Disclaimer: If you think they belong to me, you're sadly mistaken. I borrowed them, hugged them, squeezed them, called them George, then gave them back like a good girl. Seriously, Harm, Mac, Mattie, and the TV series JAG belong to Donald P. Bellisario, Belisaurius Productions, Paramount Pictures, and Columbia Broadcasting Service Entertainment.
Mattie sat at her desk and reached for the little leather-bound blank book that Harm had given her when she’d started going to Alateen meetings. He’d said that she needed somewhere to put her thoughts down, somewhere that she could yell at the world in general, and somewhere private where she could talk about the stuff that she didn’t want to share with him.
She hadn’t agreed at the time; keeping a diary or a journal sounded like a dorky thing to do, but she’d changed her mind. It wasn’t so bad to have a place to write things down that bugged her. It was actually a pretty good outlet, and it let her say things that she’d never say to her foster-father’s face. Of course, it helped that he’d told her that he’d kept one once after his ramp strike.
Mattie flipped open the book, grabbed a pen, and started writing.
“Dad came to take me and Harm to dinner last night, but Harm didn’t come with. He said that he had too much work to get done. He’s never lied to me, so I know he was telling the truth, but I think it had more to do with him letting me spend time with Dad than anything else.
“I told him that I still need him, and it’s true. I mean, it’s great that I’m reconnecting with Dad, but he hasn’t been my father in a long time. Harm has. Harm’s been the one to ask about homework, and curfews, and taken me to volleyball. He’s the one who dragged me to Alateen and helped me fix what’s left of my relationship with my dad.
“I mean, I have a biological father and I love him, but a big part of me thinks of Harm as my dad. We’ll have to go see the judge soon about custody again. I’m fifteen, so I should be able to tell them who I want to live with. I’m happy here. I’m not sure that either my dad or me are ready to try living together again; I want to stay with Harm. I want to find a house and maybe even let him adopt me.
“Don’t get me wrong—I don’t want my real dad out of my life anymore. It’s just that Harm became my dad when he didn’t have to. Most people would’ve just turned me over to Social Services and think that they’d done their duty. Not Harm. He loves me, I think. I know I love him. If he and Mac ever work it out, their kids are gonna be real lucky. And if I’m lucky, I’ll be their big sister.
“Did I tell you that he’s been teaching me to fly? Well he has. He also says that if I keep my grades up, he’ll help me get an appointment to the Naval Academy. That’s good, since I want to fly jets. I mean, if I don’t get in, I can always go the Naval ROTC route and then go to Air Cadets, but I think I’d rather do the whole military school thing. It’d probably be easier to adjust to life on a carrier if I was already used to military life. Heck, living with Harm and Jen has at least made me adept in military time!
“I’ve thought of trying to help Harm and Mac, ‘cause I know he loves her, but I’m afraid that I might just screw up things worse than they already are. I mean, they’re grown-ups! They should be able to work things out by themselves! I’ll always be grateful to her for what she did at Christmas, though. Without her, I wouldn’t be with Harm; I’d be stuck in a stupid foster home.”
Mattie’s head shot up as she heard Harm calling her name. A quick glance at the clock showed her that it was dinnertime. She closed the journal and shoved it back in its usual place, then got up and headed for the door. She’d explained to him that she still needed him, but she had a feeling that she needed to try and spend more time with him to show him that. With Harm, actions always spoke louder than words, and she needed to prove to him that he would always be part of her family.