Paths of Water

By Seema

Disclaimer: Characters belong to someone who isn't me. No profit or infringement intended.

Summary: A missing scene from "Ice Queen."

Author's Note: Thanks to Gail for looking this over for me. It's much appreciated.


He stands in the kitchen, hand curled around a perspiring bottle of beer. The countertop juts uncomfortably into his back. The annoyance left him long ago; at this point, Harmon Rabb only wants to feel pressure against his skin, the reminder that he hasn't gone completely numb. He thinks about dinner, and then remembers the photographs of Lieutenant Loren Singer's body, of her face eaten away by crows and the intact -- but frozen -- arms and legs. He thinks of the black material of her uniform, the gold braid edging the cuff -- the emblem of a JAG officer. He swallows the beer down in a gulp, feeling the bitterness coat his throat.

He has no idea how long he has been standing there when he hears a knock at the door. He moves stiffly -- perhaps a symptom of his inaction -- to open the door.

"Mac," he says flatly. He turns, walks back to the kitchen. He's on one side of the counter, she's on the other. He wonders if he did it on purpose, to put this barrier of sorts between them -- a physical manifestation of the distance he already feels. His grip tightens on the beer bottle. It's not right -- or fair -- to blame the dead, Rabb knows, but he can't help it.

"I was in the neighborhood," Mac says. Rabb notices she's changed out of her uniform into khakis and a white cotton shirt. He's still wearing his uniform; it never occurred to him to change. "I thought I'd stop by, maybe take you out for dinner."

"I already ate, but thanks. I appreciate it."

Mac surveys the kitchen. It's completely clean, not even the remnants of a microwave meal in the trash can. "You ate early then."

"Maybe." He tries to keep the irritation out of his voice. "Something I can do for you, Mac?"

Mac presses her lips into a tight line, but the softness remains around her eyes. Rabb looks away, disconcerted. He can't explain it, but he can feel the icy waters of the Potomac rushing around him, the rapids pulling him down beneath the surface of the river.

"Why are you here?" he asks again.

She doesn't look happy at his question. "I'm worried about you, Harm." Mac leans forward, pressing palms flat against the countertop.

"You took the news of Lieutenant Singer's death very hard."

"A woman -- a pregnant woman -- was murdered in cold blood. She happened to be someone whom I once worked with it. Of course, the news of her murder would affect me." Rabb takes a deep swig of his beer. "Don't tell me *you* didn't feel anything."

"Of course I did," Mac says. "I was shocked."

"Is that all?"

"No." Mac's eyes take on a distant expression. "Confused."

"In what way?"

"How could she had been dead for three months and we never knew?" Mac twists her hands together nervously. "How could someone who worked in this office be incommunicado for three months and we never even thought to ask 'how is Loren doing? How come we haven't heard from her?'"

Rabb shrugs. "First, she was on extended maternity leave in San Diego and second, we didn't like her."

"She was pregnant and alone, Harm. Someone *should* have asked about her." Mac bites her lip. "I can't believe we didn't even *think* about her at all in the last three months."

"Like I said, we *didn't* like her. It's easy to forget about someone who is not only out of your daily life but also whom you didn't like in the first place." He says the last bit of the statement with bite, because he doesn't want to forget that fact. It dulls the ache of guilt.

Mac stares at him. There is something in her look that makes him uncomfortable.

"Is it true, Harm?" she asks softly. "Did you *really* not like her?"

"How many times do I have to say it?"

"I think you've said it a little too often."

"Mac." He slams -- unintentionally -- the beer bottle on the counter. "Why are you here?"

"You asked that question five minutes ago and I answered you already." Her voice is even, carefully modulated. Somehow, the neutrality in her tone infuriates him even more. "I'm worried about you, the way you reacted when you heard that the body was identified as Lieutenant Singer's. Is there something I should know?"

"Are you accusing me of something, Mac?"

She crosses her arms against her chest. "Why didn't you tell me you asked Manetti to investigate Lieutenant Singer's love life?"

"So they told you about that?"

"Yes, of course." Her expression hardens. "I wish *you* had told *me*, Harm. It was *my* investigation and you had no right to go behind my back. The only thing that makes sense is that you're hiding something. Both from me and from the Navy Criminal Investigative Service."
He runs his finger around the mouth of the beer bottle, forcing himself not to make eye-contact.

"Your investigation was going nowhere. I thought I could help."

"And you didn't think *I* needed to know about what you were doing?"

Rabb shrugs. At the time, he thought he was protecting someone whom he cared for. Now, he doesn't know for sure.

"I thought we were partners, Harm."

He doesn't miss the undercurrent of hurt in her voice. "We are, Mac. But--"

"But what?" Her eyes flash at him. "What did you learn, Harm? I deserve to know."

"Nothing that's relevant to Singer's death."

"Do you know who the father of her baby was?"

Rabb lifts his head to look at Mac. "I can't say."

Mac sighs. "Are you protecting her?"

"I made her a promise."

"The NCIS is going to ask you the same questions, Harm. They're going to want to know what your
relationship with Loren was."

"I didn't have a relationship with her." He can't help but keep the frustration out of his voice. If anyone would know about how he actually felt about Loren Singer, Mac would.

"You have an obligation to tell them what you know. You need to create reasonable doubt, Harm."

Mac leans forward. The gold chain around her neck falls from her open collar, a bright glint against the white linen of her shirt.

"Reasonable doubt?" He stares. "What are you talking about?"

"I think NCIS thinks you have something to do with Loren's death."

"That's ridiculous."

"I need you to tell me everything, Harm. I need you to trust me." Her fingers curl around the edge of the countertop. "Please."

"I can't do that."

She looks down.

"Mac, I'm sorry."

"Were you the father?"

The breath catches in his throat. "Mac--"

She holds up a hand. "I shouldn't have said that." Mac swallows hard. "I should go, Harm. I--"

He can't move. It's as if he's underwater, as if the currents are holding him down. He watches Mac walk towards the door, her walk somewhat hesitant. He wonders if he should call her back.

Instead, he closes his eyes and when he opens them, Mac is gone.

~ the end ~

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