Disclaimer: If you think they're mine, you're sadly
mistaken. I borrowed them, hugged them, squeezed them, and called
them George and 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
Author's Note: At dinner last night, it occurred to me that TPTB made
us miss out on some of the joys that come with being a father of a
teenager. My dad went through it three times, so I don't see why
Harm should be exempt! ;) So… Spoilers up to season nine, I guess,
nothing specific, though.
12 MARCH 2004
FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA
Harm absently reached for the phone and picked it up when it
rang. "Commander Rabb," he said.
"Mr. Rabb," the voice on the other end of the line said. "This is
Gretchen Brown--your daughter's volleyball coach--"
"How can I help you, Ms. Brown?" Harm asked.
"Mr. Rabb, Mathilda's period started today and I'm afraid that she
doesn't have any… supplies that she can use with her, and the bathroom
machines seem to be out. I would very much appreciate it if you
could drop something off; we have a game today, if you'll remember--"
Harm gulped. Jen had always managed to take care of the girl
stuff for him. "Yes, Ma'am," he managed to say. "I'll be
there as soon as I can--tell Mattie to sit tight."
Hurriedly, he said goodbye, hung up the phone, and put his head in his
hands. He was a decorated fighter pilot. He could handle
going into a drug store and buying--that. He'd managed to
avoid it with Renee. He hadn't done it for Jordan, Annie, or even
Diane. He'd been closer to Mac than he'd been with any other
woman, and he'd never gone to the store for *those*. Harm gulped
in some air, took a deeper breath, and pushed back from his desk.
There was no use putting it off. The sooner he got it over with,
the better off he'd be.
Harm stood up, grabbed his coat and cover, and hurried to the Admiral's
office. He poked his head inside the door and smiled at
Jen. "Coates," he began, "tell the Admiral that I had to leave
for a few minutes? Mattie's had a minor emergency and I need to
go take care of it."
Coates looked up from her computer. "Anything I need to help
with, Sir?" she asked.
Harm smiled. He wished that he could just let her do it, but he'd
been away so much lately that he felt that he should. This was
what he got for all but adopting a daughter. "Thanks, Jen, but I
can handle it," he said.
"I'll let him know," she promised.
Harm gave her another smile, turned around and hurried out of the
building. There was a Walgreen's on the way to Mattie's school,
so he could just zip in and out to get her supplies. Simple,
right? He climbed in the car, started it, and raced out of the
parking lot. Mattie had an away game, so most likely she couldn't
wait very long.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, he hit
almost every light just as they turned green, so it didn't take him
long to arrive at the drug store. He pulled the 'Vette into a
parking space, turned it off, and climbed out. He rushed into the
store and, looking at the signs above the aisles, found the correct one
and walked down it.
He stared at the bewildering array of packages. 'What the hell am
I supposed to get?' he wondered. He started inching his way
down the aisle, staring at one brightly-colored package after another,
trying to figure out what Mattie needed. It wasn't like he made a
habit of poking in the bathroom cabinets in the apartment down the hall.
He breathed a sigh of relief as he spotted an older woman at the end of
the aisle. She was wearing a red Walgreen's smock, so he figured
it'd be safe for him to, perhaps, get some help. Surely he
couldn't be the first father to walk into the store who didn't have a
clue as to what to buy for their teenage daughter.
"Ma'am?" he said as he sidled up beside her.
The woman, who had "Barbara," written on her name tag, turned around
and smiled at him. "Wife, girlfriend, or daughter?" she asked,
her smile widening into a grin.
Harm could feel the flush creeping up his face, and knew that he must
be beet red by then. "Um, daughter," he answered.
"They're terrifying at that age," she said. "How old is she?"
"Fifteen," he said.
Barbara reached for a couple of packages and handed them to him.
"These should do," she said.
He took them from her. "Thank you, Ma'am," he said with a
respectful nod. He turned walked back down the aisle. Harm
bit his lip as it dawned on him exactly what he was carrying and began
to inch the products further from his body. It wasn't long before
he was holding them straight out in front of him, his arms stiff, as if
they were a nuclear bomb and were about to explode.
He all but ran to the register and dropped them on the counter.
Desperately, Harm began to scan the room for something to distract him
as the cashier rang him up. He pulled out a twenty and handed it
over before she could ask for it, accepted his change and picked up the
plastic bag containing the supplies with two fingers. As he
headed out of the store, he laughed uneasily at himself--he was acting
as if they had cooties or something. He glanced at the bag and
decided that maybe they *did* have cooties. After all, he'd never
see the Admiral or Sturgis in a store buying such items.
He unlocked the car door, threw the package in the passenger seat, and
slid into the car. Harm started the engine. 'Thank goodness
it was almost over with,' he thought. He'd rather just let Mattie
have his credit card and buy what she needed. He gulped suddenly
as it occurred to him that it could have been worse; she could have
asked him to go with her to buy a bra. He'd rather let another
dirty nuke chase him than go into the lingerie section of a department
Harm stepped on the gas and drove to Mattie's school as fast as he
could without getting stopped. He screeched into a parking spot
and parked. He grabbed the package out of the seat and hurried
into the school, still holding it with two fingers. Since
Mattie's coach had called, he signed in at the office and went across
the hall to the gym. He opened the door and went inside, frowning
as he noticed Mattie sitting on a bench inside the door. "Mattie?"
Mattie looked up. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of
him. "Harm?" she said. She stood up and walked the few
steps to bridge the gap between them. "I-I thought you'd send
Jen," she said. Her lower lip was trembling slightly and it made
Harm's heart hurt. He could tell that she had wanted to cry, but
was suppressing it.
"Nope," he said with an easy grin. Harm handed her the bag.
"I won't always be gone, Mats. I signed up to bring you homework
when you forget it, dry clothes when you fall into the mud--"
Mattie grinned. "And other things that I forget?" she asked.
"Yup," was his response. "Have fun at your game, kiddo--I'll see
you at home."
As Harm walked towards the door, he stopped briefly to glance back at
his little girl. He suppressed a smile as he heard a high voice
ask her who the hot guy was. He shook his head, left the school,
and climbed into his car with a sigh of relief. He'd passed the
trial by feminine products. And, for the first time since his
last out of town case, really been there when Mattie needed him.