JAG: The San Diego Series Episode 7:
Watch Over Me
Part 1

Rating: Over 13
Pairing: Harm/Mac at first; Harm/Jen (eventually)
Classification: Angst, Romance
Spoilers: My stories can contain spoilers of any episode already aired in the US
Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did, the ending would have been *very* different.
Archiving: Usual drill. Archived at myjagfanfic @ Yahoogroups; and various other lists; http://jagficlady.com/ Anywhere else, please ask I like to know where my stories end up.
A/N: I know. I seem to be stuck in a Harm/Jen rut these days. But the more I think about things, the more I'm convinced that no matter what DPB and the writers wanted us to think, Harm and Mac wouldn't have lasted very long. WARNING! DO NOT READ this if you're a Harm/Mac shipper and don't like Harm/Jen! Anyone who does and then sends me an email about it will be branded a Village Idiot and their email blocked. This one's for you, Suz, and my fellow Harm loving fans. LOL!
Summary: This will be an ongoing series, kind of a virtual Season 11, focusing mainly on Harm's adjustment to retirement in San Diego. This episode picks up a couple of weeks after the end of the last episode. Harm and Mattie get used to being on their own after Mac's departure. But when Jen ends up in trouble, Harm finds himself with a new client.

0030 Hours Local
Rabb House
La Jolla, CA

Harm entered the house, dropping his keys onto the coffee table before dropping onto the sofa. "Hi, there," Mattie said, causing him to look around to find her standing in the doorway.

"Hi yourself," he replied. "What are you doing up at this hour?"

"I heard you come in and wanted to see how it went," she said, coming around the sofa to sit beside him.

Harm took a deep breath. "It - went," was his hesitant response.

"That bad, huh? And Grandma Trish was so sure that you and she would hit it off."

"I know mom means well, Mattie," he said, sitting back again. "But I wish she'd stop trying to fix me up."

"She's concerned about you, Dad. Worried that you'll end up alone. I won't be here forever, you know."

Harm smiled sadly at the idea of losing her. "We have a little time yet," he reminded her, putting an arm around her shoulders and pulling her to his side. "You just turned 17. We have almost two years before you have to leave for the Academy -"

"If I get in," Mattie reminded him.

"You will," Harm assured her.

"But you'll still be here alone after that. And both Grandma Trish and I agree that you shouldn't be."

Harm withdrew from her slightly. "Mattie, it's barely been a month since Mac and I decided not to get married."

"You mean since *Mac* decided not to marry you, don't you, Dad?" Mattie countered, and Harm winced at the bitterness in her voice. "You can't bury yourself waiting for her to change her mind -"

"I'm not doing that, Mattie," Harm insisted. "I *know* it's over. But I just need a little more time to put it behind me. I invested almost ten years of my life in that relationship in one way or the other. That's a lot to get past in just a few weeks."

"You realize that Christmas is coming up, right?"

Harm smiled, not sure where she was going with this change of topic. "Yeah."

"Well, it was Christmas when you and I really began - so maybe *this* Christmas can be the beginning of *your* new life."

"Maybe," Harm agreed. He knew that his mother and Frank were going to stay in town this year instead of going to the Bahamas as they usually did - and that it was because of him and Mattie.

"Grandma Trish has invited Jen to spend the holiday, too," Mattie told him. "Since she doesn't have any family in the area and isn't going to go see her dad."

"Speaking of dads," Harm said, "Did you reply to your father's letter?"

She sighed, rolling her eyes. "It went out in today's mail," she told him. "What was so terrible about tonight?" she finally asked, bringing the conversation back to the original topic. "Grandma Trish said that Linda seemed perfect for you -"

"She spent the entire evening talking about her ex husband and what a louse he was," Harm said. "Wanted to know if I could handle her case if she were to try and get more alimony," he continued with a grin of self-depreciation.

"Oh, *man*! What a -" Harm fixed her with a look, and Mattie giggled. "Witch."

"Think you could put a bug in Grandma Trish's ear about not setting me up for awhile, Matts?" Harm asked.

"Yeah," she decided. "You know, you could find someone on your own -"

"Mattie -" he sighed, shaking his head.

"What about Jen?" she suggested.


"Why not?"

"Well, other than the fact that I'm too old for her -"

"She dated Uncle Jack. He's the same age you are," Mattie pointed out in an even tone.

"That's another problem. If she's seeing Keeter -"

"She's not. They're just friends."

"And there's the fact that she thinks of me as an uncle or older brother -"

"You *sure* about that?" Mattie questioned, causing Harm to stop and turn to look at her.

"I'm not having this conversation, Mattie," he decided. "Besides, you need to get back to bed. School tomorrow."

"That's right," she said, moving closer to give him a hug and a kiss his cheek. "Hide your head in the sand."

The telephone rang, and Mattie, being closer, grabbed it as Harm wondered who would be calling at this time of the night. "Hello? . . ." Her eyes flickered toward Harm with a playful gleam that quickly changed into worry. "Jen? . . . Yes, he's here - are you okay?" She held out the phone. "She sounds frightened."

Harm took the phone. "Jen, what's up?"

"Could you come over here, Harm?" she asked, her voice sounding shaky.

"Now?" He could hear her uneven, panicked breathing through the line. "Jen, what's happened? Are you hurt?"

"I think I'm in trouble," she said. "Vic - Vic's dead."


"Vic. He's - dead."

"Where are you?"


"I'll be right there," Harm said. He glanced at the caller ID to verify that she really was at home. "Did you call the police?"

"N-not yet."

"Call as soon as you hang up with me. Don't talk to them until I get there, okay?"


Harm hung up the phone, grabbing his keys. "I have to go out -"

"What happened?" Mattie asked, following him through the kitchen and into the garage.

"I'm not sure. You go back to bed. If you need me call my cell."

Mattie nodded, remaining where she was as he started the Lexus and backed it out of the garage. Once on the way to Jen's apartment, Harm took out his cell phone and dialed Jen's number, but she didn't answer. Probably calling the police as he'd told her to do.

Closing the cell, Harm pressed on the accelerator, wanting to get to Jen as soon as he could. The reason why Vic would have been at her apartment in the first place was something that Harm didn't want to consider. Or how he had ended up dead.


0130 Hours Local

As Harm drove toward Jen's, his mind went back to something that had happened a week ago during a visit to the JLSC to speak to Sturgis about a case he was involved in as a defense attorney for a young sailor. He had been delegated by his mother to remind Jen about a promise to work at the gallery over the weekend, and when he hadn't found Jen at her desk, he had asked Lt. Cathy Graves where she might be.

Graves had remembered seeing Jen going toward the break room to get some coffee for Commander Turner. The Lieutenant had offered to go with him since she needed a cup of tea herself. She was telling him how much she hated that things hadn't worked out between him and Mac as they came up to the break room doorway. Jen was there - and she wasn't alone.

Her back was to the door as she told Lt. Vukovic "If you say a *word* about this, I'll -" Her tone was decidedly angry.

Harm wanted to wipe the smirk from Vic's face as his eyes flicked toward them and then moved back to Jen. "You'll what, Jen?"

"I'll kill you," Jen finished in a deadly monotone that sent a chill down Harm's spine.

Cathy Graves, with her love of a mystery, gasped in shocked surprise, making Jen realize that her words had been overheard. She turned, and Harm saw the shock in her eyes when she saw that he was there. "Lt. Graves - Harm."

He could see her eyes searching his face, as though trying to find out how much of the conversation he had heard. "Is there a problem here, Jen?" Harm asked, pinning Vic with his look.

"No," Jen said quickly. "The Lieutenant and I were just -"

"We were just discussing Petty Officer Coates' reason for not taking Col. Mackenzie up on her offer to go to Naples," Vic finished, still smirking, earning him an angry look from Jen. "If you'll excuse me, I have a meeting that I'll be late for if I don't get going." He nodded toward Harm, then Cathy before sidling out of the room, carefully avoiding coming too close to Harm.

When he'd questioned Jen about the incident, Jen had insisted she could handle it, and refused to discuss it any further. Harm, being Harm, hadn't pushed the issue, and had let her know that he would be there if she changed her mind.

As Harm turned into the parking area for Jen's apartment, his heart dropped to his stomach at the sight of the flashing lights from the police cars. Parking the car, he saw the coroner's van parked near the curb as well.

A young police officer stood nearby as a couple of men came from the apartment building with a gurney containing a body bag. When Harm tried to move past him, the officer held out an arm.

"Excuse me, sir. This is a crime scene -"

"I know. I was called -" Harm took out his wallet to show the officer a card.

The young man picked up the radio that hung at his side. "There's a lawyer out here. A -" he peered at the card. "Harmon Rabb, Jr."

The static filled reply came quickly. "Send him in."

Harm passed several other police officers en route to the open doorway into Jen's apartment. The moment he appeared, he saw Jen sitting on the sofa. She looked small and pale wearing a white robe, and her hair was wrapped in a bath towel. "Jen?"

She stood up when she saw him. "Harm! Thank goodness!" she said, starting to move toward him. A man about Harm's age put a hand on Jen's arm to stop her, but he was looking at Harm.

"Detective John Logan," he said. "Miss Coates said that she didn't want to talk to us until you got here."

"Wise decision on her part," Harm replied before identifying himself. "Harmon Rabb, Jr. Can we have a few minutes?" he asked.

"Sure," Logan agreed, indicating the bedroom. "We have a few more things to take care of in the bedroom."

Taking Jen's elbow, Harm sat down next to Jen, waiting until the bedroom door closed. "I'm sorry I had to call, Harm," she began. "But I didn't know what else to do." He couldn't remember the last time that she had looked so frightened. When Mattie had had her accident, maybe, he thought. Or while they were waiting for news about Bud's injuries after he'd stepped on that mine.

He put his hands on her shoulders, looking down at her. "I'm glad you called. What happened? All I got over the phone was that Vic was dead in your apartment and the police were here."

"I went - somewhere and when I got home, I didn't bother turning on the lights. I came in, locked the door behind me and went to take a shower. When I got out of the shower, I went into the bedroom and - tripped over something. When I turned on the light, I found a shoe on the floor - and Vic - Lt. Vukovic's body on the bed." She shuddered. "There was so much blood ---"

Harm's fingers tightened on her shoulders in an attempt to calm her. "Why was he here?"

"I don't know. I didn't think he even knew where I lived."

"Where were you?" When Jen hesitated, he said, "Jen?"

He was surprised when she looked down at her hands, as if she were unable to meet his gaze. "Balboa Park. Someone asked me to meet them there."

"Someone? Who?"

"It doesn't matter. She never showed up."


Jen lifted her dark eyes to his, lowering her voice as she spoke. "It was Pia."

"*Pia*?" Harm repeated in disbelief, quickly glancing toward the door as he lowered his voice as well. "The same Pia who tried to frame you for murder last year?" Jen nodded. "When did she call?"

"The first time, about a week ago. She called me at the office and told me she'd seen my name in an article about Cmdr. Turner taking over at the JLSC, and discovered that I was here."

"A week ago? Jen, why didn't you tell me about it? You should have called the police. She's a fugitive."

"I know. I didn't want to bother you. You have enough on your plate right now without having to handle my problems."

He touched her hand. "Jen, when are you going to understand that your problems *are* my problems?" he asked, and was surprised as she was when he said it. He slowly drew his hand back.

Harm looked toward the bedroom door. "Why did she want to meet you?" he wanted to know, aware that Det. Logan would be returning any moment.

"She said she was going to turn herself in to the police, and wanted me to go with her."

"But she never showed up," Harm continued, recalling her earlier statement.

"Why would she have killed Lt. Vukovic, Harm?" Jen wondered.

"Because she's jealous of you," he suggested.

"Of me?"

"Because of what you've accomplished and she hasn't," he went on. "You've come a long way since those early days," he reminded her.

"Thanks to you," Jen countered.

"I don't believe that. I might have given you the shove to make the changes, but you're the one who made them and kept on making them."

"Is your client ready to talk now, Mr. Rabb?" Logan asked, coming back into the room.

Harm saw Jen give him a questioning look. "Just answer his questions Jen," he said.

"Did you know the victim, Miss Coates?" Logan asked.

"Yes," Jen replied.

"It's Petty Officer Coates," Harm reminded the detective.

"Then you're both Navy," Logan noted. "Did you work together?"

"We're assigned to the same office." She looked at Harm before continuing. "The Joint Legal Services Center. Lt. Vukovic is - was a JAG lawyer."

"And you are -?"

"I'm the commanding officer's yeoman," Jen said.

"The commanding officer being -?"

"Commander Sturgis Turner." Logan made a notation.

"So you did know the victim?"

"Yes," Jen confirmed.

"Why was he in your apartment, Petty Officer?"

"I don't know," Jen answered truthfully.

"You didn't invite him here?"


"You're an attractive woman," Logan noted. "The Lieutenant was a good looking guy - You never socialized while off duty?"

"He was an officer," Jen explained. "I'm enlisted."

"In my experience, Petty Officer, that doesn't always make a difference."

"It does with me," Jen declared.

"Did you go anywhere this evening?"

Jen glanced at Harm again. "I went to Balboa Park," she said.

"Anyone there who can confirm you were there?"

"The person I went there to meet didn't show up."

"No one saw you there, then."

"No," she admitted.

"Who did you go to meet?"

"Pia Bonfilio," Jen explained. "She and I were friends before I went into the Navy."

"Why the meeting in Balboa?" Logan asked.

When Jen hesitated, Harm squeezed her arm gently. "Go ahead, Jen."

"She tried to frame me for murder last year in DC."

"Really?" Logan's disbelief was palpable, but he wrote something down.

"She killed a man we both knew a long time ago," Jen explained. "Vince Dolan." Logan wrote that name down as well. "She dressed up in my uniform and killed him. We - look a lot alike," she continued to explain.

"I don't suppose you know how to get in touch with her?"

"No. Both times she's contacted me, she's called me."

"Did she call you here at home?"

"Tonight, yes. But the first time she called me at work."

Logan went to Jen's phone. "No caller ID?" he questioned.

"No. I never had a reason to get it before now."

"Is this an unlisted number?"


"Well, Petty Officer, you tell a very nice story, but let me tell you what *I* think really happened: you and Vic met at a bar somewhere, and he came back here with you. Or maybe he followed you home. Things got out of hand and you killed him, and then took a shower to clean up any evidence."

"That's not what happened!" Jen insisted.

"Are you aware that one of the knives from your kitchen is wet - as if it had been washed very recently?"


"There's a knife block beside the stove. One of the knives is wet."

"I ate out tonight," Jen said. "I didn't have any reason to use a knife. And I took a shower when I came home because I didn't expect to find a body in my bed."

"You didn't see the body when you went through to the bath?"

"I didn't turn on the lights," Jen said. "I usually don't, since it's just me and I knew the way."

"I could understand if it was self defense, Petty Officer," Logan said, clearly not believing her. "You agreed to let him come in for a nightcap or cup of coffee and he tried to do more than that - wouldn't take 'no' for an answer -"

"That's not -" Jen began again, but Harm placed a hand on her arm - this time to silence her.

"Are you going to arrest my client, Detective?" he asked.

Logan studied Jen for another moment. "Not yet. I'm handing this off to NCIS anyway."

"NCIS?" Harm repeated, disliking the bitter taste the acronym put into his mouth.

"Both your client and the victim were Navy. We have enough on our plate, so I'm going to see if they want to catch this one." He looked at Jen again. "Don't leave the area, Petty Officer. We'll need to know where you are in case we need to talk to you again."

"She can be reached through me, Detective," Harm said, handing the man a business card. Standing up, he helped Jen to her feet.

"I'll need a uniform for tomorrow," Jen told Harm, who looked at Logan.

"It's a crime scene, Mr. Rabb. No one takes anything in or out."

"We'll handle that tomorrow," Harm told Jen. "I'm sure Mattie will have something you can wear until we can get back in here to get some of your things." He looked at Logan, ignoring the speculative expression on the other man's face. "You *will* make sure that you check out Pia Bonfilio, won't you, Detective?"

"It's in my notes," Logan assured him. "I'll let NCIS track it down."

Knowing that he wasn't going to get anything further, Harm asked, "Is my client free to go now?"



After getting Jen settled in the passenger seat of the SUV, Harm went around to the driver's side and got behind the wheel.

"He thinks I did it," Jen murmured as she removed the white towel from her still damp long hair.

Harm turned in his seat to look at her. "We both know that you didn't, Jen. That's what matters right now. The evidence will support that."

"How do you know that I didn't?" Jen asked, her eyes meeting his. "You know how Vic used to hit on me -"

"Had he done it recently?" Harm asked.

"He asked me to have a drink with him a few days ago," she admitted slowly, looking away again, giving Harm the impression that there was more to the story than she was saying.

The scene from a few days before replayed in his mind. "Jen, was that the reason for what happened last week?"

Jen looked down at her hands. "In the break room," she recalled. "I threatened to kill him. Just like when I heard you threaten Lt. Singer," she continued. "Will that affect your being able to defend me?" she wondered.

"No. I wasn't the only one who overheard the threat," he reminded her.

"Lt. Graves," Jen said with a sigh, putting her head back. "But she knows what he was like. She dated him a few times until she realized he was a player."

Harm knew that that wouldn't matter. All the prosecution would need was Lt. Graves recounting what she heard in the break room. Deciding to move Jen's mind toward the positive, he said, "We have to find out why he was at your apartment. You're *sure* he didn't know where you lived?"

"I never told him. The only way he would know is if he checked the personnel files."

"Knowing Vic, that's a possibility."

"I guess I should have made an official report to the Colonel about him," Jen said with a deep sigh.

"I'm not sure it would have made a difference, Jen," Harm replied, his fingers tightening on the steering wheel. "Mac didn't seem to want to do anything about Vic."

"I think she really thought he would change," Jen told him. "I'm sure there was nothing going on between them."

"So am I. That's about the only thing that I *am* sure of," Harm said with a grimace, and decided to change the subject. Mac wasn't something that he wanted to talk to Jen about for some reason. "Did you get any clue as to where Pia might be staying when she called, Jen?"

Jen thought back over the calls, and then shook her head. "No. I don't remember anything out of the ordinary."

"Maybe after thinking about it, you'll remember something."

"Maybe." She grew quiet for the next few minutes while Harm drove the car through the early morning traffic. "I'm sorry to be so much trouble, Harm."

He reached over to cover her hand with his. "You're no trouble, Jen," he assured her. "We'll get you out of this." His fingers squeezed hers in an attempt to reassure her.

"I don't know what I'm going to tell Cmdr. Turner."

"I'm sure that Sturgis will be fair," Harm assured her. Since his old Academy buddy's assignment to San Diego, Sturgis had been to the house a couple of times for dinner. They were slowly recapturing the friendship that had become strained almost to the point of no return during the last few years of Harm's Naval career.


Mattie must have been waiting for them, because she opened the door from the kitchen before the garage door closed behind the car. "Jen! Are you okay?" she asked, obviously concerned for her friend and former roommate.

"What are you still doing up?" Harm asked his ward. "You have school tomorrow -"

"I'll be fine, Dad," she assured him, watching as Jen got out of the car, giving her ex-roommate a hug.

"Someone lured Jen out of her apartment and then killed Vic there, Mattie," Harm explained quickly. He didn't like keeping secrets from her. "She's going to stay here for a few days until everything is cleared up."

Mattie's eyes were huge as she led them into the kitchen, where Jen sank gratefully into a chair. "They don't think *you* did it, do they?" she wanted to know.

"I'm a suspect," Jen confirmed.

"We'll talk about it tomorrow," Harm said to Mattie. "Right now, Jen needs something to sleep in - and something to wear tomorrow -" he indicated the white bathrobe that Jen was still wearing.

"I'll go find her something and put it into the spare room," Mattie said, stopping to give Jen a quick hug. "I'm glad you're okay, whatever happened. The stuff'll be in your room when you're ready."

"Thank you, Matts," Jen said, returning the hug.

Mattie paused to give Harm a hug as well, "Night, Dad."


Once they were alone, Harm sat down across the table from Jen. "We'll get through this, Jen," he said once again. "Just like we did last time."

"I should have called you, I guess. But I really thought she was serious about wanting to turn herself in. She *sounded* serious."

"She knew that you *wanted* to believe, Jen. She used that to get you out of the apartment."

"I can't believe I fell for it, though. Now, she's probably on the run again."

"I don't think so. I have a feeling that she'll stick around if only to make sure her frame doesn't fall apart this time. We'll find her."

0515 Hours Local
Rabb House
La Jolla, CA

Harm wasn't able to sleep, and decided to go make a cup of herbal tea. Once in the kitchen, though, he noticed that the sliding glass door that led out to the patio was open. Frowning, Harm moved through the room and paused in the doorway.

Jen was sitting at the round table. "Jen?"

She turned to look at him. "Harm. Did I wake you?"

"No. I haven't been sleeping well since -" he let his voice trail off, not wanting to mention Mac.

"I can't sleep either," she admitted.

"That's understandable after what happened tonight. I was going to make some herbal tea," he explained. "You want a cup?"

"Sure. If it's not too much trouble."

"No trouble." He turned back into the house and found two cups, filling each with water and sticking them in the microwave to heat it.

"I need to call and let someone know that I'm going to be late today -" Jen said watched him work. She perched on a barstool across the counter.

"No one there to call," he reminded her. "Sturgis doesn't get there before 0800," he reminded her.

"Usually later since Miss Chesnut got here," Jen confided, and managed a smile when Harm grinned. "I think it's serious."

"I hope so. She's good for him."

"I guess I could call him at home and let him know what's happened before he hears about it on the morning news."

Harm turned to grab the cordless phone, handing it across to her before turning back to the tea, keeping his ears tuned in to Jen on the telephone as she identified herself to her CO.

"Commander, I'm sorry to bother you so early, sir, but I need to let you know that I won't be in for duty this morning - . . . I'm not sure how to explain, sir." She looked across the counter at Harm. "Yes, I'm calling from his house -" she held out the phone again. "He wants to talk to you."

Harm set Jen's cup before her, then took the phone. "Morning, Sturgis."

"What the hell's going on, Harm?" he asked.

"Jen left her apartment yesterday evening to meet an old friend - and when she got back, she found someone dead in her apartment."


"Lt. Vukovic," Harm said.


"She called me and I brought her home since she couldn't stay at her place. But she couldn't bring anything with her -"

"No uniform," Sturgis guessed.


He heard Sturgis' deep breath over the line. "Okay. She has as long as she needs - who's investigating?"

"We talked to a San Diego detective last night, but he mentioned turning it over to NCIS."

"I'll be expecting a call from them, then. And I'll have call Gen. Cresswell to let him know what's going on."

"If he has any questions, Sturgis -"

"I'll send him your way and let *you* handle him," Sturgis finished. "Don't worry about that." The line was silent for a moment. "Tell Jen if she needs anything, to call. And to keep me informed."

"I will."


1000 Hours Local
Rabb House
La Jolla, CA

After Keeter heard about what had happened, he had offered to do a little investigation on Jen's behalf. Once he left, Harm saw Jen standing by the back patio door again, looking outside. "What's wrong, Jen?" he asked, moving closer to her.

"This isn't going to be pretty is it?"

"What do you mean?"

"Just that Vic's harassment of me is going to come out - and that won't be good for Col. Mackenzie."

"Mac's a big girl. She can take care of herself," Harm reminded her. But as he had the previous night, Harm had the feeling that she wasn't being entirely open with him. "Jen, if there's something specific you're worried about, you need to tell me." He had a feeling it had to do with her threat to Vic. "Jen, what were you and Vic talking about last week?"

She sighed heavily. "Just what he said we were talking about," she said.

"Your reasons for staying here instead of going with Mac to Naples," Harm recalled. He'd been curious about that, too. "Why didn't you go with her? I know she wanted you to go as her yeoman. It would have been a real step up for your career -"

"I know. But - Does it really matter why I decided to stay here instead?" she asked.

"It was important enough for you to want to keep Vic from telling anyone else about it," Harm pointed out. When she didn't answer, Harm said, "Jen, I can't defend you if you're going to keep secrets from me."

"I just didn't want to leave San Diego," Jen said at last.

"And that's what you told Vic not to tell anyone under threat of bodily harm?" he questioned.

"It's - personal, Harm," she said quietly. "Can't we just leave it at that?"

"Under any other circumstances, I'd say yes. But not when it could affect my ability to defend you, Jen," he replied, putting his hands on her shoulders and turning her to face him. "Now I want the truth."

"There were a lot of reasons," she hedged.

"Such as?"

"I was - angry at Mac," she said.


"Because of the way she treated you. I thought she was crazy to pick her career over staying here and marrying you."


Jen was looking up at him, her eyes on his. "After everything you did, giving up your promotion - the chance to become the JAG one day, leaving the Navy -."

"It was my decision to do all that, Jen."

"To be with *her*," Jen pointed out. "And all she could do was ignore you, treat you like you didn't matter to her."

"Because I loved her," Harm countered.

"You still do," Jen noted, and not for the first time, Harm saw the pain that her words created reflected in her dark eyes.

"I probably always will," Harm agreed. "I'll always be concerned about Mac. As a friend. She was a big part of my life, stood by me when others wouldn't - a lot like you have these last few years."

"Me? I haven't -"

"You were there for me when I needed someone to take care of Mattie. You never complained when I would have to go out of town and you had to play guardian to her in my stead."

"I like Mattie. And my moving in with her helped me as much as it did you and her," Jen pointed out.

"Was Mac's treatment of me your only reason for staying, Jen?" he asked.

"I thought that I should stay here - just in case you - and Mattie - needed me again."

"We never stopped," he said. "During the last few months, you've been a big help to me - to both of us. I'm very grateful for that." Harm saw Jen's expression falter at his words. "It's more than gratitude, Jen," he assured her. "You and I need to have a talk."

"A - talk?" she questioned.

He smiled, touching her cheek with his thumb. "About us. But until this is over -"

Jen nodded. "I understand."

"Once it is, we'll talk. Okay?"

She nodded again, smiling for the first time since he'd entered her apartment the night before. "Okay."

"And I won't forget," he assured her, his thumb still moving across her cheek. "Jen -" the telephone rang, and Harm reluctantly moved away from Jen to answer. "Hello?"

"Hi, Harm."

Hearing Mac's voice, Harm glanced to where Jen was standing in the doorway. "Hi."

"I just got a flash message from Gen. Cresswell about what happened last night, Harm. What happened?"

"Pia Bonfilio happened," he answered.

"The old friend of Jen's from last year?" she asked.

"Yeah. She called Jen and asked to meet her at Balboa, but didn't show up. When Jen got home, Vic was already dead."

"And you think Pia killed him? Why?"

"Who knows? The woman's a sociopath, Mac," Harm said, and immediately regretted the slip, since he saw Jen's expression close. Without a word, she moved across the kitchen toward the front hall, leaving him alone.

"What do the police say?"

"The detective who investigated last night didn't seem impressed with the story. He's turning it over to NCIS."

"That makes sense, Harm. Jen and Vic are both Navy - How is she doing?"

"She's worried that the police won't believe her story - especially if we can't find Pia or prove the story. Keeter's on her trail, but she's good at covering her tracks."

"I guess you've agreed to defend her?"

"Yeah. She's staying here for awhile, since she can't stay at her place. And I'm not sure it would be a good idea anyway, with Pia running around out there."

"If there's anything I can do to help, Harm - I can fly back -"

Harm wanted to point out that if she had done something about Vic months ago when he'd suggested it, then this wouldn't be happening. But he caught himself before uttering the words. Instead, he said, "No. I think I can handle it. But you ought to know that I'm going to have to bring Vic's fraternization issues out if this goes to courts martial." There was silence on the line, and Harm thought for a moment she had hung up.

"I understand. I guess I should have listened to you about him and done something about it. Tell Jen I'm sorry."

"I will."

"Are you okay, Harm?"

"I'm fine," he told her.

"And - Mattie? I tried to call her the other day, but I got her voice mail."

Harm frowned at the news. "She's been having some problems with her phone," he lied. "I'll let her know you were thinking about her."

After another few moments, Harm hung up the phone and went looking for Jen. She was just coming out of her room when he saw her. "That was Mac," he said unnecessarily, wondering why he felt so nervous.

"I know. How is she?" Her tone was carefully conversational, Harm thought.

"Worried about you. She offered her help if we need it."

Jen frowned. "How did she hear -"

"Flash message from DC this morning," he explained. "She - said to tell you that she's sorry about not taking care of Vic when she had the chance."

"That's nice of her."

"If she'd done it when she was here -"

"But she didn't," Jen finished for him.

She wasn't looking at him now, and Harm frowned. Carefully he reached out and lifted her chin with his fingers. "Jen, Mac's call doesn't make any difference to what we were discussing before."

Her dark eyes searched his face. "It doesn't?"

"No. I told you earlier: The part of my life that included Mac as anything more than a friend is finished. It's time to start a new chapter. And I hope you'll be a part of that."

"I'd like to be."

"Good." He felt himself leaning forward, moving closer and closer to her - only to sigh in both frustration and relief when the doorbell rang. Knowing that kissing Jen right now would have been a mistake, Harm gave her a regretful grin. "Saved by the bell," he said, releasing her chin to go to the door.

"Sturgis," Harm said upon seeing his friend standing in on the porch. "Come in."

Sturgis entered the house as Jen said, "Commander Turner."

"At ease," Sturgis said. "How are you, Jen?"

"I'm okay, sir," she replied.

"You didn't have to come all the way up here, Sturgis," Harm noted, indicating that they should go into the living room.

"I thought it might be best to do this face to face," he explained, and Harm thought his old friend looked nervous. "What happened last night?"

Jen recounted the events of the previous evening, ending with her call to Harm after calling the police. "You believe me, don't you, sir?" she asked her commanding officer.

"*I* do," Sturgis confirmed. "But there's another problem. A call came into the hotline last night, claiming that you and Lt. Vukovic were seen in a local bar having drinks together - and that you left together."

"What?!" Harm burst out. "Sturgis, you know as well as I do that those calls are just as often crap as they are real."

"I know that, too, Harm. But unfortunately, Gen. Cresswell called me personally and suggested that we look into the report because of what happened last night."

"The General thinks that I killed the Lieutenant?" Jen questioned, obviously stunned by the idea, and Harm moved to place a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"No," Sturgis replied in an effort to reassure her. "Of course not. But you know that the Lieutenant was handpicked by the General as his 'Golden Boy'. And the appearance of impropriety isn't something he wants to happen on his watch as JAG."

"So he's going to take a hard line on this," Harm guessed.

Sturgis nodded. "He's started an Article 134 investigation in conjunction with the murder investigation." To Jen, he said, "Until this is fully resolved, you're on extended leave. I'm sorry."


Not wanting to leave Jen alone, Harm suggested that he drop her by the gallery where she could spend the afternoon with his mother, while he took care of a few things to clear his calendar for the next few days. Trish was delighted to see her, and gave the young woman a hug. When Jen moved away to look at some of the new artwork on display, Trish gave Harm a look of concern.

"She seems withdrawn. That's not like Jen."

"She's worried," Harm replied.

"How much trouble is she in, Harm?" his mother wanted to know.

"Even if we're able to find her friend and prove that Jen's innocent of the murder, there's still the fraternization charge. That alone could scuttle her career."

"I'm not sure that she's that concerned about her Navy career, dear," Trish told him.

Harm nodded absently. "I'll be back before closing to pick her up."

"She'll be fine here. Good luck."

Harm moved to tell Jen he was leaving. "I'm still not sure why you thought I needed someone to baby-sit me," she told him.

"Because the last time Pia came around, you took off on your own to try and find her after telling me that you would stay put. This is for my peace of mind, okay?"

Jen's fingers closed around his. "Be careful. If she was willing to kill Vic, I worry about what she might do to you -"

"I'll be okay," he assured her, squeezing her fingers gently.

"I'd still feel better if I was with you. I can take care of myself, too, you know."

"I know. Humor me, okay?"

"Okay." Another squeeze of his fingers, and she released them.


After calling John Harding to let him know that he would be devoting all his time to Jen's case, Harm called Keeter, informing of the latest development - the allegation that Jen and Vic had been together at a local hang out the previous evening. Keeter said that he would contact Sturgis to get the details. He then drove toward her apartment, keeping his eyes open for anyone who resembled Pia - or Jen, since Pia looked enough like Jen to be her sister.

There was the usual 'crime scene' tape across the open door, and a young man was in the living room, looking around. When he saw Harm bend to enter under the tape, he spoke. "Excuse me, sir -"

"I know. It's a crime scene. I'm Petty Officer Coates' attorney. Who's in charge here?"

"I am," another voice said from the direction of the kitchen, and Harm turned to see NCIS Agent Jethro Gibbs. "Rabb."

Harm was immediately on his guard. "Gibbs. What are you doing here? A little out of your usual area, wouldn't you say?"

"I go where the crime is," Gibbs replied, holding out his hand.

Harm took it. "All the way from DC?"

"When I heard you were defending the Petty Officer, I thought we might need the A team on this one."


Gibbs nodded toward the bedroom across the way. "They're in there, doing a thorough search. You're here without your client? I hope she hasn't taken off the way she did last time she dealt with Pia Bonfilio."

"No. She's with my mom." Seeing Gibbs' look, Harm explained, "They're good friends. Anything *you* can tell me about this?"

"Not much yet." He led Harm into the kitchen, pointing out a knife holder from which one wood handled steak knife was missing. "The murder weapon was taken from here - it was returned and the blade washed - with the Petty Officer's finger prints on it."

"Doesn't mean anything. It's Jen's knife. Whoever killed him would have known that and probably wore gloves."

"Which fits with the smudged prints we found on most of the knife," Gibbs agreed.

Harm frowned in confusion. It *almost* sounded as though Gibbs believed Jen's story about Pia luring her out of the apartment. "Have you started looking for Pia?"

"We have a BOLO out for her - but there's been one out since last year when she killed Vince Dolan and tried to frame the Petty Officer for it. I'll need to question P.O. Coates, Rabb."

"When and were?"

At that moment, a short, dark-haired young woman came from the bedroom. She was wearing dark clothing and had several tattoos on her neck and arms. "Gibbs, Ducky said that he found a -" she stopped talking when she saw Harm and smiled. "Commander Rabb!"

"Not Commander anymore, Miss - Scuito?" Harm questioned, uncertain of her last name.

"Call me Abby," she told him, grinning. "Everyone does. Ducky needs to talk to you, Gibbs," she informed the other man.

"How about the JLSC conference room at sixteen hundred this afternoon, Rabb?"

"We'll be there," Harm agreed. "I also needed to talk to someone about getting a few of Jen's things. Clothing and such --"

"You can do that now - Keep an eye on him, Abby. Make sure he doesn't disturb any evidence. Oh, and you might want to be nice to Abby, Rabb. She's the one who figured out that you weren't guilty of murder."

Harm looked at Abby, still wondering how someone so unconventional could possibly work for NCIS. But apparently she was good at it. "So I should say 'thank you', should I?" Harm suggested.

"It would be nice," Abby agreed, continuing to smile.

"Well, thank you. If you hadn't figured things out, I'd have ended up sitting in jail these last few years."

"Oh, well, that wouldn't have done at all," she insisted, slipping her arm through his to guide him toward the bedroom. "So, Harm. How long have you been in San Diego?"


1545 Hours Local
JLSC Southwest

As he and Jen exited the third floor elevator, they found Lt. Catherine Graves waiting. "Jen. Are you okay?"

"As good as can be expected, Lieutenant," Jen said. She was wearing a uniform that Harm had managed to get from her apartment, along with several civilian changes of clothing and other - necessities. Including - a small black dress that Harm *still* had no idea why he'd placed in the garment bag with her uniform. The questioning look on Jen's face after she'd taken the clothes into her room and returned had caused him to turn decidedly red around the ears.

"I was hoping to get a chance to speak to you, Harm," Cathy said, pulling them both toward a small, empty office space.

"What's wrong, Cathy?" he asked, seeing her concern.

"NCIS was asking earlier if anyone had heard about any problems between Jen and Vic - and well, -"

"You told them about the incident last week," Harm guessed, and she nodded, wincing as she gave Jen a look of apology. "I'm sorry, Jen. I just started talking and it - came out. Everyone knows you'd never do anything like what they say you did, but, well, knowing Vic the way most of us do -"

Harm placed a hand on the blonde's shoulder, quieting her. "It's okay, Cathy. You did the right thing by telling them the truth as you saw it. It'll be okay."

Cathy nodded, but she still looked troubled. "Agent Gibbs said to tell you they were waiting in the main conference room when you got here."

"Thank you." Cathy turned away to return to the main offices, and Harm took Jen's arm, turning her toward the conference room. "Do I remember correctly that Cathy went out with Vic a few times?"

"She did," Jen confirmed. "But then she stopped giving him the time of day. She and Lt. Mayfield seemed to be 'comparing notes' about him from what I could see."

"Talia and Vic were stationed together at one time, weren't they?"

"Yes. There's a story there, but Lt. Mayfield was very close to the chest about the details." She looked at him. "You think that could be important?"

"I think that it might be a good idea for Keeter to talk to Talia as soon as possible," Harm confirmed, placing his hand on the doorknob of the conference room. "You ready for this?"

Jen took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes."

Harm opened the door and let her enter first. Jethro Gibbs was sitting at the head of the long table. "Petty Officer," he said, rising as Jen moved toward the table. "Have a seat," he said, indicating the chairs.

Jen slipped into one of the chairs, leaving an empty one between herself and Gibbs for Harm as the door from the hallway opened again to admit Anthony DiNozzo and a dark haired woman. The two men nodded to each other as Gibbs introduced the woman. "Agent Ziva David. Harmon Rabb, Jr, and his client, Petty Officer Jennifer Coates."

David looked very matter-of-fact, Harm thought. Very by the book. From the name, he knew she was probably Israeli, possibly a Mossad agent on 'loan' to NCIS. "Agent David," he said, acknowledging her.

"According to various people in the JAG office, Lt. Vukovic had a tendency to be a player," Gibbs began suddenly, obviously trying to surprise Harm and Jen. "Is that right, Petty Officer?"

"Yes," Jen confirmed, remembering to keep her answers short.

"Did he ever - hit on you?"

Harm nodded at her to answer. "Yes."

"Did you report it to your superior officer?" Gibbs wanted to know.

Jen hesitated, and Harm knew she was thinking about whether or not her next words could impact Mac's career. "No."

Knowing that Jen wasn't going to elaborate, Harm volunteered, "Her former CO was aware of the incidents," he told Gibbs. "But the CO believed Lt. Vukovic could change and only gave him an off the record verbal warning about his actions."

"So this - 'former CO'," Gibbs began, giving Harm a look that left no doubt that Gibbs knew who they were talking about, "basically ignored your concerns and the Lieutenant was free to continue doing what he was doing, is that correct?"

Even without touching her, Harm could feel the tension in Jen's body. "Yes."

"Did you tell him that you weren't interested?" David asked.

"I did."

"Yet you were seen arguing in the break room last week -"

"They weren't arguing," Harm clarified, knowing that they were aware that he'd been a witness to the incident.

"What *were* they doing, Rabb?" Gibbs questioned.


"And what did you hear said between them?"

"I'm sure that Lt. Graves gave you the particulars."

Knowing that he wouldn't get anything more out of Harm unless he was on the stand, Gibbs turned his attention back to Jen. "Did you threaten to kill the Lieutenant, Petty Officer?"

"Yes," Jen admitted. "But I didn't mean it. I was angry."


"He kept asking me about why I hadn't gone to Naples with Col. Mackenzie."

"Why didn't you?" DiNozzo wondered. "It would have been a big step up in your career."

"I like San Diego," Jen told him simply.

"And that reason was enough to tell threaten someone with death?"

Jen sighed at David's question. "No. There was more to it - he'd been trying to get me to go out with him after hours. I kept telling him no, and he kept asking. He thought that finding out the reason I stayed would give him some kind of leverage to get what he wanted."

"I'm still not seeing the connection, Coates," David insisted.

"I have - personal reasons for wanting to stay in San Diego," Jen finally answered. "Lt. Vukovic figured out what those reasons were and threatened to tell - other people about them."

"So you threatened him in return," Gibbs guessed.

"I know it was a stupid mistake," Jen said. "I should have threatened to tell Cmdr. Turner about Vic's harassment instead. But -"

"if you'd done that, then Vukovic could have countered by telling -" Gibbs hesitated, glancing at Harm before continuing, "-others about why you stayed in the area instead of leaving."

"With him did, you didn't have to worry about that," David suggested, standing up. "Let me see if this sounds familiar, Petty Officer: You agreed to meet with Vukovic in an effort to reason with him. When he refused to keep quiet, you decided to give in to his demands and got him to your apartment. But when push came to shove, you couldn't follow through and realized that your only option was to kill him."

Harm snorted in disbelief. "If you think you can sell a jury on that, Agent David, good luck. My client's reason for staying in San Diego wasn't something that would rise to that level. It would have been embarrassing for her, but that's not something she couldn't have overcome."

"She was seen in a local bar with the victim only an hour before he was killed," David pointed out.

"It wasn't me," Jen burst out. Harm touched her arm, causing her to relax slightly. "I've never been to that bar."

"The description fit you perfectly," DiNozzo said. "And the bartender said you told him your name was Jen before Vukovic arrived."

"Yeah," Harm derided. "*That* makes sense. Tell someone you don't even know your name before taking someone out and killing that person in your own apartment," Harm declared. "What *does* make sense would be if you wanted someone to *think* you were someone else so that you could frame them for the murder you were planning to commit."

Gibbs nodded. "This - mysterious friend: Pia Bonfilio. Who happens to look a lot like the Petty Officer."

"We could be twins," Jen confirmed. "Years ago, before I joined the Navy, we used that to, well, trick people."

"You mean 'con' people," David corrected, picking up a paper from a file on the table. She began reading form it, chronicling Jen's police record before her enlistment - and the few hits on her service record before she met Harm.

"If you'll notice, her record has been clean since the last offense," Harm pointed out. "Not *one* ding. In fact, her fitreps have been outstanding."

"Where were you last night, Petty Officer?" Gibbs asked.

Jen recounted once more the story of her trip out to Balboa Park for a meeting that didn't take place.

"And no one saw you?"

"No one that I know of," Jen nodded.

"A neighbor claims that she heard sounds in the hallway and looked through her peephole to see someone that appeared to be you and a man matching the Lieutenant's description kissing outside of your apartment door. Then you - or the woman she thought to be you - gave Vukovic a key that he used to unlock the door. Can you tell me how your friend might have gotten hold of a key to your apartment?"

Jen shook her head. "No. I can't." She looked at Harm, who covered her hand with his before releasing it.

"Maybe the super in her building," he suggested. "Or Pia could have befriended someone who works in maintenance."

A cell phone rang, and Gibbs opened it, glancing at the name before speaking. "Gibbs. What have you got, Abby?" Gibbs glanced at Harm, and then at Jen. "You're sure? . . . No, I'm not questioning your expertise, Abs. . . Okay. Thank you." He closed the phone, studying Jen. "Is your hair real, Petty Officer?"

"Real?" Jen asked, clearly confused by the question.

"It's not a wig or extensions?"

"No," Jen assured him. "It's all mine."

"Why do you ask, Gibbs?" Harm wanted to know.

"Because among the other evidence at the crime scene - we found three long brown hairs. One on the sofa, the second on the Lieutenant's shirt - the third was *under* Lt. Vukovic's body. It's from a wig."

"Why would Pia use a wig?" Jen wondered out loud. "She already looks like me. Same long hair, same color -"

"Abby and Dr. Mallard also found a short, dyed blonde hair with a dark root in the bathroom," Gibbs told her.

Harm allowed himself to smile. "Sounds like Pia changed her hair color and cut her hair."

"Sounds that way to me, too," Gibbs agreed. "Unless you have a friend who's got dyed blonde hair," he said to Jen.

She shook her head. "No. Not one that has been in my apartment, anyway. Does this mean I'm in the clear?"

"Not entirely. But once Abby compares the hair they found with your DNA on file from last year and against Pia Bonfilio's, I think you will be."


1700 Hours Local

As the Corvette started down the road back toward La Jolla, Jen said, "I feel like celebrating."

"We're not totally out of the woods, Jen. There's still the fraternization charge."

"You heard Cmdr. Turner. With the murder charge gone, and since Lt. Vukovic is dead, he thinks that the investigation will go away."

"Okay," Harm agreed. "We'll celebrate. What do you suggest?"

"Well, we could pick Mattie up and go out -"

"Or," Harm countered, "We could leave Mattie at home and go to dinner."

Jen's smile faltered slightly. "Alone? Just you and me?"

"We *do* have a conversation to finish, remember?" he reminded her.

"You don't think Mattie will mind not being included?"

Harm reached across the console to take Jen's hand in his. "I think she'll be more than happy to sit this one out. Unless - you don't want to be seen with an old man."

"You're not old," Jen insisted, smiling brightly. "Besides, I like older men, remember?"

"Can I ask one thing?"

"Anything," she assured him.

"Wear that little black dress I brought back from your apartment?"

A small dimple appeared in Jen's cheek. "Why *did* you bring it with you?" she asked. "It doesn't seem like something I'd normally need."

"I don't know," he hedged. "It's just - well, when I saw it, I found myself wondering how you'd look in it." He felt his ears going hot and knew they were red again when Jen giggled and lifted her hand to touch one of them with a cool, soft fingertip.

"I'll wear it," she said. "Just for you."

Harm captured her hand again before being forced to release it to shift gears. But Jen covered his hand with hers, maintaining the contact for the remainder of the drive home.

He pulled the car into the drive, intending to go straight into the garage, but Mattie came from the house, a broad smile on her face. Harm had had Jen call to tell her the news about the case, and he could see that she was delighted, because she gave first Harm, then Jen a hug.

"I *knew* it would work out! And when they catch up with that 'friend' of yours -"

"She's *not* my friend," Jen insisted, heading toward the house with the other two.

"Jen and I are going out to dinner to celebrate, Matts, if that's okay with you," Harm said, and Mattie turned to look first at her guardian, then at Jen before letting out a loud cry of delight.

"Okay?! It's *great*!" she declared, throwing her arms around both of them.

None of them saw the small car parked just down the street, its driver hunched down in the seat as she watched the happy scene.


To Be Continued In Episode 8 ---

Back Harm/Jen San Diego Index Home E-Mail Next