said, grinning and taking David to Loren. "Sorry, buddy, but I'm not the right one for that!"
"Well, I guess that's our cue to leave," AJ said, heading over to the door.
Mac was the last to leave and as she did, she turned back to the bed. "Harm? Can I talk to you for a minute?"
Harm glanced at Loren, who nodded, then followed Mac out into the hallway. "Mac, what's up?"
Mac led Harm over to the waiting room and sat down on the couch. "Harm, what's going on with you and Singer?"
Harm frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Are you in love with her?"
Mac raised her eyebrow. "Are you in love with her?"
"Mac, come on. Why would I be in love with her?
"Why are you answering with a question?"
"Why are you?"
Mac sighed. "Harm. You're avoiding the question. Are you in love with her?"
Harm sighed as well and leaned forward on his knees. "You know. I never thought I would be, but I think I might be."
"What happened to 'Lieutenant Witch'?"
Harm shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that once I got to know her, I started to like her. Then I started to love her. Mac, Loren and I really get along."
"You do know what you're doing, though, right?"
Harm nodded. "Yeah, I think I do."
Mac nodded as well and smiled at Harm. "That's all that matters to me. Go back to her, Harm."
Harm smiled. "Thanks, Mac. It means a lot to me that you're okay with this."
Mac shrugged. "Well, I still don't really like her, but, hey. If you do you know?"
"Yeah. Hey, I better get back."
"Doesn't she find it uncomfortable, you being there when she's nursing?"
Harm smirked. "Mac, I was there when she gave birth. Believe me, nursing is small potatoes."
A month later
Harm watched silently from the bedroom doorway as Loren laid David down in his crib. The baby sighed and turned his head slightly, then continued to sleep peacefully. Loren took a moment to readjust her shirt to cover her again before turning back to Harm and walking into the living room.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow?" Loren asked, already tired, having learned quickly that you sleep when the baby sleeps.
"Uh, can we talk a minute?"
Loren sat down on the couch. "Sure, Harm. What's wrong?"
Harm took a deep breath and sat beside Loren, taking her hand in his. "Nothing's wrong."
Loren glanced down at their hands, then back up at Harm. "So, what's going on?"
"Loren, how do you feel about me?"
Loren's expression became slightly guarded. "How do you feel about me?" she asked back.
Harm laughed slightly. "That's what I'm trying to get at. You know that I used to not really like you, right?"
Loren snorted. "I'd say you hated me."
"Yeah, well let's just say that now I feel the exact opposite."
Loren tilted her head. "Harm, are you saying that you're in love with me?"
Harm closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "Yeah, I... I guess that is what I'm saying."
Loren's eyes filled with tears. "Oh, God, Harm," she whispered. "I love you, too." Loren looked down at her hands, continuing. "I was so sure, when I met Sergei, that he was the one for me. I was sure that I was in love with him. But maybe maybe I was just supposed to be with him so that you could see the real me. Behind the wall that I projected."
"Maybe. I just wish that he didn't have to die."
"I know. I wish he didn't die, too."
"You realize that we're wasting time talking when I could be kissing you?"
Loren smiled mischievously. "Then what are you waiting for?"
Their lips met for the first time. There were no fireworks. The earth didn't move. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. Except that a true love was finally realized.
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