Just a little JAG idea that popped into my head a few days ago. "What if Mac had arrived at Harm's apartment before Renee?"

Set during Adrift: Part II.

A big thank you goes out to TheaJ1 for her input and beta.

Disclaimer: JAG and all it entails belong to Bellisarius and, sadly, I have no part of it. I'm just borrowing them for a bit and playing with them for my own amusement - and hopefully, yours as well. :)


She raised her hand to the door, tapping twice against the cool metal. It sounded quiet and hollow to her ears, much like her own heart felt at the moment. Why am I here? I shouldn't have come here, she thought as she heard him approach from the other side.

He opened the door quickly, standing before her in his sweatpants and white tank-style t-shirt. Her heart skipped a beat in the moment her eyes first caught sight of him, a response to him she had chosen many times to ignore.

"Mac," he said, his concern for her evident. "Come in."

He stepped aside, closing the door behind her once she was inside. She made her way to the couch, sitting guardedly on the middle cushion. He recognized her behavior; he had encountered it several times over the years as her partner. After every boyfriend's breakup – and the death of Dalton Lowne, as well as her ex-husband – she would retreat inward and throw up her metaphorical walls to keep others at bay. It was a tried-and-true tactic she used to keep people from getting too close, but it had never worked on him.

"Want some tea? Or something to eat?" he asked as he sat in the chair next to the couch. He wanted nothing more than to wrap her in his arms and give her the comfort her heart needed right now, but he knew – for her – it was too soon.

Why am I here? she questioned again, trying to figure a way out of the situation. She wanted Harm, that was true. But Mic had just left the country, their engagement broken only hours ago. It's not time for me to move on. Not yet. Even if it is with Harm.

"Mac?" His voice broke through her thoughts, a gentle reminder that she had not spoken a word since entering. She looked at him, seeing his concern for her for the first time.

"Sorry. Yes, some tea would be nice," she said. He stood, limping still as he walked towards the kitchen. She stood, having momentarily forgotten his accident and his recent use of a cane to aid with walking, stepping quickly in front of him.

"Sit, Harm," she said blocking his path and motioning for him to return to the chair. "I'll make the tea." He moved to contend that she was the guest and it was his responsibility to take care of her, but his ankle throbbed, reminding him that he had been pushing himself just a little more than recommended. He put up a hand in surrender, turning back to the living room.

She moved fluidly through his kitchen: filling the kettle, rummaging through his cupboard, setting two cups on the counter. She turned on the range, setting the kettle on to boil as she went back to the living room.

She found him on the sofa, his leg propped on a pillow on the coffee table. She sat in the chair, watching him closely. His head was back, his eyes closed, his hand absently rubbing his upper thigh. He looked to be uncomfortable and she thought for a moment his leg must be bothering him.

"Do you have any pain pills?" He opened his eyes, shifting a bit to sit up straighter. He nodded and pointed towards his bedroom. She went to fetch the pills and a bottle of water for him.

"I'm supposed to be comforting you, Mac, remember?" he teased as she handed him the pills. He smiled at her in appreciation, causing her to smile back as he accepted the medication and downed it in one swallow. He had missed her smile, the way her lips turned up a little at the edges as if she were actually self-conscious to be seen amused. Being a marine, I guess she would be a little embarrassed to be seen smiling, he thought. But she's so beautiful when she smiles. She's beautiful anytime, really …

"I've missed that smile," he said. He hadn't meant to verbalize his thoughts, but he wasn't sorry he had done so, either. She dropped her head a bit, trying to hide the blush that tinged her cheeks. He sat up, resting his foot on the floor again. He leaned forward, placing his hand on the armrest of the chair, his fingers settling casually upon hers. "I mean it, Mac. I've missed seeing you smile."

She lifted her eyes to his, her tears threatening to spill over.

"I do love him, y'know," she sniffled. The tears slid down her cheeks as his fingers grasped at hers. She thought momentarily on how nice it felt to be holding his hand, her mind quickly chastising her for enjoying such an intimate action with someone other than her fiancé. Mic's no longer my fiancé, though. Technically, I'm single again, so there's nothing wrong with me enjoying Harm's touch.

That's true, but Mic just left the country! You just broke up with him! It's too soon to be moving on, especially since you claim to love him! Mac closed her eyes, allowing the tears to fall as she fought internally against her better judgement.

I love Mic, I do. But I don't love him with my whole heart. I just can't give him my whole heart! She swiped at the tears with her free hand, her hold tightening on Harm's hand. He slid closer to her, his body barely on the edge of the couch.

"Mac?" He searched her face, unaccustomed to seeing her this broken. He rested his other hand on her knee, his thumb caressing her skin. Of course you haven't seen her this way before. She hides this part of herself, even from you.

She turned away from him, suddenly ashamed for him to see her crying over her failed relationship. She opened her eyes, keeping her attention on a knot in the wooden floor. She sniffled again, standing quickly. She pulled away from him, his touch suddenly burning her skin.

"I do love him!" she cried, sobbing openly. She was standing with her back to him, hugging herself as she wept. He grabbed his cane and shuffled to her, wincing a little at the soreness in his ankle.

He moved behind her, wanting to hug her but afraid she would run at his touch. He knew she was blaming herself for Brumby leaving, but he also knew there was another part to the story; a reason she couldn't hide and couldn't fight any longer.

"Mac?" he whispered, not wanting to startle her. Her actions reminded him of a frightened animal, one unsure of its own ability to survive. He watched her shoulders slump forward, shaking with her sobs. Hearing her weep and moan at her heartbreak caused his own eyes to fill. His heart pulled within his chest, desiring to hold her, wanting nothing more than to comfort her and assure her that she would, eventually, be alright. Wanting to assure her she would love again someday. Wanting to reassure her that he still loved her.

The distinct ring of the telephone broke the silence that had enveloped them. They both jumped at the interruption. Their eyes met briefly before he made his way to the desk, jerking the phone from its cradle.

"Rabb," he barked into the handset. She turned away, affording him a small measure of privacy. But she couldn't help the look of worry that graced her features as she heard his side of the conversation.

"Oh, Reneé, I'm sorry. No, now is not a good time. I'm sorry, really, but now is just not a good time for me." Oh God, please, she begged silently. Please, Harm, don't tell her I'm here. And don't tell her Mic dumped me. I just can't handle anyone else knowing right now. Especially her. Please.

"No, Reneé. I can't right now, I'm sorry." He thought he heard her voice tremble, but he could tell she was on her car phone and assumed it was bad reception. "Yes. I'll call you tomorrow. I promise."

He hung up and turned back to his partner. While he thought it a bit unusual for his girlfriend to insist on seeing him, he knew from past experience that she became somewhat territorial whenever his path crossed with Mac's. And now was not the time to take away from what his partner needed, nor did he want to add to Reneé's already growing frustration over his close friendship with Mac. Mac turned to him, her face finally dry but her eyes still puffy. She kept her head down, knowing she looked a mess.

He's seen you look worse, y'know. Besides, what does it matter how you look? It's just Harm.

Just Harm? Just Harm? There is no "just Harm" she countered. It's Harm! Harm – you know, the only guy to ever stick around my life through thick and thin, ups and downs, good times and bad times. The only guy! It was then she realized that all the time she had spent trying to convince him, her friends and colleagues of her love for Mic, she had really only been trying to convince herself.

He watched her, her eyes closed as she once again battled herself. To most people, she was doing nothing but standing still. But he had known her for so long, and knew her so well, that he knew what was happening right in front of him. His chest ached with desire to kill the demons that haunted her, but he knew that she had to fight her own demons in order to conquer them. Plus, Mac would never allow a man to fight for her. She'd kick my ass if I even tried!

She watched him standing before her, still repeating the realization. Harm is the only man to stand by me, no matter what happens. He's never left me. The words played on a loop in her mind. Their eyes connected and for a moment they just stood. Slowly he stepped towards her, instinctively opening his free arm to the side. She stepped forward, wrapping her arms around his middle. He closed his arm around her, holding her tight against his chest, enjoying the feeling of her. She cried again, a soft thank you escaping between her sniffles. He stood, holding her, allowing her to free herself of the pain. He laid his head on hers, placing a soft kiss gently at her temple.

Outside the rain began to fall, pelting the windows softly. She stood in the alley as the rain fell harder around her, soaking through her clothes. She had cried when she heard the news – Your father's gone. Heart failure. – but now she cried for another reason.

She watched as the two stepped closer together, wrapping their arms around one another. He pulled her close, holding onto her tightly as she buried her head in his chest. It seemed the dark-haired woman was crying and yet, she felt no sympathy for the woman. She had long sensed that she was merely there to pass the time before he finally committed to the one he wanted. And, although the embrace she saw through the glass above her looked innocent, she knew there was more love, more care, more adoration between the two than just a simple hug would allow.

Letting a few tears slip free to mix with the downpour that surrounded her, she took a few steps back to the sidewalk behind her, seeking shelter beneath an awning. She pulled her cell phone from her pocket, dialing a familiar number. She watched the couple continue their embrace while she booked a flight home for her father's funeral. She had hoped to use the sad opportunity to introduce her mother to the man she cared so deeply for, but watching Harm and Mac hold one another in the dim lamplight of his apartment, she accepted the fact that his care for her would never be as profound as his love for Mac.

Hanging up with her travel agent, she blew a soft kiss to the apartment she had been watching. "Goodbye, Harm," she whispered as she turned the corner, walking quickly away.

Please let me know what you think! I love hearing from you! :)