JAG 2: Return to Duty
Part 2

0950 Hours Local
Falls Church, VA

Returning to his office after the staff meeting, Harm noticed that Sgt. Bates wasn't at his desk. The door into the office was open, and Harm entered the room, hearing Bates' offering to get someone some coffee.

That person's voice caused Harm to pause in the doorway.

"No, thank you, Sergeant. I'm fine."

"Capt. Rabb should be here any moment -" Bates finally saw Harm and went to attention. "Sir."

Harm saw his visitor square her shoulders before turning around and coming to attention as well. "Lt. Col. Mackenzie, reporting, sir," she said.

"As you were, Colonel," he replied. "That will be all, Bates. Ask Lt. Col. Gage to join us."

"Yes, sir," Bates said, moving past Harm and out of the office, pulling the door closed on the way.

Harm indicated the chair beside Mac. "Have a seat, Mac," he said, moving around the desk to sit down. "Welcome back. And thank you for coming."

"I didn't really have a choice. Cpl. Matthews has a right to the counsel of his choice."

"For whatever it's worth, I think he made a good choice."

"That's nice to hear, all things considered, sir," was her quiet reply.

"I've never said that you weren't a good lawyer, Mac," he said. "And you can drop the 'sir' when we're alone."

"That wouldn't be appropriate, Captain," she said. "You *are* my CO, after all."

"I hoped that we were also still friends," Harm said, watching her closely. "How are you doing, Mac?"

"Okay, I guess," she finally answered.

"How are things going in Diego Garcia?" He hadn't been surprised when she'd been assigned to the base in the Indian Ocean, considering the fact that she spoke Farsi almost as well as a native.

"Slowly," she told him. "I don't feel that I'm really *contributing* anything. It's not like I'm the only one there who speaks Farsi. But it's also not as though I have a choice about where I spend the next ten months, either."

"You only have another ten months?"


"Any plans for after you retire?"

"Nothing confirmed. There's a group of ex-JAG officers from various branches of the military who are trying to start a nationwide firm to offer their services to military personnel as an alternative to having a military JAG detailed who might not believe in their client's innocence."

"I've heard about them," Harm nodded. "Are you thinking about joining them?"

"They've contacted me," she said. "I was surprised when they did - after everything that's happened."

"Like I said, Mac, you're an excellent attorney. That hasn't changed. Don't let one error in judgment cause you to doubt your abilities. I think they would be lucky to have someone like you working with them."

"I suppose Mattie and - Jen came here with you?" she questioned.

"Jen did. Mattie decided to stay in La Jolla with Mom and Frank to finish the school year."

"That makes sense. Will she be joining you after that?"

"That's the plan." There was a knock on the door. "Enter," Harm called out. The door opened, and Lt. Col. Gage entered the room, coming to attention. "At ease, Gage." Mac stood up. "Lt. Col. Dan Gage, Lt. Col. Sarah Mackenzie."

They shook hands. "It's nice to meet you, Colonel," Gage said.

"Thank you for calling me."

"Just doing what my client wants," he said.

Bates came into the room. "Excuse me, Captain, but Admiral Clark is on the phone -"

"Thank you, Sergeant," Harm said. "I'm sure that you're ready to get up to speed on your case, Col. Mackenzie. I'll see you later."

"Yes, sir."

"Dismissed," he told them, picking up the phone to emphasize his words.

They both snapped to attention before turning and leaving the room.

Harm spoke to the Admiral, agreeing to an in person meeting later in the week with the CNO.

Harm decided to take a break from paperwork and stretch his muscles a little by going to the break room to get some coffee and something to hold him over until he went to lunch. Just as he entered the bullpen, he saw Mac and Gage leaving the latter's office – at the same moment that Jen came through the glass doors.

"Jen," he said, moving toward her. "What are you doing here?" he asked, keeping his voice low so that it wouldn't carry.

"I thought I'd drop by and see if you could get away to have lunch with me," she said as Jason Tiner appeared.

"Hello, J- Mrs. Rabb," he corrected quickly.

"Hello, Lt. Tiner," she replied. "Congratulations on your promotion."

"Thank you. Excuse me," Tiner said, glancing in Harm's direction. "I have to do some research -"

Harm took Jen's arm, steering her toward his office – unknowingly toward the spot where Mac and Gage were standing. The entire bullpen had fallen silent, most already aware of the scuttlebutt regarding their new CO, his younger wife, and Lt. Col. Mackenzie.

"Hello, Jen," Mac said. "You're looking well."

Harm tried to keep himself between the two women after giving Jen a look that he hoped she would read as 'behave'.

"So are you, Mac," Jen replied. "How long are you going to be in DC?"

"I'm not sure at the moment. It depends on how long the court martial lasts."

"Well, you'll have to come over for dinner while you're here. Catch up on old times."

"Thank you for the invitation," Mac said. "But I'm not sure if I'll have the time."

"Let me know."

Harm urged Jen forward again. "Excuse us."

Inside his office, he closed the door and turned to face her. "I thought you weren't concerned about Mac being here, Jen?" he asked.

"I'm not concerned about you," she insisted. "But I thought it might be a good idea for her to be reminded that you're unavailable," she continued, playing with one of the buttons on his jacket. "Are you angry with me?"

"No," he said, sighing and pulling her close. "Of course I'm not angry. I understand."

"I really *did* want to have lunch with you - if you can get away."

"I have a telephone conference at 1300," he said. "So I can't go far. We could go down to the cafeteria," he suggested. "If you don't mind -"

"Why should I mind?" she asked. "It sounds fine to me. It wouldn't be the first time that I've eaten there."

"Okay. Let me finish up the last of the paperwork I was working on, and then we'll go."

"Where were you going when I came in?" she asked.

"To get some coffee," he said, moving back to the desk to put on his reading glasses.

"I can go get it -" she offered, but Harm looked over his glasses at her, shaking his head.

"No, I don't think so."

She smiled. "You reminded me of Admiral Chegwidden when you did that," she told him.

"Let's just hope that I don't start growling like an old sea dog the way he used to," he grinned, reminding them both of the previous evening.

"I don't think you're in any danger of that happening."

After lunch, Harm walked Jen out to her rented car, discussing going to find her something more permanent on the next weekend. Waving her out of the parking lot, he returned to the bullpen, smiling. They had discussed Harriet's suggestion that they hold an "open house" for the personnel at JAG once they got the house settled, and Harm agreed that it might be a good idea – if he was still acting JAG by that time.

Then he and Jen had talked about decorating the nursery, and whether or not they wanted to know whether the baby was a girl or a boy. Jen's appointment with a doctor at Bethesda was scheduled for the next week - and her enthusiasm had been infectious.

"Looks like you had a good lunch, Captain," Mac said as she came out of Gage's office again.

"I did," he told her.

"I understand that congratulations are in order."

That stopped Harm, and his eyes searched her face, aware that - once again - they were the focus of many eyes in the bullpen. "Why don't we have this conversation in my office?" he suggested, extending a hand in that direction.

"I only have a minute. Lt. Col. Gage and I are driving out to talk to our client," she told him as she turned toward the office. "Mrs. Hawkins died an hour ago. We have to deliver the news to Matthews and let him know that the charges are being amended to include two charges of murder instead of one."

Harm nodded absently. Inside the office, he closed the hatch before turning to look at her. "Mac, -"

"It's okay, Harm," she said quickly.

"How did you find out? Did Bud say something?"

"He only confirmed what I could see with my own eyes," she told him. "You know, I agreed to come here because I hoped you were realizing that marrying Jen was a mistake and I might have another chance -"

"Mac, I -"

She shook her head. "But one look at you when I got here, and I knew I was wrong. You're happy. I knew I was right when I saw you with Jen. I always wondered what you would be like with the woman you love if she was carrying your child - I guess I know now."

"I'm sorry, Mac -"

"Don't be. The things I said - I was out of line. I've made my peace with my life. I just hope that - we can find a way to be friends again."

"I think I'd like that."

"And who knows? You and Jen might need a god mother for that baby she's carrying."

"You'd be willing to-?"

"I want us to be friends, Harm. I meant that."

"And Jen meant what she said about dinner," he told her.

Sgt. Bates knocked on the door. "Enter," Harm said.

"Excuse me, sir, but Col. Gage is waiting for Col. Mackenzie."

"You'd better go," he told Mac. "Get back to me about that dinner, okay?"

"Yes, sir," she said, snapping to attention before leaving the room, followed closely by the Sergeant, leaving Harm to pick up a folder from the stack on his desk and open it, only to be interrupted by the intercom.

"SecNav is on line one, sir," Bates said.

Frowning, Harm spoke. "Thank you, Corporal." Sighing, he picked up the telephone. "Mr. Secretary, how can I help you?"

"You can tell me whether or not the scuttlebutt I'm hearing is true for a start, Captain," Edwin Sheffield replied in that tone that meant he was curious and uncertain.

"What scuttlebutt are you talking about, sir?"

"That Col. Mackenzie is back in Falls Church on a case."

"She's handling the Matthews court martial," Harm confirmed.

"Captain –"

"Mr. Secretary, Corporal Matthews requested her as his counsel. I really had no choice but to approve the request."

"Are you sure that this was a good decision, Harm?" Sheffield questioned.

"While I can't deny that the Colonel made some bad decisions – I've never doubted her ability as an attorney, sir."

"You realize that if anything goes wrong –"

"I took full responsibility for her being here when I made the decision, Mr. Secretary. If something goes wrong, it will be my head on the block."

"Yes, Captain, it will."

Harm let himself relax, hearing the undercurrent of humor in the older man's voice. "You mentioned something else, Mr. Secretary?"

"I was just wondering if you had heard about this new idea of placing JAG attorneys from each branch to advise and assist the Joint Chiefs."

"Yes, sir. General Morgan and I are supposed to have a meeting about it tomorrow morning."

"Good. I had a feeling that you'd be on top of things, Harm. Any ideas about who you might recommend for the post from the Navy?"

"Lt. Col. Gage is an option – although I'm not sure I'd like to lose him from the office here so soon."

"He's a good officer –Keep me in the loop, Harm."

"I will, sir," Harm promised.

1400 Hours Local
Falls Church, VA

"So Deb Hawkins killed her parents?" Harm questioned Mac and Gage as Bud stood by. "Not Cpl. Matthews?"

"Apparently so, sir," Gage answered. "She was angry because they were threatening to destroy Matthews' career and have him put in the brig. She talked to Matthews on the phone, and when he told her that it was over she snapped."

"Did Matthews know what she'd done?"

"I don't think so, sir," Bud answered. "I think he suspected, but it wasn't until Col. Mackenzie told him about Mrs. Hawkins' death and he had a chance to think about things for a couple of days that he admitted that he was afraid she'd killed them and then tried to use him as an alibi."

Harm looked at Mac. "He said that?"

"Yes. The thing was, she'd told NCIS when they'd gotten to the house that she'd been out with her boyfriend during the murders – and she had been, just not *during* the murders – she left the house after killing her parents and went to see Matthews."

"Then she went back home and 'found' her parents."

Harm shook his head. "That's cold."

"More like ice, sir," Gage said. "You should have seen her when she realized that Matthews wasn't going to cover for her anymore. She was furious."

"They were together?"

"I suggested that she visit Matthews in the brig," Mac told him. "I knew that once Matthews had confided what he suspected he would ask her if she'd done it – remind her that they weren't together when the murders took place. He said that he would tell the truth about that – and she went after him."

"Damn," Harm said, shaking his head. "What's going to happen to Matthews?"

"He's still facing charges on statutory rape," Bud announced, and Gage nodded.

"He's willing to do the brig time and take the dishonorable discharge instead of ending up being convicted of a double homicide. Deb Hawkins was taken into custody by the local LEOs."

Harm nodded. "Then I guess that's settled."

"I'll have the final paperwork on your desk tomorrow, sir," Mac told him.

"I'll see you this evening – you are still coming to dinner this evening? Jen's looking forward to it –"

"I'll be there," Mac promised.

"Dismissed," Harm announced, then added, "Except for you, Gage."

Daniel Gage remained where he was as the others left the office. "Yes, sir."

"Good job."

"It wasn't me, sir, it was Col. Mackenzie. I knew that something wasn't right, but she homed in on it almost from the start. She's good."

"Yes, she is," Harm agreed, indicating one of the chairs. "Have a seat." He waited until the younger man sat. "There's a billet opening at the Pentagon – they're going to put JAGs from each branch with the Joint Chiefs –"

"I've heard some scuttlebutt about it, sir," Gage said. "Sounds like a good idea."

"Glad you approve," Harm said with a grin, and Gage returned it. "Because I'm going to suggest you for the billet."

"Me, sir?"

"Yes. You've done time in-country; you're a good attorney –"

"Yes, sir, but – I'm not the best, and I think that this billet needs someone who *is*."

"You have anyone in mind?"

1715 Hours Local
Rabb House
Falls Church, VA

"You're home early," Jen said when Harm entered the kitchen. "Not that I'm complaining," she added, leaving the stove where she'd been stirring the contents of a pan to give him a kiss.

Harm returned the kiss full measure before lifting his head. "Something smells good." Another sniff, and he looked at her. "Is that -?"

"Vegetarian meatloaf," she confirmed, slipping out of his arms to return to the stove.

"Uh – Mac doesn't like my vegetarian meatloaf," Harm informed her.

"I'd have to agree with her on that," Jen said with a grin. "But she won't be eating *your* vegetarian meatloaf. She'll be eating mine," Jen assured him with a grin. "I've made a few changes in the recipe," she added. "For the better."

Harm chuckled as he took a bottle of water from the fridge. "Okay. I give up." He hesitated, wondering how to bring up what he needed to talk about.

"What's up?" she asked. "You're home early, and I know that look too well. You have something to tell me –" She put down the spoon. "They've found someone else to be the JAG."

"No. According to what I've been hearing, they're still vetting the names on the list. No, this is about something else." He extended his hand for her to take, waiting for her to turn the burners down on the stove first before she put her hand into his. "You remember my mentioning the new billet over at the Pentagon?"

"Yes. They want a JAG attorney from each of the services posted there with the Joint Chiefs. I thought you were going to recommend Col. Gage for that?"

"I was," Harm confirmed. "But he turned it down – said that he'd prefer to stay at JAG for the present."

"So – you'll find someone else for the billet."

"I have to turn the recommendation in tomorrow morning."

"How about Mac?" Jen suggested, turning back to the stove again as she spoke.


She looked at him. "Mac. It would make sense. She's a good lawyer, you know that. And her ability to speak Farsi would probably be real asset."

Harm narrowed his eyes. "Have you been talking to Col. Gage?" he asked.

"No – why?" she asked. "You don't mean –"

"He suggested Mac for the billet, too."

Jen laughed softly. "What can I say? Great minds think alike." They laughed together before Jen asked, "Do you think she'd be willing to take it?"

"Well, it would keep her here for the next ten months until she can take an early out if that's what she still wants to do. The question I have is: how would *you* feel about her staying the DC area?"

This time Jen turned the stove off before slipping back into his arms. "I wouldn’t have a problem with it," she answered. "I know you were in love with her-" when Harm opened his mouth, Jen lifted her hand to stop him from talking. "But you love me now. I trust you. And – I trust Mac, too. I know that she wouldn't do anything to come between us. Besides, she was a good friend, and I think she should be here, with her friends, not halfway around the world and alone."

"I do love you, Jen," Harm said softly, "You have no idea how much."

"I know. You know that if she's the best choice for the position, you can't *not* suggest her for it."

"It would have to get past SecNav," he reminded her. "He wasn't happy about her being in DC to begin with –"

"You know what? I think he'll take your recommendation – simply because he likes you."

"And Mac would have to agree."

"You can discuss it during dinner this evening," Jen suggested as the oven timer went off. Grabbing a pair of oven mitts, she slipped them on. "Why don't you go shower and change while I finish this up?"

Harm wrapped his arms around her waist from behind, bending slightly to speak into her ear. "Why don't you join me?" he suggested.

"Not if you want dinner ready before Mac gets here," she replied, turning her head up so that she could look at him. "Maybe after she leaves we can take another one – together."

"I'll hold you to that, Mrs. Rabb."

1900 Hours Local
Rabb House
Falls Church, VA

"The Pentagon?" Mac repeated after she heard Harm's idea. "Dan Gage actually thought I would be better in that position than he would be?"

"Yes," Harm confirmed. "And so does Jen."

Jen saw Mac's gaze turn towards her. "Is that true, Jen?"

"Yes, it is. I think that they're wasting your talent as a lawyer in Diego Garcia. You've worked hard – I think that you'd be a real asset to this new office at the Pentagon. And if you do a good job, it might even give you the option to stay in past your twenty if you want to."

"I-I'm stunned," Mac said, shaking her head.

Jen glanced at Harm. "I could use some more water," she said, holding her glass out toward her husband. "Would you-?"

Harm took the glass. "Sure. Anything for you, Mac?" he asked.

"No, I'm fine," Mac said slowly, still looking at Jen. Once they were alone, Jen spoke. "Mac, if staying here in DC is going to be too hard on you –"

"Hard on me?"

"With Harm and I being here, I mean. I know that working at the Pentagon would mean you wouldn't be seeing him every day, but – we'd see each other simply because we share so many friends. Bud and Harriet, especially. And you'd still be in his command as a JAG officer." Jen glanced toward the door, making sure that Harm hadn't returned yet. "Mac, I know you're still in love with him. And I don't blame you for that. And I know that being here, knowing that he and I are happy and going to have a baby can't be easy for you –"

"I knew from seeing the two of you together when you got married that I'd lost Harm, Jen. And I've – made my peace with that. Now, I think I could manage knowing that he was still a friend."

"And that's another reason why I think you should be here," Jen informed her. "Because I know that friendship was always important to you both. Even though he's never said, I think Harm blames himself for what happened."

"It wasn't his fault. He shouldn't feel guilty." She smiled. "I've finally realized that we should never have tried to move beyond being friends. It was a bad mistake, and I'm glad that we seem to have gotten back to being friends again."

"Then you think that you would be okay with being here, running into us? Watching us being happy as a couple and family?"

Mac smiled, and Jen relaxed. "I think so," she said as Harm returned with Jen's water, sitting down beside her.

"Everything okay here?" he asked, looking from his wife to his old friend.

"Everything's fine," Mac said. "And if you want to recommend me for the position at the Pentagon, I won't argue with you."

"For a change?" he questioned with a grin.

"SecNav probably won't approve me anyway. He's not my biggest supporter these days."

"Let me worry about SecNav," Harm told her.

1020 Hours Local
Office of SecNav
Washington, DC

"You're not *serious*, Captain."

Harm stood in front of Edwin Sheffield's desk as his 'boss' ranted. "Yes, Mr. Secretary, I am. I believe that Lt. Col. Mackenzie would be a valuable asset to the Joint Chiefs. She's an excellent attorney –"

"Who had some difficulty handling junior officers –" Sheffield pointed out.

"Who also handled the Matthews case with a deft hand – clearing the Corporal of murder charges." He took a deep breath, much as he had always done before pleading his case before a judge or a panel. "Mr. Secretary, I could give you several reasons why I believe that the Colonel is the best choice for the position, but it boils down to only one that's important."

"And what's that, Captain?"

"Everyone deserves another chance. I got one. I think Lt. Col. Sarah Mackenzie deserves one as well. She won't make the same mistakes again, sir. You have my word on it."

"You make a good case, Harm," Sheffield said, sitting back in his chair and indicating that Harm should sit as well. "I'd forgotten how well you argue for something you believe in." He studied the paperwork in the folder before him. "I suppose that Col. Mackenzie's fluency in Farsi would be a dividend to her posting – It would save having to find a translator as well as an attorney." He took a deep breath. "I'll approve the transfer –"

"Thank you, sir."

"Don't thank me. Just remember - if the Colonel makes another mistake, it will be on your head."

"Fair enough," Harm agreed.

1500 Hours Local
Rabb Residence
Falls Church, VA

The house was filled with personnel from the JAG office and their families, all guests of their 'temporary' CO and his wife. Luckily the day had turned out nice, with a warm sun allowing the crowd to move out into the back yard, where tables had been set up for them to sit as Harm tapped his glass with a spoon to get their attention.

"First of all, I want to thank you all for coming today – I know I might not be around for long, but it's nice to get to know the people you work with. I want to thank my wife, Jen, for getting this thing set up – and Harriet Roberts for helping her. I've always said that you're remarkable, Harriet. Bud's a lucky man." He saw Bud take Harriet's hand in his. "And then I want to toast Lt. Col. Sarah Mackenzie's transfer to the Pentagon's new joint-services JAG office, and to wish her luck. I don't envy her having to deal with all that brass."

Glasses raised and toasts were drunk, some with wine, some with sparkling water.

"Now, enjoy the meal that Jen and Harriet and some of the other wives have prepared, and get to know each other. During my time at JAG, we became a family. Personnel left and arrived, but the new members were accepted with open arms –" Jen, Mac, Bud, Harriet, and Jason Tiner all cleared their throats, and Harm heard someone mutter "Singer" under their breath. "No, we did try there. Unfortunately, Lt. Singer never wanted to be part of the 'family'." He fell silent, recalling the dead Lieutenant whose ambition had ultimately caused her death. Feeling Jen's hand on his, he smiled and continued, "Thank you all for coming."

Harm sat back down and leaned toward Jen. "Thank you."

"For what?" she asked.

"Knowing when I was about to get maudlin and stopping me."

"I just didn't want memories of Loren Singer to darken today," she insisted. "Between her and Teddy Lindsay, they nearly scuttled your career." Harm watched Mac laughing as she talked to Dan Gage and his girlfriend and Bud and Harriet. "It's nice to have Mac back in your life, isn't it?" Jen asked, obviously having followed his gaze.

"Yeah. It is. I guess I didn't realize how much I missed her – as a friend," he finished, turning to look at his wife. "Once Mattie gets here, everything will be perfect."

And he felt that his life *was* near perfect these days. He had Jen, and the new baby on the way; Mattie would be here once school ended in California; he was back at JAG with an outside shot at staying in the Navy for a little longer; and he had his friends around him again, including Mac, who he'd considered for years to be his 'best' friend. Even though he now had Jen to fill that position, his friendship with Mac was still a special one. It had to be, considering all that they had gone through together over the years. Having her back seemed to fill the small empty spot that had been in his life since she had left him in San Diego.

Life just kept getting better.

The End
To Be Continued in JAG 2: Episode 2(Title Pending)

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