by B. Cavis

by B. Cavis

For Christmas he gets her the most beautiful piece of silver she's ever seen to adorn her neck. Quietly and carefully possessive (she's told him about her previous boyfriends and he has in turn made a silent vow never to become one) he puts it on her and kisses the exact center of the back of her neck.

She wears it from the time she rises in the morning to the time she goes to bed. It's her promise from him-- his promise to return. She's gotten used to the polished metal glinting around her throat, slipping out from under her uniform slyly. She wears dog tags and shine and loves both equally.

He had dropped no hints, no matter how hard she begged, so she sneaks his father's watch (the one he keeps in his "box" of noncommittal belongings in her apartment-- the one that hasn't worked in twenty years) out of his careful eyesight and takes it to get it fixed.

When she gives it to him, there are tears lurking in the corners of his eyes. He snaps it on his wrist and holds it to his ear, closing his eyes to hear the tick tick tick that was so nostalgic of his father's hugs.

Afraid of being seen as too serious, she also gives him the complete James Bond DVD collection. They spend Christmas morning watching Octopussy and From Russia With Love while lying together on her couch.

It's silent, but it's love. And for them it seems strangely fitting.

When things are at their worst, just a few short months later, Sarah will hold the image in her mind and let it coat her in a protective haze. When the CIA cleans the blood stain out of her carpet, she fingers the silver.

And feels nothing.

Sadik is dead in her living room. There is no shame in her heart. After all, rants the self righteous, self assured voice in her stomach, didn't he torture Clay? Didn't he almost kill her? Didn't he try to attack military targets with big honking bomb? Surely, this man deserved to die.

Yes, she tells herself. Death was good here.

Harm takes her back to his apartment despite her protests. She feels fine, she argues, and not at all uncomfortable in the bedroom that was violated with the evil man's presence. He doesn't listen; he takes her by the arm and steers her to his car firmly.

She's given the bed and told to get some rest, but all she can do is stare up at the ceiling until her eyes fail her and she falls into unconsciousness. The scent of Harm is all around her, and she wonders when that smell stopped being the most reassuring odor in her life.

Harm sits on the couch and thinks. Wonders about what will happen now, and wonders why he feels so powerless to do anything about it. He burned his bridges with the CIA, sure, but something he can do must be able to help her. He has to be able to provide some small amount of comfort-- some aid.

He can't. When he sits and thinks he knows that there is nothing he can say or do that will let Mac turn back into the woman she was yesterday. He can't help and it hurts.

So he sits and stands guard for what he imagines must be Mac's demons but are actually his own. A silent vigilante on the couch keeping watch for something that can't be seen nor stopped with his presence.

Mattie is quiet. She goes to bed early, but gives him a kiss on the cheek to let him know that she's no longer upset about not being his caretaker anymore. He wraps his arm around her waist in a half hug and smiles at her. She smiles back and walks away.

It's one o'clock in the morning before Webb picks the lock on his door. The brown head pokes inside only to find a gun muzzle pressed against his forehead, and he stands impassively and waits. Harm removes the weapon. Slowly.

"You heard?" It's a stupid question, but Webb nods anyhow.

"Where is she?" His voice reveals nothing, but his eyes hold a quiet desperation that reminds Harm of something he can't quite put his finger on, and it frightens him. The little voice in his head whispers, cautiously, that maybe he'd better not tell Webb where to find Mac. That "something" is offsetting.

Mac appears in the doorway to his bedroom, and it no longer matters.

Webb takes two giant steps towards her, and she takes three in return, and they meet in the middle of the room. His arms go around her and her fingers clutch at him, and soon it is impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.

There are whispers. Calming, soothing nonsense that spill from their mouths and soften each other's absence. There are a few endearments in other languages that drift in and out of the conversation. Harm suddenly wishes he spoke German, French, and Russian, but is equally glad that he doesn't. Perhaps, probably, it's better he can't understand them.

They pull back, stroking and touching. She runs her fingers through his hair to check for hidden injuries, and he soothes imaginary wounds off her cheeks and skin. I've missed you, his eyes tell her. I love you, her fingertips answer.

When they finally sit down on the couch that Harm so recently occupied, their legs are touching. Webb puts one arm around her shoulders and presses a soft kiss to her forehead.

"He was on the ground," she whispers. "He was down, and I shot him. There was no way he could have gotten me, but I shot him anyway."

He shakes his head, wondering why it's not bothering him to realize that they have this in common as well. It was the one bond that he hoped, foolishly, he realizes now, that they would never form. Killing someone in cold blood, even if they deserve it, leaves marks.

"It's okay," he soothes. "It's okay. There's no way in Hell anyone will try and call you on it. No one, no one who knows of what he was capable of would deny you what you did."

She continues on, as if she hasn't heard him. "I told him it was from you," she continues, and a strange calm that he recognizes all too well overtakes her. "I said 'This one's for Clayton Webb.' And I fired, and he was dead."

Harm looks slightly ill. He's seeing Mac look at Webb the way that Webb looked when he first came in, and it frightens him that he can no longer deny her reciprocation of whatever it is that Webb feels for her. There's still the nagging feeling in the back of his head that he has seen that look before, and he tries to think back. It's easier than thinking about what's going on now.

"I don't feel guilty," she says quietly. Her head shakes as if detached from the rest of her body. "I don't feel guilty, Clay. I can't, I..." She shakes her head again.

He looks into her eyes, nods, and knows it's not true.

When A.J. sends for him; sends so he can help her, Webb comes. Ready and calm.

He greets Harriet when he walks in, asks after the health of her children, and is rewarded with a warm, proud parental smile. He charms Coates quietly, and leaving her in the wake of his air, he walks into the office to take her home.

The shrink's number that A.J. is demanding she visit stays in her hand, crumpled and sweaty, until they get to her apartment. He opens the door to let her out of the car, and takes the number from her numb fingers.

She goes into her bedroom and lies down while he takes up her day planner and checks for an opening. The first appointment is scheduled and noted, and he leaves the book open on her countertop.

She doesn't say anything when he comes into the bedroom, but she shifts over on the bed, silently requesting. He slides his shoes off and takes his place facing her. She looks at him blankly, and he cups her face with a calloused hand. Her eyes close and a few silent tears escape.

"You knew didn't you?" It's not a question.


She nods. "Why didn't you call me on it?"

He takes a deep breath and runs a firmer hand over her skin, reassuring himself that she's still there, that he hadn't lost her in that apartment forever. "Because it was something you had to go through. There was nothing I could do to make you face that. I reacted the same was with my first... kill. I was fine. But I wasn't fine." He strokes her hair quietly. "You had to do this yourself, or you would have always resented me for forcing you into it."

She looks at him, knows it's true, and shifts closer. Her body language begs him to hold her, and he grips her close to him as she starts to cry soft tears of acceptance.

"I'm sorry, Clay." Her voice is soft and heavy, and he rubs the small of her back to offer more of himself in comfort.

"For what, Sarah?"

Shrug. Sniffle. "I don't know. I'm just... sorry." She laughs softly, but it's not really all that funny. He smiles against her neck any ways, and pulls back so she can see that there's nothing to apologize for.

"Okay." He kissed her, soft and sweet, and she remembers how much she missed him when he was gone. How much she wanted him here. Her bones ached, her skin felt too tight, she was rough and harsh and wanting, and her lips part before she can think of what's coming out.

"I love you, Clay."

The shock on her own face makes him smile internally. The fact that she actually said it has his mind going supernova, his entire body shaking in relief. Her face is surprised but open. She didn't mean to say it. But it wasn't a lie.

Without thinking, without even meaning too, his mouth opens in kind.

"I love you too, Sarah MacKenzie."

Miles away, in his apartment eating pizza with Coates (whom he has just discovered is a woman, and is kicking himself for not noticing before) and Mattie, it occurs to Harm just where he saw what he saw on Mac and Webb's faces that night.

That was the way that Mac used to look at him.

He grows silent and withdrawn for a moment, and it takes him a minute to realize that Jennifer has her hand on his arm and is shaking him. "Sir? Sir, are you listening to me?"

"What was that, Jen?" He asks in a dazed and confused voice. She smiles.

"Do you want the last slice?"

He looks at her, calm and quiet, and a warm smile spreads on his face.

"No," he says. "Enjoy it."

Enjoy it, he whispers in his head to two people who have found each other, and feels the last pocket of his resentment dissipate. Enjoy each other.

Mac and Webb are asleep on her bed. Harm is awake in his apartment. Sadik is dead in the morgue.

And the sun will rise the next morning.


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