Hello, my dears! After a while, I am back and reading all the news stories others have posted. I have enjoyed quite a few of those, but I must admit I was downright shocked at the resurgence of a truly vitriolic treatment of Mac that seems to be going on. I always understood that Mac was not a favourite of every JAG watcher, but recently she has been portrayed in such negative light - from utterly incompetent Jezebel to somebody Hitler would be afraid of - it honestly stunned me. And since Mac happens to be my favourite TV character... like of all time... naturally it kind of stung. I feel very protective of Mac, given what all she had to go through, and how poorly her problems tended to be handled by the show writers. And because, unfortunately, some of her experiences match my own. For the most part, I understand her, even when she does not act always right and nice. Each to their own, as they say, and perhaps I should be glad for those anti-Mac stories because it gave me the inspiration to write a new one of mine.

This is a dark story with very adult themes, not suitable for very young readers. And it will continue to be dark for a while because as a reader I love stories that are all angst that ends with healing, the most. This is an attempt at such a story. It tries to explain Mac as she has always appeared to me: with her trauma, her flaws, but also her remarkable and admirable qualities, and the many ways in which she was so essential to a certain Flyboy.

Set in early season 10.

...


How much is too much?

She had pondered over that question a few times. How much alcohol is too much for her father to lose his temper? And how much for him to lose his senses afterwards? She never really found out that answer.

How much beating could her mother take before she stopped berating her husband and started to beg for him to leave her be? How much before she admitted to her daughter she was terrified of old Joe? How much before she simply had enough? The answer to that last one was 12 years.

There were other times she wondered.

How much you can press yourself to the back of a closet while crushing your teddybear to your chest? (Until the uneven board makes an ugly red mark right next to your spine) How many lies can you tell your teacher and other kids at school before they start to wonder in earnest about why you keep to yourself so much? (Quite a few, actually. Nobody really cared.) How deep into the ground of your backyard can you bury the old silver locket your grandma gave you so that Joe will not pawn it for a few bucks to get his next drink, using just your fingers? (5.9 inches) How much vodka can you drink in secret so Jow will not notice? (Depending on his own level of intoxication this varied from a quarter of a bottle to two whole bottles). How much vodka for you to willingly lose your memory? (Never enough). How many thefts before the man you married on impulse goes to prison and leaves you all his debts? (Twenty-nine). How many of his friends will come to collect those debts and suggest you can pay off with a few hours of being their whore? (Seven). How many of your friends have to die for you to realize you are headed for a complete disaster? (Only one. Though he was not really a friend. She never even knew his last name. Eddie was great when it came to having fun with drinking. How he was otherwise she didn't really know.)

In the years that followed she took pride in overcoming all that. Or at least suppressing it successfully, so she could sleep well. It was really only after her career as a lawyer in the Marine Corps took off that the nightmares came, both of the old days and the new experiences. Mass graves and crying orphans of Bosnia populated her terrifying dreams. Explosions and rivulets of blood flooding the unseeing eyes of the soldier who had died protecting her were there too. And with every passing year, new horrors were added to her nightmare collection.

The weight of a poacher and would-be-rapist on her body as she turned his own knife on him. Dalton's dying words. The wrinkled palms of her crazed stalker pressing into her thighs. The sharp sting of ammonia leaving her blind. Little Liliana in the middle of an inferno. Harmon Rabb drowning in the storm-tossed ocean. All because of her.

So when exactly did it all become too much? Too much to handle, too much to pull through, too much to bear and still carry on, without relying on anyone else, without bothering anyone else?

Was it when Clayton Webb wailed helplessly as electricity ran through his body? When she had to watch two innocent people die with a swift bullet to the head? Or when all her illusions about the man she loved and what he might want from her died in just one night? Perhaps it was only afterwards when she murdered a man in cold blood. Or maybe it was gaining the knowledge that she would never, ever bear anyone's children.

The truth was she knew she was getting worse, but as much as the Marines had helped her build up her strength and resilience, they also encouraged her belief that mental health was your own business and frankly, if you need a shrink you should just quit and be a clerk or something. Her nightmares, her insomnia, her exhaustion, her self-doubts. It was exactly that: hers and nobody else's. She could cope. She would cope. She was coping.

Until that violent knocking on her door made her get up from her case files and she carelessly, perhaps for the first time in her life, opened the door.

And now she knew exactly how much was too much for her.

And with nothing and nobody to stop her from falling, she came tumbling down.