A/N: I confess that I have been negleting this fic because of other fandoms. But I will not allowed this to fall into limbo! I sat and I pretended to work, as I wrote this chapter. It is small, as it is meant to be, since it is another interlude, but more soon.
It was just his luck that Mac would choose to wake up in the fifteen minute break he had finally been forced to take for basic necessities. A shower, fresh clothes and food to go. When he stepped into her room, it was to be met by her doctor's youthful and worried face. She had panicked again.
So, he sat by her side again, feeling guilty for inadvertently breaking his promise to her and wanting nothing more than for her to wake up and tell him what was wrong. He rubbed his tired face and pushed his still wet hair back in a frustrated manner. This was seriously screwed up.
A knock sounded from the door and another face appeared, this time, that of an older woman in summer whites. She offered him her hand and a small smile, as if she had known that a bright one would have been most unwelcome.
"Commander, I'm doctor Sawyer."
"I'm not… I'm not in the Navy anymore", he told her, the words breaking his heart all over again.
"May I call you Harm, then?" Her voice and tone all spoke to a specific branch of medicine and even in his tired state, Harm recognized the signs. This was a shrink talking, not a simple Navy Commander.
"Hum… Why not", he had lost interest in woman, his eyes drifting to back to Mac, whose hand he now held in his.
"Well, Harm, I'm here to evaluate the colonel. Two severe panic attacks may be something to worry about." He nodded, her words not telling him anything he hadn't already known. And then a frown appeared on his face, questions forming on the surface of his expressive blue eyes.
"She didn't panic at all, all throughout the mission. And then, for no reason, she panicked herself into unconsciousness", he said, eyes meeting Sawyer's again. "Could she have had a delayed response?"
Sawyer nodded. "It is possible." The doctor pulled another chair and sat down by Harm, turned to face the bed, not the chair she occupied. "I know the specifics are considered classified, so we're just going to talk in generics here, ok?"
"You are Colonel Mackenzie's next of kin and you hold power of attorney. You are, therefore, in charge of her care until she gets better, right?" Another nod. "Doctor Andrews also told me that interactions with you didn't set off the colonel into panic before, so I'll have to ask you to remain with me when I'm talking to her."
"I wouldn't have left any way…" He commented, a small smile on the corner of his lips.
"I imagined as much, considering the chair you're sitting on already has your personal imprint on it." Sawyer joked good naturedly. "Harm… During this mission, were you and the colonel together most of the time?"
"No", he answered. "We got there separately. My presence was only necessary because things had gone south."
She nodded, hands free of paper or pen. None of this would be written down, after all. "And was she submitted to any form of torture - physical or mental - that you are aware of?"
"Yes…", he whispered, his own nightmares capable of conjuring much worse than the scene of her tied to that table.
"And how did she react afterwards?"
"Nothing… it was as if nothing had happened. Though…" He was frowning again, lost in his own mind, trying to revisit Paraguay with new eyes.
"Looking back, she may have been acting a bit uncharacteristic. But nothing to set off alarms at the time." He explained, eyes still on Mac's inert form.
"Was she passive aggressive? Did she flinch when touched? Or did she seem in any way disassociated from reality?" Sawyer offered different options, trying to help his analysis along.
"Now that you mentioned, maybe a little of the first and last."
"And when she started to panic the first time, did someone touch her right before or said anything specific that might have triggered a response?"
Harm didn't have the chance to answer the question, for Mac chose that moment to stir, a moan escaping her lips. Her eyes cracked open and she instinctively held on tighter to Harm's hand. Her heart increased a little in frequency, though not enough to worry, for no alarms sounded. Harm silently thanked the heavens for small blessings.
"Harm…", she whispered in return, her whole body turning to face him. "You weren't here…"
"I'm here now, Sarah. I was just taking a shower. We wouldn't want to start attracting flies to the hospital, would we?" She didn't smile at his poor attempt at a joke, though she scooted closer to the edge of the bed towards her guardian.
"I think I remember… Paraguay…" Harm leaned forward, almost afraid she would fall out of the bed, the way she was curling towards him, body slowly starting to shake. "Don't… leave…"
And no matter what had happened, the words that had been exchanged and the future that still remained so uncertain. Harm wouldn't leave her side until she could look him in the eye like the same Marine from before, proud and strong.
He wouldn't leave her again.