Title: Why We Said Goodbye

Author: Jaimi - canadian_cowgirl69@canada.com

Rating: PG-13

Category: Harm/Mac - Hurt/Comfort, Friendship, Romance

Spoilers: Psychic Warrior, Boomerang, In Country, JAG-A-THON, Measure Of Men, Heroes, Court-martial Of Sandra Gilbert

Summary: Harm is sick at a hotel, with Mac taking care of him. He does some thinking during the night.

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I do not own them. That privilege belongs to CBS, Paramount and the ingenious Donald P. Bellisario. The song, "Why We Said Goodbye" belongs to Tim McGraw from his CD, "Set This Circus Down".

Author's Note: Takes place in December of 2002, includes the events of my other fics (not I Miss My Friend). This is lightly inspired by H. Lee's great fic, Shameless Advantage, which peeps should read on the H/M Shipper Archive. In fact, I've read all Lee's fics, and suggest you read them all too. They're great. Most are very light hearted and fun. Go read! ...after you read and review this story of course. Thank you!



Why We Said Goodbye

By: Jaimi



Harm - "Anyone ever tell you, you've got great maternal instincts?"

Mac - "Not as often as they've told me I have a great Karate chop!"



0305 ZULU

HOTEL ROOM

WINDSOR, NC



Groaning, Commander Harmon Rabb Junior dropped his duffel bag somewhere along the way to the double bed that occupied the small, sparsely furnished hotel room. Closing the door behind them, Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie turned a concerned gaze to her partner and friend of nearly six years.

"You all right, Sailor? You've been quiet ever since we closed the investigation this afternoon. First time in our entire acquaintance you didn't make some smart comment about my driving for the whole two hours. Is something bothering you?"

"I'm just tired, Mac, and damn glad this investigation is over. Tell me again, why we didn't drive all the way home tonight?" he griped, squinting up at her from his seat on the bed.

"Take a look in the mirror, Flyboy. You're soaked to the bone. There's a storm warning in affect. A nasty one, that I don't want to be driving the next several hours in," she answered, tossing her own bag and purse on the tiny desk by her side. She then grabbed a towel from the small bathroom and tossed it to him.

"Why didn't you let me drive then?" he asked grouchily, not picking up the towel that had fallen a foot short of his feet.

She gave him an incredulous look. "Were you paying attention at all when I pulled off onto the exit? Geez, if you can't even recall our conversation, I'm doubly glad I didn't let you drive. You're exhausted Harm, even more than I thought. I couldn't see your hellish appearance in the car. Go change out of those wet clothes, and then you need to get some sleep."

"Wh-where?" he yawned.

"On the bed," she said, giving him a 'duh' look.

"Where are you gonna sleep? There's no couch... Why didn't we get separate rooms or at least one with two beds?" he asked, honestly bewildered.

Mac sighed in exasperation. "Because Harm, like the people at the front desk told *both* of us, they're all booked up with the storm. This was their last room. Weren't you listening at all? What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing!" he said defensively, though it was a blatant lie. He'd been feeling like shit all day, and ever since they started driving that evening his headache had escalated into dizziness, and then grogginess as the night wore on. He had in truth, barely registered anything Mac had said during the drive, or what anyone else, including the hotel staff, had said since they'd arrived here.

It didn't matter what he said though, Mac didn't believe him for a second, especially upon hearing his defensive tone. He was definitely hiding something, she knew.

She approached her partner, still perched on the edge of the bed. "And to answer your earlier question, I'll sleep on the other side of the bed. We slept in each other's arms in Afghan and at the admiral's on your birthday, so I think we can handle sharing a bed, don't you?"

Not waiting for an answer, she reached toward him and felt his forehead. She had noticed upon closer inspection, and in a better lit area, that her friend looked flushed.

He swatted her hand away, glowering with grumpiness. Mac just rolled her eyes, grabbed his chin in one hand, holding him still, while the other felt his forehead again.

"Mac, quit. I'm not a child," he complained.

"Then stop acting like one," she snapped. Pulling her hand away, she pointed to the bathroom. "Go change, now!"

Glaring at her, he got up to comply, but only because he hated being cold and wet.

"Take a shower while you're in there," she called, already fishing through his bag that she had retrieved from the floor.

Grumbling, he went into the bathroom and slammed the door, nodding in satisfaction that that would clearly let her know just what he thought of her sudden take charge attitude. He didn't need her ordering him around when he felt like shit. Not that she knew just how much he felt like shit, but still...

He sighed as he stripped his wet garments and stepped into the shower, turning on the heated water full blast. He sighed again, as the soothing rush of water helped cleared his thoughts some. It wasn't her fault he was so crotchety. He just hated being in a strange place when he was sick. He hated being away from the comfort of his home, or even more so, his mother's nursing care. He suddenly wished he was safe in his bed, in California, with his mother bringing him a bowl of Grandma Rabb's vegetable broth soup.

Harm felt only slightly better as he stepped out of the shower, and wrapped a towel around his waist. The chill was gone, but he was still dizzy, his head hurt, his stomach ached and he was now slightly nauseous. Rubbing his eyes, he opened the door and called out to his partner.

"Mac, can you grab me my-"

He blinked in surprise as she was suddenly there, handing him a pile of clothes.

"Uh, thanks..." he mumbled, taking them and retreating back into the bathroom.

Mac said nothing in return, just went back to fixing the bed, having already changed into boxers and tank top while her partner had been in the shower. She didn't need a hot shower, because she'd had the sense to bring and *use* an umbrella, which Harm had refused to duck under. Mac figured it had something to do with the cute little ducks on the dark blue background. She shrugged. It was a gift from Chloe. She thought it was cute. Obviously, her partner didn't share her awe. Anyway, so she had arrived in the hotel drip free, while her partner was soaking wet. /Stubborn man,/ she thought.

She looked up as that same stubborn man exited the bathroom, clad in boxers and a T-shirt. He was no longer shivering, but his face was still flushed, even more so from the heat of his shower. Shaking her head, she pointed to the freshly turned down bed.

"Lie down," she ordered.

Stopping in his tracks, Harm narrowed his eyes. "No," he responded, crossing his strong arms over his chest. He knew he was being silly, but dammit, he needed a mother, not a drill sergeant.

Mac crossed her arms as well, a dark look crossing her features. Looking at him though, defiant as he was, she saw the tiredness and a hint of the homesickness reflected in those beautiful blue-green eyes. There, she saw nothing but a sick little boy, who desperately wanted his mother to care for him. Oh, if his jetjock friends saw him now. ....No, she wasn't *that* cruel.

Softening, the mother hen in her kicked in, and she loosened her stance, stepping around and beside her partner. She placed one hand on his back, and with the other holding his arm, she urged him forward. Surprised, he moved til he was at the edge of the bed, where she turned him around and sat him down. Crouching in front of him, she felt his forehead again, then felt for swelling in the glands of his neck. His surprise dissipated, and he frowned again, moving to pull her hands away.

She shot him a look, giving him a frown of her own. "Harm, I swear to God, I have maternal instincts, and I'm not afraid to use them."

Harm was about to retort, but the memory caught him. He tried not to smile, but failed, and a grin broke out on his face at the mocked quote.

"You gonna tuck me in?" he teased.

"Maybe...if you're good," she replied with a smile, glad the diversion had worked. Pulling her hands away, she patted the pillow. "Now would you please lie down, while I go get you some aspirin. You're running a fever, and no doubt there's other pains and aches that you're not telling me about."

Harm just shrugged as she walked in to the bathroom to grab a glass of water, grabbing her purse on the way back to him. Handing him the glass, she dug through her purse, taking out a small white bottle. Opening it and handing him two pills, she recapped the bottle and tossed it and her purse on the nearby chair. Her eyes never left him, watching him carefully, making sure he took both pills.

He rolled his eyes at her, but secretly felt better. No one could replace a nursing mother, but a maternal driven best friend was the next best thing. He'd seen Mac go into mother mode with little AJ, Chloe and any other children they came across, but he'd never experienced it himself. He kind of liked the attention she was giving him. He just hoped she never mentioned this to his guy pals.

Handing her back the glass he offered her a small smile. She returned it, setting the glass on the nightstand. She nodded toward the pillow, and with a sigh, he finally lay back down.

He grinned as she reached over and pulled the covers up over him, tucking the edges in securely.

"I was kidding, partner," he teased.

She smiled back at him, affection clear in her dark gypsy eyes. "I wasn't, Sailor. Now try and get some sleep. I'm gonna run down to the hotel shop and pick up some more medicine. Now would be the time to tell me what hurts."

Still feeling a little foolish, Harm shrugged, not answering.

With a sigh, Mac sat down beside him on the edge of the bed, gently patting his stomach. He winced.

Mac's eyebrows quirked. "Okay, that's one. You have a stomach ache. What else?"

When he didn't answer, she gave him a perfect replicate of a mother's scowl.

He just shrugged again, burrowing under the covers a little more, causing him to look a lot smaller than his lean 6'4" frame, and maybe a little helpless even. He had a slight pout on his handsome face, making him look years younger.

Touched, Mac's scowl melted, and she rubbed a soothing hand over his stomach. She didn't know it, because it was merely instinct, but it eased the ache, if only slightly.

"Come on, Flyboy, what else? Your head? Do you have a headache?"

He just nodded, looking content and miserable at the same time. Miserable because he felt sick. Content because his partner was in full maternal mode, and doing all the right things to make him feel better, if only a little, without the aid of medication. So content, he didn't even mind the tone she had begun using with him. Normally it would be degrading to his aviator ego, but he just didn't care at the moment.

He closed his eyes with a sigh.

"Dizzy? Nauseous?" she asked.

He nodded, opening sad, puppy dog eyes up to his best friend.

"You poor thing," she mumbled softly, running a hand through his soft dark hair. "Sounds like you've got a bit of the flu. Do you think you're gonna be sick?"

Harm shook his head. He really didn't think so, and it had nothing to do with being too proud to admit otherwise to his friend. He was only slightly nauseous, and he hadn't really eaten much that day. He figured as long as he stayed immobile, he'd be fine.

"All right, I'm gonna go get some flu meds. Hopefully it's just a twenty- four hour bug. How long have you been feeling sick for? Be honest, Harm."

Looking slightly chastised, he mumbled a response. "Most of the day. It just got worse during the car ride, and our trek across the parking lot in the downpour."

She sighed, shaking her head in a disapproving fashion. "You should have told me... Well, it explains why you couldn't concentrate, and why I had to do most of the talking *and* listening."

"Sorry," he muttered, unhappily.

She just smiled. "Hey, it's fine. Contrary to popular belief you are not a God. You are not invincible. You *are* allowed to be sick. So just relax, and I'll be back soon."

Without a second thought, she gently kissed his overly warm forehead, and then got up. Grabbing one of his sweaters and pulling it on over her tank top, she grabbed her purse and the room key. Slipping on her shoes, she opened the hotel room door, and left.

Harm sighed, suddenly feeling lost and alone. He wasn't helpless, but he sure felt like it. His partner's presence had been a comfort, which he now sorely missed, even though he knew she really would only be gone a few minutes.

Reaching over, he flipped the radio on, hoping it would ease the strange loneliness he was feeling with her gone.

A song was just starting.



I remember Sunday mornings

walking on the beach

And that place we'd stop for breakfast

with the old red vinyl seats

The hours of the tide chart

The way the sunlight danced upon your face



That antique roller coaster

you just had to ride

I remember how you laughed

at the terror in my eyes

The color and the detail

just like it was yesterday



And I remember how you held me

the night my father died

I didn't have to tell you

I just broke down and cried

You're sewn into the fabric,

the pieces of my life

And I just can't remember why

we said goodbye



Up and down the boardwalk

lonely people sit

I know it wasn't perfect

but nothin' ever is

The sails out in the harbor

are searching for the wind



I just had to call you,

I had to hear your voice

And tell you I still love you

we still have a choice

You're sewn into the fabric,

the pieces of my life

And I just can't remember why

we said goodbye



Everything I do

Leads me back to you

I know I just can't let us go



There must have been a reason,

but I can't remember now

I know if I could hold you

we could work it out

You're sewn into the fabric

the pieces of my life

And girl let's give it one more try

Cause I just can't remember why

we said goodbye



/Well, that was depressing,/ he thought, as the song ended . /Could I feel more alone at the moment?/

Shutting the radio off, he decided to take his mind off the song and the empty room, and conjured up the image of his partner just a few minutes before. She looked great in his large Navy sweatshirt, that almost hung past the cotton shorts she had on. She looked so adorable, he just wanted to pull her into his arms and cuddle with her... But then came the image of her long, tanned, sexy legs that the those cotton shorts showed off. Now all he wanted to do was pull her into his arms and do a hell of a lot more than cuddle.

He shook his head. /Down boy...Ouch./ He stopped the head shake as the dull pain escalated sharply. /Smart move, Rabb, you Moron./

"Great, now I'm talking to myself in my head..." He frowned at himself. "And now I'm talking to myself out loud..." Rolling his eyes, he turned onto his side, and nestled down into the terribly flat pillow. Grunting, he lifted himself up onto his elbow and attempted to fluff it. It remained limp, and absolutely useless. With a huffed sigh, he dropped his head back down, wishing for his partner to return.

The door opened, and a pair of long, sexy legs stepped into the room.

/Thank you,/ Harm thought to the higher power that was obviously still looking out for him.

"Did you bring anything that'll knock me unconscious? Some extra strength Tylenol? Potent cough syrup? A baseball bat?" he griped, only partially kidding.

Mac rolled her eyes with a smile. "Sorry, no cough syrup and no bat, but I did bring the Tylenol. It should knock you out for a few hours. Hopefully, after I get some liquids and drugs into your system, and you get a good nights sleep, you'll feel better in the morning."

"Hopefully," he muttered.

Mac just smiled sympathetically, slipping off her shoes.

She walked over and took a seat beside him. She set the Tylenol "Cold and Flu" bottle on the nightstand before once again feeling his forehead. He would have rolled his eyes, but that would've taken to much effort, instead he just gave her a look. She rolled her own eyes instead, saying, "do you give your mother this much trouble when you're sick?"

"No, but you're not my mother." It wasn't said bitterly, almost thankfully. /There'd be something wrong with me if I thought about my mother the way I think about you,/ he thought to himself, while Mac had her own reply.

"Thank god for that Sailor, I don't know how the hell she got you out of her."

"I wasn't a big baby," he argued with a careless yawn.

"You are now," she quipped, with a playful grin.

"Very funny, Marine."

"Oh I'm not being funny Harm, I'm being cute," she continued, slyly.

/Don't even go there,/ Harm thought. Even in his drowsy state he could recognize how amazing his partner looked...how amazing she always looked. Then he grinned as her second mocked quote of the day kicked in.

"You remember everything I say?" he asked, with a knowing Flyboy grin.

"Only the good stuff," she returned, with an affectionate wink. "Now, take one of these Tylenol-"

"Only one?" he griped, reaching for the bottle that she quickly snatched from his grasp.

"Yes, only one. You've already had two aspirin, I'll give you more in a few hours if you're awake."

"Or I could give them to myself," he hinted.

"Not on my watch," she returned, placing one pill in his hand.

"You don't use a watch."

"Don't be smart," she chastised.

He just smirked, as she rose up off the bed, taking the bottle with her. She dropped it into her purse, before reaching into the plastic bag she had returned with and pulling out some bottles of water and apple juice.

Placing the pill in his mouth, he took the offered water bottle she returned with, eyeing the apple juice. After swallowing the pill, he said, "Apple juice?"

"It's good for you," she said simply.

"No offense partner, but what would *you* know about health issues?"

She rolled her eyes, setting the apple juice on the nightstand.

"Just because I don't eat or drink healthy crap 24/7 doesn't mean I'm not aware of it's benefits. You need something more than water and drugs in your system."

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Shut up and get some sleep."

"Fine," Harm huffed, as he settled his head back. "Not to likely though, with this stupid, limp as a noodle, pillow. It's got no bounce."

Mac grinned playfully. "And we know how you like things with bounce."

Harm rolled his eyes. "Red light, Colonel."

"Oh get off, Harm," she replied, meaning the traffic signals. They were well beyond that point.

"And they just keep coming," he replied with a chuckle. He laughed harder as he finished, registering his own words.

Mac rewound their conversation, realizing how it sounded.

"Harm!" she shouted, fighting back a smirk.

"What? You started it!" he said, still chuckling.

Mac shook her head. "You really are a child..." The small smile on her lips prevented the statement from bothering him. He knew she enjoyed their goofing around sessions just as much as he did.

"Yeah well..." he was to tired to continue.

Mac saw this and slipping off the sweater she had put on before leaving earlier, she turned off the main light. She then made her way to the other side of the bed where her lamp still shone. Climbing under the covers, she looked to see Harm struggling with the indeed limp and useless pillow. Taking pity on him, she stood back up and went in search of the extra pillow always stored in a drawer or closet. Finding it, she returned. Climbing onto the bed, she tugged at her bewildered partner's shoulder so he would lean forward. She placed the slightly fluffier pillow under his head, pressing him back down into it.

"Thanks," was all he said, looking at her for a moment in a way she couldn't quite place.

"You're welcome. Now go to sleep."

Nodding, he closed his eyes, but the pain was still there in his temples. His partner must have seen him wince, cause suddenly he felt the bed shift and she was sitting up beside him, her thigh against his arm. He opened his eyes to find she had turned the remaining lights out, and he closed them again as her hands came to rest on either side of his head. He sighed as she gently started rubbing his temples, easing the pain to a dull ache, something he could sleep with.

Before he could tell her he was fine, and that she could lie back down, he was already drifting off. The soft, soothing motion of her hands, the smoothness of her thigh and her delicate scent, were comforting and familiar. It put his ill mind at ease, allowing him to relax, and slip into a deep, much needed sleep.

*************

Harm woke sometime in the middle of the night. He didn't know what time. /Mac would,/ he thought instantly. That's the way it was. They way it had been for years now. Mac always foremost on his mind. Even the littlest things reminded him of her. He became slightly more aware as he registered where he was, and the position he was in. Mac was still in a slightly reclined state, but fast asleep. Her head was tilted back against the headboard, but her body had slipped forward some, one knee bent up. Harm's head was now in her lap, or more precisely, on her stomach.

Looking up at her, he decided he didn't want her waking up with a sore neck. Sore necks made for very cranky Marines...besides, he wanted an excuse to touch her soft skin. Carefully, he lifted his head off her stomach. She mumbled in her sleep, the hand resting on his shoulder, slid off, falling softly to the mattress. Ignoring his still aching head, he turned himself up onto his knees. He reached one hand to cradle her head, the other grasping her bare hip, as the loose shorts hung off them. Carefully, he lifted her head and pulled gently at her hip, sliding her down until she lay flat. She sighed in her sleep as he pulled his hands away and she turned onto her side, facing him. He smiled as he sat back, cross legged, watching her for a few moments. She looked so peaceful....so beautiful.

Mac mumbled again in her sleep, before sighing and shifting closer to Harm. He smiled once again, as he settled back down, and she unconsciously moved closer to the warmth of his body. Harm sighed, as he pulled the covers up around them both. He continued to watch her as the lyrics from that song he'd heard earlier continued to lull through his head.



I remember how you held me

the night my father died

I didn't have to tell you

I just broke down and cried



He brushed a stray lock of hair back off her cheek. She had been there for him, when he had learned of what had happened. After they had returned to their hotel, he had finally allowed the dam to break and neither had said anything as she had gathered him in her arms, and let him cry his heart out.



Everything I do

Leads me back to you



Where would he be without her? He may never have found out about his father without her. And if he had...he wouldn't have had that lifeline to hold onto afterwards. The solid friendship to lean on. The constant source of truth, honesty and comfort.



You're sewn into the fabric

the pieces of my life



She was. She was his partner, his rival, his challenge, his dose of reality, his voice of reason, his conscience... She was his sounding board, his student, his teacher, his daily kick in the six, knock on the head, his shoulder to cry on, his crazy friend to laugh with, his lap to lie in when he was sick or hurt, his fellow officer to argue justice with, to serve their country with... She was his best friend, his lifeline, his other half, his soulmate. She was his everything.

The thing was...she wasn't *his*.

Tonight he had seen a glimpse of her as she would been as the mother of his children... The way she took care of him...the way she'd always taken care of him. The way he always wanted her to take care of him, and him her.

He let his finger trace her soft cheek as he watched the steady rise and fall of her chest. He would love to be the man to watch her sleep every night for the rest of their lives. /But you blew that, didn't you Rabb?/ he scolded himself, remembering all to clearly that messed up night in Sydney. Then he'd further blown it by pestering her on the Guadalcanal, and giving up so easily after the JAG-A-THON. Yes, he'd wanted to rekindle their friendship, but...



I just can't remember why

we said goodbye



He sighed, his thoughts raging. /Why did we have to say goodbye? We should have tried harder! We belong together, damnit!/

"Why Sarah?" he whispered, resting his aching head against his pillow, and gently, carefully drawing her sleeping form close.



There must have been a reason,

but I can't remember now

I know if I could hold you

we could work it out



Instinctively, she snuggled up to him with a contented sigh. A happy, contented sigh. Was she just comfortable? ...Of course she was. She was asleep. She didn't know he was holding her. But he knew it, and he knew it was right. This was where she belonged.

It was his turn to sigh. Was it too late?

She was mumbling again, and he thought of pulling away. How would she react to waking in his arms like this?

"Harm..." Her soft whisper startled him.

Was she awake already? He looked down at her delicate features, softened in sleep. Still asleep. So, she was dreaming about him. That caused a small smile to grace his features. /I guess I'm not alone... Maybe it's not to late. Maybe we don't have to say goodbye to that possibility. Maybe.../

He wanted to wake her. To tell her right then and there, that he loved her and he didn't want to forget about what could be. But he didn't. The time was so close, but not now. Not in the middle of the night, when her own sleep muddled mind would accuse him of being delusional in his ill state. ...It wasn't too late, but he wasn't going to push his luck. Soon. Very soon. When they got home, and things were settled, he would tell her. He wouldn't let anything stand in his way this time. He refused to say goodbye to a future with the only woman he ever wanted to grow old with.

Sighing, he gently kissed the tip of her nose, smiling as she twitched and then settled once again, peacefully in his arms. /We will work it out Marine. I promise.../ he thought, drifting off to sleep with the last lyrics of the song floating in his now clearer mind.



You're sewn into the fabric

the pieces of my life

And girl let's give it one more try

Cause I just can't remember why

we said goodbye



The End.

Jaimi Copyright@2002