đHgeocities.com/jaghavenarchives/CLK_Shadows.htmlgeocities.com/jaghavenarchives/CLK_Shadows.htmldelayedxBrÔJ˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙˙ČЉ›3ńOKtext/htmlpQĚ "3ń˙˙˙˙b‰.HFri, 17 Mar 2006 16:00:58 GMTMozilla/4.5 (compatible; HTTrack 3.0x; Windows 98)en, *@rÔJ3ń CLK_Shadows



Title: Shadows From the Past    Part 1

By: CLK


Background: Started after season nine finale.  Follows an AU from the season 10 path the show took.

Rated:
Adult for one chapter   ( PG -13 version at: www.oocities.org/clkjag/)

Summary: With Mac’s help, Harm has to deal with something unexpected from his past.

Chapter 1

Mac’s apartment
Late September 2004

From the kitchen, Mac watched Harm intently. He’d come over for dinner and a movie, something he’d been doing more often of late.  After what Harm had said at the admiral’s dining out, Mac felt fairly sure he wanted to go through with their five-year-old baby deal. She was even more convinced after Harm was true to his word and followed through on his research about endometriosis.  The only problem had been, at the time she wasn’t sure she could do it.  Never mind that physically her odds of conceiving were nearly impossible, her life had been an emotional roller coaster the last two years, and she wasn’t sure she could deal with letting Harm into her world in ‘that’ way.

Tonight, being with Harm, eating, talking, watching a movie, it all felt ‘right.’ Lately, whenever he was near, she was overcome with the urge to touch him. It didn’t matter if it was giving him a hug, holding his hand, or simply resting her hand on his shoulder. She needed to feel him, and that was starting to scare the hell out of her. It had taken months before the fear of what life had in store for her decreased enough for Mac to slowly let Harm back in. They had fallen into the comfortable safety of an old friendship, but now, now she wasn’t sure of anything anymore, not even if he still wanted the deal. Maybe, once again, she’d waited too long and missed her opportunity.

The ding of the microwave brought her out of her reverie.  She needed to stop over-thinking.  It was time to take life one day at a time and see where it led her.  Maybe her heart was trying to tell her she was ready, and her mind wouldn’t listen.  Emptying the contents of the bag into two bowls, Mac was surprised by the touch of Harm’s hand on her shoulder.

“Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.”  He reached around her for a handful of popcorn.

“No problem.  I didn’t hear you coming.” She wasn’t going to admit she was so lost in thoughts of him that she wouldn’t have heard a roaring lion approach.  Picking up the bowls, Mac turned to face Harm, grossly underestimating how closely he’d been standing behind her. When she practically whacked him in the side with one bowl, spilling the popcorn everywhere, she was overcome with awkwardness.

“Now, I’m the one who’s sorry.” Setting the one bowl she still held down on the counter, Mac tried to step sideways to get around him and clean up the mess she’d made.

“Hang on, marine.  Are you okay?” Harm reached down and gently brushed the sides of her arms with his hands. “You seem unusually jumpy tonight.” He couldn’t remember the last time Mac seemed so on edge. Something was troubling her, and he wished she’d share it with him.

“It’s nothing. I’m just tired.” And wishing you’d stop being so nice, she thought to herself.

“Are you sure?” Harm placed his hand on her forehead.

“Harm! I’m not sick.  For heaven’s sake, you’d think you’d never seen someone preoccupied before.” Mac pushed his hand away, only to surprise herself by keeping his hand in hers.

Harm stood perfectly still, quietly taking in the moment.  He wasn’t sure why Mac hadn’t let go of his hand yet, but he was hoping that just maybe this meant she was finally looking at him in a new light.

Releasing her grip on his hand, she quietly said, “I’m sorry.  I guess I’m a little distracted, too.” Without thinking, Mac softly dropped her hand on Harm’s chest.  Most likely an instinctive reaction to the recent need to touch him.  When she saw her hand lingering on his chest, she yanked it back as though it were on fire.

Stepping in closer, Harm dropped his hands on her shoulders. “Mac, something’s not right. Why don’t you tell me what it is?” Harm was really beginning to worry.

“I’m okay. Really.  It’s been a long day, in a long week, after a long year. Can we just leave it at that and move on?” Mac backed away from Harm and grabbed the other bowl of popcorn.

“Here, you take the popcorn, I’ll clean this mess up, and if you’re still up to watching the rest of the movie, I’ll make some more,”  Mac smiled.

“If you’re really okay, I think I’m going to head home.  The kitchen pipes sprang a leak, and I had to crawl underneath to do a temporary repair job before coming over tonight.  My back is getting too old for under the sink contortions. I’m really starting to feel it.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Here. Lie down.” Taking the bowl from his hands and setting it on the counter, Mac shoved Harm to the center of the living room. This would be the perfect excuse to safely work off her need to touch him.

“Mac?”

“No, seriously. You were worried about me before. Now it’s my turn. Let me try and help.”  Not willing to accept no for an answer, Mac walked off to her room in search of some lotion.

Harm was still standing where she’d left him, a small grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. 

“What are you doing still standing?  Growing roots?  Lie down and take off the shirt.” Mac used her ‘marine in charge’ tone of voice.

Harm raised one eyebrow, the twinkle in his eyes shining brightly.

“Yes, ma’am.” He saluted playfully before pulling his shirt over his head. 

Moving a couple of chairs out of the way, Harm lay face down on the living room floor.

Bottle in hand,  Mac kneeled down beside him as soon as he was settled.  Warming the vanilla lotion in her hands first, slowly, Mac began smoothing her hands across Harm’s shoulders and down his back. 

Finding it awkward to work both sides of his back, Mac swung one leg over and straddled Harm’s six.

“Oomph.  Have you considered laying off the extra fries?” Harm opened one eye and turned his head trying to catch a glimpse of her.

“Funny. Just remember who’s on top right now.” Mac dug her hands firmly into his shoulder, kneading the knots at the base of his neck.  Harm fell into a state of total relaxation before he’d even had time to consider responding to her ‘on top’ comment.

“Mmmmm,” Harm sighed,  “Thaaank youuu.”

Swirling her thumbs firmly up along Harm’s spine, she was feeling better already.

“If you ever give up the law, you could probably get a job as a masseuse.” Harm would have smiled, but every muscle in his body was totally limp, well, almost every muscle.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Grinning, Mac pressed more firmly into the small of his back, running her thumbs under the edge of the waistband of Harm’s sweat pants.  She had wondered why he showed up dressed so casually this evening. He probably had wanted to be comfortable after working out under the sink.  It wasn’t important, but she was having an awfully hard time resisting that waistband.

Instantly, Harm was reminded that not every muscle in his body was relaxing at her touch.  Thankful to be lying on his stomach, he tried to focus on something other than how great her hands felt on his tired, old body.

“Have you spoken with Harriet lately? How’s she feeling?”  Talking about Bud and Harriet should be a good distraction, Harm thought.

“No.”

So much for that idea. Next.  Mac was still rubbing her fingers along his lower back, dipping in and out of his waistband.  Coming up with any other subject for discussion was becoming increasingly difficult for him.

Mac knew she was lingering too much along his lower back.  The temptation to dip under his sweats and really work on his cute six was taking over all focus.  She actually had spoken with Harriet, but who wanted to talk about Harriet when that gorgeous six was only inches away from her starving fingers.

She was playing with fire and knew it.  This was getting ridiculous. Patting his back softly, Mac suddenly sprang up and off of Harm, and sat heavily on the sofa.  Things between them had become comfortable and stable.  She wasn’t going to ruin it by throwing herself at him again. 

They’d agreed she’d come to him when she was ready, and even if maybe she thought she might be ready, she wasn’t sure how Harm felt anymore. She thought she knew, but she wasn’t sure. There was no way she was going to risk being rejected again.  Webb going and coming in her life had added more stuff to her already overweight baggage. She wouldn’t be able to deal with it now if it turned out she’d waited too long, and Harm had changed his mind and didn’t want her in ‘that’ way.

Harm wasn’t sure if he should feel relief or regret.  For a while tonight, he was starting to wonder if maybe Mac was trying to tell him something.  Taking a few deep breaths, he shifted his weight and sat up leaning against the sofa.

“That was the best back rub I’ve ever had.  Thanks,” he smiled up at her.

“Anytime, sailor.”

“I might just take you up on that.” Squeezing her knee tightly, he could tell by the look in her eyes something was still bothering her.

“Harm.”

“Yeah?”

“How would you feel if I were to tell you I think I might be ready?”

“You think?” Harm reached up and took hold of her hand.  Now he understood all the awkwardness.  She was doubting his interest again.

“I have so many feelings still churning around inside of me that sometimes I can’t even begin to decipher them all. Then I have to make myself stop and accept that I can’t really wait forever.  The endometriosis doesn’t ever go away.”  The warmth from Harm’s hand was giving her the courage to say what she felt. “I guess I’m afraid if I wait for everything to be perfect, I’ll never stop waiting.”

Harm moved up onto the sofa next to Mac.  “I told you before, I’ll always be here.  Anytime you’re ready, for whatever you want, you can count on me.” Never having let go of her hand, Harm brought it close to his lips and placed a soft, tender kiss on it.  He wanted desperately to kiss her lips but wasn’t going to push.

“If I’m really ready, and it turns out to be sometime really soon, you’re sure you’d trust me to be the mother of your child?”

“I’m really sure, and I’ll wait as long as you need.” Harm was still holding her hand, his thumb mindlessly caressing the back of her hand, silently reassuring her.

“Thanks. I guess I just needed to be reminded.” Turning to face the TV, Mac snuggled into Harm’s shoulder.  Things were definitely feeling right.

Chapter 2

JAG headquarters
Harm’s office
1545

“Sir, here are the rest of those reports Commander Turner wants you to review,” Jen smiled knowing full well the entire legal staff had pretty much had enough of Sturgis Turner and his ‘reviews’.

“Thank you, Jen.” Harm tried to smile back. No point in shooting the messenger.

“There’s also someone waiting to see you.  He’s been here since just after you went into court.  He insisted on waiting, but wouldn’t leave his name.” Jen didn’t know why, but something about this man left her feeling extremely uneasy.

“Very well.  Give me five minutes to put away these papers, then send him in.”

“Aye, sir.” Nodding her head, Jen took note of the time on her watch before returning to the unexpected visitor.

Five minutes later a frail looking man, at least in his late sixties, knocked gently on Harm’s door.

“Come in.  How may I help you?” Harm stood up behind his desk, extending his hand to the stranger before waving for him to take a seat.

“Jordan said you were a nice man,” the old man sighed.

“Excuse me?” Harm only knew one Jordan. The hairs on the back of his neck were starting to bristle.

“I’m sorry, Commander.  I should introduce myself.  I’m Raymond Parker.  Jordan was my daughter.”  The elderly man focused intently on Harm’s eyes in an attempt to determine for himself just what his daughter might have meant to him.

Taking a deep breath before speaking, “I see. How can I be of assistance?” Harm didn’t know what else to say.  It had been so long since Jordan’s murder, ‘sorry for your loss’ just didn’t seem to cut it right now.

“Well, Commander, we only had two children, my wife and I.  Our son, Andrew, was the first.  My wife and I had been married for almost ten years when he was born.  We’d given up on having children.  My wife was beyond elation when seven years later Jordan was born.  Our children were everything to her.”  The man’s eyes took on a heavy sadness.

“Andrew is divorced. His wife and he never had any children.  He’s a doctor like Jordan, thoracic surgeon. I guess like you, his career is his first love.  Jordan often commented you reminded her of Andy.  She said you had integrity, loyalty, and honor.  Was she right, Commander?”  The man was sizing Harm up again.

“I would like to think so, sir.” Harm didn’t have any idea what this man was after, but he owed it to Jordan to patiently hear him out.

“Did you know how much Jordie loved you?”

Harm had to pause at the question.  He hadn’t expected it.

“You probably know she broke up with me when I went back to flying.  When I came home I tried calling her in hopes that we could try to make it work.  I had thought we had something special.  When I came back and she left right away for Spain, when she refused to stay and talk to me, that pretty much told me that I’d been wrong.” Harm had to pause a minute, the memories being more difficult than he’d thought.

“I received a letter after she was killed.  That’s when I knew I had been right. We did have something special.” Harm hoped that answered Mr. Parker’s questions.  He didn’t really want to rehash his relationship with Jordan, especially not with her father.

“I’m glad to hear you think of your time with my daughter as special.  She did love you, very much.  She did a lot of things I didn’t agree with.  I wasn’t happy with the way she handled her relationship with you, especially after you’d returned to flying, but I’m glad to see she was right in her judgment of you.” For the first time, the man smiled sincerely.

“Thank you, sir.”  Harm didn’t know what else to say.

“There were a lot of reasons she handled the situation the way she did. Obviously, you realized she was avoiding you.”

Harm nodded.

“You undoubtedly don’t know why.” The man took a deep breath, making note of the apprehension in Harm’s eyes.

“When you returned to flying, Jordan was pregnant.” 

Harm’s jaw visibly hit the floor.  Doing math in his head, he knew there was no way this was anyone else’s child but his.  He and Jordan had been dating since Christmas, and he didn’t take off for flying until May.  She obviously wasn’t showing, so she was less than five months pregnant.  Oh, God.

It didn’t take a mind reader to see what was running through Harm’s thoughts. “Yes, Commander.  You’re the father.”   The man felt sorry for Harm.  He knew if Jordan’s description of him was accurate, this would be a man who would deeply mourn the years not spend with his child.

“Why…” Harm couldn’t formulate a coherent thought.

“She was hurt, confused, scared.  I can’t say I understand.  My wife did.  I fought often for them to tell you the truth.  I thought you had a right to know.  If you are like my son, I knew you’d want to know.” He paused to give that information a moment to sink in.

“Jordan didn’t answer any of your calls when you returned from flying because she was afraid you’d want to see her.  She’d just had the baby. She wasn’t due for another month and was still distraught over the fear we’d all gone through with the premature delivery. She was afraid she couldn’t deal with seeing you, afraid you’d notice the changes in her figure. She finally found her nerve, but didn’t stay long enough for you to recognize how upset she was, or how much weight she still carried. Navy blues are good for hiding that sort of thing.”

Harm was trying to process the information he was being fed, but his mind was moving in painfully slow motion.

“My wife flew out here to help when the baby was born.  Jordan was having a rough time of it.  She’d never meant to raise a child alone, and she was terrified of letting you back in.  She most of all didn’t want you back in her life out of a sense of obligation, and she knew she’d never feel otherwise if you knew about the baby.”

Raymond Parker watched closely as Harm rubbed his hands across his face and then back through his hair.   The shock was wearing off, and the reality of what was being said was starting to settle in.

“Jordan saw her orders to Spain as a godsend. Jordan went on to Spain, and when the baby was strong enough, my wife brought it home with us.  Most of the people she served with had no idea she had a baby now.   When she returned, things were going well for her. We loved having a child in the house again, so it was decided to continue on the way things were.”

“Why wasn’t it in her records?”

“I don’t understand?” Mr. Parker frowned.

“Her records, when she was killed, it didn’t mention she had a child.” Harm was starting to think like an investigator despite the haze that had settled over his brain.

“I’m sure it was there.  She didn’t hide it from the military. Since you knew she was single with no dependents, maybe you didn’t see it because you weren’t looking for it?” 

“Maybe.  But the letter, why didn’t she say something in the letter?”

“Would you want to tell someone something like that in a letter?” 

Harm shook his head, no.  The man was right. Probably not.

“Jordan was moving on with her life.  It had been almost two years since you’d left.  It was time for you to know, and she was reaching out to you.  If she hadn’t been killed, she would have told you.”

“Her letter said nothing to even hint we had a child. It was a letter of closure, a goodbye of sorts.”  Harm didn’t realize he was sitting there shaking his head.

“For her, yes.  She was closing that part of her life. Saying good bye to you in her future and preparing you to meet face to face, so you could be a part of Chris’ future.”

“Chris?”

“Oh, yes, I’m sorry, I should have started out with that.  You have a daughter, Christine Elizabeth.”

Chapter 3

Harm’s office
Same time

Harm watched the old man fumble in his pocket.  Pulling out a tattered, black wallet, he reached inside and carefully handed Harm a small photograph.

“That was just taken at preschool.”

Harm stared intently at the photo.  The little girl had shoulder length, light brown hair with a huge, blue bow on one side.  Her eyes were a deep green like his, and her broad smile looked more like she was gritting her teeth.

“She has your smile.  I know you can’t tell from the photo. Somehow she’s gotten it in her mind when someone says smile, it means flash all your teeth,” the man chuckled to himself. “When her smile is genuine, it’s very much like the one that just spread across your face looking at that photo.” Ray Parker was pleased with Harm’s reaction.  He was sure now he’d been right in coming to tell him. Harm would be good for Chris.

“Why now?  Why come and tell me now?” Harm handed the photo back to Jordan’s father.

“No, keep it.” Taking a deep breath, “My wife passed away a few weeks ago.  Aortic aneurysm.  We didn’t see it coming.  A little ironic considering her son’s a thoracic surgeon.  Anyhow, when Jordie was killed, I wanted to tell you about Chris.  My wife stopped me.  She insisted that if Jordie wanted you to know she would have told you and we should respect her wishes.  My wife adored that little girl.  I think she was more terrified of losing her than anything else.”  He blinked back a few tears.

“I’m sorry for your loss.” Despite all he’d heard, Harm liked this man.  He really was sorry the man had lost his wife, even if she was the reason he didn’t know about his daughter sooner.  “Where is she now?”

“With my sister Shelly, in Potomac.  As soon as I could after Sally, my wife, passed on, I packed Chris up and came to visit my sister.  Finding you was easier than I had thought. I was pleased to see you were still here at JAG.  I also see that Major Mackenzie is still here, she’s been promoted, too.”

“Yes, she’s still here, too.”  Harm was startled that Mr. Parker would know about Mac.

“Jordie thought that she would someday come between you two, even though the Major assured her your relationship wasn’t like that.  You two aren’t together that way are you?”

“No.  She’s my best friend.”

Raymond Parker nodded his head.   Anyone could have seen the change in Harm’s eyes when Mac’s name was mentioned.  Jordie could read people.  It was her job, and she was good at it.  Something was keeping these two apart. 

“I’d like to meet her someday.  Jordie spoke highly of her.  Even though you’re not married, I assume the Major, excuse me, Colonel, will be a big part of Chris’ life?”

Harm was stunned.  It suddenly hit him that this man not only wanted Harm to know he had a daughter, but he intended for Harm to take care of her.

“Commander?”  Ray had watched Harm’s face run through a large array of emotions, but the look of sheer panic on his face right now seemed out of character for the little he knew about the man.

“Sorry.  I, uh,… it’s just a lot to take in,” Harm excused.

“I thought if maybe you were free tonight, you could come to my sister’s for a short while and meet Chris?”

“I’d like that.  Thank you.” A wave of panic was setting in again.  “Could I bring Colonel MacKenzie with me?” he added quickly.

“Certainly,” Ray smiled.  Jordie was right.  “Chris goes to bed at 8:30.  We eat early. I know traffic here is a bear.  Anytime you can make it will be fine.” He handed Harm a card with the address and phone number on it.

“Thank you, Mr. Parker,” Harm smiled nervously.

“You’re welcome, and call me Ray.  I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of each other for a while.”  He had done the right thing.  He was sure of it.

Mac’s office
1640

Harm tapped lightly on Mac’s doorframe.

“You look like something the cat dragged in.  Bad day in court?”  Mac put down her pen and sat back watching Harm take a seat across from her.

“No, I think the jury bought it.  Closing arguments are tomorrow morning.” Harm was having a hard time looking Mac in the eye.  It didn’t make sense.  Somehow he felt like having a child with Jordan was tantamount to having cheated on Mac, cheated on their deal.

“Are you okay?” Mac’s face crumpled in obvious concern.

“Yes, no, Mac… I got some surprising news today.  I need to talk to you, but not here.  It’s almost quitting time, can you bail out now?”

Mac had planned on staying late to tie up some loose ends on the never ending trail of reports Sturgis wanted, but there was no way she would say no to Harm.  She couldn’t remember the last time he appeared so frazzled.

“Sure, let me tidy all this up and I’ll be ready to go in a couple of minutes.”

“Thanks, marine.” Harm let out a heavy sigh and left to clear up his own mess for the day.  Sturgis was just going to have to wait for that new stack of reviews.

Ten minutes later the two friends were quietly riding the elevator. 

“Do you want to meet me at my place or do you want me to follow you to yours?” Mac asked carefully.

“Do you mind if we ride together and pick up your car later?” Harm asked as the elevator doors opened.  “You do still have civvies in your sea bag?”

“No, I don’t mind, and yes I keep civvies in my sea bag.  What’s up, Harm?”

“Let’s head to my place so you can change and I can feed you.  I’ll explain it on the way.”

Mac’s mind scrambled to think what could be so serious to have Harm acting so bizarrely. She couldn’t ever remember a time when Harm wouldn’t tell her something at work.  It may have been kept to a minimum, but he’d never put her through this cloak and dagger before.

Settled and on the road, Harm searched for a way to explain this.

“I got a visit today from Jordan Parker’s father.  It seems he’s here with his granddaughter visiting his sister.” He glanced at Mac, so far she seemed unfazed.

“Apparently, none of us in the military knew Jordan had a daughter being raised by her mom and dad.”  Still no reaction from Mac.

“Mr. Parker thought I might like to go and meet her.  I don’t want to go alone.  I’d hoped you’d please come with me.” Again, he tore his eyes away from the traffic to look in Mac’s direction.

“Sure, you know I have a soft spot for girls.”  Mac was making every effort to stay calm, waiting for the other shoe to fall.  There was no logical reason for Jordan’s father to show up and invite Harm to meet a daughter no one knew Jordan even had, unless she was born after they’d met and guess who was the father.  Lord, she’d like to be wrong.  Things were going so well.  They were so close to trying for that child together she’d always dreamed of.

“There’s more isn’t there?” She had to let him off the hook. She could tell he was sweating how to tell her, even though she prayed she was wrong.

Harm swallowed hard.  This time he was afraid to look at Mac. “Ray says I’m her father.”

Chapter 4

Harm’s car
In route to Union Station

She knew it.  When was life going to cut her a break?  Everything that ever meant even a little to her was always taken away.  She was so close to getting what she wanted.  She was ready, Harm was ready, or at least she thought they were, and now, this.

Harm noticed Mac’s entire body stiffen.  Her silence spoke a thousand words.  What the hell was he supposed to say now?

“Are you still with me, marine?”

“Are you sure you want me to come? I wouldn’t want to get in the way.”  Mac was looking out the side window.  She didn’t want Harm to see the tears threatening to stream down her face any second now. 

Harm reached over to take hold of her hand, startled by how icy cold it was.

“Mac, I need my best friend badly. I’m scared. VERY scared.” Harm figured this was no time to play brave, macho, fighter pilot.  What did he know about little girls?  Granted he’d gotten better at playing Dad thanks to Mattie, but still, this wasn’t a teenager.  This was a little person with plenty of years ahead of her that he could easily screw up with all his personal baggage.

Wiping at her watery eyes with her free hand so Harm wouldn’t see, Mac squeezed his hand and turned to look at him. “You’ve got nothing to be scared of.  You’re a great Dad.  Mattie is walking proof of that.”  She tried to encourage him with a smile.

“Yeah, well, I pretty much got Mattie that way already.  All I had to do was keep her on the same path.”

Harm let go of Mac’s hand to park in front of his building.

“What exactly did Jordan’s Dad say?” Mac asked, getting out of the car.

“He explained why no one ever told me.  He said Jordan had decided to tell me a couple of years ago. That’s why she tried to establish contact before she was killed.” Harm pulled Mac’s sea bag out of his car, and headed into the building.

“Do you think he’s telling the truth?” Mac had to ask. There was always the possibility it wasn’t really Harm’s child.  Although Mattie was proof a child didn’t have to be his by blood for him to love and care for her.

“I haven’t really given it any thought.  He said Jordan was about eight months pregnant and went into early labor right about when I came back from my stint on the Henry.  If that’s true- I doubt she belongs to anyone else.  Jordan was many things, but she wasn’t easy.  She wouldn’t have dated me and slept with someone else at the same time.”  Harm turned the key in his lock, forcefully shoving the front door open.

“Where is Mattie?” Mac asked, watching Harm carry her bag to his bed.

“She’s got some stuff after school, and then her dad is picking her up for the weekend.”  Harm walked back into the living room and straight to where Mac was standing.

“Thank you.”  Putting his hands on either side of Mac, he gently rubbed her upper arms.  “I don’t think I could face this alone.”

“You’re never alone, never.” Mac patted his hand briefly with hers and headed to his room to change clothes.

What a difference a year could make in one little word.  ‘Never’ a year ago had broken his heart into a million pieces. Today, ‘never’ gave him the courage to deal with this situation head on.

Stevens’ Residence
Potomac Maryland

Harm offered Mac his hand to help her out of the car.  Once she was out, he didn’t let go.  She squeezed his hand in an effort to reassure him, walking hand in hand to the front door.  Not until they were inside did he let go of her.

Raymond Parker opened the door.  “Come in, Commander. Colonel, nice to meet you.”

Casual introductions were made.  Shelly and Fred Stevens seemed to be very nice people.  They all took seats in the living room. Mac chatted cordially with Mrs. Stevens about the lovely decorations. She collected antique Amish quilts.  Some were displayed prominently on the walls. Others were scattered about the room.  The men watched the women chatting, while Mr. Stevens took everyone’s drink orders.

It wasn’t long before Chris came scurrying down the stairs. “Is the company here yet?” She smiled up at her Grandpa.

“Yes, sweetie.  These are the nice friends of your Mama I told you about.”

Ray walked Chris over to where Harm and Mac were seated.  The little girl appeared slightly timid, as any four-year-old would be, yet, her excitement at meeting the new people was clear.

“Hello.” She smiled first at Mac.

“Nice to meet you,” Mac nodded.  The little girl was beautiful.  Not much different than she’d pictured her daughter, if she and Harm had ever had one.

Turning to Harm, Chris’ eyes lit up.

“You’re Mommy’s friend,” she said excitedly.  “Grandma and Grandpa have a picture of you and Mommy in my room.” Her smile was threatening to split her face wide open.

Harm reached into his pocket.  “Your Grandpa gave me a picture of you, too,” he smiled back.

The little girl pushed her way between Harm’s legs to get a better look at the picture he was holding. Her one hand rested on his thigh, the other touched his hand holding the photo.

Mac couldn’t help but smile at the look on Harm’s face when the little girl scooted close to him.  He’d gently rested his free hand on her back, and the look of pride and love that oozed from him gave no indication that he’d only just met this child.

“That was at school.  I like Miss Robbins.  She’s a nice teacher.” The little girl looked up at Harm, still smiling.

“She is?” He had no idea what else to say. How do you carry on a conversation with a four-year-old?

“Uh huh,” she nodded forcefully.

Sensing his need to be rescued, Mac joined the conversation. “ How old are you?”

“I’m four.” Chris proudly held up four fingers.

“REALLY.” Mac exaggerated her expression.  “Wow, what a big girl.  When is your birthday?”

“November five.” Chris leaned back resting on Harm’s leg.

“November fifth,” her grandfather corrected.

“Then you’re going to be a big girl of five soon,” Mac continued.

“That’s what Grandma used to say all the time.” The little girl looked down sadly for a second before smiling back up at Mac.  “But Grandpa says now Grandma is very happy cause she and Mommy are together.”

Harm watched closely as Mac and Chris carried on a conversation.  He was completely awed at the idea that this smart little girl was his.  He was even more delighted that she seemed to be taken with Mac.  The two were getting along beautifully.  He’d always known that Mac would be a great mom.  She’d shown it with Chloe, and again helping with Mattie, but now with Chris he just knew he’d always been right.  It made him want a baby of their own even more than before.

A sick feeling suddenly loomed inside him.  If Chris was now going to be a part of his life, how would that affect his relationship with Mac, and more importantly, how would it affect their deal?

Chapter 5


Stevens’ Home
2005 hours

Chris had gone upstairs a short while earlier.  The adults had been chatting about her, Jordan, and Jordan’s mom, Sally.

“Isn’t it close to Chris’ bedtime?” Harm asked.

“I suspect she’s already gone to bed,” Ray commented.

“Excuse me?” Mac asked, a little surprised.

“She’s been known to wander off and lie down when she gets tired.  I was just going to go check on her. Would you two like to come with me?” Ray asked.

Harm hesitated and looked over at Mac.

“We’d love to. Thank you,” Mac answered for both of them.

Following Ray upstairs, Harm and Mac paused at the doorway looking at the cute little girl.  Chris had fallen asleep still fully dressed.  She was absolutely adorable, sleeping with one leg on the bed, and one leg off the side of the bed resting on the floor.

Ray pushed the little girl fully onto the bed, and pulled the blanket over her.

“My wife is the only one who could change her into her pajamas without waking her up.  We don’t know why, but she will undoubtedly wake up with that one leg hanging over the bed again,” he chuckled walking away from them.

Harm sighed heavily looking back into the room.  Closing his eyes for just a second, he wondered what was going to happen to them. 

Mac reached over placing her hand on his back.  “It’ll be okay, Harm.” She didn’t know what else to say.  Before she knew how, Harm had turned around and pulled her into a tight hug, nuzzling his face in her hair.  He desperately needed her, now. Giving her space wasn’t an option.

Mac stood perfectly still.  Her arms gently draped around Harm’s waist.  Her heart racing as Harm’s lips gently caressed her hair.

“Please don’t leave me? I can’t do this alone,” Harm mumbled into her hair, pulling her even closer against him.  His voice filled with desperation.

“I’m not going anywhere, Harm.  I told you you’ll never be alone.” This was the second time Harm mentioned not wanting to be alone.  Why couldn’t he have come to her saying that years ago? Mac tried to pull away and look at him, but Harm wouldn’t release his hold.  She was sure he could feel her heart pounding through her chest.

“Promise me, Mac,” he whispered, his lips dangerously close to her face.

“I promise,” Mac sighed.

Pulling back from her just a little, Harm looked down into her eyes.  Neither said a word. Harm took hold of Mac’s hand and followed down the hall where Ray had gone.

The adults where chatting away when Harm and Mac returned to the living room.

“Well, Commander, what do you think?”

“I think you and your wife should be commended for raising such a friendly, nice little girl.  I also think you should call me Harm.”

“Well, Harm, I’d love to take the credit, but I’m afraid she pretty much came out that way. She’s more or less raised herself since the day she was born,” Ray smiled proudly.

“Jordan was a good girl.  She was easy to raise also, but I’m guessing you can take some genetic credit.  She’s a smart little thing.”  Everyone in the room nodded in agreement with Ray Parker.

“Thank you, but I suspect my mother would beg to differ with you.  I believe of all the adjectives she had for me growing up, easy to raise doesn’t come to mind.” Harm chuckled, feeling at ease for the first time all evening.

“It’s going to be hard for me to give her up, but her place is with you now.  You’re going to have to get to know her better. She loves the zoo.  What are you doing tomorrow?”

Harm’s apartment
Near Union Station
2210 hours

Harm and Mac had ridden back to Harm’s in almost total silence.  Driving mostly on auto-pilot, Harm hadn’t given any thought to where he was going.  When he reached his apartment and looked at Mac, it suddenly dawned on him they’d left her car at Ops.

“Oh, Mac. Your car, I forgot.” Harm turned off the engine and stared up at the ceiling.  “I’m sorry.”

“No problem. We can get it later.” Mac turned to get out of the car when Harm reached across and grabbed her arm.

“Thanks.”

Mac nodded her head before exiting the car and making their way up to his apartment.

Hanging his keys on the hook by the door, Harm headed straight for the fridge.  “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Water will be fine.”

Grabbing two bottles of water, he joined Mac on the sofa.

“What am I going to do, Mac?”

“You’re going to get a good night’s sleep, get up bright and early, and take a cute little four year old and her grandfather to the zoo.  You’ll ooh, and aah over gorillas and pandas, and laugh your heart out watching her take it all in.”

“Maac.  You know I don’t mean just tomorrow.” His eyebrows shot up in a flash. “You ARE coming with me, aren’t you?”

“If I’m invited,” Mac grinned. Maybe a little playfulness would help calm him down.

“Mac, are we ever going to get passed the formalities?  We’ve been talking about having a child together. Doesn’t that mean anything?” Harm was scared, and frustrated, and not really thinking before opening his mouth.

“Okay, clue me in.  What does your agreeing to father my child have to do with your already being a father, and having a daughter to take to the zoo tomorrow?” Mac tried not to bark, she knew he was upset, but damn, what was she supposed to think anyway?

“Is that all I’m going to be?  A sperm donor.  Is that it, fathering a child?  Damn it, Mac,” Harm bit his lip.  Why was it always so hard?

“What does ANY of this have to do with tomorrow?  Harm, you’re a father! A real father! You don’t need me anymore.  You’ve got what you wanted.” Mac refused to cry.  She was not going to cry.

“What? Not need you!  For God’s sake Mac, you’re all I’ve ever needed.” Without giving it another thought, Harm reached over and pulled Mac up against him hard.  Her face was up close to his, his hands tightly gripping her arms.  His mouth came crashing down on hers.  His lips pressing against hers, his tongue immediately caressing her lips, requesting entrance.  His mind flashed to lingering memories of a kiss so many years ago. 

Startled by the force of his actions, Mac tried to pull away despite the longing quickly boiling within her.  His lips teased hers. His tongue pleaded with the seam along her lips.  Instinctively her lips wanted to part, to taste him, to tangle with him, to share the heat that had been simmering between them for so long.  But not like this, not a comfort for desperation and fear.  She pulled back again.

Feeling her struggle in his arms, Harm pulled back a few inches. “Please Mac, let me show you, let me prove how much I need you, want you. Please....”

His lips descended on hers once again.  His arms dropped around her pulling her closer.  His tongue teased, licked, and nipped at the seam of her lips, begging entrance yet again.  His heart was racing, his blood pounding in his veins.  Everything about her was so arousing.  Just kissing her was driving him wild.

God, no one was made with enough willpower to resist Harmon Rabb twice in one night.  His lips were so gentle against hers, his kiss so sweet. She didn’t want to be comfort sex. She wanted to be loved. His fingers burned a trail across her back. Desire was spreading through her veins. He didn’t say love, he said want and need.  Oh, that tongue! So hard, so soft, so tantalizing. Her lips parted with a will of their own.  How did the old song go; two out of three ain’t bad.

NO. Her mind snapped.  Not now, not like this. She pressed her hands against his chest, her lips barely separated from his. “Harm, please...no.”

Chapter 6

Harm’s apartment
Near Union Station
Same time

Harm’s mouth dropped to Mac’s neck. Savoring the soft feel of her skin under his lips, one hand brushed up her side, his thumb gently swiping the side of her breast.  The other arm pulled her close again.  Somewhere in his mind he heard her say no, but he had to show her. He loved her so much.  Maybe now she’d see.

Every nerve ending was calling out for Harmon Rabb.  Maybe two out of three wasn’t so bad.  This was what she wanted. She could still have his baby.  His baby, Chris.  Damn it. “Harm, stop. Please,” Mac whispered in his ear. “Please?”

Harm froze.  Dear Lord, she’d said no, his brain was finally processing. She’d said no, and he kept pushing.  What the hell had come over him?  He’d never in his life tried to force himself on anyone. Why, oh, why did he lose it with Mac? 

Feeling his grip on her loosen, Mac’s determination morphed to concern when she saw the look in his eyes. “Harm?”

“I’m sorry, Mac.” Harm turned away, he couldn’t look her in the eye. “I, uh... I don’t know what to say.  I shouldn’t have lost control like that.” Staring down at the ground, he ran his fingers roughly through his hair. She had felt so warm and willing in his arms. He’d felt what her body was telling him and couldn’t hear what she was trying to say. 

Mac was at a loss for words herself.  She wanted Harm as badly as he wanted her.  Maybe she shouldn’t have stopped him, but she couldn’t live with herself if Harm woke up in the morning regretting what they’d done.  She’d waited too long. She couldn’t face that. 

“You were upset.  It’s not every day you find out you have a four year old daughter you knew nothing about,” Mac justified for him.  Stepping closer, she reached out and rested her hand gently on his arm. Her eyes waiting for him to look up, hoping he could see how hard it had been for her, too.

“No, I can’t argue with you there.” Harm turned to look at Mac, pondering the softness in her brown eyes.  He’d expected to see anger, resentment, anything but the tenderness that tore straight to his soul.  Could it be he hadn’t ruined everything?   “Will you still come with us tomorrow? Please?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” She gave his arm a reassuring squeeze.  It was obvious neither of them was about to discuss what just happened any further. An unspoken understanding of sorts had been reached. 

“If I promise to be a good boy and behave myself, would you consider just staying here and keeping me company tonight?” Harm’s eyes searched hers, desperately praying she still trusted him.

“You’ll have to take me to my place first thing in the morning for clean clothes.” Smiling softly, without any hesitation, Mac stood up and headed for the bedroom. “Got a spare t-shirt I can borrow?”  She would always trust this man with her life, just not her heart...yet.

DC Zoo
1215 hours

“Grandpa, my bow fell off!”  Chris ran up to Harm and Mac.  “Where’s Grandpa?”

“He went to the men’s room, Sweetie.” Mac bent down to the same level as the little girl. “Would you like me to put it back on?”

“Thank you!” The little girl beamed, dropping the bow in Mac’s hands.

A few seconds later, the bow was firmly in place, and Chris was running back to play with the baby pigs.

“She’s loved pigs for as long as I can remember,” Ray said walking towards them from the restrooms.

Mac was right. Harm had oohed and ahhed and laughed and grinned so much watching Chris with the animals, he thought his face was going to crack. They’d already been through most of the zoo and were getting pretty tired, but Chris’ energy seemed endless.

“I think I understand now why people always say they’d be rich if they could bottle their children’s energy.  Shouldn’t she be tired?” Harm chuckled quietly in Ray’s direction.

“She’ll wear out eventually,” Ray smiled.

“Well, if you gentlemen will excuse me, it’s time for me to find the little girls room.”

“If you don’t mind, would you take Chris with you?  It’s probably about time she went, too,” Ray suggested.

“Of course not,” Mac shrugged one shoulder casually.

“Chris honey, Colonel MacKenzie is going potty. Go with her.”

“Okay.” Chris stuck her hand out for Mac to grab.

Mac felt as though Chris’ little hand had reached in and squeezed her heart.  Was this what it would be like to have Harm’s daughter?  She smiled that Rabb smile and melted your heart.

Harm watched what were quickly becoming the two most important women in his life walk off. 

“What do you do when you’re alone and she has to use the restroom?” Harm asked, his eyes never leaving the pair walking away.

“I don’t know.  I’ve never had to go anywhere alone with her, yet.  She did have to go on the airplane, and I waited outside the door for her.  Before, it was always my wife who went with her to the ladies room.” Ray shrugged. Like Harm, his eyes followed Mac and Chris down the path.

Hair barrettes. Public bathrooms. How many things were there going to be in a little girl’s life that Harm knew nothing about?  He wasn’t the only single father in the world, but why did it all look so horribly impossible?

A short while later they were standing by the gorilla pit.

“Grandpa, I can’t see.”

“Would you like to get on my shoulders?” Harm squated low to Chris’ height.

“CAN I?” Chris almost shrieked with excitement.

Harm couldn’t help but chuckle as he reached over and picked the little girl up over his head.

“Wow, you’re higher than Uncle Andy.  He used to pick me up sometimes, but he says I’m getting too big.” Her eyes sparkled following the gorilla’s movements over the crowd.

Ray just stepped back a moment and watched the two interact, delighted when he saw Harm reach over and take Mac’s hand in his.  Anyone looking would have thought they were a family.  Chris looked so much like her dad that no one would have noticed Mac wasn’t her mom.

Harm’s car
In route to Steven’s home
1630

“Are we going to do something tomorrow, too?”  Chris was staring directly at Harm.

“Do you want to?” Harm could barely contain the delight bursting inside him.  He’d had a lot more fun today than he’d expected.  They’d spent the rest of the afternoon with Chris on his shoulders and Mac at his side.  He wondered briefly, if Mac’s condition never allowed her to conceive, if she might be willing to share Chris?

“Can WE?” This time she turned to Mac sitting beside to her, then her grandfather in the front passenger seat.

“If the Commander has time, he and the Colonel have busy schedules.”

“Oh.”  Chris tried not to look too disappointed.

“Do you like airplanes? We could go to the Air and Space museum.” Harm wanted to touch her some how and reassure her, make her smile, but even if he could reach her in the backseat, he just didn’t know how.

“Really?” Her eyes lit back up again.

“Really.” Harm smiled back, keeping a constant eye on her through the rearview mirror. He was already startled to discover how his heart swelled making that little girl happy.

“You’re coming too?” She reached over to touch Mac’s lap.

“Wouldn’t miss it.” Mac took Chris’ hand in hers.  That small Rabb smile was infectious. She couldn’t help grinning back at the little girl.

“But, you’ll have to go to bed early and get a lot of rest,” Ray added.

“Yes, sir.” Her little hand made its way up for her version of a salute. Her other hand still holding on tightly to Mac’s. 

Harm and Mac glanced fleetingly at each other.  Her mother had been in the Navy so it shouldn’t be that unusual, although, she was only two when her mom died, and they’d never actually lived together.

Ray chuckled at their obvious surprise.  Maybe the Navy was genetic.

Chapter 7

Mac’s apartment
Georgetown

“That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.” Harm smiled, flopping down on Mac’s couch.

“She’s a great kid, Harm.  Four year olds can be a real handful. She seems really sweet.” Mac debated whether to go sit by Harm or go to the kitchen for something to drink.  

“She is, isn’t she?” Harm had his eyes closed and didn’t notice Mac standing aimlessly in the middle of the room.

“Want something to drink?” she finally asked.

“Nah, I’m just going to rest my eyes for a minute.”  He hadn’t anticipated how exhausting a day playing Daddy could be.  Now there was an interesting thought. Daddy.

By the time Mac came back with a couple of bottles of juice and some glasses, Harm was snoring peacefully on her sofa.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum was an interesting place for all ages.  They had WWII airplanes that you could walk through as well as models of everything, including a Stearman hanging from the rafters.  Wandering through the exhibit of the Apollo missions was always interesting if you enjoyed modern history.

“This is from Grandpa’s favorite movie.” Chris pointed with her now regular exuberance at the Apollo Space exhibits. 

“Grandpa loves Apollo 13.  He says Tom Hanks is the best actor since Gregory Peck.” In the blink of an eye, Chris took off running at full gallop for a closer look at the display.

“Are you supposed to know what Apollo 13 was at age four?” Harm looked down at Mac, obviously impressed by the scope of knowledge his daughter had.

Mac shrugged one shoulder. “How should I know?”

Turning his head back towards the display, “Mac, where’d she go?  Can you see her?” A small hint of panic was audible to Mac’s trained ear.

“ME! You’re a head taller than I am.  Can’t you see over the crowd?” Mac immediately increased the pace of her stride, moving in the same direction Chris had run.

“Damn it!  Where could she be? CHRIS….  CHRIS…” Harm managed to reach the Replica Apollo 8 space capsule, practically vaulting over Mac.

“I don’t see her, Harm.  Do you?” 

“No!  CHHRRIIIIIISSS.”  Panic had definitely settled in.

“I’m going to find security.  I’m sure people lose little kids in here all the time.” Mac turned around and rushed off without waiting for Harm to respond.

“DADDY, DADDY.  HELP!!!”

Harm turned to the sound just in time to see two large men in gray suits and sunglasses, rushing out the double doors at the front of the building carrying a struggling Chris between them.

“STOP.  CHRIS!”  Harm bolted over the people around him.  “STOP.  CHRIS!”  His heart was caught in his throat.  His first time alone with her and God knows who had stolen his baby.

“STOP !  STOP!”

“Harm!  Harm!”  Mac shouted, her heart rate increasing by the second. “HARM!” She shook him roughly.

Harm shot up on the sofa. “Did you get her?”  His heart was pounding through his chest, his shirt drenched with sweat.

“Get who?  Are you okay?  You had me scared.  You were screaming so loudly, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the neighbors called 911.”  Mac wasn’t going to mention the pounding rush of adrenaline that threatened to overtake her as memories of Clay’s screams in Paraguay came flashing through her mind.

“Chris, they took her.  Two men in suits.” Harm paused to look around the room, then back at Mac’s terrified face.

“Chris is home with her grandfather.  You were having a nightmare, Harm.  From the looks of it, a lulu.”  Mac took a deep breath.  Her own heart was still racing.

“It was so real.  We were at the museum, and I lost her.”  Harm was breathing heavily, his chest heaving in and out as he took a deep breath attempting to slow his pounding heart.

Dropping his face in his hands, Mac moved up closer and began gently stroking his back.

“It’s only a dream. It’ll be okay.”  Mac tried to console him.  She suspected it was a lot more than just the dream that had him so distraught.  He felt his life was out of his control.  His instincts told him, you lose control and you die.  She didn’t know what to say besides everything would be okay.

Having taken a few sips of juice, and a lot of deep breaths, with the help of Mac’s tender touch, he had calmed down considerably.

“Mac, what am I going to do?  I am woefully unprepared to parent a four year old little girl.”  Harm rubbed his hand down his face in obvious frustration.

“No one feels competent to parent any child.  You’ll learn as you go, just like every other normal parent.  You had no idea how to deal with a teenager, and yet, you’ve done a wonderful job with Mattie.  You have great paternal instincts, Harmon Rabb. Don’t sell yourself short.”  Without realizing it Mac’s tone of voice had taken on that same tone she’d use when delivering a particularly impassioned closing argument.

Harm tilted his head, his eyes focused on Mac, his thoughts lost on how she was even more beautiful when she was all fired up about something.

“You must realize I would never have agreed to share a child with just anyone.  I had to know eventually our child would turn four, and yet, I didn’t say no,” Mac teased, growing increasingly unsteady in Harm’s silence.  “Harm, say something,” she coaxed.

Harm was at a complete loss for words.  She was so damn beautiful.  He wanted this to be their child.  He didn’t want to think of Jordan as Chris’ mom, he wanted Mac to be the only mother of all his children.  ALL, not just the elusive one they keep putting off until the right time.

“Do you have any idea yet when you’ll be ready?” His voice came out very calmly and quietly.

“What?”

“You asked me to wait for you to come to me.  You said you’d come when you were ready.  The other night you said you ‘thought’ you ‘might’ be ready. I’m wondering if you know yet when you’ll be ready for sure?”

“I thought we were talking about you and Chris.” Mac was stalling.  This was not the time to mention she was ready.

“We were. We are, but I don’t want to lose you along the way.  I want to make sure you understand this doesn’t change anything as far as I’m concerned.  I still want to go halves on a baby with you.”  Harm waited nervously for her response.

“I, I don’t think that would be very fair to you in light of the current circumstances.” Mac had to look down.  She didn’t want her eyes to betray how she really felt.

Harm reached over and picked up Mac’s chin, turning her to face him.  Scooting closer, so his face was only inches away from hers,  “I don’t care how unsure I am about a future with Chris.  I am very sure that I will do anything and everything to keep you in my life.  I’ll wait as long as I have to.  Don’t let there be any misunderstandings. I’m waiting for you and no one else.”

Slowly, Harm closed the distance between them.  His lips carefully touched hers.  A barely there kiss, sealing a promise made long ago.


                                    
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