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Breaking off


Friday, April 30th 1999

Mac was lying on the couch, her eyes closed, her head resting on Harm’s lap. Harm stroked her hair lovingly.

He had had his last meeting with the surgeon in the afternoon and knew he had to speak to Mac : his vision was back to perfect, even at night, and he was able to go through all ability tests and might then fly again. But watching the woman he loved, so relaxed and confident near him, he feared the way she would react.

He still was not sure if he really wanted to go back flying now that he could. Of course, he never really gave up on his career as a fighter pilot, but going back to sea duty and flying, assuming the Navy would accept this, would mean leaving Mac for several months.

Harm was facing a choice he never before had thought would occur : planes, or Mac. And yet he was aware that what looked like a choice actually was not one, because it did not depend just on him. And much more he had no right to make a decision, whatever it would be, alone. He had no right to behave this way with Mac. This whole situation was really new for him, and he felt a little uncomfortable about it.

During the whole week, each time he held her in his arms, during these wonderful moments of shared intimacy and tenderness when they both stayed silent, enjoying the soothing feeling of being together, Harm had hesitated about telling her about the surgery. But each time he opened his mouth to speak up, just at the last moment he stopped, afraid he would destroy what they had. How much longer could he be so weak and feel safe in this lie of omission ?

Mac moved slowly on his lap, stretched like a cat and opened her eyes.

 » Do you think this is how happiness tastes ?  »

She looked up into Harm’s eyes and smiled to him, reaching up to touch gently his cheek.

 » I can’t believe this is real, I have this constant feeling you are going to vanish, I’m only dreaming and I’ll wake up … without you … How long is it possible to be so happy ?  »
 » I don’t know, Sarah, this is new for me, too. … Sarah ? …  »
 » …Mmmmmm…  »
 » We have to talk …  »

A chill of anguish overwhelmed Mac. Harm’s voice had barely changed. She stood up slowly and stepped away from the couch, studying his face. She could see clouds in Harm’s blue eyes, clouds foreshadowing the approaching storm. Mac hugged herself, she was cold now, just a couple of steps away from Harm, and yet so far away.

 » What is happening ? You suddenly look so serious …  »
 » I don’t know … where to begin with … No, don’t worry, come and sit just near me, it’s going to help me.  »

Mac came back to the couch, sat down and let Harm put his arm around her shoulders, but did not really relax. Her instinct was shouting to her that she would not like what she was about to hear.

 » I met a doctor while you were in California, about my eyes, and I had some surgery … I have my vision totally back, even at night, Sarah …  »

Mac jumped and moved away from him again. She stood and walked to the window, her back to him. The information itself was not really alarming, but she felt Harm had not told her every thing yet, and she found it easier to wait before letting him know her reaction.

Harm glanced at Mac, so silent and immobile and he clenched his fists to find enough courage for explanations.

 » I wanted to know the outcome of the surgery before telling you, Sarah, but this afternoon I met the surgeon, he ran the last tests, and my vision is perfect again … and I have no idea what to do …  »

She whirled back to him, her face showing a total lack of understanding.

 » What do you mean, ‘what to do’ ?  »
 » … Well … when I met him for the first time, the situation between us was pretty tense, and as he spoke to me about a possible intervention which could bring my night vision back, I thought it was worth trying. If it was a success, I could use this event to request to get back on sea duty. I wanted to go back flying and this way not always be in conflict with you, put some distance between us, hoping it would help fade the pain I felt not living with you. But now …  »
 » Now what ?  »
 » Sarah, you are not really helping here, you know.  »
 » Why should I help you ? You’ve got a situation coming that you don’t want to deal with alone, and you are asking me to deal with it for you, right ? You want to go back to flying, but you have no idea how I’m going to react. So you let me make the decision for you, and then I’m the bad guy !  »
 » Sarah !  »
 » What, Sarah ? Just tell me I’m wrong, explain to me why you did not tell me about all this before ?  »
 » I had the surgery last week, when could I have told you before ?  »
 » Last week ? You mean when I came back from California ?  »
 » Yes … and I just got the last tests today. Sarah, I don’t want to leave you, not now, not ever. But at the same time, it was not my choice to stop flying, and I never really could get over it. You more than any one know what flying means to me. One year ago, I would have given anything to be able to make this decision about flying again, you know it, but today … I don’t know any more … I want to fly, but I want you to be with me. I believe I want every thing … but what I want most is never to lose you.  »

Mac observed him closely. Harm’s eyes were pleading for her help, but right now she was in no mood to give him the answers he was waiting for. The possibility Harm could leave was too painful for her to think about while speaking with him. Not now. Not when they had just reconnected one week before. She could not stay there and see how he would get away from her, grow distant. She needed some time to think this new situation out. Some time alone.

She went to the door, took her jacket and her purse and turned toward Harm, still sitting, watching her with sad eyes.

 » I can’t answer you right now, I can’t stay, give me a little time …  »

Harm stood and went to the door, but Mac stopped him.

 » No, don’t come to me, don’t make things more difficult. I need to clear my mind, I’ll call you tomorrow if I can. I’m not leaving, Harm, I just need to think alone about the situation, okay ?  »

And she went out of the apartment, not waiting for any answer.

Sunday, May 2nd, 1999 – 0600 local time

Lost in sullen thoughts, Harm was drinking his morning coffee. He was wondering about calling Sarah when a soft knock on the door was heard. So early in the morning, no one else but Mac would have dared to come meet him. He hurried to open the door and found her, dressed in jeans and jacket, a shy but open smile on her face.

He was starving to pull her into his arms but did not dare to make any move, waiting for Mac to explain to him why she was there so early.

 » May I come in ?  »
 » Oh, sure, sorry …  »

He stepped aside to let her in, still wondering why she was there.

Mac turned toward him and began to speak, almost shyly :

 » I need to know more about planes and you. I checked the weather, it’s going to be beautiful today, and I thought you could take me flying … to help me understand … that is, if you want.  »

Surprise mesmerized Harm. Mac had always refused to fly again with him since their misadventure in the Appalachians years ago, and he knew she disliked F-14s. The fact she was asking him to take her flying was surely a good sign. A smile took slowly life on his lips and he came to her, opening his arms.

 » If I want ? Of course, Sarah, I want to share this with you, nothing could make me happier.  »

As he started to pull her into his embrace, she stepped backwards.

 » No, Harm, please. I first want to go flying and try to understand, and afterwards, tonight, we’ll speak about it, okay ? I spent the whole day yesterday trying to figure this out. If I let you go, I need to know why.  »
 » You don’t need to let me go, Sarah. If you want, I’ll forget this opportunity.  »
 » And I would accept to destroy the Harmon Rabb I’m in love with ? I would take the risk for you to turn bitter, to spend the rest of your life wondering what would have happened, and one day you would then resent me. No, Harm. But please, don’t touch me now, or I won’t be brave enough to help you achieve your dreams.  »

Harm stared at her and smiled tenderly.

 » What did I do to deserve you, Sarah ?  »
 » We waited for each other long enough to deserve each other, Harm. Get ready, flyboy, heaven can’t wait !  »
May, 3rd 1999

Admiral Chegwidden read once again the request for a change of assignment that Lt Commander Harmon Rabb had just given to him. After the first instants of shock, he was now disappointed. His assumed heir wanted to leave him … He looked up at his officer, still standing in front of the desk, and observed him.

 » You don’t feel at home with us, Commander ? You know that going back to flying is an important step backwards for your career. You are about to destroy every thing you have set up. Is this really what you want ?  »
 » I don’t consider it as a step backwards, Sir. I never made the decision to stop flying, and now that I have the opportunity to get back to sea duty, I can’t let it go.  »
 » Did you think long enough about all this ? You should wait a little more.  »
 » No, Sir. I spent long enough thinking about it, and I spoke about it with … friends, and I have made my decision. If the Navy is willing to give me a chance again, I wish to give it a try.  »
 » You are going to fly with pilots about half of your age, Commander.  »
 » I don’t think there are many 17-year-old pilots out there, Sir …  »

AJ understood how serious Harm’s decision was, and even if he disagreed with his choice, he would support his request. It was a waste, but it was Harmon Rabb’s life, not his own. He tried a last chance.

 » Are you sure you want to leave your girl friend for a six months deployment, Commander ?  »

Taken aback, Harm looked at him and finally stammered :

 » My girl friend, Sir ?  »
 » I know this is not my business, but I heard you spend a lot of time with this young psychiatrist from Bethesda. Does she know about your decision ?  »
 » Actually, Sir … I wanted to inform you about another change in my life, but I had thought about waiting a little longer …  »
 » …  »
 » It’s … about … Major Mackenzie, Sir …  »

AJ stood, turned around his desk and crossed his arms on his chest, waiting for the officer to go on explaining. But Harm seemed to be frozen, unable to speak.

 » Well, Commander, I might as well change my opinion and believe it’s better you go back flying . If you are not able any more to explain what you have in mind, your career as a lawyer could be pretty well damaged.  »
 » I’m sorry, Sir, but I believe the major should be here.  »

AJ pressed a button on the phone and told Tiner to call in Major Mackenzie.

A couple of minutes later, Tiner introduced Mac. She looked surprised to see Harm in the admiral’s office. He had planned to give his request this morning, as they had decided it together on the evening before, but she truly did not understand why AJ was calling her in. She looked at Harm questioning, and he seemed to be uncomfortable. Oh God, he had not …

 » Major, Lt Commander Rabb just gave me a request to go back to sea duty, and now it looks like there is another change in his life involving you. Could you enlighten me, as it seems he does not want to explain it as long you are not present ?  »

Mac looked at Harm again, frowning, then turned toward AJ.

 » A change, Sir ?  »
 » So, are you just like him unable to explain this to me, major ?  »
 » No, Sir, but I believed … we would wait … till we knew if his request would be accepted before … telling you. But maybe it’s better this way … Harm … Lt Commander Rabb and I … we are not only friends any more, Sir. We want to live together …  »
 » Actually, Admiral, I wanted to propose to Major Mackenzie tonight, and marry her as soon my first deployment will be finished … this is, if my request is accepted …  »

Mac turned to Harm with a bright smile, cursing silently the uniform she was wearing and which forbade her to run into his arms. She had not believed Harm would so quickly ask her once again to marry him, but this time, she was ready.

AJ looked at them, he wished he could know how long this situation had been running, know whether all questions he had wondered about these past months were pertinent, but he was aware his curiosity would remain open. And if Harm was not allowed to go back to flying, he would in any case lose one of his lawyers, unless he pulled Admiral’s privilege.

All the same, he had to add something :

 » I’m happy for you, but I don’t understand why you make the choice to begin your life together with a six month separation, which will probably happen again and again on a regular basis. Aren’t you afraid, Mac ?  »
 » I am, Sir, but we’ve gotten through too many ordeals to not be sure about our love now, and I will never try to prevent Harm from pursuing his dreams, exactly as he will never stop supporting me whatever decision I will make. I spent a lot of time thinking about all this, Sir, and I’m sure about me, about us.  » answered Mac turning toward Harm, a bright smile on her face.

Without thinking he reached to Mac to take her hand , but let it immediately drop, remember where they stood. His smile was as bright as Mac’s one. AJ still watched them and he understood how serious and deliberate their choice was, how strong their relationship would be.

 » I’ll send your request with my recommendation over to the SecNav as soon as today, Commander. Dismissed !  »

As Harm and Mac were about to leave, he called them back.

 » Harm, Mac ! I’m really happy for you.  »
 » Thank you, Sir !  » they both responded together.
May, 20th 1999

They lay in each other’s arms, trying to regain a regular breathing.

They had taken Bud out for dinner to celebrate little AJ’s birth, two days earlier, and to show him the emerald finally at home on Mac’s hand. They had enjoyed Bud’s surprised look, he seemed to be impatient to go back to his young spouse and tell her this great news : AJ’s godparents were about to get married. Not now, as soon as Harm’s first cruise would be over, in December.

Harm’s new assignment had not been as long as expected, as if the SecNav was thrilled about the occasion he was given to get rid of this Lt Commander Rabb dragging all possible problems around him. Harm had to report to Pensacola on Monday morning, four days later, where he would have one month training before being deployed to the Patrick Henry, in the Adriatic Sea.

The admiral had given them both three days leave before Harm’s departure, the last days they would spend together before long, the first days they were finally spending together officially as a couple, without hiding from friends, or even from themselves. They had spoke about visiting Trish Burnett in La Jolla, but Harm could not decide to share Sarah, even with his mother, during the last days they had together.

Sure, he was the one leaving, and the excitement about flying again was real, but at the same time he was totally aware how much he would miss her : her smile, her voice, her smell, the warmth of her body in his arms, the taste of her skin on his lips. Was his will to achieve his childhood dream really worth the sacrifice they both had to make ? He was not yet away and he still doubted his choice. Sarah’s absence would be much more difficult for him to accept than he had figured. And maybe he would not want to leave her again after he came back …

 » You’re dreaming ? »

Mac had her lips on his ear, she teased him with the tip of her tongue, and once again shivers ran from his lower back through his body. One of his hands wandered slowly down her body, covering her tensed breast, playing with its nipple. Harm pushed himself up on an elbow and contemplated Sarah’s face and naked body.

 » I wish I could learn you by heart, I want to be able to close my eyes and see you, smell you, taste you. I wish I could take you with me ..  »
 » Tshhh, Harm, forget tomorrow, enjoy the time being, we still have three days just the two of us together, forget every thing else …  »

Harm leaned over her and forgot the world around them, the time flowing away mercilessly and he lost himself willingly in her body.
Mac watched Harm while he cooked breakfast, a dietetic drink for him, and fried eggs for her. Mac wanted these fried eggs, just to hear him tell her again and again that her food habits were not healthy : he was so cute when he took care of her this way. He was so cute all the time. How would she survive six months without him, while all her life for three years had been around Harm ? But for him, she had to be strong, she would have enough time to cry when he would be away and would not be hurt by her distress. She knew Harm would only be delivered from his obsessive dreams if he was able to be a pilot again. He had to understand alone that his life was now at JAG, with her. She did not want a man whose unachieved dreams would have shadowed the every day and simple life.

But it was hurting her so much.

She thought about little AJ’s birth, three days earlier, about the emotion they both felt witnessing the arrival of this tiny human being. Harm’s sunny smile was as bright as hers, and their eyes met, promising each other to live similar moments … with their own children.

They never had spoken about children until now, and Mac suddenly felt this was the right moment.

 » Harm ?  »
 » Yes ?  »
 » I … we never spoke about this before, but I want …  »
 » What do you want, Sarah ?  »
 » I want to have children with you …  »

Harm’s smile was better than an answer, and smiling he teased her.

 » Can you wait until breakfast is over ?  »

Mac laughed.

 » Stop joking, I was serious …  »
 » I know … I just meant I want very much to have children with you, too, and as soon as possible. And in the mean time, I think we should go on practicing … immediately after my little tiger is fed !  »

May, 24th 1999

Mac stepped out of her ‘Vette and stopped a couple of minutes looking at the empty place where Harm usually parked his car. For the first time since she began working at JAG HQ, she would not see the tall figure of the lieutenant commander marching through the bullpen, she would not fight him in court, lose herself in his smile when he won a case, watch him as he spread out his spell to seduce a jury, argue with him during a difficult investigation.

And worse, tonight she would go home to an empty apartment, and she would wait for his call, just like all these Navy wives she had so often met.

Today, for the first time in her life, Sarah Mackenzie would wait for her man to be back.



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