Asked and Answered
© LauraBF, 2004
Disclaimer: Not mine, not mine, not mine! Hey TPTB, want my Strawberry Shortcake ™ collection for 'em? The toys are all original! Seriously, Harm, Mac, and the TV series JAG belong to Donald P. Bellisario, Belisaurius Productions, Paramount Pictures, and Columbia Broadcasting Service Entertainment.
Spoilers: Season nine up through "Coming Home".
Mattie and Jen's Apartment
North of Union Station
Mattie leaned back in the beanbag chair and sighed. "Jen?" she called.
Jennifer poked her head out of her bedroom. "What, Mattie?"
"How do you think Mac feels about Harm?" Mattie pulled her hair into a ponytail.
Jen walked over and flopped unceremoniously onto the other beanbag chair. "From all the stories I've heard," she began, "I think there was a time when the colonel really loved the commander."
"What do you mean?" Mattie asked as she fiddled with her hair.
"Well, I think she's dating Webb now... and she just seems interested in fighting with the commander lately."
"But why do you think that she doesn't love him anymore?" Mattie asked.
"All she ever seems to do is hurt him," Jennifer retorted. "I'm not sure if she ever really loved him to begin with."
"I think you're wrong," Mattie murmured. "The person who came to my custody hearing loved Harm; I think she still does."
Jennifer just shrugged. "It's none of my business anyway; they're senior officers."
Mattie reached for her shoes and pulled them on. "What's the matter, Jen? Did the cranky old man start yelling again?" Without waiting for a response, Mattie stood up and headed towards the door. "If this works or it doesn't you *won't* really be involved. Jen, can I please get a lift to Colonel Mackenzie's place?"
Jennifer sighed and reached for her keys. "Okay, kiddo, but when this backfires, I'd better not catch heat for it."
The two young women headed out the door, the younger of the two determined to help her guardian by convincing Mac to be her new mom.
Mac looked up from the case file she was looking through when the knock sounded at her door. "Coming," she called as she shut the file and hurried over.
Mac looked through the peephole, then hurried to unlock it when she saw Mattie on the other side of the door. "Mattie, what's wrong? Is Harm okay?"
Mattie looked down and scuffed the toe of her sneaker against the floor. "Can I come in?" she asked.
Mac nodded and gestured her inside. She shut the door behind Mattie, then locked it. "What's the matter, Mattie?" she asked gently.
Mattie sat in silence for a few minutes. "Mac, how do you feel about Harm?" she asked finally. "Do you love him, as in 'get married and live happily ever after'?"
Mac dropped down onto the sofa with a thump. She'd never been asked point blank before, and she wasn't sure how to answer. "Yes," she murmured, glad to get it over with. "But you have to swear to me that you won't tell him; I *do* love him, and I have for a long time."
A huge grin spread over Mattie's face. "I *knew* it," she said with a happy sigh. "And it's a good thing, since I asked him if he loves you and he said yes, too. Oops." Mattie covered her mouth with her hands. "I shouldn't have said that."
Mac reached over to push back an errant strand of Mattie's streaky hair. "Mattie, how did you get here?" she asked.
"I conned Jen into dropping me off," Mattie admitted.
Mac reached for her purse, then stood up. "C'mon, kiddo, it's past your curfew, and it's a school night."
Mattie stood up and followed as Mac headed towards the door. "Mac, are you gonna tell Harm that I blabbed? I wasn't supposed to say anything."
"No," Mac answered. "I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. Did he *really* say that he loves me?"
Mattie nodded. "Yeah, but I didn't give him any choice. Harm's like that; he needs simple questions." She smiled. "See, it took him a long time to tell me that he loves me, and I live with him; maybe he's scared or something."
"Maybe," Mac repeated. "C'mon, Mattie. Let's get you home."
Mac bit her lip as she ushered the teenager out the door. She wasn't sure if Harm had been telling the truth, but perhaps it was time to find out once and for all.
North of Union Station
Mac shifted from foot to foot as she tried to gather the courage to knock on Harm's door. "I'm a Marine," she muttered. "I can't be *that* scared of a sneaky squid."
She took a deep breath, then knocked on the door. She played with her ring as the door cracked open. "Mac? What are you here for?" Harm asked.
"Harm, I have two questions for you," she said.
Harm yawned before he motioned her to come inside. "Go ahead, Mac," he said. "Today started twice as early as usual, and I'm tired."
"Harm, do you love me?" she asked. "And I'm talking love as in 'they lived happily ever after,' flyboy."
Harm sat silent for a few moments. "Is there such a thing as happily ever after?" he asked softly. "I'm not sure that exists; everybody I've ever loved has left. Even Mattie will eventually."
"I think it does," Mac answered. "Harm, you're my best friend, and more than my best friend. And you didn't answer the question, sailor. It's not hard. Yes, no, or get the hell away from me?" She laid her hand on his back, rubbing it gently through the thin tee-shirt he wore.
Harm sat in silence, and from the way his jaw was clenching and unclenching, Mac could tell that he was trying to come up with an answer. "Yes," he answered finally.
"That's good," Mac said, "because I feel the same way."
Slowly, Harm brought his arms up and pulled her close. He laid his cheek against her hair and sighed. "You had another question?"
"I've been doing a lot of thinking since I broke up with Webb," Mac murmured. "And I just want to know; was the baby deal a way to say that we could try for everything? Is it still valid?"
Harm nodded against her hair. "Uh huh." He cupped her cheek in his hand, then leaned down to kiss her. His lips met hers in a kiss that was more sweet than passionate, but full of promises of better things to come. "Stay with me, Mac?" he asked. "I want to hold you."
"I'll have to leave early," she warned.
Harm shrugged. "So?" he gave her his puppy dog look. "Please stay? We don't have to do anything."
Mac found herself nodding. "Okay."
Harm led her into the bedroom, slid into bed and held out an arm. Mac finished undressing and climbed in next to him, cuddling next to him. "I love you," she murmured.
Harm hugged her close and smiled sleepily. "Yeah," he said. "Don't know what I'd do without you."
Mac started rubbing his back gently, and watched as his eyes started to slide shut. She ran her hand through his hair as he lost his battle with sleep. Not matter what came next, she'd be okay, because Harm was now hers.