Disclaimer: See first part.

Part 2

The Next Day

1415 ZULU
JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA

For once, Harm knocked before he entered Mac's office, a nervous grin on his face. He stayed up late last night after he'd gotten home, putting together the purchased and collected items for his friend.

He hoped that she would like it. That it would make her feel better. She was already much better today. He could tell that when he had seen her in the kitchen earlier. Last night's distraction had been good for her, but he figured she still needed a little more closure of sorts. Even though he was fairly certain she'd like what he had done, he was still nervous. It was kind of another sentimental thing.... He really had to stop. It was gonna ruin his tough-six, jet-jock image. He sighed inwardly. Oh well, Mac was worth it.

"Hey Sailor," she greeted, looking up from some spread papers. "You're early. We're not supposed to meet with our client for another half an hour."

"I know...I just...I have something for you," he said bashfully, closing the door behind him. No need for the whole office to know about his soft side.

"Something for me? What? I've got all our files here..."

"No, it's not for work. It's just, uh, for you. Kind of an; I'm sorry, I'm here for you, I care...kind of...thing..."

"Harm, you didn't need to get me anything. I already know that."

"I know. I just wanted to...well...um...here," he finally said, pulling two items from under his arm.

Getting up from her desk, a bewildered Mac approached him, taking the proffered gifts.

Looking from his nervous face, to the items and back again, she asked. "What are they?"

"Well, that's uh...open it," he indicated the small round tin in her left hand.

Setting the other item down, she pulled the lid off the tin, and gasped. "Oh Harm, is it really actually...?"

"Yeah, it is. It was done before they took him away. They told me about what people had started doing recently and if I thought you'd like it. I said sure. They asked me his name, what color to use... I thought of the color of his collar..."

"Oh Harm, it's wonderful, thank you," she exclaimed softly, staring down at the item. It was a round piece of clay, incased in the tin. Jingo's paw print was pressed in the middle, his name arching above. The name and paw print were the beige clay color. The rest of it was painted a burgundy color.

Harm shifted uncomfortably. He was glad she liked it, but he was still feeling awkward.

When she looked back up at him, eyes bright, he swallowed and motioned for the other gift she'd set on her desk. She nodded, silently setting the tin down, and picked up the small leather bound book. Opening it, she let out another gasp. It was a miniature photo album, filled with pictures of Jingo, her and Jingo, Chloe and Jingo... There was one empty space at the end. She looked up questioningly. He cleared his throat and spoke.

"I figured you could put the picture of the three of us in there...if you wanted."

She smiled affectionately at him. "Another great idea, Sailor. You're just full of them lately, aren't you?"

He smiled at her, shrugging.

Setting the album down, she stepped forward and without a word, wrapped her arms around her partner. With barely a seconds hesitation, he returned the embrace, relaxing. His awkwardness had vanished. She had loved it. Now, he was just glad to be hugging her without the tears. He never wanted her to be sad.

"Thank you, Harm. This is so sweet of you. I really had no idea you had it in you."

He chuckled, giving her a tight squeeze, before pulling away. "Yeah, well, don't tell anyone, all right? I do have a reputation to uphold."

"Not a problem, Squid. I don't think they'd believe me anyway."

They both laughed, quieting when she reached up, and gently pulled his head down, kissing him lightly on the cheek. "I mean it though, Harm," she said, pulling away, blushing slightly from the heat of the contact of her lips and his skin. "This really helps. Only problem now is getting used to an empty apartment again."

"Yeah well, hey, what are friends for, huh? And don't worry, things will work out. You won't be lonely for long. I promise."

"You plan on movie nights during the weekday?" she teased, moving away to put the items into her briefcase to take home at the end of the day.

"That too," he said casually, a mysterious twinkle in his eye.

She cocked her head at the look and was about to question just exactly what he meant, when there was a knock.

"Enter," she called out.

Tiner poked his head into the office. "Commander Rabb, Sir? Your office phone is ringing."

He glanced at his watch and nodded knowingly. He had been waiting for the call back... "Good." He looked at her apologetically. "Important call, I better get it. I'll be back to go over the case with our client when he arrives." He turned to leave, stopped short for a moment and asked, "Lunch at Denny's?"

Mac smiled at her friend, more thankful than ever to have him in her life. Brash heroics, odd obsessions, stubborn pride and all. "You bet, Flyboy."

"Good," he said softly, with a heart-warming smile. He disappeared out the door, and Mac sighed. That man. He was up to something, she could tell. But what more could he possibly do to make her feel better? He'd done so much already. More than anyone had ever done for her, just to make her smile. She shrugged to herself. She'd find out sooner or later.

One Month Later

2150 ZULU
JAG HEADQUARTERS
FALLS CHURCH, VA

Harm had taken the last hour of a Friday afternoon off to run an "errand". However, he returned just before five o'clock and made his way across the bullpen, hands seemingly casually held behind his back. Admiral Chegwidden, Cmdr. Turner and the Roberts were nearby talking. No one paid attention to him as he approached Mac, who was standing near a filing cabinet, looking through a file.

"Hey Marine, what are you doing tonight?" he asked, coming to stand before her.

Mac didn't look up from the file she was flipping through, distractedly mumbling a sarcastic reply. "Same thing I do every night, Flyboy, try to take over the world."

The admiral, Sturgis, Harriet and Bud's attention was caught in amused interest at Mac's statement. They dropped their own individual discussions and listened to the unfolding "drama".

The oblivious pair, carried on. Harm rolled his eyes, fighting a smile. "Seriously, Mac."

Mac looked up with a deadpan expression. "You don't think I could?"

Harm chuckled. "I have no doubt you could, Ninja Girl. However, all world domination aside, are you busy?"

She sighed, glancing back down at the file as she responded. "Sadly, pathetically, no."

"Ouch."

She looked up, eyes questioning. "What do you mean, *ouch*? That was insulting to *me*."

"And to the rest of us...namely me, who except for hopefully this...thing, would be doing sadly, pathetically, nothing either."

Mac grinned mischievously. "Aw gee, look how that worked out! An insult without effort! Guess this is my lucky day..."

Harm shook his head. "Well, if you're gonna be like that..." He began to back away.

"Hold it right there, Sailor. What were you gonna ask me?"

He grinned devilishly. "Only if you wanted to go shopping with me."

Mac laughed. "Every girls dream! A guy who's *willing* to go clothes shopping with her. What's the catch?"

"Who said anything about clothes?" he replied innocently.

Mac looked confused. "Then what?" She frowned. "Not another car to restore is it?"

"No, no, no..."

"Then what?" she asked, getting impatient.

He paused briefly before exclaiming with a boyish grin, "toys!"

By this time, the group watching them were thoroughly intrigued. Harm still had his hands behind his back, and from their angle they couldn't see what he was holding. The admiral considered ordering them to get back to work, but it was close enough to five...besides, he was dying of curiosity.

Mac's eyebrows shot up. "Toys? Aren't you a little old for-"

Harm rolled his eyes, but grinned. "Not for me."

"AJ's birthday isn't for another month or so, Harm."

"Not for AJ-"

"Oh, for the love of God, what the hell are you up to Rabb?" she finally snapped, flipping the file in her hands shut.

Everyone but Harm jumped as her outburst elicited a tiny yelp from Harm's...back?

His flyboy grin grew wider, and he carefully brought what was behind his back, forward.

"Toys..." he said, uncovering the loosely blanketed bundle, "for him."

Mac's jaw dropped, as a two little eyes peeked at her through the soft confines of the blanket. One brown, one blue. Harm removed the blanket completely, and Mac's hand went to her mouth at the adorable black, gray and white, Malamute pup. It looked up at her, whimpering and squirming, in attempt to gain more attention.

"Harm! He...who's..."

"He's yours," Harm said, with a smile, offering the furry bundle to his speechless partner.

Without a word, she gathered the puppy into her arms, laughed delightedly as the little guy squirmed closer to her face and licked the tip of her nose.

"Oh Harm, he's adorable. Where did you get him? Why did you get him? And for me?"

Harm just shrugged, absently scratching the puppy between the ears. "I got him from a kennel I contacted just after Jingo died. They told me they had some pups that would be ready in a month. I thought that was best anyway, cause I didn't think you wanted another dog too soon, and as for why?" Again, he shrugged, smiling as the little guy licked his fingers. "I promised you that you wouldn't be lonely for long, remember? I always keep my promises...or try to anyway..."

"Yes, you do," she answered softly, deeply touched and showing it, gazing up into his aquamarine orbs. He gazed back at her, drowning in the chocolate brown depths that were her eyes. The moment was broken when an anxious pup whimpered, licking eagerly at Mac's chin.

The moment hadn't gone unnoticed by their friends, still watching, but they wisely chose to say nothing. Instead, they approached the little trio, Harriet cooing over the squirming bundle in her friend's arms. Bud watched his wife, smiling, while Sturgis just stood by Harm and shook his head. "What is it with women and dogs?"

The admiral, coming to stand on Harm's other side, shook his head as well. "The same thing that's with women and horses, and women and babies. Something men everywhere will probably never understand."

The other three chuckled, while Harriet and Mac just gave each other a knowing look. Men and their macho image. Both women could see Harm, Bud and even the admiral, who had a deeply hidden soft side, sitting on the floor, playing with the pup.

"Anyway," the admiral said, after taking a moment to scratch the puppy's chin. "Last time I checked this wasn't a kennel, so get this mutt out of here. That's an order."

"Aye Sir," Mac and Harm said simultaneously.

"And Commander?"

"Sir?"

"Next time you bring an animal into this building you'll be doing traffic violation cases for a month. Is that clear?"

Straightening, Harm nodded, "Yes, Sir."

"Good... So, Colonel, what are you gonna name him?" he asked, before Mac could go to get her things. Stopping mid turn she opened her mouth to respond, then closed it looking down into the furry face. "I-I don't know."

"Well, he can't go long without a name, Colonel. I expect you to report to me Monday morning with a name chosen. Understood?"

Biting back a smile, Mac nodded. "Understood, Sir."

Nodding, still retaining his no-nonsense stance, the admiral dismissed them all from their little huddle. "That'll be all."

"Aye, Sir," came the unified response.

Winking at Mac, Harriet gave the puppy one last pat before heading to her desk to pack up. Sturgis just shook his head in wonder and walked away in the direction of his office. The admiral and Bud soon went their own ways as well. When it was just Harm and Mac left, he looked at her with a flyboy grin.

"That was interesting."

Mac laughed, handing the puppy back to Harm while she went into her office to grab her things. Coming back out, she smiled at the sight of Harm making baby talk with the puppy, who yipped and whined in response.

"Uh oh, is the commander getting in touch with his feminine side? Beginning to understand what it is with women and dogs?"

Making a face at her, he responded sarcastically. "That's funny."

She just laughed again and the two headed out. It was time for some toy shopping.

----------------------

2305 ZULU
RANDOM PET STORE
FALLS CHURCH, VA

"Harm, put that back!" Mac exclaimed with a laugh. Her partner had been strolling along ahead of her, the puppy nestled under one arm. He had casually picked up a fuzzy mouse on a string and proceeded to swing it back and forth causing the puppy to yip excitedly.

"He likes it," Harm argued, a mischievous gleam in his blue eyes.

"Harm, it's cat toy, " she argued back, exasperation evident in her tone. Shopping with this man was like shopping with a five year old. He just couldn't keep his hands off anything.

"And dogs are really that picky," he retorted sarcastically.

"No, their owners are. I don't want ou-, uh, my dog being seen playing with sissy cat toys."

Harm hadn't missed her near slip, but he said nothing, smiling inwardly. He'd guiltily relished the thought of sharing anyone or anything with her. He sighed to himself. It really wasn't wise to go there. They were just friends...but friends could share a dog, couldn't they?

"Fine then," he pouted playfully, setting the toy down, only to snatch up a glittery ball that jingled as he shook it lightly. With a grin, he tossed it toward his friend. "Catch!" he called, just in time.

Mac had taken to ignoring him as she rifled through several chew toys. She looked up just in time and caught the bright pink toy in one hand, the other hand traveling to her hip. Tapping one foot she shook the ball at him, only to be startled by the jangling. When he laughed at her surprised look, she scowled, and chucked it back at him, causing him to duck. She slapped a hand over her mouth as it went sailing past, barely missing his head, and hitting the ground, bouncing once, then rolling to a stop at an old woman's feet.

The woman gave her a dirty look, kicking the ball back in their direction before stalking off, a bag of bird seed in her hands.

A slight flush coloring her pretty features, Mac stalked over to her best friend and slapped him upside the head.

"You idiot, you weren't supposed to duck."

He chuckled as he rubbed the back of his head where she had struck him. "I know. I'm sorry, I forgot. I'm supposed to *take cover*."

"If you were a Marine..." she started.

"If I were a Marine," he agreed, with a smirk.

Shaking her head, fighting her own smirk, she turned back to the chew toys mumbling out, "if you were a marine, you wouldn't be playing with cat toys."

"Ha ha," he bit back, stooping to pick up the fallen jingle toy. "What do we have left to get?" he asked, letting their playful banter subside for the moment. He tossed the ball back into a random bin and turned to his friend, who was placing a multi colored ball into the basket she held.

Looking down into the basket she began listing off the things they had collected. They'd already been there for forty-five minutes, but Harm's antics tended to slow things down. "Let's see, we've got the collars and leashes," she said, looking pointedly at him. It had taken nearly twenty minutes for them to decide on a color. Mac wanted Marine green....Harm liked Navy blue. Finally, a worker had suggested a black puppy collar, and then a nice leather adult one for when he outgrew the puppy collar. They had sheepishly agreed.

A part of them didn't know why they were arguing. Harm *had* gotten the dog for *her*, but they both seemed to share this unspoken agreement, that the dog would be both of theirs. That Harm would have some say about the little guy. It just unconsciously seemed to happen that way. Maybe it was their close friendship, the fact that they'd already shared so much. Neither knew, and neither wanted to question it.

Mac continued, sorting through the items. "Food and water dishes, puppy food, some squeaky toys, a ball... What else is there?"

Harm shrugged. "You're the one that had a dog recently. My mom was the one that shopped for the one I had as a kid." (Author doesn't know that he had one, let's just pretend he did, okay?)

"Well, Jingo came with all his stuff."

Harm looked around, up and down the aisle. "What about a doggy bed?"

Mac's eyebrows raised at her partner's words. "A *doggy* bed?"

Blushing, Harm shrugged. "Well?"

With a smirk, Mac called out to the nearest worker. "Excuse me, can you help us find a, uh, *doggy* bed, for our pup here?" This time she missed her slip up, and Harm felt warmth spread through him at those words. "Our" pup. Kind of like "our" home...."our" children... He shook his head. Uh-uh. You're doing it again. For the love of God, Do NOT go there. Not now... He sighed. He couldn't help it. He wasn't sure he wanted to anymore.

Focusing back to the task at hand, he followed his partner and the worker to the back of the store. There, the young man pulled down a bean bag type of bed, large enough for a full grown dog, with bones and paw prints all over it. Harm and Mac shared a look. The background was beige, the paws were green, and the bones were blue.

"Perfect," they exclaimed at once.

The young man just looked at them, shrugged, and helped carry the bed to the checkout counter.

--------------------

0105 ZULU
MAC'S APARTMENT
GEORGETOWN, VA

Harm chuckled as he and Mac stood, cleaning the dishes from their dinner of Fettucini Alfredo. Mac had invited him over just after they left the pet shop. He'd accepted without hesitation.

The source of his amusement was the puppy, as it nipped and swatted at the odd sud that drifted down. Mac turned to look, and laughed as he pounced on an unlucky sud that had survived long enough to land on the floor.

"Feisty little guy, isn't he."

It wasn't really a question, but Harm answered anyway. "Yeah, he is. Only a few hours and already he's inheriting his Marine owner's traits. You know, I think I'm gonna have to take him for man-to-uh-man-dog walks now and then. Keep him from getting to female influenced."

Mac made a face at him, then laughed. "I'm gonna hold you to that, Sailor. Jingo was older and didn't need the constant walks as much. This guy is gonna need a lot of them. He's gonna end up kind of big and energetic for an apartment dog..." As she said this, she suddenly looked worried.

Harm just smiled. He'd already considered that before buying her a larger dog. "Don't worry, Marine. I'll help you out. Besides, I have a feeling in a few years you're gonna need a bigger place outside of town anyway."

Mac turned back to washing dishes, but cocked her head to give her partner a disbelieving look. "You know something I don't, Sailor? At this rate, I don't think I'll ever get the chance to have children..."

Harm frowned. "Hey? Have you forgotten about our deal?"

Mac stopped scrubbing for a moment, and looked at him, surprise evident on her face. "That's still on? I thought we agreed at my engagement party that it was null and void."

"We didn't agree on anything, and that was because you had Brumby."

"And you had Renee," she added.

He shrugged, a wry grin lighting up his face. "Apparently not. Some guy in a dark suit, with a coffin collection had her heart since high school. Man, if it wasn't so degrading, it'd be amusing."

Mac covered her mouth with the back of her hand, fighting off the laughter that was building up. Gaining some control, after receiving a glare from her friend, she tried to console him. "Aw, come on Harm. Renee is probably totally regretting dumping you, a hot rodding flyboy, for Gomez Addams." Harm rolled his eyes, but Mac ignored him. "In fact, I'll bet that relationship is already at a...a dead end...." Harm groaned loudly at the painfully horrible joke, but Mac continued, giggling all the while. "He probably saw the uh....light... so to speak, and got rid of her. Discovered that blue eyed blondes didn't cut it for Morticia wannabes." She was laughing hard by now, and Harm was fighting back laughter of his own.

"It's not funny," he argued feebly, before bursting into laughter as well. "You're twisted, Marine," he finally got out, laughter subsiding.

"Yeah, well," she shrugged, still giggling a little, and handed him another plate to dry.

"Anyway," Harm continued, exaggerating impatience. "As I was saying before we began ex bashing, that was when we were both involved. We're not anymore. Two years left on AJ's birthday... May is only a few days away."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence."

"Aw, Mac, you know I don't mean it like that. You could have any guy you wanted, but well, I dunno. I just think we'd have great kids together."

"You want me to swear off men for two years, so we can have great kids together?" she asked incredulously, but with amusement.

Harm blushed, shrugging. "Well, no, of course not... Look, I'm just saying that the deals still on as far as I'm concerned. So regardless, you're gonna have a child...or children, in a couple of years. You'll need a bigger place, with a backyard at the very least, and so the dog will have more room to run."

"You considered this before buying the dog, did you?"

"Yeah."

Mac shook her head, but smiled. "Glad to know I've still got you as a back up, but don't sell yourself short, Squid. What if you have a steady girl, come two years and I don't? ...A guy, I mean."

Harm shrugged. "Deal's still on."

"You don't think your girlfriend, or hell, by that time, maybe fiancee or wife, would have a problem with that?"

He just smiled, something indescribable shining in his eyes. "Not if it's the girl of my dreams. She won't mind one bit," he assured softly, before gently taking the glass a frozen Mac held between the sink and her partner, not breaking eye contact.

Mac blinked twice, before snapping out of it, turning away from his intense, but ever gentle gaze. He couldn't be implying... Could he? She shivered as she replayed his comment, the soft... suggestive? ...tone of his voice.

"Well," she finally choked out. "I guess I'm set then."

Harm smiled to himself, enjoying seeing his friend so flustered. He could tell she'd caught the meaning, and was now most likely fighting with herself about whether she had been imagining it. Let her wonder. He thought to himself.

Yes, they had decided to start at the beginning again...though, that wasn't to say they were going to forget about the precious years in between. They just weren't letting romance come back into the picture to spoil things...for now. He knew in his heart there was only one woman for him. Sarah MacKenzie.

He only hoped that any man that came into her life suddenly would be gone just as quickly. He couldn't bear to lose her again to someone else. He couldn't bear to lose her period. He knew a large part of his heart would go with her...if he survived the loss. Who could live with only half a heart? ...Not him.

Despite that fear, he'd come to realize what he feared even more was her never knowing how he really felt. Now all he had to do was eventually find the courage to tell her, before it was too late...without ruining their friendship. And she said these things weren't complicated.

--------------------

"What about Rover?" Harm questioned as the two friends sat side by side on the floor. They were leaning back against her couch, so close their arms pressed against each other. They were playing with the pup, taking turns throwing the ball against the far wall, watching the pup chase it to the wall and back as it bounced off.

Harm had reminded her of her weekend "assignment", and they were now tossing names back and forth, trying to find the perfect one.

"Rover? You're kidding me right? Why don't we just call him *doggy*?" she asked sarcastically.

Harm turned to glower playfully at her teasing. "You suck."

"You wish," she bit back without thinking.

Harm's eyes widened, and he exclaimed. "Red light, Colonel."

Mac's own eyes widened, "I meant- I mean... argh! You know I didn't mean it that way, Harm! And dammit, it's been, like, six years. Traffic signals are long past pointless, especially outside the office, now what about something like Sergeant?"

He let the comment slide, though he couldn't figure for the life of him what else she could have meant. "Too Marinish," he returned, with a grimace.

"Marine-ish?" she asked, eyebrows raised skeptically.

"It's a word," he argued feebly.

"Well, what about something that's both Marine...ish, and Navy..ish," she suggested, mocking him slightly.

"Like what?"

"I don't know...what's something that we share?" she asked, taking the ball from the pup and throwing it at the wall once again.

"Stubborn pride," her partner returned, not batting a lash.

"I meant the Corps and the Navy," she said, with a patented, 'get with it' look.

"So did I," came his response without hesitation, and only a trace of humor.

Mac laughed. "True enough, but how is that a good dog name?" she asked, quieting her chuckles.

"Pride."

She looked at him, surprised. "What?"

"Pride....CAPTAIN Pride."

Mac opened her mouth to protest, but ran the name through her head again. Captain...used for both Navy and Marine ranks. Pride, definitely a basic Military trait. She found herself nodding, a slight smile quirking the corners of her mouth.

"Not bad, flyboy...I think I like it."

Her partner feigned shock, holding a hand over his heart. "You're agreeing with me? Somebody call in the special agents, something out of the paranormal just occurred."

He didn't see it coming as she reached behind and grabbed a throw pillow, whacking him over the head with it. Seconds later, it turned into an all out war as he grabbed the other pillow and tackled his partner. The puppy was momentarily stunned by the sudden raucous, but soon joined in the fun by running circles around the battling duo, yipping excitedly.

A few minutes later, the friends called a truce and fell back against the couch, laughing hard, trying to catch their breath.

Breathing more steadily, a still chuckling Harm bent over to lift a whining pup onto the couch between them. The little guy had been jumping against their legs to get their attention. "Hey there Cap'n, you're really quite the mix, aren't ya?"

"Mix? He's purebred," Mac argued, leaning back against the far end of her couch, resting her chin on her Jean clad knees.

"I know...and by the way, you gotta fill out the forms now with his name on them. Then keep his papers filed away somewhere safe."

"Thank you, Father! I'll do my best not to screw that up," she replied, with an eye roll.

"Make sure you don't," he said, mocking seriousness. "But what I meant was, he's really quite the mix of us. Right down to one brown eye and one blue."

"Poor things gonna have some serious identity and personality issues," she joked.

"Tell me about it," Harm replied with a grin.

They were silent for a while, both watching as Captain curled up to sleep between them. The silence was broken by Mac's voice, soft and sweet to Harm's ears. "I don't know if I thanked you for everything you've done for me Harm...and I'm not just talking about everything with Jingo. I'm talking about EVERYTHING, everything. I don't know what I'd do without you."

"Mac, you don't need to thank me. That's what friends are for. Besides, you thank me everyday by being my friend. I don't know what I'd do without you either, Ninja Girl."

His sparkling blue eyes met her dark gypsy ones, their gazes locking, portraying the understanding of what they shared. After several long moments, they broke the connection and focused back down on the sleeping pup. Minutes later the silence was once again broken by Mac, this time her tone teasing, effectively lightening the mood, and making her friend smile once again.

"You know Harm, we just had a complete Hallmark moment. Grab the tissues flyboy, I think I'm gonna cry."

Harm's smile broke into a laugh and he reached over, pulling Mac closer, without disturbing the puppy. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder in a friendly hug. "You're something else, Marine, you know that? You're something else."

Reveling in the warmth and security she felt whenever he held her, she just smiled. Ditto, Sailor. Ditto.



The End

Note: Out of character? Hell yeah, but you know what? The whole point to fanfic is to explore different possibilities for characters. Perfect characterization is for virtual episodes, don't ya think? Anyway, so what did you think? Did anyone catch the thing with the title??? Mac's Best Friend...Man's Best Friend, LOL. I know, I have to much time on my hands. Review anyway please.


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