Category: Romance (Mac/Jen)
Spoilers: Through "The Boast"
Disclaimers: I do not own these characters. They belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, Viacom, and the others. No infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This is the yuletide fic that I wrote for cakemage. Since authors have been revealed, I can finally post it.
"Colonel, you probably should be going. This snow looks like it's going to be coming down for a while." Sarah MacKenzie looked up to see Jennifer Coates standing in the doorway. She sighed as she realized how late it was--and how empty the bullpen was.
"Thank you, Petty Officer. I have no desire to get snowed in on Christmas Eve--no matter how much I love my job. Hold on, and I'll walk out with you." She smiled at the young woman, who blushed. Mac filed this observation away for further consideration.
"So..." she continued as she packed her belongings. "Any big plans for the holidays, Petty Officer?"
"No, ma'am; my roommates are all headed home for the holidays. It's most likely going to be me, a good book, and a mug of hot cocoa tomorrow," Jen smiled ruefully.
"Same here," Mac commiserated. "This is really sad, isn't it?" She shook her head. Jen laughed lightly, and Mac grinned at her.
"You're not spending the holiday with Commander Rabb, ma'am?" the yeoman asked innocently. "I thought you were on better terms now... oops. Sorry," she said, chagrined. "I've really been trying to work on subtlety."
Mac laughed. "Don't worry about it, Jen. Your predecessor was much worse than you'll ever be." She shrugged on her heavy wool coat and picked up her briefcase.
The two women made their way to the elevator. Both reached for the button. Their hands brushed, sending a tingle up both of their arms. Jen blushed again.
As they said goodbye to the guard at the door and stepped outside, Mac groaned. "Oh, no. There's no way my car is going to make it through that." Her red Corvette stood out against the heavily falling snow. To drive it on the slick, icy roads would have been suicide.
"Um... I can give you a ride, ma'am. If you need one," Jen offered softly.
Mac glanced at the dark-haired woman. Her cheeks were pink from the cold, and snow fell on her cover. Her eyes sparkled in the streetlights. Mac thought she looked beautiful--then wondered where in the world that had come from. "No, that's all right. I can call a cab," she sighed, hoping she could find a taxi at 2000 hours on Christmas Eve.
"No, really. It's no problem for me. That is, if you don't mind riding in my busted old jalopy..." Jen trailed off hopefully.
Mac smiled at the petty officer's earnestness. "Okay. That sounds wonderful. Will it be warm? Because I'm freezing."
"The heater was working this morning, ma'am. Whether it'll be working now? I have no idea."
"Anything has to be better than this," Mac shivered. "Let's go."
They got into the old, rusty car, which reminded Mac of her first car. She hoped Jen didn't end up having to get rid of it the same way she did--by ending up on the side of the road in the middle of the night, and having hike two miles in the rain to the nearest gas station. Fortunately, she had been used to hiking much longer distances, so it hadn't fazed her--but it was still unpleasant.
They stopped by the guard shack to let the Marine guard know that Mac's car would be in the parking lot for the holiday and made their way slowly toward DC.
Jen winced as they passed a three-car pileup on the Beltway. "Bet you're glad you didn't drive home now," she commented as the EMTs pulled a man out of a Corvette.
"More than ever," Mac agreed.
A few minutes later, the heat went off. "Damn!" Jen said, hitting the dashboard. The heater didn't even sputter. "I'm sorry, ma'am," she apologized, frowning.
"Don't worry about it. I'm fine. Believe me, I've been in worse," Mac said.
Jen sighed. "I know, but this isn't exactly a pleasant way to spend Christmas Eve."
"Oh, I don't know. The company's pretty good," Mac said, smiling gently. She would have sworn the other woman blushed again.
Finally, an hour and a half later, they pulled up in front of Mac's apartment. "Come on up--I'll make you some coffee," Mac said.
"Oh, no, ma'am, I'd better be getting home. The weather is supposed to get a lot worse," Jen replied, teeth chattering.
"Exactly why you should stay. There's no sense driving in this weather--without a working heater--when you can be in a nice, warm apartment... with hot chocolate... and cookies..."
"Cookies?" Jen grinned. "I'm sold." The two women laughed and made their way up to the apartment.
"Warmth," Jen moaned as they stepped inside the darkened apartment. Mac flipped a switch, flooding the living room with light.
"Mmm," Mac agreed. "Warmth is a very, very good thing." She walked into her bedroom and threw her briefcase and cover on the bed. "Would you like to change? I'm sure I can find something that fits."
"Um... if you don't mind," Jen replied. She looked down at her uniform. She wasn't quite as wet as she was in the car, but she still damp enough to be uncomfortable.
"Not at all. You're not planning on running off with my clothing, are you?" Mac grinned, handing her a set of sweats.
Jen unfolded the sweatshirt. USMC stood out in bold green letters. "Marine sweats? Not a chance!" she joked. "Uh... sorry, ma'am," she mumbled.
Mac waved off her apology. "It's Christmas. Call me Mac. And I'm glad that you're comfortable enough to joke with me. Not many people do that these days," she muttered. "The bathroom is right through the bedroom," she directed in a louder voice.
"I know--I've been here before, remember?" Jen smiled and headed for the bathroom.
When Jen stepped out of Mac's bedroom, she was greeted with a blazing fire in the fireplace. The strains of "Jingle Bell Rock" filled the air. Mac walked out of the kitchen with a plate of sugar cookies in her hand. "Fresh from the box!" she declared, grinning. Jen giggled.
"Hey, Mac?" she called as Mac went back into the kitchen.
"Why is your Christmas tree bare?" Jen asked curiously.
Mac returned with two steaming mugs of hot chocolate. "I've been so busy lately, I just haven't found the time. I keep bringing work home with me instead. You want to help me decorate it?" Mac asked. "The boxes are right there at the foot of the tree."
"Sure! It's been a few years since I got to decorate a tree," Jen said wistfully.
"Well, we can't have that, now can we?" Mac said cheerfully. She pointed to the box on the top of the stack. "I think the lights are in that box." They began to open cardboard boxes.
"Jeez, Mac--how do you ever find anything?" Jen groaned a few minutes later.
Mac laughed. "Harm likes to say I have a 'unique filing system'. Hey, it works for me. And as long as I can find what I need, that's all that matters. Ah, here we go." She held up a neatly coiled string of colored lights.
"At least we don't have to untangle them like my dad used to do. I think that was one of the least fun parts of decorating the tree." Jen's face grew shuttered, and Mac searched for a way to change the subject.
"Here; plug this in," she said, gesturing to the wall socket by Jen's feet. She did so, and the string lit up. "Hey, look! They all work!" Mac exclaimed. "Good. I don't think I have any extras."
They stood and began to wrap the string of lights around the pine tree.
"You go that way," Mac instructed. Jen moved to her right. "Now hand the lights to me." Jen leaned over and tried to reach between the tree and the wall. She leaned too far and fell over, giggling.
"Sorry!" she said.
Mac grinned. "No problem. Just don't do it again," she said mock-severely.
"Aye, aye, ma'am," Jen quipped.
"Okay, take this again." They continued to wrap the lights around the tree.
"There!" Jen said when they were finished, satisfied. She threw herself down on the couch and sighed, snagging a cookie.
"Don't get too comfortable there, miss. We still have three boxes of ornaments to get through."
Jen groaned. "Slave-driver," she griped playfully.
"That's me!" Mac said cheerfully. "Come on. Up, you." She tugged on Jen's hand. Jen grinned evilly and tugged back. Mac shrieked as she toppled over the back of the couch.
"Oof!" Jen grunted as Mac landed on her. "Get off--you're heavy!" she laughed, shoving at Mac's shoulder.
"Serves you right, pulling that stunt on me," Mac said, not moving. Their eyes met. Mac remained there, captivated by the look on Jen's face. Jen's lips parted, her tongue darting out to moisten them. Mac leaned in slightly, and Jen's eyes widened.
Mac pulled back and stood, ignoring the little part of her that told her to do the opposite. "We have a lot to unpack," she said, trying to move past the awkward moment. Jen nodded mutely.
They worked in silence for a while, and then Mac laughed. "Would you look at this?" she said in wonder. "I can't believe I still have this."
"What is it?" Jen asked, leaning in.
Mac held out the ornament. "It's a macaroni reindeer that Chloe made for me our first Christmas together. I can't believe it's been six years," she said. "The last time she was here, she told me to get rid of it," Mac smiled.
"I see you didn't," Jen said.
"How could I? Chloe's the closest thing I have to family."
"What about the staff at JAG?" Jen asked quietly.
Mac stared into the fire pensively. "We used to be like a family," Mac began. "The golden years of JAG--one big, happy family. And now we're falling apart. Just like a real family," she said with a touch of bitterness.
"I'm sure it isn't that bad," Jen said.
Mac shook her head. "You weren't around five years ago, Jen. We were a much more tightly knit group then. Oh, we had our ups and downs... but we never fought as much amongst ourselves then as we do now. I suppose Lindsey's had the last laugh, after all," Mac said, smiling sadly.
Jen reached over and touched Mac's hand. "From what I've seen, you still are a family. It's just growing up, that's all."
Mac nodded. "Thanks, Jen," she murmured. "Enough of my melancholy," she said briskly. "Let's get these ornaments up so I can get these damned boxes out of my living room!" Jen laughed, and they continued decorating the tree.
An hour later, Mac stood back and nodded. "There," she said. "Oops! Forgot one thing." She disappeared into her bedroom, reappearing with a small box about the size of a shoebox.
"What's that?" Jen asked, curious.
Mac smiled mysteriously and opened the box. Jen gasped as Mac lifted a beautiful porcelain angel out of the box. "Mac... that's gorgeous," she whispered, softly touching the delicate satin and tulle skirt.
"I know." Mac smiled, brushing the dark brown hair back reverently. "My Uncle Matt gave her to me for my twenty-first birthday. He said that he wanted to give me something I could pass down to my children and grandchildren. She's modeled after me. She's even got my hair."
Jen looked at the doll, then at the woman standing before her. "It's a very good image, then," she said softly. This time, Mac blushed.
Mac stood on a stepstool and carefully placed the angel at the top of the Christmas tree. She jumped down and stepped back. "Go sit down; I'll get the lights." Jen sat on the couch, sipping her cocoa.
Mac hit the light switch. She smiled as the Christmas tree twinkled in the darkness of the living room. The fire burned brightly in the fireplace, giving off a warm glow. Outside, the snow continued to fall.
Jen sighed. "Mac... thank you for inviting me tonight. This is much better than spending time in my cold, empty apartment."
"No problem," Mac replied. "No one should have to spend Christmas alone." They sat in contented quiet. "Silent Night" filled the apartment.
Mac got up to replenish her mug. "You want me to get you some more?" she asked, gesturing to the other woman's empty mug.
"Nah--I can get it." Jen stood, stretching as she did so. Mac averted her eyes as Jen's sweatshirt rode up, exposing her torso.
"Kitchen's this way." Mac led the way into her small, cozy kitchen. She poured both of them a fresh cup of hot chocolate.
"So, Jen... what do you want for Christmas?" Mac asked.
Jen's mug stopped halfway to her lips. "N-nothing, ma'am."
"Now, Jen, I thought we had gotten past that..."
Jen shook her head. "That's between me and Santa, Mac," she said, trying to crack a joke.
"I won't tell you, so there's no point in whining." Jen smiled slightly.
Mac weighed her options. Should she ask her next question, or should she play it safe? She bit her lip. Finally, she decided. Taking a gamble, she asked quietly, "Won't tell me... or can't tell me?"
Jen looked at her. "Don't ask, Mac."
Mac nodded in comprehension. She hesitated for a moment. She wasn't sure how far she should go with this--but she was curious. And she wanted to see how far her strange attraction to the young woman went. Finally making a decision, she nodded. Putting her mug on the counter, she stepped closer to the doorway where the petty officer stood. She stopped within arms' reach. Looking up, she smiled, happy that she had gotten into the Christmas spirit that much.
Jen's eyes followed her gaze. Her eyes widened, and she swallowed convulsively.
Mac whispered, "Mistletoe." She leaned in slowly, giving Jen a chance to pull away. To Mac's surprise and delight, she did just the opposite--leaning in and meeting her lips. She tasted of chocolate and sugar cookies. Mac's hesitantly lifted her hands to Jen's face. She lightly traced the other woman's cheeks. Mac's eyes fluttered closed.
Jen took charge of the kiss, pressing Mac against the doorframe, hungrily devouring her soft lips. She moved to place her hands on Mac's hips--then realized she was still holding her empty mug. She broke the kiss, and both women laughed. Mac took the mug from Jen and placed it in the sink. She bit her lip, unsure of what to do next. She didn't want to make things awkward.
Jen placed her hand on Mac's arm, and she turned around. "Jen?" she said quietly.
She was quieted by a soft kiss, which quickly grew more passionate. Jen's tongue swept through Mac's mouth, and she groaned low in her throat. Jen smiled against her lips and skimmed her fingers below the hem of Mac's sweatshirt. She gasped.
Jen stopped. "Mac? Is this all right?" she asked, concerned.
Mac smiled and nodded. "Your hands are cold," she said, trying to cover her nervousness.
"Mac... we don't have to do this if you're uncomfortable with it," Jen said seriously.
Mac was touched by the young woman's thoughtfulness. She reached up and twined her fingers through her long dark hair. "But I want to," she whispered.
Her reply sparked a light in Jen's eyes. She was pressed against the counter, Jen's lips covering hers. When they broke apart again, panting, Jen whispered in her ear, "Shall we take this to the bedroom?"
"Good idea," Mac said breathlessly. She took Jen's hand and led her through the living room. Flames still crackled merrily in the fireplace. Mac paused to bank the fire, then they continued to the bedroom.
Jen grabbed her by the waist and murmured, "Let's get you out of these clothes." Mac shivered at the note of command in her voice.
"Bossy, aren't you?" she asked, pulling her shirt over her head.
Jen smiled wickedly. "Oh, Mac, you have no idea." She pulled Mac toward her for another kiss, and they tumbled onto the bed.
"Mac?" Jen asked softly, tracing the curve of her lover's breast. "What do we do now?"
Mac grabbed her hand. "Well, if you keep that up, I'm not letting you out of this bed," she grinned.
Jen smiled. "Sounds good to me," she quipped. The two women laughed. "But really," she said soberly. "What are we going to do?" She met Mac's soft brown eyes.
Mac shook her head. "I don't know, Jen. I said earlier that I love my job--and I'm not ready to give it up. And I'm sure that you don't want to lose yours." Jen nodded sadly, and Mac continued, "I don't want to spend time in Leavenworth, either. We're breaking a lot of rules, Jen."
"I know. I don't want to get you in trouble, and I've been in enough trouble. I don't want to mess up my second chance." Jen sat up and wrapped her arms around her legs. She rested her head on her knees. "But I've never felt this way before."
Mac laid a hand on Jen's back. "Neither have I. But, Jen?" She waited until the younger woman turned her head. "As much as I love my job... I don't want to give this up." She brushed a lock of hair away from Jen's forehead and kissed her softly on the lips.
When they broke apart, Jen said, "So that brings us back to my original question. What do we do now?"
Mac sighed. She laid back and rested her head on the pillows. Holding her arms out, she invited Jen to join her. Jen slipped back beneath the wrinkled sheets and into her lover's arms. "For now... we take what we can have. Spend tomorrow with me." Jen opened her mouth to object, and Mac placed a finger on her lips to hush her. "No one will say anything--believe me. After all, they don't have any reason to suspect anything, do they?" she asked with a trace of humor. Jen smiled slightly. "Then... we'll have to do some heavy thinking. This isn't an easy choice for me, Jen," Mac said seriously. "I've broken the rules for fraternization before, and I swore that I would never do it again."
"So why are you?" Jen asked quietly.
"I never thought I'd meet someone like you."
Jen sniffled. "Oh, Jen, don't cry," Mac said, pulling her closer. "You'll make me cry, and then see what a mess we'll be."
"I know, sweetheart," Mac whispered. "I know. Let's get some sleep." She smiled tenderly and leaned over, turning off the lamp. The lights from the Christmas tree reflected into the room, bathing them in an ever-changing display of colors. They drifted to sleep, secure in each other's arms.