The Two Sides of Fate

By Seema

Author's note: So what *did* happen with the coin toss? Here are two possibilities. There is a *third* possibility, but I decided not to write that, since I'm still euphoric from the 'happily ever after' ending; maybe another time. These can be read in any order you'd like. Set right after the series finale, "Fair Winds and Following Seas", so expect spoilers galore for all of the 10th season, and maybe even before that.

Disclaimer: DPB and CBS owns these characters. I just wanted to tie up some loose ends.

**** San Diego ****

Mac took a deep breath and straightened up. Her hands were sticky from packing tape and raw from assembling the cardboard boxes. She took a long look around the apartment. In less than three days, she had dismantled nearly a decade's worth of memories. She had grown so comfortable living in this apartment, it was difficult to imagine living anywhere else. Still, the San Diego opportunity was one she couldn't turn down, and while she had concerns, she was looking forward to finally getting a command of her own.

Mac went into the kitchen and started pulling the mugs down from the cupboard. The bedroom was mostly packed, and the living room and dining room were done. Thanks to some help from Coates and Harriet earlier in the day, she had managed to get more done than she had anticipated. Now all that really left was the big furniture and the movers would be by first thing in the morning to load those pieces into the truck.

After the mugs were on the counter, Mac started taking down the dishes. Somehow, she had managed to accumulate an amazing amount of plates; by last count, she had three complete dinnerware sets, each with 8 table settings. She tried to remember when she'd had more than two people over for dinner at a time, and failed miserably. Something to change in San Diego, she thought decisively.

Behind her, she heard the door open and she turned. Harm stood there, several flattened cardboard boxes in his hand.

"Hey," he said. "The door was open."

"That's fine," Mac said. She went to him, and kissed him lightly on the lips. It surprised her how easily this show of affection came to her, how she didn't even have to think about what she was doing. She rested her hand lightly on his chest. "How are you doing?"

"Good, you?" Harm asked. He pulled her to him, keeping his arm curled possessively and protectively around her waist.

Mac waved to the piles of boxes scattered throughout the apartment. "Tired, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the table. What's your status?"

"I'm all packed," Harm said.

"Show off." Mac gently disengaged herself. "Boxes? For me? Thanks. I was close to running out."

"No problem. And to be fair, I can't take all the credit. Sturgis and Bud were a great help." His lips curled up. "And you wouldn't believe who showed up at the end to lend a hand."

"Who?" Mac asked, taking the boxes from him and heading back into the kitchen.




"Wow." Mac shook her head. "Will wonders never cease?"

Harm surveyed the dishes on the kitchen counter and then spotted the piles of newspaper on Mac's table; she'd collected them from her neighbors in preparation for packing. "I'll wrap the dishes up and you'll get done faster," he said. "Lest you be completely swept off your feet by the young lieutenant's generosity, I should mention he brought San Diego up at least a dozen times."

"He really wants to go," Mac said, handing a glass salad bowl to Harm, and then the matching platter.

"He said you said no. In very certain terms. He's convinced he can wear you down." Harm glanced at Mac. "I said he obviously doesn't know you very well. It took *me* nearly a decade to get a 'yes' out of you."

Mac smiled. "I have to give him credit for stubbornness. He doesn't take 'no' for an answer very well." She bit her lip. "He's very talented, passionate, and creative, but I don't trust him." She rubbed her hands together, grimacing at the roughness of her skin. "He's got a lot to learn about ethics, and I don't want to be the one to teach him."

"As I mentioned before, I think he's got promise," Harm said. "I saw a spark in him on the case we worked together. He'll go far." He bit his lip. "In the end though, it's your decision, Mac. You have the right to choose your staff. If you don't feel comfortable with the people reporting to you, then I would stick with your gut."

"I know, but still, I feel guilty. After all, isn't it the *right* thing to do to give someone an opportunity when they specifically ask for it?"

"Well, it depends," Harm said. He reached for the masking tape and in a quick motion, had another box sealed and on the floor. "You're slowing down, Marine."

Mac smiled. "Sorry. Someone's been distracting me."

"Really?" He offered her a lopsided grin that melted her heart immediately. She wondered how she'd resisted his charms for so many years.

"You don't do innocent so well, Harm." Mac brought over another stack of dishes to him and laid them on the table with a gentle thud. "It's going to be an interesting change, San Diego is." She eyed him carefully. She remembered her relief at seeing the coin flip 'tails' and realizing she wouldn't be the one resigning her commission. In the next breath, she had stared at Harm and noted for a moment, his expression had completely frozen and then a slow smile had spread across his fate.

"I guess fate has spoken," he had said. "We're going to San Diego."

In the commotion that followed, Mac had desperately wanted to ask Harm if he was sure. He had just been promoted; maybe they could work something out. It didn't have to be an all or nothing arrangement, she thought. If they had time, just a few more days, they could come up with a more equitable solution. But by the time the evening was over, Harm had been joking about being a kept man, about having more time to play golf and go flying in his plane. He had seemed all right, but now, Mac wanted to know for sure.

"Harm?" she asked carefully. "About San Diego--"

"I'm looking forward to it."

"You are?" Mac stared at him. She pressed her palms flat against the table and looked at him. "Harm, please, be honest."

He shrugged. "It's a change, a good opportunity for you, and I hear the weather's great."

"You're not answering my question."

"Which is?" Harm reached for another sheet of newspaper, but Mac put her hand on top of his.

"You've giving up your career for me," she said. "I'm just worried about what that means for you, for us."

Harm shook his head. "Don't worry about it, Mac."

"How can I not?" She sighed in frustration. "Look, I know that if tables were turned, if we were going to London, I'd be--" she made a vague gesture with her hands. "I guess I would feel *something* if the flip had gone your way and we'd be going to London." She looked seriously at Harm. "I don't want you to resent me."


She held up a hand. "Look, we're getting married this weekend. You're moving to San Diego with me. You're dealing with custody of Mattie. You're giving up your naval career. It's a lot to deal with."

"I'm dealing with it, Mac," Harm said, a little impatiently. He reached for a newspaper again and this time, Mac didn't stop him. "We agreed fate was going to decide our next move. And this works out for me. Mattie's going to need a lot of care, a lot of therapy, and this way, once I bring her to San Diego, I'll have time to spend with her. And besides, there will be plenty of opportunities for me in San Diego. The Navy has a huge presence there, and even if I'm not in JAG, I'm sure they can use qualified flight instructors. Worse comes to worse, I study for the California bar and go into private practice." He leaned forward, and cupped Mac's face in his hand. She loved the feel of his skin against hers, the warmth she felt every time he reached for her. She had to admit, this rush she felt when Harm looked at her, it was new and exciting and she never wanted to lose it.

"You sure?" she asked.

"I'm going to be fine, Mac. You are right, it's a lot to adjust to, but we're going to make it." He resumed packing. "I've been with the Navy for half of my life, Mac. It's a part of me, it's made me the person I am, but the person I want to be --" his expression softened as he looked at her "-- well, that's only going to happen if you're there." He reached for the masking tape. "And I haven't forgotten, Mac, all the times you took risks for me, how you followed me to Russia, to Chechnya, how you've never let me down, and more than once, you've done more than I could have ever imagined possible. So, I owe you one. If being with you means saying good-bye to the Navy, then that's that. I'm fine with it." He quirked a grin at her. "Fate has spoken."

Still, Mac wasn't satisfied. "This has all happened very quickly," she said. "Are you sure you don't want to wait? Think it over? A lot has happened in twelve hours."

"As you pointed out, we've had nine years." Harm rested his forearms on the box. "Mac, I've never been more sure of anything in my life."

Mac inhaled sharply and then she rounded the table and put her arms around him. She tipped her forehead next to his. "That makes two of us," she said in a breathless voice. "I just never realized fate could feel like this."

"Makes me wish the deadline had come sooner," Harm said. His breath was warm against her cheek. "Like two years ago, maybe."

"Before Webb?"


Mac backed away slowly. "We have a lot to talk about, Harm." She put her hand to her forehead. "The last couple years, you know, we haven't been particularly good about talking or even getting along. We've done a great job of pushing each other away and--"

"Mac." Harm put his finger to her lips. "We've got a five hour plane ride to San Diego--"

"*After* we get married," Mac said. "Don't you think we should discuss some of this stuff before?"

Harm paused and then said slowly, "I think we've done enough thinking. You're the one, after all, who said you didn't want to overanalyze a relationship."

"This is different, Harm. We're talking about the rest of our lives. I don't want to make a mistake."

"This is not a mistake," Harm said. "It's not necessarily going to be easy, and you're right, we have things we need to work out. But have you considered that no matter how many relationships we've each had over the last nine years, we keep coming back to each other? I think that says something. In fact, I think it says a lot."

"And you're saying that that's enough?"

"Yes," he said. "I flew Tomcats on gut, Mac, and that's what I'm doing here. It's all instinct, but I think it's going to work out for us."

Mac twisted her hands together. She was still incredibly nervous about the rapid fire decisions they'd made in the last day, but at the same time, she knew Harm was right. She couldn't imagine being with someone other than Harm for the rest of her life. On Christmas Eve, she'd come to the conclusion that Harm was indeed the only one for her; she just never thought it'd work out. And true to form, there were complications, but this time, emotion overcame all other considerations. Her relationship -- her *marriage * -- wouldn't be something she'd easily surrender, Mac knew. She'd given up Brumby without much of a fight, and she'd been able to walk away from Webb without much more than a second thought, because in the back of her mind, she'd always known there was an elusive 'something' missing from her relationships with both men. With Harm, she had this overwhelming feeling of completeness, of knowing while the road ahead would be difficult in many ways, she wouldn't give him up.

"You're sure about this, Harm?" she asked one more time. She rubbed her sweaty palms against her jeans. "If you've changed your mind, if you have any doubts, anything at all, this is the time--"

He raised his hand, palm facing her. "No," he said quietly and with conviction. "No doubts, no second thoughts, no anything." As if in an emphasis, he sealed another box and put it on the floor. "We'd better get going," he said, pointing to the empty counter top. "We've got an appointment with fate, and I don't know about you, but I don't want to be late."

Go to Two Sides of Fate: London

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