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Last Letter From Paraguay
Disclaimer: If I owned him, I mean them, oh if I only owned himmm, them. I could use the money too but that ainít going to happen either.
Classification: Not really angst but sort of.
Summary: Actually, the title is the summary.
Rating: PG-13 (for some language)
AN1: While there has been much heated (or is that hot) discussion and fanfics about the beginning of this season, I felt Iíd write another one. Though Iíve been able to accept almost anything the one thing that gets me is how Harm went from sarcastic and hurtful with Mac to warm, fuzzy and friendly in what could have only been a day or so. His reinstatement just doesnít cut it for me. And though there have been many wonderful fanfics about it, they just havenít rung true for me either. So hereís my version of what really happened.
AN2: Criticism is welcome. And as for flames, I have a lot of fireman friends (I wish). Well, I have a fire extinguisher, okay.
AN3: This has not been betaed
Clay and Jane Williamsí Hotel Suite
Blood! That small dark stain flaked off slightly as Mac manipulated the clasp of the diamond necklace examining it more closely under the desk lamp. Even though the evident efforts to clean the necklace left no more than a trace of the substance, she could still seem to sense the residual odor of death.
Clayton Webbís snores interrupted her morbid thoughts but only with more misgivings. This mission stunk. First, she was here without Harm, which was not good. He had always been her partner of choice when undercover. No matter what their personal situation had ever been, the two of them always watched out for each other and could count on their sixes being covered. They had always been each otherís bedrock, sensing each otherís moves and playing to each otherís needs when danger threatened.
In Clayís world of deniability and need to know, she knew that would not happen. Second of course was the fact that Clay just wasnít himself. This sudden clinginess and self-doubt were so unlike him. That was the other reason she had chills going up and down her spine even in her dreams. Before, even in the most dangerous of missions, Clay had always seemed so self-assured. But now, even Clay doubted his half-cocked plans and admitted to taking risky chances. This was not good, not good at all.
Yet, there was something more, some dark dread that dogged her into the wee hours of the morning as she tried to force her thoughts away from her fears.
And that brought her back to Harm. Harm who was there for her when she couldnít stand on her own, Harm who knew and accepted all that she was, Harm who was her friend. He was safety, always had been since she had met him even though recent events had seemed to draw them apart, again in their wearying dance.
ďDamn,Ē why had she opened that can of worms just before leaving on this crazy ill-planned mission that smelled more and more as she thought about it.
For the first time in a long time, Mac was scared. It wasnít the danger that frightened her, though that was very real. Dying in a blaze of glory like Sundance with her Butch, had never fazed her in the least, basically because she knew, it would be with her Butch that she would go. But somehow she knew it would not happen that way this time. There would be no blaze of glory, no solace in companionship. This time there would be pain and failure and death.
She knew that even at his best, Webb was not one to count on. Though the snoring man in her bed had shown kindness and compassion in the past, it had shamed him, thinking it a weakness.
Webb had come through for Harm and her, but it had never been without getting something back out of or without someone pricking his conscience into doing so. That someone had usually been Harm, Harm who always operated out of his compassion, whose kindness was his nature. But Harm wasnít here. He was back in Washington, worrying about her. Of that she was sure, even though he had hardly said nothing to stop her, nothing to keep her and saying nothing of all the words that needed to have been said. Just ďDonít go.Ē Damn.
Clay thought Harm was oblivious to her feelings and maybe he was. Maybe now, heíd never know how she had felt.
Suddenly Mac knew what she had to do. Pulling the desk drawer open she spotted the customary stationery and envelops neatly tucked in with a hotel pen.
Addressing an envelope Mac gathered her thoughts for a moment. Something dreadful was going to happen in the next few days and with their connection, Harm had sensed it and even voiced the doubt that sheíd ever come back, come back to him.
If she never did come back, she needed him to know. At least she would go having said her part. She smiled at that, ďIím still on top Squid, even in this.Ē
Taking one last look at her faux husband, as his nasal rumblings grew louder, Mac set pen to paper.
Two days later
Clay and Jane Williamsí Hotel Suite
Consuelo looked around the vacant room as she pulled towels from her cart. It was not that she minded that it looked untouched from the last time she cleaned it. But if the couple had left without paying, as too many guests did these days, the entire staff would suffer financially.
And sheíd bet that even with clothes and bags stored neatly in the closet and drawers, the two Americans had skipped on their hotel bill. Hernando, the manager would sell what he could of the abandoned belongings but just pocket the money, as he always did.
She had tidied the two envelopes lying neatly on the desk the other day without looking at them. But this time as she looked around for anything she might salvage from this she spotted that one was marked ďMaidĒ on it. Looking inside she found a nice hefty sum of cash with a note clipped to it. Americans always over tipped but at least she could keep this for herself.
Given the generosity of the guest, Consuelo, with her smattering of English, tried to make sense of the writing. ďIf we donít return, please send this letter. Thank you.Ē
Well, the Williams hadnít returned to the room for two days and had left no word as to where they had gone. Feeling grateful for the large sum of money, Consuelo took the letter to mail at her earliest convenience, which, as it turned out, was not for some weeks.
Clay and Jane Williamsí Hotel Suite
Three days later
A bath was the only thing on Sarah MacKenzieís mind as she entered the suite of rooms she and Clay had briefly shared. It was not until much later, that she had remembered the envelopes and noticed that they were gone.
Secure in the knowledge that she had not put a stamp on the letter, Mac forgot about it, positive in the supposition that it had landed in the trash when the room had been cleaned.
North of Union Station
Two months later
Bills, bills, bills. Harm stopped sorting through the large pile of uninteresting mail and let it drop on the desk letting go of his duffle at the same time. The thud of it hitting the floor pleased him as not much did about his life at home these days.
He was bone tired after this last mission and wanted nothing more than to just forget and headed over to his kitchen cabinet to greet his good buddy of late, Pappy Van Winkle. A case of the pricy spirits had been a gift from Beth for saving her life. One thing he could say about her was she knew her bourbons as few of his partners ever had.
Flying with her was great, but sharing quarters on a carrier with a bunch of Marines was not, nor were all the thoughts and memories which came rushing up to consume him.
At one time the Sea Hawk was home. But now he was an interloper. Those who were high enough in the chain of command to know of his resignation through the grape vine let him know in no uncertain terms they felt he had left just when the going had gotten tough.
Others didnít like the idea of a civilian flying Navy equipment and couldnít care less that he seemed to know his stuff. Either way, it was a hell of a way to make a living.
Deciding to take care of the mundanities of life before sacking out into oblivion for his promised week off, he picked up the bills and drew out his checkbook.
It was the return address that struck him at the same time as the familiar handwriting.
He didnít know when she had written the letter, but it was obviously before she decided that there was a Ďneverí in their future. He knew she hadnít been back to Paraguay from the ever-active grapevine, which worked especially hard when he didnít want to know. As such, if she had something important to say, it would have been said already. He really did not need to read it. Besides he couldnít give a damn.
Crumpling up the envelope Harm was about to throw for two points into the trash. But suddenly he had a better idea.
The letter was part of his past, along with his Navy uniforms which were taking up space in his closet. He had toyed with thoughts of selling them as surplus but there were few 6 foot 4 sailors around, as he had found out the last time he tried to get rid of a few old uniforms.
He had decided to bundle them all up, all his memories of the Navy and her and take them with him the next time he went to visit his grandmother. Heíd burn it all in a celebratory bonfire and toast marshmallows over the flames for good measure.
After another few swigs of the smooth amber fluid, he knew that thatís exactly what he would do.
Tucking the letter neatly into the package of his Navy life, Harm went to pour himself another drink of forgetfulness when his cell phone rang.
And with that his promised week was over and his arsonist intentions forgotten for the next few months.
North of Union Station
It was a goddamn, freaking Thursday, for god sakes and he was supposed to start off making his way back into the admiralís good graces on a Friday? Harm threw down the phone in disgust. If that didnít beat all! Heíd barely have time to get a uniform pressed, which heíd have to do himself, goddamn it. No cleaner could handle it, even if they werenít all closed at this hour.
Thank god he hadnít had the time to go through with his flames of glory plan for all his Navy gear or heíd really have been up shitís proverbial creek. He didnít think the admiral would be keen on him showing up in a Liberty Bail Bonds t-shirt and jeans on his first day back, even if it was a freakin Friday.
It was then that he spotted the unopened envelope.
He was back in the Navy with a swiftness that did not sit particularly well. He was a full Commander and an 05 lawyer who would probably be given every dirty rotten case and filthy job the admiral could dream up.
Okay. Harm knew Chegwidden would relish making him pay but he was too good a commanding officer to keep that up for very long before heíd tire of his little revenge.
But he had no idea of how things were going to sit between him and Mac. Well sheíd try she was good at that. Sheíd already shown that she was trying. In all honesty heíd been the one with attitude, but it was an attitude he couldnít shake and wasnít sure heíd want to. Somehow heíd have to find a way to work with her again without causing any disruptions in the office. The admiral had been nothing if crystal clear on that point. ďYour baggage with the colonel is your responsibility Harm, one that youíve been sadly neglecting for years. Grow up and deal with it. Deal with it on your own time, but deal with it,Ē had been just one of the hoops the admiral had put in his path.
Ignoring it had worked well in the past, yeah, right. He ignored it and she couldnít seem to stop calling him.
Harm had listened to those 17 messages she had left and there had been no mention of the letter. Their discussions, what there had been of them in the past five months, had been painful and thankfully brief.
She had been right about each one of them wanting to control their relationship or, as the case may be, their lack of a relationship. He didnít really want to read a letter that had been written before that Ďneverí word had come between them.
Yet, even as he crushed it in his hands to throw it out, he froze. He had to deal with her. If there was only one thing he had learned from all his recent missions and from all his cases it was that he needed intel, a lot of intel, in order to succeed. That letter was intel. That letter needed to be read before he stepped foot into JAG HQ again.
Somehow knowing heíd need a drink while reading this, he poured himself the last ounce of the stock of the good stuff, sat down and tore open the side of the envelope, taping the small pages out.
He took a swig of his drink, unfolded the letter and nearly choked on his drink. He couldnít believe it. Mac had written him one of those. G-d, how, whyÖ A million questions hit and scurried around his mind vying for first. But none would be answered until he read the fricken letter.
Steeling himself for more unwanted pain, he began.
ďMy Dearest Flyboy, my love, Harm,
Yeah, well, I said it first. I wanted you to know that before I said anything else. I bet youíre speechless too, with your mouth hanging open and your eyes wide in shock.
I guess I tend to do that to you and always at the very worst times, like when I left you, was it only yesterday? Iím sorry about that by the way.
All I wanted to do was to find out how you had been and to let you know that Iíd be gone for a while. But as usual, one of us would put a foot in a mouth and this time it was me.
Unfortunately, if youíre reading this, youíll know. Well, youíll know that you were right. Damn, even now I hate to admit that you are right about anything, especially me doing my job.
Thatís been our problem, hasnít it? We both want to win, and given our circumstances, our jobs, our lives, weíve never figured out how we can both win. I donít think weíve ever been enemies but weíve always been the best of adversaries, the best of friends.
By the way, I was really pissed when I heard about you investigating Singer behind my back. You could have told me. But even then I still tried seeing you in the brig. Unfortunately the admiral issued orders there too. You were to be held incommunicado from all of us.
Thatís what always happens. Something always comes between us, either the situation or other people or really ourselves. We deny ourselves everything for our duty, friends, family, time.
I think I know why though. Itís because weíre both afraid of giving something and never getting it back. Thatís why weíve never given ourselves the time because that would mean that weíd need to surrender a part of ourselves to each other, to admit how much we need each other.
Well, there I go again, admitting something to you without knowing if you feel the same. You win again flyboy.
But then, I guess, this is the only time I feel I can do that. So, sit back and be ready to be shocked out of your mind Squid cause here goes.
I know this mission is a bust. I know I should never have agreed to go on it and I also know that Webb must have been desperate beyond measure to admit that he needed anyone to help him.
Iím also pretty sure that I might not see you ever again, and you know that in our, well, whatever it is, this is the only time either one of us would ever admit to this next part.
Itís easy to say I love you. Itís not easy to mean it and I guess, at least, I believe thatís why youíve never said those words to me.
Well, I do mean them now Harm. I know I mean them without doubt or reservation. Iíve known it for a very long time.
I think you are probably the only man who I could ever trust enough to surrender my heart to, but only if I knew you could trust me enough to do the same.
I guess Iíve never earned that trust from you. I know you want to, I really do. That baby deal we have is proof of that.
But I also know that you never will and never would unless you found yourself in a situation like Iím in now. I donít wish that on you. Been there, done that, have the t-shirt. Itís not a good place to be.
Iíll tell you where Iíd like to be, next to you, carrying your child. I think thatís the worst thing about this, all the regrets. I would have loved having a baby with you, raising a child together. I think that knowing I never will hurts more than anything else.
Oh, what am I saying, with all our fighting that would be some messed up kid. But she, or he would be loved. That much I know about both of us Harm. I know weíd both love our child more than anything.
Oh, god, Iím crying and youíre not here to wipe the tears away and tell me itís all right for a Marine to cry. Iíve got to stop or youíll really think Iím a sap.
But hey, what does it matter what you think now, right? Iím gone.
Clayís starting to stir and I guess itís time to face this mess heís gotten us into so Iíll have to close now.
I love you Harm. Have a good life. You deserve it more than anyone else Iíve ever known.
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