Title: Sleight of Hand
Author: Incatnito
PG-13
Action/Adventure
Summary: A simple case is not what it seems.

My first time out of the blocks as a writer. It's been fun!

Disclaimers: Taking them out to play, promise to put them back. All characters of JAG belong to Donald Bellasarius and Bellasarius Productions; no copyright infringement intended.

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JAG Headquarters
Falls Church
1645 Local

Petty Officer Alice Greenton looked up to see Admiral Chegwidden standing at her desk. She jumped to her feet, coming to attention and said in surprise, "Admiral! I'm sorry, sir. I didn't hear you come in."

"At ease, Petty Officer." AJ regarded her for a moment. She was a small, mousy type of woman. He had a hard time believing it, but Webb had been adamant.

"Sir, is there something I can help you with?" she said nervously.

"I'm afraid not." The Admiral watched her closely, "Corporal Hanley was arrested today by Federal agents." Surprise, fear and something else... anger?... washed across her face.

"I'm sorry, sir?"

"'Archangel', Petty Officer. Hanley and Admiral Jacobs abducted Col. MacKenzie this morning, but not before she had gotten us information about the network. Jacobs is dead, it's over." AJ made a small gesture, two Marines appeared in the doorway.

He watched as her mouth opened and closed silently, then her face took on such a look of malevolence, he had to force himself not to step back. "Then I hope to hell they killed that Arab bitch first!" she hissed and then gave a mocking laugh, "You may think this is over, but it's not. There's more of us than you can possibly imagine!"

AJ was taken aback, but he matched her glare for glare. "It is over for you." He glanced at the Marines, "Gentlemen." He watched as she was cuffed and led away. He felt a little shaken. His private scenario had been the petty officer as a dupe of Corporal Hanley, possibly in love with him. He hadn't expected this.

Bethesda Naval Hospital
1920 Local

Mac struggled to free herself, staring anxiously at the door. They were coming. She could hear them getting closer. Her efforts grew more frantic as she grew more panic-stricken. She had to get away, she couldn't let them find her. Mac's eyes flew open. There was a figure leaning over her. She shrank back against the pillows, her breath coming in ragged gasps.

"Mac? Sarah? It's all right... you're safe... C'mon Mac, it was just a bad dream. You're okay." Harm said in a soothing tone, while watching her anxiously. She'd been sleeping peacefully up until about five minutes ago. He watched her blink rapidly, trying to bring him into focus. He gave her a smile when he saw recognition begin to dawn.

"Harm?" Her glance flew about the room. She was in a hospital... again? Everything was jumbled. "Where... ?"

"You're at Bethesda." Harm carefully settled on the side of the bed and took her hand in both of his, he didn't want to startle her. Her breathing was returning to normal. "The docs say you'll be fine. You just need to rest."

Bethesda? Hadn't she been at George Washington? She felt confused, how much of what she remembered was a dream... ?

Harm squeezed her hand reassuringly. "It's all over, Mac. Archangel is broken, Admiral Jacobs is dead."

"Jacobs is dead?"

"He was going to kill you. The Admiral and I shot him before he could." Harm remembered that terror-filled moment when he first saw Jacobs and realized what he was about to do. He'd fired immediately, it never occurred to him to yell at Jacobs to stop. Apparently, AJ had felt the same. Both rounds had hit Jacobs almost simultaneously.

Kill her? ... that wasn't right. She said faintly, "He told he wouldn't kill me, said he'd found a buyer."

Harm stared at her horrified. That son of a bitch! If he'd known that, he would've emptied his clip into the bastard. He took a calming breath. "Well, he can't hurt you now. It's all over," he repeated. He watched the emotions flit across her face as she sorted through her memories. Damn, she was going to have nightmares for months. He knew he was going to have a few himself. Starting with... he cleared his throat. Mac looked at him.

"Mac, I'm sorry." He looked down at the floor, "I was supposed to be protecting you and I let them grab you."

"Harm." Mac waited until he looked up, "That was what was supposed to happen. I knew you and Clay and the others would be coming. I just had to hang on 'til then." She managed to, too, even if it was by a fingernail. Mac gave an involuntary shudder.

Harm couldn't stand it, he reached forward and carefully gathered her into his arms. She tensed for a second and then relaxed against him, burying her head against his chest. He held her lightly, mindful of the bruises, resting his chin on the top of her head. He didn't know what he would have done if he hadn't gotten there in time, if she hadn't survived. He heaved a small sigh. She shifted against him and he heard her say quietly, "It's okay, Harm. It didn't happen." They knew each other so well...

Clay quietly opened the door and looked in. He stood and watched for a moment, he didn't want to interrupt. Maybe Rabb was finally going to get off the dime... . On the other hand, he'd gotten here a little ahead of the rest, they were on their way up. Harm and Mac would probably appreciate a little warning. He cleared his throat - loudly - and walked into the room. The two broke apart far enough to watch him enter.

"Clay!" Mac smiled at him and held out a hand. He took it and she pulled him in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you."

He flushed slightly and grinned at her, carefully not looking at Rabb. "You're welcome. You know there's no one's six I'd rather save." Mac raised an eyebrow and then laughed. Webb noticed she rested a casual hand on Harm's forearm. He decided to quit while he was ahead. "The others are right behind me. They should be here... " He stopped as the door opened again.

Bud, Harriet, Sturgis and Bobbie Latham walked into the room. Harm had started to rise as they entered but Mac had increased the pressure on his arm, so he stayed put. He listened as they exchanged pleasantries and smiled as Harriet fretted over Mac's latest round of bumps and bruises. Any crisis involving a friend brought her mothering instincts out full force.

Bobbie stood a little back from the group and watched the interaction. By unspoken agreement, the conversation was kept light and joking, even as they filled in details of the story for each other. She wasn't sure if she should be here, but Sturgis had asked. She was more an acquaintance than a friend with Mac although she thought the pendulum was beginning to shift. Her relationship with Sturgis was doing that. The two women already shared a mutual admiration and respect for each other's accomplishments. Their disagreements had never become acrimonious, a fact Bobbie appreciated.

Clay appeared next to her, "Feeling a little out of place, Congresswoman?"

"Just a little." She smiled at Sturgis when he glanced back to see where she was. Seeing her talking to Clay, he returned his attention to the group. "I don't know Mac as well as the others do. Frankly, I'm amazed she survived the whole thing." Bobbie gestured towards the group, "They're like family, aren't they?"

"Yes." They both turned when they heard the door open. Admiral Chegwidden walked into the room. "And here comes Poppa Bear." Clay said softly. He caught the Admiral's eye and gave him a questioning look. AJ nodded once and continued to Mac's bedside, greeting the others as he went.

"Colonel, you're looking better." AJ smiled at her.

"Thank you sir, I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate... "

AJ held up a hand, cutting her off. "Nonsense, Colonel. You know how it is with SEALs and Marines, we never abandon one of our own." He tried to keep his tone gruff without much success.

"Excuse me, sir." Everyone looked over at Harriet, who continued, "The curiousity is killing me, how did you find the Colonel so quickly after they grabbed her?"

Mac and AJ both looked at Webb. Clay sighed and stepped forward, "We never actually lost her. It just took a little while to get everyone in position once she stopped moving." He looked at Mac, "Where are the running shoes?"

"In the closet, in a plastic bag," Harm said. "They're a little... uhh... ripe."

Everyone watched while he went to the closet and retrieved the bag. He opened it and then shut it quickly, his eyes were watering. Clay looked over at Mac and arched an eyebrow, "This was government property, you know."

Mac raised both eyebrows, "So bill me." They grinned at each other remembering the last time they had that conversation.

AJ cleared his throat, "Webb... "

"Right," Webb looked at the group. "There's a GPS transmitter embedded in the sole of each shoe. I was up in a chopper following the coordinates." He shrugged, "Simple, really."

AJ snorted softly, 'Simple.' Except that in typical Webb fashion, he hadn't told anyone (except Mac) until the last possible moment. Even then, Clay had only told him. That nose-breaking a few years ago had done wonders for their relationship. Webb was a lot more upfront about dispersing information. AJ caught Mac stifling a yawn out of the corner of his eye. "All right, everyone. I think that's enough for one day. Let's let the Colonel get some rest." He looked over at her, "They're releasing you tomorrow morning?"

"Yes sir, 0900. Harm's going to give me a ride home."

"Very well." AJ continued to shoo people towards the door. He looked back, Harm was still sitting on the bed. "Colonel, I don't want to see you at JAG until Monday 0900 at the earliest, understood?"

"Yes sir."

With that, the Admiral left. Harm looked over at Mac, "Do you want me to stay a little longer?" He didn't want to leave her alone to her nightmares. In all honesty, he didn't want to leave - period.

"Would you?" As tired as she was, Mac was a little afraid to fall asleep. The nightmares had been so vivid.

"No problem," Harm grinned. He helped get her situated, then pulled around a chair and settled down to keep watch.

Monday
JAG Headquarters
Falls Church
0855 Local

Harm glanced over at Mac as he pulled into a parking spot. She'd gotten more and more quiet as they got closer to JAG. She looked over at him and he gave her a reassuring smile. Last time she was here, someone had tried to kill her and then she'd been falsely accused of espionage and treason. He didn't blame her for feeling nervous.

From the time he had taken her home from Bethesda, Harm had spent as much time as possible with Mac. He'd offered to stay at night but she had shooed him home telling him he couldn't stay awake 24/7 and she needed some privacy. He compromised by having dinner with her every night, staying afterward to talk or watch movies until she threw him out. He kept her apprised of the ongoing roundup of Archangel X-men, she told him about the steady stream of visitors: James, Emma, Harriet and little AJ, even Clayton Webb. She was still having nightmares, but (for once), she managed to talk about them; sometimes with him, often with Emma. On Saturday, he'd shown up on her doorstep bright and early, picnic basket in hand. They'd had a wonderful day, cruising the Maryland countryside. Eventually, they wound up on the Eastern Shore, enjoying steamed crabs at a restaurant on the pier of a deep-water port. He'd even got Mac to agree to another outing next Saturday. This time they'd explore the Virginia side... Harm became aware that Mac was speaking to him. He looked over and saw her smiling at him.

"Planning to get out of the car, Sailor? We've got 2 minutes and 18 seconds to report in."

'Oops.' He grabbed his briefcase and together they walked into the building.

Mac bounced on her heels as the elevator went up to the Ops floor. She wasn't quite sure what to expect. It seemed like a lifetime since she was last here. She glanced at Harm, he smiled at her. The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Mac steeled herself and marched out. When she reached the bullpen, she heard 'Attention on deck!' All her friends and co-workers were standing at attention, facing her. In the middle was a large cake and on the wall, a hand-lettered banner read, 'Semper Fi, Colonel!' She looked back at the broad smile on Harm's face, he was also at attention. It was good to be home.