The next few weeks went by in a blur as Harm and Jen settled into married life amidst Jen and Harriet getting their business on its feet and Harm started mentoring Vic. Harm suggested to Jason that he spend some time with the other young officer, mostly to be able to keep tabs on Vic's off-duty activities.
The reviews were finished by the end of the fourth week, and as a reward, Harm called Vic and Lt. Col. Paul Burrows into his office. Burrows was a Marine JAG who had been assigned to the office only a week prior. He had been in Iraq/Afghanistan area until his transfer to London, and Harm liked him.
"As you were," Harm said once they were standing before him. "Gunnery Sergeant Walter Cummings is part of the Marine guard contingent at the US Embassy here in London. Do you either of you know him?" Harm asked. The US military community in London wasn't overly large, and Harm had already discovered that many of them, officers as well as enlisted, seemed to 'hang out' together while off duty.
Both Burrows and Vic shook their heads, but Vic said, "Is he the one who was seeing the young woman whose cousin is on the terrorist watch list, Captain?"
"That's the one," Harm acknowledged, impressed that Vic seemed on top of the latest scuttlebutt. "Elena Croyden was born in England to an Iraqi mother, Anhalia al Ahajani, and British father, Gordon Croyden. Normally, there wouldn't be a problem. But two days ago, a group of Marines were pinned down and engaged in a firefight with some insurgents near Tikrit. One Marine was killed, two were seriously wounded. The only insurgent killed was identified as Abrahim al Ahajani."
"Ms. Croyden's cousin," Burrows guessed.
"So they want to know if the Gunny's relationship with Ms. Croyden was responsible for the ambush and the death of a US Marine," Vic suggested.
"In a nutshell, yes," Harm confirmed.
"Would a Marine guarding the US Embassy be privy to such intel, Captain?" Vic asked.
Burrows answered. "Not usually."
"No. But there was a major planning session held at the Embassy last week regarding the latest push to wipe out the insurgency," Harm explained. "Gunny Cummings was a guard at the meeting - stationed just outside of the room. He had opportunity."
"We'll find out what happened, sir," Burrows assured Harm. "If this Marine was stupid enough to do something like that, then he doesn't deserve to be in the Corps."
"We don't know that he was that stupid, Colonel," Vic replied. "He could have been an innocent dupe - or he might not have passed on the information at all. They could have gotten it from various other sources -"
"It's nice to know that you're both coming at this from different directions, gentlemen," Harm noted, interrupting the 'discussion'. "See if you can find some common ground and keep me informed on your progress. This is a sensitive matter and needs to be handled with the highest level of discretion."
"Understood, sir," Burrows said, accepting the file folder from Harm.
"Yes, sir," Vic said.
Mattie was on her way out of the house when Harm arrived that evening. "Whoa," he said, grabbing her arm after she greeted him, gave him a kiss on the cheek and started out the door. "Where's the fire?"
"I'm going over to Linda's to study chemistry," she told him. "We have a *huge* test tomorrow."
"When did this come up?" he asked.
"We just decided to study together this afternoon," she explained. "I'll be home by nine," she promised. Linda's mother invited me to dinner."
"Okay. Be careful. Where's Jen?" he asked, looking into the living room from the entry hall.
He wondered about the small smile that appeared on her face as she answered. "She's in the bedroom. Enjoy your evening."
Harm dropped his briefcase by the study before carrying his uniform bag into the bedroom. "Jen?" he called, finding the room empty.
"In the bathroom," she called back. "I just took a shower."
Harm put the garment bag onto the back of a chair, then moved toward the bathroom door, opening it to find his wife standing in the middle of the room with a white bath towel wrapped around her. "You could have waited for me," he said, pulling her close for a kiss.
"I thought we could go out to dinner tonight," she said.
"Out?" he questioned, trailing a kiss along her bare shoulder. "I'd much rather stay in, since we have the house to ourselves."
"I thought we could celebrate," Jen told him, but she was sliding his jacket off of his shoulders and pulling his tie free from its knot.
"Celebrate? Anything in particular?"
"Well, this for starters," she said, reaching around him to pick something up from the counter beside the sink.
Harm took the plastic stick and looked at it. "What's this?" he asked.
"We're pregnant," she told him.
Even before their marriage, Jen had insisted that she wanted to start a family as soon as possible - not only for Harm's sake, but for hers. Harm hadn't been so sure about the idea, not wanting Jen to feel as though he'd only married her to have a child, but Jen had been adamant that it was what *she* wanted as well. So she had stopped taking the Pill.
Harm's eyes widened as they moved from the stick to Jen's face, and back again before the stick fell to the floor as he said, "You're -"
She nodded, looking up at him, her dark eyes searching his face. "Pregnant. Are you okay?" she asked.
"Okay?" he repeated, lifting her off her feet as he swung her around. "I'm *great*!" he declared, his delighted laughter echoing around the small room.
"You look happy, sir," Bud noted as they sat in Harm's office the next morning.
"I am, Bud," Harm confirmed. "I have everything I could ever want in life. A career that I enjoy; a wonderful wife; a beautiful, smart daughter in Mattie; and a new baby on the way. What could be better?"
"Jen's pregnant? Congratulations!"
"Thank you. She hasn't been to the doctor, but she has an appointment for today. She got one of those tests -"
"Like the one Harriet used when she was first pregnant with AJ," Bud nodded, recalling his accidentally taking the stick into the Admiral's office with him. "That's great, sir."
"I think so."
"How does Mattie feel about it?"
"She's delighted at the idea of having a little brother or sister. She knew before I did. Apparently she needed to borrow a hair thing from Jen and saw the stick when she went into the bathroom to get it. I keep wanting someone to pinch me to make sure I'm not dreaming."
"It's a great feeling, isn't it?"
"The best, Bud," Harm agreed.
"Col. Burrows and Lt. Vukovic are here to see you, sir," Greer said.
"Send them in, Petty Officer," Harm said, focusing his attention on the door through which the two men entered the office and came to attention. "At ease," he said. "Is this about the Cummings case?"
"Yes, sir," Burrows said, glancing in Bud's direction.
Seeing that look, Harm said, "Go on."
"Very well, sir." He extended a folder toward Harm. "Our report."
"You've already completed your investigation?"
"We have, Captain. It would appear possible that GSgt. Cummings did pass the information he overheard during that meeting on to Ms. Croyden."
"What does she say about it?" Harm asked. Burrows and Vukovic exchanged a look, causing Harm to ask, "Well, gentlemen?"
"We were unable to interview Ms. Croyden, Captain," Burrows admitted.
"Her mother insisted that Ms. Croyden was too upset to speak to anyone, sir," Vic continued. "But the Gunny insists that he was unaware that she was related to someone with ties to Al Queda or the insurgents in Iraq."
"The fact that Cummings might have repeated sensitive information at all to anyone is not acceptable," Harm said. "You're recommending an Article 32?"
"Yes, sir," Burrows replied.
"Very well. You'll defend, Colonel."
"Don't you believe that a fellow Marine deserves a good defense?"
"Yes, sir, but - I'd really prefer to prosecute -"
"Did you not hear me, Colonel?" Harm questioned, standing up.
Burrows snapped to attention. "Yes, sir. I mean, yes, I heard you sir."
"Good. Because I expect you to give Gunnery Sergeant Cummings the best damn defense that you can possibly give him. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir. Perfectly, sir." He hesitated. "Will the Lieutenant be assisting, Captain?"
"No. I'll assign Lt. Tiner to that task." Harm saw Vic frown slightly at the idea of being left out of the case. "I have something else in mind for Lt. Vukovic. That will be all, Colonel."
Burrows turned and left the office, leaving Vic still standing there. "I'm sure you're curious as to what I have planned for you, Lieutenant," Harm said. "General Cresswell has asked to name the prosecutor for this case should it go to a hearing. You'll be assisting whoever he sends for that task."
"Keep up the good work, Lieutenant. Dismissed."
"You know who you reminded me of?" Bud asked Harm once they were alone.
"Admiral Chegwidden," Bud replied with a wide grin.
"Do me a favor. If I ever show signs of ending up the way he did, slug me, will you?"
"Strike a superior officer?"
"With his permission," Harm nodded. It wasn't often that he thought about the Admiral's last couple of years as JAG. "I wish I knew what happened to him, Bud. Those last couple of years -"
"I know. I think a large part of it was that report that Teddy Lindsey made up. While Lt. Manetti debunked it, it was still enough that the Admiral felt like he was living in a glass house, with every move he made on display with the SecNav and CNO's office. That couldn't have been easy."
"No, I'm sure it wasn't."
"You being accused of murder right after that, mostly because you hadn't shared your concerns about Singer with anyone else, then you resigned -"
"Because a former SEAL was going to just leave Mac down there to be killed," Harm pointed out. He shook his head again. "I'll never understand it."
"You never talked to him about it?"
"No. He didn't talk to me *or* Mac before he retired. He talked to everyone else, but not us."
"Ever think that might have been because he felt guilty and didn't know what he could say that would explain his actions?" Bud suggested.
"You ever hear from him?"
"He sends AJ a birthday card every year," Bud confirmed. "He's living in Italy."
Harm's eyebrows rose. "Italy?"
"That was the postmark on the last birthday card. Naples, in fact. Isn't that where his ex-wife lived?"
"Yeah. Francesca's mother."
"You think maybe they reconnected?"
"It's possible," Harm said with a shrug. "We'd better get back to work."
Bud grinned again. "Aye aye, sir."
"We got the Davis birthday party, Jen!" Harriet declared excitedly as her partner arrived. "They just called!"
"That's good news, Harriet," Jen said, dropping onto one of the chairs at the dining room table where Harriet had things spread out beside her lap top computer. "I have good news, too."
"I'm going to have a baby."
Harriet squealed with delight and rushed over to give Jen a hug. "How *wonderful*! When? Does Harm know? How about Mattie?"
"Eight months. Yes, Harm knows. Mattie knew before he did," Jen answered in order.
"Oh, I'm so happy for you! And I have a *ton* of baby things that you're more than welcome to if you want them."
"So, how are you feeling? I don't remember you being sick - of course, I wasn't sick much with the twins. But I was sicker than a dog with AJ. And with Sarah and with Jimmy. What are you hoping for?"
"I don't really care. As long as it's healthy."
"I bet Harm's hoping for a little boy."
"He didn't say."
"You said that Mattie knew before he did?"
Two days later, Harm was returning from a meeting with someone from the Prime Minister's office about the Cummings case when he heard his yeoman talking to someone in her office.
"Hawaii," she said with a dreamy sigh. "I've always wanted to go there. I used to watch that TV show with the good looking PI -"
Harm opened the door and stopped as he came face to face with Lt. Col. Sarah Mackenzie. "Mac."
She went to attention. "Reporting for duty, Captain," she told him.
"The General sent you for the Cummings case," Harm guessed, wondering why Cresswell hadn't seen fit to warn him that she was coming. "At ease," he said, realizing that she was still at attention.
"Yes, he did, Captain. He said that it could end up being high profile, and he wanted someone with experience in cases like that in charge of the state's case."
"Why don't you come on into my office?" he suggested, opening the door into that room. "Any messages, Greer?" he asked as Mac went into the office ahead of him.
"They're on your desk, sir," she answered.
"Thank you. Would you ask Lt. Vukovic to join us?"
"Right away, Captain," she said, already picking up the telephone.
He followed Mac into the room, closing the door. She was standing before his desk and turned to look at him. "You look - happy," she told him.
"At the moment, I'm stunned," he said, moving around the desk and indicating one of the chairs. "Have a seat. You look good, Mac. Tanned."
"That comes from living in Paradise," she told him with a smile. "I'm sorry that the General didn't tell you that I was coming. I didn't even know myself until I got the orders and hopped the first flight here. I managed to sleep on the plane because I figured that I would need to hit the ground running."
"I should warn you - your second chair is -" he got no further as there was a knock on the door. "Enter!" he called out, and then sat back to watch Mac's reaction to Vic's changed appearance.
If he was surprised to see Mac sitting in front of his CO's desk, there was no sign of it on his clean-shaven face. "Petty Officer Greer said that you wanted to see me, Captain?"
"At ease, Lieutenant," Harm said. "Have a seat. I was just about to tell Col. Mackenzie that you were her second chair on this case."
"Ma'am," Vic said, his tone containing nothing more than respect for a senior officer.
Mac gave Harm a look that told him that she was impressed by the changes in the young man. "Why don't you fill me in on the case, Lieutenant?" she suggested.
"That's a good idea, Mac," Harm decided. "I'll have Greer find you an office -"
"That won't be necessary, Harm. I'm sure that Lt. Vukovic and I can share his office -"
"I doubt that, ma'am," Vic said, glancing at Harm before continuing. "My office isn't very big -"
"Very well. So why don't we go to the conference room and get started?"
Vic went to attention in preparation for leaving even before Mac stood up, causing Mac to give Harm another look of amazement. "Dismissed, Lieutenant," Harm told Vic. "Mac, I'm sure that Mattie would like to see you while you're here -"
"I want to see her, too," Mac told him. She went to attention as well. "Captain."
Once she had gone, Harm sank into his chair, hearing Bud's voice in the outer office. "Mac! I'm sorry. Col. Mackenzie."
"Hello, Bud," Mac said. "How are Harriet and the kids?"
"They're fine, ma'am. You're here for the Cummings case, aren't you?"
"Yes. Lt. Vukovic and I were just on our way to the conference room to discuss a plan of action."
"It's nice to see you. Dinner before you go?"
"I'll get back to you," she said.
Harm put his head back, a hand over his face as Bud entered the office. "You okay?" he asked.
"Wonderful," Harm said, sitting up. "My ex-wife arrives without any warning to handle a high-profile case during the same week that my *current* wife finds out that she's pregnant."
Bud winced. "Ouch. How do you think she'll take the news?"
"I don't know. The last thing I want to do is hurt her -"
"That's understandable, all things considered," Bud agreed.
"I'm glad now that Jen and I decided not to make any further announcement for another month or so."
"Probably a wise idea. Less chance that someone will say something without knowing how she would react. She looks good, doesn't she?"
"Yes," Harm agreed. "She does. She looks happy. And content."
"Maybe she is."
Harm heard Mattie and Jen talking in the kitchen as he entered the house that evening. "It's only me," he called out, moving in that direction after taking a deep breath and mentally preparing himself for their reaction to his news.
Mattie was just finishing telling Jen about something that had happened at school when he joined them and put his arms around Jen from behind. "Hey there," he said.
"You look tired," Jen told him as she turned around.
"It was a long day," he said, accepting a hug from Mattie. "And longer tomorrow. The Cummings trial starts tomorrow afternoon. The media is pressing for admission to the proceedings even though they're just an Article 32."
"If it starts tomorrow, then that means the prosecutor's arrived, doesn't it?" Jen asked, going over to check something on the stove.
"Yeah," he said, removing his jacket and loosening his tie. He smiled as Jen went to the refrigerator and took out a beer that she handed him.
"You look like you could use this."
"Who did he send, Harm?" Mattie asked, frowning.
Harm was taking the beer from Jen, his eyes on hers, as he answered. "Mac." When she would have pulled her hand away quickly, Harm grabbed it, preventing her from withdrawing from him.
"Mac's in London?" Mattie questioned.
"Yes. She arrived this afternoon. She said she would call you as soon as she could," he told Mattie.
Mattie grabbed Harm's jacket from the back of a chair. "I think I'll take this into the bedroom," she announced before making a discreet retreat.
"Jen," Harm began, putting the beer onto the table beside them before pulling her closer. "Don't."
"Don't what?" she asked. "Be worried that she's here? I can't help but worry, Harm. You love her."
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't, Jen." He gave her a tender smile. "But I love you more. I'm married to you, Jennifer Rabb. And I don't want that to change."
"For better or worse?" she asked.
"Forever," he corrected, leaning in to give her a kiss.
"I'm sorry," she said a moment later against his chest. "I knew this would happen some day, I just wasn't ready for it, I guess." She looked up at him. "I'm being silly, aren't I?"
"No," he assured her, cupping her cheek with his palm. "It's understandable."
"Does she know about -?"
"No. I didn't have much of a chance to talk to her - and I didn't really think that the office was the best place to say, 'Oh, by the way, Mac. Congratulate me. Jen and I are expecting a baby.'"
"You have a point," Jen agreed. "That probably wouldn't be a good idea."
"No. Right now, the only ones at the office who know are Bud and Jason Tiner. Bud won't say anything to her - and he was going to clue Jason in as well."
"This is going to be difficult for everyone, isn't it? Bud, Harriet, Jason. They've all known her longer than they've known me, and -"
"Jen, that doesn't matter."
"How does she look?" Jen asked, and Harm considered - just for a moment - lying. Until Jen got that look on her face. "Honestly."
"She looks happy," he told her. "Content with herself for the first time that I can remember. I'm sure you'll see what I mean. She's the same, but she's not. I can't really put it into words."
"She's comfortable in her own skin?" Jen suggested.
"Yeah. That's it. She's relaxed. Even with Vic."
Jen finally smiled. "What was her reaction to how he's changed?"
"She was surprised. And possibly a little envious that I managed to accomplish what she wasn't able to."
"He listened to you instead of trying to get around you by flirting," Jen suggested. "General Cresswell was right: he shouldn't have let Vic talk him into letting Mac mentor him. You were the better choice all along."
"We'll see. It has to be difficult for Vic, working so closely with Mac and not being able to rely on his charm to 'get around' her." He touched her nose. "Now, enough about Mac and Vic and Gen. Cresswell. What's for dinner?"
"Hungry?" Jen asked, turning around to stir the contents of the pan on the stove.
Harm slipped his arms around her again, burying his face in her hair. "Always."
"I meant for dinner," she teased. "Spaghetti."
"Smells good. You need me to help with something? The salad, maybe?"
"Mattie's already done it," Jen said. "Why don't you go take a shower and change?"
"That's a good idea. I won't be a minute."
"Take your time. I still have to toast the bread."
Mattie was coming back toward the kitchen and met him in the hallway. "Everything okay?" she asked.
"Yeah," he told her, putting an arm across her shoulders. "But until Jen and I find a way to tell Mac about the baby -"
"I understand," Mattie assured him. "I won't say anything when I talk to her."
"Are *you* okay, Harm?" Mattie asked, watching him.
"I'm fine, Mats," he assured her.
"Seeing Mac again didn't -"
"No. Whatever we had is over." He held up the tie that he'd just slipped off his neck. "I'm going to take a shower before dinner."
Standing in the shower, Harm let the warm water sluice over his tired muscles. He hadn't lied to Mattie. Seeing Mac again had been a test that he'd been dreading, wondering how he would react to the physical presence of the woman he'd spent nine years dancing with.
But when it had happened, Harm had been surprised to discover that while he'd felt a small tug at his heart strings - it hadn't been strong enough to make him regret marrying Jen, or to make him doubt his feelings for the young woman he'd married. He had felt a connection to Mac, but it was one born of their deep and abiding friendship.
He wondered how she was fairing with Vic, since the two of them were having dinner to discuss their case strategy. He knew she was surprised at the changes in the young officer, but they hadn't had a chance to discuss it before the end of the day.
"Are you okay in there?" Jen asked, bringing Harm out of his thoughts.
"Sorry," he said, turning off the water. "I was thinking."
"About Mac?" Jen questioned as Harm slid the shower door open and reached for his towel.
"Yes," he confirmed, and wrapped the towel around his waist when Jen turned toward the door.
"Dinner's ready whenever you are," she said.
"Jen," he said, moving to touch her shoulder, causing her to stop, her head bowed. "You don't have any reason to be jealous, honey. I was just wondering how she and Vic were getting on this evening. They were having a working dinner to discuss the case. I don't care how many times I have to say it, but I'll keep doing it until you realize that I'm telling the truth: I. Love. You." She lifted her eyes to his face. "Not Mac. You."
Jen smiled and leaned forward to rest her head against his bare, still-damp chest. "Too bad dinner's ready."
"I agree," Harm sighed, his hands sliding down to her hips, pulling her against him so that she could feel her effect on him through the towel that covered him. Lowering his head, he kissed her mouth. "But after dinner, what do you say to an early night?" he asked at length. "So I can show you that you're the only one I want to share my life with."
"You don't have to show me anything, Harm," she said. "It's not your fault that I'm insecure when it comes to Mac. It's something I have to work through. I know you love me."
"That's good to hear."
She gave him a playful grin before moving her hands down to cup his six through the towel. "But I won't refuse the offer of an early night."
"Then it's a date."
"You don't have any paperwork that needs your attention?"
"The only thing that needs my attention tonight is my wife," he assured her. "Everything else can wait."
Harm had Liz Greer clear his schedule for an hour the next morning so that he could sit in on the Cummings Article 32. Both Mac and Paul Burrows made some excellent points, with Burrows' pointing out Gunnery Sergeant Cummings' exemplary record of service and the fact that he was the fourth generation of his family to serve in the Marine Corps, beginning with his great-grandfather in World War I.
Mac scored points as well, admitting that the Gunny had an excellent record, but that love sometimes made people unwise and more likely to make a mistake. "A mistake that - this time, could have cost a Marine his life."
It was at times like this that Harm missed not doing actual case work. Having to 'live vicariously' through his staff wasn't the same thing. Thank goodness he had Bud around to take care of most of the mounds of paperwork required to keep the office running smoothly. But even with all of that, Bud managed to spend a little time working on cases, getting court time.
Harm knew that he could pick a case that interested him to handle, but so far, nothing had crossed his desk that had done that to a degree that he was willing to make that decision. Harm trusted his staff, knew they could handle just about anything - but he wasn't sure that Lt. Col. Burrows wasn't just slightly out-classed by Lt. Col. Sarah Mackenzie.
Harm wouldn't have opened with Cummings' record. He would have brought out the fact that Cummings had no way of knowing that the young woman with which he'd fallen in love had any familial ties to terrorist groups, and that his only crime had been in having too much trust in that young woman's feelings.
He had no doubt that Cummings had indeed leaked the intel about the Marine patrols, and there was little doubt that the young man would end up out of the Corps at the very least. The most any defense attorney would be able to do was prove no prior knowledge or intent to cause injury to anyone by his actions and mitigate the penalty for his crime.
"What did you do to Lt. Vukovic, Harm?" Mac asked two days later as they shared lunch in the small lunchroom in the basement of the building.
"He's not the same young man that I knew in DC," she explained. "He's respectful - and by the book. He hasn't tried to go his own way on this case the way he might have in the past."
"I put the fear of God into him," Harm said. "Made him realize that he wasn't living up to his potential."
"Just like you always do," she nodded. "You're amazing, Harm."
"It doesn't always work," he pointed out. "Lt. Singer never got it."
"Singer's problem wasn't her potential," Mac said. "It was her tunnel vision that wouldn't allow her to see anything between her and her goal of becoming the first female JAG."
"She might have been the second," Harm said.
"Oh. I don't suppose you've talked to Sturgis lately?"
"No. Between his schedule in San Diego and mine here -"
"His schedule's about to be cleared," she told him. "He's retiring."
"He and Varise are getting married. He's going to manage her career."
"Good for them. I'll have to call and congratulate him. That leaves the billet in San Diego open again," Harm mused.
"I'm supposed to head there after I finish here," she told Harm. "Looks like I'll be getting command of the Joint unit after all."
"Good. You deserve it."
"I know," she replied, and they both laughed.
"Excuse me, sir, ma'am," Lt. Vukovic said, standing at attention beside the table.
"What is it, Lieutenant?" Harm questioned.
"I hate to interrupt your lunch, but I have some information for the Colonel about our case that I wasn't sure could wait."
"What is it, Vic?" Mac questioned.
"Don't mind me," Harm said when Vic hesitated and glanced in his direction. Indicating a nearby chair, he said, "Have a seat."
"The fact that Mrs. Croyden refused our attempt to interview her daughter has been bothering me, ma'am," Vic told Mac. "So I waited outside of their house for a chance to speak to Elena Croyden. I know I should have let you know what I was doing, ma'am, but -"
"Go on, Lieutenant," Mac said. "Did you speak to her?"
"Yes, ma'am. She confirmed that GSgt. Cummings told her about the meeting - but is willing to swear that the only other person she told was her mother."
"Her mother?" Harm repeated, frowning.
Mac looked at Harm. "According to the report, you and Burrows both felt that you thought Anhalia Croyden disapproved of her daughter's relationship with the Gunny."
"We need to find out more about Mrs. Croyden's past, Vic," Mac said. "I want a full background ASAP."
"I'll have it for you as soon as possible, ma'am," Vic said, standing up and going to attention again.
"Good work, Vic," Harm said, and saw the young man's surprise at his use of his nickname. "Dismissed."
"Thank you, sir," Vic said, turning on his heel and leaving the room.
Mac watched him go. "There was a time when he wouldn't have gone that extra mile to talk to someone that could have blown his case out of the water."
"I know. I did everything but tattoo four words onto his forehead."
"Let me guess: 'The truth is everything'."
"Right the first time."
"You forget how well I know you."
"Believe me, Mac, I haven't forgotten." He turned his attention back to the door. "You think you could handle him now if he went to San Diego with you?"
"You're willing to trust me to continue mentoring him after my failure earlier?"
"Now that he knows what's expected of him, I think you'll be fine. And you know that he tends to get slack when he's under the command of a female, so you won't let him get away with anything."
"I'll probably be able to use an attorney in San Diego," she confirmed. "Let me think about it?"
"Just let me know what you decide."
Vic's tip paid off. Under examination on the stand, Anhalia Croyden admitted having passed the information about the US Marine patrols on to her cousin in Iraq in the hope that the insurgents would be able to use it to their advantage.
The woman surprised and shocked her husband and daughter when she declared herself to be a supporter of Al Queda and other terrorist groups, since she had always appeared to have no interest in politics. Vic's digging had uncovered the fact that Anhalia had been brought to England by a religious group after her parents' death in Baghdad when she was twelve. The intent had been to have her adopted by an English family and indoctrinate her into British life, turning her away from her Muslim religion. But the girl never got over being ripped from her family and country.
She had done what was expected of her, but had secretly worked with her family still in Iraq - especially after Elena began to date Gunny Cummings. "I wanted to kill him," she admitted on the stand, glaring at the stunned man sitting at the defense table. "But my cousin suggested that perhaps he could be of more use to us alive than dead. And if he was, then it would be poetic justice, using information gained innocently from a United States Marine to kill more Marines."
Gordon Croyden stood up and walked out of the courtroom, turning his back on his wife of twenty years as she continued to spout her anger and fury at the Americans and British.
The hearing ended with Burrows and Cummings accepting a deal which would remove Cummings from the Marines with a dishonorable discharge, and six months in the brig. Before the guards took him away, Elena approached him and apologized to him for causing all of the trouble by telling her mother what he'd told her in confidence.
Burrows extended a hand toward Mac. "Congratulations, Mac."
"I'm sorry you lost."
"Could have been worse," Burrows said. "How about dinner tonight?" he asked. "My treat?"
"I'd like to," she said, giving Harm a smile. "But I'm having dinner at the Roberts this evening before catching a flight out to San Diego tomorrow morning."
"Oh, well. May I have a rain check, then?"
"Of course. Next time you're in San Diego, give me a call."
"I'll do that." Burrows turned and noticed Harm standing there. "Captain. I was just -"
Harm, who had overheard the conversation, spoke up. "Inviting a fellow JAG lawyer to dinner to congratulate her for winning," Harm finished. "Done it myself a time or two."
Mac picked up her briefcase. ""Don't let him kid you, Paul. Most of the time, someone else was buying to congratulate *him* on the victory," she said with a teasing look in Harm's direction. "Now, if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have some papers to finish up. I'll see you later, Captain."
Burrows still looked uncertain. "I didn't mean to step on your toes, Captain -"
"My toes?" Harm questioned, indicating that the Lt. Colonel should walk with him.
"I know that Col. Mackenzie's your ex, and, well, -"
"You're worried that I might be a little territorial where she's concerned?" Harm guessed.
"I can't help but have heard the scuttlebutt, Captain," Burrows admitted. "You and the Colonel have a long history -"
"That ended in divorce and our being good friends," Harm finished for him. "Don't worry, Paul. You're not stepping on my toes. My only concern for Mac is that she be happy."
"Then I guess you wouldn't mind if I'm a little late reporting tomorrow? I thought I might see her off."
"Staff meeting's at 1000. Be here by then."
"Yes, sir," Burrows said, moving toward his office.
When Harm turned to go back to his own office, he stopped as he saw Mac standing in the hallway. Giving her an embarrassed grin, he said, "You've made a conquest there," as he nodded toward Burrows' retreating back.
"I know. He's nice, from what I've seen. "Vic seems to think highly of him. So do Bud and Jason Tiner."
"He knows his stuff," Harm nodded. "And I think part of his draw for Vic and Jason might be his time in country. He was wounded in Iraq six months ago."
"I know. When an IED exploded near his location. Did you know that he was Force Recon before he became a lawyer?"
"Now that I didn't know."
"He trained under Capt. Koonan, I think. You and he should discuss it sometime. I think he was wounded during a mission and decided to change his MOS to law."
Harm was impressed. "Sounds like you've done some research."
"Always when I'm going up against someone new," she told him. "I never know when I might find something that will help me win."
"Looking for an Achilles Heel," Harm realized.
"I never found yours," she said. "I have to get to that paperwork. See you at Bud and Harriet's."
"Wouldn't miss it."
Mac had called Mattie the previous evening and the two women had talked for some time, with Mac apologizing for not having more time to spend with Mattie because of the article 32 she was handling. Mattie had said she understood, and later told Harm that she felt that Mac simply hadn't *wanted* to spend much time with her.
"She is busy, Mats," Harm had replied. "And Mac tends to focus on a case when she's working - she's like me in that."
"Tell you what, if you'd like, maybe she would agree to your going to San Diego and spending some time with her this summer. Would you like that?"
"Do you think she'd agree?"
"I don't see why she wouldn't. I'll mention it to her when I get a chance."
Now, Harm called Mac's name. "Uh, Mac - can we talk for a minute?"
"Vic's waiting for me to finish up the report -"
"It's about Mattie."
"What about her?"
Harm nodded toward a conference room nearby and opened the door to make sure it was empty. "I think she'd like to spend a little more time with you - I thought - well, maybe you'd be willing to let her visit for a couple weeks this summer?"
"Sure. You'd be willing to let her do that?"
"Why not? She could spend a couple of days with Mom, too, since she'll be so close."
"I'll talk to her about it tonight, then."
"You know I'll do whatever I can for Mattie, Harm. Just because you and I couldn't make it work doesn't mean I don't want her in my life."
"She's going to ask Mattie to visit her in San Diego?" Jen questioned that evening as she waited for Harm to get dressed before they left for the Roberts. Mattie had gone ahead to help look after the kids while Harriet finished things up. "When did this happen?"
"I suggested it to Mattie last night," Harm said. "After she talked to Mac on the phone. She was a little down, thinking that Mac didn't want her around anymore."
"You didn't mention it to me?"
"I thought I had," Harm said, stopping as he pulled a tee-shirt over his head. "I'm sorry, Jen. You don't think she should go?"
"No. I mean, if she wants to go, there's no reason why she shouldn't. I just - I just want to make sure she's here when I have the baby."
Harm moved to slide his arms around her. "You're not due until the end of September. She'll have to be home before then to start school. So she'll probably go to visit sometime in June or July. She'll be home. She'll make sure of that. No way is she going to risk missing her little brother or sister's entrance into the world. Besides," he pointed out, "it will give us a little time alone before the baby comes. That's not a bad thing, is it?"
"I'll be huge by then, Harm," Jen said.
"I don't care. You'll still be beautiful to me."
"You say that now, but -"
"And I'll say it then," he promised, dropping a kiss onto her lips before turning to grab his jacket. "Are you about ready to go?"
"I guess so. Do I look okay?"
"You look perfect. Beautiful. Stop worrying, Jen."
"I can't help being nervous, Harm," she insisted as they left the house. "It's the first time I'll see Mac since she left and we got married."
"She doesn't hold it against you, Jen. In fact, I think she's grateful to you for making me so happy. Makes her feel a little less guilty for leaving."
He opened her side of the van and helped her inside before going around and getting into the other side. "Are we going to tell her about the baby?" Jen wanted to know.
"Why don't we play it by ear?" he suggested.
Harriet noticed Jen's nervousness right away and pulled her to the side before Mac arrived. "Relax, Jen," she said.
"I can't. I keep thinking about how happy she and Harm were that night at McMurphy's. And when they got married."
"But he's happier with you than I ever remember him being with her, Jen," Harriet insisted. "They were together for a year - and I don't think I remember him smiling as much as he has just in these last few months with you."
Jen was ready to relax and just let it happen - until the doorbell rang again, and she tensed. Harriet sighed. "Now listen to me, Jennifer Rabb, you're going to go out there with your head held high. You're not *just* Harm's wife. You're Capt. Rabb's wife, and you have to set the example, remember? That man loves you *so* much that everyone knows it - including Mac. Now come on."
Mac was greeting Bud and Jason as they entered the front room, and Harriet moved away from Jen to give her old friend a hug.
"You look great!" she declared. "I'd kill for that tan."
"Lots of time on the beach," Mac said. "But you look wonderful, Harriet." She turned to see Jen. "Hello, Jen."
"Ma'-" Jen caught herself at the last second. "Mac. Harriet's right. You look good." She did. She was fit and tanned, and next to her, Jen - aware that she was pregnant - felt almost dowdy. But the fact that she *was* pregnant caused her self-image to change. She'd accomplished something that Mac hadn't been able to. She was carrying Harm's child. *She* was his wife, the woman he loved, the woman he came home to every night.
"So do you. Marriage must be agreeing with you."
Harm slipped an arm around Jen's waist, pulling her close. "I think it does."
"Where's Mattie and the kids?" Mac wondered, only to have her question answered by the arrival of the teenager and the Roberts' children en masse.
"Mac!" Mattie said, and Jen noticed the tear in Mac's eye when she saw Mattie walking on her own.
"Hi there, kiddo!" Mac said, wrapping Mattie in her arms for a hug. "Oh, I can't believe that you're really walking."
"Auntie Mac!" little AJ said, trying to get her attention.
The next several minutes were spent with Mac catching up with her friends, while Jen escaped to the kitchen on the pretense of helping Harriet get the buffet table set up. "You're hiding," Harriet accused softly.
"No, I'm not. You shouldn't have to do this by yourself. We're partners, remember?"
"This isn't work tonight," Harriet pointed out, leading Jen into the dining room as little AJ came running in to stare at Jen, who he hadn't seen in a couple of days.
"Auntie Jen," he said, staring at her, tilting his head first one way and then the other.
She knelt down to him. "What, Champ?" she asked.
"How come you're not fat like mommy was when she was going to have a baby?" he asked with childish innocence.
"AJ!" Harriet scolded.
"I heard you tell Daddy that she was going to have a baby," he insisted. "And you were fat when you were going to have Jimmy and the twins."
"Oh my -"
Jen saw Harriet's eyes widen and felt an almost simultaneous shiver down her spine before she rose to her feet and turned to the door, where Mac was standing. "Mac."
"Is it true, Jen?" she asked, her dark eyes flickering to Jen's midsection before moving back to her eyes. "Are you -?"
"Yes," Jen said, hoping she didn't sound as nervous as she thought she did. "I'm due around the end of September." She saw Mac doing the math in her mind. "It happened after we got married."
"Excuse me," Mac said, turning and leaving the room.
Harm saw her pass the living room door before leaving the house. "Mac -" he stopped as Jen, Harriet and little AJ came from the dining room.
"She knows, Harm," Jen said.
"Little AJ spilled the beans," Harriet explained. "I'll go -"
"No, I think I need to go talk to her," Harm said, putting a hand on Jen's arm. "Jen, I -"
"Go. Just don't be too long."
He gave her a brief kiss and followed Mac out into the garden.
"Did I do something wrong, Auntie Jen?" AJ asked, causing Jen to kneel and pull the little boy close.
"No, AJ. You didn't do anything wrong."
Mac was standing by the gate, staring into the street where some children were kicking a ball back and forth when Harm joined her. "Mac, I wanted to tell you -"
"But you didn't want to hurt me," she said, stepping away from him when he came near.
"That's the last thing I wanted to do, Mac," he said. "We only found out a few days before you arrived. It was all still new - we hadn't told anyone but Mattie, Jason and the Roberts about it."
"So it wasn't a grand conspiracy, just a small one."
"You had to know this could happen, Mac. Jen and I both want a family -"
"I wanted a family, too," Mac said in a quiet voice.
"I'm a fool, Harm," she sighed, looking up at the darkening sky above them. "Do you know why I jumped at the chance to come here to handle the Cummings Article 32 even though I had a capital murder case on my plate back at Pearl?"
"You were being transferred San Diego?" Harm asked.
"No. Although I would have had to turn it over to someone else," she confirmed. "I came because I wanted to see if we could try again."
"I know. I knew you were married again and that from all accounts you and Jen were happy. But I just couldn't believe that you would have found someone else. That you could have fallen so much in love with Jen that you'd be unwilling to toss her aside and come to San Diego with me. You did offer once to give up your career," she recalled.
"And I meant it at the time, Mac. But now - I love Jen. And it's not because she's pregnant. I love her. I'm sorry if that hurts you, but I have to be honest."
"Of course you do. Honest Harmon Rabb, Jr. 'The truth is everything'," she said. "I guess I *did* wait too late after all. Too late to have a baby, too late for us."
"We're both at fault there, Mac," Harm pointed out. "But if we had gotten together, then I wouldn't have found Jen."
"I guess not." She looked at him. "Can you forgive me?"
"Forgive you for what?"
"Coming here, hoping that -"
"There's nothing to forgive," he assured her. "I'll always be your friend, Mac. If you want me to be. And there's Mattie to consider. She's still very fond of you -"
"And I'm fond of her."
"Then come back inside. It's not often that all of us are together. Don't spoil it for everyone else."
The door from the house opened, and Jen appeared. "Harm, I think that Mac and I need to talk about this."
"She's right, Harm," Mac said. "I can't go back inside until we do."
Harm stopped by Jen on his way toward the house. "Don't stay out too long." He removed his jacket and draped it over her shoulders. Glancing at Mac again, he turned and continued into the house.
Jen stood there, watching Mac before moving to the bench in the garden. "This is where Harm asked me to marry him," she told Mac. "Mattie and Harriet were watching from the window. I never thought it would happen. When it did, I considered myself to be the luckiest woman in the world -"
"You were right to think that. Having Harm as your husband - How long -"
"How long?" Jen prompted.
"How long have you been in love with him?"
"I don't know. It just - happened. Maybe it started that first Christmas. Or maybe when I was Mattie's room mate. But I also knew that he loved you and didn't see me as anything other than Mattie's room mate and a petty officer. I thought he saw me as a little sister because he didn't need me as anything else since he had you."
"And after I left, you saw your chance."
"That's why I decided to leave the navy," Jen confirmed. "Because I knew that as long as I was enlisted, there was absolutely no chance for anything to happen. Even then, I didn't think it would, since I knew he was still hoping that you'd come back to him. But when the divorce became final, I think he began to accept that it wasn't going happen."
"And you'd been there, helping with Mattie, giving him silent support as you always had. Something that I failed to do. My career meant more to me than being with him. It didn't to you."
"No. Like I told Harm, I never planned to make a career out of the Navy. Ten years, twelve tops, and then I'd move on into the private sector. Now, Harriet and I are running our own business, and Harm and I -" she placed a hand on her stomach under the jacket.
"He must have been delighted when he found out. I know how much children mean to Harm. It's one reason why I left. I knew that I could never give that to him. And he *needs* a family more than anyone I've ever known."
"He's always had a family, Mac," Jen pointed out. "The people at JAG that he's close to. People that he lets into his life. Bud and Harriet. Jason. Me. Mattie. Even you."
"You're still important to him, Mac. You'll always be important to him. I've accepted that, because I know he loves me. But I didn't realize how much until a few minutes ago when he was more concerned about me than he was about you. I don't want to cut you out of Harm and Mattie's lives. Or mine. We were friends, once. In a way, considering that you were an officer and I was enlisted. Ex-wives and current wives *do* get along, you know. It happens every day. I know he would be happier if we could - find some common ground."
"We already have that, Jen," Mac said. "Harm. And Mattie."
"I guess you're right. You know, I have an idea - I haven't discussed it with Harm, yet, but - how would you feel about - being our baby's godmother?" Jen asked slowly.
Mac blinked. "Godmother?"
"It was a silly idea. Forget that I -"
"No. If Harm agrees, I'd be honored, Jen. I guess, between Mattie and all of the godchildren, I do have a family, don't I?"
"Yes," Jen agreed, giving a sigh of relief. "You do. Why don't we go inside? I'd hate for the food that Harriet made go to waste."
"She is a good cook, isn't she?"
"She's *wonderful*," Jen declared. "If I'm not careful, I'll end up as big as a house."
If Harm was a bit rattled by the sight of his ex wife and his current wife laughing together, he kept it hidden. But later, during a quiet moment during the evening when Mac was talking to Mattie about her visiting San Diego, Jen told Harm about her idea, and he couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice.
"What?!" he asked, then smiled at the others and pulled her farther away. "Jen, are you sure about this?"
"Think about it, Harm, it's the perfect solution. Mattie's really too young to be the baby's godmother. And it would make Mac feel a part of your child's life. I think that's important to her."
Harm looked across the room, watching Mac and Mattie talking animatedly. "You're right. When did you get so smart, Jen?" he asked, lifting a hand to her cheek.
"When I met you," she replied.
"You're going to miss her, aren't you?" Jen asked as they returned to the house from seeing Mattie off on her flight to San Diego.
"She's only going to be gone for a month," Harm said, dropping his keys onto the table in the front hall.
Jen placed hands to the small of her back and stretched, revealing her enlarged abdomen beneath the tunic she was wearing. "I'm more than ready for this to be over," she sighed. "My back is killing me."
Harm took her hand and drew her into the living room with him, pulling her to sit on the sofa as he sat down. Running his long fingers over her back, he asked, "Better?"
"A little. Too bad you can't do it for the next three months."
"I think it might look a little strange at a meeting with the Prime Minister," he commented, leaning forward to kiss the nape of her neck. "You do realize that we have the house to ourselves for a whole month?"
"Harm," Jen sighed, "I'm huge! You can't really expect me to believe that you find me attractive."
"Not only attractive but sexy as hell," he declared, sliding an arm under her knees and around her waist to lift her into his arms as he stood up.
"Harm! What are you doing?" she asked as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Taking you to the bedroom so I can show you just how sexy I think you are," he explained.
"Aren't you afraid of hurting your daughter?" she asked.
Harm lowered her to the bed and lifted her tunic to press a kiss against her stomach. "No. Because I intend to treat her mother as if she were made of gold." His fingers moved from Jen's stomach up to her swollen breasts, releasing them from the lace that covered them.
"Harm, you don't have to prove -"
"But I want to," he told her, pressing his lips to each sensitive, cinnamon-tinted peak. "Dr. Graves said that we could have sex, remember? In fact, she recommended it as long as we were both willing. But if you'd rather we not -" he started to sit up, but Jen grabbed his arms and pulled him back down to her.
"Uh uh, mister. You're not stopping now. You're going to finish what you started."
Around the middle of September, Harm finally found a case that he wanted to try personally. A young sailor in his command was accused of attending and inciting an anti-war protest. He swore that he'd only been there to try and help his girlfriend get her younger brother out of harms way. Since Vic had transferred out to San Diego at the beginning of the summer, Harm asked Jason to sit second chair, surprising the young Lieutenant, who had gotten his promotion from j.g. two months before.
As they were heading into the courtroom for final arguments, Bud and Paul Burrows called "Captain!" stopping them.
"What is it, Bud?" Harm asked, frowning.
"Jen just called, sir," Bud informed him, his tone urgent. "She's on her way to the hospital."
"I have a car downstairs, sir," Paul told him. "I can drive you over there." It was then that Harm realized that Paul was in civvies instead of his uniform.
Harm turned to Jason. "Ask Capt. Morgan for a continuance if possible."
"And if he refuses?" Jason asked.
"Then you'll have to make the argument," Harm said, shoving the files into the younger man's hands. "Let's go, Paul."
"You have to change out of your uniform, Harm," Bud reminded him - Greer has everything ready in your office."
Harm and Paul Burrows had developed a friendship much like his with Bud. Their mutual respect for Capt. Koonan was a solid base, and while they tended to play Navy/Marine quite a bit, their respect for each other was just as strong.
Paul had become a fixture at the JAG 'family' gatherings, and Harm knew that he and Mac had stayed in touch after her visit earlier in the year. He hadn't really been surprised when Paul had recently informed him that he was looking for a billet in S. California so that he could be closer to Mac and see if there was more there than just friendship and 'esprit d corps'. So far, nothing had come up, but Harm was sure that it wouldn't be much longer before he lost the Marine to another posting.
Now, as he pulled up to the hospital, Harm thanked him and agreed to meet him upstairs once the car had been parked in the garage.
Harm rushed into the hospital and found Mattie already there, pacing the floor. "There you are!" she said, grabbing his arm. "Come on!"
"Is everything okay?" he asked.
"Jen's fine. Harriet's up there right now, But she wants you with her." They took the stairs up to the second floor maternity area, where a nurse saw them enter the hallway and recognized Mattie.
"There you are. She's been asking for you -" she looked at Harm. "I take it you're the husband?"
"She's right in there. Doctor's with her at the moment."
Harm and Mattie entered the room, where Jen was apparently just finishing a contraction with Harriet standing at her side. "That's it, Jen," Harriet was saying. "Now just relax. Harm's here."
"I'm here, Jen, honey," he said, taking Harriet's place at her side. Leaning forward, he kissed her forehead. "How're you doing?"
"How do you think I'm doing?" she asked. "I don't think I can do this, Harm."
"Of course you can, Jen," he said in a calm voice. "Just breathe, honey."
Dr. Graves finished her examination. "It shouldn't be very much longer, Jen," she said. "You're doing very well."
Harm felt Jen's fingers grip his tightly. "Breathe, Jen, honey," he said again, showing her what he meant, breathing with her. "That's it."
Half an hour later, Dr. Graves spoke. "One more push, Jen. That's it -" she smiled over the sheet at them. "You have a son."
"A son?" Harm questioned.
"You said it was going to be a girl," Jen reminded the doctor.
"Sometimes ultra sound isn't exact," Dr. Graves reminded them, handing the baby over to the nurses, who carried it to a small area in the corner. "You can go over there if you'd like Mr. Rabb."
Harm saw Jen nod her head in agreement, and released her hand to cross over and watch the nurses cleaning up the tiny infant. His son. They weighed him and took his vital statistics before wrapping him in a warmed blanket. "Would you like to carry your son over to his mother?" one of the nurses asked just as Mattie came back into the room.
"Son?" she said, going to watch as Harm placed their baby into Jen's arms.
"Son," he confirmed.
"We don't have any names for boys," Jen fretted.
"We'll come up with one," Harm assured her, lightly touching the dark hair on the baby's head.
"He's adorable," Mattie declared softly, taking his tiny hand in hers to examine the fingers. "He has your hands. Look at those fingers."
"He's a big boy," the nurse said. "Just over 4 kilos."
"That's almost nine pounds," Mattie converted automatically. "Wow."
"I don't suppose you'd agree to Harmon Rabb III," Jen suggested, smiling knowingly at Harm.
"No. Your father's name -"
"No," Jen refused.
"How about David?" Mattie suggested.
"David Rabb," Harm said, looking at his son.
"David Harmon Rabb," Jen corrected.
"That'll work," Harm agreed.
"Hello, David," Jen said to the baby, who yawned and turned his head, closing his eyes.
"Seems pretty excited by the prospect," Harm noted with some humor. "I need to make some phone calls."
"I'm going to go tell Harriet so she can let Bud and everyone at JAG know," Mattie decided. "See you later, little brother," she told David. "I'll be back in a few," she said to Harm and Jen.
Harm sat carefully on the edge of the bed. "Thank you," he said.
"Thank you. It was a team effort, remember."
"I thought you were going to make some calls?" she reminded him.
"I hate to leave."
"We'll be here when you get back," she assured him. "Tell your mother hello for me. And that we'll send pictures as soon as we can."
He leaned forward and kissed her. "I love you, Jen. And the thank you was for more than the baby. It was for loving me and being here for me."
"Always, Harm," she assured him. "Always."