Mountains and Molehills

Rating: G
Pairing: Harm/Mac
Classification: Angst, Romance, Shipper
Spoilers: My stories can contain spoilers of any episode already aired in the US, and spec about future episodes as well. Possible SPOILERS FOR SEASON 10 Opener BEWARE! This is a total Spec fic based on spoilers for the Season 10 opener, "Hail & Farewell 2"
Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did, this show would be *very* different by now.
Archiving: Usual drill. Archived at myjagfanfic @ Yahoogroups; and other lists; , Anywhere else, please ask I like to know where my stories end up.
A/N: This is just something that popped into my head after reading some spoilers as a way to explain where TPTB might be going. (Yeah. Riiiight.)
Summary: Harm is having dinner with an old friend when Mac gets back from Hawaii and jumps to the wrong conclusion…

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"I'm terribly sorry for taking up your evening this way, Harm," Alicia Montes apologized again as she watched Harm preparing their dinner. "If I had time during the day to go over this -"

"No problem," Harm assured her. "I didn't have anything else planned for the evening anyway. And it gives us a chance to catch up on things." Mac was still in Hawaii, having gone there alone to get some closure on her relationship with Webb. Harm had wanted to go, but the fact that the SecNav had tapped him as temporary JAG until the new JAG was thoroughly vetted and confirmed had prevented him from accompanying her. He planned to try to call her - again - this evening if she didn't call him first.

They were talking about an old classmate who had since gone on to become a big name in political circles, laughing about some of the things they could use for potential blackmail when a knock came at the door. "Excuse me," he told Alicia, still laughing the memory of their old friend's antics as he opened the door to reveal Mac standing there.

"Mac. Come in." He wanted to give her a hug. She looked so sad and lost - but they weren't to that place yet. Things were still too unsettled. "When did you get back?" he wanted to know, wanting to ask why she hadn't called him or returned his calls.

"My flight landed 55 minutes ago," she told him, looking at Alicia. "I came straight here. I can see you're busy, so I'll go."

Harm frowned, trying to figure out what was going on. "Alicia Montes, Mac. Sarah Mackenzie. Alicia is -" his introduction was interrupted by the over timer, and he moved in that direction. "Alicia and I were just about to sit down to dinner -"

"You're more than welcome to join us," Alicia invited, as Harm opened the oven door to remove the casserole. "I'm sure there's more than enough -"

"That's okay," Mac said, turning to leave. "I don't want to intrude. Tell him that I'll call him tomorrow."

Hearing Mac's words, an eerie sense of déjà vu assailed Harm's psyche. He recalled another time when Mac had come to him, needing to talk, needing his help, only to find Bobbi Latham there for dinner. Or when she'd come to him after Mic's departure - only to be pushed aside for a tearful Renee.

"Mac!" he called after her, but she was already inside of the elevator, the door closed behind her as it dropped to the first floor.

"So *that* was Mac," Alicia noted, looking a bit worried as she watched Harm close the door. "She seemed a little upset. And angry. "

"Yeah. Look, Alicia, can we do this tomorrow evening?" he asked, coming to a decision. "I really need to talk to her. She's been having a pretty rough time of things -"

"Of course," Alicia replied pleasantly. "Douglas has waited 22 years for justice to prevail. Another twenty-four hours isn't going to make much of a difference. I *will* leave those files here so if you get a chance -"

"I'll look them over," Harm assured her, grabbing his keys and jacket as he followed her from the apartment. "I need to let Mattie's roommate know that I'm going out. I'll call you tomorrow and set up a time for the meeting."

Alicia nodded. "That will be fine. Good luck. I hope you can make things right."

"I'm going to try."

Harm went to Jen and Mattie's apartment, knocking twice. Mattie was spending the evening with Tom, but he wanted to let Jen know where he'd be if she called or if he wasn't home before her.

Jen opened the door. "Commander. I thought you had a meeting this evening -"

"I did. But Mac arrived and found Alicia at my place-"

"Really, sir?" Jen questioned, giving him a surprised look.

"We were discussing Seaman Brigg's case," Harm explained quickly, wondering why every time he had a woman in his apartment, people thought the worst. "And we went to law school together a long time ago. But Mac doesn't know that, so she took off."

"I thought Col. Mackenzie was in Hawaii, sir."

"So did I. I'm going to go see if I can talk to her."

"Good luck, sir," Jen called after him. "I'll let Mattie know if she calls in."

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Harm broke every speed limit between his place and Georgetown. Luckily, all of the police were off duty, because he pulled up outside of Mac's apartment building only about ten minutes after she had left his place. Glancing up, he couldn't see any sign of light in her apartment, and there was no sign of her Vette - although he knew that she sometimes parked it in the garage midway down the block.

Even if she wasn't here, he'd camp out on her doorstep until she got here if necessary. He couldn't get the look on her face when Alicia had opened the door out of his mind. She had looked tired - and he thought she might have been crying, but he couldn't be sure.

On the day that Mac had left for Tripler, she had approached him as he'd escorted Alicia into his office for a meeting. Harm hadn't known why his old school mate turned law professor at Georgetown had called him, but he'd been running late as usual. So he had stupidly asked Mac if they could talk after the meeting, and Mac had seemed to understand why he'd had to temporarily put her off. After the meeting, he'd gone to find her, only to find her office empty and dark. When questioned, Jen had informed him that Mac had left to catch her flight to Tripler and that she would call Harm when she arrived. She hadn't. And she hadn't been answering her cell phone - or her quarters at the VOQ. And now she returned to find that same woman in his apartment. Damn.

Approaching her door, he knocked and waited for her to open it. "Mac?" he called, knocking again. "If you're in there, open the door, please! I need to talk to you."

The door across the hall opened, and Harm smiled pleasantly at the elderly woman whose face appeared for a moment before the door closed again.

Harm knocked again. "Mac!" He took out his keys and found hers - studying it. If he used it and invaded her personal space that way - would it help or hinder? He needed to talk to her - find out how things went at Tripler - and explain who Alicia was and why she'd been at his place. He didn't want there to be any more misunderstandings or miscommunication between them. His fingers closed over the keys before he put them back into his pocket, knowing that he and Mac weren't yet at a place where he felt comfortable just walking into her apartment that way.

Taking out his cell phone, he dialed her number, not surprised when the machine picked up. "Mac, I know you're there. I'm sorry about this evening. If I'd known you were coming in, I would have met you at the airport. Alicia's an old friend - She - I need to explain this face to face. Pick up the phone, Mac. Please." He waited for some sign that she was listening, but there was none. "I want to hear about what happened, Mac. Don't shut me out-" the line went dead, and Harm guessed that she had unplugged the phone from the wall. "Damn," he muttered, closing his phone as his shoulders fell.

Maybe she would be ready to talk tomorrow after she'd cooled off a little. He knew from experience that pushing her wasn't going to accomplish anything. The last time, they had ended up on a sidewalk in Paraguay and she'd said one word that had brought his world crashing down around his ears.

Taking a deep breath, Harm ran a hand around the back of his neck, his eyes still on Mac's door, willing her to open it before he left. But the door remained closed, with no sign that she was even inside. But he knew she was, and he was tempted to camp out here all night until she finally came out.

He wouldn't, though. He'd give her some space, as much as he hated the idea of leaving this misunderstanding between them even overnight. Knocking once more, he said, "I'm going, Mac. See you tomorrow."

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The next day, Harm frowned as he passed Mac's empty, dark office en route to the Admiral's office. Jen looked up at him with a bright smile. "Good morning, sir."

"Jen. Have you heard from Col. Mackenzie this morning?"

"She called earlier and said that she would be late this morning due to personal business," the Petty Officer informed him, following him into the office. "I guess you weren't able to talk to her last night?"

Harm gave her a small grin. "No. Let me know when she comes in, please."

"Yes sir."

He sat down behind the desk, disliking the almost sterile atmosphere of the office without Admiral Chegwidden's personal belongings around. "What's on the agenda for today?" he asked. "Anything from the SecNav's office about a permanent replacement?"

"Nothing so far, sir," she told him, placing his schedule on the desk before him. "Your first meeting is at 0900."

"Might as well get started, then," Harm sighed.

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When Mac still hadn't come in by lunch, Harm started to worry. During their talk after the Admiral's Dining Out, Mac had told him that while she appreciated his offer to 'be there for her' and to keep his promise about the deal, she'd just found out that her ever having a child was problematic at best, and that she wanted him to find someone else who could give him the family that he wanted.

Harm had no intention of doing any such thing, but he had already felt like a thoughtless jerk for even bringing up that stupid deal that night, knowing she was still upset about Webb. So he'd let it go, promising himself that he'd be there no matter what. And now he'd let her down twice.

"Any word from Col. Mackenzie, Jen?" he asked as she brought in the lunch he'd ordered to be delivered. Lately, he'd been eating at his desk - trying to get everything in order for the change of command - when it finally happened.

"No, sir. Would you like me to try and call her?"

"I'll do it," Harm said, picking up the phone and dialing Mac's cell phone - only to get the voice mail again. He left *another* message - he'd lost count of how many, and reflected on the fact that if this kept up much longer, he might even equal the seventeen that she'd left for him last summer. He called her apartment and left a message as well.

Glancing at his schedule, Harm tossed his untouched lunch into the trash and stood, crossing to the door. "Jen, reschedule as much of my appointments as you can for the rest of the day."

"Did you find her, sir?" Jen asked, already picking up her phone to follow the order.

"No. But I'm going to. If she shows up here, call me and keep her here if you have to sit on her."

"Excuse me?"

"Just keep her here," Harm said again as he exited the office.

"Yes, sir."

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As he sat in the Vette, Harm wasn't sure where to even begin to look for Mac. He needed a game plan. Where would Mac go if she were upset or troubled, he asked himself.

Feeling totally foolish, he closed his eyes and cleared his mind for a moment, hoping an idea would come to him.

It did. Opening his eyes, he started then engine and pulled out of the parking lot.

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Entering the National Museum, Harm headed directly toward Dinosaur Hall. He didn't know why he thought she might be there - but something had put the idea in his head, and at this point, he was willing to try anything.

He found her standing before a display of ichnites, which reminded him of their first meeting. Moving to stand just behind her, he asked, "Permission to come aboard?"

Mac's shoulders tensed under her uniform, and her expression was wary when she turned to look at him. "What are you doing here?"

"Playing hooky. Thought I'd come play with the dinosaurs." His eyes searched her face, noticing that she still looked tired and her features were drawn. There were dark circles under her eyes that she had tried unsuccessfully to cover with make up. "I got worried," he told her, still looking into her eyes. "Jen said that you'd called and would be late - I thought an hour, maybe two - How did things go in Hawaii?" he asked, deciding to take things in more or less chronological order of occurrence. Alicia was a topic that could wait until they took care of everything else. Spying an empty bench, Harm placed a gentle hand to her back and turned them toward it.

"Clay's mother was there when I arrived. Apparently the Navy called her to identify his body."

"Did she?" Harm held his breath, recalling that Porter had kept quiet once about her son's supposed 'death'. They sat down on the bench, and Harm turned so that he was facing Mac as much as he could.

"Yes." Mac's eyes fell to her hands in her lap. "I'd never met her before."

"You - never met Porter Webb?" That was a surprise in itself. As close as Porter and her son were, it was hard to believe that he would have spent almost a year dating Mac and not introduced them.

"Not until I saw her at Tripler," Mac confirmed. "She was pretty - upset. Losing her only son that way -" Harm reached over and covered her hands with his. "He's really gone this time. I knew it, but seeing his mother so upset -"

"You should have called me," Harm told her.

He felt her emotional withdrawal immediately. "You were busy. I didn't want to make things worse by dumping my problems on you."

"Hey," Harm said, tilting his head so that he could see her face, "That's what I'm here for. I have broad shoulders. Or so they tell me," he added with a small smile. "We need to talk about last night, Mac. I want to explain -"

She stood up. "You don't have to explain anything to me, Harm."

"I want to," he insisted. "Please sit down."

He worried for a moment that she would bolt, and leave him there alone. But she finally sat down again, her hands in her lap.

"Thank you. First, I want to apologize for brushing you off before you left for Tripler. I was running late - and I had that meeting with Alicia -"

"She's very attractive," Mac observed.

"I suppose she is," Harm agreed. "I never really paid that much attention." When Mac turned to look at him, he gave her a smile. "Maybe when we first met."

"Jen told me that she's a law professor at Georgetown," Mac revealed. "Is she - recruiting?"

"She *did* tell me that if I ever got tired of the Navy again, I should give her a call," Harm had to admit.

"Are you going to?"

Harm chuckled. "Mac, can you honestly see me teaching?"

"Yes," she replied. "I can. I think you'd be a good teacher."

"Alicia said the same thing, but I don't see it myself."

"Sounds like the two of you have spent a lot of time together."

"It's been nice catching up on the old days," Harm nodded, looking toward an exhibit of dried bones across the way, aware that Mac had turned to look at him with a frown.

"Old days?"

"Alicia and I went to law school together," he said. "She's a friend."

"Like we're friends."

This time Harm placed a finger under her chin to lift it. "No. Not like us. I'm hoping for more than just 'friends' here. Eventually." Mac looked stunned at his admission, so Harm continued. "The day you left for Tripler, I'd been at a meeting with SecNav and traffic was a bear coming back. Alicia had called that morning and asked if I could meet with her about a case she was looking into and the only free time I had scheduled all day was that hour. She and I met up in the parking lot and walked upstairs together."

He could see the wheels turning in Mac's head, the memory of Harm's arm around Alicia's shoulders, the fact that they'd been laughing together, everything falling into place for her. "A case?"

"Twenty two years ago, Seaman First Class Douglas Briggs was convicted of murdering a prostitute in Norfolk. While reviewing some old cases that she thought might be of interest to her class, Alicia found it and discovered some discrepancies. She interviewed Briggs and thinks that he might not be guilty. That's what we were going to discuss last night over dinner - since this isn't an official case, I decided it would be best to work on it on my own time." He reached over to take her hand. "I was - kinda hoping you'd be willing to help."

"You were?"

"Yeah. I'm snowed under with all of the paperwork that needs to be down before the change of command, but I don't want to let Alicia down."

"You think she's right about this case?"

"From what I've read, there's a good possibility. She left the files at my place when we cancelled dinner last night and since I couldn't sleep, I read through several of them."

"You couldn't sleep?"

He looked her in the eyes again. "No. I was too worried that I'd managed to screw things up again."

"You didn't do anything wrong," Mac said. "It was just me, making mountains out of molehills."

"Where did you go this morning?" he asked, and immediately regretted doing so. "Sorry. If you'd rather not tell me -"

"No, it's okay. I went to Bethesda."

Harm frowned, suddenly worried. "Is something wrong?"

"No, it wasn't that. I called Dr. McCool at home late last night and asked if she had some time she could see me this morning."

"Dr. McCool," he repeated, trying to recall where he'd heard the name. "The psychiatrist."

"Yes. Harm, we need to talk -"

"Have dinner with Mattie and me tonight," he suggested, making a mental reminder to call Alicia this afternoon and ask for another rain check. Getting this right with Mac was more important. "Once she goes back to her apartment, we can talk; maybe go over the Martin case -"


"Good. As long as you don't mind reheated veggie lasagna."

He was relieved when she smiled. "It's my favorite."

"Sounds like a plan, then." His smile faltered as his cell phone began to ring. "Can I ignore that?"

"I don't think so," Mac told him.

"I was afraid you'd say that." He opened the phone. "Rabb."

"Commander, it's Coates. The SecNav's on his way over here to see you."

"Where did you tell him I was?"

"That you had a personal matter to see to and that you would be back momentarily."

"I'm on my way," he said.

"Did you find Col. Mackenzie, sir?"

Harm smiled at Mac. "I did. Give me thirty minutes if traffic's with me."

"What should I do if Secretary Sheffield arrives before you do?"

"Give him some coffee and stall."

Harm hung up the phone and rose to his feet, holding out his hand. "Time to get back to the grindstone," he told her, relieved when Mac took his hand and let him pull her to her feet. "Are you coming back to the office?" he asked as they moved toward the exit.

"Yeah. I have some paperwork to finish up on the Matthews case." As they moved toward where her car was parked, Mac told him, "Oh, and I heard something in Hawaii about who the next JAG might be."

"Really? They've been keeping a tight lid on it up at the Hill. SecNav's refusing to say a word. What have you heard?"

"You're not going to like it," she warned.

"Why? Don't tell me we're getting a bureaucrat who doesn't know anything but the courtroom," Harm sighed.

"Not - exactly," she said, grinning. "Think you could handle working for a Marine, Squid?"

Harm groaned as he realized what she meant, but he was smiling as well. "Well, I've managed for the last eight years, I guess I'll survive."

He saw her back to her Vette, and then found his own, pulling out not far behind her on the street and followed her back to Falls Church. Just as they were getting out of their cars, SecNav's black limo pulled up, and they both came to attention.

"Mr. Secretary."

"Col. Mackenzie. Commander Rabb," he said in a pleasant tone as he got out of the car. "Just returning from lunch?" he asked.

"I had some important personal business to attend to, sir," Harm explained without explaining.

But as he saw Edward Sheffield's eyes move from him to Mac and back again, Harm had a feeling that the man saw a great deal more than he was given credit for. "Shall we go inside?" Sheffield suggested now. "How was your trip to Hawaii, Colonel?" he asked as they turned toward the red brick building.

"Uneventful, sir." Mac replied.

"I've often found that getting away for a few days helps to give me a new perspective on things that have been bothering me. Do you find the same thing happens to you?"

Mac glanced at Harm before answering. "Sometimes, sir." She signed in, waiting as Harm and the SecNav did the same. Over his head, she and Harm exchanged a questioning glance before the other man led the way to the elevators and pressed the button.

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Mattie left soon after dinner, aware that Harm and Mac were going to be talking 'business'. Sitting at the counter, Mac opened one of the files stacked there, but Harm pulled it away and closed it again. "Why don't we move over to the living room and have our coffee first?" he suggested in a soft voice. "Maybe have that 'talk' that we keep putting off?"

"Harm, I -"

He saw the fear in her eyes and took a deep breath as he came around the counter to take her hands in his. Slow and easy, he reminded himself as he, "And I'll even start things off." Keeping her hands in his, Harm looked down at them, and then back at Mac. "Mac, I meant what I said about being there for you. I'm sorry that I wasn't available before you left for Tripler or last night. But even if something like that happens, I'll be there as soon as I possibly can be." A tear escaped her eye to roll down her cheek. Transferring both of her hands to one of his, he used his free one to wipe the moisture away. "And I want you to know that - I understand that you're still hurting because of Webb's death and that that you need some time. But when you decide you're ready to try again, I'm here. For as long as it takes."

"Why?" she asked, looking up at him.

"Because I happen to care a lot about you. And not just as a friend." He took a deep breath. "But I'm not going to push you, Mac. Or rush this. When your heart is recovered from losing Webb, I hope you'll be willing to take a chance on me." Gently squeezing her fingers, Harm released her hands. "I'll get the coffee."

He hoped she hadn't noticed that his hands were shaking or how nervous he was. Moving their relationship even to this level was a risk - but it was one that Harm knew he was ready to take. He only hoped that Mac was.

Harm never heard her approach, and when her arms slipped around him from behind and her cheek rested against his back, he closed his eyes for a moment as Mac said, "Thank you."

He resisted the impulse to turn into her arms and pull her close and never let her go with only a supreme effort worthy of a SEAL. Or a Marine. At last he finished pouring the coffee as she backed away from him. Taking a deep breath, he turned and handed one of them to her before picking up a couple of the files on the counter. "Let's get started on these, shall we?"

The End

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