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, and the TV series JAG belong to Donald P. Bellisario, Belisaurius
Productions, Paramount Pictures, and Columbia Broadcasting Service
Author’s Note: Mattie needed somebody to talk to, and people asked for
a sequel, so I’m taking a study break… Spoilers up to season
ten's A Whole New Ballgame.
30 OCTOBER 2004
MATTIE AND JEN’S APARTMENT
NORTH OF UNION STATION
Mattie settled on her bed and leaned back against the headboard.
Jen’s questions kept running through her head, and she wasn’t sure how
to answer them. What *would* happen if she decided to live with
her dad again? What if he fell off the wagon? She bit her
lip and reached for her diary. She’d left it on the nightstand
the night before and she felt the need to vent.
"Man, that still sounds cheesy! I sound like some little
middle-school kid. "Dear Diary, I went and played with Annie
today." Bleech. But this is the only place where I can really let
go. I mean, I can't talk to dad or Harm about this because
they're involved, and I don't think I can really talk to Jen about it,
either. I love my dad. Really, I do. Just for a while
there, my anger drowned out that fact. Hell, I don't know what to
"I love spending time with Dad, and I definitely love sleeping in my
own bed in my old house, but then there's Harm. I love him,
too. And if I leave, Harm'll be alone again. Even I can see
that he's a lot happier since he got me. It may look weird from
the outside, but I think we need each other. Harm is just as much
my dad as Dad is; maybe even more.
"For all I know, Dad will leave again if things get rough. Harm
might not be able to be here 24/7, but he's always around when I need
him. I know he loves me, even if he does have trouble saying
it. I love Dad, but can I really trust him? I
don't know. I do know that I can trust Harm. He'd never
intentionally hurt me, and he'd sure as Hell never leave me
behind. If he got transferred, he'd fight tooth and nail to take
me with him.
"Frankly, the relatives that Dad left me with are scary people.
That's why I left; I had somewhere to run to, after all. They
wanted a babysitter for their monsters, and I didn't like the way Uncle
Pete, my Aunt Furla's husband, looked at me. I don't particularly
like being eyed like I'm the last piece of chocolate cake on a
plate. Especially since it was my uncle doing it. Talk
about creepy. I tried to tell Aunt Furla, but she wasn't
listening. Running home sounded like a great idea to me.
Since Harm found me there, I guess I was right.
"I'm glad he rescued me. Harm does that, you know. He's a
real hero; a whole bunch of people would be dead if it weren't for
him. I know; I looked him up on the internet. He's my
hero and I'd like to say he's my dad, but I already *have* a dad!
Just what in the world am I supposed to do here? If I go back to
living with my dad, I'm betraying Harm. But if I live with Harm,
I'm betraying Dad! I mean, I'm fifteen; that's old enough to say
who I want to live with.
"I wish I had somebody to give me some advice. I wish I could go
find Harm and get him to hold me. A hug from him always makes me
feel better. I love him, you know. I'm afraid that if I go
and live with Dad, I'll have a Harm-shaped hole in my heart. He
was the dad that he didn't have to be. I'm also not sure that Dad
can *be* my dad on a 24/7 basis. He's cool when we go out, but he
was never all that good at homework and stuff. Harm is.
"Harm helps me with my homework and even explains some of the
math. I need that. Dad never could do it. Heck, I
don't like the rules that Harm has given me sometimes, but at least
he's consistent about it. Dad never was. Mom was always the
one to take care of that stuff. I mean, Harm's even still looking
for a house for us. I don't want to go back to fending for
myself. I'm afraid that it might happen if I went back to
Blacksburg with Dad. I have a life here now and I'm not sure I
want to leave it.
"I guess in a way, I'm lucky. Some kids don't have a father, and
I've got two that love me. But how can I choose between
them? How can I choose between the hero who rescued me and the
Daddy that I remember?"
Mattie looked us as she heard a knock on the door. "Come in," she
"Bedtime, Mats," Harm said, as he walked in. "You've got practice
Mattie scrubbed at the tearstains that she knew were on her face,
closed the journal, and put it away. "Hey Harm," she said softly.
Harm came over and tugged one long curl. "You okay, kiddo?" he
"Harm," Mattie began in a small voice, "can I have a hug?"
Harm simply sat down beside her and opened his arms. She climbed
into them and rubbed her face on his shirt. It felt safe
there. It was almost better than when her dad had held her when
she was little; unlike her real father, Harm wouldn't disappear on
her. She remembered her dad disappearing for days at a time when
he was on a bender.
Mattie closed her eyes as she felt him drop a kiss into her hair.
Harm meant safety and love and peace. Going with her dad was to
risk uncertainty. She knew that Harm would try and protect her no
matter what; she had no doubts that when she became a Navy pilot, he'd
have words with the CAG and her RIO about keeping her safe.
"Harm," she said uncertainly. "You know that I'll always love
you, right? You know that I think of you as my old man…"
She felt Harm's arms tighten around her. "Of course I do.
You're my little girl, Mats. I'll always see you as that, and
it'll never change."
"Are you sure?" she asked softly. "What if the judge sends me
"You're not getting rid of me easily, kiddo. If the judge sends
you back or if you decide to go live with your dad, I'll still do my
best to be part of your life." His arms tightened around her until she
could barely breathe. "I did my best to get the two of you
talking again because it was the right thing to do--not because I want
to get rid of you."
"I know," Mattie whispered. "I'm scared. I don't know what
I want or what to do about this mess; I've been happy here." She
interrupted herself by yawning; it had been a long day and she'd been
up since six.
"I'll always be here for you, Mattie, no matter what happens or what
you decide. I promise and I never break a promise." Harm
started rubbing her back gently, just like her mom used to when she was
little and couldn't sleep.
Mattie's eyes started to drift shut. She fought it, wanting to
stay up and talk to Harm more, but surrounded by feelings of safety and
love, she couldn't help but finally give in to the two-ton weights on
her eyelids. Harm laid her back against the pillow, stood up, and
pulled the blankets over her prone form. In a way, it was
probably a good thing that she hadn't bothered to make the bed that
morning. He tucked the blankets securely around her and placed a
gentle kiss on her forehead. "'Night, Mattie," he whispered, then
left the room, shutting the door behind him.