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All the King's Horses Chapter 16

Title: All the King's Horses
Chapter: 16
Show: JAG
Disclaimers: None of this is mine
Setting: Season 8
Summary: After Harm intervenes in a moment of crisis, Loren attempts to put the pieces of her life back together.

1025 local time
Church of the Sacred Heart
Alexandria, Virginia

   "Are you ready for this?"
   Loren didn't answer, just looked up at Harm, a tentative smile on her face.
   Reaching out in unison, they pulled the double doors open together and stepped through, pausing when everyone in the church turned to look at them.
   "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea." Loren whispered, clutching at Harm's hand.
   Harm squeezed her hand reassuringly as an usher approached them.
   They hadn't told anyone at JAG yet that they were together. It was obvious, though, that a few of their co-workers suspected something was going on between them, their reactions to that ranging from resignation to incredulity. But by attending this wedding together, they were, in a sense, coming out as a couple. And, Loren had to admit, the prospect filled her with more than a little trepidation.
   The usher led them to a pair of empty seats in a pew up near the front. As they walked down the aisle, Loren could see Tad, replendent in his dress whites, already up at the altar, his groomsmen lined up beside him. He gave them a brief nod as they shuffled into the pew, then turned his attention back to listening to whatever his best man was saying. No sooner had Harm and Loren settled into their seats then the organist started playing the wedding march.
   "We're late!" Loren hissed quietly as the bridesmaids made their way down the aisle.
   "Hey," Harm whispered back defensively, "I'm not the one who spent an hour on my hair."
   Before Loren could reply, the tempo of the music changed, signaling the appearance of the bride. She settled for a strategically placed elbow to the ribs as they stood up. Hearing a whoosh of suddenly expelled air, she grinned in satisfaction.
   The ceremony itself was on the shorter side but still beautiful. When the reverend started leading them in their vows, Harm reached over and took Loren's hand, squeezing it. Caught off guard, Loren glanced over at him. Feeling her eyes on him, Harm glanced down at her and smiled. Loren smiled back and, staring up into his eyes so full of love, for a moment she saw an image of the two of them standing in a church very much like this one exchanging vows and pledging their lives to each other.
   Blinking back tears of happiness at the intuitive realization that Harm wanted that future with her, she squeezed back, as if to say 'me too'. Scooting closer to Harm, she laid her head on his shoulder and he wrapped an arm around her. They stayed that way for the rest of the ceremony.

   The reception was held at a banquet hall a few blocks away. The bride and groom were among the last to arrive, much to the amusement of their guests. After eating and sharing their first dance as husband and wife, Tad and Chrissy began making their rounds. Harm and Loren were sitting at one of the tables near the dance floor, talking quietly together when the newlyweds approached them.
   "Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Williams." Loren said with a smile as she and Harm stood up.
   Tad beamed. "Thank you. You guys having fun?"
   Harm nodded.
   "Commander." Tad said, letting go of his bride so he could hold his hand out to Harm. "Thanks for coming." He glanced over at Loren, a smirk on his face. "I had a feeling I'd see you again."
   Harm smiled. "I'm sure you did. And just let me say, congratulations Lieutenant Commander."
   "Yes, congratulations Tad." Loren echoed a second later.
   And was surprised to realize there was none of the jealousy or bitterness she would have expected given her own career situation. Just last week Admiral Chegwidden had called her into his office for the meeting she'd been expecting (and dreading) ever since she testified at Lindsey's court martial. What she hadn't expected was what he had to say. He'd informed her that in light of everything that had happened, the Navy had decided not to prefer charges against her but she could expect to never get another promotion again. In other words, her days in the Navy were numbered.
   Loren pushed those thoughts aside. She smiled up at Tad. "I'm happy for you."
   "Thanks." Tad said, tugging self-consciously at his sleeve and the brand new half stripe on the cuff.
   They fell into silence. Harm glanced between Loren and Tad, getting the feeling there were things the two of them needed to say to each other...even if they themselves didn't realize it yet.
   "Do you mind if I borrow your new bride to take a spin around the dance floor?" Harm asked into the silence. Without waiting for a reply, Harm held his hand out to her.
   Loren watched in amusement as Harm spun the new Mrs. Williams out onto the dance floor, leaving her alone with Tad. They stared at each other for a minute before Tad offered her his hand.
   "Shall we?"
   With a giggle, Loren took his hand and they moved out onto the dance floor...just as the music changed to a slower song. Hesitating a moment, Loren moved closer to Tad as they started swaying to the music.
   "He seems like a really nice guy."
   "He is." Loren agreed.
   "I'm happy for you Lori." Tad said, smiling down at her. "I think your dad would have liked him."
   Loren snorted and rolled her eyes. "You never even met my father."
   "True." Tad said, spinning her out then bringing her back. "But on the admittedly rare occasions when I was able to get you completely drunk when we were at the Academy, you always seemed to talk about your father."
   Tad paused for a second. "Have you told him yet?"
   Loren shook her head.
   "You should. I think he could handle it." Tad paused again. He leaned down to whisper in her ear. "And for the record Lori, I think you would have made a great mom."
   Shocked, Loren stopped moving and stared up at Tad.
   "Do you mind if I steal my husband back?"
   Loren turned to find Harm and Chrissy standing next to her and Tad. Just when they had come up to her and Tad, Loren couldn't say. Still to shocked to speak, Loren could only nod at the other woman. She stepped back from Tad and a second later the two of them had moved off.
   Harm offered Loren his arm and she took it reflexively as she started back to their table. Harm had other ideas, though, and used his grip on her to gently tug her out to another corner of the dance floor. Harm frowned slightly at Loren as they started dancing. Maybe leaving the two of them alone hadn't been such a good idea after all.
   "Are you okay?"
   "He knows." Loren said.
   "What?" Harm looked up and over to where Tad and Chrissy were chatting with more of their guests. "What does he know?"
   But Loren wouldn't say and despite his curiosity, after a minute Harm let it go, confident that Loren would tell him when she was ready. They continued to sway slowly to the music.
   Harm leaned down and pressed a tender kiss to her lips. They lingered like that for a long moment. Then Loren pulled back and laid her head on Harm's chest.
   "My father was almost the JAG." She said into the silence.
   "What?" Harm asked, startled.
   Loren just continued talking. "His appointment was confirmed and everything. He just needed to take the oath. He and my mother were killed in a car accident before he could. I was eight years old."
   "I'm sorry." Harm said, holding her tighter.
   "I went to live with my aunt, my mother's sister, after it happened. It was okay at first, maybe for about the first year. Then she met Jack. He was probably a nice enough guy but he had no interest in raising someone else's kid. He tried to talk my aunt into giving me up and he took out his...frustrations on me when she kept refusing. Eventually, though, he wore her down. After about a year. And I spent the next seven in and out of foster homes." Loren paused a moment. "I've never told anyone that."
   Despite the heartbreaking nature of what she'd just told him, Harm felt his heart swell.
   "Thank you for trusting me." He whispered in her ear. "I hope you continue to trust me because I want to know everything about you...the good and the bad."
   Loren tightened her grip on him. "What did I ever do to deserve you?"
   Harm stopped moving. Using two fingers under her chin he gently tilted her head back till she was looking him in the eye. "You know that's not why I love you, right? I love you for who you are, not what you've done."
   Loren didn't say anything, just laid her head back on his chest.
   Harm stroked her hair, feeling as if more pieces in the puzzle that was Loren Singer had finally fallen into place.
   "That explains why you were so hell-bent on being the first female JAG."
   Loren looked back up, a hint of a smile tugging at her lips. "Hell-bent was I?" Then she grew serious again. She took Harm's hand and this time he allowed her to lead him back to their table. "As soon as I was able to I applied to the Naval Academy. I used my mother's maiden name so nobody could say I only got in because of my father. I just wanted to follow in his footsteps and make him proud of me. Somewhere along the way I lost sight of that."
   They settled back down into their seats and Loren toyed with her salad fork nervously for a moment before looking up at Harm with determination. "I'm going to fix that though. I'm not going to wait for the Navy to cashier me. I'm going to resign my commission."
   She saw his eyebrows rise. She'd told him about her meeting with the Admiral but she hadn't shared any of the ideas she'd been considering since then. She took a deep breath.
   "I'd like to get involved with advocacy work for victims of domestic abuse. Maybe even start my own non-profit." As she said it out loud she started getting more excited about the possibilities. And about the opportunities she'd have to help people.
   Harm smiled at her. "I think that's great Loren."
   "You really think so?"
   "Yeah. Yeah I do."
   Loren smiled back at him. Then she looked away. Across the room she saw Tad and Chrissy cutting into their wedding cake. Once again a picture of her and Harm on their wedding day danced before her eyes.
   "It would also mean I'd have more time to spend with my family." She said hesitantly.
   Harm didn't respond and slowly, afraid of what she might see, Loren turned back to face him. And felt all her fears melt away.
   He had the biggest smile on his face, his eyes lighting up with joy because of what she'd implied.
   "Family?" He repeated finally into the silence.
   Loren nodded. "Not right now. It's too soon. But...someday."
   "Someday." Harm agreed. He took her hand in his, pressing a kiss to the backs of her fingers.
   "Let's get out of here." Loren said suddenly into the silence that had fallen again.
   "Really?" Harm asked.
   Trying not to call any attention to themselves, they made their way out of the reception hall. Harm walked out into the sunlight of a beautiful spring day but Loren paused in the doorway to look at him. A wonderful man who knew all the horrible things she had done...and loved her anyway.
   Realizing Loren wasn't right behind him, Harm turned back to look at her.
   "Ready?" He asked, holding out his hand to her.
   Loren reached out and took it. "Yes."
   And stepped out of her old life and into her new one.


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