J*A*G

"A Time for Everything"

Summary: Two tragic deaths, two grief-stricken kids, and two hearts longing to be one…can one event push the course of Fate to where it needs to be?

Author's Note(s): (1) Takes place in season six.

(2) Mac hasn't moved the ring yet.

(3) For the purpose of this story, Sergei is just sixteen.

(4) In this AU,Chloe's grandparents aren't living.

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I just wrote this story for fun.

Chapter 1: A Time to Cry

1200 Zulu

JAG HQ

Falls Church, VA

In their respective offices, Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb Jr. and Lt. Colonel Sarah Mackenzie were busy working on their latest assignments, and both were about ready to go get some lunch, when their phones rang at the same time.

"Rabb/Mackenzie," they spoke into their phones simultaneously. (Though, of course, neither was aware that the other was receiving a call.)

"Commander Rabb/Colonel Mackenzie," a different police officer spoke on each line. "I'm sorry to have to inform you…"

Harm and Mac eyes grew troubled as they each listened.

"Thank you for letting me know," they again spoke at the same time (again, unknown by to the other). "I'll be right there…"

Then they hung up their phones and headed out of their offices.

Emerging into the bullpen and heading for the Admiral's office, neither paid attention to anything around them…not even each other.

It was only when they both started to knock on the door at the same time that they looked each other in the eye.

Harm saw the trouble brewing in the dark chocolate orbs he loved so much, and stepped back.

"Ladies first," he said, gesturing to the door.

Likewise, Mac could read the haunted anguish she saw within his sea-colored eyes.

They had known each other too long not to know that something was very wrong.

"Let's go in together," she told him, quietly. "Give each other support."

He flashed his patented fly-boy grin that she secretly loved no matter what she said to the contrary.

"Okay," he said, "but which of us should knock."

"How about you both shut up and get your sixes in here," a sharp, gruff voice called out from within the office.

The two exchanged amused glances, and opened the door to enter the office one behind the other.

They came to stand at attention in front of their commanding officer: Admiral AJ Chegwidden.

"What is Colonel? Commander?" the admiral asked, looking up at his two senior officers. "Is it about the case?"

"No, sir," they both answered him at the same time, glancing at each other curiously.

The admiral nodded, leaning back in his chair. "You first, Mac?" he said, sighing. "Let's hear it."

"I just received a phone call, Sir," Mac told him. "It seems Chief Kyle Anderson was killed in a car accident this morning. He was on his way to Norfolk for departure when he and another vehicle…"

"Collided head on?" Harm asked, his eyes wide with shock and dismay.

"How did you know?" she asked, her gut clenching in apprehension.

"I received a phone call too, sir," Harm told the admiral. "Annie Pendry was killed in a car accident, as well. She and Josh were on their way home. The officer I spoke to, said that she and the other car each hit a patch of ice neither saw and collided head on with each other. The other driver was killed, as well."

"I see," the admiral said, a troubled expression on his face.

Mac's face was even more troubled.

No wonder she had seen anguish in Harm's eyes.

Annie Pendry was the widow of one of Harm's oldest friends, and he was her son's godfather.

They had even had a brief relationship a few years ago.

Unfortunately, the pain of losing her husband had made her weary of the military and its obvious dangers.

She didn't want her son to be encouraged to seek that life when he was older, and couldn't face losing another love the way she'd lost her husband, so she had broken it off.

Harm had kept his distance at her request, despite knowing it would hurt little Josh.

It must be tearing him up inside that she's now gone, she couldn't help think to herself.

"What about Chloe and Josh?" the admiral asked, referring to the two children who were apparently now orphaned.

"Josh was in the back seat, Sir," Harm said, swallowing hard. "The police officer said he received some bruising from where the seat belt caught, but otherwise he was [physically] all right. He's at the hospital where Annie (he swallowed hard at this; obviously trying to hold his emotions in check)—where his mother was taken, Sir. It's the same hospital they took the other driver, I was told."

He glanced at Mac, so did the Admiral.

"Chloe was driving to Norfolk to spend the last few hours with her dad," she said, quietly. "I was supposed to pick her up this afternoon…she's at the hospital now as well, Sir."

"Then I would suggest you get yourselves over there," he told them, firmly. "Those two children need you right now more than we do here."

They nodded.

"What should we do about the case, sir?" Harm asked, despite his need to rush out and head over to the hospital.

"Petty Officer Keller's trial is this afternoon," Mac reminded him, quietly.

Like Harm, she was consumed by the need to rush to Chloe's side—but also like him she knew their jobs couldn't just be ignored, either.

"Ah," he said, thinking. "Don't worry. I'll take care of it. You two just get your sixes to that hospital A.S.A.P."

They saluted. Then they turned and headed out of the office.

"Want to take my car?" Harm asked her, curiously.

"Better not," Mac told him, gently. "Chloe'll want to be alone, just the two us. How do you think Josh is going to react? I mean, it has been three years…"

Harm looked even more troubled.

"I don't know," he said, a bit of sadness showing, "and that's what's so damn frustrating. I should never have kept my distance…"

She placed a hand on his shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

"It's what she wanted," she reminded him, gently.

"I know," he said, shaking his head to clear it. "We need to go. I'll get my cover."

"I've got to get mine too and my purse," she said. "I'll meet you there."

He nodded, and they separated once again.

...

1230 Zulu

Memorial Hospital

Washington D.C.

Harm and Mac, each in their respective vehicles, pulled into the parking lot of the hospital they had been told Annie and Kyle's bodies had been taken.

Heading inside, they stopped at the nurse's station.

"Excuse us, Ma'am," Harm said, gaining the attention of the nurse on duty, "but we were told that this was where those involved in the head on collision this morning were brought?"

"Yes, they were," the nurse said, sadly. "Are you the emergency contacts for the children?"

Mac nodded. "Chloe Anderson and Joshua Pendry?" she asked, making certain.

The nurse nodded.

"Yes, we are." Harm told her, seriously.

"He's Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb Jr.," Mac said, "and I'm Lt. Colonel Sarah Mackenzie. He's Josh's godfather, and I'm Chloe's Big Sister."

The nurse nodded at him, but seemed a bit puzzled by Mac.

"Chloe used to be part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program," she explained, understanding the woman's disbelief because she was older than Kyle. "She was in foster care temporarily after her mother died, and I helped to find her father. We've remained close—I'm now her legal guardian."

Kyle, who didn't have any family alive, had made her Chloe's guardian in the event something happened to him.

At the time, he was worried about dying in the line of duty as a naval officer…he never thought he'd die in a car accident.

What do they say? Fate is a fickle thing…or maybe it was just a cruel thing. Harm thought to himself.

The nurse nodded, understanding.

"If you will follow me," she told them, "I will take you to where the children are waiting."

"How are they?" Harm asked, feeling a lump rise in his throat.

Josh had already lost his father and now he'd lost his mother, as well.

The nurse stopped, looking at them seriously.

"Not well," she said, sadly. "They've just sat—not crying, not talking, nothing. We were hoping the two of you might be able to get them to respond."

Harm and Mac nodded, understanding.

The nurse led them to a small waiting room with a line of chairs on three of four walls.

Joshua Pendry, age twelve, sat on one side of the room.

The blond headed boy was exactly as Harm remembered him, except maybe he was a bit taller.

He still looks just like Luke.

Mac's gaze fell on the other occupant in the room.

Chloe Madison Anderson sat opposite Josh, her wheat-gold hair pulled back into a pony-tail.

There was a small bandage on her forehead from a small cut she received from flying glass during the accident.

She'd been in the back seat, as well.

Thank God for small miracles, Mac couldn't help but think to herself.

The normally expressive girl was quiet, her head down staring at her sneakers.

She didn't even look up at their entrance. Neither did Josh.

"Kids," the nurse said, gaining the two youngsters' attention. "There are a couple of people here to see you."

Both children looked up, but their expressions didn't change.

Harm and Mac exchanged glances.

This wasn't going to be easy, for any of them.

The beautiful marine went to the little girl and knelt down.

"Hey there," she greeted her, attempting a smile.

"Hey," Chloe responded, her voice distant. "They told you?"

Mac nodded. "Yeah," she said, "I'm so sorry, Sweetheart."

It seemed as if that one little word broke past the barrier the girl had erected around herself and she burst into tears.

Mac pulled her against her chest, and she seemed to sob more.

"I'm here, Chloe," she soothed, feeling tears sting her own eyes. "I'm here. I know it hurts, baby. Just let it out. I've got you."

Harm stepped up to Josh and knelt down in front of the boy.

"Hey there, pal," he greeted him, attempting a smirk.

Josh glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, an unreadable expression on his young face.

"Didn't think I was your pal anymore, Harm?" he said in a hollow voice. "Didn't think you cared anymore?"

Harm tried not to let the boy's words get to him.

He was upset, after all.

"I do care, Josh," he told him, reaching out to touch his shoulder. "I care a lot."

"Mom's gone," Josh told him, still in that same hollow tone. "Just like Dad."

Harm gulped, forcing his own grief down. "I know, pal," he said. "I wish…"

"What?" Josh asked, harshly. "You wish it didn't happen? That makes two of us..."

Tears welled in his eyes, but he brushed them away.

Harm noticed the stubborn set to the boy's jaw and understood why he refused to cry.

He dreamed of going into the military and in his mind military men didn't cry.

The hell we don't!

Harm grabbed Josh's other shoulder, gripping him firmly by both, and forcing him to look him in the eyes.

"Don't, Josh," he told the boy, firmly. "Don't hold anything inside. If you need to cry, son, then cry!"

"I'm not your son," Josh said, blinking back more tears.

"I love you like one, Josh," Harm told him, truthfully. "Now, let it out. You'll feel better. I promise."

He pulled the boy against his chest.

"Just let it out, Josh," he said, stroking his hair. "I know it hurts, kiddo. Believe me, I know…"

Josh struggled for a second, but then burst into sobs.

"W-Why!" he cried, heartbreakingly. "Why!"

Harm gulped, holding onto the boy more tightly.

"I don't know," he told him, rocking him gently with him. "I wish I did, but I don't!"

"I-I want her back," the boy sobbed even harder. "I-I don't want to be alone!"

"I know, buddy," Harm soothed. "I know, and you're not alone."

Josh shook his head, fiercely. "Yes, I am!" he cried, bitterly.

"I'm here now," Harm soothed, running his fingers through his hair, "and I'm not going anywhere ever again."

"P-Promise?" Josh asked, glancing up at him through his tear stained face.

He knew the former navy pilot never made a promise he didn't keep.

That is what had gotten them in trouble with his mom.

Harm had promised him to take him on that stupid kid's cruise on that carrier.

He didn't know the thing was going to get high-jacked by terrorists.

Harm nodded. "I promise," he said, and then heard it echoed by Mac not a second later.

Chloe must have wanted the same reassurance…

The question was…did he have the strength to be there for this child?

He glanced over and met Mac's eyes.

He knew without needing to be told she was wondering the exact same thing.

TBC...