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Harm Mac Bud AJ
Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr.
By Tracy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This has got to be one of the most unusual cases I've worked on since I came to JAG. Oh, I'm not talking about the facts of the case itself. Those are pretty cut and dried. I'm confident in my case. It's everything else about this case that's unusual.
For the first time, Mac and I are going up against each other. I've never gone up against my own partner in court before. Kate, Meg – when I worked with them, we were always on the same side of the cases and investigations we handled. Of course, I outranked both of them. I was always the senior partner. But I don't outrank Mac. I'm not quite sure yet how I feel about that. Not that I expect Mac to be some glorified gopher – something Krennick sometimes accused me of doing with Meg. I had a great deal of respect for both Kate and Meg. Both of them had different kinds of experience that was often an asset in our investigations. And I have just as much respect for Mac. I have since the Arizona desert.
The Admiral is also keeping a close eye on this case. I suspect that both Mac and I are being subjected to his close scrutiny. He wants to see how we handle the challenge of going up against each other. I feel I'm up to it. Mac is a friend, but that's separate from our relationship in the courtroom. Here, on this case, she's just the opposing counsel and it's my job to beat her.
Mac did make some good points during Commander Chen's testimony. I do have to admit that. Things also did get a little bit heated. I wonder if it's going to be like this every time we go up against each other in court. It could make for some interesting and challenging battles.
Bud's a bit nervous about this case. I know he looks up to both me and Mac as his mentors. I don't know if I'd go as far as he did, suggesting that the two of us doing battle is like watching your parents fight. I'm not going up against Mac in court because I chose to. The Admiral assigned us to go against each other. Chief Connors needed a new lawyer at the last minute and Mac was available. That doesn't mean that we're all of a sudden going to be at odds personally as well as professionally. What's in the courtroom stays in the courtroom. It's as simple as that.
As the prosecutor, it's my job to do anything that I can to win this case, even if it means playing with Mac a little bit. I didn't know that she was going to fall for it. I did like her line about her firing a bullet and it ricocheting back to hit me. Oh, the look she gave me - I think I'll remember that one for a long time. My favorite Marine is a bit of a comedian under that tough Marine exterior. It's a good thing this all stays in the courtroom. I'd hate to be on her wrong side personally.
When it's time for redirect, I manage to poke nice, neat little holes in her ricocheting bullet theory, just like I had planned. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see the stunned look on her face as she realizes that she fell for it hook, line and sinker. She was right before. I was trying to psyche her out. Gotcha. That makes up for any points I lost during Commander Chen's testimony.
There's something that doesn't feel quite right about this case. If it was an accident, why has Chief Connors maintained his silence about what happened? He's doing the bare minimum necessary to defend himself. Where are the dead SEAL's parents? I assign Bud to look into all of that for me. It will give him something to do, provide some investigative experience and maybe calm him down a little bit. He's still jumpy about Mac and I going up against each other.
Uh oh. Maybe he has good reason to be nervous. Mac is definitely one unhappy Marine when she confronts me about the way I 'sandbagged' her. That's her term, not mine. I was just doing my job, but she doesn't see it that way. She's furious, for reasons that I don't understand. What's in the courtroom stays in the courtroom. She admits that she's taking my tactics personally. Maybe the Admiral's right in that the two of us going up against each other is good experience, at least for her. She needs to learn not to take things so personally. We can't do this every time we go up against each other in court. She calls me by my rank twice and refuses my offer of lunch. I pour on all the charm I can manage and keep my tone friendly, but she's not buying any of it.
Bud managed to track down Harridan's parents. He has the makings of a very good investigator; he just needed a little nudge in the right direction. The meeting with the Harridans is….interesting. Mrs. Harridan knew nothing about the Article 32 hearing or that Chief Connors is the one we want to court-martial. Chief Harridan knew, but he seems to want to ignore it. But what does he want to ignore – his son's death or something else? I guess I can understand a bit him wanting to ignore his son's death. I've managed to ignore that when it comes to my father for nearly thirty years. Of course, I don't have any proof that my father is dead. But there is no doubt that his son is dead, so it must be something else. The Navy Cross is a surprise and it explains a lot of Chief Harridan's attitude. He's an old sailor whose son followed in his footsteps. For a man like that, there can be no greater honor for his son than for him to have died a hero. He feels that our investigation diminishes that in some way. But the news of the possible Navy Cross makes this feel even more wrong. I just can't figure out why yet and that bothers me. I don't like unanswered questions.
Mac is still upset. I bumped into her, literally, outside the courtroom door and she didn't say a word as I helped her pick up the files she'd dropped. Then she ignored me when I politely held the door open for her. Mac is an enigma. My charming overtures are having no effect on her and that is frustrating. It's a good thing looks can't kill. I could feel the heat from her angry glare boring into my back as I gave up being charming and walked into the courtroom, whistling 'Anchors Aweigh'. I'm not going to let Mac's attitude bother me. My case is going well. If she can't handle what goes on in the courtroom between us, that's her problem, not mine.
Mac's negative attitude towards me is obvious every time she opens her mouth. There's anger in her voice every time she objects, but I've got to ignore that. I've just been handed another piece to the puzzle, but I'm not sure how it fits. The thing with Chief Connors throwing away a bunch of pills that belonged to Petty Officer Harridan makes no sense. Unfortunately, that means that it probably means everything to my case. I have to find out what that is all about.
The Admiral's back in the courtroom. Maybe that's beginning to bother me a little bit, given the tension between Mac and myself. I hope he hasn't heard about any of that and thinks that we need to be watched over like a couple of children who can't play nice and need adult supervision. Of course, there could be another explanation. The Admiral's a former SEAL. Maybe that's the extent of his interest in this case, the fact that all the participants are SEALs. Yeah, right. He wants to see how Mac and I handle ourselves. That's obvious from the glimpse I catch of the look on his face as he's leaving the courtroom, right after Morris finishes taking both Mac and me to task for our argumentative behavior. Maybe the challenge of going up against my partner in court isn't such a good thing after all.
The question of those pills has brought Bud and I to Harridan's home, searching for something, anything that can tell us what it all means. I feel uncomfortable for a brief moment when Mrs. Harridan opens the door just as I'm about to. After our meeting earlier, I'm pretty sure she feels as her husband does about our investigation, even if not for the same reasons. But she accepts our presence. She's adamant in her assertion that Chief Connors would have no reason to murder her son, that they were like brothers. Bud has a point about Cain and Abel, but Mrs. Harridan is insistent, even when it comes to the obviously sometimes tense relationship between her husband and son.
Things get very tense when Chief Harridan shows up. He doesn't seem to think any tension between his son and himself is any big deal and I get the idea that the fact that I'm a lawyer and a former pilot are working against me with him. He obviously has no use for either profession. He's still hung up on the idea that our investigation diminishes his son's death in some way. Something tells me that when he was alive, Petty Officer Harridan had a hard time living up to his father's expectations of him. He orders us out, but fortunately, I'd already found what I was looking for. I just hope these pills provide the answers that I need.
The idea that the Admiral is watching over Mac and myself is intensified when he calls me into his office. He seems to think that there are major problems with my case and that I'm in danger of 'crashing and burning', to borrow his phrase. I respect the Admiral, but I disagree with his assessment. It's my job to prosecute this case vigorously. I wouldn't be doing my job if I gave it any less than my all.
That damned Navy Cross comes up again. I swear, that award is becoming like an albatross around my neck. Harridan's actions prior to his death should be considered separately from the circumstances of his death. One should have nothing to do with the other and I point that out to the Admiral. I have to work hard to contain my anger when I ask the Admiral if he is asking me to drop the case. Well, if it comes from the Admiral, it would be an order, but I know better than to phrase it like that. As it is, he's not happy with the question. I would think that I would know the Admiral well enough by now to know that he doesn't back down from anything, but I have to make sure. And yes, I do know all the ramifications of this case. I'm all too aware of them.
At least Mac's talking to me again, even if she's obviously still not happy. Bud's all too happy to get away from us as soon as I show up in the bullpen. Maybe I need to have another talk with him about what's in the courtroom staying in the courtroom. If I thought it would help, I'd have the same talk with Mac. She takes my dreams comment far too personally and throws me a red light. I admit that makes me stop in my tracks. I counter that if she's reading something sexual into what I said, then I should be giving her the red light. Unfortunately, I can't stop the picture that forms in my mind. I mean, Mac's a very beautiful woman and I'm a normal, healthy, red-blooded male.
I can't think about this. I should know better, after Kate. I retreat into my office and close the door to block her out, but I can't block out her comments about my possibly losing this case. I can still hear her through the closed door. Okay, concentrate, Rabb. Concentrate on this case or she'll be right and you will be on the losing end for the first time.
The videotape of Harridan's final mission – that's a good way to concentrate. Just watch the video tape and focus on what you might find out from it. I have to admit that right now this case could go either way. I need every advantage I can find. There's a knock at the door and I assume it's Mac. I don't want to deal with this right now so I tell her to go away.
But it's Mrs. Harridan. There's a SEAL tradition that I'm familiar with from that investigation Meg and I did into the death of that Senator's son last year and from knowing Admiral Chegwidden. Before each mission, every SEAL writes a letter home – to his wife, his children, his parents or maybe just a close friend – to be delivered only if they don't return. Admiral Chegwidden is the one who started the tradition, back as an Ensign in Vietnam. Mrs. Harridan hands me the letter that her son wrote, without her husband's knowledge. I'm not sure what to make of her statement, that she trust me to do the right thing.
Later, I find Mac as she's eating lunch and show her the letter, in the interests of prosecutorial disclosure, of course. Okay, maybe I do want to catch her off guard again. She doesn't see the significance in Petty Officer Harridan's words that I do. Maybe it's just that she's a Marine. She hasn't been around SEALs all that much, I suspect. How could she understand the honor and the tradition of being a SEAL? Even I don't completely understand it. As an aviator, I didn't go into every flight with the knowledge that this might be my last mission, my last flight. I wonder if my father did, flying off the Hornet and then the Ticonderoga in 'Nam.
Yeah, I'm sure that she doesn't understand because she's a Marine. She seems to think that you can get out of any situation by just punching out, just pull the magic handle and all will be well, you'll safely make your way back to the ground. As someone who has had to eject, I know that it doesn't work like that. If I'd had a choice, I'd have never given up my career as a Naval aviator. And I'm not going to give up this case, not as long as I have a choice.
Mac's still calling me 'Commander'. And when she makes a comment about my height, her words are teasing but her tone isn't. Her confidence is good and there's a part of me – a very tiny part – that wishes that I had the same confidence in my case.
I admit as much to Bud, when he points out Mac's cheerful attitude and her whistling as we enter the courtroom. Captain Morris has no choice but to throw our case out of court, as it stands right now. I've got to do something. I'm just not sure what right now. But I cannot lose this case. I've got to find out the truth. I just wish that I knew what that was or where I should look for it.
I think I scored some points when I'd brought out how Chief Connors tried to dispose of his weapon – the murder weapon, which he claimed had jammed – and how he tried to leave Harridan's body behind to be blown up with the freighter the SEALs destroyed. Mac doesn't see it that way and I'm not sure Captain Morris does either, since he sustains her objections to my theory of what happened and I have to fight to recall Gunner Perez to the stand for just a single question.
What happens next – I'm still not quite sure I believe what happened, what I did. I'm trying to make a point with Gunner Perez's testimony, but Mac and Captain Morris are cutting me off at the knees. So I have to come up with another way to show that Chief Connors was lying about his weapon jamming. I insert a clip into the weapon in question and I fire multiple rounds into the ceiling of the courtroom. Well, I did manage to prove that the weapon fires just fine. But Captain Morris is far from impressed with my demonstration.
That may be an understatement. I can't recall seeing anyone as furious as Captain Morris is when he dresses me down in his chambers. I keep my mouth shut for the most part, merely agreeing with a firm 'Yes, Sir' or 'Understood, Sir' to the points he makes. After Morris leaves Mac and me alone, I find that I can't look her in the eye as she shares her thoughts. I guess that I don't want to admit that she's right. I did over do it. But I know there is more to this story than we know and I have to find out the truth about what happened.
It's not so much about winning a case anymore as finding out the truth about what happened, but Mac doesn't see it that way. I guess if I were in her position, I wouldn't either, not after the….stunts that I've pulled in this case so far. At least, that is how I'm sure she sees it. But like I told Bud, the truth is everything, whether it turns out to be Chief Connors' damnation or ultimately his salvation.
Bud looks….I don't know….forlorn, I guess, when I return to the courtroom. I think I can still salvage something out of this….until he hands me the lab report on the pills we found at Harridan's apartment. Oh, God. This report opens a whole new can of worms. I was right. Petty Officer Harridan was a man who knew that he was going to die, just not necessarily in a shooting. He was dying anyway. I'm just not sure what to do with this or quite how it impacts my case….yet.
Facing Admiral Chegwidden's wrath is definitely worse than facing Captain Morris'. I respect and admire the Admiral. He's a good commanding officer. Again, I offer no excuses for my actions, merely accepting his reprimand. Given our discussion earlier, I sense that he's more disappointed than angry and that is what makes facing him worse. It's almost like facing an angry parent whom you know you've disappointed and you just want to do anything to make that up, but you're not sure that you can.
He's not happy when I reveal that I have new information – information which I'd rather keep to myself right now, until I can figure out what it means to my case. Not to mention the fact that I'd like to prevent the media firestorm which would result if this news is made public. I don't want to do that to the Navy I love, to the Navy to which Petty Officer Harridan gave his life. The Admiral's not happy with my silence, but he seems willing to accept it….for now. He's right, though. I hope I know what I'm doing. I'm just not sure anymore. This case has taken turns that I could never have expected.
Chief Connors doesn't want to talk to me, and I understand that. He shouldn't be talking to me without Mac present. But I gamble that he doesn't want the truth about Harridan's medical condition to come out and I win, but I gain no satisfaction from it. But at least he does agree to talk to me and our conversation is very illuminating. A father unwilling to admit who and what his son really was – a mother who knew but was willing to look the other way in order to keep the peace – a friend willing to face a court-martial rather than let the truth come to light – a son who loved the Navy and his father so much that he would do anything to hide the truth ….even going as far as to commit suicide, stepping into the line of fire of his best friend's weapon. Better to die a hero than to disappoint his father with the truth.
I have a hard time grasping it, the kind of relationship that had to have existed between this father and son in order to lead to all this. Although I don't admit it to Connors, I know that he's telling the truth. It all fits, too damned well. But I still need to confirm everything, for my own peace of mind, if such a thing is even possible anymore.
I arrange a meeting with Groski, whose testimony was so damning to Connors as far as the disposed of weapon, attempting to leave Harridan behind. Groski seems to think that this comes down to a lover's triangle between Connors, his wife Laura and Harridan. With what I've found out, I know that isn't the case and Groski didn't actually see Connors fire the fatal shots. He didn't see Harridan walk into the line of fire. All he knows is what he saw seconds later. That, combined with his animosity towards Connors, is leading him down the wrong path. I know. I was traveling down the wrong path myself on this case.
The next morning, I face one of the hardest things I've ever had to do – or rather, two of the hardest things and it's only made harder by the fact that the Admiral is present in court, watching the entire thing. First, I make my public apology for firing that weapon in court yesterday. I admit that I'm not a man who apologizes easily, but I know when I don't have a choice in something and I don't have one here.
As for the second thing….I can feel everyone's eyes on me as I reluctantly announce that the prosecution is dropping all charges against Chief Connors. Technically, I'm not losing the case, but I'm not winning it either. There are no winners in this case. Everyone's lost here. Harridan lost his life. Connors has to live for the rest of his life with the knowledge that he killed his best friend, no matter how inadvertently. Mrs. Harridan lost her son. Chief Harridan….well, he's going to have to live with the knowledge that his son died rather than face him with the truth about who he was.
I'm not sure what made me seek out Chief Harridan and tell him the truth about how and why his son died. The man's an arrogant ass. He doesn't deserve to have a son who obviously loved him so much that he would die for him. Maybe I'm a little touchy on this subject, that of fathers and sons. I can't imagine facing this type of situation, being willing to die just to please my father. And I can't imagine my father caring more about how I reflected on him than about me as a person.
I receive a surprise….a rather pleasant one, I have to admit….later at my apartment. Mac shows up, out of the blue, with a peace offering. And she doesn't even make a single remark about us having to eat the dinner she brought in the bedroom, sitting on my bed. True, it is the only area of the apartment not torn up. But I'm still a red-blooded, healthy male and I'm not about to object to a beautiful woman sharing my bed, even if we are just eating dinner. I guess she really does want to make peace or maybe there is something else….
I can't believe I even thought about that bottle of wine sitting in the fridge. Sure, wining and dining a woman would be one way to try to make peace, but I suspect that wouldn't work with Mac, even if she wasn't an alcoholic. That woman is one tough Marine. She definitely doesn't back down from anything. I imagine that she thought long and hard before coming over here, even if she was the one who blew our adversarial relationship in the courtroom all out of proportion and let it affect our friendship.
Dinner is very pleasant. We tease each other and banter back and forth, just like friends do. She doesn't melt under the weight of my charm and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. Meg probably would have, but I'm not sure that I would have had this kind of problem if I'd had to face her in court. I think she looked up to me too much. Kate might have been another story. She wasn't exactly receptive to my charming personality in the beginning either. But she came around, eventually. I just wish I could be sure that Mac will come around. She did make a comment about us being friends until the next time we face off. Mac is definitely a challenge, one that I'm sure I'm up to.
While based on the JAG episode, this is for entertainment purposes only and no profit is being made.