2: Return to Duty
- 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
"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
"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,"
"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."
"Dismissed," he told them, picking up the phone to
emphasize his words.
They both snapped to attention before turning and leaving the
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
"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?"
"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
"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
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 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.
"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?"
"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.
"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
"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
"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.
"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
"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."
"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
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
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
"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
"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?"
"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 wouldnt 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
"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
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
Harm took the glass. "Sure. Anything for you, Mac?"
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
Life just kept getting better.
To Be Continued in JAG 2: Episode 2(Title Pending)
- Back Home JAG2 Index Harm/Jen E-Mail Next