Printable Version of Topic
Click here to view this topic in its original format
MacGyver Online Forums > Library > The Journey Continues


Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 May 2019 - 05:16 AM
OK, let's see where Mac and Jo's journey takes them....


Chapter 1: Reflections

The wipers slapped the winter rain from the Jeep’s windshield as MacGyver headed west to Los Angeles. It had been less than twenty hours since Francine Dalton, Jack’s mother, had called on Christmas Night to tell Mac that Jack had crashed his plane and was in the hospital in critical condition. Unable to get an immediate flight, MacGyver had quickly packed his well-used duffle and began driving. With the exception of quick layovers at roadside truck stops to grab a bite to eat and catch a little shut eye, Mac had been driving for fifteen hours straight, avoiding the predicted snowstorm. At this rate, he should arrive in L.A. sometime tomorrow. Hopefully he wouldn’t be too late.

In an effort to stay alert behind the wheel, MacGyver chugged coffee, which he hated, tuned the radio to a rock station, which he tolerated, and reflected on the incredible changes the past two years had brought him. Twenty-four months ago he and Sam had returned to his Los Angeles apartment after a couple years touring the west coast on their motorcycles. Mac’s dream of settling down with his son was shattered when Sam announced he was leaving for a photojournalist position in the Middle East. Mac had not liked this decision, but he refused to clip his son’s wings. It proved to be a good choice on Sam’s part as he was now based at a London news agency but still traveled to far and dangerous lands to cover stories no one else was willing to tell. He and MacGyver kept in touch through frequent letters and phone calls and the occasional visit when Sam could take extended time off.

On his own once again, MacGyver rejoined the Phoenix Foundation, but new physical criteria for field operatives had been put in place and he could not pass the concussion protocol. He had escaped dreaded desk duty when Pete Thornton assigned him to be the security advisor at Challengers Academy, an off-shoot of the original Challengers Club, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Originally meant to be a temporary assignment, Mac ended up falling in love with the school, the city, and the pretty education director who could go from sweet to sassy in the blink of an eye. After sustaining two more head injuries, he had to face the fact that he would never pass Phoenix’s concussion protocol, so he submitted his resignation and worked full-time at Challengers until the funding for the non-profit school had been pulled seven months ago. Fortunately, a lawyer friend was quick to hire Mac to work in a number of different roles including security and investigation. Said friend had recently married and retired, leaving the firm in the capable hands of his protégé, Carlos Hernandez.

As MacGyver’s professional life evolved, he found his personal life to be in flux as well. Upon leaving Phoenix he also had to leave the apartment the Foundation had provided him. With a little help, he quickly found a duplex that was almost an exact replica of the house boat he had lost to a fire several years earlier. Pete, who was now completely blind, had transferred to the Phoenix Foundation Satellite Office in Chicago. Pete remarried his ex-wife, Connie, and retired soon after. MacGyver had also discovered that he had inherited his Grandpa Harry’s cabin in northern Minnesota after the friend it had originally been willed to passed away. It was while he was staying at this cabin that Murdoc resurfaced in his life, only to be killed in the most mundane and avoidable way. Even though bitter enemies, Mac’s humanity caused him to grieve for his nemesis to this day. As if he needed yet more change in his life, Frank Colton came to town and convinced MacGyver to adopt Frog, the Colton family’s aging, overweight, slobbery bull dog.

And then there was Joanna Fairfax, the director of education at Challengers Academy who had also made the transition to the law firm in the research division. His heart beat a little faster each time he thought of her. MacGyver would readily admit a part of him fell in love with her the first time he saw her standing on a rickety old stool in high heels, decorating a bulletin board. She had lost her balance and literally fell into his arms. Of average height with shiny brown hair cut in a classic bob and eyes like melted chocolate, she was the quintessential girl-next-door and she affected MacGyver like no other woman on the planet. Unfortunately, their mutual lack of trust and fear of commitment caused them to get off to a rocky start. And if he were truly honest, they still had times of turbulence. Jo was as innocent and sheltered as Mac was experience and well-traveled. At first glance, they might appear to be the most unlikely couple. But after forging a strong friendship over pizza and air hockey games, they finally allowed themselves to explore their deepening feelings further and MacGyver had been on the verge of, hopefully, changing both their lives forever when his cell phone rang, causing him to head back to California in the middle of the night.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After a sleepless night waiting to hear from MacGyver, Joanna got up early the day after Christmas and called in sick to work. She couldn’t ever remember doing such a thing, but then again, she had found herself doing a lot of unusual things since Mac had come into her life. Just before leaving for L.A. MacGyver had asked her to take care of Frog. She planned on packing up his stuff and bringing him to the house she shared with her parents since it sounded like Mac would be gone for a while. Then she planned on taking a long nap whether or not she heard from MacGyver. She was just finishing her breakfast when the ringing of the telephone interrupted her thoughts.

“Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me. I tried calling you at work. Why are you still home?” Finally a call from Mac. Joanna let out a relieved sigh.

“I decided to take a sick day.”

“Are you okay?” Concern colored Mac’s voice.

“I’m fine. Just wanted some time to myself.”

Joanna could practically see MacGyver’s eyebrows shoot up and touch his long, blond bangs. This was a very non-Joanna-like thing to do.

“Well, I just wanted to check in and let you know I’m not dead in a ditch somewhere.”

“Good to know,” Joanna replied, hoping the sarcasm would hide her concern and subsequent relief.

“Listen, about last night,” Mac began. “I’m really sorry about bailing on you like that. It’s just that when I heard about Jack, I—“

“It’s okay,” Jo cut in. “I get it. Just take care of yourself and say ‘Hi’ to Jack for me.” Joanna had only met the infamous Jake Dalton once, but it was clear he and Mac were more than friends. They were like brothers.

“Count on it,” MacGyver replied. “I’ll call again soon. Love you.”

Before Joanna could reply the line went dead. Her jaw dropped. Had he just said he loved her?! Though she was pretty sure she had fallen for him when he put his strong hands on her waist to keep her from falling off that stupid stool, and she was cautiously optimistic that he had similar feelings for her if his toe-curling kisses were any indication, neither one of them had actually come out and put a name to their feelings. But Mac just had. From hundreds of miles away and over the phone line. Insufferable man!

Later that morning, Jo pulled her Chevy coupe into MacGyver’s driveway. She could hear Frog whining mournfully before she got to the door. She knew that Mac would have given him plenty of food and fresh water, yet the hound suffered separation anxiety whenever his master disappeared. Using the spare key MacGyver had given her months earlier, she opened the front door and crouched down to fondle Frog’s ears before gathering his necessities and clipping the lead to his collar. Before heading toward the car, Joanna stepped next door and rang the bell. It was a few minutes before Mac’s landlord answered.

“Hi Mr. Rainey,” she greeted him as he eased open the door.

“Well, hello Joanna. And you know it’s Charlie!” The elderly man’s mocking scold caused her to blush slightly.

“I just wanted to let you know that MacGyver will be out of town for a while so I’m taking Frog home with me.”

“Thank goodness! That pitiful animal moaned all night long and then I woke up to find two month’s rent slid under my door. What’s going on with that guy of yours anyway?”

“MacGyver is headed to Los Angeles. His best friend was in a bad accident and he doesn’t know how long he’ll be gone.”

“Oh, that poor boy,” Charlie shook his head sadly. “Make sure you let him know I’m thinking of him and his friend.”

“Will do,” Joanna promised as she turned and led Frog to the car.

After returning home, Joanna watched as Frog inspected every nook and cranny of his new, albeit temporary, home with grunts and snuffles before lying down on the hockey jersey that lay puddled on her bedroom floor. The same jersey Mac had gifted her with the night before. She had frowned in disappointment when she noticed the name placard had been left blank, lacking the personalization all his jerseys had. She recalled him becoming oddly uncomfortable as he tried to ask her something about it, but his ringing cell phone and the ensuing news quickly put an end to any question he had. Suddenly feeling tired and incredibly alone, Joanna pushed Frog off the jersey, slipped it on over her sweater, crawled into bed with her knees practically tucked up to her chin, and promptly fell asleep.







Posted by: Barry Rowland 29 May 2019 - 08:51 AM
Excellent!!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 May 2019 - 10:03 AM
QUOTE (Barry Rowland @ 29 May 2019 - 08:51 AM)
Excellent!!

Thank you so much, Barry!! When I originally published this on a fan fic site, it was a couple months after the end of Continuum so I had to do some sort of summary chapter to remind readers where we left off!

Posted by: Dragondog 30 May 2019 - 08:37 AM
QUOTE

“Count on it,” MacGyver replied. “I’ll call again soon. Love you.”
Oh, you sly dog biggrin.gif

QUOTE

Before Joanna could reply the line went dead. Her jaw dropped. Had he just said he loved her?!
*insert Lenny face here*

QUOTE
and she was cautiously optimistic that he had similar feelings for her if his toe-curling kisses were any indication,
No, Joanna, he just kisses you like that to show how much your friendship means to him... headbutt.gif

QUOTE

After returning home, Joanna watched as Frog inspected every nook and cranny of his new, albeit temporary, home with grunts and snuffles before lying down on the hockey jersey that lay puddled on her bedroom floor.
Frog's behavior always fits the mood perfectly sad.gif

QUOTE
She recalled him becoming oddly uncomfortable as he tried to ask her something about it, but his ringing cell phone and the ensuing news quickly put an end to any question he had.
Joanna, if you haven't figured it out by now, you are hopeless laugh.gif

QUOTE
Joanna pushed Frog off the jersey
Poor Frog dry.gif laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 5 June 2019 - 06:15 AM
Chapter 2: Jack’s Close Encounter


It was late afternoon on December twenty-seventh when MacGyver maneuvered his Jeep into a parking space in front of a prominent Los Angeles hospital. Hair mussed, clothes rumpled, dead tired, and smelling like a monkey cage, he eased out of the vehicle and headed for the main entrance. A shower and sleep would have to wait. First, he had to see Jack.

The hospital room was dimly lit, but MacGyver could make out a sophisticated, middle-aged, blonde woman sitting in a chair next to the bed paging through a magazine. Mac stood in the doorway and cleared his throat.

“MacGyver!” Francine Dalton exclaimed. “Thank you so much for coming!”

She quickly rose from the chair, skirted the edge of the bed, and embraced Mac in a motherly hug before holding him at arm’s length.

“My, you’re a bit of a mess, aren’t you?” she observed.

“Um, yeah,” he agreed sheepishly before turning his attention to Jack.

His friend lay flat on the bed, his pale face blending in with the sheets. His right arm and left leg in plaster casts.

“How is he?” MacGyver asked softly as Francine led him into the room.

“Better, actually,” she answered, a lightness in her voice that hadn’t been there when he had initially spoken to her. “Thankfully he doesn’t have any internal injuries and this morning he woke up briefly for the first time since the accident. They’re keeping him on pain meds and sedatives, so he’ll be out for a while, but the doctors are optimistic that he’ll make a full recovery.”

“What happened?” Mac asked softly as he grabbed a second chair and sat down beside Francine.

Jack’s mom shrugged her shoulders. “All I was told was that he had been returning to L.A. after delivering a load of toys to a Mexican orphanage and crashed outside the city. As you can see, he has a broken arm and leg as well as broken ribs and a concussion.”

MacGyver studied his once jovial friend now lying expressionless as he tried to process the information Francine had just given him. Unfortunately, this new knowledge just led to more questions. Was Jack’s trip truly just an innocent flight to deliver toys or part of a larger scheme? And how did the plane crash? Something had to have gone wrong, but what?

“Why don’t you go clean yourself up and get some rest,” Francine suggested, patting Mac on the shoulder. “The doctor said he’s going to keep Jack sedated for at least twenty-four more hours. Do you have a place to stay?”

“Where’s Jack livin’ these days?”

The blonde woman sighed. “He’s been living out of his office at the hangar.”

“Then that’s where I’ll be,” Mac declared. He leaned in to give Francine a kiss on the cheek before standing to leave. “You’ll call if anything changes?”

“You’ll be the first to know,” she assured him with a small smile.

XXXXX

It was evening by the time MacGyver pulled his Jeep into the empty hangar at a small municipal airport. He pulled his duffle from the backseat and made his way to Jack’s office. A scarred wooden desk, straight-back chair, and old Army cot greeted him along with a coffee pot and hot plate.

“Home sweet home,” he mumbled, dropping his bag next to the desk.

His body yearned to rest on the cot, if only for a few minutes, but Mac knew his overactive brain would just keep him awake. Something about Jack’s accident wasn’t sitting right with him, and he needed to find out why. Sitting down behind the desk, MacGyver shuffled the papers that haphazardly covered the surface. It wasn’t long before a bill of sale and a loan application caught his eye. Mac grabbed the papers for a closer look. According to the bill of sale, sporting Jack’s signature, his friend had just bought a very expensive, well-appointed Cessna. MacGyver frowned. Even if Jack used his life’s savings and lived out of this grungy hangar for the next hundred years he still couldn’t afford a plane like this. Mac’s attention quickly turned to the loan application. The amount listed made his jaw drop. He skimmed through the legal mumbo jumbo until he got to the bottom line and the co-signer: Francine Leyland Dalton. Apparently there had been a lot of familial bonding over the past few years for Francine to put her name on a hefty loan for the son she had abandoned as a baby.

The words of the document began to blur and MacGyver suppressed a yawn. He had been awake for the better part of three days and, during that time, had driven two thousand miles. The cot in the corner was calling his name, and this time it was impossible to resist. He spread out, fully clothed on the makeshift bed.

“Oh, Jack, what have you gotten yourself into this time?” he mumbled before sleep quickly claimed him.

XXXXX

MacGyver arrived at the hospital early the next morning clean and well-rested. As he stepped off the elevator, he saw Francine and a well-dressed middle-aged man talking animatedly outside Jack’s room. He automatically quickened his pace.

“Whoa, what’s going on here?” he asked, coming to stand next to Francine.

“MacGyver, meet my lawyer, Robert Littelmann,” she said disgustedly.

The two men sized each other up before hesitantly shaking hands.

“Nice to meet you,” Mac offered.

“Same here,” replied Robert.

Francine crossed her arms and glared at the attorney.

“Mr. Littelmann has just informed me that the NTSB has concluded their investigation of Jack’s accident and ruled it pilot error. We won’t get enough insurance money to even cover the loan,” she huffed.

“Wait a minute,” MacGyver replied, shaking his head. “It’s only been a couple days. You can’t tell me that they closed the investigation already.”

“They said it was an open and shut case,” Littelmann explained.

“There’s no way it’s Jack’s fault,” Francine insisted. “He’s an excellent pilot.”

“Look,” Robert pleaded. “It was late, he was tired, even the best make mistakes.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with Mrs. Dalton on this one,” Mac spoke up. “As much as it pains me to say it, Jack is too good of a pilot to lose a plane without extenuating circumstances. That man could land a sardine can on the Hollywood Freeway in the middle of rush hour if he had to. I suggest you reopen the case.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. MacGyver, but that is beyond my control,” Littelmann replied firmly.

“All right, how about if I take a look at it, unofficially? Maybe I can find something the government boys overlooked,” Mac asked.

“You can’t. They’ve already cleared the scene.”

“What?!” Mac exclaimed loudly, earning himself a scolding look from the nurse at her station three doors away. “And who are ‘they’?” he asked, lowering his voice.

“Mr. Dalton’s plane crashed on the outskirts of an Air Force base. The plane, such as it is, is now property of the United States Military. I’m sorry, but as I said before, the case is closed.”

With that, Robert Littelmann turned and walked toward the elevators.

“They’re wrong, Mac,” Francine seethed.

“I know they are,” he agreed. “Why don’t you check on Jack while I make a phone call?”

MacGyver headed to the small lounge at the end of the corridor. Thankfully it was empty. He plunked a coin into the pay phone and dialed the number he had used so frequently when he worked for Phoenix.”

“Phoenix Foundation, Willis speaking.”

“Hey Willis! It’s MacGyver! How you doin’?”

“Mac?! I can’t believe it! Are you back with the Foundation?”

“Not really, but I’m working on something and need some information. Think you can help?”

“I don’t know…” Willis hedged.

“Aw, c’mon! For old time’s sake?”

“All right,” Willis relented. “What do you need?”

MacGyver rattled off a list of reports related to Jack’s accident.

“Think you can manage that?” he asked.

“I’ll do my best.”

“Great. I’ll swing by later this afternoon.”

In the meantime, Mac had some questions for Francine. He made his way back to Jack’s room and once again claimed the chair beside her.

“I was going through some of Jack’s things,” MacGyver began. “That’s a pretty expensive plane you helped him buy.”

“So? Can’t a mother help out her son?!” she replied defensively.

“Of course,” Mac soothed her. “But Jack is the king of bargain basement cargo aircraft. Even you have to admit this Cessna was way out of his league.”

Francine sighed. “Jack wanted to start a new venture. Dalton Air Limo Service. You know, shuttle overpaid CEO’s back and forth across the state, country or wherever they pay him to go. He came to me with a solid business plan. I had Littelmann look it over and he said it was a good investment.” Here she paused. “He had flights booked beginning next week. Now we have no plane, no pilot, no nothing.”

“Maybe not,” MacGyver mused. He could feel himself getting tangled up in Jack’s business again, but this time it seemed legit and deserved a fighting chance.

“What are you thinking?” Francine interrupted his thoughts.

“I’m not sure, but I might have a plan.”

XXXXX

It felt weird using the visitors’ entrance, signing in, and clipping on a temporary ID badge.

“Do you need an escort, sir?” the young security guard asked.

“No, I think I can find my way,” MacGyver replied with a smile.

Within minutes, Mac was standing in front of the door to the lab watching as Willis intently studied something under a microscope. Some things never changed. Mac tapped lightly on the glass to announce his presence before entering the room.

Willis looked up and soon he and MacGyver were vigorously shaking hands.

“It’s great to see you again Mac! C’mon in and have a seat.”

Willis led MacGyver to his desk.

“Did you get the stuff I asked for?”

“Yep,” he nodded toward a stack of files. “But I’ll save you some time. The NTSB ruled pilot error. There were no records or reports of any bad weather in the area and an appropriate flight plan was filed.”

Willis frowned at his last statement.

“What is it?” Mac asked.

“According to Dalton’s flight plan, he was several miles off course and strayed into restricted air space. An experienced pilot would never do that.”

“So you’re saying something must have happened to take him off course.”

“I’m no expert, but it looks that way.”

“Was there a cockpit recorder or anything?” Mac asked in desperation.

“No. Planes that size are not required to have one. And I couldn’t find any radio communication either.”

“So we have no way of knowing what really happened,” MacGyver sighed.
“Jack’s the only one who knows, and even if he wakes up and remembers it’ll be his word against the government’s.”

MacGyver jammed his hand through his hair in frustration.

“Mind if I take these files with me?”

“Be my guest.”

As Mac reached to grab the files, he accidentally knocked over a picture frame.

“Sorry Willis,” he said as he picked up the frame. A pretty redhead looked back at him. “Who’s this?”

“My wife,” Willis replied with a wide grin.

“You’re married?!”

“Yep, going on two years now. Listen MacGyver, don’t pay attention to what other guys say. Marriage is great! I highly recommend it. You bachelors don’t know what you’re missing out on!”

Mac simply nodded as thoughts of Joanna suddenly slammed into his brain. He hadn’t called her since before he arrived in Los Angeles.

“Mind if I use your phone?” he asked.

“Go right ahead. Need to check in with a special someone?”

“Something like that,” MacGyver muttered as he dialed Jo’s office number.

She answered on the second ring.

“Hey, it’s me,” Mac said, cutting her off in the middle of her formal greeting.

“Oh, hi Mac,” she replied, still using her professional voice.

“I’m sorry I haven’t called, but things got kinda busy here.”

“No problem. How’s Jack?” she asked in a clipped tone.

“He’s gonna be fine.”

“That’s good.”

“I promise I’ll call you soon with all the details.”

“Sounds good.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to you later then.” MacGyver hung up the phone, a sense of uneasiness settling into the pit of his stomach. Joanna had sounded cold and distant…because of him?

That night, after checking on Francine and Jack, Mac laid on the old cot and stared at the ceiling, replaying his conversation with Joanna in his head. Maybe he should have let her come along. He always felt better when she was with him. Then he considered what Willis had said and promised himself that he’d make things right with Jo as soon as he got home.

XXXXX

MacGyver spent the following morning studying the reports Willis had given him. Nothing made sense. When he arrived at the hospital, he found Jack sitting up in bed chatting with his mom.

“You sure bounce back fast,” Mac observed from the doorway.

“Mi amigo! Enter! Enter!” Jack urged.

MacGyver walked over to his friend’s bed, a huge smile on his face.

“Nice accessory,” he commented, motioning to the aviator hat Jack wore.

“Why thank you, my boy! Felt downright naked without it! I’m glad it didn’t get lost in the wreck.”

“Speaking of the wreck, do you remember anything about it?”

“Remember anything? Mac, I remember everything! It was incredible! I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!”

“What are you talking about?”

“The UFO!”

MacGyver shook his head. Surely he hadn’t heard right. “UFO?”

“It was beautiful! All the lights and—“

“Whoa, back up,” Mac commanded. “Are you saying a UFO caused your plane to crash?”

Jack nodded emphatically. “I know you don’t believe in that stuff, but I saw it Mac. I really saw it!”

“Why don’t you start from the beginning,” MacGyver prompted as he sat down in the chair next to the bed. “What happened after you left the orphanage?”

“The flight was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Couldn’t ask for better conditions. I was in the homestretch when all of a sudden everything conked out. The engine, electrical system, the works. The plane was just floating, like a giant hang glider, when I saw the lights.”

“The lights?”

“Of the UFO! Lit up the night sky like a Christmas tree and just hovered there in front of me. I gotta tell ya, Mac, I was scared those aliens were gonna suck my brains out or something!”

“Hold it, Jack! There’s no such thing as aliens, and even if there were, what would they want with your brain?!”

At MacGyver’s remark, Francine, who had been silently listening to the conversation, covered her mouth with her hand and giggled.

“Maaa!” Jack whined.

“I’m sorry, dear, but MacGyver does have a point.”

“Okay,” Mac interrupted, trying to get back on track. “What happened next?”

“It flew away. Fast. Like warp nine fast and everything went dark. I could feel the plane losing altitude but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Next thing I know I wake up here.”

Mac stayed silent as he struggled to make sense of what he just heard. Electrical and engine failure could certainly have caused Jack to drift into military airspace, and he could have easily mistaken another aircraft for a UFO if he was tired.

“You do believe me, don’t you Kemosabe? I swear I’m not making this up!”

MacGyver had been keeping tabs on his friend’s left eye as he told his story and it hadn’t twitched once.

“I believe that something happened to your plane, and I believe that you saw something. But it wasn’t a UFO.”

“Then what was it?” Jack challenged.

“I don’t know,” Mac replied thoughtfully. “But I’m gonna find out.”

As soon as he arrived back at the hangar, MacGyver placed another call to Willis asking for more specific information. Then he called Joanna and related everything he had learned.

“You certainly don’t believe Jack’s story, do you?” he asked.

“I want to believe,” she responded solemnly, but he could hear the laughter she tried to hold back in her voice.

“You’re not still hooked on that TV show with those two FBI agents chasing flying saucers, are you?”

This time Joanna did laugh. “Guilty as charged! But really, Mac, it’s all in good fun. However, you do have to wonder…”

“That’s my cue to hang up!”

“Listen Mac,” Jo turned somber. “I’m sorry I was kinda short with you earlier and I’m really glad to hear Jack is doing better.”

“No problem. I’m sorry for bailing on you like I did. Especially during the holidays. I’ll call back soon, I promise.”

MacGyver hung up the phone, his conscience feeling lighter. Joanna had sounded like her normal self again. And he missed her terribly.

XXXXX

The ringing telephone woke MacGyver before dawn. He tumbled off the cot and grabbed it mumbling a half-awake “Hello”.

“It’s Willis. I have some information I think you’ll find interesting.”

“Great, let’s have it!” Mac was wide awake now.

“Not over the phone. Meet me at Rosie’s Diner in thirty minutes.” The line went dead.

MacGyver stared at the telephone. What was up with all this cloak and dagger stuff? Were all his friends going nuts? He put on his shoes and headed to Rosie’s.

“Whatcha got?” he asked as he slid into the booth across from Willis.

The researcher pulled out a large, brown envelope from underneath his jacket. MacGyver rolled his eyes.

“Your friend’s plane was found on the Air Force base where the Space and Missile Systems Center is located.” Here he stopped, as if it was supposed to mean something.

“Sooo?” Mac asked, his patience wearing thin.

“So, I managed to hack into their computers enough to find records of recent tests and activities. On Christmas Eve, a high tech satellite was launched from there shortly before Jack’s plane went haywire. It must have passed close enough to interfere with the plane’s systems.”

“Okay, I’ll buy that. But what about the lights Jack said he saw?”

“Transcripts show that his plane was picked up on radar as an unidentified aircraft. A military chopper was sent up to intercept it.”

“And…?” MacGyver prompted.

“And, that’s all the information I could get.”

“But Jack said the lights, um chopper, flew off. Why would the pilots abandon a plane in distress?”

Willis shrugged. “I don’t know. Like I said, this was all the info I could get.”

“I understand,” Mac replied. “But next time could we just meet in the lab like usual?”

“You got it,” Willis laughed as he slid out of the booth and left the diner.

MacGyver entered Jack’s hospital room to find a tall, fit man with short brown hair wearing a dark suit and tie standing at the head of his friend’s bed as said friend waved his uninjured arm in the air as he spoke.

“Hey, Mac!” Jack interrupted himself. “This is Agent Millder, uhhh, Muller, er, Mildew?”

“He’s from the FBI,” Francine informed him in a loud whisper.

“No kidding?” Mac replied cynically before Jack started speaking to him.

“The G-Man here wants to know about my close encounter!” Jack excitedly explained. “He said there were dozens of reports of UFO’s in Southern California on Christmas Eve!”

“Actually, most claims turned out to be alleged sightings of Rudolph instead,” the agent replied drily.

“You don’t really believe Jack saw a UFO, do you?”

“No, I don’t,” Millder/Muller/Mildew said evenly.

“You don’t?!” Jack deflated in front of MacGyver’s eyes.

“No, sir. I believe you accidently came upon a secret military exercise that interfered with your plane’s electrical system and you drifted into restricted airspace before crashing.”

“I’ve been doing some investigating myself,” Mac asserted. “It seems a military chopper intercepted my friend’s disabled plane and then deserted him. Why?”

“I don’t know, but I promise you, the truth is out there.”

XXXXX

“You know, Mac, you don’t have to babysit me. I can take care of myself. Better yet, that pretty blonde nurse on the nightshift can take of me,” Jack waggled his eyebrows and smiled as MacGyver offered his friend another spoonful of Jell-O.

“I’m not ‘babysitting’ you, I’m spending some quality time with my best friend,” MacGyver retorted.

“Yeah, by force feeding me that vile green stuff only hospitals serve…and maybe you. But it’s New Year’s Eve! You should go out! Eat, drink, be merry!”

Mac glanced sideways at his friend.

“Oh, that’s right. You don’t drink and you frown on merriment, but you can still eat!”

“That’s enough, Jack,” MacGyver replied with fake annoyance. “I’m exactly where I want to be.” Sort of.

Mac glanced down at his watch. It was a little before ten. Almost midnight in the Midwest. He stood up and headed for the door.

“I’m going down to the lounge and make a quick phone call,” he told Jack.

“Give her my regards!”

“Who?” Mac asked, snapping his head around.

“Joanna, of course. That’s who you’re calling, right?”

“How do you know?”

“C’mon Mac, you’ve been hot for her for almost two years now. I saw it with my own eyes at Pete’s wedding, or was it a re-wedding?”

“Shut up, Jack. You have no idea what’s going on between me and Joanna.”

“Aha! So there is something going on between you two,” Jack smiled looking like the cat that swallowed the canary.

MacGyver groaned. Why did he keep letting himself get caught in Jack’s verbal traps!

Minutes later, Jack was forgotten as MacGyver happily chatted with Joanna. In the background he soon heard the tinny strains of Auld Lang Syne coming from her television. He ached to hold her and kiss her senseless as the old year passed away and the new one entered. Unfortunately, words would have to do this time.

“Happy New Year,” he said into the telephone, his voice husky. “I miss you.”

“I miss you, too. Happy 1997, Mac. Love you.” The line went dead.

MacGyver stared at the receiver in his hand and was glad he was already in a hospital because he felt as if his heart was about to pound out of his chest. Joanna had just said she loved him!








Posted by: Dragondog 6 June 2019 - 01:01 PM
QUOTE
Chapter 2: Jack’s Close Encounter
So he's not dead tongue.gif

QUOTE
and smelling like a monkey cage
I understood that reference wink.gif

QUOTE
after delivering a load of toys to a Mexican orphanage
Well, that's nice of him smile.gif

QUOTE
Was Jack’s trip truly just an innocent flight to deliver toys or part of a larger scheme?
It's Jack, what do you think? XD

QUOTE
He had been awake for the better part of three days and, during that time, had driven two thousand miles.
Sheesh, go to sleep, Hamilton laugh.gif

QUOTE

“Mac?! I can’t believe it! Are you back with the Foundation?”
Where have you been? XD

QUOTE
Mac tapped lightly on the glass to announce his presence before entering the room.
I wouldn't have been able to resist walking in and scaring him tongue.gif

QUOTE
“My wife,” Willis replied with a wide grin.
*chokes* blink.gif Some things really have changed...

QUOTE
Marriage is great! I highly recommend it.
I'm sorry, Willis, but I am cracking up at your word choice. "I highly recommend it", like you're talking about a product or something XD

QUOTE

“Go right ahead. Need to check in with a special someone?”
Boy, Willis gets right to the point, eh? XD

QUOTE
“Oh, hi Mac,” she replied, still using her professional voice.

“I’m sorry I haven’t called, but things got kinda busy here.”

“No problem. How’s Jack?” she asked in a clipped tone.
*frustrated sigh* Is she mad again?

QUOTE

“Nice accessory,” he commented, motioning to the aviator hat Jack wore.

“Why thank you, my boy! Felt downright naked without it! I’m glad it didn’t get lost in the wreck.”
Lol, he just can't lose it, can he? XD

QUOTE
“Speaking of the wreck, do you remember anything about it?”

“Remember anything? Mac, I remember everything! It was incredible! I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life!”

“What are you talking about?”

“The UFO!”
*faceplant*

QUOTE

“Hold it, Jack! There’s no such thing as aliens, and even if there were, what would they want with your brain?!”
Yeah, 'cause no one wants your brain, Jack roller.gif

QUOTE

At MacGyver’s remark, Francine, who had been silently listening to the conversation, covered her mouth with her hand and giggled.

“Maaa!” Jack whined.
He's such a child XD XD XD

QUOTE

“You’re not still hooked on that TV show with those two FBI agents chasing flying saucers, are you?”
I feel like this is referencing something, but idk what. I'm uncultured XD

QUOTE

“Listen Mac,” Jo turned somber. “I’m sorry I was kinda short with you earlier and I’m really glad to hear Jack is doing better.”
Good smile.gif

QUOTE
MacGyver hung up the phone, his conscience feeling lighter. Joanna had sounded like her normal self again. And he missed her terribly.


Nobody:
Absolutely no one:
My Hamiltrash brain: AND THAT'S WHEN MARIA REYNOLDS WALKED INTO MY LIFE
Me: Wha- no, brain, Mac's not going to have an affair, stop relating everything to Hamilton dry.gif

QUOTE
Were all his friends going nuts?
You're just now wondering that? XD

QUOTE

“Actually, most claims turned out to be alleged sightings of Rudolph instead,” the agent replied drily.
I like his sense of humor XD

QUOTE

“No, I don’t,” Millder/Muller/Mildew said evenly.
I really don't think he's named Mildew XD

QUOTE
I can take care of myself.
Sure, we've seen you do so multiple times. It never ends well XD

QUOTE
Better yet, that pretty blonde nurse on the nightshift can take of me
yucky.gif

QUOTE

“I’m not ‘babysitting’ you, I’m spending some quality time with my best friend,” MacGyver retorted.
But you're cramping his stylllleeee XD

QUOTE

“Yeah, by force feeding me that vile green stuff only hospitals serve…and maybe you.
XD Mac probably would, too

QUOTE

“I’m going down to the lounge and make a quick phone call,” he told Jack.

“Give her my regards!”
Jack knows all *Lenny face*

QUOTE


MacGyver stared at the receiver in his hand and was glad he was already in a hospital because he felt as if his heart was about to pound out of his chest. Joanna had just said she loved him!
Aww XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 June 2019 - 01:39 PM
In case you haven't gotten it yet...The FBI Guy...Mulder from The X-Files! Yeah, I was totally hooked on that show and just couldn't resist one little reference!

Posted by: Dragondog 6 June 2019 - 07:57 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 6 June 2019 - 04:39 PM)
In case you haven't gotten it yet...The FBI Guy...Mulder from The X-Files! Yeah, I was totally hooked on that show and just couldn't resist one little reference!

That explains it. I've never seen X files laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 12 June 2019 - 09:57 AM
Chapter 3: Second Thoughts

MacGyver felt like he was walking on air as he headed back to Jack’s room. He didn’t even bother to try and hide the goofy grin he must be wearing. Joanna had just confirmed his greatest hope. He couldn’t wait to get back to Milwaukee. Back to her.

“Wow, that must have been one heck of a phone call,” Jack observed when Mac returned. “Or did that cute little nurse give you her number?”

“It’s none of your business, Jack,” Mac replied, trying to keep the frustration with his friend out of his voice.

“You wound me, compadre! Since when do we keep secrets from each other?”

Mac’s jaw went slack. How many times had Jack told him half-truths or downright lies to get him to go along with a crazy scheme?

“Fine!” Mac sat down in his chair, jamming his fingers through his hair. “Joanna just said she loves me.”

Jack’s happy-go-lucky expression quickly faded. “Aw man, I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry? Why?”

“I’m sure Joanna’s a great girl to hang out with, but now you’re gonna break her heart.”

“I am?”

“Earth to Mac! After love comes commitment and we both know you can’t do that! You need to set that girl straight. Pronto!”

“You don’t get it, Jack. I was in the middle of proposing to her when your mom called and told me about your accident.”

“Proposing? As in marriage?!” Jack’s eyes grew so wide Mac thought they might fall out of their sockets. “Lucky Mom called you when she did! Guys like you and me need to be free, go where life takes us, not get tied down with a wife, two point five kids, and a nine-to-five job!”

“You may still need that, but I’m done living like a nomad. I want to settle down. Put down real roots. And I want to do it with Joanna.”

“All right, man. If that’s what you want,” Jack shrugged nonchalantly.

“That’s it?” Mac asked suspiciously. “You’re not gonna try to talk me out of it?”

“Nope,” Jack replied smugly. “I’ll let your commitment-phobic DNA do it for me.”

XXXXX

Two days later, Jack was released from the hospital into Francine’s care. MacGyver had called in a few favors and pulled some strings to get access to a private plane so he could fulfill the reservations Jack had scheduled before the crash. He had forgotten how much he loved flying. The freedom he felt when it was just him and the big blue sky, all concerns and obligations anchored firmly to the ground where they couldn’t reach him. In an effort to keep Jack’s dream alive, MacGyver continued to book and pilot flights in the hopes of raising enough money so Jack could take out a loan and make a down payment on a new plane.

With Jack making steady progress in his recovery and no flights booked for the day, Mac decided to stop by the Challengers Club. He wondered if anyone, with the exception of Hines, would remember him. He walked through the door and into the controlled chaos that was the teen youth center and shelter service.

“MacGyver?! As I live and breathe is that you?!”

Mac turned toward the familiar voice. “Hey Cynthia! How’re you doin’?”

The spunky, African-American woman ran into his open arms and embraced him warmly.

“What brings you back to Los Angeles?”

“I’m helpin’ out a friend who had a little accident,” Mac replied casually. “A better question is what are you doin’ back at Challengers?”

Cynthia laughed. “Hines is out of town for the holidays and you know I just can’t stay away from these kids. Not to mention that this time of year we are always overcrowded and understaffed. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to stick around and help out a bit while you’re here?”

“What do you need me to do, Cynthia?” Mac asked with a grin.

“Well, since you asked…” She reached into the pocket of her sweater, pulled out a list and handed it to MacGyver.

Mac laughed. “Okay, I’m on it!”

The next several days passed quickly for MacGyver. When he wasn’t flying charters he was either helping out at Challengers or visiting with Jack and Francine. When he had resigned from Phoenix, Mac had sworn he would never again call L.A. home, yet here he was, slipping back into aspects of his old life that fit like a well-worn pair of jeans. He thought back to Jack’s words in the hospital on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps guys like him and Jack weren’t meant to stay in one place too long regardless of who or what they left behind.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The day after New Year’s Joanna arrived at work to find the office abuzz, her colleagues already working in high gear.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Joanna asked, snagging Mike Harlow’s arm as he hurried past her.

“Emergency meeting in five minutes,” he replied. “And I wouldn’t be late if I were you.”

Five minutes later Joanna found herself scrunched next to her co-workers in a small conference room. Their new boss, Carlos Hernandez, stepped to the front and asked for silence.

“Welcome back, people,” he began. “Just as the first snowfall brings a ton of accident cases, the new year brings a blizzard of divorce petitions. That being said, I’m going to need extra hands on these cases.”

Carlos read the list of paralegals, assistants, and investigators who would now be assigned to familial law. Joanna’s and Mike’s names were both called.

“And Mike,” Carlos added, “Since MacGyver is still on vacation, why don’t you use his office. It’ll make it easier for you and Ms. Fairfax to tag team if needed.”

Joanna’s hackles raised, but she stayed quiet. Granted, she hadn’t been looking forward to spending her days next to Mac’s empty room, but she certainly didn’t want someone else claiming the space instead! Mac was coming back, after all. Wasn’t he?

“I hope you don’t mind.” Mike’s voice broke into Jo’s thoughts.

“Of course not,” she responded politely before heading back to her own office.

The following week flew by as Joanna interviewed disgruntled husbands and wives. Their reasons for ending their marriage ranged from the mundane to the ridiculous. Like the woman whose husband had been leaving the toilet seat up for the last thirty years and suddenly she decided she couldn’t take it anymore.

By the time Friday rolled around, Joanna was dead on her feet. Not only had she been working solid eight to ten hour days with barely a break for lunch, but MacGyver had been calling her almost every night. Unfortunately, he seemed unaware of the time difference and often kept her up late talking about anything and everything, but she didn’t care. The sound of his voice soothed her and when she did sleep, she dreamed of him.

As the short January days melded together, Joanna found herself becoming depressed. She blamed it on working too much and listening to people complain about their soon-to-be ex-mates all day long, but in truth, many of their issues hit home and had her questioning the strength of her relationship with MacGyver. For example, there was the couple who had met at work and had never actually dated before getting married. Then there was the wife who complained that her husband didn’t share any of her hobbies and the couple who didn’t marry until they were in their fifties and found they could not stand living with and sharing their life with the other person. Last but not least were the number of couples who complained about the lack of communication in their marriage. Joanna’s stomach clenched. If these relationships were any indication, she and Mac didn’t stand a chance. They had met at work and their one attempt at a real date had failed miserably. Joanna’s hobbies included reading and knitting while MacGyver enjoyed playing hockey and outdoor activities. Plus, they had both been single a long time. While Jo shared a house with her parents, could she stand to be in constant close proximity to Mac and him to her? To top it off, his phone calls which had kept her up at night were now few and far between. And when they did talk, they were hard pressed to talk about something other than the weather or latest sports scores. Logic told her he was just busy and preoccupied getting Jack’s business up and running while also helping out at Challengers, but her heart feared he had grown bored with her since getting a taste of his old life where she did not belong.

One Tuesday afternoon Joanna sat surrounded by stacks of files furiously entering data into her computer when a knock on her door startled her.

“Sorry,” Mike apologized. “You wouldn’t happen to know the password to MacGyver’s computer, would you?”

“No,” she shook her head. “You’ve been working in there all this time and haven’t been able to use the computer?”

“I’ve been using the firm’s laptop. It just crashed.”

“Oh. Let me see what I can do.”

Joanna knew Mac’s password wouldn’t be complicated, it would just be odd. Something only the people closest to him would know. She sat down behind his desk and started typing. She hoped she didn’t blush when she punched in her name. She held her breath and then exhaled in disappointment when access was denied. So she began the litany of names he might use: Pete, Jack, Frog, Phoenix, Duct Tape. Nothing worked. She was about to give up when she had a sudden notion. Slowly she hit the keys: A-n-g-u-s. Bingo! The computer screen sprang to life.

“Excellent!” Mike exclaimed. “Hey, how about we go out to dinner tonight?”

He must have seen the surprise on her face as he continued, “We’ve both been working hard and deserve a break. Besides, I’d like to get to know you better, outside of this place.”

Was he asking her out on a date? Did she want to go?

“C’mon,” he urged, sensing her reluctance. “We gotta eat, right?”

“Of course,” Jo replied, finally finding her voice. “I’d love to.”

A few hours later she found herself seated across from Mike at her favorite Italian restaurant surreptitiously studying his features. His dark brown hair was cut in a short, neat style that accentuated his bright blue eyes that lit up when he spoke of his small but loving family. As they shared stories about themselves, she learned he had lived in Milwaukee his entire life and had once turned down a lucrative job offer because it involved too much travel and time away from home. He possessed an easy sense of humor, a warm smile and, even though he had been in his suit for over twelve hours, not once did he reach up to loosen the knot in his tie. Now this was the type of guy she always imagined herself falling for. Yet when she crawled into bed that night and closed her eyes, the only face she saw was MacGyver’s as a lone tear trickled down her cheek.

The next morning, Carlos was waiting for Joanna outside her office. He waved a piece of paper in front of her face as she approached.

“Do you know what this is?” he asked.

“No, sir,” Joanna said softly, taken aback by her boss’s behavior.

“This is yet another request for an extension to MacGyver’s leave of absence! How long does he plan on being gone? Doesn’t he realize that if he wants to keep his job he needs to show up once in a while?!”

Carlos was fairly yelling now and Joanna didn’t have an answer for him, but she promised she would speak to Mac about it when she got a chance.

Once ensconced behind her desk, Jo eyed her phone and the number Mac had given her in case she needed to contact him. She glanced at her watch. It was still early morning in L.A. so perhaps he hadn’t started his day yet. She dialed the number and was surprised when he answered on only the second ring.

“Hi! It’s me,” she greeted him, hoping she sounded somewhat upbeat.

“Jo? Is everything all right?”

“Yeah,” she replied automatically before backpedaling. “Well, actually, no. Carlos is pretty upset that you asked to extend your leave. Do you have any idea when you might be coming home?”

There was a long silence before he spoke. “I really can’t say. Business is picking up but Jack’s still not ready to fly and Challengers needs all the help it can get right now.”

“I understand, but I don’t think Carlos will. Mac, you might lose your job here.”

“Listen, I’ll call Carlos and see what we can work out. Thanks for the heads up, but I have a flight to San Francisco in ten minutes.”

“Mac, you are coming home, aren’t you?”

“Sorry, gotta go.” And the line went dead.

Joanna frowned as she hung up the phone. When she looked up, Mike Harlow was standing in her doorway.

“Bad news?” he asked.
“No. Um…it’s nothing,” she replied.

“I came to ask if you wanted to go out to dinner again. I really enjoyed last night.”

Jo hesitated. Mac was obviously moving on with his life. She needed to do the same.

“I’d love to, Mike, but I really planned on staying late to finish up this paperwork. It’s driving me nuts!”

“No problem! How about we order in and eat while we work. Do you want pizza or Chinese?”

“Your offer, your choice,” she replied with a smile, sincerely glad she wouldn’t be spending the evening alone.


Posted by: Dragondog 13 June 2019 - 04:25 PM
QUOTE
Chapter 3: Second Thoughts
ranting2.gif

QUOTE

MacGyver felt like he was walking on air as he headed back to Jack’s room. He didn’t even bother to try and hide the goofy grin he must be wearing. Joanna had just confirmed his greatest hope. He couldn’t wait to get back to Milwaukee. Back to her.
Calm down, Romeo tongue.gif

QUOTE

“I’m sure Joanna’s a great girl to hang out with, but now you’re gonna break her heart.”
Jack dry.gif



QUOTE
“Lucky Mom called you when she did! Guys like you and me need to be free, go where life takes us, not get tied down with a wife, two point five kids, and a nine-to-five job!”
This made me want to slap Jack, but at the same time I'm cracking up at his "point five" remark XD

QUOTE

“Nope,” Jack replied smugly. “I’ll let your commitment-phobic DNA do it for me.”
I feel like that remark is going to make Mac paranoid for a while... XD

QUOTE
He had forgotten how much he loved flying. The freedom he felt when it was just him and the big blue sky, all concerns and obligations anchored firmly to the ground where they couldn’t reach him. In an effort to keep Jack’s dream alive, MacGyver continued to book and pilot flights in the hopes of raising enough money so Jack could take out a loan and make a down payment on a new plane.
Since when? XD True, he liked it in Eagles, but his anxiety in the episode with the teens in the wilderness (I'm running on five hours of sleep, it's 11 pm as I type this, though I won't post it until tomorrow, and I'm not looking it up) makes me think otherwise XD But his fear varies depending on the episode, so this shouldn't surprise me wink.gif

QUOTE

“Well, since you asked…” She reached into the pocket of her sweater, pulled out a list and handed it to MacGyver.
Was she just carrying that list around in hopes MacGyver would drop by? XD I kid, I kid

QUOTE
He thought back to Jack’s words in the hospital on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps he was right. Perhaps guys like him and Jack weren’t meant to stay in one place too long regardless of who or what they left behind.
You were happy enough in one place with Jo, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind traveling part of the time if you want/need to visit L.A., Mac XD

QUOTE
Like the woman whose husband had been leaving the toilet seat up for the last thirty years and suddenly she decided she couldn’t take it anymore.
Was their love ever true? XD

QUOTE
If these relationships were any indication, she and Mac didn’t stand a chance.
Stop comparing your relationship to other people's dry.gif

QUOTE

Joanna knew Mac’s password wouldn’t be complicated, it would just be odd. Something only the people closest to him would know.
It's 'Joanna' isn't it? XD XD XD

QUOTE
She sat down behind his desk and started typing. She hoped she didn’t blush when she punched in her name. She held her breath and then exhaled in disappointment when access was denied.
Never mind... XD XD XD

QUOTE
Yet when she crawled into bed that night and closed her eyes, the only face she saw was MacGyver’s as a lone tear trickled down her cheek.
I think this might be the slowest burn I've ever read XD

QUOTE

“Mac, you are coming home, aren’t you?”

“Sorry, gotta go.” And the line went dead.
*Murdoc voice* MACGYYYYYVEERRRRRRRRRR! blowup.gif

QUOTE

Jo hesitated. Mac was obviously moving on with his life. She needed to do the same.
I can never decide which of them I'm more annoyed with laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 19 June 2019 - 05:10 AM
Chapter 4: Second Chances


It was a late-January morning when a non-descript beige sedan pulled into MacGyver’s driveway. Since Sam had been on assignment during the holidays and was going to be on a month-long mission in a few weeks, his editor had agreed to give him an extended leave to go back to the States provided he return with an editorial on Small-Town Americana. Wanting to surprise his dad, he had rented a car at the airport. Hopefully, Mac would agree with his plan to spend a few days at Harry’s cabin in Minnesota where he could research and write an article on Mission City.

Sam quickly made his way to the front door and rang the bell. When there was no answer, he rapped on the glass, calling his dad’s name. Still, there was no reply. Even Frog wasn’t barking. The young man eyed the deadbolt lock and chewed his lower lip thoughtfully. He had promised MacGyver he would stop picking locks, but what if his dad was inside and sick or hurt? Just as he was reaching into his pocket for his Swiss Army knife, he heard his dad’s landlord open the door on his side of the townhouse.

“What’s with all the racket at this time of the day?!” he scolded.

“Hi, Mr. Rainey,” Sam replied sheepishly. “It’s me, Sam Malloy, MacGyver’s son.”

“Well, of course it is! I recognize you now! And call me Charlie like everyone else.”

“Thanks, Charlie,” Sam smiled. “Do you know if my dad’s home? He’s not expecting me and I was hoping to catch him before he left for work.”

The older man shook his head slowly. “Your dad bugged outta here late Christmas night. The next morning that girlfriend of his came and packed up the dog and left. Said Mac was going to Los Angeles. A friend of his had been in an accident. Haven’t seen or heard from either of ‘em since.”

“Oh,” Sam responded both concerned and perplexed. “Sorry to have bothered you.”
“Think nothing of it! And don’t be a stranger now, ya hear?!”

A short while later Sam was standing in front of the reception desk at the law firm where Jo and his dad worked.

“May I help you?” the young, sweet-looking receptionist asked.

“I’m looking for Joanna Fairfax.”

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No, but I’m a friend of the family,” Sam replied, flashing her his winningest smile.

The young woman blushed. “Her door is the third one on the left,” she told him, motioning down a long hallway.

“Thanks,” he said with a parting wink.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna was sitting on the corner of her desk with Mike standing next to her. They were both laughing about a couple they had just met with who wanted a divorce after the husband lost a football bet to his wife when Jo glanced up to see Sam standing in the doorway.

“Sam!” she exclaimed, sliding off the desk and smoothing her skirt. “What in the world are you doing here?!”

“Who’s he?” the young man asked, ignoring her question.

“Oh, I’m sorry! Sam Malloy, this is Mike Harlow, a co-worker. Mike, this is MacGyver’s son, Sam.”

“Nice to meet you,” Mike said, offering his hand which Sam ignored. He then turned to Joanna. “We still on for lunch later?”

“Yeah, sure,” she responded absently, her attention fixed on Mac’s son.
Mike took the hint and silently left the office.

“What’s going on with you two?!” Sam demanded, walking up to Jo’s desk.

“We’re just friends,” she replied defiantly.

“Yeah? That’s what you always said about my dad!”

“It’s not like that.” Joanna willed herself to breathe deep and speak calmly. “Mike and I really are just friends. I promise.”

Sam’s posture relaxed, but he didn’t look convinced.

“I went by my dad’s place earlier. Charlie said he’s in Los Angeles. What’s going on?”

Joanna motioned to a chair across from her. “Have a seat Sam,” she said as she settled into her own chair. “Your dad got a call from Jack Dalton’s mom on Christmas night. Jack had crashed his plane and it didn’t look good. Mac couldn’t get a flight so he drove out.”

Sam’s gaze fell to the floor. “How’s Jack?”

“He’s doing fine. He has some broken bones but he’s recovering. In the mean time, your dad is helping out with Jack’s air charter business and also helping Cynthia at Challengers.”

“When’s he coming home?”

Now it was Joanna’s eyes that lowered. “I don’t know,” she replied softly.

“When was the last time you talked with him?”

“It’s been a few days. I’m sorry, Sam. Mac isn’t telling me much these days.”

“Is it because of the jersey?”

“Huh?”

“Dad did give you a hockey jersey for Christmas, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“What did you say?” Sam sounded nervous. Almost like his dad when he first presented her with the gift.

“Nothing,” she shrugged. “His cell phone rang before I could even thank him.”

“So he didn’t ask you about the name?”

“He tried, but Francine called.”

Sam let out a pent up sigh and ran his hand down his face.

“Look, Sam, what’s the big deal about what name goes on it, anyway? It’s not like I have a favorite player or anything.”

“Do you have a number where I can reach my dad?” he asked, ignoring her question.

“Sure.” Joanna scribbled the number to Jack’s office on the back of one of her business cards. “Will you be staying at Mac’s place?”

“Yeah, if I can pick the lock.”

Joanna grinned for the first time since seeing Sam. She rummaged in her purse and pulled out a keychain.

“Here. You’re dad gave it to me. I don’t think I’ll be needing it anymore,” she said, dropping the key into the palm of his hand.

Sam studied her face and then the key. “What’s going on between you two?”

“Ask your father,” she replied shortly before turning her attention to her files.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver was scheduled to fly three CEO’s to Vegas in thirty minutes. He had just completed his pre-flight check list when the office phone rang. He was tempted to let the machine get it until he remembered that Jack’s answering machine was broken. Something else he had to fix. He jogged from the tarmac and answered the phone with a slightly breathless “Hello”.

“You didn’t ask her, did you?” a voice on the other end scolded.

“Huh?”

“Joanna. You didn’t ask her to marry you like you planned. You chickened out…again!”

“Sam? Where are you?”

“I’m in Milwaukee. I wanted to surprise you with a visit before I have to leave for my next assignment. I saw Jo.”

MacGyver sighed and ran his hand through his already tousled hair.

“I tried, Sam. I really did. But then Francine called…”

“Save it, Dad. Are you telling me you couldn’t have stayed a few extra minutes to propose? Or did you take advantage of the call to make an escape?”

“Look, I had to get to Jack. He’s my friend, and when you make a friend…”

“You take on a responsibility. I know that, Dad! But what about Joanna? I thought she was a lot more than a friend and a helluva lot more than just a responsibility to you!”

“She is, but—“ the line was already dead and MacGyver slammed down the phone in frustration.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sam paced the apartment, seething with anger. He had come back to the States planning on celebrating their engagement, but he returned to find them further apart than ever, both physically and emotionally. It was obvious to Sam that Jo and his dad loved each other and belonged together, but something always got in the way. He stopped pacing and stared out the patio door. Maybe they just needed a little bit of help.

“Hello!” MacGyver barked into the phone.

“Dad, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things to you.”

“You’re right. You shouldn’t have,” Mac replied evenly, but Sam could hear the smile in his voice. “The thing is, you have a point. I really blew it this time, didn’t I?”

“Maybe,” Sam shrugged his shoulders even though his dad couldn’t see him. “Tell you what. How about you meet me up at Harry’s cabin this weekend? We could spend some quality time together while I write a piece on Mission City for my editor.

There was silence at first, then Sam heard papers being shuffled and finally MacGyver’s voice.

“Looks like I don’t have any charters so I can fly in. Meet you there Saturday morning?”

“I’ll be there!” Sam answered with a very satisfied grin.

One down, one to go.

Sam knocked on Joanna’s office door the following day. When he opened it he found Mike leaning over her shoulder, studying something on her computer. Sam frowned and Joanna looked up, surprise registered on her face.

“Sam! I wasn’t expecting you.”

“Obviously. Am I interrupting something?” he asked while keeping a wary eye on Mike.

“No,” she replied a bit too quickly. “We were just going over some reports.”

Sam would have preferred to talk to Jo alone, but Mike did not look like he was inclined to leave any time soon.

“I’m going up to Mission City this weekend and wondered if you’d like to come along. Kinda get out of your head for a while, ya know?”

“I don’t know…” she hedged.

“We’ll head out Friday morning. Make a three-day weekend out of it. What do you say?”

He could practically see the gears in her head turning, just like Dad when he was thinking. Maybe that was it! Maybe both of them just thought too much!

“You should go,” Mike urged her, to Sam’s surprise. “You’ve been putting in a lot of overtime and you have vacation days coming.”

“I was planning on staying at Harry’s cabin, but you could get a motel room if you prefer,” Sam added quickly before Jo could protest.

“No, I like Harry’s cabin. And you’re right, it might be good to get away for a couple days.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

What had she been thinking?! For the past few weeks she had worked so hard to get MacGyver and the chance of a future with him out of her head and here she was, planning to spend the weekend with his son at his grandfather’s cabin. The same cabin they had once shared.

It was mid-afternoon by the time Sam maneuvered his rental car up the narrow drive that led to the cabin.

“You okay?” he asked as he put the vehicle in park, concern evident in his eyes.

“Yeah, sure,” Joanna replied shortly as she climbed from the passenger seat.

Sam led the way and unlocked the door. He stepped inside and flipped a switch bathing the one large room in warm lamplight.

“Looks like Neil came through for us,” he observed. “I called ahead and asked him to get the utilities turned on.”

Joanna had met Neil, Mac’s childhood friend, when she had been up here before. She walked around the room to get her bearings. Not only had Neil taken care of the electricity, but he had laid in a supply of wood for the fireplace, stocked the cupboards, and flushed the pipes as well.

Sam retrieved their bags from the car and started a fire while Joanna put together a simple supper. A little while later she emerged from the bathroom after taking a long hot shower to find that it had started to snow. Large, fluffy flakes floated down from the sky. Clad in flannel lounge pants and a sweatshirt, Joanna slipped into the double bed and willed her muscles to relax and her mind to stop thinking. She fell asleep listening to the steady rhythm of Sam’s snoring coming from where he dozed on the couch in front of the television.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver’s rented SUV bumped along the snow-covered road to Harry’s cabin Saturday morning. Thankfully, the snow storm from last night had stayed far enough north allowing him to land in Minneapolis without a problem. He soon saw smoke rising from the chimney and a large white bump that had to be his son’s car. It felt good to be back, away from the city and the demands of Jack’s fledgling business and Challengers.

Mac had just walked through the door and greeted Sam when Joanna emerged from the bathroom wearing jeans and a sweater. She was the last person MacGyver expected to see here. Apparently, she felt the same way about him as their gazes locked and he saw anger spark in her deep brown eyes before being replaced with…sadness?

As if by unspoken agreement, they both turned on the younger man simultaneously.

“Sam!” they exclaimed in unison.

“Now listen,” Sam replied firmly. “You two need to talk. I mean really talk and work through whatever’s going on between you. I’m gonna go get more wood for the fireplace.” He then slipped out the door into the snow.

MacGyver sat down at the kitchen table while Joanna walked over to the sink.

“Breakfast?” she asked politely.

“No thanks, I grabbed something on the way up here. But feel free to go ahead.”

“I’m not hungry,” she replied softly before filling a glass with tap water and taking a seat across from him.

“So, how did my charming son convince you to come up here?”

“You first,” she challenged.

“He played the ‘let’s have some father/son quality time’ card.”

“You mean he didn’t tell you about Mike?”

Mac’s pulse jumped. “Mike? Mike who?”

“Mike Harlow, from work. Since you’re not there Hernandez teamed us up. Sam saw us together a couple times and I believe he’s jealous on your behalf.”

“Should he be?”

“Absolutely not! You know Mike’s a good guy. We’re work friends, that’s it,” Jo explained.

“Yeah, I know,” Mac replied. “Now it’s your turn.”

“Sam, with a little help from Mike, convinced me I’ve been working too hard and needed some time off and, to be honest, a weekend in the woods away from everyone and everything didn’t sound so bad.”

“Until I showed up, right?” MacGyver figured it was time to come clean.

“When I gave you that jersey, before Francine called, I was trying to propose to you.”

The corners of Joanna’s mouth tugged upward. “I kinda figured that out.”

“You did?”

“Yeah,” Jo confessed. “After you, and then Sam, made such a big deal out of which name I wanted on the back, I figured you were going to ask me if I wanted it to say ‘Fairfax’…or ‘MacGyver’.”

“If we hadn’t been interrupted and I had asked you to marry me that night, what would you have said?”

“I would’ve said ‘yes’.”

“And if I asked you to marry me now?”

Joanna’s eyes fell to the untouched drinking glass on the table and she shook her head slowly. “I don’t know.”

Mac’s stomach clenched at her answer, but if he were honest with himself, he wasn’t sure he even wanted to propose again.

The uneasy silence that had fallen between them was shattered by the rev of an engine and the whir of tires. MacGyver lunged for the door, Joanna right behind him, in time to see Sam barreling down the snowy drive in Mac’s SUV.

“He’s probably just anxious to get into town and start his story,” Mac said casually, trying to hide his concern at his son’s hasty departure.

“I don’t think so,” Joanna replied ominously.

MacGyver turned in time to see her grab a note that had been tacked to the door.

“It just says, ‘See ya Sunday’.” She offered the note to Mac.

MacGyver crumpled the piece of paper in his hand.

“He’s not gonna get away with this!”

“Get away with what?” Joanna asked, truly dumbfounded.

“All but kidnapping and abandoning us in the hopes that we’ll get back together!”

Mac stormed back into the cabin. “Get your boots on,” he commanded Jo. “We’re leaving!”

A short while later, Mac slid behind the wheel of Sam’s rented sedan, now free of snow, and reached under the dash to pull down some wires. Joanna sat silently next to him. Hotwiring a car came naturally to him, but today he seemed to be all thumbs and, when the stripped wires made contact with each other, the engine wouldn’t fire. Biting back a curse he got out and lifted the hood.

“Terrific!”

“What is it?” He hadn’t heard Joanna approach.

“The distributer cap. It’s gone,” he groaned, shoving his hand through this hair.

“Can’t you do something?”

“No! I can’t just ‘do something’!” he snapped causing Jo to flinch. “C’mon,” he gentled his voice as he led Joanna back inside the cabin. “I’ll call Neil and have him come get us.”

“I don’t get it,” Joanna huffed. “Why can’t we just wait for Sam to pick us up tomorrow? Or do you want to get away from me that badly?”

MacGyver dropped his head and blew out a breath. “This has nothing to do with you. I’m just sick and tired of Sam thinking he knows what’s best for me and trying to manipulate us!”

Mac grabbed the phone, but silence greet him when he held the receiver to his ear.

“Line’s dead,” he growled.

“Did you bring you’re cell phone?”

“Yeah. I left it in the truck. You?”

“Sorry. It’s at home. I wanted to be disconnected, remember?”

“I got an idea,” he said as he grabbed Joanna’s wrist and made his way behind the cabin to a small storage shed.

After clearing away the snow and prying open the door, MacGyver stepped in and began to rummage around the small, dimly lit space.

“Ever been snowshoeing before?” he asked Joanna.

“No,” she answered, trepidation in her voice.

“Well, there’s a first time for everything,” he stated as he shoved a pair of snowshoes at her.

“You’re not seriously suggesting we walk to town!”

“Nope. Just to the main road. Hopefully someone will take pity on us and give us a lift.”

Mac continued searching the shed, but found nothing else of value.

“What are you going to do?” Joanna asked in a soft voice. “There’s only one pair.”

“Go inside, bundle up and strap those on,” he instructed. “I’ll be right there.”

MacGyver entered the cabin, arms loaded with various twigs and branches, to find Joanna bent over and struggling with the snowshoes. She looked up at him in frustration.

“I’ve never done this before.”

“That’s okay, I got it,” he replied in what he hoped was an easy, relaxed tone.

He made quick work of strapping her feet to the snowshoes.

“Could you grab the duct tape out of my duffle?” he asked as he grabbed a couple of the branches he had found.

“You’re going to make your own snowshoes?” Jo asked in disbelief.

“Yep,” he replied with a grin.

XXXXX

MacGyver took another step and his foot sunk even deeper into the fluffy snow. Maybe taking a shortcut through the woods hadn’t been the best idea since his homemade snowshoes weren’t working out as well as he had envisioned. When last he had checked, Joanna had been awkwardly walking a few yards behind him. They had been on the move for a while now, and Mac figured they were about half way to the road when he heard an oomph and a thump from behind. He turned to find Jo sitting awkwardly in a snow drift.

“What happened?” he asked as he made his way back to her.

“My knee just gave out,” she answered calmly. “Here, help me up.” She stuck out her hand towards him.

“You should stay down. You might be injured.”

Jo shook her head. “I’ve had problems with my knees since I was in my early teens. I’m fine,” she explained as she clamped onto his arm and clamored to her feet.

Unfortunately, the next time she put weight on that leg the knee buckled again. This time, MacGyver was prepared. He caught her around the waist and gently lowered her to the ground.

“We need to get you back to the cabin,” he said firmly.

“No. I just need to rest it a minute. You go ahead and track down Sam and I’ll walk back to the cabin in a bit.”

“Do you honestly think I’m going to leave you alone in the snow with a bum knee?” he asked gruffly as he began to unstrap her snowshoes.

“Apparently not,” she mumbled as MacGyver made quick work of ditching his sorry excuse for snowshoes and putting on the real ones Joanna had worn. He then crouched in front of her, his large hands examining her knee through her jean clad legs.

“How am I supposed to walk back when you stole my snowshoes?” she asked, frustration creeping into her voice.

“You’re not,” Mac replied. “Your knee is already starting to swell. I’m going to have to carry you.”

“What?” she squeaked as he reached out, pulled her to her feet, and bent over.

“Climb on my back,” he instructed. “We’ll do it piggy back.”

After several seconds he finally felt Jo put her weight on him.

“Put your arms around my neck,” he instructed as he straightened up holding her legs around his waist. She held on so tight he had trouble breathing, but he actually didn’t mind.

Once safely inside the cabin, MacGyver lowered Joanna to the floor and watched as she gingerly tested putting weight on her knee.

“Think you can make your way to the bathroom and get out of those wet jeans?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “It seems to be getting better.”

When she stepped out of the bathroom wearing her flannel lounge pants and a sweatshirt, MacGyver helped her over to the couch, raised her leg to rest on the battered coffee table, and placed a plastic baggie full of ice cubes on her knee. He retreated to the kitchen for a couple minutes before returning to the couch with two piping hot bowls of chili.

“I know I’m hungry and I figured you must be too,” he said as he handed Jo one of the bowls and sat down beside her.

“You made this?” she asked skeptically.

“Yep. Opened the can all by myself and everything!” he grinned before shoveling a spoonful of chili into his mouth.

Joanna laughed softly before doing the same.

“What happened between us, Mac?” she asked quietly once they were done eating.

MacGyver sighed, leaned forward, and scrubbed his face with his hands.

“I let Jack Dalton get inside my head. That’s what happened.” He glanced at Jo’s questioning gaze before continuing. “He tried to convince me that guys like us are incapable of settling down and the longer I was out there the more I believed it.”

“And what do you believe now that you’re here?” Her voice was little more than a whisper.

“I believe I need to stop listening to Jack Dalton. I suppose there will always be a part of me that craves freedom and adventure, but there’s a bigger part of me that wants to fall in love, put down roots, and have a real home.”
Mac looked up and locked on Joanna’s eyes. “What about you?”

She shook her head slowly, sadly. “I let myself get caught up in all the ugly divorce stories I heard and I started to apply them to us.”

“Like what?”

“Like how we met at work and never really dated. How we enjoy different hobbies and activities. How we’ve both been independent so long. And how we shut each other out when life gets hard.”

MacGyver draped his arm across the back of the couch and began massage Joanna’s neck.

“Some of those things aren’t necessarily bad,” he reasoned. “And we can work through all of them if we love each other enough to try.”

Joanna simply sighed as they both turned their attention to the crackling fire that warmed the room.

“Why marriage?” Jo suddenly asked, breaking the silence that had enveloped them.

Mac shrugged. “It just seemed like the next logical step.”

“And now?”

MacGyver’s silence was her answer.

“That’s what I thought,” she replied sadly as she carefully rose from the couch and limped her way to the bed.

XXXXX

MacGyver had turned on an old Western and muted the sound after Joanna went to bed. He was just beginning to doze off when a noise from the other side of the room caught his attention. When he didn’t hear it again after several minutes, he figured it was just the winter wind and allowed himself to relax. Just then the noise came again, sounding like something between a moan and a whimper. Joanna!

Mac quickly ran to her bedside and found her lying with her back to him.

“What’s wrong, baby? Is it your knee?”

“Cold,” came the mumbled reply.

MacGyver quickly looked around the room for an extra blanket and ended up pulling the quilt off his cot and gently placing it over Joanna. Still, he could see her body quaking beneath the covers. He reached over and put his hand on her forehead.

“You don’t have a fever,” he murmured, “But you’re probably coming down with something.”

He stood helplessly watching her for several minutes as she shivered and moaned, his mind warring with his heart. When he couldn’t stand watching her suffer any longer, he did the only thing he could think of. He lifted the covers and carefully crawled into bed beside her to share his body heat. He draped an arm gently around her waist and was about to pull her to him when she suddenly shimmied against him so that her back pressed against his chest. He gently kissed the top of her head before tucking it to rest beneath his chin, his arm wrapped tightly around her.

Hours later MacGyver was awakened by Joanna’s coughing, her entire body shuddering.

“Honey?” she croaked.

“I’m right here, baby,” Mac assured her as he held her tight.

Joanna wiggled out of his grasp and into a sitting position.

“No,” she said in between coughs. “Do you have any honey?”

“Oh. Um. Let me check,” he said as he slipped from the bed.

He grabbed a flashlight and rummaged through the cupboards until he had located a jar of honey and a spoon. Joanna greedily measured out and swallowed the sweet syrup, allowing it to soothe her throat and calm her cough. When the episode passed, she once again burrowed beneath the covers, this time facing MacGyver. He smiled when he felt her warm breath on his cheek and the weight of her hand on his chest.

“Thanks…honey,” she murmured sleepily.

XXXXX

“How are you feeling?” MacGyver asked Joanna later the next morning as he handed her a steaming mug of hot chocolate and sat beside her on the sofa.

“Better,” she replied after taking a sip of the hot liquid. “My knee is still stiff, but the swelling’s gone down, and my cough seems to be gone but my nose is stuffed up.”

“This is all my fault,” Mac sighed guiltily. “I should have never dragged you out in the snow like that.”

“C’mon, Mac,” Jo chided. “Since when do you ever make me do anything I don’t want to?”

“You got a point,” he responded, tapping the tip of her nose with his index finger as she nestled her head against his shoulder. He relished the feelings of protectiveness and peace she stirred in him.

“This is why,” he said huskily.

Jo raised her head. “’Why’ what?”

“Why I wanted to ask you to marry me.”

Joanna quirked her brow and Mac knew further explanation was in order.

“When you asked yesterday, I didn’t know what to say. But now I do. I wanted to marry you so that I could always be there to love you, take care of you when you’re sick or hurt, but most of all, so that no matter where we go or what we do, you’ll always be my home.”

The words had barely left MacGyver’s mouth before the front door swung open and Sam barged into the room, dropping two packages on the kitchen table before standing in front of the fireplace.

“Man, it’s cold out there!” he exclaimed. “So, did you two get everything straightened out?” he asked.

“We’re working on it,” Mac assured his son as he smiled at Jo. They were on the right track, but their behavior these past few weeks proved they still had some things to work through.

“So no engagement then,” the younger man frowned.

“Saaam,” MacGyver warned.

“Hey, no rush! But I think you’ll like what I have for you.”

They made their way to the kitchen table where Sam gave one box to Jo and the other to Mac.

Joanna opened her gift first and laughed. It was the Milwaukee Admirals hockey jersey that MacGyver had tried to propose with at Christmas. On the back, emblazoned where her name should be was the statement: “Mac’s Girl” in big, bold letters.

Mac opened his box to find a brand new Calgary Flames jersey. He turned it around to find that it boldly proclaimed him “Jo’s Guy”.

“Well? What do you think? Do you like ‘em?” Sam asked eagerly.

“They’re perfect!” the couple replied in unison.












Posted by: Dragondog 20 June 2019 - 01:55 PM
QUOTE
Chapter 4: Second Chances
That sounds promising ;-)

QUOTE
Wanting to surprise his dad, he had rented a car at the airport.
On one hand, I'm happy to see Sam again. He's one of my favorite characters. smile.gif But on the other hand.... He's not going to be pleased when he finds out Mac is sort of MIA blowup.gif

QUOTE
When there was no answer, he rapped on the glass, calling his dad’s name.
Gee, Sam, who taught you manners. Calling your dad by his name XD

QUOTE
Just as he was reaching into his pocket for his Swiss Army knife
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
QUOTE


The older man shook his head slowly. “Your dad bugged outta here late Christmas night. The next morning that girlfriend of his came and packed up the dog and left. Said Mac was going to Los Angeles. A friend of his had been in an accident. Haven’t seen or heard from either of ‘em since.”
Well, at least he got a suitable explanation

QUOTE

“No, but I’m a friend of the family,” Sam replied, flashing her his winningest smile.

The young woman blushed.
Well hello, hot stuff XD XD XD

QUOTE

“Thanks,” he said with a parting wink.
Yeah okay, we all know who he got his skills from XD

QUOTE

“Who’s he?” the young man asked, ignoring her question.
On one hand, I'm laughing because Sam has all the manners of a Millennial, on the other hand, I'm laughing because I can just feel his ship sinking XD

QUOTE

“Nice to meet you,” Mike said, offering his hand which Sam ignored.
I feel you, Sam. I get salty when my ship isn't canon as well XD

QUOTE

“What’s going on with you two?!” Sam demanded, walking up to Jo’s desk.
Me with my (very short) ship list XD

QUOTE

“It’s not like that.” Joanna willed herself to breathe deep and speak calmly. “Mike and I really are just friends. I promise.”
I find it kinda comical how she needs to defend her romantic choices from Sam XD

QUOTE

“Is it because of the jersey?”

“Huh?”

“Dad did give you a hockey jersey for Christmas, right?”
huh.gif Sam knows about that?

QUOTE
“What did you say?” Sam sounded nervous. Almost like his dad when he first presented her with the gift.

“Nothing,” she shrugged. “His cell phone rang before I could even thank him.”
I shouldn't be laughing this hard, help me roller.gif

QUOTE

Sam let out a pent up sigh and ran his hand down his face.
Mood. Big mood XD

QUOTE

“Look, Sam, what’s the big deal about what name goes on it, anyway? It’s not like I have a favorite player or anything.”
headbutt.gif Funny thing is, I'm supposed to be used to obliviousness, because I'm a huge Miraculous fan and everyone in that show is stupid ( laugh.gif ), but I'm very frustrated right now at this XD

QUOTE

“Sure.” Joanna scribbled the number to Jack’s office on the back of one of her business cards. “Will you be staying at Mac’s place?”

“Yeah, if I can pick the lock.”
At least he's honest laugh.gif

QUOTE

Sam studied her face and then the key. “What’s going on between you two?”

“Ask your father,” she replied shortly before turning her attention to her files.
Oh look, they've already got accurate parenting skills XD XD XD

QUOTE

Sam paced the apartment, seething with anger.
Okay, I understand Sam's anger, but I kind of have to side with Mac on this one. He thought Jack could have been dead, or dying. Even if he had taken five more minutes to propose, the moment would've been ruined by the shock of what happened to Jack.

QUOTE
Maybe they just needed a little bit of help.
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

QUOTE

“Dad, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things to you.”
I'm glad Sam wisened up quickly happy.gif

QUOTE

“I’ll be there!” Sam answered with a very satisfied grin.

One down, one to go.
Oh no, I know what he's up to ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

QUOTE
Maybe that was it! Maybe both of them just thought too much!
I have that problem too blush.gif

QUOTE

“You should go,” Mike urged her, to Sam’s surprise. “You’ve been putting in a lot of overtime and you have vacation days coming.”
Good boy. But you're not coming wink.gif

And I freaking called it! XD

QUOTE

As if by unspoken agreement, they both turned on the younger man simultaneously.

“Sam!” they exclaimed in unison.
Rofl, this is my new favorite scene X'D X'D X'D

QUOTE

“When I gave you that jersey, before Francine called, I was trying to propose to you.”
0.0 Well that was extremely straightforward X'D

QUOTE

The corners of Joanna’s mouth tugged upward. “I kinda figured that out.”
What?! Since when?! 0.o X'D

QUOTE

The uneasy silence that had fallen between them was shattered by the rev of an engine and the whir of tires. MacGyver lunged for the door, Joanna right behind him, in time to see Sam barreling down the snowy drive in Mac’s SUV.
SAM YOU DIDN'T!!! X'D

QUOTE

“He’s probably just anxious to get into town and start his story,” Mac said casually, trying to hide his concern at his son’s hasty departure.
Hahaha no X'D

QUOTE

“All but kidnapping and abandoning us in the hopes that we’ll get back together!”
I didn't know I could love Sam any more, but THIS CHAPTER X'D

QUOTE

MacGyver dropped his head and blew out a breath. “This has nothing to do with you. I’m just sick and tired of Sam thinking he knows what’s best for me and trying to manipulate us!”
I feel like the next conversation between father and son is going to be interesting XD

Wait... Did Sam call Neil already?

QUOTE

Mac grabbed the phone, but silence greet him when he held the receiver to his ear.
Close enough. Sam, boy, what are we gonna do with you?

QUOTE

“Nope. Just to the main road. Hopefully someone will take pity on us and give us a lift.”
Getting a bit desperate, are we? Or just stubborn XD Tbh, I'd do the same thing. I guess the Northerner stubbornness is one thing I inherited XD

QUOTE

Jo shook her head. “I’ve had problems with my knees since I was in my early teens. I’m fine,”
Me too XD

QUOTE

“Yep. Opened the can all by myself and everything!” he grinned before shoveling a spoonful of chili into his mouth.
My cooking XD

QUOTE
He lifted the covers and carefully crawled into bed beside her to share his body heat.
This is becoming a past time now XD

QUOTE

“Honey?” she croaked.

“I’m right here, baby,” Mac assured her as he held her tight.

Joanna wiggled out of his grasp and into a sitting position.

“No,” she said in between coughs. “Do you have any honey?”

“Oh. Um. Let me check,” he said as he slipped from the bed.
I literally lol'ed XD

QUOTE

“Man, it’s cold out there!” he exclaimed. “So, did you two get everything straightened out?” he asked.
He just reminded me of Jack XD

QUOTE

“So no engagement then,” the younger man frowned.

“Saaam,” MacGyver warned.
Yeah, tread carefully. He's not taking your crap anymore XD

QUOTE
On the back, emblazoned where her name should be was the statement: “Mac’s Girl” in big, bold letters.
Oh Sam XD

QUOTE
He turned it around to find that it boldly proclaimed him “Jo’s Guy”.
You're so corny, Sam XD XD XD

I seriously hope that whenever Sam finds his perfect SO, Mac make just as big a fuss. Perfect revenge XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 June 2019 - 06:43 AM
I'm glad you enjoyed this chapter, Dragondog! And especially that you like Sam. I'm sure I've said this before, but his character is both a blessing and a curse. Any fic post-season 7 should probably include him since he is a canon character. Unfortunately, we didn't learn very much about it since he only appeared once. Therefore, it gives you a lot of freedom when writing him, but at the same time, if you get stuck, you don't have canon to fall back on!

I also included a couple personal snippets. I really have had bad knees since I was a teen, though not to the extent of Joanna's. I also use honey to help with coughs and sore throats. I actually learned that remedy from my grandma who would give me spoonfuls when I got sick when I was little.

Posted by: Dragondog 21 June 2019 - 11:27 AM
Interesting wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 28 June 2019 - 06:02 AM
Chapter 5: Justice

Okay. He admitted it. He deserved this crummy assignment after taking a month-long emergency leave of absence. MacGyver leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands trying to get the sight of the mountains of paperwork surrounding him out of his mind if only for a few minutes. If he never saw another manila file for the rest of his life it would be too soon!

“Was it worth it?” Mike Harlow asked, leaning casually against the doorjamb.

Mac straightened up and opened his eyes to glare at his co-worker.

“I’m beginning to wonder,” he grumbled.

After his weekend at Harry’s cabin, he had flown back to Los Angeles, hired a temporary pilot until Jack was fully healed, borrowed Jack a down payment and co-signed a loan for another plane, and then drove two thousand miles back to Milwaukee. Back home.

“Jack must be a pretty special friend,” Mike observed.

“Oh, he’s special all right,” Mac confirmed cynically.

Before MacGyver could elaborate, Joanna poked her head into the office. Her friendly smile turned to a frown when she saw the piles of paperwork Carlos Hernandez had given to Mac.

“Hey!” she greeted him. “I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be at the courthouse the rest of the day. A couple clients’ divorce cases are being heard and they insisted I be there for moral support.” She pulled a face as she explained and MacGyver couldn’t help but chuckle.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It was late afternoon by the time Joanna emerged from the courtroom. The clients had appreciated her presence, but the heavy cloak of negativity that surrounded the proceedings had started to depress her. Not anxious to go out into the cold February weather, Jo decided to stroll around the old courthouse and admire the art and architecture she usually never had time to notice. She was walking down a long, ornate corridor when the doors to a court room burst open, causing her to stop in her tracks. A surly Hispanic teenager stalked out flanked by a petite Hispanic woman Jo assumed to be his mother and a burly, white, middle-aged man who must be his lawyer.

“I ain’t gonna plead guilty for somethin’ I didn’t do!” the boy spat at the man.

“Mijo!” the woman exclaimed, reaching out to grab her son’s arm which he promptly pulled away.

“Listen, kid,” the burly man snarled. “Just take the plea deal and make it easy on everyone. No jury in the world is gonna believe you anyway.” And with that the man walked away.

The teen spun around to stare out the window while his mother silently wrung her hands. Joanna swallowed hard. She knew the scene that had just played out in front of her happened all too often. The public defender too lazy to actually work a case so he coerced his clients into false confessions and plea deals. But she had never actually seen it happen. It made her blood boil. But it wasn’t any of her business. She put her head down and slipped quietly past the little family, but then jerked around when the woman called out to her.

“Ms. Joanna?!?!”

She hadn’t been called that since her days at Challengers Academy.

“Yes?”

“Oh, it is you,” the Hispanic woman said in a relieved voice.

“I’m sorry…I don’t…”

“Oh, of course you don’t remember me!” the woman apologized. “I’m Rosie Garcia and that’s my son, Raul. He attended Challengers.”

Joanna smiled and shook Rosie’s hand. She remembered Raul well. He had been a small, shy boy, but he had grown like a weed since she last saw him.

“Raul,” Rosie called in a commanding tone. “Come say hello to Ms. Joanna!”

The teen turned around, eyes wide with surprise, but remained silent.

“Hi Raul,” Jo said before turning back to Rosie. “I couldn’t help but overhear what happened just now. Can I ask what’s going on?”

“I didn’t do it!” Raul proclaimed defensively as he came to stand beside his mother.

Rosie sighed. “Raul has just been charged with vehicular vandalism, attempted auto theft, and party to a crime.”

“I wasn’t even there!” the teen interjected.

“How about we all go to the cafeteria, get something to drink, and you can tell me all about it,” Joanna suggested, hoping to diffuse the situation somewhat.

Thirty minutes and several cups of hot cocoa later, Joanna learned that local gang members had vandalized a car parked at a gas station. The incident had been caught on grainy surveillance tape. The leader of the gang, who had been arrested in the process, quickly identified the member swinging the baseball bat at the windshield as Raul Garcia. Raul was later arrested at his home where he claimed he had been all night. He also claimed he was not involved with the gang and that the leader had lied to punish him for not joining.

“I suppose you don’t believe me, either,” Raul moaned when he had finished his story.

“I believe you,” Jo assured him. “In fact, I might be able to help. I work for a law firm now. Let me talk to my boss tomorrow and see if we can get a real lawyer on this case.”

Rosie shook her head dejectedly. “That’s very kind of you, Ms. Joanna, but we can’t afford some fancy lawyer.”

“Don’t worry about the cost,” Jo said gently. “I’m sure we can work something out.”

After exchanging contact information and promises to keep in touch, Rosie and Raul left the building. Joanna quickly dug in her purse for her cell phone. She had to talk to someone. Scratch that. She had to talk to Mac. When she called his office, home, and cell phone and he didn’t answer any of them, she decided to take the long way home and see if he was at the hockey rink.

Having seen his Jeep in the parking lot, Joanna now made her way down the bleacher steps to the home team’s bench. She sat down and watched the lone figure in front of her glide across the ice with a unique combination of grace and power, a sight she was sure she would never grow tired of.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver was just finishing his final warm-up lap when he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. He skidded to a stop and found Joanna seated on the home team’s bench. He acknowledged her with a wave of his bulky hockey glove before skimming across the ice to join her.

“Hey,” he said breathlessly before giving her a quick peck on the cheek and sitting down beside her. “How did you know I’d be here?”

Joanna smiled. “I’d like to say it was due to my finely honed detective skills…”

“But…?” he prodded teasingly.

“But you weren’t at work and you weren’t at home so I figured where else could you be?”

“Aw man, you mean I’m that predictable?” MacGyver slouched against the bench, removing his gloves and helmet. His sweaty hair plastered to his head.
“Trust me. You will never be predictable,” she reassured him as she reached over and brushed his dripping bangs out of his eyes. “Let’s just say I know you better than most people, okay?”

“Okay,” Mac replied with a cheeky grin. “We’ll go with that. Now, what brings you down here anyway?”

“I ran into a mutual acquaintance of ours today.”

“Really? Who?” he asked absently as he began unlacing his skates.

“Remember Raul Garcia from Challengers Academy?”

“Yeah. Nice kid. He was turning into quite a hockey player.”

“Well, I ran into him and his mom at the courthouse today.”

“The courthouse? What was he doing there?” MacGyver’s curiosity was sufficiently piqued, but he was afraid to hear the answer.

Joanna turned so she was facing him and launched into the details of her encounter earlier that day, as well as her plans to help Raul.

“So what do you say? Will you help me?” she asked, an expectant look on her face.

XXXXX

The following morning MacGyver stood next to Joanna in Carlos Hernandez’s office. When she had asked him for help the day before, her liquid brown eyes, like melted chocolate, had warmed his heart and he was helpless to refuse. Besides, if even part of what she had said was true, Raul was getting a raw deal.

“Pro bono?!?!” Hernandez bellowed when Jo had finished laying out her plans causing both her and Mac to wince.

“Let me get this straight,” their boss continued in a low growl. “You want me to assign one of my lawyers to defend some punk street kid for free when everyone is up to their eyeballs in billable cases?!”

“Look,” MacGyver tried to explain. “Raul isn’t a punk. He’s a good kid with a lot of potential who’s found himself in a bad situation through no fault of his own. It’s just him and his mom and they can’t afford to seek the justice he deserves.”

Hernandez blew out a breath. “I’ll tell you what. If you can find one of my lawyers who’s willing to take the case without pay and on their own time you can go right ahead. But, if I notice even a fraction of decrease in said lawyer’s performance, they’re off the case! Understand?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir,” Mac replied with a nod, saving his satisfied grin for when he and Jo left the office.

Later that afternoon, MacGyver poked his head into Joanna’s office, clearing his throat loudly to announce his presence. She turned away from her computer with a frown, no doubt not pleased with the interruption, but that would soon change. He hoped. He motioned a forty-something man of Asian descent ahead of him before entering the office himself and firmly closing the door. Jo’s eyebrows shot up and she tilted her head in a questioning gesture.

“Joanna, this is Lee Vang, a criminal defense lawyer from downstairs. He’s agreed to take Raul’s case,” Mac announced.

A look of disbelief flitted across her face before she pasted her most professional smile in place and stood to shake the man’s hand.

“It’s good to meet you,” she said warmly. “Did MacGyver explain the details and stipulations of the case?”

“Yes, Ms. Fairfax. He did.”

“And you’re still willing to take it?”

“Indeed. I began my career as a public defender and saw similar injustices carried out far too often. It’s been an issue close to my heart all these years, and my caseload is relatively light at the moment. It would be my honor to defend this young man MacGyver speaks of so highly.”

Mac watched as Jo’s professional veneer slipped just a bit.

“I’m so glad to hear that,” Joanna replied. “I’ll get you the Garcia’s contact information, and please let Mac or me know if we can help in any way.”

“Thank you, Ms. Fairfax. I look forward to working with both of you.”

“Please, call me Joanna,” she said as she once again shook the lawyer’s hand before he headed back to his office.

“Wow,” she turned to MacGyver. “You work fast!”

“Let’s just say I can be very persuasive when I want to be,” he said, grinning like the cat who swallowed the canary while Joanna quirked an eyebrow.

Three days later, Lee Vang summoned Mac and Joanna to his office. The frown on the attorney’s face caused MacGyver’s stomach to dip. There was a problem.

“Please, have a seat,” Vang invited them to sit across from him.

“What’s up?” Mac asked, trying to sound casual even as he felt the concern emanating from Jo.

“I’m afraid this case might be more difficult to defend than I first anticipated,” Vang confessed as his two co-workers remained silent awaiting further explanation.

“The only hard evidence we have is an inconclusive surveillance video and testimony of a gang leader.”

“Exactly!” Mac exclaimed. “What jury is gonna believe a gang banger?! And whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty?! If the tape is inconclusive, then there isn’t any proof!” Mac slammed his hand down hard on Vang’s desk before standing up to pace the small room.

Vang remained calm, apparently used to outbursts from his clients. “If we take this case to trial, the best we can hope for is a sympathetic jury willing to consider the lack of evidence and testimony of character witnesses.”

“What do you mean ‘if’?” Mac turned to glare at the lawyer.

“I hate to admit it, but perhaps agreeing to a plea deal in this case would be the best course of action.”

MacGyver could feel his blood turn cold even as beads of sweat broke out on his forehead.

“No!” he barked. “Raul wasn’t even there!”

“So he says,” the attorney replied softly.

“You don’t even believe your own client?” Mac asked incredulously.

“Perhaps you could show us the video?” Joanna asked calmly in an obvious attempt to diffuse the conversation.

“Of course,” the lawyer agreed and went over to a small cabinet which he opened to reveal a small television set and VCR. He replayed the tape a couple of times while MacGyver stood on the other side of the room trying to regain his composure.

“Mac, come over and look at this,” Joanna implored. “Maybe you can see something we can’t.”

MacGyver stared intently at the screen as the crime played out before him over and over. All he could see were four figures, assumed to be gang members, wreaking havoc on a parked car. Oh, how he longed for access to Phoenix technology that could enhance this grainy video!

“I don’t suppose there are any ways to clean up this tape?” he asked.

Silence was his answer.

He had seen enough and was ready to walk away when he thought he might have found a clue.

“Play this back one more time,” he requested.

This time his gaze stayed focused on the figure with the baseball bat.

“I think I found something,” he announced as he turned to leave the office.

“What is it?” Joanna asked, hurrying after him.

“Where are you going?” she demanded when her question went unanswered.

“Back to my place. I need to check something out. Wanna come?”

“Of course!” she exclaimed, tight on his heels.

MacGyver quickly unlocked his front door and hurried to his video collection, scanning the titles until he found the cassette he wanted. He turned on the television, shoved the tape into the VCR, and waited impatiently for it to begin.

“What are we watching?” Joanna asked.

“A tape of one of the Challengers ice hockey games. A parent had given me a copy.”

“What are we looking for?” she asked again as the tape began to play.

“Raul,” Mac replied evenly.

They watched the game for several minutes before MacGyver pointed to the screen.

“There he is…number nine.”

Mac kept his eyes glued to the screen, waiting. Eventually the puck was passed to Raul who wound up and took a shot on goal that went incredibly wide.

“I knew it!” MacGyver exclaimed, turning off the tape and grabbing it as soon as it ejected as if it was the Stanley Cup.

“Knew what?” Joanna asked, clearly not understanding his discovery.

“Raul is left-handed! That slap shot proves it!”

“So?”

MacGyver took a breath. “So, Raul is supposedly the one swinging the baseball bat on the surveillance tape, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Whoever swung that bat was right handed and therefore not Raul!”

A week later, at Raul’s preliminary hearing, Joanna and MacGyver spoke out as character witnesses for the boy. Once they had given their testimony, they sat on a cold, hard bench in the gallery with a nervous Rosie Garcia between them. Joanna patted the woman’s hand soothingly and MacGyver offered encouraging smiles while the judge watched the two video tapes that were the basis of Raul’s defense. Once the official was satisfied with what he saw, Lee Vang began a well-rehearsed closing statement ending with a motion for the court to dismiss the case against his client due to lack of evidence. The judge called for a quick recess in order to consider the request while ordering all parties to remain in the courtroom. Rosie Garcia took this opportunity to lock hands with Joanna and MacGyver.

“No matter what the judge decides, I want to thank you both for believing in my Raul and going out of your way to help us. I have never been more grateful to anyone,” she said as tears welled in her eyes.

“Hey, even if we don’t get the case dismissed, there’s still a long way to go and we’ll all be with you and Raul every step of the way,” MacGyver assured her.

“You and Ms. Joanna and Mr. Vang have been such a blessing. How will I ever repay you?”

“You won’t,” MacGyver said firmly but with a warm smile.

“Unless you want to make us a batch of your homemade tamales Raul has been telling me about,” Lee Vang offered, turning from where he was seated with his client.

“Consider it done,” Rosie promised with a watery smiled that was wiped from her face seconds later when the judge reentered the courtroom. Once settled in his chair, he asked Raul to rise before addressing him.

“Young man,” he began. “It appears the court owes you an apology. In our rush to judgement, we often see what is not there and hear what is not true. I applaud you and those who supported you in your quest for justice. Therefore, due to the overwhelming lack of evidence and to keep your record unblemished, this case is undeniably dismissed.”

There was a collective sigh as the judge banged his gavel and returned to his chambers. Raul turned to Joanna and MacGyver.

“Thank you so much for believing in me,” he said fervently.

“Not a problem,” MacGyver answered with a smile as Joanna beamed beside him.

“Come, mijo, we must go home,” Rosie ordered. “I have tamales to make,” she said with a wink to Mr. Vang.

“I wish all cases were so easily resolved,” the lawyer sighed as the Garcias left the courtroom. “What is the world coming to when the justice system continually fails our youngest citizens? If it wasn’t for you two, Raul could have very well ended up being another sad statistic.”

“We’re just glad we could help,” MacGyver replied, rocking back on his heels.

“Unfortunately you can’t help them all,” Vang said dejectedly. “And just today the city shut down yet another youth program which means there will be more kids out on the street.”

“What happened?” Mac asked.

“What do you think?” Vang countered. “Money, Mr. MacGyver, or lack thereof. It’s always all about money.”

Mac watched as the lawyer hung his head and left the room before staring unseeingly at the large, wood double doors.

“You’re thinking about something. I can see it.” Jo’s voice cut into his thoughts. “What is it, Mac?”

“I think I might have an idea.”










Posted by: Dragondog 29 June 2019 - 09:38 AM
QUOTE
He deserved this crummy assignment after taking a month-long emergency leave of absence.
Is Jack okay now? Mac's back, I see XD

QUOTE

After his weekend at Harry’s cabin, he had flown back to Los Angeles, hired a temporary pilot until Jack was fully healed, borrowed Jack a down payment and co-signed a loan for another plane, and then drove two thousand miles back to Milwaukee. Back home.
Ah, okay XD

QUOTE

“Listen, kid,” the burly man snarled. “Just take the plea deal and make it easy on everyone. No jury in the world is gonna believe you anyway.” And with that the man walked away.
I hate it when that situation happens dry.gif

QUOTE
Let me talk to my boss tomorrow and see if we can get a real lawyer on this case.”
The shade XD

QUOTE

“Joanna, this is Lee Vang, a criminal defense lawyer from downstairs. He’s agreed to take Raul’s case,” Mac announced.
That was fast XD

QUOTE
What is the world coming to when the justice system continually fails our youngest citizens?
This is true. This is so, so sad, and so, so true. The court system is broken, and they don't have anyone's best interest's at heart but their own. And because children have no rights, they suffer the worst...

In case it's not obvious from my comments, yes, I have personal experience with the brokenness of the legal system. While my situation wasn't nearly the same story as Raul's it was just as much proof that deep down, our legal system, even the government itself just doesn't give a damn about the most helpless members of society.

I know that wasn't much, but I had a long day, I'm very tired, and it's been like 90 degrees all

Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 June 2019 - 10:45 AM
Dragondog, this chapter was personal for me as well (if you couldn't tell). Though I've never had direct experience with the juvenile system, I did work as a teacher at a correctional facility for about 5 years and learned a whole lot of stuff about our justice system. I still work with ex-offenders and see first-hand how lives can be ruined by injustice. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don't.

Posted by: Dragondog 1 July 2019 - 07:00 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 29 June 2019 - 01:45 PM)
Dragondog, this chapter was personal for me as well (if you couldn't tell). Though I've never had direct experience with the juvenile system, I did work as a teacher at a correctional facility for about 5 years and learned a whole lot of stuff about our justice system. I still work with ex-offenders and see first-hand how lives can be ruined by injustice. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don't.

I kinda figured there was some personal stuff in there, tbh wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 July 2019 - 12:39 PM
Chapter 6: Possibilities

The day following the dismissal of Raul’s case, MacGyver sat at his desk staring at his closed office door deep in thought. His boss thought he was working through the mound of paperwork he had been assigned. His colleagues knew better than to disturb him. And Joanna had an innate sense of knowing when to give him time and space. Unfortunately, that “sense” was apparently attached to a timeframe because by noon her office door closed a little harder and her footsteps in the hall were a little louder. By mid-afternoon, various thunks, thuds, and bangs assaulted the wall they shared. Mac grinned. Time had run out. He ambled next door and leaned casually against the door jamb.

“You beckoned?” he asked Joanna who was typing away at her computer.

“I did?” Her mask of wide-eyed innocence only confirmed how guilty she was.

“Yes. You did.” Mac stated as he sat down in a chair across from her.

“Well, you’ve hardly said a word since we left the courthouse yesterday. I’m worried about you.”

MacGyver sighed. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’m fine.”

Without warning, Joanna slapped her palms against her desk and stood up fast. All pretense of innocence gone.

“You may be fine, but I’m not!” she exclaimed. “You talked about commitment and marriage. You even tried to propose to me! Yet you shut me out every chance you get! I know something is rattling around that great big brain of yours. Why can’t you share it with me?!”

“I don’t have everything figured out, yet,” he replied, stunned at her uncharacteristic outburst but knowing he deserved it.

“So?” she asked, her voice calmer as she sat back down. “Can’t we talk about it together? They say two heads are better than one,” she grinned hopefully.

Mac scrubbed his face with his hands and leaned forward, his elbows perched on his knees.

“Remember yesterday when Vang said that a boys and girls club had just closed down?”

“Yeah,” she replied, her brows knit in confusion.

“Well, I want to buy it and open it up as Milwaukee’s own Challengers Club. That whole mess with Raul yesterday might have been prevented if teens like him had a place like that to go and people to watch out for them. We need to keep as many kids off the street as possible.”

“Wow,” was all Joanna said as she let out a breath and leaned back in her chair.

To MacGyver, it seemed as if all the oxygen had left the room. His heart pounded and his lungs burned as he waited for her to say something. Anything. Minutes felt like hours and he was just about to tell her to forget he ever mentioned it when she drew in a breath.

“That’s quite a commitment,” she replied softly.

Now it was Mac’s turn to bolt out of his seat in frustration.

“Really?! You’re gonna throw the commitment issue in my face about this?!”

To Joanna’s credit, she kept her composure and looked up at him confidently, her words strong and sure.

“What I meant is that it’s a huge commitment for anyone.”

Mollified, MacGyver sat back down.

“So, what’s our first step?” she asked.

“What do you mean ‘our’ first step?” he asked in confusion.

Joanna rolled her eyes before pinning him with an angry glare. “I thought you were done shutting me out!”

“You mean you’re on board with this?”

“How can I not be? I think it’s a great idea!”

Mac knew she must have as many questions and misgivings as he did, but she refused to voice them and for that he loved her even more. As for himself, he would have to treat this like any mission he had went on for the DXS or Phoenix: Stay focused, remain calm, take it one step at a time.

“I already spoke with Vang and he contacted the realtor. They want to get the property off their hands as soon as possible so we scheduled a walk-through for tonight after work.” He looked into her expectant eyes and knew what he had to do. “Want to come along?”

“Duh!” she pulled a face before smiling indulgently.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna, MacGyver, and Attorney Lee Vang huddled outside the old, brick, two-story structure in a not-so-great part of town as the realtor unlocked the door. Of course, Jo fully understood that such services needed to be in the areas where they could do the most good, but that didn’t keep her from holding her purse a little tighter and looking around warily.

As they entered the building, she heard Mac release a relieved sigh. Apparently it was everything he had been expecting it to be. Since up until a few days ago the space had served as a youth center, there was no obvious need for modifications. The realtor also happily explained that everything, including plumbing and electricity, was up to code and ready for immediate occupancy.

The vast majority of the first floor was an open-concept recreation area complete with pool tables, video arcade games, overstuffed chairs and sofas, and even basic exercise equipment. The remaining space included small offices and a modest kitchen. Upstairs was a long corridor flanked on either side by several doors. Behind each door was a small, dormitory-like room with a nightstand and lamp between two twin beds. At either end of the hall was a large, locker room type bathroom complete with showers. This was where kids in dangerous or homeless situations could stay until more appropriate services could be provided.

“Surely it doesn’t come with all the furnishings,” Joanna observed, more than asked.

The realtor shrugged his shoulders. “We were told to lease it ‘as is’, so what you see is what you get.”

Joanna’s eyes grew huge as she caught Mac’s attention and mouthed an astonished ‘wow’.

After the tour, the trio had dinner at a casual restaurant near the law firm.

“Well, what do you think?” Vang asked.

“I think it’s perfect!” Mac replied with more exuberance than Joanna had ever heard from him except when he was playing or watching hockey. She nodded her head in agreement.

“I thought you’d say that,” Vang smiled, “So I went ahead and talked some numbers. It’s really a very good deal considering everything that’s included.” The lawyer passed a piece of paper to MacGyver whose excitement suddenly faded. Joanna peered over his shoulder at the numbers and her stomach rebelled.

“You can take occupancy as soon as you can come up with first and last month’s rent,” the lawyer continued. “Call me when you’re ready to seal the deal.”

With that, Lee Vang grabbed his briefcase, slid out of the booth and disappeared, leaving Mac and Jo staring at the numbers he had presented.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver was lying on his couch, staring up at the ceiling. The digital clock on top of the television read two o’clock in the morning. Every time he closed his eyes, numbers appeared in front of him along with big, fat dollar signs. What had he been thinking? There was no way he could make this happen. Yet Cynthia and Booker Wilson had done it. He just had to come up with a plan, only this time he was gonna need help. He pulled on jeans and a sweatshirt and soon found himself parked in Joanna’s driveway. He didn’t want to ring the doorbell and wake the entire household, so he dialed her cell phone with his.

“I’m outside. Can we take?” he asked. She had answered the phone on the second ring so chances are he wasn’t the only one having a sleepless night.

“I was so stupid!” he exclaimed, jamming his hand through his unruly hair as he collapsed on Jo’s small sofa. “All I could think about was swooping in and saving kids from the street. I never considered the cost!”

“There were a lot of things you didn’t consider,” she added gently, her voice free of censure which he appreciated.

“What are you going to do about your job at the law firm?” Jo asked. “And who’s gonna manage and staff the center when you can’t be there?”

“I don’t know,” Mac mumbled, scrubbing his face with both hands. “But none of that will matter if I can’t pay the lease.”

“Well, how was the original Challengers Club financed?” Joanna asked.

Mac shrugged. “Donations. Fundraisers. Various grants. Loans.”

“You have good credit, you should be able to get a loan.”

“I doubt that,” MacGyver replied slowly.

“Why?” Joanna was now squinting at him.

Mac winced. “I sorta co-signed a loan for Jack Dalton’s business and Jack being…Jack…will probably default.”

“Oh, Mac,” Jo sighed, but quickly recovered. “What about the grants? Where did they come from?”

A slow smile tugged at MacGyver’s lips. “For the last several years…from the Phoenix Foundation.”

He pulled out his cell phone, ignoring Joanna’s raised eyebrow.

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Pete Thornton hissed into the phone.

“Is that how you answer all your calls?” Mac retorted.

“Ah, MacGyver. I should have known. What is it?”

“I got a favor to ask of you Pete!”

Posted by: Dragondog 7 July 2019 - 01:24 PM
Sorry this took so long

QUOTE

“You may be fine, but I’m not!” she exclaimed. “You talked about commitment and marriage. You even tried to propose to me! Yet you shut me out every chance you get! I know something is rattling around that great big brain of yours. Why can’t you share it with me?!”
Oh, here we go again rolleyes.gif

QUOTE

“Really?! You’re gonna throw the commitment issue in my face about this?!”

To Joanna’s credit, she kept her composure and looked up at him confidently, her words strong and sure.

“What I meant is that it’s a huge commitment for anyone.”

Mollified, MacGyver sat back down.
Yeah, I kinda assumed that's what she meant XD

QUOTE

“So, what’s our first step?” she asked.

“What do you mean ‘our’ first step?” he asked in confusion.

Joanna rolled her eyes before pinning him with an angry glare. “I thought you were done shutting me out!”

“You mean you’re on board with this?”

“How can I not be? I think it’s a great idea!”
Somehow this whole discussion is a roller coaster, and I think it's funny laugh.gif

QUOTE

“I thought you’d say that,” Vang smiled, “So I went ahead and talked some numbers. It’s really a very good deal considering everything that’s included.” The lawyer passed a piece of paper to MacGyver whose excitement suddenly faded. Joanna peered over his shoulder at the numbers and her stomach rebelled.
This is exactly what Animal Crossing players experience whenever visiting Tom Nook's store roller.gif

QUOTE
Every time he closed his eyes, numbers appeared in front of him along with big, fat dollar signs.
Me after math class laugh.gif

QUOTE
He pulled on jeans and a sweatshirt and soon found himself parked in Joanna’s driveway. He didn’t want to ring the doorbell and wake the entire household, so he dialed her cell phone with his.
For some reason I find it funny that he goes all the way over there before calling her XD

QUOTE

“I’m outside. Can we take?” he asked.
*talk. Sorry, I know I keep doing that, it's a reflex blush.gif

QUOTE

Mac winced. “I sorta co-signed a loan for Jack Dalton’s business and Jack being…Jack…will probably default.”
Ah yes, ol' Jack 'Homewrecker' Dalton...

Idk, it's been like 90 degrees, and I can't think, so my sense of humor is weird at the moment laugh.gif

QUOTE

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Pete Thornton hissed into the phone.

“Is that how you answer all your calls?” Mac retorted.
I actually do answer all my calls like this laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 July 2019 - 03:01 PM
Chapter 7: Realities


It was late Friday evening when MacGyver knocked on the door of the Thornton’s modest home in suburban Chicago.

“Mac, come on in!” Pete greeted him as he opened the door. The two friends exchanged quick hugs.

“How ya doin’ Pete?”

“Good, good,” the older man replied a bit distractedly. “I hope you brought a suit for tomorrow.”

“Yes, I brought a suit for tomorrow,” Mac parroted back indulgently.

“And you got a haircut?”

“Of course!”

“You still can’t lie, even to a blind man,” Pete grunted as he turned and led the way into the living room before settling in an oversized chair.

MacGyver followed, pleased to see how easily his friend managed to get around despite his lack of sight.

“Where’s Connie?” Mac asked as he seated himself on the couch.

“She decided to turn in early.”

“I still can’t believe you guys have been remarried for almost two years!”

“Yeah, how about that?” Pete laughed.

“Aw, come on! You guys were meant to be together. It only took a long divorce to help you figure it out,” MacGyver teased before turning the conversation to the reason he had come to Chicago in the first place.

“So, how did you get the board to agree to a meeting so quickly? And on a Saturday?”

Pete leaned back in his chair, arms crossed over his rotund belly and a satisfied grin on his face.

“Seems as if this old dog still has a few tricks left in him after all,” he chuckled. “Turns out a couple of the Chicago based board members were friends of mine back at the Foundation in Los Angeles. I called in a couple old favors and voila!”

MacGyver smiled at his friend and former boss. Pete was always happiest when he had a project to work on. In the past, that project had usually been MacGyver and now, in a way, it was again.

“Thanks again for taking care of all the red tape and stuff,” Mac said.

“Well, I know that’s not your forte…besides, I’ve been getting kinda bored rattling around this house day in and day out.”

“Connie’s not keeping you on your toes?”

“Oh, she tries…but it isn’t the same. You know?”

“Yeah, Pete, I know.”

The following morning, MacGyver guided Pete through the maze of corridors that made up the Phoenix Foundation. Upon entering a small conference room, they were greeted by a jovial middle-aged man wearing chinos and a crew neck sweater. Mac looked down ruefully at his suit but new he had to put his best foot forward if he was to get this grant. Belatedly, he regretted not getting a haircut.

“Pete, my friend! So good to see you again! What is this? Twice in one week? You do remember you’re retired, don’t you?!” the man laughed.

“Andy, thanks for agreeing to meet with us outside of normal hours,” Pete replied. “This is MacGyver.” He gestured toward his friend.

“Good to meet you,” Mac said, shaking Andy’s hand before they all took a seat at the large, oval table that dominated the room.

“Ah, your reputation precedes you, Mr. MacGyver! Pete speaks very highly of you, and after reviewing your file I can see that it is well deserved.”

“Thank you, sir,” Mac replied politely, feeling like a kid in the principal’s office waiting for the worst but hoping for the best.

“No need to be so formal! Call me ‘Andy’.”

MacGyver smiled and nodded his acquiescence.

“Well, then, I suppose you two want to get down to business.”

“Won’t the others be joining us?” Pete asked, his brow knit in confusion.

“Oh,” Andy waved his hand dismissively, apparently forgetting Pete couldn’t see it. “There’s no need for them,” he stated as he opened a portfolio and put on a pair of reading glasses. “All the appropriate paperwork has been submitted and at the weekly board meeting this past Wednesday it was unanimously agreed upon that—“

Mac tried to swallow but found his mouth had gone dry. This was it. One way or another.

“—The Phoenix Foundation will present the Challengers Boys and Girls Club with a grant for the requested amount with a review for renewal every six months.”

MacGyver let out a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding and suddenly realized his lungs were beginning to burn from lack of oxygen. He sat in stunned silence for a moment before reaching across the table to shake Andy’s hand in appreciation.

“Now then,” Andy continued, “We just need to go over the terms and conditions, have you sign a few more forms, and we can all get on with our weekend!”

XXXXX

Mac stood in his closed garage Sunday evening polishing the hood of the Nomad until he thought the paint would rub off. Frog sat at his feet, panting. A reminder that supper was long over-due.

“I haven’t forgotten about you, buddy,” MacGyver assured the dog. “We’ll eat soon.”

Lost in his thoughts, he hardly heard a car pull up his driveway, the drone of the motor suddenly cut off. Frog stood up and wagged his stubby tail. If Mac didn’t know any better he’d say the beast was even smiling.

“You can’t possibly know who it is,” he chided the canine while heading toward the service door. It was then that he saw Joanna heading toward the house.

“In here!” he called.

Upon hearing his voice she made a quick turn and headed to the garage. Her expression flat and unreadable.

“What’s up?” Mac asked. He thought she raised her eyebrows slightly.

“I thought you’d call when you got back.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry about that. I’ve had a lot on my mind,” he explained as he returned to polishing his car.

“You didn’t get the grant?” Jo asked quietly, a hint of pity in her voice.

“No, I got it,” he replied dully.

Silence reigned and he knew she was giving him the chance to open himself up and let her in on his thoughts. Usually the one to solve problems, he wasn’t used to sharing his concerns with others. But if he wanted a lasting relationship with Jo, or anyone else, he better start…now.

He sighed and sat down on the chrome bumper. “When I got home there was a message on my machine from Vang. He said there’s another offer on the building and if I can’t come up with the down payment this week I could lose it.”

He met her questioning gaze. “The grant money won’t be available until the first of the month. By then it will be too late.”

Joanna silently sat down beside him. “I’ve been saving—“

“No! I’m not gonna take that kind of money from you!”

“Why not? That’s what friends are for…to help you out.”

“I refuse to take advantage of my friends like that!”

“Then pretend you’re Jack Dalton!”

MacGyver hung his head and laughed wryly.

“Funny you should mention Jack. The first thing I did was try to call in my loan, but it’s so soon and his business is still in the red.”

“There’s gotta be a way,” Joanna murmured, putting a comforting hand on his knee.

“There is.” He stood up and turned to look at the car.

Joanna could remain stoic no longer as he saw fear then pain cloud her eyes.

“Please tell me you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking,” she pleaded.

“If I find the right buyer I’ll get enough for the initial rent and then some,” he told her matter-of-factly.

“But it was your grandfather’s!”

“I still have his cabin,” Mac shrugged. “Besides, I hardly drive it anymore. I’m just one guy, I don’t need two cars.”

“So just like that you’re gonna sell the Nomad?” Jo challenged.

“Yeah!” he snapped back. “It’s the only logical choice.”

“Well, then” Joanna declared, standing up and resting her hands on her hips. “I’ll buy it. You can even have visitation rights.”

“I told you I’m not gonna take your money.”

“No,” she retorted. “You said you weren’t going to let me give you the money. Consider this a business transaction as if I were any other classic car aficionado.”

Mac studied the rigid set of her jaw and the gleam in her eye that suggested she was spoiling for a fight. He might not win this one. Actually, he might not want to. He jammed his splayed fingers through his hair and groaned.

“Fine. You win! I’ll agree to take the loan you are offering, but I’m gonna pay you back every cent,” he promised.

“Take your time,” she said, flashing him a victorious grin.

Awed by the generous, stubborn, beautiful woman in front of him, Mac could contain his emotions no longer. He cupped her cheek with the palm of his hand and lowered his lips to hers in a silent, all-consuming expression of his gratitude.

XXXXX

The tickling in his nostrils roused MacGyver enough to realize two things. His nose was being assaulted by the spicy aroma of Indian food, and soft fingers were gently playing with the hair gathered at the nape of his neck. He raised his head from his desk to find Joanna standing beside him.

“How late is it?” he asked groggily.

“Too late to be eating that stuff,” she grimaced, pointing to the take-out containers before him.

“Then why’d you bring it?”

“I knew you’d want it,” she shrugged.

Ever since securing the building, Mac had been spending his days at the law firm and his evenings in his office at what was now known as Challengers. It was a well-known fact that he hated paperwork, and he had sorely underestimated the number of forms and reports that were required for his new venture. However, he didn’t mind it so much since he knew the eventual outcome would far outweigh his current misery. His ultimate goal was to have the club open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to provide safety and shelter to anyone who needed it. However, his immediate plans were much more modest. He planned to have the club open from mid-afternoon through early evening so kids who normally went home from school to empty houses or out on the streets would have a safe, friendly place to pass the time.

“How’s it going?” Joanna asked, nodding toward the papers scattered across his desk.

“Okay, I guess,” Mac answered before shoving a forkful of food into his mouth.

“You can’t go on like this,” Jo protested. “You’re gonna make yourself sick.” Mac stopped eating long enough to give her a pointed look, but she continued, “Surely you know someone who can at least help out until the club is up and running.”

Silence hung in the air as each considered the options.

“What about Cynthia Wilson?” Jo asked excitedly. “Didn’t you say that she and her husband started Challengers in Los Angeles from the ground up?”

MacGyver was about to protest, to tell Joanna that Cynthia had cut ties with Challengers, but it died on his lips. He remembered running into her in L.A. after Jack had his accident. She had happily stepped in and took charge of the club when it was short-handed. He could at least call her and maybe get some advice.
Three days later Mac parked the Nomad in front of a hangar at a small, municipal airport a few miles from the city where Jack had temporarily parked his almost-new (a term he preferred over ‘slightly-used’) Cessna after flying in from Los Angeles. Cynthia emerged from the building with Jack a few steps behind.

“Thanks so much for coming!” Mac greeted her with a hug. “How was your flight?”

“Oh, MacGyver! It is so good to see you again!” Cynthia exclaimed. “Jack is a wonderful pilot! He handled the turbulence so smoothly!”

Mac cocked an eyebrow at his friend, “Turbulence?”

“Well…uh…still getting used to the new controls. They’re pretty sensitive,” Jack explained with a half-hearted chuckle.

“Ah,” was all Mac could say.

The trio headed straight to Challengers and Mac’s friends were duly impressed upon entering the building.

“It’s absolutely perfect!” Cynthia gushed, her smile wide and eyes twinkling. MacGyver didn’t think he had seen her this enthused since Booker’s death.

“You’ve done good, Compadre!” Jack congratulated him with a slap on the back.

“You can use my office while you’re here,” Mac told Cynthia as he led them into a small room.

Cynthia looked at the papers and file folders strewn across the top of an old wooden desk and then at MacGyver.

“I was gonna clean up,” Mac replied sheepishly to her unvoiced observation, “But I didn’t want to get rid of anything you might need.”

The woman simply gave him a knowing smile and a nod. “Before I get started, perhaps I could freshen up a bit?”
“Of course!” Mac quickly agreed.

Minutes later they were standing in MacGyver’s living room where Joanna had just finished cleaning and now stood by his side.

“Cynthia Wilson, I’d like you to meet Joanna Fairfax,” MacGyver said as he introduced the two women.

Cynthia smiled and reached out, taking Jo’s hand in both of hers, giving it an approving squeeze. “So you’re the young woman who has stolen MacGyver’s heart,” she proclaimed rather than asked. “I can’t wait to get to know you better!”

Mac cleared his throat to get Joanna’s attention. “And of course you remember Jack Dalton.”

“A hard man to forget,” she answered with a warm smile that held a touch of humor as she offered her hand to the pilot.

“Ah, mon cheri! You’re looking lovely as ever!” Jack gallantly swept off his aviator’s hat, bowed, and kissed the back of her hand while Mac glared at him.

“Cynthia, you take the bed upstairs,” MacGyver directed after a few moments, “I’ll just take the couch.”

“What about me?” Jack asked.

“What about you?” Mac queried.

“Where am I supposed to sleep?”

“In a motel, Jack. There’s one real close and it even has free HBO.”

Jack dramatically placed both hands over his heart and staggered backwards with a gasp.

“You would exile your best friend, who, by the way, just did you a big favor, to a cold, lonely motel room?!”

MacGyver rolled his eyes, but Joanna was more sympathetic.

“Well, if it’s going to be a problem you could—“

“Sleep in the motel with all the other lonely people,” Mac asserted, cutting her off.

“Fine!” Jack huffed. “But you remember this the next time you think about asking me for another favor!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mac replied languidly as he started to close the door behind Jack.

“Wait a minute,” Jack retorted with his foot keeping the door open. “If you’re kickin’ me out of the nest I’m gonna need some wheels.”

MacGyver sighed and considered the Jeep and Nomad parked in the driveway. Grudgingly, he plucked a keychain from the brass sailboat nailed to the wall next to the door and dropped the keys into Jack’s outstretched hand.

“You can take my Jeep. But be careful!” Mac warned

“Gracias, amigo!” Jack grinned and fairly skipped to the car. “Hasta manana!” He called.

MacGyver dropped his chin to his chest and groaned. “I think I’ve just made a very big mistake.” Joanna stood next to him, rubbing his back in commiseration as they watched Jack back the Jeep out of the drive and peel off down the street.

The next morning, Mac drove Cynthia to the Challengers Club on his way to the law firm. He was surprised to find Jack there and waiting for them in the parking lot.

“What are you doing here?” he asked his friend. “I thought you’d be half way to L.A. by now.”
Jack shrugged. “What can I say? Business is slow so I thought I’d hang around for a few days. Maybe help out.”

This took Mac by surprise. He studied his friend’s face carefully, awaiting the left-eye-twitch that would indicate Jack was up to something more than just wanting to help out, but the tell-tale eye remained steady as a rock.

“I’m not lyin’ to you, Mac,” Jack confirmed. “No tricks, no schemes, nothin’. I just wanna help.”

“Sorry. Force of habit,” Mac grimaced before returning to his car and heading to work. In a way, it was nice to have Jack around again. He forgot how much he missed his conniving, scheming, lying, absolute best friend.

That evening MacGyver returned to Challengers to pick up Cynthia. To his surprise, his borrowed Jeep was still in the parking lot in the same place it had been this morning. Had Jack spent the entire day here? When Mac entered the building he stopped short. The place was so clean it practically sparkled. The game tables, including the air hockey table he had resurrected from a storage unit, had been placed strategically throughout the recreation area. The scent of pine and disinfectant hung in the air.

He entered his…er…Cynthia’s office and was once again shocked by the transformation. The papers that had covered the desk were gone, the furniture was neatly arranged, and Cynthia was working away on the computer as Jack leaned back in chair across from her.

“Wow! You guys have been busy!” Mac exclaimed.

Cynthia looked up at him with a gentle smile and Jack turned around, smiling widely.

“It really wasn’t that bad, MacGyver,” she assured him. “I just tidied up a bit.”

That was an understatement!

“And it looks like things are right on track for us to have the grand opening next week.”

“Couldn’t have done it without your help,” Mac told her. He felt a bit chagrinned that after all his hard work and sleepless nights Cynthia had managed to get the place in order in a matter of hours.

“Are you feeling all right?” Jack asked him skeptically.

“Sure. Why?”

“You look a little pale.”

“Guess I’m just tired. Nothing a good night’s sleep won’t cure.”






Posted by: Dragondog 11 July 2019 - 11:49 AM
QUOTE

“And you got a haircut?”

“Of course!”

“You still can’t lie, even to a blind man,” Pete grunted as he turned and led the way into the living room before settling in an oversized chair.
Pete knows Mac only too well tongue.gif

QUOTE
Belatedly, he regretted not getting a haircut.
No, Mac.... Don't lose yourself! laugh.gif

QUOTE

“Pete, my friend! So good to see you again! What is this? Twice in one week? You do remember you’re retired, don’t you?!” the man laughed.

“Andy, thanks for agreeing to meet with us outside of normal hours,” Pete replied. “This is MacGyver.” He gestured toward his friend.
I know it isn't, but for a moment it felt like Dana Elcar's first role on this show was meeting his second role XD MacGyver would get pretty freaked out if he thought he was seeing double, though XD

QUOTE

“Why not? That’s what friends are for…to help you out.”

“I refuse to take advantage of my friends like that!”

“Then pretend you’re Jack Dalton!”
Pfft laugh.gif

QUOTE

“There’s gotta be a way,” Joanna murmured, putting a comforting hand on his knee.

“There is.” He stood up and turned to look at the car.

Joanna could remain stoic no longer as he saw fear then pain cloud her eyes.

“Please tell me you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking,” she pleaded.
Oh no... sad.gif


QUOTE


“Well, then” Joanna declared, standing up and resting her hands on her hips. “I’ll buy it. You can even have visitation rights.”
Tbh I would be Joanna in this case laugh.gif

QUOTE

Awed by the generous, stubborn, beautiful woman in front of him, Mac could contain his emotions no longer. He cupped her cheek with the palm of his hand and lowered his lips to hers in a silent, all-consuming expression of his gratitude.
Well, that escalated quickly XD

QUOTE
“How late is it?” he asked groggily.

“Too late to be eating that stuff,” she grimaced, pointing to the take-out containers before him.

“Then why’d you bring it?”

“I knew you’d want it,” she shrugged.
I'm Mac in this situation XD

Now I crave lo mien...

Why'd I have to go and be allergic to MSG? sad.gif

Anyway, back to the story XD

QUOTE
MacGyver didn’t think he had seen her this enthused since Booker’s death.
I misunderstood the meaning of this at first roller.gif

QUOTE

“Ah, mon cheri! You’re looking lovely as ever!” Jack gallantly swept off his aviator’s hat, bowed, and kissed the back of her hand while Mac glared at him.
This is how good friendships end XD

QUOTE
“Cynthia, you take the bed upstairs,” MacGyver directed after a few moments, “I’ll just take the couch.”

“What about me?” Jack asked.

“What about you?” Mac queried.

“Where am I supposed to sleep?”

“In a motel, Jack. There’s one real close and it even has free HBO.”
What's the term for platonic friendzoning? Because that just happened XD I think it's my above comment, actually.

QUOTE
MacGyver rolled his eyes, but Joanna was more sympathetic.

“Well, if it’s going to be a problem you could—“

“Sleep in the motel with all the other lonely people,” Mac asserted, cutting her off.
Pfft, Mac XD XD XD

QUOTE

“Fine!” Jack huffed. “But you remember this the next time you think about asking me for another favor!”
Well you did flirt with his girl... XD

QUOTE

MacGyver sighed and considered the Jeep and Nomad parked in the driveway. Grudgingly, he plucked a keychain from the brass sailboat nailed to the wall next to the door and dropped the keys into Jack’s outstretched hand.

“You can take my Jeep. But be careful!” Mac warned

“Gracias, amigo!” Jack grinned and fairly skipped to the car. “Hasta manana!” He called.
...And they never saw Jack or the Jeep ever again... XD

QUOTE
In a way, it was nice to have Jack around again. He forgot how much he missed his conniving, scheming, lying, absolute best friend.
You know, in a way, Mac and Jack showcase the best friend relationship perfectly. They drive each other crazy. They would die for each other. Like siblings XD

QUOTE
He felt a bit chagrinned that after all his hard work and sleepless nights Cynthia had managed to get the place in order in a matter of hours.
It takes a woman's touch. And it is Cynthia XD

Okay, my new theory is that Jack is being a good boy because of Cynthia XD I may have a new ship.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 17 July 2019 - 05:06 AM
Chapter 8: Nemesis

MacGyver ran his finger around the stiffly starched collar of his tuxedo shirt as butterflies flitted wildly in his stomach. He never thought this day would ever come. The priest standing next to him put a steadying hand on his shoulder. Sam, as best man, stood on his other side with a wide grin on his face. Giving up on his collar, Mac ran his hand through his hair, trying to smooth it down to no avail. He had offered to get it cut for the wedding, but, after months of insisting he do just that, his bride had taken him to task saying she wanted to marry him and every single too-long hair on his head. The music started, and as Frog ambled down the aisle toward the alter with two modest gold rings tied to his collar with a white satin ribbon, MacGyver looked out over the small group of family, close friends, and colleagues who would witness this momentous occasion.

The tempo of the organ changed and his attention turned to the back of the church where she stood. Joanna. His Joanna. For now and for always. The nervousness he had felt only moments ago left his body in one, slow breath as he focused on the woman he loved walking toward him. Her steps were sure and her face serene as she walked down the long aisle on her father’s arm. At Mac’s request, she had foregone the traditional white gown and instead wore the outfit she had on the first time he saw her. A black hat with a red bow accessorized her slim black skirt, white blouse, and red blazer, along with the small bouquet of white calla lilies she carried.

Side by side they faced the priest and exchanged the sacred, age-old vows. When it came time for objections, they each looked playfully over their shoulder as if daring anyone to speak. Suddenly, the back door of the church crashed open and a familiar figure appeared.

“Starting the party without me, MacGyver? How uncivilized!”

“Murdoc!” Mac growled under his breath. He took a step forward but Jo’s firm hand on his bicep kept him in place.

“Apparently my invitation got lost in the mail,” the unwelcome guest said flippantly as he moved out of the shadows towards them.

MacGyver’s gaze immediately locked on to the semi-automatic weapon his nemesis held casually in his hands.

“Why don’t we take this outside, Murdoc,” Mac ground out as he tried to control the anger that seethed through his veins. “It’s me you want.” He felt Jo’s grip on his arm tighten in protest.

“What’s the matter, MacGyver?” Murdoc mocked. “Haven’t you ever heard of collateral damage?” And then chaos reigned.

Upon hearing Murdoc’s maniacal laughter, MacGyver pushed Joanna to the floor, shielding her with his body, as his ears were assaulted with the horrified cries and screams of their loved ones above the steady tattoo of the gun firing off sprays of bullets.

When all became quiet once more, Mac was acutely aware of Joanna’s erratic breathing beneath him even as his own heart pounded. He squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to look up and see the carnage that must be all around them. This was all his fault. He was responsible for protecting the people in his life from Murdoc and he had failed. He took a deep breath and—

MacGyver shot straight up in bed, gasping for air. His hair was damp and beads of sweat trickled down his face and neck. He began twisting the smooth gold band around his finger in what had now become a self-soothing gesture. He felt the mattress shift as Joanna laid a cool, comforting hand on his shoulder.

“Another nightmare?” she whispered, as she always did.

Mac nodded, knowing she could see even though dawn was a long way off.

“Wanna talk about it?” she asked, in the same gentle voice as she always did.

Mac shook his head. How could he tell her that his subconscious had turned their beautiful, special day into a no-holds-barred massacre?

“Okay,” she replied, smoothing his hair as she always did before lying down with her back to him.

He mirrored her motion, wrapped his arm around her waist, pulled her close and held her tight as he always did before drifting back into dreamless slumber.

When MacGyver awoke again, he was alone in bed, a shaft of sunlight streaming through the window. He yawned and stretched like a lazy, contented cat. He smiled when he heard the whir of the blender. Joanna was already fixing a protein shake for his breakfast. He scrubbed his face with his hands as he debated whether or not to get out of bed and take a shower. Before he could decide, he heard a knock at the door.

“Hi. Can I help you?” Jo asked amiably.

“Ah, you must be MacGyver’s new bride. I must say you look particularly fetching this morning.”

Mac’s blood ran cold as he immediately pulled on the jeans and sweatshirt he had discarded on the floor the night before and ran down the spiral staircase.

“Murdoc! You’re supposed to be dead!”

“Obviously I am quite alive and well,” the killer replied in his British accent, allowing an evil grin to curl his lips.

“But I watched you die! I saw your dead body in the morgue!”

“Do you always believe what you see, MacGyver? Science and technology these days is a wondrous thing if you have access to the right people and, fortunately for me, I do!”

By this time Mac had maneuvered himself so he was standing between Joanna and his long-time nemesis.

“What do you want, Murdoc?” he growled.

“Aside from killing you?”

Mac took that as a rhetorical question and remained silent.

“I wanted to come and wish you happy on your marriage.”

“You’re eight months too late,” Mac replied in a menacing tone.

“Well, it isn’t my fault I didn’t get an invitation now, is it?”

“Get out of here, Murdoc, and don’t come back.” Mac was growling again.

“Aw, you know I can’t do that, MacGyver. At least, not until I kill you.”

MacGyver glanced behind him and saw the surprise and fear in Jo’s eyes.

“Don’t worry. I’m not interested in her.”

“So what’s your plan? You gonna shoot me? Blow me up?”

Murdoc grinned slowly as he reached inside his jacket and pulled out an ornate blade and waved it in MacGyver’s face.

“I thought this time I would get up close and personal. I’m not letting you escape again.”

Mac sensed, rather than felt Joanna’s muscles tense and before he knew what was happening she bolted out from behind him to stand between him and Murdoc.

“Get out of my house now!” she shouted, pointing to the door.

“My, my. You picked a feisty one, MacGyver. Too bad you won’t be around to enjoy her!”

“I told you to get out!” Joanna yelled, planting the palms of her hands on Murdoc’s chest and pushing him hard.

Momentarily caught off-guard, Murdoc wavered a step before regaining his balance and shoving her to the floor.

“You said you were gonna leave her alone!” Mac protested as he knelt beside Jo to ensure she was unharmed.

“Well, she started it,” Murdoc replied like a petulant child. “Come now, MacGyver. Let’s get on with it. I have places to go, people to see.”

Mac rose, pulling Joanna up with him and once again placing her behind him as they slowly walked backward into the living room, Mac’s eyes frantically searching for a weapon.

Murdoc began to raise the knife. “Time’s up, MacGyver,” he pronounced with a victorious gleam in his eye.

The next few seconds played out before Mac’s eyes in slow motion. Joanna screamed and once again stepped out from the shelter of his body just as Murdoc waved the knife not to stab, but to slash into MacGyver’s flesh, accidentally connecting with Joanna’s jugular instead. She immediately crumpled to the floor, blood pooling around her head. Mac collapsed beside her, searching frantically for a pulse, but there was none.

“Nooooo!!” he cried, before holding her lifeless body close to him and showering her pale face with gentle kisses. Leaning back on his heels he began to sob uncontrollably and when he looked up again, Murdoc was gone.

XXXXX

Somehow MacGyver managed to sleepwalk through the next few days. A steady stream of friends would call or drop by to offer their condolences. He took the phone off the hook and stopped answering the door after the first day. He spent hours scrubbing Joanna’s blood from the carpet. The stain was gone, but nothing could erase the memory. Why hadn’t Murdoc killed him when he had been helplessly grieving over Jo’s body? Thrust the blade that had killed his wife into his own back. Mac would much rather have died with her than continue to live without her. His worst nightmare had come true but he couldn’t decide which was crueler: Not acting on his feelings for Joanna until they only had a short time to spend together, or allowing himself to have those feelings in the first place.

The day of the funeral, a brisk March wind buffeted the mourners who had gathered at the gravesite for one last farewell. Believing she would never marry, Joanna had arranged to be buried next to the plots of her parents’ eventual entombment. MacGyver had no idea where his remains would eventually end up. Even in death they would not be reunited. After one final, heart-felt prayer, the small group hurriedly dispersed to the relative warmth of their waiting vehicles. Mac saw Pete and Sam approaching so he began walking the opposite way, a silent signal that he wanted to be left alone. Suddenly, Murdoc stepped out from behind a large oak tree.

“What are you doing here, Murdoc,” Mac demanded.

“Can’t a gentleman come and pay his respects?”

“You’re no gentleman,” MacGyver rounded on the man. “You killed her!”

“It truly was an accident,” Murdoc said, almost apologetically. “I’ve been watching you two for some time now and I almost kind of, sort of, liked her.”

Mac grunted and kept walking.

“So how have you been passing your time?”

“None of your business.”

“If I were you, I would be plotting ways to avenge my wife’s murder.”

MacGyver stopped walking and glared at Murdoc. “How? Pistols at dawn?”

“No, no. Not your style. I pegged you for a shoot-out at high noon type of guy. But then again, you don’t care to play with guns, do you?”

“I might be persuaded to make an exception,” Mac murmured causing Murdoc to chuckle.

“Really MacGyver, when, where, and how would you like to die? You see, I’m really quite flexible and I do aim to please.”

“Why don’t you just shoot me now and get it over with?”

“It’s not that simple anymore. You see, I have to decide which would amuse me more. A dead MacGyver, or a grieving one.”

“A dead man can’t kill you,” Mac pointed out.

“Well, there is that. And I have made it my life’s goal to see you to your grave. For once I must agree with you, let’s be done with it here and now.”

Murdoc reached into his coat lining and pulled out two pistols.

“You’re a walking arsenal, aren’t you?” Mac observed wryly. “Do you have a machete duct taped to your leg?”

“No,” Murdoc replied thoughtfully. “But that isn’t a bad idea. Now quit stalling and choose a weapon.”

With hesitant steps and a heavy heart, MacGyver approached Murdoc and took one of the offered guns. He tested its weight and balance. It felt good. Real good. Too good. All these years he had fought against guns, and now he was going to use one to terminate his immortal enemy. Or, if he was lucky, Murdoc’s bullet would kill him first.

So this was it. There, in a deserted section of the cemetery, one or both of them would die, killed by the other’s hand. They counted their paces, turned, and leveled their guns at each other. Looking Murdoc straight in the eye, MacGyver slowly applied pressure to the trigger. Millimeter by millimeter, click by click he came closer to firing the bullet until finally, one last squeeze would release the round. He closed his eyes, gave the trigger one final press, and waited for a shot that never came.

XXXXX

MacGyver’s head pounded, his throat was dry, and every muscle in his body ached. He slowly opened his eyes to find himself staring at a ceiling. His ceiling. He moaned.

“He’s coming out of it!” a female voice said excitedly.

“Thank God,” another female voice replied, this one sounding relieved.

The voices were familiar, but he couldn’t quite place them. He tried to lift his head and sit up, but his weakened body refused to obey and he slumped back onto the sofa cushion.

“Here, you need to drink something,” the second voice said.

Mac lifted his head again, this time more slowly and, with the support of a gentle hand, took a sip of water from the glass held out to him. Suddenly, he was so thirsty he couldn’t get enough. He began to greedily gulp the precious liquid until it was suddenly pulled away.

“Not too much right away,” he was told.

He turned his head to find himself looking into the most beautiful pair of sable brown eyes he had ever seen. Eyes he knew and loved from the very first time he had seen them.

“Jo,” he croaked. “I thought you got…I saw you get…killed!” His eyes welled with tears. She was alive! It had all been a dream! A cruel, heartbreaking rendering of his greatest fear played out in his subconscious.

Joanna smiled softly as she gently wiped his face with a cool, damp cloth.

“What time is it?” he rasped.

“It’s late. And now that your fever has broken you need to rest.”

“But—“

“We’ll talk about it tomorrow,” Jo insisted before smoothing back his hair and walking away. He yearned to reach out to her. To hold her tight and never let go. But his arms were too weak.

The next morning MacGyver sat on the couch carefully spooning warm, clear broth into his mouth. Joanna had placed a napkin under his chin as if he were a tot. In all honesty, he felt as weak as a newborn babe. When his bowl was empty, Jo took it from him and placed it on the coffee table before settling next to him on the couch, apparently ready to answer all the questions he had. He decided to start with the basics.

“What day is it?” he asked, his voice stronger now.

“It’s Saturday. You’ve been asleep for almost forty-eight hours.”

His heart skipped a beat. He had slept for two whole days?

“You’ve had a bad case of the flu,” Jo explained before he could even ask. At least that accounted for his physical state.

“Who was here with you when I woke up last night?”

“Cynthia. She called me when your fevered spiked. She thought you were becoming delirious.”

“Was I?”

“Depends on who you ask,” Jo teased.

Panic set in as things began to fall into place. “What about Challengers? The grand opening is soon!”

“Relax. Everything is fine. In fact, we’re ahead of schedule. Cynthia said that with you out of the way she was able to get a lot more work done. And Jack’s been a big help as well. We all took turns taking care of you.”

“When is it? The grand opening?” he asked.

“A week from tomorrow,” Jo replied.

Mac’s flu-fogged brain tried to do some calculations but failed miserably.

“What date is that?” he asked.

“The twenty-third. Why?”

“March twenty-third?” His birthday.

“Yeah, is there a problem?” Jo asked cautiously.

“No…I just…no,” he shook his head.

“Can I ask some questions now?” she queried.

“Sure.”

“Tell me about that dream you had.”

“That’s not a question.”

“Close enough,” she said with a shrug and he chuckled.

“It was nothing,” he told her, trying to protect her from the gruesome memory.

“Last night you said you thought I was dead! To me that is not ‘nothing’!”

Mac took a deep breath and related the details of his fevered dream. By the time he was done, her eyes glistened with unshed tears. She had moved closer to him as he told his tale and now rested her head on his shoulder.

“I’m so sorry you had to go through that,” she whispered huskily.

He kissed the top of her head but didn’t respond. When the silence reached an uncomfortable level, she raised her head and caught his eye.

“What aren’t you telling me?” she asked. “And don’t say it’s nothing.”

MacGyver gazed unseeingly across the room. “I willingly used a gun to try and kill someone,” he said flatly, hardly recognizing the sound of his own voice. “I betrayed everything I believe in, everything I fight against!”

“Mac, it was only a dream,” Jo responded firmly.

“But if I was willing to do that in a dream, a part of me must be willing to do it in real life. Have I just been living a lie all these years? Am I a hypocrite?”

“Angus, listen to me,” Joanna instructed in her firm teacher voice. “You are not a hypocrite and never could be. You have no control over your dreams or your actions in them, but in real life you do have control. You have morals and values and make choices accordingly. You are the same man you were before you had that dream and I, for one, am pleased that you wished to avenge me.”

Mac felt a weight lift from his chest. She was right. He was in control. And he would do anything for her.

“One more thing,” she prompted, looking like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary. “You said in your dream we were married. What was it like?”

His heart swelled. “From what I could tell, it was pretty darn amazing.”









Posted by: Dragondog 18 July 2019 - 08:31 AM
QUOTE
Chapter 8: Nemesis




QUOTE
MacGyver ran his finger around the stiffly starched collar of his tuxedo shirt as butterflies flitted wildly in his stomach. He never thought this day would ever come. The priest standing next to him put a steadying hand on his shoulder. Sam, as best man, stood on his other side with a wide grin on his face.
Dream sequence. Calling it now tongue.gif

QUOTE
as Frog ambled down the aisle toward the alter with two modest gold rings tied to his collar with a white satin ribbon,
That's actually a really cute idea XD

QUOTE
“Starting the party without me, MacGyver? How uncivilized!”

“Murdoc!” Mac growled under his breath. He took a step forward but Jo’s firm hand on his bicep kept him in place.
Definitely a dream. Er, a nightmare XD

QUOTE

“Apparently my invitation got lost in the mail,” the unwelcome guest said flippantly as he moved out of the shadows towards them.
Calm down, Maleficent... tongue.gif

QUOTE
MacGyver shot straight up in bed, gasping for air.
Called it. I called that stuff tongue.gif

QUOTE
He felt the mattress shift as Joanna laid a cool, comforting hand on his shoulder.
Is this just a thing with them now?

QUOTE

“Ah, you must be MacGyver’s new bride. I must say you look particularly fetching this morning.”
Wait are they... actually married? XD

QUOTE

“Murdoc! You’re supposed to be dead!”
I really don't think that's Murdoc tongue.gif

QUOTE

“Obviously I am quite alive and well,” the killer replied in his British accent, allowing an evil grin to curl his lips.
Okay, I'm allowed to be wrong once, right?

I'm just assuming this is another nightmare?

QUOTE

“Well, she started it,” Murdoc replied like a petulant child.
Why am I laughing? XD XD XD

QUOTE
Mac collapsed beside her, searching frantically for a pulse, but there was none.
This is definitely a dream, right?

QUOTE
Somehow MacGyver managed to sleepwalk through the next few days. A steady stream of friends would call or drop by to offer their condolences.
IS THIS A DREAM OR NOT?!

QUOTE
“I’ve been watching you two for some time now and I almost kind of, sort of, liked her.”
Ew.

QUOTE

“If I were you, I would be plotting ways to avenge my wife’s murder.”
Last time I checked, you were in hell.

QUOTE
With hesitant steps and a heavy heart, MacGyver approached Murdoc and took one of the offered guns. He tested its weight and balance. It felt good. Real good. Too good. All these years he had fought against guns, and now he was going to use one to terminate his immortal enemy. Or, if he was lucky, Murdoc’s bullet would kill him first.

So this was it. There, in a deserted section of the cemetery, one or both of them would die, killed by the other’s hand. They counted their paces, turned, and leveled their guns at each other. Looking Murdoc straight in the eye, MacGyver slowly applied pressure to the trigger. Millimeter by millimeter, click by click he came closer to firing the bullet until finally, one last squeeze would release the round. He closed his eyes, gave the trigger one final press, and waited for a shot that never came.
This whole scene is a Hamilton song XD

QUOTE

MacGyver’s head pounded, his throat was dry, and every muscle in his body ached. He slowly opened his eyes to find himself staring at a ceiling. His ceiling. He moaned.
I knew it. It was a dream. I called it.

Btw, you almost made me hate you, Jas XD XD XD

QUOTE


“He’s coming out of it!” a female voice said excitedly.

“Thank God,” another female voice replied, this one sounding relieved.
Oh yeah, last chapter he was strangely pale and tired, right?

I wonder if this will convince him to propose again.

At least we'll actually see the wedding, instead of "It happened 8 months ago" XD

QUOTE
The next morning MacGyver sat on the couch carefully spooning
I misunderstood what "spooning" meant in this sentence roller.gif

QUOTE

“One more thing,” she prompted, looking like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary. “You said in your dream we were married. What was it like?”

His heart swelled. “From what I could tell, it was pretty darn amazing.”
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Posted by: uniquelyjas 18 July 2019 - 09:13 AM
I thought of you as soon as I posted this chapter, Dragondog. Had you goin' there for a while, didn't I?? That was my whole goal;) Have to try and find ways to keep Murdoc around considering I killed him off "for real". Perhaps not the best decision on my part!

Posted by: Dragondog 18 July 2019 - 06:03 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 18 July 2019 - 12:13 PM)
I thought of you as soon as I posted this chapter, Dragondog. Had you goin' there for a while, didn't I?? That was my whole goal;) Have to try and find ways to keep Murdoc around considering I killed him off "for real". Perhaps not the best decision on my part!

I was gonna say, did Helman perform some arcane pagan ceremony or something? laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 26 July 2019 - 04:34 PM
I tried to post this earlier in the week, but I'm on vacation and have a really weak wi-fi signal. Enjoy!!


Chapter 9: Grand Opening

MacGyver recovered rapidly once his fever broke. Against Joanna’s protests that he needed more rest, he went into the law firm Monday morning to hand in his resignation and finish up his assigned work. Throughout the week, he was plagued with anxiety about the date of Challengers grand opening. Was it just a coincidence that it was scheduled on his birthday? Both Jack and Pete knew when his birthday was, and they both knew how he felt about celebrating it, especially publicly, but he couldn’t recall ever telling Joanna. Not that it was some big secret, it had just never come up. He made sure to keep a keen eye on his friends to detect any changes in behavior or attitude, especially around him, that might tip him off that they were planning something but found none. Either they were really good actors, or he was losing his edge, or it really was just a coincidence. Oddly enough, that last thought came with a pang of disappointment which he quickly quelled.

Sunday morning MacGyver pulled the Nomad into the Challengers parking lot to find Joanna’s Chevy and his Jeep already there along with a handful of cars he didn’t recognize. He smiled when he spotted a nondescript sedan with Illinois plates. Pete and Connie had driven up for the big day. He walked into the center to find it humming with activity. Cynthia looked up and greeted him from the registration table where she was giving last minute instructions to Rosie Garcia and her son, Raul.

“Look, MacGyver!” the young teen said, holding a piece of paper in front of Mac’s face so close that it tickled his nose, “I’m your first official member!”

“All right!” Mac exclaimed, giving Raul a high five before walking further into the room.

The large recreation area was decorated with colorful balloons and crepe paper streamers. Jack appeared to be in charge of a group of adults and children who were hanging hand-painted banners encouraging kids to stay in school and away from drugs, gangs, and violence. Pete sat on a worn couch next to a young Hispanic girl who was jabbering away. Apparently he found her amusing if his wide grin was any indication. At the far end of the room, Connie and Joanna fussed over the refreshment table which included a big bowl of punch and a large sheet cake.

“Wow! Things are really coming together,” Mac observed as he approached the two women. He nonchalantly glanced at the writing on the cake which simply said ‘Welcome to Challengers’. He frowned, but then again, what had he been expecting? He certainly didn’t want it to say ‘Happy Birthday, Mac!’

“Mac?” Joanna’s voice cut through his thoughts. “You okay?”

“Yeah, just a little overwhelmed, I guess.”

Joanna smiled at him warmly as their gazes locked. All thoughts of his birthday fled.

“You can thank Jack and Cynthia for that,” she told him. “They made up informational flyers promoting the club and asking for volunteers and posted them all over the neighborhood. Apparently the community was thirsting for a place like this.”

The doors opened to the public at noon, and the following hours whizzed by for MacGyver. A steady stream of people came and went. Most were simply curious while others, like some former Challengers Academy students, were eager to register. Still others came for the free food. Mac spent the afternoon shaking hands and speaking with the visitors, engaging in friendly games of pool and air hockey, and evening demonstrating some of the exercise equipment that was available. It wasn’t until early evening, after the final guests left and he locked the door behind them, that he noticed Joanna was nowhere to be found.

“Oh, she went home with a headache a while ago,” Connie informed him when asked about Jo’s whereabouts.

“Why didn’t she tell me?” he muttered.

Connie smiled brightly. “She probably didn’t want to worry you and spoil the big day.”

“Yeah, sure,” he replied softly.

“And I’m afraid it’s time for Pete and me to head home as well,” Connie continued. “I’d like to stay and help clean up, but Sunday evening traffic can be so insufferable.”

“Don’t worry about it. I can take it from here,” he assured her as he hugged her goodbye. “You just drive safe, okay?”

Mac then turned to Pete who now stood next to his wife. He reached out and shook his friend’s hand before the two embraced.

“Congratulations, Mac,” Pete said. “If the decibel level in the place this afternoon was any indication, Challengers is sure to be an absolute success!”

After the Thornton’s left, MacGyver rolled up the sleeves of his sweater and began collecting paper plates, cups, and other trash that had been strewn about. He was just about to take the garbage container out to the dumpster when Cynthia appeared at his side, placing a gentle hand on his forearm.

“Why don’t you go on home,” she suggested. “Jack and I can take care of this.”

Mac glanced across the room to where his friend was dismantling the decorations and felt a twinge of guilt.

“Naw, you guys did all the set up earlier, the least I can do is stick around and help clean up,” Mac protested.

“Look,” Cynthia continued, “Tomorrow is your first official day as director of the Challengers Club. Go home and relax while you still can.”

“I’d do what she says,” Jack called from where he was sweeping up streamers. “Run like the wind before she changes her mind!”

MacGyver knew when he was beat. “All right, I’ll go home. But promise you won’t stay too late. I can take care of what’s left in the morning.”

“It’s a deal,” she said with a smile. “And don’t worry, Jack will bring me back to your place when we’re done.”

Mac thanked his friends one last time before heading out into the night. As he pulled the Nomad into his driveway, he reached up to press the garage door remote control he kept on the visor, but it wasn’t there. He put the car in Park and let the engine idle as he ran his hand over the seat, the floor, and under the seat with no luck. With a suppressed groan he turned off the ignition and headed to the townhouse. He’d look again tomorrow. As he unlocked his front door he noticed a warm glow coming from the corner of his living room. Had he turned on a lamp before he left? Or did he forget to turn it off? Good grief, he knew he was getting older, but was he also getting senile? Wasn’t he still too young for that? The door swung open and he crossed the threshold to find Joanna sitting at his kitchen table, smiling coyly, his Team USA hockey jersey hanging loosely on her frame. Did she have any idea how incredibly attractive she was to him when she wore his clothes? Tired, stunned, and confused at the sight before him, he struggled to find an appropriate greeting.

“I thought you had a headache?” he blurted out before squeezing his eyes shut at the blunt greeting.

She laughed lightly, almost playfully. “That was just an excuse so I could sneak out of the party early.”

“Where’s your car?” he asked, before mentally whacking himself upside the head for this stupid line of questioning.

“In the garage.”

His face must have gone as blank as his mind because she kept talking.

“Earlier today Jack gave me the door remote from the Jeep and then took the one out of the Nomad so I could surprise you,” she explained as she stood up and slowly walked towards him.

MacGyver swallowed hard, his eyes glued on the woman now standing in front of him. Was she trying to seduce him? But they had talked about this and had an agreement. Joanna may be a lot of things, but she wasn’t a tease. Belatedly he saw the frown on her face.

“I hope you don’t mind that I’m wearing this,” she said uncertainly, taking a step back and plucking at the silky fabric. “I spilled some punch on my sweater earlier and wanted to rinse it out as soon as possible.”

It was then that he noticed she still wore her jeans and loafers from the grand opening and he suddenly became aware of Frog snoring from underneath the coffee table, the scent of chocolate permeating the air, and a scrumptious looking dessert sitting on the kitchen counter.

“Is that what I think it is?” he asked with a grin as his good senses returned.

Joanna grinned back. “If you think it’s my famous chocolate-hazelnut cake, then yes it is.” She then set to work fetching plates, forks, and glasses of milk.

“What’s the occasion?” he asked.

“As if you don’t know,” she replied in a give-me-a-break tone of voice as she cut a piece of cake and set it in front of him.

“How did you find out?”

“Jack told me,” she shrugged. “So how did you like your present?”

“It’s delicious,” he mumbled around a mouthful of cake.

“I meant the present at Challengers.”

“What present?” He was definitely getting senile.

“Exactly!” she exclaimed. “Jack wanted to use the grand opening as a cover for a surprise party, but Pete managed to talk him out of it.”

“So let me get this straight. My birthday present was to not have a party?”

Joanna nodded. “Unless you count this,” she nodded toward their plates. “I hope you don’t mind.”

The concerned look on her face just about broke his heart.

“I think this is just about the best birthday I’ve ever had,” he assured her. “By the way, did I ever tell you about the time Pete threw a surprise party for me at Phoenix?”

Having just taken a big bite of cake, Jo simply shook her head.

Mac took a long swig of milk before settling into his story. “I’d been working with Pete for about seven years or so. I had just gotten back from a mission and the only reason I even survived it was just dumb luck. Jack disguised himself and ‘kidnapped’ me from my apartment. I was so jetlagged I didn’t even bother fighting back. Of course, we ended up at Phoenix where all my friends and co-workers were waiting to surprise me. I think the funniest part of the whole night was seeing Pete in a party hat.”

Joanna giggled at that as she got up and cleared away their dishes and together they headed for the couch. Mac plopped down wearily, pulling Jo down next to him and putting his arms around her loosely before he continued.

“So then, instead of presents, everyone started telling stories about how I had helped them or rescued them. Even people who couldn’t be there had sent mementoes to remind me of them and how we had met.” Here he stopped and gazed blankly across the room. “Then I asked Pete to draw up resignation papers for me,” he said flatly.

“What?!” Joanna slipped out of his grasp and turned towards him, her eyes wide, her jaw slack. The sight would have normally made Mac chuckle, but tonight he was too caught up in his memories.

“I had had it, Jo,” he started to explain. “Every person in that room reminded me of a time I had gotten shot at, blown up, kidnapped…I just wanted to be done with it. To go home to Minnesota and lead a normal life. Maybe get married and have a kid.”

“What made you change your mind?” she asked softly, her brown eyes full of sympathy.

Mac sighed. “I realized that it was all those crazy, dangerous assignments that had brought these people into my life, and I would’ve missed out on a lot of love and friendship if I hadn’t been there to help them out. I didn’t want that to end.”

“Well I, for one, am glad you decided to stay,” Jo replied with a playful grin.

“And why is that?” he smiled back.

“Because if you had resigned back then, I never would have met you.”

“Hmmm, and that would have been the worst tragedy of all,” Mac mused as he leaned in close, intending to kiss her for all he was worth. Unfortunately, as with so many of his best laid plans from over the years, he had to quickly abort the idea as Cynthia came walking through the front door.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to intrude,” she apologized. “It’s just that we got everything cleaned up and…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Mac admonished as he quickly got to his feet and gave his friend a hug. “It’s our fault. I guess we lost track of the time.”

“Yeah,” Joanna agreed, also rising. “I should really be going anyway. I’m sure my sweater’s dry by now.”

“Actually, I’m glad you’re both here. There’s something I’d like to discuss with you,” Cynthia said, suddenly seeming nervous and unsure of herself.

“What’s going on, Cynthia?” MacGyver asked once all three of them were seated at his kitchen table.

Cynthia reached out and put her small, soft hand over Mac’s larger one. “First of all, I want you to know what a wonderful time I’ve had helping get Challengers off the ground. Rattling around that old, empty house in Los Angeles made me forget how much I enjoy sinking my teeth into a project and feeling that my actions are making a difference. I’ve felt so lonely and useless lately, and it felt so good to be needed again.”

“Well, I sure couldn’t have done all this without you,” Mac confided.

“That brings me to my second point,” Cynthia continued with more confidence. “I’d really like to stay and be a part of Challengers. Permanently.”

MacGyver opened his mouth to respond, but his friend cut him off.

“I know money’s tight right now, but I have some saved up. Jack has been helping me apartment hunt in our spare time and I found a furnished efficiency that would suit me just fine. Do you think you could find a way to keep me on?”

Instead of answering the question, Mac turned to Joanna. “Could you please cut this lady a piece of birthday cake,” he instructed in his most serious tone. “She’s gonna need all the strength she can get if she’s going to be the co-director of the Challengers Club!”





Posted by: Dragondog 28 July 2019 - 05:18 PM
Sorry it took me so long, but here's my review:


QUOTE

“Oh, she went home with a headache a while ago,” Connie informed him when asked about Jo’s whereabouts.

“Why didn’t she tell me?” he muttered.

Connie smiled brightly. “She probably didn’t want to worry you and spoil the big day.”

“Yeah, sure,” he replied softly.
I feel she made that up XD

QUOTE

“And I’m afraid it’s time for Pete and me to head home as well,” Connie continued. “I’d like to stay and help clean up, but Sunday evening traffic can be so insufferable.”
She may or may not be telling the truth with that one...

QUOTE

“Why don’t you go on home,” she suggested. “Jack and I can take care of this.”
Cynthia and Jack are totally in on this too XD

I'm just saying there's no way everyone forgot Mac's birthday. They're totally trying to send him home to be with Joanna, who's not sick XD

QUOTE
Did she have any idea how incredibly attractive she was to him when she wore his clothes?
I'm more interested in why she's wearing his clothes laugh.gif

QUOTE
Tired, stunned, and confused at the sight before him, he struggled to find an appropriate greeting.

“I thought you had a headache?” he blurted out before squeezing his eyes shut at the blunt greeting.
My social skills laugh.gif

QUOTE

“Where’s your car?” he asked, before mentally whacking himself upside the head for this stupid line of questioning.
About my social skills...

QUOTE

“I hope you don’t mind that I’m wearing this,” she said uncertainly, taking a step back and plucking at the silky fabric. “I spilled some punch on my sweater earlier and wanted to rinse it out as soon as possible.”
Oh, okay, that makes more sense smile.gif

QUOTE

Joanna grinned back. “If you think it’s my famous chocolate-hazelnut cake, then yes it is.”
I want. I really want drool.gif

QUOTE

“What’s the occasion?” he asked.
dry.gif

QUOTE

Joanna nodded. “Unless you count this,” she nodded toward their plates. “I hope you don’t mind.”

The concerned look on her face just about broke his heart.
How do these two manage to be so adorable?!

QUOTE

“Hmmm, and that would have been the worst tragedy of all,” Mac mused as he leaned in close, intending to kiss her for all he was worth. Unfortunately, as with so many of his best laid plans from over the years, he had to quickly abort the idea as Cynthia came walking through the front door.
Nice going, Cynthia...

Lol, ABORT MISSION tongue.gif

I really feel like Jack x Cynthia is going to be a thing here tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 1 August 2019 - 06:05 AM
Chapter 10: Reunited: Part 1

MacGyver couldn’t believe that Challengers had been officially open for over a week already. New members continued to join daily as did community volunteers. Cynthia had the office running like a well-oiled machine and he easily fell into the familiar role of mentor, troubleshooter, and jack-of-all-trades except when it came to paperwork. And speaking of Jack, he had found ways to make himself quietly useful, which was a bit odd for Jack Dalton. Mac knew that one day he’d turn around and his friend would be gone, but for now he’d take whatever help he could get. Even Frog had found a place in his master’s new venture. Mac had taken the canine to the club the second day it was open to save Charlie from the dog’s cries if Mac didn’t get home on schedule. Since then, every morning found the pooch panting excitedly by the front door as MacGyver prepared to leave for the day. Before he knew it, Frog had taken over a corner at Challengers complete with a doggie bed, blanket, food and water bowls, and toys. The kids loved him and he had quickly become somewhat of a mascot. Mac was, however, concerned about Joanna. She still worked full time at the law firm but was at Challengers every evening tutoring or supervising the ever-growing group of teens and adolescents. While he appreciated her help and commitment, he didn’t want her taking on too much. But again, he chose to remain silent, realizing that this was about the only time they got to spend together. That was going to have to change, and Cynthia saw to it that it would happen tonight. She had made MacGyver promise to pick up Joanna, go home early, and eat a proper dinner.

Swallowing the last bite of the zucchini lasagna Jo had prepared for them, he reached across his narrow kitchen table and took her hand, idly playing with her fingers.

“This is nice,” he commented softly. “Just you, me, and food.”

Jo chuckled lightly. “Oddly enough, I know what you mean. Can you believe that for the first time since we met we’re not working together all day long?”

“Yeah,” he replied lowly as he weaved his fingers through hers. “I’ve missed you.”

She looked up shyly, her brown eyes full of questions as they both realized they could no longer hide behind titles like ‘co-worker’ and ‘friend’. They were in a full-fledged relationship and they were going to have to find ways to make it work now that life had gotten between them. Both lost in their thoughts, they started when Jack knocked on the door before letting himself in.

“Oops! I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he said a bit belatedly causing Mac and Jo to quickly refocus on the present moment.

“You? Interrupt? Never!” Mac replied sarcastically as he prepared to throw Jack out. He finally had an entire evening alone with Joanna and no one was going to take it from him!

“Well, ya see,” Jack began as he deftly slipped past MacGyver and into the room, “I was planning on leaving tomorrow and wanted to drop off your Jeep—“

“Then don’t let me keep you,” Mac cut him off, putting a guiding hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“When I found this!” Jack finished in a rush. He held a rumpled piece of paper up to MacGyver’s face.

“What is it?” Mac scowled as Joanna came to take a look as well.

“It’s an invitation to our high school reunion. I found it crushed up in your glove compartment.”

MacGyver’s eyes narrowed and his voice became dangerously low. “And just what, exactly, were you doing digging around in my glove compartment?”

“Ummm, looking for a tire pressure gauge?” His left eye twitched furiously.

“Jaaack!”

“All right, all right! I was looking for your registration,” he confessed dejectedly.

Mac continued to glare at him.
“Ya see, I was driving over to Challengers, minding my own business—“

“Jack!”

“Fine! I got pulled over for speeding. Okay?!”

Mac blew out a sigh and threw up his hands in resignation.

“Don’t worry about it. The cop was a lady. A real cute number and I managed to talk her into letting me off with just a warning. Anyway, that’s when I found this,” he shook the paper for emphasis. “Why didn’t you tell me about it? And more importantly, why didn’t I get one?”

“You probably didn’t get one because they couldn’t find you,” Mac snarled.

“Well, it’s generally best if people don’t know exactly where to reach me,” Jack murmured, half to himself. “But why didn’t you say anything?”

“I honestly forgot all about it,” MacGyver replied, his voice and temper returning to normal. “It’s not even time for our class reunion.”

“So when did that ever stop Mission City High from having a party?” Jack countered. “Are you going?”

“No, I’m not going. Would I have wadded up the invitation and tossed it in my glove compartment if I planned on going?!”

“Afraid an ex-girlfriend might try to kill you again?” Jack laughed.

For the first time since this pointless conversation began, MacGyver became aware of Joanna standing next to him. She cleared her throat and cocked her eyebrow.

“No, Jack,” Mac replied firmly. “I just don’t have any desire to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in almost 30 years. Besides, I got that so long ago it’s probably too late anyway.”

“Oh, contraire, Kemosabe! According to the invitation, it’s this weekend. We still have time.”

“We?”

“Yeah! You and me, amigo! It’ll be a blast!”

Mac scrambled for a logical response.

“We can’t go because I didn’t RSVP,” he stated.

Jack waved off the excuse. “Nobody RSVP’s anymore! I’m sure there’ll be enough food for everyone. We can be the surprise guests!”

MacGyver caught his friend’s twinkling eyes and his resolve began to melt.

“But this is a busy time at Challengers and it’s a pretty long drive…”

“No problemo. We can fly up in my plane! Just promise me you’ll think about it! I’ll see ya tomorrow!” Jack called as he headed for the door.

“Hey, wait! What about the keys to my Jeep?”

“I’ll still need them if I’m staying ‘til the weekend,” Jack replied flippantly as he closed the door behind him.

Mac turned with a sigh to Joanna only to find her brow furrowed in thought.

“Maybe you should go with Jack,” she suggested. “It might be fun.”

“No. No way,” MacGyver protested. “I am not going anywhere, much less to my class reunion, with Jack! If I have a weekend away from Challengers I’m gonna spend it with you.” He looped his arms around her waist and an unbidden plan clicked in his brain.

“On second thought, maybe I should go to the reunion.” He smiled when he saw the surprise in her eyes. “With you.”
“What about Jack?” she teased.

“Oh, I suppose we could bring him along, as our personal pilot, of course.”

Joanna’s face turned pale and all signs of amusement disappeared.

“What’s wrong?” he asked with alarm.

“Nothing!” she responded a little too quickly. “It’s just that I…I mean I don’t…”

“You don’t want to fly with Jack,” he stated for her. “I get it. I usually don’t either, but this time he has an honest-to-goodness air-worthy plane.”

She remained silent, her gaze riveted on the floor.

“Hey, talk to me,” he gently urged as he placed his finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. Her eyes, glistening with tears, tore at his heart.

“It’s silly, really,” she said, jerking away from his touch. “It’s just…I’m afraid of flying. Well, actually, I’m afraid of crashing.” She wrapped her arms around her middle and headed for the couch.

Mac felt like a heel.

“Aw baby, I had no idea,” he crooned as he sat down next to her and pulled her close. “We can drive or just not go at all.”

“No,” she protested, turning to him. “That wouldn’t be fair to you. Just go without me.”

“Absolutely not!” He wiped away an errant tear with his thumb remembering the last time he had gone off without her.

Minutes ticked by while the couple sat in silence, apparently at an impasse.

“You’ve flown with Jack a lot, right?” Joanna suddenly asked.

“Yeah. More times than I care to remember,” and he remembered all of them for less than stellar reasons, but it was best if Jo didn’t know that at the moment.

“Well, you trust Jack, and I trust you so…I gotta face my fear sooner or later, right?”

“Jo, you don’t have to…”

“I want to, Mac. I want to do it for you.”



Posted by: Dragondog 3 August 2019 - 01:10 PM
QUOTE
Chapter 10: Reunited: Part 1
hmm.bmp

QUOTE
And speaking of Jack, he had found ways to make himself quietly useful, which was a bit odd for Jack Dalton.
Maybe Mac's not the only one growing up a little tongue.gif

QUOTE
Mac had taken the canine to the club the second day it was open to save Charlie from the dog’s cries if Mac didn’t get home on schedule.
Frog is such a caring boy wub.gif

QUOTE
“This is nice,” he commented softly. “Just you, me, and food.”
Food. Yes, food is good laugh.gif

QUOTE
Both lost in their thoughts, they started when Jack knocked on the door before letting himself in.

“Oops! I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” he said a bit belatedly causing Mac and Jo to quickly refocus on the present moment.
Mac needs to get a "Do not disturb" sign for his front door... dry.gif

QUOTE
“It’s an invitation to our high school reunion. I found it crushed up in your glove compartment.”

MacGyver’s eyes narrowed and his voice became dangerously low. “And just what, exactly, were you doing digging around in my glove compartment?”

“Ummm, looking for a tire pressure gauge?” His left eye twitched furiously.

“Jaaack!”

“All right, all right! I was looking for your registration,” he confessed dejectedly.

Mac continued to glare at him.
“Ya see, I was driving over to Challengers, minding my own business—“

“Jack!”

“Fine! I got pulled over for speeding. Okay?!”

Mac blew out a sigh and threw up his hands in resignation.

“Don’t worry about it. The cop was a lady. A real cute number and I managed to talk her into letting me off with just a warning. Anyway, that’s when I found this,” he shook the paper for emphasis. “Why didn’t you tell me about it? And more importantly, why didn’t I get one?”
Jack's not fully grown up yet XD XD XD

QUOTE

“You probably didn’t get one because they couldn’t find you,” Mac snarled.
Or they didn't want him XD

QUOTE

“Well, it’s generally best if people don’t know exactly where to reach me,” Jack murmured, half to himself.
Oh, Jack...

QUOTE

“Afraid an ex-girlfriend might try to kill you again?” Jack laughed.
BURN laugh.gif

Okay, the JoGyver stuff at the end was cute, but I feel like bad things are going to happen if they go through with this...

Posted by: uniquelyjas 3 August 2019 - 03:38 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 3 August 2019 - 01:10 PM)

Okay, the JoGyver stuff at the end was cute, but I feel like bad things are going to happen if they go through with this...

Of course!! It wouldn't be any fun otherwise!!

Posted by: Dragondog 4 August 2019 - 07:23 PM
Poor Jo just can't get a break... tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 8 August 2019 - 08:04 AM
Chapter 11: Reunited: Part Two

“Welcome to magical, mystical, Mission City,” Jack’s voice boomed over the plane’s intercom early Saturday afternoon. “The temperature is a balmy…well, not quite balmy…eh, never mind.”

MacGyver looked at Joanna and they both chuckled. Even though it was supposedly spring, the temperatures in Northern Minnesota definitely did not reflect the season.

Mac was proud of Jo. If she had been nervous about the flight it certainly hadn’t shown. She appeared duly impressed with the big leather captain’s chairs and sofas in the customized cabin and even complimented Jack on his smooth take-off and landing. Something MacGyver was sure he would never hear the end of! They rented a car and drove into town.

Police sergeant and long-time friend, Neil Ryder, was the first to cross paths with the trio.

“Mac! If I’d known you were coming I’d have gotten Harry’s cabin ready for you!”

“That’s okay,” Mac assured him. “We rented a couple of motel rooms since we’re only staying overnight. You coming to the reunion?”

Neil frowned. “Can’t. Had too many officers call in sick so I’m pulling a double shift today.”

“What about Chuck?”

“He’s out of town at some outdoorsman convention,” the officer informed Mac. That made sense given that Chuck owned a sporting goods store and his busy season was about to begin.

MacGyver, Joanna, and Jack soon arrived at one of the more upscale motels in the city. The little town was growing daily, it seemed. They had secured connecting rooms. Joanna’s boasted a king size bed while the other had two doubles. The guys would share that room. After taking time to freshen up and change into the clothes they had brought for the evening, Mac and Jo exited their rooms at the same time. Mac wore a casual suit with a collarless shirt and Joanna wore a black, knee-length sheath dress with a long-sleeved, emerald green jacket.

“Where’s Jack?” Joanna asked, admiring Mac’s outfit.

“When I left he was singing show tunes in the shower. I told him we’d meet him in the lobby,” Mac replied as he appreciatively regarded Joanna from head to toe.

Fifteen minutes later, Jack sauntered into the gathering area wearing khaki pants, a brown bomber jacket and his well-worn flight cap.

“Does he always wear that?” Jo asked Mac between clenched teeth and a pasted on smile.

“No!” MacGyver quickly defended his friend. “Well, sometimes…usually…yeah, pretty much,” he conceded.

XXXXX

Mission City High School was a sprawling, multi-story building which boasted recent additions to accommodate the growing population. The reunion was in full swing in the gymnasium when Joanna entered flanked on either side by Mac and Jack. They stopped at the welcome table. Due to the lack of an RSVP, there were no ready-made name tags for them. The volunteer in charge handed them blank badges and permanent markers for them to scrawl their names and then display on their clothing.

Moving further into the gym, Joanna scanned the large room. A DJ played songs from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. A few couples danced, but most chatted in small groups, sipping beverages and nibbling hors de oeuvres. It didn’t take long before her companions were recognized by fellow classmates and soon Joanna and Mac became separated from Jack who took advantage of the attention to spin yarns of his various adventures since graduation. Jo appreciated that MacGyver stuck close to her, holding her hand or placing a comforting arm around her waist. Her mind swam as she was bombarded with names and faces she would forget by the end of the night. However, she was pleased to see that Mac had been a popular, well-liked student.

As time passed, Jo became increasingly aware of the curious glances and whispered comments she and Mac garnered as they continued to mingle. ‘Mrs. MacGyver’, ‘wife’, and ‘husband’ could be heard as they walked past various groups. At one point, they were confronted by three giggling, forty-something, bleach blonde women.

“So you’re the one who finally captured MacGyver’s heart,” the most boisterous lady said to Jo.

Shocked. Joanna took a moment to reply. “Oh, we’re just—“

“She sure is!” Mac unceremoniously cut her off.

A brief, but polite conversation ensued, and as soon as the women directed their gossipy attention elsewhere Joanna rammed her elbow into Mac’s gut.

“What?!” he exclaimed, rubbing the spot she had connected with.

“’She sure is’?!”

“I thought it would just be easier to go along with it,” he innocently explained. “We’re probably never going to see these people again, so what’s the harm?”

Joanna had to admit he had a point as they headed to the buffet table. While Jo gathered finger sandwiches, MacGyver carefully began ladling punch into two plastic cups when someone bumped him from behind, causing the red liquid to slosh over onto his hands. He let out a disgusted groan.

“What happened?” Jo asked even as she observed the punch dripping off his fingers.

“Nothing,” he grumbled. “I gotta go wash this off. Be right back.”

XXXXX

Frustrated, MacGyver flicked his hands, spraying red droplets into the air as he strode down the long corridor to the men’s room, too caught up in his own thoughts to notice the shadowy figure lurking behind him. Not wanting to abandon Joanna to a room full of strangers for too long, he quickly washed his hands and checked his clothes for any damage. Luckily he found no stains. He was headed back to the gymnasium when an unbidden thought began to niggle at the back of his brain. He wondered if the science labs were still where he remembered them and, if so, had they been outfitted with up-to-date equipment. He knew Jo could hold her own socially, and he’d only be gone a few extra minutes.

Before he could change his mind, he proceeded down the hallway he knew so well. He discovered the old, wooden door of the chemistry lab had been replaced by a fireproof metal one with a small window that didn’t offer much of a view. He tried the handle. Locked. Making sure he was alone, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife from his interior jacket pocket, quickly chose a tool, and carefully picked the shiny new lock. Once inside, he flicked on the lights as an air of familiarity wrapped around him like a favorite blanket. He had spent a lot of happy and exciting hours in this room and his work here had served him well over the years. Grinning, he allowed himself to walk up and down the rows of heavy lab tables sporting Bunsen burners. Curious, he opened a drawer to reveal the standard issue equipment needed for just about every experiment done. Along the back wall, he noted with satisfaction, was a large glass and metal cabinet that held all sorts of chemicals. Yeah, this had always been one of his favorite rooms.

He was about to turn around and leave when he heard the soft shuffle of rubber-soled shoes and the click of the heavy metal door closing. He looked to find a lanky, balding man about his age dressed in an ill-fitting, powder blue tuxedo with a matching ruffled shirt. It was all he could do to keep from rolling his eyes.

“Ahhh, the infamous MacGyver! At last I have your undivided attention,” the unfamiliar man crowed. “So sorry for bumping into you earlier.”

“I’m sorry,” Mac replied. “Do I know you?”

“You mean you don’t remember me?” the man asked as he leveled a handgun at MacGyver’s chest.

Mac sucked in a breath at the sight of the gun and automatically raise his hands in surrender. “Um, off course I remember you…Gordon,” he said calmly, thankful for the name tag stuck to the man’s lapel. “Gordon Grapple. We had a class together.”

Gordon nodded eagerly. “Senior Chemistry. I sat three stations behind you.”

“Right!” Mac quickly agreed, trying to keep ole Gordy talking and diffuse the situation.

“Do you remember my lab partner?” Gordon asked, his voice low and serious now. “She had quite a crush on you.”

Doggone it! This guy was talking about a class they had almost thirty years ago! How was he supposed to remember Gordon’s lab partner when he couldn’t even remember his own?!

“She had long, blonde hair,” MacGyver guessed, hoping his punishment for the wrong answer wouldn’t be a bullet to his heart.

“Red,” Gordon replied, now looking through MacGyver as if into the past. “Her name was Winnie. Well, Winnifred. But I always called her ‘Winnie’. She was so jealous of your Ellen. That’s why she dyed her hair. She was always trying to get you to notice her, but you never did!”

Mac thought this was a good thing, but apparently it wasn’t as Gordy stepped closer, shoving the barrel of the gun into MacGyver’s chest.

“You ignored my Winnie and she ignored me!” he spat. “She was so caught up in you she didn’t give me the time of day! I tried everything to get her to notice me. Now, I finally have the chance to get her attention once and for all!”

“Aw, c’mon Gordon, that was a long time ago! We were kids! I’m sure if you saw her again—“

“I did see her. Tonight. And you know what?”

Mac shook his head.

“She was looking at you just like she did when we were in school. But that’s all gonna change right here.”

Gordon reached behind him with his free hand and pulled out two lengths of rope. He ordered MacGyver to sit on the floor where he bound his wrists behind his back and then fastened Mac’s ankles together.

“That should hold you until I get back.”

“Where are you going, Gordon?”

“I’m going for Winnie. I’m going to show her how helpless, how useless you are now. Then she’ll want me instead!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Jack Dalton was at the portable bar waiting on his second…no, third…well, maybe fourth…beer when he saw Joanna heading directly toward him, a concerned look on her face.

“I’m worried about Mac,” she stated without preamble. “He went to the bathroom to wash punch off his hands, but that was over twenty minutes ago!”

“Mac’s a big boy. He probably just met up with some old pals and lost track of time,” Jack shrugged.

“Something’s wrong!” she protested. “I can feel it! Please go and make sure he’s okay.”

Jack considered himself a man of many talents, not the least of which was talking unwilling participants into participating in certain ventures, but he had nothing on Joanna’s big brown eyes and worried countenance.

“Fine,” he sighed, “I’ll go check.”

Jack made his rather unsteady way to the nearest men’s room. He earned some odd looks as he bent down to peek under the stalls looking for Mac’s shoes. Not finding his friend, he wandered back out into the corridor. He didn’t want to return to Joanna unsuccessful. After all, she was Mac’s girl and he really wanted her to think well of him. It didn’t take a brain surgeon to determine that Mac probably wandered off to check out the science labs. Or maybe the Ancient History classroom. But that was on the other end of the school. It had to be the science lab. At least the wobbly Jack Dalton hoped so. On his way, he almost collided with a nerdy, nearly-middle-age man dressed in, of all things, a light blue tuxedo. With a grunt as an apology, he continued down the corridor.

The pilot soon found himself standing in front of the heavy metal door of the chem lab. Light was shining through a small window. He stood on tiptoe and peeked in, but the view was quite limited and the knob was locked. He was about to head back to the gym when the sound of breaking glass caught his attention and sobered him up a bit as well. He tried peering through the window again.

“Mac?! Mac, is that you?!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver didn’t know how long it would take Gordon to find Winnie and convince her to come to the lab, so he had to act fast. First, he had to get out of these ropes. Ole Gordy didn’t appear particularly strong, but he sure knew how to tie a good knot. Unsure of where his Swiss Army knife had gotten to, Mac looked around the room, wishing he was in the biology lab instead. A scalpel was just what he needed. His gaze fell upon the locked cabinet that held the chemicals. It was too risky to try and use an acid to eat through the ties without taking his skin with them, but he could use the glass. He scooted over on his butt and used his foot to break the glass. Turning, he tucked his hand up into the arm of his jacket and gingerly reached for a piece of the jagged glass. He had just begun to saw through the ropes that bound his wrists when he thought he heard a muffled voice call his name. Abandoning his bindings for now, he slid across the room and banged on the door with the soles of his feet.

“Mac?!”

“Jack!” he called out thankfully.

“It’s locked!” his friend called.

Now sitting with his back against the door, Mac used it to lever himself into a standing position. He tried the knob from the inside. It was locked, too, which was very strange. Classroom doors always opened from the inside. It was a long-standing safety regulation. He glanced around the room again and was struck with an idea.

“Jack!” he yelled through the heavy door. “Fire extinguisher!”

He closed his eyes and sent up a quick but fervent prayer that Jack would understand and grab one of canisters placed at intervals along the corridor. Seconds ticked by interminably before he finally heard the steady bang of metal against metal. If Jack could just break the doorknob…”

A few more blows and he heard the knob clatter to the floor. A second later Jack tumbled into the room.

“What happened?!” he asked, his eyes wide as if now first shocked by the situation.

“I’ll explain later,” Mac replied hurriedly. “Get these ropes off me. We gotta get back to the gym.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna sat on a barstool waiting for Jack. What could be taking so long? All he had to do was go to the men’s room and get Mac. A ball of dread began to form in her stomach. Something was really wrong. She was sure of it. Too anxious to sit, she slid off the stool and began to pace when her path was blocked by a short, chubby woman with red hair and dark-rimmed glasses. She wore an overly bright flower print dress.

“Excuse me,” the woman said shyly. “You’re Mrs. MacGyver, aren’t you?”

Joanna felt her shoulders droop. She didn’t feel like explaining. “Yes, that’s me,” she replied.

The woman’s face brightened. “Mac and I had Senior Chemistry together. I had such a crush on him,” she giggled. “My name’s Winnifred.” She stuck out her hand for Joanna to shake.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Joanna.”

“Have you spent much time in Mission City?”

Joanna was not in the mood for idle conversation, but at least it would pass the time until MacGyver and Jack returned.

“Actually, I’ve only been here a couple times.”

“Oh, that’s a shame,” Winnifred frowned. “Why don’t we go for a stroll and I can show you some of the popular hangouts?”

This woman was a little too friendly.

“I don’t think—“

Suddenly Jo felt something sharp poke her in the side. She looked down to find a hunting knife in Winnifred’s hand.

“But I insist!” the woman exclaimed, looping her free hand through Jo’s arm and guiding her out the door and into the night.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver and Jack hurried back to the party. Mac frantically scanned the room for Joanna but couldn’t find her.

“Where did you leave Jo?” Mac asked his friend.

“She was at the bar when I left.”

The two men hurried over to the bar, but she was nowhere to be found. The bartender and fellow former classmate looked up from the glass he was wiping.

“Can I help you gentleman?”

“Yes,” MacGyver replied. “Have you seen—“

“Your wife?” the bartender smiled. “Yeah, she left with that weirdo from Senior Chemistry.”

“Gordon?!” Mac’s heart beat in triple time.

“No. A woman.”

“Winnifred,” Mac said under his breath.

“Who?” Jack asked.

“Where did they go?” MacGyver asked the volunteer bartender while ignoring Jack’s question.

“Got me. She said something about showing Joanna the local hangouts.”

Mac sighed and sunk onto the nearest barstool, his mind racing. He couldn’t think of any notable, and potentially dangerous, locations except…

“Gordon said he had a crush on Winnifred,” he told Jack excitedly. “And Winnifred had a crush on me!”

“So?”

“So where did we all used to go to make-out?”

Jack shrugged. His face blank.

“The Ridge!” Mac exclaimed triumphantly.

“What’s ‘The Ridge’?” Jack asked, still befuddled.

For a moment MacGyver’s curiosity overrode his urgency. “You never went to The Ridge?”

Another shrug from Jack.

“It’s that clearing in the woods above Ridge Lake. That’s where Winnifred must’ve taken Jo!”

MacGyver jogged to the exit, Jack lagging behind. Mac stopped short and quickly turned around.

“You stay here and call Neil. Tell him what’s going on and tell him we also need to find Gordon,” Mac directed before hurtling through doors and out of sight.

It only took a few minutes for MacGyver to drive to the clearing, but it seemed like hours. As the dense trees began to thin out, he doused his headlights and eased the car to a silent stop. He got out and headed for the tree line, ducking low to keep his presence hidden as he moved closer to the two women standing on the edge of the cliff overlooking the lake. Moonlight glinted off the silver blade Winnifred held against Joanna’s side and fear gripped his heart. He could hear their soft voices but couldn’t make out what they were saying. He had to find a way to get them away from the ridge, separate them, and disarm Winnifred. Based on Joanna’s shaking head and the other woman’s jerky movements he figured he didn’t have much time. Perhaps he needed a ploy more than an attack strategy.
With quiet, efficient steps MacGyver made his way back to where he had left his car. He opened the door and then slammed it shut. Loudly. Sometimes the best plan was the most obvious.

“Winnifred?” he called. “Winnie, are you here?”

He noisily plodded up the hill until he once again had the two women in his sights.

“Winnifred! Thank God you’re okay!” he exclaimed as he continued to slowly walk towards them. “I was worried sick when I couldn’t find you in the gymnasium!”

Winnie started and turned abruptly, spinning Jo around with her, still holding the knife.

“MacGyver?” she asked hesitantly.

“Yeah, sweetheart. It’s me,” he assured her in a deep, sure voice. He was now only a couple feet away. He looked at Joanna for the first time since his approach.

“What’s she doing here?” he sneered.

“She’s the only thing standing between us, and I was going to take care of that tonight.” Winnie raised the knife like a newly-gained trophy.

“Don’t bother,” he ordered. “She’s not worth it.”

“But…she’s your wife!”

“No she’s not,” Mac said harshly. “Look at her…she’s not even my type! You know I’ve always had a thing for red-heads.”

“Then who is she?” Winnie asked slowly.

“Just some chick from work. I paid her to come up here and pretend to be my wife. I didn’t want everyone to know that smart, handsome, charming MacGyver was still single because he was still pining for you.” He silently willed Joanna to understand what he was doing and get in the game.

“You…you want me?” Winnifred’s grip on the knife as well as Jo’s arm seemed to slacken a bit.

“Hold it just a minute, mister!” Joanna scolded as she freed her arm from Winnie’s loosened grasp. “I agreed to our deal because you said if I pretended to be your wife you’d show me a good time, if you catch my drift! Well, buster, that ‘good time’ did NOT include being abandon by my date and kidnapped by a nutcase. Come to think of it, I’m not sure who’s the nutcase here. Her for wanting to kill me, you for being in love with her, or me for going along with this!! That’s it! I’m outta here!”

Joanna ended her rant by stepping away too quickly for Winnifred to react, but Mac was ready and waiting. As soon as Jo was far enough away, he lunged for Winnie, grabbing the knife from her hand before wrapping his arms around her, pinning her own arms against her body, while walking them both carefully away from the cliff.

“Let me go!” she screeched as she struggled against him, kicking him in the shins for good measure.

“Want me to take her off your hands?” Neil smirked as he stepped out from behind a large oak tree.

“How long have you been here?” Mac asked as they transferred the prisoner between them.

Neil shrugged. “Long enough to see that you had everything under control.”

“Gee, thanks for all your help, man,” MacGyver replied sarcastically before growing serious. “What about Gordon?”

“We found him roaming the school corridors looking for Winnie,” Neil informed him. “He’s already in custody back at the station. I’m sorry I missed all the excitement. What was the reunion’s theme anyway? ‘Revenge of the Psycho Nerds’?”

“Something like that,” Mac mumbled as Neil led Winnifred down the path to his patrol car.

“I’ll need all three of you to come down to the station and give your statements before you leave,” the officer called before he was out of earshot.

MacGyver turned to find Joanna with her back to him, staring out at the lake below. He cleared his throat as he approached so as not to startle her. As he got closer he could see she had her arms wrapped tightly around herself. He gently placed his hands on her shoulders and rested his chin on the top of her head.

“You okay?” he asked calmly.

“Yeah, I guess.” She turned to face him, her eyes glistening.

Without another word, Mac pulled her close. She wrapped her arms around his waist, laid her head on his chest and began to sob. When the tears had stopped, she pulled back and studied the wet stain on his shirt.

“I’m sorry,” she muttered.

“You got nothin’ to be sorry about,” Mac assured her, his own heart crying out. “You did real good tonight. You know that, right?”

She nodded and turned back to look at the moonlight glistening on the water. MacGyver joined her, taking her hand in his.

“What did she say to you?” His question sounded like a command.

“A lot of it didn’t make sense. Apparently she had a huge crush on you in high school…and still does. She told me this place was called ‘Lover’s Leap’ and that if I didn’t jump off the cliff she’d stab me to death so she could have you all to herself.”

MacGyver sucked in a breath upon hearing this. He was amazed at how composed Joanna was in spite of everything. He let go of her hand and instead wrapped his arm around her shoulders and nestled her against his side.

“She lied, you know,” Mac informed softly. “The real name of this place is ‘The Ridge’. All us kids used to come up here to make-out. Well, all of us except Jack.”

He felt Jo’s shoulders tremble, not with sobs, but with laughter.

“I’ll bet you know this place quite well,” she said, looking up at him with a playful grin.

He smiled back at her. “I never kiss and tell.”

He was prepared for one of her snarky comebacks when the trees behind them began to rustle. All his senses went on alert until his mind registered a huffing, puffing Jack Dalton emerging from the woods.

“Whew! That’s some hill!” he wheezed, looking around. “Did I miss anything?”

“You missed everything, Jack,” MacGyver informed his friend.

“You mean…it’s over? Neil got Minnie?”

“Her name’s ‘Winnie’, and yes, Neil got her.”

Jack’s face fell in disappointment before brightening up again.

“So this is The Ridge, huh?” he asked. “I don’t see what the big deal is…there’s nothing here!”

Mac and Joanna began to laugh.

“I’m serious!” Jack retorted. “You know, this would be the perfect place for a—“

“Forget it, Jack,” Mac commanded.

“But I didn’t even tell you my idea yet!”

“Exactly!”








Posted by: Dragondog 9 August 2019 - 11:52 AM
QUOTE

MacGyver looked at Joanna and they both chuckled. Even though it was supposedly spring, the temperatures in Northern Minnesota definitely did not reflect the season.
It's Minnesota. It's never the temp it's supposed to be.

QUOTE

“When I left he was singing show tunes in the shower. I told him we’d meet him in the lobby,” Mac replied as he appreciatively regarded Joanna from head to toe.
I feel like Mac didn't want to wait up simply because he didn't want to listen to Jack's singing XD

QUOTE

Fifteen minutes later, Jack sauntered into the gathering area wearing khaki pants, a brown bomber jacket and his well-worn flight cap.

“Does he always wear that?” Jo asked Mac between clenched teeth and a pasted on smile.

“No!” MacGyver quickly defended his friend. “Well, sometimes…usually…yeah, pretty much,” he conceded.
Everyone knows a Jack. The Jack I know is me. I don't care about fashion either laugh.gif

QUOTE


As time passed, Jo became increasingly aware of the curious glances and whispered comments she and Mac garnered as they continued to mingle. ‘Mrs. MacGyver’, ‘wife’, and ‘husband’ could be heard as they walked past various groups. At one point, they were confronted by three giggling, forty-something, bleach blonde women.

“So you’re the one who finally captured MacGyver’s heart,” the most boisterous lady said to Jo.
Sheesh, is there anything better to do? Is it that noteworthy? laugh.gif

QUOTE

Frustrated, MacGyver flicked his hands, spraying red droplets into the air as he strode down the long corridor to the men’s room, too caught up in his own thoughts to notice the shadowy figure lurking behind him.
Of course.

QUOTE
He tried the handle. Locked. Making sure he was alone, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife from his interior jacket pocket, quickly chose a tool, and carefully picked the shiny new lock.
See, Sam's not so bad laugh.gif

QUOTE
Gordon Grapple.
What a perfect last name for what's about to happen XD

QUOTE

“I’m going for Winnie. I’m going to show her how helpless, how useless you are now. Then she’ll want me instead!”
Can't decide whether he's the biggest grudge collector I've ever seen, or completely insane.

...

...

Insane. Definitely insane.

QUOTE

Jack Dalton was at the portable bar waiting on his second…no, third…well, maybe fourth…beer
He's supposed to fly them out tomorrow. He's gonna have a bad hangover XD

QUOTE

Suddenly Jo felt something sharp poke her in the side. She looked down to find a hunting knife in Winnifred’s hand.
Wow. They're all insane -_-

QUOTE


“So where did we all used to go to make-out?”

Jack shrugged. His face blank.

“The Ridge!” Mac exclaimed triumphantly.

“What’s ‘The Ridge’?” Jack asked, still befuddled.

For a moment MacGyver’s curiosity overrode his urgency. “You never went to The Ridge?”

Another shrug from Jack.
This amused me far more than it should have XD

QUOTE
He silently willed Joanna to understand what he was doing and get in the game.
I'm sure she will XD

QUOTE

“She lied, you know,” Mac informed softly. “The real name of this place is ‘The Ridge’. All us kids used to come up here to make-out. Well, all of us except Jack.”
I know where this is going...

I'm still laughing at Jack's lack of a love life XD XD XD

QUOTE

He was prepared for one of her snarky comebacks when the trees behind them began to rustle. All his senses went on alert until his mind registered a huffing, puffing Jack Dalton emerging from the woods.
I saw that coming XD

QUOTE

“Exactly!”
Please oh please oh please tell me Mac said that in the same tome Jack usually does laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 August 2019 - 01:35 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 9 August 2019 - 11:52 AM)

QUOTE

“Exactly!”
Please oh please oh please tell me Mac said that in the same tome Jack usually does laugh.gif

I'm fairly certain he did thumbup.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 14 August 2019 - 05:41 AM
Chapter 12: The Dance

MacGyver stood in his office doorway and gazed out at his domain, otherwise known as the Challengers Club. For the first time since beginning this venture he finally felt in full control of the endeavor. Jack had left for L.A. and, at Mac’s insistence, Cynthia had agreed to leave work early. It didn’t take long before his eyes fell on the two youngest members of the club seated on either side of Joanna studiously completing their homework. Davey, the elder of the two, had inquisitive hazel eyes and dark blonde hair with an out-of-control cowlick that refused to be tamed. In his short time with Challengers, Mac had discovered the boy’s love of science and desire to take apart anything that moved to find out how it works regardless of if he could put it back together or not. Davey’s five-year-old sister, Suzy, had dark brown hair cut in a bob similar to Jo’s. Quiet and non-assuming, the little girl had a way of wiggling into one’s heart when they weren’t paying attention. MacGyver felt his insides warm, realizing that these two children could easily be his and Joanna’s. He began to wonder what a child of theirs would be like before the ringing telephone rudely interrupted his thoughts.

“I’m going to take off now, if that’s okay,” a female voice said from the doorway.

“Yeah, sure,” Mac mumbled, not raising his head from the note he was jotting to himself.

“Davey and Suzy are helping the older kids clean up. I had them call their mom since they stayed later than usual.”

“Okay,” he mumbled again, his attention still focused on the note.

“Angus MacGyver! You haven’t heard a word I’ve said!”

The harsh tone of voice, not to mention the use of his Christian name, caused Mac’s head to snap up only to find Joanna standing in the doorway to his office, hands planted firmly on her hips, her brow furrowed.

Suddenly penitent, Mac quickly pushed back his chair and hurried around the old desk. He put his hands on Jo’s stiffened shoulders and kissed her forehead.

“I’m sorry, babe. I got distracted and didn’t even realize how late it was.”

He felt her shoulders relax as her hands reached up to gently grasp his forearms. The look on her face quickly morphing from frustration to concern.

“Is everything all right? You haven’t been out of your office since that phone call?”

“Everything’s fine,” he assured her. “How about we talk tomorrow and plan to spend some time together? Just the two of us.”

“Sure,” she replied with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes before she turned and headed toward the exit.

“By the way,” she called from across the room, “I told Davey and Suzy you’d drive them home since it’s dark outside.” This time her mischievous grin lit up the night.

The older teens made quick work of the end-of-day clean-up routine. Not only did it take a load off of MacGyver and Cynthia, but it gave the youth a sense of responsibility and ownership. Mac had just returned from dumping the garbage when he spotted Davey walking aimlessly around the rec room.

“Ready to go home, buddy?” he asked the boy.

“I can’t find Frog,” Davey replied, holding up the dog leash as if to make his point.

“He’s around here somewhere. I’ll round him up,” Mac promised. “Now go tell Suzy it’s time to leave.”

“I can’t find her, either,” Davey said woefully.

Mac’s senses went on alert. A habit from his days as a field operative. But he didn’t want the boy to see his concern.

“Maybe Suzy and Frog are playing hide-and-seek,” MacGyver suggested hopefully. “Let’s see if we can find them together.”

Hand in hand, Mac and Davey inspected the perimeter of the large room and any nooks or crannies that might serve as a good hiding place, but they found nothing.

“Maybe Frog needed to go outside,” Mac said. “Let me grab my jacket and we’ll take a look.”

He hurried into his office and grabbed the familiar brown bomber from the back of his chair. He was closing the door behind him when a muffled sob and a snort stopped him in his tracks. He stood quietly and listened. A few seconds later the sounds came again.

“Suzy? Frog?” he called softly. The only reply was more sobs and a snuffle.

MacGyver followed the sounds and soon found its source under his desk. Suzy sat cross-legged, her arms wrapped tightly around the stocky bull dog sitting in her lap, her head buried in his back as she cried. Frog sat patiently, his lolling tongue and panting breath the only indication of his discomfort.

“Hey, guys, is everything okay?” Mac asked, crouching down so he could see them better. Neither girl nor beast replied.

“What do you say we go on home?”

Suzy raised her head, her face flushed and tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I don’t wanna go home!” she exclaimed.

“Why not?” Mac asked. Was something going on at the house that caused the girl to not want to return? All sorts of unsettling scenarios crept into his head.

“I wanna go to the dance!”

Totally confused by this unexpected response, Mac repositioned himself on the floor so he now mirrored Suzy.

“What dance?” Mac’s voice was soft and calm.
“The daddy/daughter dance at school,” Suzy hiccupped. “I can’t go ‘cause I don’t got a daddy.”

“Aw, sweetie, I’m sure there will be other girls there who don’t have a daddy,” Mac tried to console her.

Suzy nodded. “My teacher said I could bring my mommy, but she’s not a daddy,” she offered, looking MacGyver straight in the eye. “Davey even said he’d go with me, but he’s only nine and I don’t wanna dance with my brother!”

“Is she still moaning about that stupid dance?” Davey groused from the doorway.

“It’s not a stupid dance!” his sister yelled back.

MacGyver sighed. He was way out of his comfort zone. “Let’s all go home and get a good night’s sleep and maybe we can think of a solution tomorrow,” he offered, trying to sound authoritative.

“But I have a solution!” Suzy proclaimed. “Only Mommy made me promise not to say anything.”

This piqued his curiosity.

“Well, ya know, I’m really good at keepin’ secrets,” Mac whispered conspiratorially. “Could you tell me what your solution is?”

Suzy shook her head vigorously.

“Why not?” MacGyver asked.

“Because you’re the solution! I want you to be my daddy for the dance!”

Mac felt the air rush out of his lungs as if someone had punched him in the gut. Hard. He was flattered that Suzy wanted him to be her ‘daddy’, but if her mother insisted the girl keep it a secret she obviously did not approve. Getting out of this conversation was going to be harder than getting out of East Germany before the Iron Curtain fell.
“I’d be honored to be your ‘daddy’ for the dance,” Mac managed to reply smoothly. “Why don’t we talk about it tomorrow?” He quickly rose from his seat on the floor to avoid a rebuttal.

“Davey, come and get Frog, it’s time to go home,” he directed.

The Nomad had barely come to a complete stop in front of the Talbot house before Davey and Suzy barreled out of the car and up the front walkway. MacGyver followed more sedately, taking in the peeling paint and lopsided roof of the old structure. A lanky young woman with straggly blonde hair greeted the children at the door, hugging each of them tightly before they bolted off in opposite directions.

“Thank you so much for bringing them home, Mr. MacGyver,” she said as he approached.

“No problem, Ms. Talbot. I’m happy to do it,” he smiled.

“Please, call me Jill.”

“Okay, Jill. Could we talk for a minute in private?”

The young woman’s thin face paled, but she ushered MacGyver into the kitchen and started pouring two cups of coffee before he could object.

“I hope the children aren’t being a burden,” she said quietly, sitting on the edge of a wobbly wooden chair.

“The kids are great,” Mac assured her. “We love having them around.”

“Then what’s the problem?” She couldn’t hide the weariness from her voice. Working two jobs was definitely taking its toll.

“I wouldn’t call it a problem,” MacGyver began, “But Suzy was telling me about the daddy/daughter dance at her school. She’s quite upset because she doesn’t have a daddy to go with.”

Jill sighed. “I know. We’ve been arguing about it for weeks.”

“She told me about her solution.”

“Oh, no,” the tired woman moaned. “I specifically made her promise not to bother you with it.”

“With all due respect, ma’am, it’s not a bother. In fact, I’d like to be her ‘daddy’ for the dance if you’ll allow it.”

The look on Jill’s face was a combination of surprise and relief. “Really, Mr. MacGyver, you don’t have to do this.”

“I want to do it. And the name’s Mac.”

Jill’s face fell again.

“There’s one problem,” she said quietly. “Suzy is going to want a new dress and we simply can’t afford it.”

MacGyver smiled. “I have a friend who might be able to help out with that if you’ll agree to it.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Saturday morning Joanna entered the Talbot home much to the delight of Suzy who bounced across the small living room to greet her.

“Thank you so much for taking Suzy shopping,” Jill said as she offered Jo a cup of coffee which she refused.

“It’s my pleasure. And don’t worry, I know some really good thrift stores,” Jo promised with a smile.

Two hours and three shops later, Suzy was still unable to find a dress that suited her. Her mother had warned her about not being too fussy and to be grateful that she was getting a new outfit at all. Nevertheless, the little girl apparently knew what she wanted and wasn’t going to stop looking until she found it. But Joanna was running out of options. There was only one second-hand store they hadn’t tried. Within minutes upon entering, Suzy perused the rack with dresses in her size before declaring them all unworthy. Joanna sighed and massaged her temple where a headache was beginning to blossom.

“Okay. Time for the mall,” she declared.

“But Mommy said the mall’s too ‘spensive.”

“Not if you look for sales,” Joanna smiled and winked at her young charge as they headed to the car.

After a quick stop at the mall’s food court to refuel with burgers and fries, Joanna led Suzy through the nearest department store. Soon they were standing in front of racks laden with party dresses. Little Suzy’s jaw dropped and her eyes grew wide. She stood stock still as if paralyzed by the options that confronted her. She bit her lower lip and looked up at Jo.

“What’s Mr. Mac’s favorite color?”

Joanna opened her mouth to reply before realizing she didn’t know the answer. What was Mac’s favorite color? She’d seen him wear everything from white tees to brightly colored print shirts and he always seemed to like what she wore, regardless of color. Not only didn’t she know his favorite color, she also didn’t know his favorite song, movie (though it was a Western for sure), season, or even pizza topping though she knew he didn’t like anchovies. How could they have known each other so long and she still not know the answers?

A tug on her handbag startled her out of her reverie. She looked down to find Suzy staring up at her, patiently waiting for an answer.

“Blue,” Jo blurted out. “Mr. Mac’s favorite color is blue.” She’d inform him later so he could give Suzy the proper compliment.

With the choices now narrowed a bit, Suzy began to gingerly pick through the brand new outfits.

“Does he like sparkly or plain?” she asked.

Yet another question Jo didn’t know the answer to, but this time she decided to take a different approach. She knelt down so she was at eye level with the girl.

“Sweetie, I know you want to wear a dress Mr. Mac will like, but it’s more important to find a dress that you like and feel comfortable in. Mr. Mac likes you regardless of what color you’re wearing or whether it’s sparkly or not.”

Suzy considered this information before plucking a powder blue ruffled dress from the rack.

“I like this one,” she declared, but a frown marred her precious face when she looked at the price tag. “But it’s too ‘spensive,” she sighed.

The girl’s comment was like a knife to Jo’s heart. No five-year-old should have to worry about money.

“Why don’t you try it on anyway,” she urged. “Maybe it’s on sale even though it’s not marked.”

Ten minutes later, Joanna handed the credit card MacGyver had given her to the clerk. After signing her name on the receipt, she reached for the tag on the dress, scribbled out the original price, and wrote in one that Jill would find acceptable.

“Your daughter will look like a princess in this dress,” the cashier commented as she completed the transaction.

Joanna opened her mouth to correct the assumption when she suddenly decided to go with the flow. “Thanks. I think so, too,” she replied, grabbing her package and heading to where Suzy stood waiting for her. She stopped and regarded the child. She had long ago accepted the fact that having a child was not part of her future, but this little sprite couldn’t help but make her wonder what a daughter of hers might be like. Her’s and MacGyver’s.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Mac winced as Joanna readjusted his tie and tugged on his collar. Once satisfied, she brushed away some imaginary lint from his lapels and pronounced him fit for the daddy/daughter dance.

“Remember, your favorite color is light blue and you like ruffles, not sparkles,” she instructed as she handed him a small clear plastic container that held a miniature wrist corsage.

“Yes, mother,” he replied cheekily which only earned him a scowl and a playful swat on his shoulder.

“Seriously,” he said, “I will treat her like a princess and make sure she has a wonderful time.”

XXXXX

Suzy’s small hand tightly grasped MacGyver’s much larger one as she led him into the school cafeteria that had been transformed into a magical wonderland complete with twinkling fairy lights. Grown men talked and laughed as little girls whispered and giggled. It didn’t take long before Suzy spotted her friends and picked up the pace, practically tugging MacGyver behind her.

“C’mon Daddy Mac, I want you to meet my friends!”

They approached a small group of girls similar in age who all turned and stopped talking when they got close.

“Hey everybody,” Suzy announced, her head held high, “this is my daddy!”

The girls began to snicker and Suzy appeared confused as the tallest of the bunch…it always seemed to be the tallest who was the bully…stepped forward.

“He’s not your daddy,” the tall girl proclaimed. “You don’t have a daddy!”

MacGyver felt Suzy’s hand tighten in his and caught the slightest quiver of her lower lip. He knew tears would soon follow.
“I usually don’t argue with pretty young ladies,” he said calmly, “But for tonight I am most certainly Miss Suzy’s daddy.” He then turned to Suzy. “C’mon honey, let’s get some punch.” And together they walked away.

Mac quickly lost track of time as he and Suzy drank punch, sampled the family-friendly finger-food, and danced to a variety of music. Suzy tried to teach him new dance steps which she insisted were the most popular among her generation while he tried desperately to follow her instructions and not look like a fool in front of the other dads who no doubt had been schooled in these moves by their daughters over the previous weeks. His efforts brought on more than one bout of the giggles from his ‘date’. When the beat of the music became slow and rhythmic, MacGyver gently lifted Suzy into his arms and she snuggled against his chest as he swayed in time to the song.

“Are you having a good time?” he asked.

“This is the bestest night of my whole entire life!” she answered, looking up at him with a happy smile. “Will you be my daddy again next year?”

Mac chuckled. “You bet I will.”

The song ended and the DJ announced the conclusion of the evening. MacGyver lowered Suzy to the floor and looked at his watch. He couldn’t believe the dance was over. He looked around to find a group of weary kindergarteners who were probably already up past their bedtime. Even Suzy’s usual energetic glow had faded.

A short while later he escorted a sleepy Suzy to her front door where her mother greeted her.

“How was the dance, sweetheart?” Jill asked.

“It was awesome,” the girl mumbled around a yawn.

“Say ‘thank you’ to Mr. Mac,” her mom instructed.

“Thank you, Daddy Mac,” she said, rubbing her tired eyes before heading down the hall to her room.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this, Mr. MacGyver,” Jill said once Suzy had disappeared. “I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”

“Hey, the pleasure was all mine. You owe me nothing,” he smiled before heading back to the car.

Mac was already tugging off his tie as he entered his apartment. He shrugged out of his suit coat and deposited himself on the couch. He laid staring up at the ceiling, wondering if there were any more daddy/daughter dances in his future. If Miss Suzy had her way he was sure there would be. At least now he had time to practice his dance steps.









Posted by: Dragondog 15 August 2019 - 06:58 PM
QUOTE

MacGyver stood in his office doorway and gazed out at his domain
Is it sad that I had to pause before finishing the sentence to remember where he works now? laugh.gif

QUOTE
Jack had left for L.A. and, at Mac’s insistence,
For a second, I didn't see the 'and' XD

QUOTE

“I can’t find Frog,” Davey replied, holding up the dog leash as if to make his point.

“He’s around here somewhere. I’ll round him up,” Mac promised. “Now go tell Suzy it’s time to leave.”

“I can’t find her, either,” Davey said woefully.
Well then... unsure.gif

QUOTE
He was closing the door behind him when a muffled sob and a snort stopped him in his tracks. He stood quietly and listened. A few seconds later the sounds came again.

“Suzy? Frog?” he called softly. The only reply was more sobs and a snuffle.
That was fast laugh.gif

QUOTE
Frog sat patiently, his lolling tongue and panting breath the only indication of his discomfort.
Me trying to help when someone starts unloading to me XD

QUOTE

“The daddy/daughter dance at school,” Suzy hiccupped. “I can’t go ‘cause I don’t got a daddy.”
sad.gif sad.gif sad.gif Well, now my heart is broken, poor girl DX

QUOTE

“Aw, sweetie, I’m sure there will be other girls there who don’t have a daddy,” Mac tried to console her.
I'm 100% convinced Mac's either going to end up standing in as her 'father', or he'll suggest holding a dance at Challengers to make up for it.

QUOTE

“But I have a solution!” Suzy proclaimed. “Only Mommy made me promise not to say anything.”

This piqued his curiosity.
Mine as well huh.gif

Well, I was right XD XD XD

This whole conversation is adorable XD

QUOTE

Joanna opened her mouth to reply before realizing she didn’t know the answer. What was Mac’s favorite color? She’d seen him wear everything from white tees to brightly colored print shirts and he always seemed to like what she wore, regardless of color. Not only didn’t she know his favorite color, she also didn’t know his favorite song, movie (though it was a Western for sure), season, or even pizza topping though she knew he didn’t like anchovies. How could they have known each other so long and she still not know the answers?
Welcome to the world of marriage (from what I've heard, anyway) laugh.gif

QUOTE
After signing her name on the receipt, she reached for the tag on the dress, scribbled out the original price, and wrote in one that Jill would find acceptable.
XD Nice going, Jo!

QUOTE
She stopped and regarded the child. She had long ago accepted the fact that having a child was not part of her future, but this little sprite couldn’t help but make her wonder what a daughter of hers might be like. Her’s and MacGyver’s.
Hmm, they've both wondered about this now... ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

QUOTE

“Yes, mother,” he replied cheekily which only earned him a scowl and a playful swat on his shoulder.
I love these two XD

QUOTE

“C’mon Daddy Mac, I want you to meet my friends!”
Rofl, "Daddy mac" roller.gif

QUOTE

“Hey everybody,” Suzy announced, her head held high, “this is my daddy!”
Hmm, not sure this will end well... hmm.bmp

QUOTE

“He’s not your daddy,” the tall girl proclaimed. “You don’t have a daddy!”
Yeah, I saw that coming... :-( Some friends...

Why am I getting Lilo and Stitch vibes from this though? XD

QUOTE
“I usually don’t argue with pretty young ladies,” he said calmly, “But for tonight I am most certainly Miss Suzy’s daddy.” He then turned to Suzy. “C’mon honey, let’s get some punch.” And together they walked away.
Awww, Mac always knows just what to do :-D

QUOTE

Mac quickly lost track of time as he and Suzy drank punch, sampled the family-friendly finger-food, and danced to a variety of music. Suzy tried to teach him new dance steps which she insisted were the most popular among her generation while he tried desperately to follow her instructions and not look like a fool in front of the other dads who no doubt had been schooled in these moves by their daughters over the previous weeks. His efforts brought on more than one bout of the giggles from his ‘date’. When the beat of the music became slow and rhythmic, MacGyver gently lifted Suzy into his arms and she snuggled against his chest as he swayed in time to the song.
Oh my gosh, I think I might be tearing up, why is this so cute?!

QUOTE

“Thank you, Daddy Mac,” she said, rubbing her tired eyes before heading down the hall to her room.
XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 16 August 2019 - 05:23 AM
Glad you enjoyed this chapter Dragondog. Gotta throw in a warm-fuzzy every now and again!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 August 2019 - 05:02 AM
Chapter 13: Frog’s Secret

MacGyver stooped to retrieve Frog’s food bowl, noting that there was still a good deal of kibble left over for the second day in a row.

“What’s the matter, boy? Decided to go on a diet?”

Frog looked at him mournfully before bringing his back leg around to furiously scratch his neck, something else he had been doing a lot more of recently. Come to think of it, the dog hadn’t been as active as usual either, but Mac had chalked it up to age and busy days with the kids at Challengers.

“Is that collar bothering you again?” Mac asked, stooping once again to loosen it a notch before clipping on the leash and heading to the car.

Upon arriving at the Challengers Club, Frog headed straight for the corner where his plush dog bed awaited him. MacGyver readied a bowl of food and one of water, but by the time he put them on the floor next to the bed, Frog was already asleep, snoring softly…for him. Mac shook his head, but he couldn’t shake the concern that had been growing in the back of his mind. He walked into his office to find Cynthia already working away on the computer.

“Hey, Cynthia. You know anything about dogs?”

Cynthia looked up. “I never had a dog,” she shrugged. “I’ve always been more of a cat person. Why?”

“Frog’s been acting weird lately and I thought you might have an idea why.”

“Sorry,” Cynthia apologized. “But I’ve noticed it too. He doesn’t get as anxious for his walks as he used to. Maybe he’s just getting old.”

“Yeah, maybe,” MacGyver mumbled.

XXXXX

The day passed quickly and soon the center was filling up with teenagers ready to either blow off some steam or get started on their homework. Mac hardly noticed when Joanna arrived for her daily tutoring sessions, but when he did notice, he couldn’t take his eyes off her. They really needed to make a point to spend some quality time together. He watched as she commandeered a table before going over to the corner to greet Frog. She crouched down, ruffling his ears. Then she started fiddling with his collar.

“We need to tighten this up before your head slips out and you decide to take off,” she was telling the dog as MacGyver approached from behind.

“What are you doing?” he asked, more harshly than he had intended to given her startled reaction.

“I’m adjusting his collar,” she said, craning her neck to look up at him. “Someone keeps loosening it and I think it’s irritating his neck. See?”

MacGyver bent down to see the spot Jo was gently massaging with her fingertips. He reached out to feel for himself. Their fingers touched briefly, but long enough for a spark of electricity to arc between them.

“There’s a lump there,” Mac frowned.

Joanna nodded in agreement as she gently separated the short hair of the canine’s coat. “The skin around the area looks red, too.” Her eyes were full of concern as they met his.

MacGyver stood up and jammed his hand through his hair. Something was definitely wrong with his dog.

“I think you should probably take him to the vet just to be on the safe side,” Joanna suggested, rising to stand next to him.

Mac groaned. “He doesn’t have a vet,” he admitted. “He’s never needed one before.”

“Well, I think he needs one now,” Jo observed, looking down at the listless animal. “There’s an emergency clinic not far from here that should be able to see him right away.”

“I’ll let Cynthia know we’re leaving,” Mac said as Joanna went to get Frog’s leash.

It didn’t take long to drive to the clinic and soon they were seated on hard plastic chairs in an antiseptic waiting room, Frog sitting drowsily at their feet. MacGyver suddenly realized he had never even asked Jo if she wanted to come along. He simply assumed she’d come and she never objected. When the receptionist called Frog’s name, they both rose and coaxed the canine into an even more antiseptic exam room. Thankfully it didn’t take long for the doctor to see them.

“And what seems to be the problem today?” the vet asked in a kind voice. He was middle-aged with thin gray hair and wearing wire rimmed glasses.

“Frog hasn’t been eating much the last few days and he doesn’t have as much energy as normal,” MacGyver replied. “This afternoon we noticed a red bump on his neck and thought we should have it checked out.”

The doctor nodded and frowned as he reviewed the paperwork Mac had struggled to fill out when they first arrived.

“You don’t seem to have much information about our little friend here,” the vet observed. “How old is he?”

“I’m really not sure,” Mac winced, feeling like a terribly inadequate pet parent. The doctor cocked a brow.

“Well how long have you had him?”

“He’s been living with me for not quite a year, but I’ve known him for about nine,” Mac replied.

“Where did he live before?”

“Out in Los Angeles with a friend.”
“I see. And where did your friend get him?”

“From another friend,” MacGyver muttered, knowing how odd this must sound.

The vet removed his glasses, his eyes boring into Mac’s. “And where did that friend get him?” His tone indicating his patience was wearing thin.

“I don’t really know,” Mac shrugged.

The doctor scrubbed his face with his hand before settling his glasses back on the bridge of his nose.

“Well, then let me have a look and we’ll go from there.”

The vet performed a cursory exam before he removed Frog’s collar and gingerly examined the area Mac and Joanna indicated.

“It could be a cyst or tumor, or something as simple as an infected insect bite. I’d need to run a scan to be sure. Do you have time to stick around?”

“Sure,” MacGyver replied as Jo quickly nodded.

They waited in silence for the doctor to return with Frog and hopefully the results of the scan. The word ‘tumor’ echoed ominously through Mac’s brain. Joanna must have sensed his concern as she gently put her hand on his knee and gave it a comforting squeeze. Perhaps she was having the same thoughts. When MacGyver thought he couldn’t wait a second longer the door to the exam room opened and the vet walked in with Frog in his arms.

“What did you find?” Mac asked anxiously.

The man set Frog down on the table before pulling up a wheeled stool and sitting down himself.

“I don’t know what to make of it,” he replied baldly. “I started with a set of X-rays and there appears to be a small piece of metal imbedded right below the skin.”

“Like shrapnel?”

“I couldn’t tell. I’d have to remove it to find out for sure.”

“Can that be done tonight?” Jo asked.

The doctor shrugged. “It’s a simple procedure if you don’t mind waiting.”

“We’re good,” Mac assured him.

Relegated once again to the uncomfortable waiting room, Mac and Joanna sat silently next to each other, each lost in their own thoughts. After almost thirty minutes, the veterinarian beckoned them, not back to the exam room, but to the lab instead.

“Mr. MacGyver,” he began sternly, “Are you sure you don’t want to tell me where this animal came from?”

MacGyver’s muscles tensed. “If I knew Frog’s origins I would have put that on the paperwork. As I said earlier, I don’t know where my friend got him.”

“Is there a problem, sir?” Joanna asked before Mac could continue.

The doctor’s shoulders slouched as if in defeat. “Look, I don’t know who you are or where your dog came from, but the piece of metal we removed from his neck appears to be a microchip.”

“What?” the couple gasped in unison.

“Take a look for yourselves,” the vet directed them toward a microscope. “As you can see, it appears to be corroding which is causing Frog some discomfort. I doubt that anything harmful has entered his bloodstream, but to be on the safe side I’m prescribing a round of antibiotics.”

“Is it one of those microchips they’re putting in dogs in case they get lost?” Joanna asked as Mac continued to examine the specimen.

“No,” the vet answered confidently. “Those chips are quite small and implanted by injection. This chip is significantly larger and had to have been surgically implanted at some point.”

MacGyver now looked up and turned to face the doctor, questions churning faster than he could find the words to ask them.

“Also,” the man continued, “This chip is quite primitive. It looks to be at least ten years old.”

“Any idea where it came from or what’s on it?” Mac asked.

“Look, I’m just a retired vet working part-time to put the kids through college, not James Bond. I’ve never seen anything like this before. I should probably report it, but I don’t even know who to report it to!”

MacGyver shared the man’s mounting frustration and felt sorry for him. Perhaps full disclosure was in order.

“Sir, I used to work for the Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles. That’s how I met Frog. A Bulgarian defector was living in L.A. under the Foundation’s protection. Someone got her Frog for companionship. Unfortunately, she witnessed a serious crime and had to change identities which meant giving up Frog.” Here he turned and looked at Joanna. “That’s when Frank and the Colton’s adopted Frog. He stayed with them until last July when Frank brought him to live with me.”

“That’s quite a story, son,” the vet sighed.

“With your permission,” Mac continued, “I’d like to take the chip and turn it over to Phoenix. Perhaps their labs can read it and figure out what’s going on.”

“Since the chip was found in your dog, it’s technically your property. And since I have no precedence on how to proceed, I believe your suggestion sounds like the best course of action.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

“But be sure to give Frog his full round of antibiotics. You can pick them up at the front desk on the way out. And keep his collar off as much as possible until the skin irritation subsides.” The two men shook hands and minutes later Frog was released into Mac’s and Joanna’s care.

XXXXX

“What is it now, MacGyver?!” Pete snarled into the phone.

“How did you know it was me?”

“Who else calls me in the middle of the night? I suppose you have a favor to ask.”

Mac grimaced and pinched the bridge of his nose. He glanced at Joanna snuggled up with Frog on his couch, both sound asleep. It had taken the two of them, the better part of twenty minutes, and umpteen pieces of liverwurst to get Frog to swallow his medicine. One pill down, nine to go.

“You still got any strings you can pull at Phoenix?” MacGyver asked his friend.

“Maybe,” Pete hesitated. “Exactly what kind of ‘strings’ are we talking about?”

“I’d rather not say anything over the phone. I’ll come down to your place in the morning.” Mac hung up the phone before Pete could respond…or object.

Early the next morning, MacGyver gently ran the back of his index finger down Joanna’s sleep-flushed cheek. She awoke and looked up at him with a disoriented gaze.

“You fell asleep on my couch last night and I didn’t have the heart to wake you,” he explained before she could ask.

“My stiff neck and sore back thank you for that,” she replied wryly as she pushed off the blanket he had covered her with. At some point during the night, Frog had removed himself to his favorite spot under the coffee table and continued to snore.

“Boy, you really aren’t a morning person,” Mac observed.

“It took you this long to figure that out?” came the snappy retort.

“How about I make us some breakfast and then take you home so you can get ready for work?”

“Breakfast sounds good,” she answered sincerely. “But there’s no need to take me home. I have a change of clothes upstairs if you don’t mind me using your shower.”

“No, go right ahead,” Mac replied, perplexed. Since when did she keep clothes at his place? And why hadn’t he noticed. He looked around warily, wondering what else he might have missed. So much for his keen powers of observation. He’d have to take inventory when he got back.

They discussed their plans for the day over MacGyver’s self-proclaimed world famous pancakes. He told Joanna about his hope to have Phoenix check out the microchip and she told him that she planned to spend the day at Challengers.

“Isn’t Hernandez gonna be upset with you taking off?”

“I told him it was a family emergency,” she shrugged. “After all, you and Frog are like family to me anyway. Besides, we left my car there yesterday and now with you going to Chicago I can be there to help Cynthia and take care of Frog.”

“I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone,” he warned her.

“Don’t worry about it. Just try to get some answers, okay?”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Once MacGyver was on his way to Chicago, Joanna told Cynthia what all they had discovered at the vet’s office the previous evening before heading to the nearest pet supply store to buy a harness for Frog. Hopefully it would be less irritating than his collar and allow the small incision where the chip had been removed to heal faster.

Before Jo knew it, the afterschool crowd of boys and girls of all ages began to descend upon the club. Working in tandem with Cynthia, Jo made sure all the members were engaged in positive activities and that they were all following the Challengers code of conduct. She was in the middle of a tutoring session when Frog ambled over to her with an expectant look.

“Raul!” she called and the young teen quickly appeared.

“I think Frog needs to go outside. Wanna take him?”

Raul’s face brightened and she had her answer. Together they struggled to strap the pudgy bull dog into his harness and soon boy and beast were on their way.

Joanna was once again engrossed in a lesson when Raul bounded into the room, a huffing Frog trying to keep up.

“Ms. Jo! Ms. Jo! You’ll never guess what happened!”

“Well, then you better just tell me,” she replied good-naturedly.

“A man just tried to buy Frog from me! He said he’d give me a thousand dollars for him!”

“What?!” Joanna shot up so quickly that the chair she had been sitting on tumbled backwards. Realizing the attention they had garnered, she steered Raul and Frog toward Mac’s office.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” she instructed Raul once they were settled behind closed doors.

“I was walkin’ Frog around the block like I do every day when this big car came up behind us and an old white guy got out and said he’d give me a thousand dollars if I gave him Frog.”

“What did you tell him?”

“I told him he ain’t my dog so I couldn’t sell him.”

“And the old guy was okay with that?” Jo asked skeptically.

“I guess,” the boy shrugged. “His face started to turn red but then he mumbled something about different ways to kill cats and got in the car and left. I ran straight back here in case he tried to follow us.”

“More than one way to skin a cat,” Joanna absently corrected the idiom before giving the teen her full attention.

“You did good, Raul,” she assured him. “Can you tell me what the car looked like?”

“It was big and black,” he shrugged.

“What about the man? You said he was old?”

“Yeah. Older than MacGyver but not as old as my grandpa.”

“Can you remember anything else?” Jo prodded.

Raul shook his head. “I was kinda scared, ya know?”

Jo smiled softly. “I know. Now I think I hear some homework calling your name.”

When Raul had left the office, Joanna sat back in the big desk chair and tried to make sense of everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours. She didn’t think that finding the microchip and having someone try to take Frog was a coincidence. And she knew Mac didn’t believe in coincidences, either. She thought about calling him, but he couldn’t do anything but worry while he was still in Chicago. Yet her gut was telling her she had to get Frog away from Challengers. Things could have gone very differently for Raul with the man in the big black car. So as not to worry Cynthia, she claimed she had a headache and quickly took Frog back to Mac’s place.

“Okay, buddy, time for your pill,” she announced after divesting the dog of his leash and harness.

She opened the refrigerator in search of the liverwurst when her gaze landed on a clear plastic container of raw chicken livers.

“Really, dude?!” she looked down at Frog, her eyebrows raised. “Mac must really be worried about your appetite if he’s making your favorite treat.” The canine met her gaze, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth while his face was a mask of doggy innocence.

Not finding any liverwurst, she reached for a brick of tofu.

“Sorry, but this is gonna have to do for tonight.”

After fifteen minutes of wrestling with the stout little dog, Joanna finally got him to swallow the piece of tofu in which she had concealed his antibiotic. To her dismay, the ordeal left her light pink blouse disheveled and wet with slobber. She sighed and climbed the winding staircase hoping Mac had a clean hockey jersey. Doing laundry was not one of his strong suits, she had discovered. She was washing out her blouse in the bathroom sink when she heard glass smash and Frog begin to bark frantically.

“That better not have been anything important,” she scolded as she hurried to dry her hands. But by the time she made it down the staircase, all was quiet and the window that made up Mac’s front door lay in shards at her feet with no dog in sight.

Her heartbeat quickened and she let out an involuntary scream as the ringing phone startled her.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver arrived at the Thornton’s suburban Chicago home by late morning. He stopped just long enough to collect Pete and head into the city where a scientist was waiting for them at the Phoenix Foundation.

“So when are you going to tell me what this is all about?” Pete huffed as they sat in the ever-present downtown traffic jam.

“Just hold your horses, Pete,” Mac soothed. “I want to know what we’re dealing with first.”

“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?!” his friend shot back.

MacGyver grinned.

Having arrived at their destination, Mac offered Pete his elbow as the two men navigated the maze of corridors that led to the electronics and computer lab. They were met by a nervous, wiry man with thinning hair who introduced himself as Doctor Downer. After settling a harrumphing Pete on a stool in a nearby corner, MacGyver handed over the small container holding the microchip.

As the good doctor prepared the chip for microscopic examination, Mac wandered around the lab which was much more advanced than anything he had encountered during his time with the Foundation. Curious, he picked up and examined various computer components and electronic gizmos. This could easily be his favorite place second only to the chemistry lab.

“Mr. MacGyver, may I please ask that you keep your hands to yourself?” Dr. Downer censured. “Perhaps you would like to wait over by Mr. Thornton?”

Mac held up his hands in a show of surrender, eventually approaching the corner where Pete not-so-patiently waited.

“Where did you get this?” Dr. Downer demanded after several long minutes of intense scrutiny.

“Why? What is it?” Mac asked as he quickly came to stand beside the scientist.

“First I must know how you came to be in possession of it,” the doctor demanded.

Mac jammed his fingers through his hair and sighed. “A veterinarian removed it from Frog’s neck yesterday.”
“What?!” Pete exclaimed.

“It was in a frog?” the doctor asked.

“Frog is the name of my dog,” MacGyver explained.

“Why would you name your dog ‘Frog’?” Dr. Downer asked distastefully.

Mac struggled for patience. “He was already named that when I got him. Now could you please tell us about the chip?”

Downer looked furtively around the lab. “I think it best if we discuss this in my office. Come.”

Leaning back in his plush leather desk chair, Downer removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “Back in the early eighties, a soviet defector by the name of Pleshenkov, came to work for Phoenix. He was a brilliant, cutting edge computer scientist. Unfortunately, he used the Foundation’s funding and resources to further his own personal agenda. This was discovered in 1985 and he was let go.”

“Now that you mention it, I seem to recall hearing something to that effect over at the DXS,” Pete offered.

“Yes, well, by that time, Pleshenkov had secured his own funding sources and continued his work elsewhere until his lab was shut down due to unethical practices.”

“That’s all very interesting,” MacGyver replied. “But what does that have to do with the chip we found in Frog.”

“Doctor Pleshenkov’s work consisted of encrypting microchips with government information and implanting them in domestic animals as a means of getting them out of the country. The chip you gave me definitely appears to be his handiwork which would make your dog one of the test subjects that was still in Pleshenkov’s laboratory at the time it closed.

Mac’s heart sank at the thought of Frog being caged up and experimented on.
“So what does all that mean?” he asked.

“Up until a few weeks ago, nothing,” Downer replied. “Lately there have been murmurings in the scientific underground that Pleshenkov is looking to fund a new project and there are still some former Soviet entities that will pay good money to obtain these microchips.”

“But how can he possibly expect to find them?” Pete blustered. “The animals he used could be anywhere in the country by now!”

“Indeed,” the scientist concurred. “However, Pleshenkov had the foresight to outfit the chips with a tracking device.”

“But tracking systems back then had a very limited range,” MacGyver pointed out. “And the chip is already corroding.”

Dr. Downer shook his head slowly. “The chip is not severely damaged and the tracking technique Pleshenkov used was a very sophisticated global positioning unit.”

“What does that mean?” Pete asked impatiently.

The pieces were starting to fall into place for MacGyver. “It’s a system that uses existing satellites to transmit information. Given the proper equipment, Pleshenkov could theoretically track down the chips anywhere in the world,” he explained to Pete before turning his attention back to Downer.

“Is it safe to assume that Pleshenkov may be coming after Frog?” Mac asked Downer.

“If he found the signal before the chip was removed, I’m afraid your little friend may be in a great deal of danger,” the scientist nodded sadly.

“May I use your phone?” MacGyver asked as he reached across the desk for the receiver.

“Be my guest,” Downer muttered, clearly annoyed by this invasion of his personal space.

Mac quickly dialed the number for Challengers and asked to speak with Joanna as soon as Cynthia answered the phone.

“I’m afraid she’s not here, MacGyver. She said she had a headache and was going back to your place with Frog.”

Mac immediately disconnected the call and dialed his own number. The phone rang several times, each ring causing his concern to ratchet up a notch. Finally Joanna answered.

“Hey, it’s me. I have some important news about the—“

But Jo cut him off. “Frog’s been kidnapped!” she exclaimed breathlessly.

Mac felt as if he had just been punched in the gut.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, but Frog—“

“Go over to Charlie’s and call the police. Stay with him until they arrive. I’m on my way.”

XXXXX

Darkness had fallen by the time MacGyver pulled into his driveway to find Charlie and Joanna sitting silently on his stoop, his front door already boarded up. They stood up as he approached, Jo finding her way into his open arms.

“The cops aren’t taking this seriously,” she told him, her words muffled as her head lay against his chest. “They’re calling it an attempted break-in and since I didn’t actually see anyone take Frog, they think he may have just run off on his own, but he didn’t. Mac, someone took him!”

“I know,” MacGyver soothed, rubbing gentle circles on her back to comfort her.

“Let’s go inside and figure this out, okay?” he urged. He tucked Joanna against his side as they headed indoors. Charlie offered the couple a sad smile as he ambled back to his side of the duplex.

“Now tell me what happened,” Mac prompted as soon as he and Jo were settled next to each other on his couch.

“Shouldn’t we be looking for Frog?” she protested.

“We will,” he assured her, “But he could be anywhere. I need to know what you know to help us come up with a plan.”

Joanna told him about Raul being offered money for Frog and how she heard the glass break before discovering the dog was missing.

MacGyver regarded her thoughtfully. “It doesn’t seem like they want to hurt anyone since both you and Raul are safe.”

“But what about Frog? Will they hurt him?” she questioned.

Mac shook his head and told her what he had learned about the microchip. “I’m assuming it was Pleshenkov who took him, and as soon as he discovers the chip is missing, he’ll need to keep Frog for leverage.”

“You mean ransom,” Jo replied dully.

“Yeah. But first things first,” Mac said as he went to his desk and fired up his computer. “You call Pete and tell him everything. With what we know about Pleshenkov and the chip, it shouldn’t be too hard to get the government involved. In the meantime, I’m gonna see if we can track down our little buddy.”

“How?”

“When Frog started bounty hunting with the Colton’s, I rigged up a homing device and hid it in his collar in case…well, just in case. It isn’t nearly as sophisticated as the chip, but if he’s within range the computer program I used should still be able to locate him.”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Joanna lower her head and wrap her arms around her waist.

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” he tried to convince her.

“You won’t be able to find Frog,” she said, her voice quavering with unshed tears. “I took his collar off so it wouldn’t irritate his neck. He’s not wearing your homing device.”

MacGyver sighed silently and swallowed his disappointment. He couldn’t say or do anything to make Joanna feel worse than she already did. He rose from his chair and took her in his arms again.

“It’s no big deal,” he responded, trying to sound confident. “We’ll find a way to get him back,” he promised, hoping it was true.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Frog sniffed the threadbare carpet. Cats. Not only had he been dognapped, but now he was being held hostage in an abandoned house that had been formerly occupied by cats. After being unceremoniously tossed in the back seat of the big black sedan, the speed and bumpiness of the ride caused him to be thrown to the floor boards numerous times so he had been unable to look out the window and determine the route or destination. The ride, thankfully, had not been long, so he knew he was still relatively close to his master. Thoughts of MacGyver automatically made him think of Joanna. He was glad she had been upstairs when his abductor broke in, and he hoped she wasn’t too worried about him. He liked Joanna very much. He especially enjoyed cuddling with her on the couch. But then again, so did his master. Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he was thankful, as well as more than a bit surprised, that he hadn’t been chained up or, heaven forbid, locked in a cage. Instead, he had been left free to roam the dilapidated building, but he had stayed close to the man who took him, hoping to get some information he could use to escape.

Upon arriving at the old house, another man had been waiting for them. The man was tall, and broad, and didn’t seem too intelligent. He was obviously the muscle of the operation. Frog was quite familiar with his kind given the number of assignments he had accompanied Frank and Jesse on back in L.A. during his bounty hunting days. It was the older man that really got under his fur. The man’s scent was vaguely familiar. Frog never forgot a scent. And his accent had an odd way of grating on Frog’s sensitive ear drums. This man seemed to be the key to his predicament. He slowly wandered to the far corner of the room and sat down, careful to keep his eyes blank and his mouth drooling. Working with the Coltons had also taught him that the dumber you looked, the less attention people paid to you. Frog desperately hoped that would be the case tonight.

The two men continued to speak in soft tones across the room for a long time. Oh, how he wished MacGyver were here! His master had a knack for formulating plans and getting himself out of tight spaces. Frog had even helped him a few times. All he had to do was follow Mac’s directions. Push a lever, bring him a bottle. Granted, he may not have accomplished those tasks as expediently as expected, but he always got the job done. Unfortunately, Mac wasn’t here to tell him what to do. He’d have to figure that out all by himself. The men’s voices became louder and Frog’s ears perked up.

“He’s worthless without the chip,” Muscle said. “I say we shoot him and bury him in the backyard.”

“No, no, no!” the man with the accent scolded. “Don’t you see, he is much more important now. We must keep him alive and well in order to use him to bargain with!”

This time, Frog was able to pair the man’s voice with his scent. The man who had taken him was none other than Dr. Pleshenkov, that crazy scientist who had put a microchip in his neck when he was barely out of puppyhood. He was supposed to be shipped out of the States the following week, but Pleshenkov’s lab got shut down and Frog had been sent to the relatively friendly confines of an animal shelter before the Phoenix Foundation adopted him to be a companion for a pretty Bulgarian defector.

“Aw, c’mon doc!” Muscle protested. “You really think that MacGyver dude is gonna trade us that chip for a fat, wrinkly, bow-legged bull dog?”

Ouch! Must the dimwit be so demeaning?!

“Oh, he’ll give us the chip all right,” Pleshenkov said as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a gun. “Then, with the chip back in my possession, both man and beast will be expendable.”

“What about the woman and the boy?” Muscle asked.

“The woman didn’t see anything, and no one will believe the boy. They are to be left alone. Unless, of course, they become a problem.”

Oh, no! Frog’s mind began to spin. He had to escape and warn MacGyver, but how?!?! Suddenly, his big brown eyes focused on the finely tailored trousers and Italian leather shoes Muscle was wearing. It was payback time for the ugly words he had said earlier. Frog got up from the corner and went to sit in front of the man. He barked once.

“Shut up!” the man snarled.

He barked again, more urgently, before standing up, raising his left hind leg, and relieving himself on the man’s leg and foot.

“Why you little--!!” Muscle growled as he booted Frog away from him with his now not-so-fine leather shoe.

“Don’t hurt him!” Pleshenkov commanded. “Go put him in the backyard.”

“But boss…”

“Go!”

Soon Frog was following Muscle through the house and out the rickety door to the yard.

“And stay out!” the large man yelled, as if Frog really wanted to return to the house anyway.

Alone in the grassy space, Frog surveyed his options for escape which turned out to be few to none. The entire yard was enclosed by a tall, solid wood privacy fence. The gate was no help, as the latch was placed almost too high for most humans to reach. Frog dropped to his haunches, thoroughly discouraged. He was sure MacGyver could have found a way out. He needed to think like his master. Perhaps there was more here than met the eye. Frog got up and methodically began to inspect the edge of the fence. He was about half way around when his paw landed on a section of depressed ground. He stopped and quickly began to sniff the dead grass. He smelled rabbit and soon saw a piece of sunken ground under the fence board. He would need a much bigger whole if he was to crawl under the fence, but this appeared to be his only option. He promised himself he would go on a diet if he managed to get himself out of this horrid situation. With his front paws, he began scratching away at the dirt, the hole getting slightly larger with each effort. It seemed as though he had been digging for hours before the opening was big enough for him to wriggle his pudgy body through. The roughhewn edges of the wooden boards scraped his back, but he didn’t care. His hind legs had just cleared the fence line when he heard the door open and Muscle swearing at the top of his lungs when he realized Frog had escaped.

Run! He had to get away from Muscle and Pleshenkov before worrying about finding his way home. After scampering through several yards and alleyways, he allowed himself to rest. Panting heavily, he took stock of his surroundings. Even in the dark, the houses appeared familiar, and down the road a ways was a building he definitely recognized. Challengers! Thankfully, he often hung his head out the passenger window as Mac drove them to work every day. As soon as he got to Challengers, he could easily find his way home!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It seemed as though MacGyver had barely disconnected from his call to Pete when a number of various government agents descended upon his apartment like a swarm of angry bees. Before he knew it, his phone was wired for a trace and he was being briefed on how to handle the ransom call, never mind that he used to be the one doing the briefing, but that seemed like a lifetime ago now. Joanna stood in a quiet corner chewing on her lip. He longed to comfort her, but he had a mission to complete.

“May I have the chip, Mr. MacGyver?” a man in a dark suit asked.

“That might be a problem,” Mac replied.

“Why is that, sir?”

“Well, ya see, I don’t have it.”

“We were led to believe you were in possession of the microchip to use in a ransom exchange. Where is it?”

“With Pete and Dr. Downer at the Phoenix lab in Chicago,” Mac told him evenly. “But I find it hard to believe you’d risk Pleshenkov getting his hands on the actual chip.”

The agent ran his fingers through his close-cropped hair in an uncharacteristic sign of frustration before quickly huddling with his fellow investigators. Knowing he could resolve at least one problem, MacGyver went to his computer and unscrewed the top of the processing unit. Choosing a tool from his Swiss Army knife, he carefully disconnected a microchip of about the same size and appearance as the one found in Frog. He then approached the huddle of secret agents.

“Maybe you guys could use this instead?” he offered.

They all looked at him in disbelief before one agent silently reached out, took the chip, and slipped it into a small glass container before turning back to his comrades.

“You’re welcome,” Mac said wryly before leaving them to their whispered conversation.

Once the agents had a plan firmly solidified, the only thing to do was wait for the ransom call. MacGyver’s telephone had been set up on the coffee table in front of the couch where he and Joanna now sat. She rubbed her temples, sighed, and looked at her watch for the fifth time in five minutes.

“Relax,” Mac said softly, resting his hand on her thigh. “These things take time. Everything’s gonna be okay.”

“How can you possibly know that?” she glared, turning her head so her eyes bored into his.

“Well, I can’t. Not really. But I’ve been through this before and things have a way of working out.”

She turned her eyes back to the silent telephone and Mac wished he could have been more reassuring, but the simple truth was that while many hostage negotiations ended peacefully, others had a way of going south quickly. They could only hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. He was just about to go get a glass of milk when Jo reached out and grabbed his forearm.

“Did you hear that?” she whispered.

“Hear what?” he asked, not quite sure why he was whispering as well.

“I thought I heard something on your patio?”

The couple looked toward the patio doors. The vertical blinds had been closed tight early on to avoid any prying eyes that may be hiding in the night.

“You’re tired and upset. You probably just imagined it,” he told her gently.

A scratching sound on the glass door caused the couple to start.

“Don’t tell me I imagined that!” Jo challenged as her gaze swung to meet his.

“C’mon,” he said, grabbing her hand and slowly getting up from the couch.

After telling an agent what they had heard, lights were dimmed and men with guns drawn took up strategic positions throughout the room as others prepared to open the sliding glass doors. When the appropriate signal was given, one of the agents quickly slid open the door and aimed his gun at nothing but air. It was Mac who was the first one to look down and notice their guest.

“Frog! Buddy! Where’ve you been and how did you get here?” He moved toward the dog only to be scolded by a nearby agent.

“Stay back! It could be a trap!”

Frog trotted into the living room seemingly oblivious of the agents and plopped down at Mac’s feet before giving a soft ‘woof’ and then shaking his head, sending slobber flying. Joanna immediately fell to her knees and wrapped her arms around the canine’s neck before frowning in concern when she noticed the scratches on his back from the wooden fence he had slipped under. When the agents had finished scouring the area for any threats, they carefully examined Frog for any trace evidence that might reveal where he had been taken, but they found nothing. Suddenly, the phone blared to life garnering everyone’s attention.

MacGyver stared at the phone in disbelief. “That can’t possibly be Pleshenkov offering a trade. He has to know Frog has escaped by now.”

“But he has no way of knowing the dog is here,” an agent replied from behind. “Answer the call as we discussed earlier.”

MacGyver picked up the phone. “Hello?” he said in a low, controlled voice.

“Ah, good evening, Mr. MacGyver. I’m assuming you know who this is.”

“Dr. Pleshenkov.”

“Indeed! I must presume this call is being traced, so I will say this only once. Meet me in Wilmot Park at midnight. Come to the southeast corner by the monument. Bring the chip and come alone.”

Before Mac could respond, the call was disconnected. He looked at the technician sitting nearby. He shook his head. “The call wasn’t long enough, we couldn’t get a location.”
“So we go through with the meeting as planned, right?” MacGyver asked, knowing his answer would be confirmed.

“But why?” Joanna broke in. “Frog is safe and we have the chip. Pleshenkov just told you where he’s gonna be. Can’t you just capture him without this ruse?”

Mac turned toward her and put his hands solidly on her shoulders, willing her to understand. “If Pleshenkov even thinks he smells a set-up, he’ll go back underground and we may lose him forever.”

He could see Joanna’s eye’s soften slightly. “Think about what he’s done to Frog. We need to get him into custody,” he said gently.

Joanna had not yet responded when a Kevlar vest was shoved into MacGyver’s hands.

“You need to wear this, sir,” an agent told him.

Mac regarded the protective gear as if he was holding a snake. His brow furrowed and his lip curled slightly. He had been through and survived a whole lot more with a whole lot less.

As if reading his thoughts, Joanna whispered, “Please Mac, wear it for me?”

“All right,” he replied, softly stroking her cheek with the back of his forefinger before strapping the vest around him and fervently hoping that Pleshenkov would aim for his chest and not his head.

In the midst of the controlled chaos as the plan was set in motion, no one saw Frog nose open the sliding glass patio door and scurry out into the night.

XXXXX

MacGyver sat in the back of a dark, nondescript van as government agents wired him with a microphone connected to a tape recorded. This needed to be a solid bust. Several government agents and law enforcement officers had been dispatched throughout the park, hiding behind trees or crouching amongst bushes.

Thankfully, two officers had remained at his apartment to watch over Jo and Frog until this ordeal was over leaving him to concentrate on what he had to do. At precisely two minutes to midnight Mac slid out the side door of the van and walked determinedly toward the monument Pleshenkov had indicated. As the clock struck twelve, the scientist emerged from the shadows behind the cement statue, a taller, burlier man close behind.

“I thought the instructions were to come alone,” Mac called across the space that separated them. He stood casually, his feet slightly apart and his hands jammed in the front pockets of his jeans.

“Those instructions only apply to you, Mr. MacGyver,” the scientist replied coolly. “I trust you followed them?”

“Where’s my dog?” Mac asked, evading the previous question.

“First things first, Mr. MacGyver. Hand over the microchip.”

“Now, you don’t really think I’d have it on me, do ya?”

Pleshenkov took a deep breath as his cheeks grew pink.

“I do not have the time nor the patience for games, Mr. MacGyver. Tell me where the chip is!”

“Be glad to. Just as soon as you give me my dog back.” Mac knew he was pushing it, but he wanted to rattle the scheming scientist before the feds moved in.

“I’m afraid that is no longer an option, Mr. MacGyver.” Pleshenkov moved his hand in a silent signal to the man behind him who now stepped forward, a revolver aimed at Mac’s heart. “Tell me where the chip is!”

Mac regarded the men thoughtfully. “The way I see it, this is a no-win situation for one of us. If I keep silent, you don’t get your chip. If I tell you where it is, you kill me. What do you say we all sit down and try to come up with a compromise?”

“A compromise?!?!” Pleshekov roared, his face redder than a tomato. “I found the chip once, I’ll find it again!” He then turned to his accomplice. “Shoot him!” he ordered.

Out of the corner of his eye, MacGyver saw Frog running straight towards Pleshenkov as fast as his little bow legs could carry him, growling all the way before latching on to the man’s pant leg with his teeth and tugging hard. At that same time the other man fired his gun and Mac felt as if he had been hit in the chest by a wrecking ball, the force causing him to fall backward to the ground knocking the air out of his lungs. He heard myriad voices demanding Pleshenkov and his man to ‘freeze’ and ‘drop the gun’ before his world went black.

When MacGyver awoke, he was still lying on the ground. He tilted his head up just enough to make out the dark forms of concerned government agents standing around him, Frog slobbering his cheek with happy doggy kisses, and Joanna kneeling next to him, her deep liquid brown eyes full of fear as she stroked his hair and pleaded with him to be okay. He tried to push himself up but was met with a resisting force on his shoulder which turned out to be Jo’s hand.

“Stay down. The paramedics are on the way,” she told him. Her voice thick with unshed tears.

“I’m fine. I just had the wind knocked out of me,” he insisted, managing to force himself upright this time. He scowled when he looked down at his chest. “Aw, man! That goon ruined my favorite shirt,” he groaned, fingering the fabric that had been frayed by the bullet.

No longer able to hide her emotions, Joanna let her tears fall as she flung her arms around Mac’s neck.

“I was so scared when I saw you go down,” she sobbed. “You know they make bullets that can penetrate those vests.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” Mac responded sourly even as he wrapped his strong arms around her as she cried. “What are you and Frog doing here anyway? You should have stayed where it was safe.”

Joanna leaned back on her heels, wiping away her tears.

“After you left, I noticed Frog was gone. I figured he was following you.”

“So you decided to follow him,” Mac finished for her.

“Yeah,” she replied sheepishly.

“I’m sorry, sir, we tried to stop her,” one of the officers assigned to protect her apologized. “The best we could do was convince her to come with us instead of alone.”

MacGyver smiled at the young man. “No apology necessary. Joanna can be quite, um, persuasive when she wants to be.”

XXXXX

The dawn of a new day saw MacGyver, Joanna, and Frog cuddled up on his couch recounting the events of the previous night. After the crime scene had been cleared, Mac had finally relented and went to the hospital to make sure the impact of the bullet had been harmless, which it was. They returned to his townhouse just in time to receive a phone call from Pete informing them that Dr. Downer had been able to decode some of the information on the microchip and it was now safely in the hands of the United States government, where it would remain. Mac relayed to his friend that Pleshenkov and his crony had been arrested and would be out of commission for a very long time. Joanna lay against his chest and he felt her sigh as the first rays of daylight pierced the window.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she replied, absently fondling Frog’s silky ear. “It’s just hard to believe that Frog had that thing in his neck all these years.”

“It’s hard to believe what people will do to animals in the name of science,” Mac grumbled.

“I know,” Jo agreed sadly. “Do you think the other animals Pleshenkov used are okay?”

“I’d like to think so,” he answered pensively.

“Well, I’m just glad Frog has you,” she declared. “You’re a really good dog dad.”

MacGyver laughed. “Thanks…I think! And for the record, you make a pretty good dog mom yourself.”

Her only response was to smile and nestle closer to his chest. He savored the intimacy of the moment as his odd little family continued to watch the sun crawl over the horizon.



Posted by: Dragondog 22 August 2019 - 09:36 AM
QUOTE
Chapter 13: Frog’s Secret
I'm intrigued...

QUOTE
“There’s a lump there,” Mac frowned.

Joanna nodded in agreement as she gently separated the short hair of the canine’s coat. “The skin around the area looks red, too.” Her eyes were full of concern as they met his.
Personally, I would've checked his neck a lot sooner dry.gif

QUOTE

“I think you should probably take him to the vet just to be on the safe side,” Joanna suggested, rising to stand next to him.
Something else I would've done much earlier...

QUOTE

“No,” the vet answered confidently. “Those chips are quite small and implanted by injection. This chip is significantly larger and had to have been surgically implanted at some point.”
I'm really curious about Frog's past now...

QUOTE

“What is it now, MacGyver?!” Pete snarled into the phone.
Well hello to you too, grumpy...

QUOTE

“You fell asleep on my couch last night and I didn’t have the heart to wake you,” he explained before she could ask.

“My stiff neck and sore back thank you for that,” she replied wryly as she pushed off the blanket he had covered her with.
That happens to me every time I sleep on the couch, too XD

QUOTE

“No, go right ahead,” Mac replied, perplexed. Since when did she keep clothes at his place? And why hadn’t he noticed. He looked around warily, wondering what else he might have missed. So much for his keen powers of observation. He’d have to take inventory when he got back.
Lol laugh.gif

QUOTE

“A man just tried to buy Frog from me! He said he’d give me a thousand dollars for him!”
Frog's got a secret, all right. And he's probably in danger now sad.gif

QUOTE

She opened the refrigerator in search of the liverwurst when her gaze landed on a clear plastic container of raw chicken livers.
Mac didn't put that there...

QUOTE
But by the time she made it down the staircase, all was quiet and the window that made up Mac’s front door lay in shards at her feet with no dog in sight.
Saw that coming...

QUOTE

“Why would you name your dog ‘Frog’?” Dr. Downer asked distastefully.
I've actually wondered this a lot laugh.gif

Well, Frog has quite a past, hasn't he?...

QUOTE
“I took his collar off so it wouldn’t irritate his neck. He’s not wearing your homing device.”
Yeah, they replaced it with a harness for a reason, right? XD

QUOTE

Frog sniffed the threadbare carpet. Cats. Not only had he been dognapped, but now he was being held hostage in an abandoned house that had been formerly occupied by cats.
This little bit from Frog's POV is adorable XD

QUOTE
After being unceremoniously tossed in the back seat of the big black sedan, the speed and bumpiness of the ride caused him to be thrown to the floor boards numerous times so he had been unable to look out the window and determine the route or destination. The ride, thankfully, had not been long, so he knew he was still relatively close to his master. Thoughts of MacGyver automatically made him think of Joanna. He was glad she had been upstairs when his abductor broke in, and he hoped she wasn’t too worried about him. He liked Joanna very much. He especially enjoyed cuddling with her on the couch. But then again, so did his master. Bringing his thoughts back to the present, he was thankful, as well as more than a bit surprised, that he hadn’t been chained up or, heaven forbid, locked in a cage. Instead, he had been left free to roam the dilapidated building, but he had stayed close to the man who took him, hoping to get some information he could use to escape.
That moment you realize that Frog has human-like intelligence, enough to think logically and methodically like this XD

Forgive me for saying this, but it's also really heckin' convenient that the chip corroded and Mac found out about all this right around the same time Pleshenkov decided to reclaim him XD

QUOTE
He promised himself he would go on a diet if he managed to get himself out of this horrid situation.
XD XD XD



QUOTE

In the midst of the controlled chaos as the plan was set in motion, no one saw Frog nose open the sliding glass patio door and scurry out into the night.
Frog, what are you up to? huh.gif

QUOTE
“Aw, man! That goon ruined my favorite shirt,”
Well why did you wear your favorite shirt knowing you might get shot? laugh.gif

They're all so cute and happy in the end love.jpg

Can I just add that I can't read Pleshenkov without thinking of Peter Lenkov? XD

This chapter also makes me want more of Frog's viewpoint XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 28 August 2019 - 12:44 PM
Chapter 14: Dating: MacGyver Style

Joanna took one last, cleansing breath of the warm, sweet, spring air before pulling open the heavy plate glass door and stepping into the hermetically sealed, multi-storied building that housed the Hernandez Law Firm. Her high heels clicked a steady cadence on the ceramic tile as she headed to the bank of elevators that would take her to the floor she and several other research assistants and paralegals occupied. Upon arriving at the office’s outer lobby, Jo breezily greeted one of the many receptionists.

“Morning, Geena! Happy Friday!”

“My, aren’t we in a good mood today,” Geena, the middle-aged, African-American woman observed.

Jo quickly picked up the slightly sarcastic note in the woman’s voice.

“Why shouldn’t I be? The weather is finally warming up and there are only eight more hours until the weekend!”

“Well, I hate to rain on your parade, but I have something for you.”

Geena reached behind her and grabbed a single, long-stemmed red rose and held it out to Joanna.

“That man of yours left this for you. You two have a fight or something?”

Joanna took the flower, her stomach doing a little flip at Mac’s surprisingly sweet gesture as she pressed her nose deep into the silky petals and inhaled the intoxicating scent before frowning at the woman’s comment.

“Why would you say that?”

“Honey, there’s only one reason a man sends flowers for no reason. Now what happened?”

“Nothing,” Joanna smiled reassuringly. “And who says he’s ‘my man’?”

“Girl, since the first day y’all walked in here the entire office knew you two were an item!”

Joanna’s smile slowly faded. She and MacGyver had tried to keep their personal relationship, well, personal. Apparently, they hadn’t succeeded. A bit deflated, she turned to head to her office.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Geena called. “Don’t you want the card he left?”

Joanna turned back, reaching out to grab the card. “Thanks,” she mumbled.

Making sure her office door was closed, Joanna settled herself in the comfortable chair behind her desk before reading the little note. And little it was:

Meet me at the rink after work.
Wear jeans.
Mac

Joanna’s head dropped forward as she groaned. She had forgotten it was their first “date night”. And apparently Mac’s big plan was having her watch him practice his hockey skills. She leaned back in her chair with a sigh, absently tapping the corner of the notecard on the desktop as she recalled a conversation they had earlier in the week while cleaning up at Challengers for the night.

“So, I was reading this article,” Mac began as he gathered cue sticks that had been left lying on the pool table, “and it said that busy couples need to make an extra effort to spend quality time together.”

“Yeah, I heard that somewhere, too,” Joanna replied as she straightened the cushions on the various sofas and chairs while picking candy wrappers up off the floor. “You know, we need to crack down on getting the kids to clean up after themselves,” she said wearily.

“Then I took this quiz,” MacGyver continued, oblivious to Jo’s previous comment.

Joanna snapped to attention. “Wait a minute. You took a quiz?”

“Yeah,” he shrugged.

“What kind of quiz?” her lips began to tug upward.

“The kind you find in magazines,” he replied sheepishly.

Joanna couldn’t believe her ears! She began glancing around until her gaze fell upon an old issue of Cosmopolitan laying dog-eared on an end table, then it was all she could do not to laugh out loud.

“You mean you took a relationship quiz in Cosmo,” she clarified as she watched Mac’s cheeks flush. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him so uncomfortable before. This was kinda fun.

“Maybe…” he hedged, his back to her as he carefully racked the pool cues. “What can I say?” he countered, turning around. “It was a boring day!”

“So what, exactly, did this quiz determine for us?” she smirked as she dumped the trash she had collected and sank down onto a well-worn couch.

“Nothin’! Forget I said anything.”

“Maybe I should take the quiz and see what results I get,” Jo pretended to threaten.

“Oh, all right! It said we should set aside one evening each week and go out and do something, just the two of us. And it has to be ‘out’, not in one of our homes or workplaces.”

“So air hockey and pizza here at the club is out?”

“Yeah. Well, according to the quiz.”

Jo’s smirk faded and her voice became suspicious. “So, are you saying you really think we should do this?”

Mac tilted his head to the side before giving a definitive nod.

“Yeah. I mean, it can’t hurt, right?”

“I just don’t see the point,” Joanna protested. “We see each other all the time and practically share a dog! What is one date a week gonna do?”

“According to the magazine, It’s gonna get us away from the distractions of everyday life and break up our routine allowing us to continue to learn about and appreciate each other more.”

“That’s what the article said?” Joanna asked, eyebrow cocked.

“Um…more or less. So what do you say, should we give it a try?”

Jo wasn’t sure what MacGyver’s exact motivation behind this ‘dating’ idea was. She never pegged him as the sort to put any stock in, much less even take, a relationship quiz, and then bring it up as a topic for idle conversation.

“Fine. We’ll give it a try,” she capitulated. “Who’s gonna plan the first date?”

MacGyver smiled for the first time during the entire conversation. He shoved his hand into his hip pocket and pulled out a quarter. “We’ll flip a coin!”

XXXXX

After stopping home to change clothes and grab a bite to eat…she wasn’t sure if food was in Mac’s plan for tonight…she pulled her Cavalier into the ice rink’s parking lot, alone except for an old pick-up and Mac’s Nomad. This facility was on the edge of town and much smaller than the Pettit Center where the majority of skaters hung out. She walked into the lobby area, expecting MacGyver to be waiting for her, but he was nowhere to be found and she was greeted by silence instead, along with the scent of sweat and stale popcorn.

“You Ms. Fairfax?” a grizzled voice called from behind an opening set into the wall to her right.

“Yeah,” Jo replied skeptically, cautiously approaching the elderly, gray-haired man.

“Mac said to give these to you.”

The attendant hoisted a pair of white figure skates onto the narrow shelf between them along with another long-stemmed red rose with a white notecard. Joanna opened the card and read the brief statement:

Go to the home team’s bench and put these on.
Mac

Terrific! Mac apparently expected her to skate with him. How had she never gotten around to telling him she never learned? She didn’t even roller skate!

“Something wrong, Miss?”

“Uh, no…everything’s fine,” Joanna replied politely. “Looks like a slow night,” she commented, trying to borrow time and somehow get gracefully out of this ‘date’.

“Fridays are usually pretty packed, but when someone rents the place for the night I’ll happily close it down and take the profit.”

Her brain needed a moment to process this. Mac had paid to make sure they’d have the place all to themselves? More befuddled than before, she bade farewell to the older man and headed toward the ice. She was sitting on the bench, trying to tie her skates when she heard the distinct sound of blades cutting across the smooth surface before her. She looked up to find MacGyver, in jeans and a pullover sweater, gracefully gliding in her direction from the far end of the rink. He skidded to a stop in front of her.

“Hey!” he greeted her with a smile.

“Hey, yourself,” she muttered, pulling awkwardly on the shoelaces.

“Here, let me help you with those.”

Before she could protest, MacGyver was seated on the bench next to her. She had turned, allowing him to place her foot in his lap as he re-tied the laces properly. He patted her boot, indicating he was done, then quickly stood up, apparently anxious to get back on the ice, but Joanna remained seated.

“Is there a problem?” he asked, concern evident in his eyes.

“No,” she lied. “I just thought you brought me here to watch you skate.”

“That would make for a pretty dull date,” Mac grimaced, unaware that he had voiced her own thoughts.

“Well…um…there’s something you should know,” she said quietly.

MacGyver sat back down, worry marring his finely chiseled features. “What is it?” he asked, his voice gruff with concern.

“I probably should have told you sooner…but…I can’t skate.” Joanna hung her head, not wanting to see the disappointment and possible frustration in Mac’s eyes.

She heard him let out a pent up sigh and dared to sneak a peek at his face. He was smiling!

“Why do you think I brought you here?” he asked. “I know you can’t skate, but I planned on starting to fix that tonight. Besides, with Pete down in Chicago, I have to break in a new goalie!”

“So you’re idea of a good time is watching me fall and break my face?” Joanna shot back, her previous embarrassment replaced with the sass she reserved for those she loved most.

Mac laughed. “Trust me, breaking your face is not in my plans. Besides, you’re not gonna fall.”

“Oh really?!?!”

“Of course not, I won’t let you.” He gave her a quick wink before reaching out to take her hand.

Even though she was still seated, Jo grabbed MacGyver’s hand and hung on tight as if it were her lifeline. Skeptically, she looked down at her skate-clad feet.

“These blades are awful narrow. How am I supposed to balance on them?”

Keenly aware of her uncertainty, Mac moved to stand directly in front of her and took her other hand.

“Okay, now just stand up like normal,” he instructed.

She swallowed hard as she levered herself off the bench, holding his hands tighter than necessary. Before she knew it, she was standing tall. Actually, very tall. About three inches taller than usual. It felt kinda funny, but at least she hadn’t teetered over onto the floor as she had expected to.

“All right!” Mac exclaimed triumphantly. “Now let’s get you on the ice!”

Joanna looked at him with narrowed eyes. “You are so gonna pay for this, Angus!” she promised as he helped her totter over to the opening where, heaven forbid, her feet would meet ice. Slippery ice. Hard ice. Oh yeah, payback was gonna be fun!

MacGyver stepped onto the ice first as easily as if he were stepping off a curb, letting go of her hands at the same time.

“Okay, your turn,” he told her.

She felt her pulse ratchet up as her fight-or-flight instinct kicked in. Flight. Yes, that sounded like a good idea. Just run away. But she probably wouldn’t get very far with her feet still strapped into these deathtraps.

“Put your left hand on top of the barrier,” MacGyver instructed, breaking into her thoughts, “and step sideways onto the ice with your right foot so your blade is parallel with the boards.”

As Joanna attempted to do as he said, her right foot slipped and she quickly grabbed the barrier with both arms, unaware that with her sudden movement her left foot had also come onto the ice. Mac was immediately beside her with his arm firmly around her waist.

“It’s okay,” he crooned. “You’re okay.”

“Easy for you to say!” she complained breathlessly.

After a few moments, she began to take deep, calming breaths as Mac pried her right arm away from the top of the padded barrier.

“Hold onto me with your right hand, but keep your left hand on the rail and remember to keep your skates parallel to the boards,” he directed.

Joanna held tightly to his hand and experienced a fraction of relief as she also felt his other hand on the small of her back for extra support.

“You got your balance?” he asked and she slowly nodded. “Good. Now we’re gonna do what’s called ‘penguin steps’. Just lift up your right foot a little bit and put it down, then do the same with the left. Kinda like you’re marching only with very small steps.”

Jo had absolutely no confidence in this process, but she did trust Mac so she decided to make an honest effort. Squeezing his hand as well as the top of the barrier for all she was worth, she picked up her right foot ever so slightly and quickly put it back down. To her surprise, she remained upright and she felt a surge of confidence. She did the same thing with her left foot and when that step was also successful she was beginning to think she might be able to do this after all.

After penguin-stepping half-way around the rink, MacGyver made her stop. She looked at him with questioning eyes.

“It’s time to get rid of one of your support systems,” he declared with a slight grin. “You need to let go of either me or the rail.”

Her traitorous body yearned to remain in Mac’s arms, but her practical mind much preferred the solidness of the railing. As MacGyver eased away, she continued marching in her private little ice parade. Before she knew it, they were back where they began.

“Great job!” Mac exclaimed, spontaneously planting a kiss on her forehead. “Now for the next step!”

“Huh?” Jo paled. “I thought that was it!”

MacGyver shook his head. “Now that you’ve gained some confidence and experienced the feel of the ice, it’s time to start letting those little steps turn into glides.”

“Oh goody,” came her sarcastic reply.

“And this time you hold onto me,” he directed.

“Why?” she asked suspiciously.

“Because I’m the instructor,” he grinned slyly before turning serious and gently reaching for her.

She had to admit that holding onto MacGyver was a whole lot better than grasping the railing. He was soft and warm and smelled like-- Suddenly her foot slid too far forward, causing her to lose her balance. She prepared herself to hit the ice, but instead felt two strong arms tighten around her and place her solidly back on her feet.

“I promised I wouldn’t let you fall,” Mac whispered in her ear, causing a warm tingle to snake down her spine.

After taking a moment to regain her composure, Joanna resumed her steps which were slowly turning into glides. With Mac by her side, she took one more turn around the rink. She was prepared to do another when MacGyver suggested they quit.

“You may feel okay now,” he informed her, “But in the morning you’ll feel muscles you didn’t know you had. Besides, I’m starving! What do you say we go to the pizza place next door?”

“Sounds good to me,” Jo agreed just as her stomach rumbled its assent.

Together they divested themselves of their skates and walked the short distance to the restaurant. The place was packed on a Friday evening, but after Mac whispered into the hostess’s ear they were immediately led to a small table in a dimly lit corner. Joanna cocked an eyebrow in question.

“It is a date, after all,” MacGyver shrugged.

The next hour passed way too quickly as the couple talked and laughed and devoured the pizza that had been place between them. All too soon the dessert dishes were cleared away and it was time to go. Hand in hand, they slowly walked back to the ice rink’s parking lot where they had left their cars. Joanna suddenly wished they had driven together so she could spend a few extra minutes in Mac’s company, but instead, she dug out her key and unlocked the driver’s side door of her coupe. With a wistful sigh she turned to MacGyver who still stood next to her.

“I wish this evening didn’t have to end,” she murmured.

“I take it you had a good time?”

“Anytime I’m with you it’s good,” she replied candidly.

“But you have to admit that tonight felt extra special, didn’t it?” he asked softly, his head dipping closer to hers.

“Maybe there’s something to this dating thing after all,” she conceded, raising her face to his, their lips nearly touching.

The world became silent and time stood still as Mac captured her mouth with his. Jo felt his hands tighten on her hips and hold her closer as she reached up and clasped her arms around his neck, allowing her fingers to play with the hair at his nape which caused him to moan and gave her a surprising sense of satisfaction. The kiss was soft and tender at first, then slowly became passionate and probing, asking and reassuring, though never demanding. Eventually they broke the kiss, but they didn’t step away from each other. MacGyver gazed into her eyes until she thought he could read her soul and then he smiled.

“What?” she asked, backing away slightly but not breaking contact.

“I have a confession to make,” he stated, his voice low and husky.

Jo cocked her head but remained silent.

“I didn’t take any stupid magazine quiz that told us to date. I just used that as a cover story in case things didn’t work out,” he informed her.

“Than what was tonight all about?”

“You. Me. Us. Ever since I came back from L.A. I feel like you back away from me at times. And I need you to know…I needed to show you…”

“I’m not backing away from you, Mac,” she interrupted. “It’s just that sometimes…the way you look at me…it scares me.”

MacGyver shook his head. “I don’t understand.”

“No one’s ever looked at me the way you do, and I’m afraid that eventually I’m going to end up disappointing you.”

“Hey,” he said firmly, cupping her face in his hands. “Don’t ever say that. There is no way you could ever disappoint me. And for the record, I look at you the way I do because I’ve never felt this way about any other woman and you’re right, it is scary ‘cause I don’t wanna mess this up. Not with you.”

Jo laughed at the same time her eyes welled with tears. “We make a fine pair, don’t we?” she teased.

Mac rested his forehead against hers. “I think we make a great pair, and I’d like to keep it that way if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all,” she replied, tears of myriad emotions now flowing freely down her cheeks.

“But I know,” Mac continued, using his thumbs to wipe away her tears, “that it’s gonna take some work. I see now that none of my other relationships worked out because it never occurred to me to work at them. To fight for them. So I’m warning you now. I’m gonna fight for this. For you. Are you willing to do the same?”

Joanna gave him a watery smile. “Even if it means putting on ice skates and breaking every bone in my body.”

“Let’s hope it never comes to that,” MacGyver laughed, as he wrapped his arms around her in a hug that left no doubt he would never let her go.

Posted by: Dragondog 29 August 2019 - 10:47 AM
QUOTE
Chapter 14: Dating: MacGyver Style
Oh no laugh.gif

QUOTE

“That man of yours left this for you. You two have a fight or something?”
Wow, jumpin' to conclusions much? laugh.gif

QUOTE
“You know, we need to crack down on getting the kids to clean up after themselves,” she said wearily.
My mom has a cleaning business, and I often help out, and that whole sentence is my eternal mood XD

QUOTE

“I just don’t see the point,” Joanna protested. “We see each other all the time and practically share a dog! What is one date a week gonna do?”

“According to the magazine, It’s gonna get us away from the distractions of everyday life and break up our routine allowing us to continue to learn about and appreciate each other more.”
Mac's got a point here, tbh.

QUOTE

Go to the home team’s bench and put these on.
Mac
What, is he gonna propose again?

QUOTE

Mac laughed. “Trust me, breaking your face is not in my plans. Besides, you’re not gonna fall.”
I DON'T NEED A PARACHUTE, BABY IF I GOT YOU, BABY IF I GOT YOU, I DON'T NEED A PARACHUUUUTTTEEE, YOU'RE GONNA CATCH ME, YOU'RE GONNA CATCH ME, YOU'RE GONNA CATCH ME IF I FAAAALLLLLLL (Yeah I have no idea what song that is, I've only heard it in crack videos roller.gif )

QUOTE

She had to admit that holding onto MacGyver was a whole lot better than grasping the railing. He was soft and warm and smelled like-- Suddenly her foot slid too far forward, causing her to lose her balance. She prepared herself to hit the ice, but instead felt two strong arms tighten around her and place her solidly back on her feet.
I really have that song stuck in my head now roller.gif

QUOTE

“I promised I wouldn’t let you fall,” Mac whispered in her ear, causing a warm tingle to snake down her spine.
Woah, Mac boy, surprise.gif

QUOTE

“You may feel okay now,” he informed her, “But in the morning you’ll feel muscles you didn’t know you had. Besides, I’m starving! What do you say we go to the pizza place next door?”

“Sounds good to me,” Jo agreed just as her stomach rumbled its assent.
What's funny is I haven't eaten recently either, and I really, really want to join them now laugh.gif

QUOTE


“I wish this evening didn’t have to end,” she murmured.

“I take it you had a good time?”

“Anytime I’m with you it’s good,” she replied candidly.

“But you have to admit that tonight felt extra special, didn’t it?” he asked softly, his head dipping closer to hers.

“Maybe there’s something to this dating thing after all,” she conceded, raising her face to his, their lips nearly touching.
Me: *reading this* Aww-
My stomach: mad.gif
My brain: I want pizza.
Me: What the heck?
laugh.gif

QUOTE
The world became silent and time stood still as Mac captured her mouth with his.
I'm so sorry, but that wording reminded me of that one meme where one puppy gets playful and bites the other on the face, fitting his entire muzzle over the other's. I just have this mental image of Mac using his entire jaw to bite Joana's face XD XD XD

QUOTE

“I didn’t take any stupid magazine quiz that told us to date. I just used that as a cover story in case things didn’t work out,” he informed her.
MAC YOU SLY DOG roller.gif

QUOTE

“No one’s ever looked at me the way you do, and I’m afraid that eventually I’m going to end up disappointing you.”
That's an interesting shift. I remember when she used to be afraid that he would disappoint her...

QUOTE

“But I know,” Mac continued, using his thumbs to wipe away her tears, “that it’s gonna take some work. I see now that none of my other relationships worked out because it never occurred to me to work at them. To fight for them. So I’m warning you now. I’m gonna fight for this. For you. Are you willing to do the same?”

Joanna gave him a watery smile. “Even if it means putting on ice skates and breaking every bone in my body.”

“Let’s hope it never comes to that,” MacGyver laughed, as he wrapped his arms around her in a hug that left no doubt he would never let her go.
Awww biggrin.gif

So, when's the wedding? XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 11 September 2019 - 08:57 AM

*****So, so sorry I missed posting last week! This is a long one to make up for it:)))


Chapter 15: Bride #3


MacGyver reached under the passenger seat and pulled the lever, inching back a few notches so he could stretch out his khaki clad legs. Joanna’s Cavalier was roomier than he expected. He glanced down at his maroon, banded-collar shirt before turning his attention to Jo’s flowery sundress over which she wore a bright blue sweater. He recalled the way the light, gauzy fabric swathed her body and swirled around her legs, kissing her ankles as she walked. Never in his life had he thought he’d be jealous of a piece of material. But he was.

“You gonna tell me where we’re going?” It had been Joanna’s turn to plan their date night, and she had been frustratingly secretive about their destination. Based on her instructions to dress ‘casual but nice’, Mac figured she did not have a second ice skating lesson in mind.

“Just hold your horses,” she smiled at him from the driver’s seat. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

A few minutes later Jo guided the car into the parking lot of a large building with a neon sign declaring it to be the Glenfield Playhouse with the marquee below advertising the current performance of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.

Mac’s jaw dropped. “Musical theater?!”

“A little culture won’t hurt you,” his date replied saucily. “Besides, it’s a Western.”

“It is not a Western!”

“Well, it’s almost a Western,” she argued. “Besides,” she added sheepishly, “The tickets were free. Lee Vang at the office won them in a raffle and didn’t want them.”

He quickly bit back the rebuttal that was on the tip of his tongue when he locked onto her uncertain gaze. The whole idea of date night was to get them out of their normal routine and spend quality time with each other. Joanna had gamely strapped on figure skates and conquered her fear of the ice for him. A couple hours of watching actors sing and dance wouldn’t kill him. After all, it’s not like he hated the theater or anything, he had just been caught off guard.

As they entered the venue, the couple was greeted by an usher in black pants and a crisp white shirt who handed Joanna a program as she handed over their tickets. Mac waved off the program the usher offered him as they were led a few feet to their seats.

“The back row?” MacGyver complained in a loud whisper.

“What do you expect for free!” Joanna shot back.

Gentleman that he was, Mac stepped aside to allow Jo to enter the row of seats ahead of him. Finding the correctly numbered chair, she sat down with a huff and a frown. MacGyver sighed as he eased down next to her. The evening was not off to a good start.

The pair sat in uncomfortable silence as patrons poured in, chattering excitedly about the night’s entertainment. Soon the house lights dimmed signaling the start of the performance. MacGyver gently draped his arm around Joanna’s shoulders. When she didn’t pull away, he ever so slightly pressed her closer to him. Meeting no resistance, even though her eyes were set firmly on the stage, he leaned over and whispered in her ear.

“I’m sorry for giving you a hard time,” he apologized.

Finally she turned towards him. “It’s my fault,” she admitted. “I shouldn’t have kept you in the dark. I know you don’t care for surprises.”

Before he could reply, a group of performers broke into song. Jo refocused her attention on the play while he continued to study her profile. By happy coincidence, she had seen fit to wear her hair clipped back, exposing her neck in the most enticing way. Ever so slowly he pressed his lips to the smooth, tender skin behind her ear. Feeling her flinch, he quickly broke contact. It was then that he noticed her head tip, giving him better access. His lips tugged into a smile and he suppressed a delighted groan as he resumed his ministrations, blissfully trailing gentle kisses down her neck. He was just about to retrace his path when a slap on his shoulder roused him from his reverie.

“That’s enough! People will see us!” Joanna hissed.

Mac raised his head just enough to survey the audience. “No they won’t. It’s too dark. Besides, isn’t this what the back row is for anyway?” he assured her as he attempted to resume his previous activity.

“Maaac!” Jo was more insistent now, pulling her head back.

MacGyver sighed and slumped back in his seat. “In order for people to watch us they’d have to turn around. In that case, they deserve whatever they see. And don’t tell me you weren’t enjoying it.” He sent a quirky grin her way.

“It was okay,” she shrugged. “But I think you missed a spot.” She grinned shyly as she tipped her head and pointed to spot beneath her jaw.

“Well, I can fix that in a jiffy, lil lady,” Mac replied using his best cowboy imitation, causing Joanna to giggle softly.

MacGyver once again had his face buried in the curve of Joanna’s neck when a voice from the stage sliced the air causing him to bolt upright. He squinted, but couldn’t make out the face of the woman now singing.

“Cheap seats,” he muttered.

“What’s wrong?” Jo asked, clearly concerned at his sudden change in behavior.

“I know that voice,” he whispered urgently as he reached across her lap for the program the usher had given her.

“Hey, you should’ve taken your own!” she rebuked, but he ignored her as he opened the folded piece of paper, took a pen light out of his shirt pocket, and scanned the names of the cast members.

“I don’t believe it!” he exclaimed under his breath. There, in black and white, were the words ‘Bride #3 – Penny Parker’.

“What is it?” Jo pressed, apparently having lost all interest in the play.

“Bride number three. She’s an old friend of mine from Los Angeles.”

“Old?” Joanna’s lips formed a straight line as she regarded the actress now at center stage. She had to be at least ten years younger than him!

“You know what I mean.”

“Why didn’t you ever tell me about her?”

“Penny? Well, she can be kinda…complicated,” Mac hedged. “It’s hard to tell anyone about her. You kinda have to experience her for yourself.”

Any further explanation was drowned out by applause as the stage curtain closed and the house lights came on for the first intermission.

“C’mon!” Mac grabbed Jo’s hand leading her down the main aisle before weaving their way to the backstage door where they were met by a hulk of a security guard.

“Sorry. Cast only,” the hulk grunted.

“But I’m a friend of—“

“Sorry. Cast only.”

Apparently the reading curriculum at security guard school was quite limited.

“MacGyver?” a female voice sounded above the din of the other actors. “Oh, MacGyver! It is you!!”

Penny skittered towards him and launched herself into his arms, throwing him slightly off balance, before planting a solid kiss on his lips. Mac’s eyes widened as he looked helplessly at Jo whose glare had cooled the room considerably before extracting himself from Penny’s embrace.

“How’re you doin’, Penny?” he grinned.

“I’m good, but what in the world are you doing here?!?! Well, obviously you’re watching the play. But I mean what are you doing here in Milwaukee?”

“I live here now,” Mac informed her. Beside him, Joanna cleared her throat. Loudly.

“Oh, uh, Penny, this is Joanna Fairfax.”

“You’re reason for moving to Milwaukee?” The actress smiled knowingly at him before turning to embrace Jo. “Oh, I just know we’re gonna be great friends!” she gushed to a stunned Joanna.

The overhead lights flashed, a silent message that the next act would be starting soon.

“Oops! Gotta run!” Penny said lightly. “Hey, how about we meet at my hotel for lunch tomorrow? The cast is staying at the Glenfield Inn and they have this little café that’s just so cute and we could—“

“Parker! Take your place!” a disembodied voice commanded.

Penny’s smile faltered just a bit. “See you tomorrow?”

“We’ll be there,” Mac assured her before he and Jo turned to head back to their seats.

“So that’s a Penny Parker,” Joanna mused. “She certainly is friendly.”

XXXXX

The following day MacGyver pulled the Nomad into the parking lot of a cheap motel on the edge of town. The cute café that Penny had mentioned appeared to be more of a dingy diner. Mac glanced over at Joanna who, even though it was a Saturday, had decided to dress up for the occasion and sported more make-up than he had ever seen on her. Did she actually feel threatened by Penny?

“Hey!” MacGyver reached over and grabbed Jo’s arm before she could get out of the car. “You’re not jealous of Penny or anything, are you?”

“Me? Jealous? Why would I be jealous just because your ‘old friend’ happens to be young, gorgeous, and successful?”

“Look,” Mac said firmly, turning in his seat so he could face her better. “Penny’s a good kid. She just needs some looking after sometimes. I think of her as the little sister I never had, nothing more.” He made sure to clearly enunciate the final two words.

“Oh yeah?! How would you feel if a tall, handsome man from my past suddenly reentered my life?”

MacGyver stared out the windshield, “You mean someone like Mike?”

“Mike? Mike who?”

“Mike ‘clean cut-always-wears-a-tie’ Harlow!” Mac snapped.

“I can’t believe you!” Joanna shot back. “You know he’s just a work friend. I’ve never been interested in him!”

Mac pinned her with a glare.

“Oh,” she said sheepishly. “Point taken.”

“Good!” Mac blew out a breath. “Now let’s go inside.”

“Wait a minute,” she put a detaining hand on his forearm before rummaging in her purse and pulling out a small mirror and a couple of tissues which she used to blot her lips and gently sweep at least one layer of make-up from her face. “Okay. I’m ready now.
Once inside the tiny restaurant the couple easily found Penny seated at a corner table. After greetings were exchanged and food orders given, Mac provided his friend with the abridged version of his experiences since they had last seen each other.

“Wow,” Penny sighed when he was through. “I really missed a lot!”

“Well, what about you?” he asked. “What have you been up to?”

“After that whole fiasco with that evil Murdoc at the theater I went back to the house my Aunt Betty left me to, you know, get my head together. That’s when I got this really neat idea. I decided to turn Parker House into a bed and breakfast! I call it ‘Aunt Betty’s B&B’. I like the sound of all the B’s. Anyway, it’s been open for about six years now. People really like it even if it is haunted. You and Joanna should come and stay sometime!”

“Penny, we’ve been through this, that house is not haunted! There is no such thing as ghosts!”

The actress leaned in towards Joanna and whispered loudly, “He always tells me that, but the house really is haunted. But in a good way. It’s just my Aunt Betty and she would never hurt anyone. Besides, I think he says that just to make himself believe it. Heaven forbid MacGyver not be able to explain something with science and logic.” Penny proceeded to roll her eyes as Jo suppressed a giggle.

“All right, fine! The house is ‘haunted’. But how are you running a B&B? I didn’t even know you could cook!”

“I can’t,” Penny replied. “But with the rest of my inheritance from Aunt Betty I was able to hire people to do the cooking and cleaning and hostessing and all that sort of stuff. That way I can still pursue my singing and acting career!”

“And how’s that been goin’ for ya?” Mac asked.

Penny frowned and looked down at her plate. “Not so great. You know, L.A. is full of singers and actors. But,” she raised her eyes which began to twinkle, “I have gotten some minor parts in movies and plays and I’ve even done a few television commercials!”

“That’s great, Penny!” MacGyver smiled. “So how did you land this role?”

“It was the weirdest thing,” she replied as her eyes widened. “I was walking out of a theater after an audition and almost got hit by this man in an electric wheelchair! I stumbled and ended up falling right in his lap! But you’ll never believe what happened next!”

“Try me,” Mac challenged.

Penny took a deep breath before continuing. Likely it would be her last for a while unless something managed to interrupt her.

“Well, after I got off his lap I figured it was only right that I should introduce myself. I mean, I had fallen all over him! He asked if I was an actress and of course I told him I was. And then he told me he directed musical theater and asked if I’d be interested in auditioning for him. Mac, his name was Jacques La Rue!”

Listening to Penny was often like trying to follow a mouse in a maze and MacGyver generally found it entertaining, but this news had him shaking his head in disbelief.

“There’s no way, Penny! You know Murdoc just made all that up to get to you…and me. And since he’s dead—“

“Don’t you get it, Mac?” Penny cried. “There really is a crippled director named Jacques La Rue! Murdoc must have known that and impersonated him. But the real Jacques La Rue is much nicer! He’s the one who hired me for this show!”

“I don’t suppose I could meet him?”

Penny chewed on her lower lip before answering. “He really prefers to stay in the background. Behind the scenes, you know. I think it’s because of his disability.”

“I see,” MacGyver replied cynically.

“But I’m sure if I told him a friend of mine wanted to meet him he would make an exception!” Penny brightened. “I’ll ask him about it tonight!”

Back in the car, MacGyver found himself pinned by Joanna’s gaze.

“What was all that about Murdoc and Jacques La Rue?” she asked.

“It’s a long story. And not a very happy one.” He didn’t care to explain further. Not even to Jo. There were some things in his past that he wanted to keep there, and Murdoc was certainly one of them.

“Maybe Penny will tell me more about it tomorrow,” Jo responded. “We decided to have a girl’s day and get to know each other better.”

“When did this happen?” Mac asked, more than a little shocked.

“Before dessert, when we went to the ladies room,” she shrugged. “Do you have a problem with me spending time with your ex-girlfriend?”

“No! And she’s not my ex-girlfriend!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Late Sunday morning Joanna stood in the middle of Penny’s motel room as the actress finished putting on her make-up in the small bathroom. The main room was sparsely furnished with everything one would expect and nothing more.

“So, I was thinking we should hit the mall for some retail therapy, grab some lunch and then treat ourselves to a manicure. How does that sound?” Penny called to Joanna.

“Sounds great, but I thought you’d have a Sunday matinee.”

“No, Jacques doesn’t believe in working on Sundays which is fine with the cast. We get a whole day to relax or spend traveling without having to worry about performing.”

Joanna looked around the room once more before taking a seat in a straight backed wooden chair. “That makes sense,” she replied. “But I would’ve thought that you’d be staying in a…different...motel.”

“Yeah, me too,” the younger woman sighed, now standing in the bathroom doorway. “Jacques promises it’s only until the profits from the box office pick up. But until then, it was either fly to the cities we’re performing in and stay in cheap motels, or stay in nice hotels and take the bus.” At this, Penny pulled a face. Obviously, professional actors did not endure long bus rides.

There was a sudden knock on the door and Penny hurried to answer it. She opened it to reveal a twenty-something, blonde-haired girl holding a plain white box.

“Oh, hey Jenny! C’mon in. This is my friend Joanna. Jo, this is my understudy, Jenny.”

Jenny stepped into the room and smiled at Joanna. “I’m sorry to interrupt. I didn’t know you had company, but I just ran into the motel manager and he said this had been left at the front desk for you so I offered to bring it over.”

The girl handed Penny the box who eagerly opened it.

“Cherry cordials! My favorite!” she exclaimed. “Well, maybe not my favorite but definitely a close second! Gee, I wonder who sent them? Maybe I have a secret admirer!” She started to reach for one of the treats before hesitating.

“Oh, gosh, where are my manners?! Jenny, Joanna, would you like one?”

When both women politely declined, Penny popped an entire piece of candy in her mouth. Her eyes rolled back in pure bliss.

“These are wonderful!” she mumbled around the chocolate concoction.

“Well, I better be going,” Jenny announced. “Are we still on to run lines tonight?”

Penny nodded then swallowed before answering. “You bet. Come on over around six.”

Jenny smiled and slipped out the door.

“Poor kid,” Penny said sadly once the girl had left. “This is her first big break and she’s so worried she’s going to have to go on for me.”

“Isn’t it pretty rare for understudies to actually be needed to perform?” Jo asked.

“You’d think so, right? But brides number one and two are both currently being played by the understudies.”

“Really?! How come?”

“When we were in Houston, bride number one kept getting these strange notes and was convinced a stalker was trying to kill her so she just up and quit one day and went back to Los Angeles. Then, in Omaha, a piece of rigging fell and almost hit bride number two. She stumbled getting out of the way and broke her ankle. You sure you don’t want one?” Penny thrust the candy box under Joanna’s nose.

“No. Thanks,” she smiled.

“Suit yourself! I’ll be back in a jiffy!” Penny promised as she headed back to the bathroom, popping another cherry into her mouth on the way.

Curious about the information Penny had just disclosed, Joanna called to her, “So what did the police in Houston and Omaha say about what happened to the actresses?”

“They said the falling rigging was an accident, and the notes were probably just a cruel prank. Jacques refused to let them investigate further because that would have put us behind, travel wise, and he didn’t want to postpone any performances.”

“Don’t you think that’s kinda odd?” Jo asked, but her question was met with prolonged silence.

“Penny?” she asked again. Still nothing but silence.

Suddenly, a loud clatter and muffled thud come from the other room. Joanna raced into the bathroom to find Penny’s unconscious body crumpled on the floor. Not wanting to move her, but needing to know if she was alive, Jo gently shook the other woman’s shoulder.

“Penny! Penny, can you hear me?!”

When she received no response she frantically searched for a pulse. She relaxed slightly when she found one, albeit slow and weak. She also noted that Penny’s face was unusually flushed and there was the slightest scent of…something. Jo tried to place it and finally realized it reminded her of bitter almonds. She flew to the telephone on the nightstand and placed two calls, the first to 911, the second to MacGyver.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver all but flew through the automatic doors of the emergency room. He still had on his worn jeans and stained t-shirt as he had received Joanna’s call in the middle of painting a dorm room at Challengers. Groups of people huddled together in the waiting area. Penny’s co-stars, he assumed, but no sign of the director. His eyes continued to search for the one person he needed to find most. After several moments, he found Joanna comforting a young, blonde girl who was clearly distraught. Their gazes met and Jo excused herself from the girl and joined Mac in the center of the room.

“Any news?” he asked anxiously.

“No. They’re still working on her, I guess.”

“What about you? Are you okay?” he asked, cupping her face with his hands.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Joanna sighed. “Maybe a little shook up, but I’ll be okay.”

“You always say that,” he gently chided as he pressed his lips to her forehead in a tender, comforting kiss. “Tell me what happened.”

Jo led him to a pair of chairs away from the others and told him everything that had happened from the time she arrived at the motel until now.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t get here sooner,” he apologized. “By the time I got cleaned up and drove over to the motel everyone was already gone.”

“It’s okay. There was nothing you could have done anyway.”

“I could have been there for you,” he declared huskily as he noticed she was holding his hand a bit tighter than usual.

Before Joanna could respond, a tall woman in a white lab coat stood in the doorway, scanning the large number of people that had gathered. She spoke quietly to the nearest nurse who nodded toward Joanna.

“Ms. Fairfax?” the doctor called.

Joanna jumped out of her seat, pulling MacGyver with her, their hands still intertwined. Together they anxiously approached the physician.

“How is she, doctor?” Mac asked immediately.

“And you are…?”

“MacGyver. I’m a good friend of Penny’s.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. MacGyver, but I’m not at liberty to discuss a patient’s condition with anyone except immediate family. I came to speak to Ms. Fairfax since she was with Ms. Parker when she collapsed.”

“I’m the closest thing to family she has,” Mac insisted.

Just then a nurse quickly approached the doctor and whispered in her ear. The doctor’s face softened and she turned to MacGyver once again.

“It seems one of the paramedics found an emergency contact card in Ms. Parker’s purse with your name on it, although the contact information seems to be outdated.”

MacGyver was surprised to learn that he was the person Penny wanted someone to call if anything happened to her, but in a way it did make sense.

“And since Ms. Parker is a travelling performer, her situation is a bit different,” the doctor continued. “If you two will please follow me?”

Mac and Joanna followed the woman to the nearest empty emergency room bay for some privacy.

“My name is Doctor Reagan. I’m sorry if I was a bit brusque, but with all the new privacy laws these days…” she blew out a breath of what appeared to be frustration.

“We understand,” MacGyver assured her. “We’d appreciate anything you could tell us, though.”

“From the information the paramedics at the scene and Ms. Fairfax have provided, as well as my initial examination, I am all but certain Ms. Parker is suffering from cyanide poisoning.”

Stunned, Mac and Joanna looked at each other before turning back to the doctor for more information.

“We’ve drawn blood and the lab is analyzing the cherry cordials found in the motel, but I’ve already started Ms. Parker on an antidote. I doubt there was a high level of the poison in her system, and thanks to Ms. Fairfax’s timely actions Ms. Parker should recover quickly.”

“When can we see her?” MacGyver asked.

“We sedated her when she began to gain consciousness in order to allow the medicine to work. She’ll probably sleep into the evening. We can give you a call when she wakes up.”

Mac jammed his fingers through his already messy hair and shook his head.

“No. I’ll stay and wait,” he declared. Then he turned to Joanna.

“I hate to ask this of you, but could you swing by Challengers and check to make sure everything is going okay? I left in kinda a hurry and I’m sure Cynthia’s concerned.”

“I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” Jo assured him. “But promise you’ll call if there are any changes with Penny.”

The doctor called out to Joanna as she prepared to leave. “Ms. Fairfax, since this appears to be an intentional poisoning, I’ve already called the authorities and I’m sure they’ll want to speak with you.”

“No problem,” Jo replied. “Mac knows how to reach me.” She gave MacGyver a quick hug which he wished could have lasted much longer before turning her back and heading to the parking lot.

XXXXX

A few hours later, Penny’s condition had stabilized enough to allow her to be moved to a private room. However, it was early evening before she awoke to find MacGyver keeping vigil at her bedside.

“Hey you,” she greeted him with a weary smile.

“Hey, how’re you feelin’?”

“Not so great, but I guess I’ll live,” she replied, more subdued than Mac had ever seen her.

“Do you remember what happened?” he asked.

Penny sighed. “I remember I was putting on make-up before going to the mall with Joanna and then everything went black. What happened to me, Mac?”

Her innocent, questioning gaze twisted MacGyver’s heart. How could he tell her the truth without frightening her?

“Do you remember eating cherry cordials?” he asked

Penny began to smile. “Yeah, they were sooo good!”

“Penny, the lab here analyzed them. They were laced with cyanide. You were poisoned.”

“Oh no!” Penny exclaimed, struggling to sit up in her bed. “Thank goodness Joanna and Jenny both refused when I offered them some!”

“Who’s Jenny?” Mac asked, but he was interrupted by a soft knock on the door.

“Mind if I join you?” Joanna asked from behind a large vase of yellow roses.

“Oh Joanna! You shouldn’t have!” Penny gushed when she saw the flowers.

“Actually, I didn’t,” Jo replied with a grin, carefully setting the crystal vase on the table next to the hospital bed. “They were at the nurses’ station so I offered to deliver them. Here’s the card.”

Penny plucked the small white envelope from Joanna’s fingers.

“Oh! They’re from Jacques! He’s such a sweet, thoughtful man!” Penny clutched the note to her chest as if it was a valued prize.

“If he’s such a great guy, why didn’t he come with the others to make sure you were okay?” MacGyver asked with an edge to his voice.

“I already told you that he doesn’t care to make public appearances,” she replied with a slight pout.

He was gearing up to ask her more questions about the mysterious Jacques La Rue when Joanna cleared her throat, interrupting his thoughts.

“You look like you could use a break,” she said. “Why don’t we go to the cafeteria and let Penny rest for a while?”

MacGyver didn’t want to leave, he wanted to learn more about this enigmatic director Penny was so enamored with, but the stern look in Joanna’s eyes told him she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Joanna took a sip of her soft drink and peered over her plastic cup at MacGyver who was seated across from her nursing a glass of orange juice. An uneasy silence had settled between them since leaving Penny’s room.

“Mind telling me why you dragged me down here?” Mac asked sternly.

“I’m worried,” Jo answered softly.

“Penny’s gonna be fine,” Mac’s voice softened. “You saw how much better she’s doing already.”

Joanna shook her head. “I know. That’s not what I mean. She told me something at the motel I think you need to know about.” She then proceeded to tell MacGyver about the previous incidences.

“You gotta admit it’s pretty strange, Mac. I mean, one mishap can be an accident. A second can be a coincidence. But a third? I think there’s a pattern here.”

“Like someone trying to oust the main actresses,” MacGyver replied, picking up her line of thought.

“Exactly! I tried to convince the police of that when Jenny and I gave our statements this afternoon, but they didn’t seem to want to believe me. They’re just focusing on Penny right now.”

“I don’t suppose they shared anything with you?”

“No.”

“Figures,” Mac replied, scrubbing his face with his hands. “By the way, who is this ‘Jenny’ person anyway?”

“She’s Penny’s understudy,” Jo answered as if he should’ve known that.

“The girl you were with in the waiting room?”

“Yeah. She’s gonna have to go on tomorrow night and she’s really nervous.”

“She’s the one who gave Penny the cherries, right?”

“Right. She got them from the desk clerk.”

“Or so she says,” MacGyver mused, his eyes glinting with suspicion.

Joanna’s jaw dropped. “You don’t think…?”

“Well, she does have motive. This will thrust her into the limelight and no doubt help her career.”

“But she’s scared to death, Mac! I really think her feelings are genuine. But you could be onto something. Maybe it’s one of the other understudies?”

MacGyver tipped his head in thought. “They would all have motive and probably opportunity, but I’m still not convinced Jacques La Rue is as genuine or innocent as Penny says.”

Joanna remained silent, as if she knew Mac was working on a plan. And he was.

“Do you still have the program with the cast list?” he asked her.

“Yeah, it’s in my purse.”

“Good. When you get to work tomorrow, run background checks on all the actors. Get as deep as you can. And see what you can find out about La Rue as well.”

“You got it. What are you gonna do?”

“I’m gonna pay a visit to a certain motel desk clerk.”

XXXXX

Bright and early Monday morning MacGyver stood at the front desk of the Glenfield Inn facing a lanky young man in his early twenties.

“Sorry, no vacancy,” the man said.

“I’m not here for a room,” Mac explained. “I’m here for some answers.”

This seemed to get the young man’s attention.

“Were you working here yesterday morning?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Did someone deliver a plain white box for a Penny Parker?”

“Yeah.”

Boy, this kid either had a very limited vocabulary or he was trying to hide something.

“Did you recognize them? What did they look like?” Mac pressed.

“It was a boy, maybe about ten or so. Just asked me to give the box to Ms. Parker.”

“And did you?” MacGyver already knew the answer, but he wanted to make sure the stories matched.
“I was on my way to her room when one of the other actresses, a blonde, said she was headed that way and would take it.”

“Then what did you do?”

“I came back here,” the clerk shrugged.

Mac sighed, frustrated at the apparent dead end. He bade the young man good bye and was headed to his Jeep when his cell phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hi MacGyver! It’s Penny! I’ve got some great news!”

Penny’s bubbly toned made Mac smile in spite of himself. “Hello Penny, what’s your great news?”

“The doctor is releasing me this morning! She says I’m almost fully recovered and can leave if I promise to take it easy. Isn’t that great?! But I’m gonna need a ride, so if you could come and pick me up that would be super! You can come and pick me up, can’t you?”

“No problem. I’m on my way.” Mac grinned as he got into the Jeep and drove to the hospital.

His grin immediately turned to a frown when he entered Penny’s room to find her already dressed and sitting on the side of the bed talking to a man in a wheelchair. It could only be the infamous Jacques La Rue and MacGyver was more than ready to have a few words with the reclusive director.

“MacGyver!” Penny exclaimed when she saw him. “Look who came to visit me! It’s Jacques!”

As the man maneuvered his wheelchair to face the doorway, MacGyver observed that the director was portlier than he had envisioned. He also wore thick glasses and had a bald head.

“Ah, so this is the ‘MacGyver’ Penny has been telling me about,” the older man smiled, reaching out his hand.

Mac stepped forward and shook La Rue’s hand even as he raised his eyebrows at Penny who offered and apologetic shrug.

“Ms. Parker was telling me how you so heroically rescued her from an evil assassin who was impersonating me. I owe you a debt of gratitude for protecting this wonderful lady.”

“Yeah, well, it was nothing, really,” Mac replied, a bit embarrassed as well as surprised at the friendliness and openness with which the director addressed him.

“Oh, Mac does stuff like that all the time,” Penny added airily.

“Well, not all the time,” MacGyver rebutted. “In fact, I’m trying to cut back.”

Jacques La Rue laughed heartily and Penny giggled along with him. Mac figured now was as good a time as any to get some questions answered.

“Mr. La Rue—“

“Please, call me Jacques! ‘Mr. La Rue’ makes me feel so old!”

“Jacques,” Mac continued, “do you know why anyone might want to harm your lead actresses?”

A dark cloud appeared over the man’s countenance and MacGyver waited for Jacques to gather his thoughts.

“The theater is a fickle mistress, my boy. One day you’re on top of the world, directing the world’s most prestigious performers, the next you are staying in cheap motels, trying to earn enough money to keep the show from going under. Unfortunately, my current status is the latter. If we do not complete this tour in its entirety, my career is ruined.”

“So you believe someone is trying to shut down the show.”

“Yes, I’m afraid that is so,” the director replied sadly.

“Do you have any idea who it might be?”

“Mr. MacGyver, in my position one makes a lot of friends as well as enemies.”

They were interrupted when a nurse arrived with Penny’s discharge papers. La Rue quietly took his leave and Mac waited before helping Penny to the Jeep.

“Hey! This isn’t the way back to the motel!” Penny sputtered twenty minutes later.

“That’s right,” MacGyver replied. “I’m taking you back to my place. You’ll be safer there.”

“But I need my stuff!”

“Give me your room key and I’ll pick it up later.”

“You really think I’m still in danger?” Penny asked despondently.

“Yeah, I do. And even if you’re not, I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna leaned back in her desk chair and massaged her temples. She had been staring at her computer screen since eight o’clock that morning and it was now mid-afternoon. When she had arrived at the office, she had immediately pushed her assigned files to the far corners of her desk which was now littered with computer printouts and various colored notepapers that threatened to tumble onto the floor. Despite the fact that her office looked like a landfill, she actually had gleaned very little information about Jacques La Rue and the female actors Mac had asked her to investigate. From what she could find, La Rue had been a successful theatrical producer and director in his day. Articles reported that he was beloved by performers as well as peers. Unfortunately, his most recent productions had fallen on hard times and he was struggling to stay afloat financially. Perhaps he was sabotaging his own show to collect insurance money. If there was any. As for the actresses, they were all either unknowns or has-beens grateful for any role that would pay the rent. She had just called up the information on the actor who played the eldest brother in the play when there was a light tap on her door and Geena, the receptionist, entered her office.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Ms. Fairfax, but Mr. MacGyver is on the phone for you.”

Joanna wrinkled her brow. “Why didn’t he just call me directly?”

“He tried, but said he couldn’t get through. I just tried to transfer him to you with the same results. It sounds as if your phone’s off the hook.”

Together the women shoved aside papers and searched for Jo’s telephone. At some point, the receiver had been pushed out of its cradle and hung against the side of Joanna’s desk. She let out a low moan as she replaced it, wondering how many calls she had missed. She was just about to speak to Geena when she noticed the woman staring at the picture on the computer monitor.

“Is that who I think it is?” the receptionist asked breathlessly.

“I doubt you know him,” Jo informed her. “He’s just one of the actors in a play Mac and I went to the other night.

“That’s Chad Connors!!” Geena exclaimed.

“Who’s Chad Connors, besides brother number one?” Joanna asked.

“Don’t you watch ‘Memorial Hospital’, girl?!”

“The soap opera?”

“Of course! That delicious-looking young man right there is none other than Dr. Jack Weaver! Well, at least until he left the show.”

“Why did he leave?” Joanna wasn’t quite sure why she was interested, but she was.

“The official reason was because of creative differences,” Geena explained with an eye roll. “The real reason is anybody’s guess. But there’ve been rumors that the studio’s been bombarded with fan mail and they’re working hard to get him back. What’s his gorgeous face doing on your computer, anyway? Getting tired of looking at that man of yours?” Geena raised her eyebrows and nodded toward the small photo of Mac taped to the corner of Jo’s monitor.

Joanna smiled, squashing the urge to tell Geena, yet again, that Mac was not ‘her man’. “I’m just doing some research, Geena.”

“Okay, whatever you say,” the receptionist smirked as she headed back to the outer office.

Jo sat back and studied the face of the apparently famous Chad Connors. His dark hair and piercing brown eyes should have made her swoon. Instead, a shiver slid down her spine as a suspicion took root in her mind. The sudden ring of the telephone startled her.

“Hello?”

“It’s about time!”

“Sorry, Mac,” Jo grimaced. “I accidentally knocked my phone off the hook.”

“Find out anything interesting?” he asked regarding her research.

“Up until a few minutes ago I would have said ‘no’, but I think I may have changed my mind. I need to do a little more digging.”

“Can you come over to my place after work so we can exchange information? I’ll pick up Chinese.”

Joanna grinned into the phone. “Now how could I possibly refuse an invitation like that?!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Late that afternoon, Penny opened MacGyver’s front door to find Joanna waiting patiently on the stoop, her myriad notes now tucked neatly inside a manila folder.

“Ya know you don’t have to knock,” Mac grinned, walking up behind his friend.

“I know,” Jo shrugged. “I just don’t feel right barging in.” She blushed slightly before addressing Penny.

“I’m so glad they let you leave the hospital! Are you feeling okay?”

“Yeah, but I’ll feel a lot better when whoever tried to poison me is behind bars!”

MacGyver ushered the two women to his kitchen table where they passed around containers of various Chinese cuisine. Once they had taken the edge off their hunger, Mac cleared his throat and prepared to eat some crow.

“I met Jacques La Rue today,” he informed Joanna. “He was at the hospital when I picked up Penny. I think I really misjudged the guy. He really seems to want to finish the tour and end his career on a positive note.”

“See!” Penny gushed, “I told you Jacques was one of the good guys!”

“Are you sure about that, Mac?” Jo asked warily.

“Unless you found something to incriminate him,” MacGyver countered.

“Not really, though it had occurred to me that maybe he was trying to sabotage the show to collect some insurance money or something.”

“Penny and I talked about that this afternoon. From what we know, he has nothing to gain and everything to lose if the show shuts down. What did you find out about the actors?”

“Not much, and it wasn’t for lack of trying,” Jo scowled. “But I might have a lead.”

MacGyver felt hopeful for the first time that day.

“Do you know who Chad Connors is?”

“Should I?” he asked.

He noticed Penny bouncing in her chair, unable to contain her excitement.

“He plays the eldest brother, but before he signed on with Jacques he played Dr. Jack Weaver on ‘Memorial Hospital’! Rumor has it he got mad that they cut one of his scenes and just walked out one day!”

“Isn’t that a soap opera?” Mac asked.

Penny nodded vigorously. “On T.V. he’s real dreamy, but in real life he’s kinda a jerk.”

“What do you mean?” Joanna asked.

“When he’s not performing all he does is walk around like a big shot and complain about how his career is ruined. He keeps demanding that poor Jacques let him out of his contract, but if he leaves, no one will want to come to the shows. He’s the most famous person here!”

“Penny, when you signed your contract, was there some type of clause requiring you to stay for the entire run of the play?” Jo inquired.

“Yeah,” Penny shrugged. “It’s really not unusual, but I’ve heard some actors actually ruin their careers because they take legal action to get out of that type of agreement. That never really made sense to me. I mean, you get out of your contract and then you’re unemployed!”

“And nobody wants to hire you because you have a bad reputation,” MacGyver added.

“But if the show folds, then the contracts are null and void,” Joanna mused.

“Go on,” Mac encouraged.

“Rumor has it that ‘Memorial Hospital’ is eager to get Chad back. That has to be why he wants out of his contract with Jacques, and the best way to do that is to shut down the play.” Jo concluded.

“You mean Chad is behind all this?! He tried to poison me?!”

“I’m afraid it looks that way,” Mac replied sympathetically.

Penny straightened in her chair with new resolve. “Well, can’t we have him arrested or something?!”

MacGyver sighed wearily. “We don’t have any evidence, Penny.”

“Well, how can we get some?”

Her guileless expression twisted his gut. “I don’t know. Yet. Let’s sleep on it and talk about it in the morning.

He led Jo to the door and quickly kissed her goodnight as Penny trudged up the stairs to the bedroom.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Penny lay awake, staring up at the ceiling and listening to MacGyver snore softly from the living room couch below. How could he sleep when there was a killer on the loose?! Well, technically Chad wasn’t a killer, but he certainly was trying to be! She rolled her head to the side and glanced at the digital clock on the nightstand. It was almost midnight. The show should have ended a couple hours ago and, if Chad was true to form, he’d be out at a local bar getting hammered until closing time which meant his motel room would be empty. Mac had said they needed hard evidence against Chad. Well, now was the time to get it!

Penny silently slid out of bed, put on a pair of jeans and a sweater, and grabbed a pair of shoes which she planned to slip into once she was outside. She needed to be as quiet as possible. Tip-toeing down the spiral staircase, she paused every few steps to make sure MacGyver was still sleeping. She then stealthily made her way to the front door, snatching the keys to the Jeep from the brass sailboat keyring holder on the wall. Feeling bolder, she opened the door and stepped over the threshold. Unfortunately, she cut the turn a little too quick and rammed her bare toes into the doorjamb. An inadvertent squeak escaped before the slapped her hand over her mouth and hurried to the driveway.

Except for the light from a few stray lampposts, the motel parking lot was dark and more than a little spooky. Penny parked in front of her room so as not to draw attention and walked across the courtyard to Chad’s assigned room. She reached out to turn the doorknob, but of course it was locked.

“Oh, Penny! You can be so stupid sometimes!” she muttered as she headed to the front office.

An old man sat behind the counter. He was slumped in his chair, half asleep behind a newspaper he had been reading.

“Hello?!” Penny called.

“Sorry, no vacancies,” the man mumbled before readjusting his paper.

“I don’t need a room. I already have one, but I locked myself out. Can I get an extra key?” she asked, using her sweetest smile.

The clerk sighed gustily, asked for the room number, and handed over a key.

“Next time be more careful,” he growled, returning to his paper.

Once safely inside Chad’s room, Penny looked around and for the first time realized she had no idea what she was looking for! She chewed her lower lip and wondered what MacGyver would do in this situation. After a few moments, she figured he would probably look for something that seemed odd or out of place. She clicked on the lamp next to the bed, hoping the heavy curtains drawn across the large picture window would blot out the light. She really needed a flashlight, but it was too late.

Ready to begin her search, she opened the drawer to the nightstand but found it empty save for the requisite Bible. She then dropped to the floor and peered under the bed, only to be met by numerous dust bunnies that sent her into a sneezing fit. She rummaged through the dresser drawers next, but again found nothing suspicious. She was ready to give up when she remembered the bathroom. She entered the small room and clicked on the light. Unlike her own vanity, which was cluttered with various bottles and tubes of beauty products, Chad’s cabinet was empty except for his shaving kit. Figuring she had nothing to lose, she unzipped the leather pouch. Her mouth fell open at what she saw. There, nestled in amongst his razor and other toiletries was a small syringe and a vial of a clear liquid. Penny instinctively reached out to grab the items when a scuffling sound from the other room startled her. Chad had returned! And she was trapped!

Penny frantically looked around as if a window or door would appear out of thin air, but as reality set in and the man’s footsteps got closer, she did the only thing she could think of. She stepped into the bathtub, pulled the shower curtain closed, crouched down and focused on quieting her breathing.

She sensed the moment the actor entered the room. She heard him stumble against the commode before apparently leaning against the sink, causing the contents of his shaving kit to clatter to the floor. He cursed loudly and she tried to make herself as small and quiet as possible. She almost gasped when she saw his shadowed figure on the other side of the curtain. Only a thin piece of plastic fabric separated them. Her eyes widen as a large hand snaked around the edge of the curtain, flailing for a few seconds before grabbing onto the shower faucet and giving it a hard yank. The spray of cold water hit Penny and she could stay silent no longer.

“Oh!” she cried, immediately regretting her outburst. The shower curtain flew open and the tall man stood scowling down at her, his hands clenched at his sides.

“What are you doing here?!” he roared.

“I…I...um…” Penny stuttered as she slowly rose and stepped out of the tub, her foot momentarily slipping on the tile floor. Before she could gather herself and fabricate a reasonable explanation, Chad had already shoved her out of the bathroom and pushed her down into a straight-backed chair. He quickly grabbed the telephone, disconnected the extra-long cord, and used it to bind Penny’s arms to her torso.

“You’ll never get away with this!” Penny spat, finally finding her voice.

“Get away with what?” he snarled. “I’m not the one who was trespassing.”

“I wasn’t trespassing!” she denied instinctively.

“Oh yeah? Then what would you call it?”

“Ummmm, I forgot which room was mine?”

“Is that the best you can do?!” he rounded on her. “No wonder you’re such a lousy actress!”

“I am not a lousy actress! Jacques says I have a lot of potential!” She raised her chin and glared into his beady eyes.

“Well, let’s see what he has to say about you when he finds you dead!”

Penny’s bravado disappeared immediately. “Dead? Why would he find me dead?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, Parker!”

“But…maybe I am dumb,” she replied softly, her large eyes full of innocence. Yes, she was dumb alright. Dumb enough to think she could find evidence and get Chad arrested all on her own. Tears threatened as she thought of MacGyver, still asleep on his couch, completely unaware she had left and was in danger. He wasn’t going to be her hero this time.

“Look,” Chad said, “I saw your friend in the Jeep this morning poking around and asking questions. You figured it out, didn’t you?!” he demanded.

“Figured what out?” Penny had seen enough movies to know that the longer you kept a person talking the longer it took for them to kill you…she hoped.

“That I’m the one sabotaging the show to get out of my contract. But if anyone finds out, my career is ruined!”

“I won’t say anything, I promise,” Penny vowed.

“I know you won’t, because I’m going to kill you! I messed up the first time, but it won’t happen again!”

He stalked into the bathroom and when he returned Penny noticed him holding a syringe filled with a clear liquid that could only be a deadly dose of cyanide.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver grumbled and opened one eye. Something had awakened him. He turned his head to find Frog sleeping soundly underneath the coffee table as usual. An intrinsic need to figure out what woke him pushed him up from the couch and he padded to the kitchen for a drink. He opened the ‘fridge, grabbed a carton of juice and took a swig. Maybe Penny had come down for a drink as well? Without turning on a light he slowly made his way upstairs to check on his house guest.

“Penny?” he called in a loud whisper.

No reply.

“Penny?” he called again.

Upon reaching the landing he found himself staring at an empty bed with the door to the adjoining bathroom standing wide open. He swallowed a curse and ran back down the stairs. Maybe she had just stepped outside for some fresh air, he tried to tell himself as panic rose in his chest. He jerked his front door open and looked around quickly. No Penny. And no Jeep!!

Thankful that he had decided to sleep fully clothed in deference to having a woman in his house, he quickly grabbed his bomber jacket and the keys to the Nomad. Recalling their conversation from earlier that evening he knew, he just knew, that Penny had gone back to the motel to find evidence against Chad Connors.

He slowed the car as he approached the motel, dousing the headlights before pulling into the parking lot. There was his Jeep, parked outside Penny’s room. Maybe she had decided to come and pick up more of her personal items. Granted, it was an odd thing to do in the middle of the night, but he had learned early on that anything was possible with Penny Parker.

He parked the Nomad next to the Jeep and tapped softly on her door. When there was no answer he took out his Swiss Army knife and jimmied the lock. The room was dark and empty. He let go a sigh of both fear and frustration. He looked around at the other rooms, all of which appeared equally dark. He had to find out which one belonged to Chad. And fast! He wasn’t in the mood to go another round with a surly desk clerk, but that seemed to be his only option. He was just about to turn and head to the office when a door opened across the parking lot and a young blonde stepped out into the night. Jenny. Mac sprinted across the asphalt and quietly called her name.

“MacGyver! What are you doing here?”

“Have you seen Penny?”

“No. I thought she was staying with you?” Confusion knit her brow.

“She is. She was. Look, do you know which room Chad Connors is staying in?”

“Yeah, room number twelve. What’s going on?”

“Hopefully nothing, but just to be safe, go back inside, lock the door, and don’t come out no matter what you hear, okay?” A sinking feeling in his gut caused him to add, “And call the police!”

Jenny nodded and Mac waited until she secured the room before moving. He kept his back up against the building and his steps as light as possible as he made his way to the room Jenny had indicated. As he got closer, he heard muffled voices arguing. Even though he couldn’t hear the words, there was no doubt that one of those voices belonged to Penny. He stopped at the edge of the large window, trying to peek around the curtain, but it was pulled tight. He had no idea what he’d be walking into, but he didn’t have time to worry about it. Chad was in there with Penny and there was no way that was a good thing. He glanced around for anything he could use as a diversion. His eyes lit on a small fire extinguisher bolted on the outside wall next to the door. It probably wasn’t large enough to meet the fire code, but for him it would serve as a key, a diversion, and a weapon if needed.

After quietly lifting the extinguisher from its holder and pulling the pin, he aimed the base at the locked door knob. He only had one shot at a surprise entrance so he had to make it good. He raised the red canister and slammed it down hard on the knob which easily gave way. Having announced his presence, he pushed the door open, raised the hose, aimed the nozzle and squeezed the discharge lever sending a cloud of carbon dioxide into the room.

“What the—?!?!” he heard Chad yell. Diversion accomplished.

But the cylinder ran out of the chemical way too soon. In seconds, the vapor had cleared enough for him to see the athletically built man charging towards him. Mac balanced the now-empty extinguisher in his hands before ramming the device into Chad’s abdomen, knocking the breath from his lungs and causing him to drop the syringe. The actor stumbled backwards, lost his balance, and fell, hitting his head on the corner of the table knocking himself out cold.

“Oh MacGyver!” Penny exclaimed as he cut through her bindings. “I didn’t think you would find me! How did you know where I was?!?! I thought for sure Chad would kill me!”

“We need to get out of here before he wakes up,” Mac commanded, pulling Penny to her feet but stopping when the excitement on her face turned to horror. Not wanting to turn around but knowing he had to, MacGyver slowly swiveled to find himself face to face with Chad Connors.

“Boy, this guy’s got a hard head,” he muttered.

A second later, Chad thrust his fist into Mac’s gut before hitting him in the jaw with a strong right cross. Mac staggered back, doubled over trying to catch his breath. Chad took another swing, but this time MacGyver was quicker and jumped out of the way. While the other man was recovering from his strike out, Mac balled his hand into a hard fist and smacked the other man square in the face. There was the sickening sound of cartilage breaking as Mac made contact and then the moans as Chad grabbed his nose and fell to his knees, blood flowing everywhere. For good measure, Penny came up beside him and kicked her would-be killer in the ribs turning the moans into curses. Mac shook out his fist. Man that hurt! Why did he keep doing things like this?! Suddenly, the room was awash in light as police offers moved in to grab their prisoner. Mac took Penny by the arm and gently led her from the room. Most of the other performers had heard the commotion and now huddled in small groups in the parking lot as their eldest “brother” was escorted to a waiting squad car.

“You saved my life again!” Penny cried, as she wrapped her arms around MacGyver’s neck and hugged him tight.

“Nothin’ to it,” he grinned, returning her grateful gesture.

XXXXX

The following evening, MacGyver, Penny, Joanna, and Jacques gathered backstage before the final performance. Actors hustled by practicing lines and dance steps. The theater began to swell with spectators and there was electricity in the air.

“Are you positive this is what you want?” the director asked Penny in a fatherly tone.

“Yes, Jacques, I’m sure,” she replied gently. “I’ll miss the excitement and all, but I really feel like it’s time for me to go home and put down some roots.” She looked at Mac and Jo and smiled. “Maybe I’ll even find me a guy to marry and have some kids. Not a lot, though. Maybe only one or two. Or maybe I won’t have any so I can be free to travel. But then again, that wouldn’t exactly be putting down roots, would it?” she laughed.

Jacques took Penny’s hand. “Just be happy, my dear. Follow your heart wherever it takes you!”

“What about you, Jacques?” MacGyver asked. “What will you do once the play finishes touring?”

The older man’s expression turned thoughtful, but there was a twinkle in his eye.

“I had every plan to retire and live out my days in a reclusive French villa,” he replied. “But once news got out about this whole sabotage ordeal, well, it seems I’m a sought after director once again!”

“Hey, that’s great!” Mac responded. “But I thought this ordeal would actually hurt your career.”

Jacques smiled. “In show business, any exposure is good exposure. My name and works have been revived!”

“So you think you’ll continue working?” This time it was Joanna’s question.

“Time will tell, my dear! Time will tell.”

The overhead lights began to blink before the conversation could continue.

“Looks like that’s our cue to head to our seats,” Mac observed. “Thanks again for inviting us,” he said to Jacques.

“After what you did, it was my pleasure! Please go and enjoy the show!”

MacGyver and Joanna had just settled into their front row seats when the house lights began to dim. Mac slung his arm around Jo’s shoulders, pulled her close, and began to nuzzle her ear.

“Stop it, Mac! Everyone is watching!”

“So? Let ‘em!” he murmured as the curtain rose.

















Posted by: Dragondog 13 September 2019 - 08:29 AM
Wow, that is really long surprise.gif

QUOTE
Chapter 15: Bride #3
... huh.gif

QUOTE
Never in his life had he thought he’d be jealous of a piece of material. But he was.
On one hand I'm cracking up, but on the other, I'm trying to figure out why I find this relatable. Can't figure out why XD

QUOTE
with the marquee below advertising the current performance of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.
PFFT, I know what that's referencing! roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif

QUOTE

“The back row?” MacGyver complained in a loud whisper.

“What do you expect for free!” Joanna shot back.
Accurate XD

QUOTE
By happy coincidence, she had seen fit to wear her hair clipped back, exposing her neck in the most enticing way. Ever so slowly he pressed his lips to the smooth, tender skin behind her ear. Feeling her flinch, he quickly broke contact. It was then that he noticed her head tip, giving him better access.
You should be happy you're in the back row wink.gif

QUOTE

“It was okay,” she shrugged. “But I think you missed a spot.” She grinned shyly as she tipped her head and pointed to spot beneath her jaw.

“Well, I can fix that in a jiffy, lil lady,” Mac replied using his best cowboy imitation, causing Joanna to giggle softly.
You two are going to flip out on your wedding night, aren't you? XD

QUOTE
There, in black and white, were the words ‘Bride #3 – Penny Parker’.
Oh, that's where the title of the chapter came from XD

QUOTE

“Why didn’t you ever tell me about her?”
Sheesh, Jo, chill, he can't tell you about everyone he's befriended... XD

QUOTE

Any further explanation was drowned out by applause as the stage curtain closed and the house lights came on for the first intermission.
That's either the fastest first act ever, or they spent a long time making out XD

QUOTE

Penny skittered towards him and launched herself into his arms, throwing him slightly off balance, before planting a solid kiss on his lips.
Someone really needs to teach Penny about boundaries XD

QUOTE

“You’re reason for moving to Milwaukee?” The actress smiled knowingly at him before turning to embrace Jo.
Penny's not always as dumb as she acts XD

QUOTE
“Oh, I just know we’re gonna be great friends!” she gushed to a stunned Joanna.
I can picture that, and it's hilarious XD

QUOTE

“So that’s a Penny Parker,” Joanna mused. “She certainly is friendly.”
Understatement of the century XD

QUOTE

“Me? Jealous? Why would I be jealous just because your ‘old friend’ happens to be young, gorgeous, and successful?”
Jo is starting to annoy me dry.gif

QUOTE

“Oh,” she said sheepishly. “Point taken.”
Good smile.gif

QUOTE

“Wait a minute,” she put a detaining hand on his forearm before rummaging in her purse and pulling out a small mirror and a couple of tissues which she used to blot her lips and gently sweep at least one layer of make-up from her face. “Okay. I’m ready now.
laugh.gif Good call, Joanna

QUOTE

The actress leaned in towards Joanna and whispered loudly, “He always tells me that, but the house really is haunted. But in a good way. It’s just my Aunt Betty and she would never hurt anyone. Besides, I think he says that just to make himself believe it. Heaven forbid MacGyver not be able to explain something with science and logic.” Penny proceeded to roll her eyes as Jo suppressed a giggle.
You write Penny's dialogue really well biggrin.gif

QUOTE

Penny took a deep breath before continuing. Likely it would be her last for a while unless something managed to interrupt her.
Lol, I love how she prepares for this XD XD XD

QUOTE
Mac, his name was Jacques La Rue!”
Okay, so did Murdoc steal the guy's identity the first time around or what?

QUOTE

“Before dessert, when we went to the ladies room,” she shrugged. “Do you have a problem with me spending time with your ex-girlfriend?”

“No! And she’s not my ex-girlfriend!”
Mac reminds me of a little kid in this XD

QUOTE


“Poor kid,” Penny said sadly once the girl had left. “This is her first big break and she’s so worried she’s going to have to go on for me.”
You gotta admit though, if you're not feeling confident or positive for any reason, Penny's the best person to have around XD

QUOTE


“When we were in Houston, bride number one kept getting these strange notes and was convinced a stalker was trying to kill her so she just up and quit one day and went back to Los Angeles. Then, in Omaha, a piece of rigging fell and almost hit bride number two. She stumbled getting out of the way and broke her ankle. You sure you don’t want one?” Penny thrust the candy box under Joanna’s nose.

“No. Thanks,” she smiled.
Okay, something is probably wrong with those candies...

QUOTE

“Don’t you think that’s kinda odd?” Jo asked, but her question was met with prolonged silence.

“Penny?” she asked again. Still nothing but silence.

Suddenly, a loud clatter and muffled thud come from the other room. Joanna raced into the bathroom to find Penny’s unconscious body crumpled on the floor.
Called it XD

QUOTE

“My name is Doctor Reagan. I’m sorry if I was a bit brusque, but with all the new privacy laws these days…” she blew out a breath of what appeared to be frustration.
I feel you, doc XD

QUOTE

“Actually, I didn’t,” Jo replied with a grin, carefully setting the crystal vase on the table next to the hospital bed. “They were at the nurses’ station so I offered to deliver them. Here’s the card.”
I wouldn't accept any more deliveries for the time being, thank you very much :/

QUOTE

“You look like you could use a break,” she said. “Why don’t we go to the cafeteria and let Penny rest for a while?”
That... sounds like an awful idea...

QUOTE

MacGyver tipped his head in thought. “They would all have motive and probably opportunity, but I’m still not convinced Jacques La Rue is as genuine or innocent as Penny says.”
Now I just want to know if "Jacques La Rue" is some code name for serial killers, and they all pretend to be crippled directors to snag young, aspiring actors/actresses off the streets...

QUOTE

As the man maneuvered his wheelchair to face the doorway, MacGyver observed that the director was portlier than he had envisioned. He also wore thick glasses and had a bald head.

“Ah, so this is the ‘MacGyver’ Penny has been telling me about,” the older man smiled, reaching out his hand.

Mac stepped forward and shook La Rue’s hand even as he raised his eyebrows at Penny who offered and apologetic shrug.

“Ms. Parker was telling me how you so heroically rescued her from an evil assassin who was impersonating me. I owe you a debt of gratitude for protecting this wonderful lady.”

“Yeah, well, it was nothing, really,” Mac replied, a bit embarrassed as well as surprised at the friendliness and openness with which the director addressed him.
Wait... he's not Zito, is he?

QUOTE

“Don’t you watch ‘Memorial Hospital’, girl?!”

“The soap opera?”

“Of course! That delicious-looking young man right there is none other than Dr. Jack Weaver! Well, at least until he left the show.”
This installment is just packed with references XD

QUOTE
It was almost midnight. The show should have ended a couple hours ago and, if Chad was true to form, he’d be out at a local bar getting hammered until closing time which meant his motel room would be empty. Mac had said they needed hard evidence against Chad. Well, now was the time to get it!
And it'd be much better to wake Mac up and tell him such instead of sneaking out yourself...

QUOTE

“Oh, Penny! You can be so stupid sometimes!” she muttered as she headed to the front office.
Lol XD

QUOTE
Chad had returned! And she was trapped!
Also saw that coming...

QUOTE

“But…maybe I am dumb,” she replied softly, her large eyes full of innocence. Yes, she was dumb alright. Dumb enough to think she could find evidence and get Chad arrested all on her own.
I mean, I feel bad for her, but... she's not exactly wrong...

QUOTE

“We need to get out of here before he wakes up,” Mac commanded, pulling Penny to her feet but stopping when the excitement on her face turned to horror. Not wanting to turn around but knowing he had to, MacGyver slowly swiveled to find himself face to face with Chad Connors.

“Boy, this guy’s got a hard head,” he muttered.
I was gonna say, he should've been out longer than that. But then again, he should be too drunk to handle himself as long as he has too XD

QUOTE
Mac shook out his fist. Man that hurt! Why did he keep doing things like this?!
XD XD XD

QUOTE
Suddenly, the room was awash in light as police offers moved in to grab their prisoner.
Did Jenny put two and two together? Are these the same cops who were investigating Penny's poisoning? How did they know to arrest Chad and leave mac alone? XD

QUOTE

Jacques took Penny’s hand. “Just be happy, my dear. Follow your heart wherever it takes you!”
Awwwwww XD

QUOTE

MacGyver and Joanna had just settled into their front row seats when the house lights began to dim. Mac slung his arm around Jo’s shoulders, pulled her close, and began to nuzzle her ear.

“Stop it, Mac! Everyone is watching!”

“So? Let ‘em!” he murmured as the curtain rose.
He's lucky Penny's so bubbly, or she'd be so embarrassed to see this XD XD XD

Posted by: Dragondog 13 September 2019 - 08:34 AM
Although I'm confused... where'd the ten year old boy come from? The one who brought the box to Penny's hotel? huh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 September 2019 - 09:20 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 13 September 2019 - 08:34 AM)
Although I'm confused... where'd the ten year old boy come from? The one who brought the box to Penny's hotel? huh.gif

Ya got me! LOL! Probably a kid playing hooky from school? Any kid'll do something for money! Honestly, I needed a discreet, generic delivery person!

Posted by: Dragondog 14 September 2019 - 06:54 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 13 September 2019 - 12:20 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 13 September 2019 - 08:34 AM)
Although I'm confused... where'd the ten year old boy come from? The one who brought the box to Penny's hotel?  huh.gif

Ya got me! LOL! Probably a kid playing hooky from school? Any kid'll do something for money! Honestly, I needed a discreet, generic delivery person!

Works for me biggrin.gif tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 24 September 2019 - 09:45 AM
Ugh! Can't believe I missed posting last week. In my defense, I was in a training all day that fried my brain!


Chapter 16: Homecoming

MacGyver paced the airport’s concourse much as an expectant father would pace the maternity ward, except that his son would be delivered by a commercial jetliner straight from Heathrow as opposed to a doctor in scrubs. He had been anxiously awaiting this day ever since Sam called to say he was coming home so why was he so nervous? Perhaps it was because, for the first time in two and a half years, Sam was coming home…to stay.

“Dad! Dad!” the dark-haired young man called, waving one arm in the air as he pushed his way through the crowd of people that had deplaned with him.

MacGyver easily detected his son’s voice amidst the din of the other passengers and wasn’t even concerned about the goofy grin he knew he wore. Before he knew it, he was locked in a tight embrace with his widely-smiling offspring as they heartily patted each other’s back. After a few moments, Sam backed away and glanced around the open waiting area, a deep frown marring his handsome features.

“Where’s Joanna?” he demanded. “Is she okay? You guys didn’t break up, did you?!”

“Relax, Sam,” Mac replied as he put a calming hand on Sam’s shoulder. “She’s still at work, but she promised to meet us for dinner.”

“Sorry for overreacting,” Sam apologized sheepishly. “I forget she’s still at the law firm.”

“No problem. What do you say we grab your luggage and get outta here?”

The two men made their way to baggage claim where they joined the group of travelers gathered around the carousel waiting for the conveyor belt to regurgitate their belongings. It didn’t take long before an old, worn rucksack slid down the ramp and landed in front of Sam who quickly snatched it up.

“All right, let’s go!” Sam said, turning to leave, but Mac grabbed his arm, keeping him in place.

“That’s all you got?” MacGyver asked incredulously. “Over two years living abroad and all you come home with is that?”

Sam chuckled. “Dad, most of that time I was imbedded with troops who were constantly on the move, the rest of my time I spent in a furnished apartment traveling around Europe. I didn’t need that much.”

“And I thought I packed light,” Mac muttered as they left the airport.

“So, tell me again what happened. You were kinda vague on the phone,” Mac said as he maneuvered the Jeep through the city traffic. It was a warm day so the top was off and the breeze ruffled their hair.

“There’s not much to tell,” Sam shrugged, not looking at his dad. “My editor in London has a friend at the Tribune. He sent him some of my work and the guy was impressed. Offered me a job right away.”

“I’m so proud of you Sam. And your mom would be, too.” Mac praised. “All your hard work has finally paid off and now you’re working for the Chicago Tribune.”

Mac glanced at his son who stared out the windshield. His stomach did a little flip, but he blamed it on the day’s excitement, not Sam’s odd demeanor.

“So when do you start?” MacGyver asked, attempting to get more information.

“In a week or two. They’re giving me time to get settled. I was kinda planning on crashing at your place for a while.”

“That’ll work,” Mac grinned. “I’ll take some time off from Challengers and we can go apartment hunting.”

“Yeah, sure,” Sam replied, not sounding nearly as excited as MacGyver expected him to.

XXXXX

“That boy’s driving me nuts, Jo,” Mac complained a few days later as they were closing up Challengers for the night.

“He’s hardly a boy,” Jo snickered.

“Well, he sure is acting like one,” MacGyver groused. “We spent the last two days apartment hunting in Chicago and he found something wrong with every single one of them! Every. Single. One.”

“This has to be a huge adjustment for him,” Joanna tried to reason. “A new job, a new place to live, it can be as overwhelming as it is exciting.”

“I guess you’re right,” Mac sighed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The following Saturday, Cynthia carefully returned her paint roller to the tray and stretched out her back. Joanna did the same.

“Looks good,” the older woman commented as she looked around the final dorm room to be painted. “We should be able to finish it up this afternoon. How about we break for lunch?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Jo agreed, stifling a yawn. Working at the firm and volunteering at Challengers was catching up with her. And starting next week the club was scheduled to be open twenty-four hours a day every day of the week. She’d have to make time to help out as much as possible until MacGyver and Cynthia could get more volunteers.

The two women plodded down the stairs only to find Sam waiting for them in the rec area.

“I’m sorry, dear, but your dad’s not here,” Cynthia told him. “He’s at a City Council meeting. Every now and again they like to see the man behind the lease instead of me,” she grinned.

“I know,” he replied. “I was actually here to see Jo.”

Joanna’s eyes grew wide with surprise, but she turned and nodded to Cynthia who quietly slipped into her office.

“Hey Sam, what’s up?” she asked, trying to sound upbeat even though the young man in front of her looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. “Wanna go grab a cheeseburger or something?”

“No,” he answered softly, staring at his shoes. “I was wondering if we could talk. In private.”

“Sure,” she replied, her tone low and serious. Sam glanced at Cynthia’s office and his brow furrowed.

“Why don’t we step out back and get some fresh air,” Jo suggested.

Once seated side-by-side on the small stoop, Sam continued to avoid Jo’s eyes and she waited patiently for him to begin the conversation even though worry gnawed at her. She had never seen the young man so quiet and dejected. He was like a stranger to her.

“Sam?” she prompted gently after several minutes of awkward silence. “What did you want to talk about?”

He threw a quick glance her way and she saw unshed tears welling in his eyes. “It’s gonna sound really stupid. Maybe I shouldn’t have come here.”

“Well, you’re here now and I doubt anything you have to say is gonna sound stupid.”

His eyes still locked on the concrete beneath them he mumbled, “I miss my mom.”

He then turned his head so he was looking Joanna straight in the eye. “I mean, I really miss her! How stupid is that?!”

Tears streamed down his cheeks as Jo put an arm around his shoulders to comfort him.

“It’s not stupid at all,” she assured him softly.

“How can you say that?!” His grief suddenly morphing into anger. “She’s been gone fifteen years! I shouldn’t miss her like this!”

Jo’s voice was gentle but firm. “Sam, you watched your mother get murdered. That isn’t something you forget and it certainly isn’t something that stops hurting. Have you talked to your dad about this?”

Sam shook his head. “I can’t. That’s why I came to you.”

Joanna’s heartbeat hitched at the blind trust he had in her. “Why can’t you talk to Mac?”

“He won’t understand. He had forgotten all about her until I showed up!”

Jo was treading in deep water and she knew it. “I don’t think you give him enough credit. You need to talk to him, otherwise this will always come between you.”

“There’s more,” he mumbled.

“There’s no job at the Tribune, is there?”

“How did you know?!”

Joanna shrugged. “Call it ‘women’s intuition’ if you want. It’s just that the Sam Malloy I know would be in seventh heaven and chomping at the bit to start his new job even if it meant living in a bus station. From what your dad is telling me, you’re doing everything in your power to avoid moving to Chicago.”

“You’re not wrong,” Sam smiled through his now-subsiding tears.

“And you know you have to talk to your dad about all of this.”

“I know.”

XXXXX

The following afternoon, Joanna parked her car in front of MacGyver’s townhouse. She had come on the pretense that he needed to sign some documents so Cynthia could get them in the mail first thing the next day, but really she wanted to know if he and Sam had talked yet. The driveway was empty, but one of them could still be home. Approaching the front door, she raised her fist to knock before recalling how Mac had chided her formality. She tested the doorknob and, finding it unlocked, let herself in.

“Mac? Sam?” she called, but got no response. It wasn’t like Mac to leave his doors unlocked. Perhaps Sam had been the last one to leave and forgot. Looking around the large living area she sighed. Clothes, towels and other miscellaneous items lay strewn across the floor and furniture. She placed the envelope containing the documents on the kitchen counter before stooping to collect the pieces of clothing she recognized as belonging to MacGyver. She knew he wasn’t a neat freak, but he also wasn’t a slob. His son was definitely having a bad influence on him!

Arms full, she carefully made her way upstairs where she tossed the pile of laundry on the bed. When she looked up from the heap it was to find MacGyver standing in the bathroom doorway, drying his unruly hair with one white towel while another was wrapped around his waist, his skin still glistening with moisture. She let out an instinctive squeak and quickly turned her back to him.

“Hey there! I didn’t hear you come in. I was in the shower,” he addressed her nonchalantly.

“Obviously,” she muttered shyly as she felt him draw closer.

“I didn’t startle you, did I?” he asked, taking hold of her upper arm and coaxing her to swivel toward him.

“No! I just wasn’t expecting…um…” she blushed furiously and couldn’t find the words to finish her sentence. Shoot, she couldn’t find any words at all as she stared at his broad shoulders, sturdy abs, and the little cluster of dark curly hair in the center of his chest. She was pretty certain she would need to go to confession if she didn’t rein in her thoughts quickly. Unfortunately, Mac didn’t seem inclined to assist her with that as he took her hands and placed them on his bare shoulders before looping his arms around her waist.

“With Sam in the bathroom at all hours, I have to catch a shower whenever I can,” he offered, grinning mischievously.

“I…I can see that,” Jo stammered, feeling like a naïve teenager and wishing the floor would open up and swallow her whole.

“I didn’t embarrass you, did I?” he asked, his smile fading.

“Of course not!” Jo shot back, summoning all the bravado she had even as the heat from his skin seared the palms of her hands, but she was unable to pull them away. She was suddenly aware of the back of his forefinger gently caressing her cheek.

“You know that feeling you have right now?” he asked huskily. “That’s the feeling I get every time I see you in one of my hockey jerseys, or sleeping on my couch, or doing practically anything or nothing at all.”

“Really?” she asked breathlessly.

“Really,” he confirmed. “And it’s not a bad thing. But right now I think I should get dressed.”

He leaned forward and placed a quick kiss on the tip of her nose, breaking the spell she had been under. He released her from his grasp and she reclaimed her hands.

“Could you hand me a pair of boxers?” he asked, indicating the bureau behind her. “Second drawer from the top.”

With still slightly unsteady hands she opened the drawer and extracted a pair of cream colored undershorts. She held them at arm’s length between her thumb and forefinger like a three-day-old fish and wrinkled her nose.

“What’s wrong?” he chuckled.

“I don’t know. They’re just so plain. I guess I was expecting something with more pizazz.”

“What kind of ‘pizazz’?” he asked warily.

“Oh, I don’t know,” she responded, her playfulness returning. “Something more colorful, maybe with little hockey sticks or cowboy hats on them.”

“Well, if this is going to be an issue for you I could go shopping later,” he suggested.

“Just get yourself dressed,” Jo ordered as she wadded up his boring boxers and tossed them smack in his face. “I’ll be waiting downstairs.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Ten minutes later, after pulling on a pair of khakis and a collarless, turquois shirt, MacGyver headed down to the kitchen to find Joanna sitting patiently at the cluttered breakfast bar.

“So, what brings you by?” he asked.

“Cynthia needs you to sign some papers,” she responded, waving absently at the large brown envelope next to her elbow.

Mac raised his eyebrows so they were almost touching his bangs. “It couldn’t wait until tomorrow morning?”

“Well…actually…I was kinda wondering if Sam had a chance to talk to you,” Jo hedged.

Mac sighed and sat down on the stool next to Jo’s. “Yeah, we talked. A lot.”

“And…?”

“Kate’s been a part of my past for so long, it never occurred to me that she was still a part of Sam’s present.” Mac scrubbed his face with his hands before continuing. “Sam was on assignment in Saudi Arabia. There was a military skirmish in the village where he was staying. He saw a mother get shot in front of her children. It kinda brought everything back for him, ya know?”

Jo nodded her understanding but remained silent.

“As soon as he got back to London he put in his notice, finished up his assignments, and arranged to come home. His editor over there does have a friend at the Tribune and Sam’s gonna look him up when he’s ready.”

“I just don’t get why Sam thought you wouldn’t understand.”

Mac shrugged. “He said he was afraid I’d be ashamed of him wanting to come home and settle down. He knows that at his age I was still hungry to see and do whatever I could and he felt like he should follow in my footsteps. The funny thing is, a part of me has always wondered what my life would have been like if I had come home, or at least found a place to put down roots, sooner.”

“Did you tell Sam that?”

“Yeah.”

“So things are okay between you two?”

Mac smiled. “I’d say better than okay, and I have you to thank for that.”

“Me? I didn’t do anything.”

“You were there for my son when he felt he couldn’t come to me. I’d say that’s everything.”

XXXXX

A few days later, MacGyver was in the middle of reclaiming his living room from his son’s dubious housekeeping skills when Sam came bounding through the front door, cell phone in hand.

“Dad! Guess what?!”

“You finally got a date with that cute checker from the supermarket!” Mac teased.

“C’mon, Dad, I’m serious!”

“Alright, what’s the big news?”

“I just got done talking with my editor’s friend at the Tribune and he wants to bring me on board!”

“Sam, that’s great!” Mac exclaimed as they exchanged high fives and a brief hug before Sam became unusually somber.

“There’s only one problem,” he said flatly.

“What’s that?”

“I’ll have to work as a stringer until a full-time position opens up.”

“So? You’ve done that before,” Mac pointed out encouragingly, still excited about his son’s news.

“Yeah, but you know what that means. I’ll be covering stories that don’t warrant a big name reporter and I’ll have to free-lance whenever I can. But more importantly, I won’t be receiving a regular paycheck, and you saw how much apartments cost in Chicago. Especially something close to the Tribune,” Sam sighed and dropped down on the couch.

“Well, you have some money saved up, right? There’s gotta be a way,” MacGyver pressed.

“You can’t build me an apartment out of duct tape and paperclips, Dad,” Sam said dejectedly.

“That’s not what I meant,” Mac scowled. “I meant we need to think of other options.”

“You mean like commuting?” Sam offered.

“Yeah, that could work. You could use my Jeep.”

“Have you seen the price of gas lately?” Sam asked. “I’d burn through my savings in no time!”

“You got a point,” Mac agreed.

“Too bad you don’t live in Chicago, Dad. Then I could just keep bunking with you!” Sam chuckled.

“Of course!” Mac exclaimed, slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand. “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?! You could stay with the Thornton’s!”

“But I hardly know them,” Sam grimaced. “Don’t ya think it’d be kinda awkward?”

“Nah!” Mac replied excitedly. “You and Pete will get along great, and I know Connie will love to have someone else in the house to dote on. You want me to call ‘em?”

Sam shrugged. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot.”

MacGyver grabbed his cordless phone, dialed the number he knew by heart, and paced as he waited for someone to pick up.

“Hello?”

“Hey Pete! It’s me!”

“Who’s ‘me’?” the older man asked gruffly.

“Pete, it’s me! MacGyver!”

“I’m sorry. You must have the wrong number. The MacGyver I know waits until the middle of the night when I’m fast asleep to call and then he has the nerve to ask me for a favor. I don’t suppose you’re gonna ask me for a favor, are ya?”

Mac closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “C’mon Pete, those were emergencies.”

“I know, Mac! Lighten up! I was just teasing you!”

“Oh? Well, very funny.”

“I thought so! What’s up?”

“Well, I sorta have a—“

“I knew it! You have a favor to ask!”

“It’s not so much a favor as a proposal,” Mac replied diplomatically.

“Oh really? And what, exactly, is this proposal?”

“Sam landed a job at the Tribune and needs a place to stay until he saves enough for an apartment. I thought he could stay in your guest room in the meantime.”

“Gee, I don’t know Mac…”

“Aw, c’mon Pete! It’ll be great! Sam’s a great kid! He’s even housebroken!”

Pete chuckled. “Well…I’ll have to talk to Connie. Can I call you back?”

“Sure thing. We’ll be waiting. Thanks, Pete!”

XXXXX

Late Saturday morning MacGyver turned his Jeep into the Thornton’s driveway. Connie threw open the front door and came to greet them before he could turn off the ignition.

“It’s so good to see you!” she exclaimed, enveloping Mac in a surprisingly strong hug as he stepped from the car.

Sam jumped out and grabbed his luggage, such as it was, from the back seat before he, too, was accosted by Pete’s wife.

“Looks like she’s glad to see me,” Sam commented as they followed the woman into the house.

“And Pete will be, too,” MacGyver assured his son. “He pretends to be tough, but really he’s just a big old teddy bear.”

“Hey, who’re you calling ‘old’?” Pete complained from his chair in the living room.

“It’s good to see you, too!” Mac greeted his friend with a firm handshake before Sam did the same.

“I really appreciate you letting me stay here, Mr. Thornton.”

“It’s our pleasure, and please call me ‘Pete’.”

“And I’m ‘Connie’,” the petite woman instructed as she carried a tray of glasses filled with lemonade into the room just as Mac and Sam settled themselves on the couch. “It’s such a pity Joanna couldn’t come with you.”

“She wanted to, but this is the first weekend Challengers Club is open for the summer and someone had to stay and help out Cynthia,” Mac informed her before taking a sip of his tart drink.

“Well, now that Sam is living here perhaps you’ll both visit more often,” Connie said hopefully. “She’s such a sweet girl. You know, MacGyver, you should really think about—“

“Connie! Leave Mac alone,” Pete scolded. “He doesn’t need you poking your nose into his love life!”

Time passed quickly as the small group caught up on everyone’s activities and the success of Challengers. Once Connie had settled Sam into the guest room to her satisfaction she served a light lunch. Conversation continued well into the afternoon as Sam regaled his new friends with stories of his adventures in the Middle East and Europe.

“Sounds like a chip off the old block!” Pete observed with a smile.

“Yeah, he sure is,” Mac agreed before looking down at his watch with a frown. “Pete, what time does that used car lot you told me about close?”

“Being a Saturday, they close at four.”

Mac looked to Sam. “If you want to check it out we should get going,” he advised.

“Sounds good to me,” Sam replied.

An hour and some haggling later, Sam was the proud owner of a twenty-year-old faded yellow Volkswagen Beetle.

“What’s with the frown, Dad?” he asked, as he examined his ‘new’ car.

“I was hoping you’d get something a little newer and more reliable,” Mac shrugged.

“Newer? This is a classic!”

“No Sam. The Nomad’s a classic. This one’s just old!”

“Aw, c’mon Dad! I can handle any mechanical problems that might come up,” Sam gushed. “Besides, it’s all I can afford, and it only has to get me to the train station and back.”

MacGyver reluctantly agreed and the two men headed back to the Thornton’s in their respective vehicles. After admiring Sam’s new acquisition, Connie insisted Mac stay for supper before driving home. He had just taken his last bite of pie when Sam stood up and whisked his plate away.

“Hey! You never clear the table at home!”

“True. But I’m your son so I don’t have to make a good impression on you!”

Everyone laughed and soon it was time for Mac to take his leave. He shook Pete’s hand and hugged Connie before they disappeared, giving him and Sam some privacy for their good-bye’s.

“So, what do you think?” Mac asked.

Sam smiled. “I think I’m gonna like it here,” he confirmed. “Pete and Connie seem pretty cool. Thanks for setting this up.”

“Hey, that’s what dads are for!”

After an exchange of hugs and hearty pats on the back, Mac headed to his Jeep. He looked back and watched through the large bay window as Sam locked the door and walked down the hall to his room. Finally, his son was home.



Posted by: Dragondog 25 September 2019 - 05:04 PM
QUOTE
Ugh! Can't believe I missed posting last week. In my defense, I was in a training all day that fried my brain!
If it helps, I forgot all about it until you posted today XD

Yay! Sam's back! XD

QUOTE

“Where’s Joanna?” he demanded. “Is she okay? You guys didn’t break up, did you?!”
Geeze, jump to conclusions much? XD

QUOTE

Mac glanced at his son who stared out the windshield. His stomach did a little flip, but he blamed it on the day’s excitement, not Sam’s odd demeanor.
Yeah 'kay, something's wrong, I know it XD

QUOTE

He threw a quick glance her way and she saw unshed tears welling in his eyes.
sad.gif

QUOTE
“It’s gonna sound really stupid. Maybe I shouldn’t have come here.”
Okay but that's me when I get emotional over stupid crap XD

QUOTE

His eyes still locked on the concrete beneath them he mumbled, “I miss my mom.”
*cries* *cries* *cries* Okay, we need a sobbing smiley, because this: sad.gif doesn't always cut it XD

QUOTE

Tears streamed down his cheeks as Jo put an arm around his shoulders to comfort him.
Welp, there goes my heart. Farewell...

QUOTE

“He won’t understand. He had forgotten all about her until I showed up!”
Y'know, I really like how you've been writing Sam and Mac's relationship. Like, they have a tight bond, but the truth of the matter is that there's still a lot of past hurt and bad memories that'll always be there. Something the show never touched on (not that there was much of a chance).

QUOTE

Joanna shrugged. “Call it ‘women’s intuition’ if you want. It’s just that the Sam Malloy I know would be in seventh heaven and chomping at the bit to start his new job even if it meant living in a bus station. From what your dad is telling me, you’re doing everything in your power to avoid moving to Chicago.”

“You’re not wrong,” Sam smiled through his now-subsiding tears.

“And you know you have to talk to your dad about all of this.”

“I know.”
*flops dragon-doggie self into the mix and snuggles him as comfortingly as possible*

QUOTE
She placed the envelope containing the documents on the kitchen counter before stooping to collect the pieces of clothing she recognized as belonging to MacGyver. She knew he wasn’t a neat freak, but he also wasn’t a slob. His son was definitely having a bad influence on him!
*rolls eyes* Bachelors laugh.gif

QUOTE


Arms full, she carefully made her way upstairs where she tossed the pile of laundry on the bed. When she looked up from the heap it was to find MacGyver standing in the bathroom doorway, drying his unruly hair with one white towel while another was wrapped around his waist, his skin still glistening with moisture. She let out an instinctive squeak and quickly turned her back to him.

“Hey there! I didn’t hear you come in. I was in the shower,” he addressed her nonchalantly.
I can't decide who's reaction is funnier roller.gif Jo is me, but Mac just doesn't care roller.gif

QUOTE

“I didn’t startle you, did I?” he asked, taking hold of her upper arm and coaxing her to swivel toward him.
Sheesh, not the best time, Maccy roller.gif

QUOTE

“No! I just wasn’t expecting…um…” she blushed furiously and couldn’t find the words to finish her sentence. Shoot, she couldn’t find any words at all as she stared at his broad shoulders, sturdy abs, and the little cluster of dark curly hair in the center of his chest.
Wow. Okay then laugh.gif

QUOTE
She was pretty certain she would need to go to confession if she didn’t rein in her thoughts quickly.
I mean, we've all been there, haven't we? XD

QUOTE
Unfortunately, Mac didn’t seem inclined to assist her with that as he took her hands and placed them on his bare shoulders before looping his arms around her waist.
Mac may be a little too comfortable around Joanna. Please tie the knot soon XD

QUOTE

“With Sam in the bathroom at all hours, I have to catch a shower whenever I can,” he offered, grinning mischievously.
Partly because of my OCD, my mom can relate to this XD

QUOTE

“I didn’t embarrass you, did I?” he asked, his smile fading.
...Earth to Mac, you are slow XD

QUOTE

“Of course not!” Jo shot back, summoning all the bravado she had even as the heat from his skin seared the palms of her hands, but she was unable to pull them away. She was suddenly aware of the back of his forefinger gently caressing her cheek.

“You know that feeling you have right now?” he asked huskily. “That’s the feeling I get every time I see you in one of my hockey jerseys, or sleeping on my couch, or doing practically anything or nothing at all.”
Okay, are we done yet? There's a time and place for this, guys, and this is neither XD

QUOTE

“Really?” she asked breathlessly.

“Really,” he confirmed. “And it’s not a bad thing. But right now I think I should get dressed.”
Yes. Yes you should XD (But wouldn't it be hilarious if Sam walked in right now and just... had to process what was happening, while Mac shouts "SAM IT'S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!" while Same runs from the room celebrating as if his favorite team scored a winning goal? XD XD XD)

QUOTE

“Could you hand me a pair of boxers?” he asked, indicating the bureau behind her. “Second drawer from the top.”
Mac, you're a big boy. You can dress yourself tongue.gif

QUOTE

“I don’t know. They’re just so plain. I guess I was expecting something with more pizazz.”
Jo they are boxers. I'm not sure what you're critiquing here... XD

QUOTE

“Oh, I don’t know,” she responded, her playfulness returning. “Something more colorful, maybe with little hockey sticks or cowboy hats on them.”
Lol, can you imagine? Wait... on second thought, I don't want to imagine laugh.gif

QUOTE

“So, what brings you by?” he asked.
Oh, other than that really steamy thing that just happened? Just some paperwork XD

QUOTE

Mac sighed and sat down on the stool next to Jo’s. “Yeah, we talked. A lot.”
Sorry I missed that...

Idk why, but the evil side of my mind says, "Mac was so disappointed in his son's lie, he decided it was time to mate and produce new offspring. So far, Joanna seemed very responsive, but he knew better than to push her too hard, or she might tear into him like a lioness feasting on a dead gazelle..."

QUOTE

“Kate’s been a part of my past for so long, it never occurred to me that she was still a part of Sam’s present.”
Okay, back to what I was saying earlier, this is a very realistic parent/child relationship, especially given their history, and I love it so much <3

QUOTE
“Sam was on assignment in Saudi Arabia. There was a military skirmish in the village where he was staying. He saw a mother get shot in front of her children. It kinda brought everything back for him, ya know?”
Poor baby (I thought it might be something like that...)

QUOTE

Mac shrugged. “He said he was afraid I’d be ashamed of him wanting to come home and settle down. He knows that at his age I was still hungry to see and do whatever I could and he felt like he should follow in my footsteps. The funny thing is, a part of me has always wondered what my life would have been like if I had come home, or at least found a place to put down roots, sooner.”
Okay but the amount of hugs I want to send Sam now are enough to suffocate a fully-grown rhinoceros.

QUOTE

“You can’t build me an apartment out of duct tape and paperclips, Dad,” Sam said dejectedly.
Sam has some shade to throw XD

QUOTE

“Of course!” Mac exclaimed, slapping his forehead with the palm of his hand. “Why didn’t I think of this sooner?! You could stay with the Thornton’s!”
When was the last time we heard from them? I think it's time we hear from them again XD

QUOTE

“I’m sorry. You must have the wrong number. The MacGyver I know waits until the middle of the night when I’m fast asleep to call and then he has the nerve to ask me for a favor. I don’t suppose you’re gonna ask me for a favor, are ya?”
Lol, Pete's been eating some of Connie's less-than-edible dishes again XD

QUOTE

“Aw, c’mon Pete! It’ll be great! Sam’s a great kid! He’s even housebroken!”
XD XD XD (as housebroken as a male can be, anyway...)

QUOTE


“Well, now that Sam is living here perhaps you’ll both visit more often,” Connie said hopefully. “She’s such a sweet girl. You know, MacGyver, you should really think about—“

“Connie! Leave Mac alone,” Pete scolded. “He doesn’t need you poking your nose into his love life!”
No, listen to Connie. She knows best, listen XD XD XD

QUOTE

“I was hoping you’d get something a little newer and more reliable,” Mac shrugged.

“Newer? This is a classic!”
I feel like Sam's taken after Harry a bit XD

QUOTE

“Hey! You never clear the table at home!”

“True. But I’m your son so I don’t have to make a good impression on you!”
I feel like this would happen between my mom and I XD


Posted by: uniquelyjas 26 September 2019 - 05:01 AM
Hi Dragondog!

I take it you enjoyed this latest chapter! I'm really glad for your feedback regarding Mac and Sam's relationship. Obviously, the show left us with a pretty blank slate so I'm glad I'm portraying them realistically! As for the underwear scene...that came out of a conversation I had with another writer (Sanguine). In one of the early episodes, I believe it might have been The Human Factor, Mac is trapped (as usual) and takes off his pants, tosses them over a ceiling-type pipe and pulls himself out. Well, that's when MacGyver Nation discovers he wears boxers and I was oddly disappointed that they were simply a very light beige. Sanguine and I discussed this (yes, we have some strange conversations) and I think it was even her idea to put hockey or cowboy symbols on them. So voila! The scene was born!!!

Posted by: Dragondog 26 September 2019 - 07:53 PM
Lol, funny where inspiration comes from sometimes laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 2 October 2019 - 06:54 AM
oops see next post

Posted by: uniquelyjas 2 October 2019 - 07:04 AM
Chapter 17: Vengeance


Sam slowly opened his eyes and squinted at the ray of sunlight streaming in the window of the guest room. Well, he supposed it was his room, now. Rolling onto his back, he stretched like a lazy cat, the scent of homemade waffles drifting through the air tickling his nostrils. He smiled. He had been living with the Thornton’s for over a week now and was surprised at how content he was. He knew he could count on warm meals, easy conversation, and a comfortable bed. A far different life than he had been living overseas where his flat was cold and empty and his bed was hard. That is, when he had a bed and wasn’t sleeping in a fox hole or transport vehicle while imbedded with U.S. troops in the Middle East.

After a quick shower, he pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt before heading to the kitchen. Raised voices came from the room, causing him to stop just short of the doorway.

“I’m telling you, Connie, you’re spoiling him!” Pete scolded his wife.

“Oh, nonsense! I just want to make him feel welcome! It’s so good having a boy in the house again.”

“That’s just it!” Pete argued. “He’s not a boy, he’s a man. A man who can take care of himself without you hovering over him all the time!”

“I’m just fixing him breakfast, Peter. That’s hardly a federal offense.”

Sam cleared his throat and walked into the room before Pete could respond.

“Hi guys,” the young man greeted the older couple, effectively ending their argument.

He had barely taken a seat across the table from Pete when Connie placed a plateful of waffles dripping in warm maple syrup in front of him. He smiled up at her.

“Thanks, Connie,” he said warmly. “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation and Pete’s right. You don’t need to take care of me. I’ve been on my own a long time.”

“All the more reason to give you a little extra TLC now that you’re home!”

Even though Pete was blind, his silent eye-roll spoke volumes.

“I saw that, Peter Thornton!” Connie admonished.

Sam grinned and wolfed down his gooey sweet breakfast before getting up and grabbing his camera bag.

“I gotta get to the paper,” he announced. “Thanks for breakfast. I’ll get out of your hair now, so to speak,” he snickered as he patted Pete’s bald head. The older man’s face turned red and Sam made a hasty exit.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver leaned casually against the door jamb of his office watching the group of teens in the rec area. Word of the club was spreading and Challengers was becoming a popular place to hang out. The phone rang, demanding his attention.

“Challengers Club,” he answered automatically.

“Hey Mac, it’s me.”

“Hi Pete! What’s up?!”

“What’s up? My blood pressure! That’s what’s up!”

Mac pinched the bridge of his nose. “I don’t suppose this has anything to do with Sam?” he asked warily.

“No,” Pete said firmly. “It has everything to do with Sam! Connie’s been coddling him worse than she did with Michael and what does he do? He comes and goes at all hours, plays that awful noise kids his age call music, and to top it off he makes fun of my hair!”

“What hair?” Mac asked, trying to keep his tone serious.

“Like father, like son,” Pete grumbled and MacGyver smiled.

“C’mon Pete, it’s only until he can earn enough money to get his own place. As for Connie? He seems to bring out the maternal instinct in women. I’ve even seen it with Jo.”

“But Joanna’s different!” Pete retorted. “I mean, she’s practically his step-mother!”

MacGyver let go a strangled cough. “I’ll talk to Sam as soon as I can,” he promised.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

When Sam walked into the Tribune, the whole building was abuzz with activity and he quickly tracked down the editor he’d been assigned to.

“Got anything for me today?” he asked the grumpy, over-weight man.

“Not today, kid,” the editor grumbled as he pushed pass the younger man. But Sam, with a reporter’s persistence, was not deterred that easily.

“C’mon Hank,” Sam pleaded. “This place is a mad house. You must have something that needs covered.”

Hank turned to Sam and sighed. “Well, there is this pro-am charity auto race this weekend. They’ve been clamoring for some press coverage. Maybe you could go over, take a few pictures, you know the routine.”

“Thanks Hank! You’re the best!”

Sam quickly commandeered the nearest computer and soon found the necessary information he needed about his new assignment. The Fairview Raceway was hosting a pro-am charity stock car race to benefit Gulf War veterans the following weekend. Each of the fifteen cars would represent a home-town vet and have the soldier’s name scrawled on the hood. He perused the list of entrants, but didn’t recognize any names. Apparently the “pros” weren’t top names in the sport and the amateurs were probably local kids looking to break into the big time. Finding the contact information at the bottom of the page, Sam placed a call and scheduled an appointment.

The next morning, Sam pulled his Bug up to the security gate at the race track and was directed to the main offices where he was to meet the track manager. As he parked his car in the small lot, he turned and surveyed his surroundings. Except for the one mile oval track and grandstand, he was essentially in the middle of nowhere. No wonder management had been asking for press coverage. He stepped into the small office building and introduced himself to the receptionist who immediately led him to a small room where he met the track manager. The jovial man was smiling broadly and soon Sam had secured a press pass and full access to the track.

Minutes later he was walking through the tunnel that ran under the grandstand and deposited him on the infield and pit area where teams were working on and testing their cars. Fumes of oil, gas, and burning rubber assaulted him, making him smile just a bit. The race was still a few days away so crews leisurely made engine and chassis adjustments as drivers took to the track to test the set-up of the car they would drive on Sunday. Sam pulled out his camera and began taking candid shots of various cars and crew members which earned him many smiles and friendly greetings. However, when he reached an area that a sign designated as belonging to the Stanley Reed Team, the mood was decidedly sullen and the air laden with disappointment. A small group of men in jumpsuits huddled around what appeared to be a brightly painted and very damaged race car. A younger man hovered in the background, his left leg in a plaster cast.

“Rough day at the track?” Sam quipped, hoping to lighten the mood but was apparently unsuccessful as a stocky, middle-aged man pinned him with his gaze.

“We ain’t here to play show-and-tell,” the man growled. “Go get your story someplace else.”

“I’m sorry,” Sam apologized sincerely. “Mind telling me what happened? I might be able to help.”

This time the man laughed sadly. “You got any experience with racing, son?”

“A little.”

“Well, then you should know that it’s gonna take a lot more than a little help from you to get this car ready to go and get us a new driver by Sunday.”

Sam moved closer to get a better look at the car.

“I’ve seen worse,” he commented. “And events like this usually bring out drivers lookin’ for a ride.”

“Usually. But this is a charity event. No money for the winner, therefore not a lot of guys looking to drive.”

“I might be able to help with that, too,” he grinned. “Name’s Sam Malloy.” He put out his hand which the older man reluctantly shook.

“I’m Ray Simmons, team owner. Over there is my son and driver, Bobby.” He used his chin to indicate the young man with the injured leg. “Well, former driver. Brake line ruptured during a practice lap and he got close-up and personal with the wall.”

“Ruptured?” Sam’s reporter curiosity was piqued. “Isn’t that pretty unusual?”

“Yeah,” Ray sighed, scratching his head, “Especially since we had just replaced it. But every now and again you get a dud. That’s racing.”

“I assume you still have it. Do you mind if I take a look at it?” Sam asked.

“Sure, follow me.”

Ray led Sam up the steps of a trailer that doubled as a portable garage and motioned to the workbench on the far side. Sam gingerly ran his index finger around the edge of the hole where the line had broken. Something didn’t feel right.

“I don’t suppose you have a magnifying glass or anything?”

“Not that I know of, but would these help?” Ray held out a pair of plastic rimmed reading glasses. “Wife insists I wear them to read the fine print before signing anything,” he chuckled humorlessly.

“Yeah, these should work,” Sam replied as he popped out one of the lenses and positioned it so he could see the rupture point more clearly.

“I’m not so sure the line broke by accident,” Sam informed him. “Come here and look at this.”

The two men bent their heads over the piece in question.

“See how the edge is jagged all around except for this little section right here?” Sam asked. “It’s smooth. As if someone cut it. Kinda gave it a head start.”

The older man squinted. “Well, I’ll be! Whatever made you think to look for that?”

“Just a hunch,” Sam shrugged. “I suggest you get this to the proper authorities, though. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to alert the other teams to check theirs out just in case.”

“I’ll get right on it! But who on God’s green earth would do something like this?”

“That I can’t help you with, sir, but if you’re interested, I can still help you get that car fixed up and take her for a spin on Sunday. I’m no Dale Earnhardt, but I’ll do my best.”

“That’s an awful hard offer to refuse, son,” Ray said thoughtfully.

“Then don’t refuse,” Sam smiled. “Just tell me what to do!”

With the extra manpower and renewed sense of purpose, the Stanley Reed Team got to work fixing up the race car. To their relief, the damage wasn’t as extensive as initially believed and what couldn’t be repaired could be replaced. One long day and an even longer night later, the car was deemed race-worthy. In the stillness of the early morning, Sam pulled on his fire retardant jumpsuit and, with helmet in hand, started towards the track where he was to take his first practice run. Butterflies of both excitement and trepidation flitted in his stomach, but he quickly tamped them down, knowing he had to keep his cool if he was serious about driving. As he walked across the dew-dampened grass of the infield, he was intercepted by a tall, sandy-haired man he didn’t recognize. A few years older than Sam, the man stood ramrod straight as his face broke into a smile.

“I hear you’re the man to thank for keeping the team from dropping out of the race,” the stranger said.

“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Sam replied self-consciously, running his fingers through his dark brown hair.

“I would! Especially since that’s my name on the car. I’m Stanley Reed, the veteran that car is representing.”

The two men shook hands and exchanged pleasantries as they made their way to the pit area. Once there, Sam put on his helmet, slid through the window of the car, and allowed various crew members to adjust and secure the harness that would keep him strapped to the seat. When all safety precautions had been satisfied, Sam eased the machine down pit lane and onto the track, picking up momentum as he went. With each lap, he got a better feel for the car and its handling. Soon he was speeding around the track as if he did this every weekend. The engine hummed and the steering wheel vibrated and he was lovin’ every minute of it. The crew monitored his progress and radioed in instructions and encouragement and his confidence grew. Suddenly, the wheel jerked and became loose in his hands, his steering was gone. Sam frantically braked and shifted gears as the car headed for the wall, but it was out of control. He felt the car hit and then go airborne before landing on its side, the metal of the body screeching and sparking against the asphalt of the track. He felt his restraints break free as his head hit something hard and then everything went black.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“This is nice. I’m glad you could take the afternoon off,” MacGyver commented before biting into his deli sandwich.

“I have the time coming so I might as well take it,” Joanna replied lightly. “You usin’ that pickle?”

Mac regarded the limp spear lying untouched on the wrapper. “Oh, I get it, you only love me for my food!” he teased while reaching across his desk to hand her the requested item.

“That’s not true!” she protested, still eyeing his midday meal spread out in front of him. “Are you gonna eat your cookie?”

“Yes! As a matter of fact, I am!” Mac laughed as Joanna pretended to pout.

The shrill ring of the telephone interrupted their friendly banter.

“Hello?”

“MacGyver, it’s Pete.”

“Hey Pete! What annoying thing did Sam do now?”

“He’s been in an accident, Mac.”

MacGyver shot to his feet. His whole world narrowed to the voice on the other end of the phone line.

“What kind of accident?”

“A car accident.”

Mac sucked in his breath and bit his lip, fighting to contain his emotions.

“How is he? What’s happening, Pete?”

“Connie and I are here at the hospital, but they won’t tell us anything because we’re not relatives.”

“Why wasn’t I called?” Mac ground out. “I’m his father!”

“Apparently Sam listed me and Connie as his emergency contacts at the Tribune. He probably thought it made sense since he’s living with us.”

“Stay with him, Pete. I’m on my way.”

Mac hung up the phone and turned to catch Jo’s questioning gaze.

“Mac?” her voice waivered.

“Sam’s been in a car accident. He’s in the hospital and they won’t tell Pete anything. I’m gonna call Cynthia and have her cover for me here, then go home and pack a bag with some stuff for a few days. You do the same and I’ll swing by and pick you up.”

“You gonna be okay?”

“Yeah, I’ve got this. Now let’s hustle.”

XXXXX

The automatic doors of the Emergency department swished open and MacGyver rushed through, Joanna hurrying to keep up with him. He quickly glanced around the waiting room and found Pete and Connie seated in uncomfortable molded plastic chairs.

“Any news?” he asked, as Connie enveloped him and then Joanna in a motherly hug.

“Not yet,” Pete sighed.

“But it’s been hours!” Mac protested.

Just then a doctor in a white lab coat entered the waiting area, his gaze lighting upon the small group.

“Are you family of Sam Malloy?” he asked.

“I’m his father. How is he?”

“Very lucky. We just got the results of his CT scan. He has a severe concussion, a few cracked ribs, and a very bruised shoulder, but given the circumstances it could have been a lot worse. In fact, he’s already beginning to regain consciousness which is a good sign as well.”

“When can we see him?”

“I’m afraid I can only allow one person back at a time, and then not for long,” the physician offered apologetically.

Mac looked at Joanna who nodded before he allowed the doctor to lead him back to see Sam. The man pulled back the curtains that cordoned off the treatment bays, allowing MacGyver to enter.

“Hey Dad,” Sam whispered huskily, his eyes slightly unfocused and his skin pale.

“Hey yourself,” Mac replied, trying to sound lighthearted as myriad emotions churned in his gut at seeing his only son lying weak and helpless in a hospital bed.

As MacGyver walked further into the room, he noticed the scratched and dented helmet sitting on the bedside table.

“Pete said you were in a car accident. What’s with the motorcycle helmet?”

“Pete’s right and that’s not a motorcycle helmet,” Sam answered, his eyes focused on the far wall. “I was taking practice laps in a race car when it flipped.”

“What?!” Mac exclaimed, before looking around self-consciously and lowering his voice. “What?!” he repeated in a loud whisper.

“It started out as an assignment, but it’s kinda a long story. You gotta do me a favor, Dad.” Sam reached out and grasped MacGyver’s forearm. “You need to check out the car before anyone else can. It’s at the Fairview Raceway in the Stanley Reed trailer.”

“What’s this all about, Sam?” Mac demanded, shaking his head as he tried to make sense of what his son was telling him.

“I think the car was sabotaged. My steering went way loose and my harness broke. I don’t think it was by accident.”

“Stuff like that happens, Sam. That’s what makes the sport dangerous.”

Sam slowly shook his head. “It wasn’t the first time. Bobby, the original driver, got hurt ‘cause the brake line was cut.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave now,” the doctor said from the doorway. “We’re going to admit Sam and move him to a private room. You can see him again once he’s settled.”

“Dad, please…” Sam pleaded as two orderlies appeared to wheel him from the emergency bay.

Against his better judgement, Mac nodded his agreement as Sam was taken away. Back in the waiting room, he explained that Sam was being admitted before pulling Joanna off to the side.

“I need to go check something out,” he told her quietly. “Can you stay with him ‘til I get back?”

She nodded, but he could see the questions and concern in her eyes. Unfortunately, he didn’t want to say anything more until he was sure about what was going on.

Forty-five minutes later, MacGyver pulled his Jeep up to the security booth at the race track. After providing identification and receiving directions, he made his way to where Sam had indicated.

“Excuse me!” he called as he approached a group of men in the area reserved for the Stanley Reed Team. “Is one of you Ray Simmons?”

“That’d be me,” a stocky man said, stepping away from the others.

“Name’s MacGyver. I’m Sam’s dad.”

“Pleasure to meet you. Too bad it isn’t under better circumstances. How is the boy?”

“He’ll live,” Mac said with a crooked smile. “But he did ask me to take a look at the car he was driving.”

“Looks like curiosity runs in the family,” Ray chuckled. “It’s pretty beat up but you’re welcome to look all you like.” He pointed MacGyver to where the car had been towed.

“Thanks. Appreciate it!”

Mac took his time examining both the steering mechanisms as well as the safety harness. His frown deepened as, one by one, members of the crew approached, some peering over his shoulder.

“I hate to say this, but it looks like this car’s been tampered with,” MacGyver announced as he straightened to his full height. “See that?” he asked, pointing to a contraption under the hood. “That’s what caused the steering to go. And here,” Mac continued, leaning in through the driver’s side window and fiddling with the safety belts. “They’re mostly frayed, but if you look closely you can see where little cuts have been made. The force of the accident and strain from Sam’s body weight caused them to tear apart.”

Simmons took off the baseball cap he was wearing and scratched his head.

“I just don’t understand why this is happening! This is a charity event for goodness sake!”

“Can you think of anyone who might have a personal vendetta? Someone with access to the car?”

Ray shook his head slowly.

“Teams are competitive but not vindictive. And we don’t have money for much security so pretty much anyone with the proper credentials can get near the car. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m gonna report this to the authorities and then withdraw from the race. It just isn’t worth it. Would you mind if I stopped by the hospital to visit your boy? I’d really like to thank him for everything he’s done and apologize for letting him get involved in this mess.”

“I’m sure he’d like that,” Mac grinned. “I’m headed back there now. Come anytime.”

XXXXX

Later that evening, MacGyver, Joanna, and Ray Simmons sat around Sam’s bedside chatting amicably. Pete and Connie had left shortly after Sam had been settled in a regular room leaving Mac and Jo with an open invitation to stay at their place as long as they needed. After a couple of hours of rest and sustenance in the form of clear broth and Jell-O, Sam regained enough strength to explain everything to his dad and was visibly distraught when Ray informed him the team was withdrawing from the race.

“But if we pull out now they win…whoever they are!” he protested.

“It’s just not worth the risk, son,” Ray reasoned.

“How will we find out who’s behind this if we stop now?” Sam argued.

“We may never find out,” Mac said, “but getting someone hurt or killed isn’t the way either.”

“Besides,” Ray added, “There’s no way that car can be ready for qualifying tomorrow. This is all for the best.”

For the next few minutes everyone grew silent, focused on their own thoughts. Then Mac noticed a grin begin to bloom on his son’s face.

“Sam? What are you thinking?” he asked cautiously.

The young man looked at him and then at Ray.

“Yesterday I overheard the guys talking about a back-up car you have stashed away. If the crew pulls an all-nighter they should be able to get it ready to go!”

Ray considered Sam’s suggestion. “Well, given the format of the race, all cars will start on Sunday. Tomorrow only determines position so as long as she can limp her way around the track we can get her set up for the race.” Then he frowned. “But we’re still without a driver…again.”

“No problem! My dad can drive for you!” Sam announced excitedly.

MacGyver felt his eyes grow wide and his jaw go slack, but he couldn’t form any coherent words to protest.

“Does he have any experience?” Ray asked warily.

By this point, Sam was almost jumping out of skin. “Yeah! Years ago he used to race Formula One. Stock cars are much more forgiving. It’d be a piece of cake for him!”

Mac felt everyone’s eyes on him as he pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned.

“He even ran a race for the Phoenix Foundation once,” Sam added, pouring fuel on the already growing fire.

“I’m sorry, Sam,” Ray replied after some thought. “It’s just too dangerous. I can’t ask your dad to take on our problems.”

“But my dad loves doin’ this kind of stuff. Don’t ya, Dad?”

MacGyver had to admit, if only to himself, that the thought of getting behind the wheel of a race car again did cause his adrenaline to surge. And he definitely wanted to catch whoever was behind the sabotage that injured Sam as well as Bobby Simmons. He rocked back on his heels and drew in a breath, wishing he wasn’t going to say what he was going to say.

“What time should I be at the track?” he asked.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna rolled over and squinted at the digital clock sitting on the nightstand. Its glowing red numbers told her it was just past midnight. She sighed. With everything that had happened in the past twelve hours, her mind would not allow her to sleep, so she slipped out of Sam’s bed, which Connie had insisted she use, and quietly made her way to the kitchen where she drew a glass of water from the tap. She sensed, more than heard, someone behind her and turned to find MacGyver shuffling her way.

“I tried not to wake you,” she apologized.

“You didn’t,” he responded. “Somehow that couch isn’t as comfortable as I remember,” he complained as he took a carton of juice from the ‘fridge and filled a glass. By unspoken agreement, they each took a seat at the table.

“Are you sure it’s just the couch that’s bothering you?”

Mac jammed his splayed fingers through his already-disheveled hair. “No,” he admitted. “I guess I’m just worried about Sam.”

“Sam’s gonna be fine,” Jo assured him.

“I know,” he murmured before swallowing half a glass of juice in one gulp.

“Why didn’t you tell me you used to drive race cars?” she asked quietly.

“It never came up,” he replied with an impish grin.

“I get the feeling you’ve done a lot of things that have never come up,” Jo countered lightheartedly.

“And you’d be right. But that was in a different lifetime.”

“A ‘lifetime’ you miss?”

“You know I don’t!”

“Just checkin’,” Jo smiled.

“You’re not upset about me driving, are you?”

“No!” she exclaimed. Shaking her head to reinforce her answer. “Actually, I’m really excited about it. I like auto racing and the chance to be in the pits and stuff is so cool!”

Mac tilted his head in that adorable way he had and gently gazed into her eyes until she became uncomfortable under his scrutiny.

“What?!”

“You’ve still got some surprises left in you as well,” he observed and they both chuckled before allowing an easy silence to fall between them. It wasn’t until after they had both finished their drinks that Mac spoke again.

“It occurred to me that I never even asked if you could come. You just came.”

“You didn’t give me much of a choice!” she teased.

MacGyver lowered his gaze, his expression and tone of voice now serious. “It really means a lot to me, having you here.”

Joanna reached out and put her hand on his forearm that lay across the table.

“We’re a team. Where else would I be?” she asked with a loving smile before it turned to a frown.

“Mac, do think someone…will something happen to the car tomorrow?”

MacGyver shook his head confidently. “No way! The crew will be working on it all night so it won’t be accessible to anyone not affiliated with the team.”

“But what if it’s being sabotaged by someone on the team?” she asked, chewing her lower lip thoughtfully.

“We don’t have any evidence of that. Besides, what could a possible motive be? Why don’t you shut that brain of yours off and go get some rest.”

“Okay, but only if you do the same!” Jo challenged.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The following morning Mac and Joanna arrived at the track just in time to watch the crew move the race car from the secure trailer to the pit box where they would make last minute adjustments before qualifying. They were welcomed with weary but friendly greetings and handshakes before someone tossed MacGyver a jumpsuit and helmet and ordered him to change.

“We’ve still got a couple hours,” Ray Simmons said, approaching Mac. “Take her out and get a feel for the track and let us know if you need any modifications.” MacGyver nodded and disappeared into the trailer.

Minutes later, he eased the car onto the track and settled into the ride. The machine felt solid and well-balanced. Lulled by the steady hum of the engine, his mind wandered back to the fatal accident that had marked the end of his racing career.

“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault,” he repeatedly whispered to himself, his hands clenching the steering wheel tight.

“What was that, Mac?” a voice crackled through the speakers in his helmet.

“Um, nothing. Everything’s good,” he radioed back, embarrassed that he forgot the crew was monitoring his radio transmissions. He thought he had rid himself of this particular demon after racing for Phoenix. He had thought wrong.

Satisfied with the set-up of the car, he slowly pressed down on the brake and guided it back into the pit box. Crew members swarmed around him as he climbed through the window, asking a variety of questions before turning their attention back to the machine and getting it ready for their qualifying run. MacGyver was looking around the small crowd for Joanna when he heard someone call to him.

“Excuse me! Are you the new driver?”

“Yeah. Name’s MacGyver.”

“I’m Stanley Reed. The vet your car is representing.”

“Good to meet you, Stanley, and thanks for your service,” Mac said as the two men shook hands.

“Ya know, you really don’t have to do this. I’d hate to see someone else get hurt.”

“It’s not a problem,” Mac assured him. “Besides, the decision’s already been made and we’re taking all necessary precautions. Everything’s gonna be fine.”

Seemingly mollified, Stanley bid MacGyver goodbye just as Joanna came to stand next to him.

“Do you really believe that?” she asked.

“Of course I do,” Mac replied confidently. Like he had a choice! “We’ve changed the lock on the trailer and the crewmen are gonna take turns standing guard tonight. No one’s gonna get near that car and cause any more problems.”

Ninety minutes later, a voice boomed over the loudspeakers ordering all teams to report to pit road for the beginning of the qualifying session. The format was simple. Each car took to the track individually and ran one practice lap to get up to speed before running two qualifying laps. The faster of the two laps would determine its starting position on the grid for the race tomorrow.

MacGyver watched as the five cars in front of him laid down their times. Then it was his turn. The car felt really good…and really fast. Ray had warned him not to push it, but Mac couldn’t quell his competitive side completely and opened up the engine a bit more than necessary, earning himself a spot on the inside of row two, bumping a few other cars back a notch. Then it was a waiting game. Once all fifteen cars had qualified, Team Reed was positioned on the outside of row four which was a very good starting point, especially given the circumstances. It would be a long night for the crews as they worked to get the cars ready to run the one hundred lap race tomorrow, but MacGyver’s plans were simple: Visit Sam, eat a good supper, and go to bed early.

XXXXX

Race day dawned cloudy and cool. Just the way MacGyver liked it. The track and inside of the car would heat up quickly enough. He and Jo arrived at the racetrack and walked across the eerily silent infield hand-in-hand. In a couple of hours, spectators would crowd into the grandstand and the roar of engines would fill the air. But for now he would soak in the temporary peace and tranquility. Jo discreetly slipped away as Mac headed towards his crew. Despite their assurances that the car had been guarded all night and was ready to go, he insisted on doing his own inspection from front bumper to tail pipe. Finding nothing out of sorts, he grabbed his jumpsuit and headed for the trailer, catching Joanna’s eye in the process. She smiled back encouragingly and his heart leapt. She was being a real trouper and once this was all over he promised to find a way to show her how grateful he was. Just thinking of a list of options brought a grin to his face as he prepared to go racing.

Time began to pass quickly and before he knew it he was suited up and standing next to his race car already placed on the starting grid. Connie and Pete had joined him and Joanna as they stood at attention for the National Anthem. After receiving last minute instructions from his pit crew, as well as a good luck kiss from Jo, he slid into the driver’s seat and focused on the track ahead. Only a mile long oval. It would be a fairly quick one hundred lap race and he was thankful for his good starting position as he jammed on his helmet and hooked up his radio. He glanced at his pit and saw Joanna and Pete don headsets as well.

“See you all at the finish line!” he said into the mic and turned to see smiles and waves from his friends.

After a couple pace laps to bring the cars up to speed, the green flag waved and the race was on. MacGyver instinctively hit the accelerator and passed two cars before the first official lap was complete. His adrenaline was flowing and he was feeling confident. After all those years of driving the freeways of Los Angeles, this was a walk in the park! He deftly shifted and made a move to pass yet another opponent. After several more laps, a car behind him lost control and hit the wall, bringing out the yellow caution flag.

“Okay Mac, bring her in,” Ray instructed.

On his next pass, MacGyver steered the car onto pit road, braking abruptly when he arrived at his pit box. Fuel was topped off and tires were changed and he was back on the track without losing a position. Once the debris from the accident was clear, the green flag waved and the remaining cars settled into a fast but friendly competition. With twelve laps left to go, Mac glanced at his telemetry and frowned. He was running low on fuel. He didn’t want anyone to get in an accident, but he also didn’t want to pit under green and lose the second place spot he was currently riding in. Half a lap later, the yellow flag flew. A car had blown an engine and was limping its way toward the infield.

“Okay Mac, let’s top her off and win this thing!” Ray radioed.

“Roger that,” MacGyver replied before loud static assaulted his ear drums.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Mac!” an unfamiliar voice sneered over the radio.

“Who is this?!” Mac demanded.

“You don’t need to worry about that right now. What you do need to concern yourself with is the bomb I have wired to your accelerator. Any let up in pressure will cause the bomb to explode. So unless you want to kill hundreds of innocent bystanders, I suggest you keep driving.”

“Why didn’t it go off the first time I stopped?” Mac knew the only thing he could do for now was keep this mad man talking and glean as much information as possible.

“Because I hadn’t activated it yet. You see, I thought the race should end with a bang!”

“Tell me who you are!” There was no way it could be who Mac thought it was. He was dead and buried and only existed in Mac’s nightmares.

“My name’s Walter Smythe, though I doubt that rings any bells. You’re veteran hero got my son killed over in that sand box and now it’s time to get revenge!”

More static, then silence.

“Ray? Pete? Did you guys get that?” Mac asked.

“We got it, Mac,” came Pete’s familiar voice. “What’s your plan?”

“Plan?! What makes you think I have a plan?!”

“Relax kid,” Ray instructed. “Just keep her steady.”

MacGyver weaved and skidded around the track, much to his fellow drivers’ dismay, but they had no idea what was going on. Mac had to maintain his speed or risk detonating the bomb. However, in doing so, he was eating up fuel. With no fuel, the car would stop and the bomb explode…with him in it.

“Okay. Listen up,” Mac ordered, frantically making a mental list of his options of which there were few. “Get to Race Control. Tell them what’s happening and have them stop the race and evacuate the stands and the infield.”

“Consider it done,” Pete replied. “Then what?”

“I’ll let you know when I think of it.”

Mac maintained radio silence as he concentrated on keeping appropriate pressure on the gas pedal. As he flew by the main grandstand he saw people being herded out of their seats. He couldn’t do anything until he was sure there was no risk of collateral damage.

“What’s happening, Mac?” Pete pleaded in his ear.

“The wall by turn four has a gate in it, right?”

“That’s right.” This time the voice belonged to Ray.

“And there’s nothing but field beyond it, right?” Mac was practically yelling into the radio.

“Yeah, that’s right,” Ray concurred.

“Then that’s where I’m gonna ditch the car. Get a safety crew out there and open it up!”

“But what about you, Mac?” Joanna had now joined the conversation.

“I’m still workin’ on that,” he answered before becoming silent once more as he watched the needle of the gas gauge drop into the dangerous red zone. The track was now free of cars and as he roared around the oval he noted that the observation stands were empty as well. It was now or never, but first he had to make sure he wasn’t in the car when it blew up.

With his left hand tightly gripping the steering wheel, he used his right hand to unlatch the fire extinguisher mounted next to the driver’s seat. He slowly lowered it against his leg until it came to gently rest next to his foot on the accelerator. He took a deep, calming breath as he wedged the top of the canister against the edge of the seat.

“Mac?” Joanna called, her voice filled with trepidation. “What are you going to do?”

“I don’t think you really want to know,” he muttered.

“But you have a plan, right? I mean, one that’s not gonna get you blown up?”

“Yep. That’s the idea.”

“Look, in case your plan doesn’t work, I want you to know—“

“Not now, Jo!”

“But you need to know that I—“

“Don’t say it! Not here, not like this.”

He heard a sickening thud and then nothing.

“Mac, you okay?” Pete asked anxiously.

“Yeah, what just happened?”

“Um, Joanna, um…”

“Never mind. It’s better if she doesn’t see this anyway.” He figured the sound he had heard was Jo’s headset dropping to the ground. No doubt followed by her running out of the pit. Running away from this nightmare.

Putting Joanna out of his mind, he went back to work on the fire extinguisher, slowly pressing it against the gas pedal at the same time he eased his foot off. When he found himself and the car still in one piece he was fairly certain his plan would work, though probably not for long. As he guided the car into turn one, a light on the dash lit up, indicating a critically low fuel level. He gingerly removed his foot from the gas pedal and concentrated on steering.

“Okay everybody, this is it,” he radioed as he approached turn four and aimed the car for the opening in the wall.

The terrain of the field was rutted and bumpy compared to the smoothness of the track. Mac glanced down, making sure the fire extinguisher wasn’t moving…much. He knew when he let go of the wheel the rocking of the car would cause the extinguisher to shift and possibly fall. With only seconds to escape this death trap, MacGyver carefully lifted his body, holding onto the steering wheel until the last possible moment before pushing himself through the driver’s window. He tucked himself into a ball and rolled as he hit the ground, the car continuing to speed away. The pick-up truck that served as one of the safety vehicles pulled up next to him and he scrambled into the bed and huddled against the back of the cab, ducking his head as the truck raced off in the opposite direction. He had only counted to three before he heard the explosion. Small pieces of flaming debris fell from the sky onto the truck and he was thankful for his helmet and fire suit. When he figured they were a safe distance away, he looked up to see the race car consumed by flames, pieces of it scattered across the meadow. He pulled off his helmet and let the warm air whip through his damp hair as he let out the breath he had been holding. That had been a close one. A little too close.

Minutes later he jumped off the tailgate and approached Pete.

“Where is she?” he asked.

“Mac, the authorities are waiting for you in the track office. They obviously have a lot of questions for you.”

“Where is she, Pete!?” he demanded.

“Ray said she ran out to the parking lot. Connie followed,” his friend replied.

As MacGyver jogged across the now-empty infield, he tried to prepare himself for what Joanna’s reaction might be. Would she cry? Like any red-blooded American male, he hated to see a woman he cared about cry, especially when he was the cause. Would she run into his open arms for comfort or would she be spitting mad, glaring daggers, with fists ready to pummel his chest and any other body part that got in the way? It wasn’t long until he discovered the answer, and he found himself stupefied. There she sat in the passenger seat of the Jeep, staring straight ahead with seemingly unseeing eyes, her face void of all emotion. His gut clenched and his heartbeat skipped at the sight. He tore his gaze from Jo to find Connie several yards away gazing across the rural landscape.

“How is she?” he asked once he was standing next to the older woman.

Connie shrugged. “She’s been like this ever since we got here. She winced once when we heard the explosion, but that’s it.”

“She must be in shock.”

“She’s not showing any physical signs, but I’m sure emotionally it’s a different story. It’s as if she just folded in on herself.”

They walked toward the Jeep and the prone figure together, Connie hanging back as MacGyver drew close.

“Hey baby, everything’s fine. I’m okay. It’s all over,” he assured her as he lifted her hand and held it in both of his. It was surprising warm and pliable, yet his touch yielded no effect. “C’mon Jo, talk to me,” he pleaded.

Receiving no indication that she had even heard him, he gently placed her hand back on her thigh and jammed his fingers through his hair.

“I gotta get back and give my statement about this whole mess,” he told Connie. “It could be a very long afternoon.”

“Don’t worry about a thing,” she said, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Stay as long as you need to. Pete and I will take Joanna home so she can rest and process everything that’s happened. I’m sure she’ll be back to her old self again in no time.”

Mac smiled at the two women who had come to mean so much to him before turning and walking away.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna lay on top of the duvet, fully clothed, curled into the fetal position, staring at the closed bedroom door. Upon arriving home with Pete and Connie, she had called in sick to work for the next day and taken a long, hot shower after which she was treated to a hearty, home cooked meal. Not wanting to be rude, she engaged in idle conversation and helped clear the table and load the dishwasher before heading off to bed with the request not to be disturbed. Now, hours later, her mind replayed the moment when she first laid eyes on MacGyver after hearing that earthshattering explosion. Oh, how she had yearned to run into his arms and let him hold her forever. And then, when he had held her hand, it was all she could do not to hang on tight and never let go, but she forced herself to refuse those luxuries at least until she could understand her own behavior that afternoon. As the sun sank below the western horizon, she had finally figured out the words to say, but the only person who would ever hear them still hadn’t come home.

Suddenly, as if her thoughts had conjured him, she heard the back door open and followed the sound of Mac’s distinctive gait as he walked through the kitchen, down the hall, and into the living room where the Thornton’s were watching television. She quickly slipped off the bed and padded to the door in her stocking feet to listen, not wanting to miss a word he said.

“How is she?” he asked, and Joanna just about melted. After everything that had happened, her welfare was still first and foremost in his mind?

“She went to bed right after dinner and asked not to be disturbed,” Connie told him.

“Oh.”

The pain and disappointment in that one syllable pierced her heart more deeply than any blade ever could and convinced her it was time to rejoin the land of the living and let him know she was okay. She opened the bedroom door and stepped into the hall, staying hidden in the shadows until the right moment came for her to reveal her presence.

“I didn’t know how long you’d be, so I made a plate for you. I’ll just go heat it up,” Connie told MacGyver, no doubt trying to steer the conversation in a more positive direction.

“Thanks, but I ate at the hospital when I went to visit Sam,” Mac replied. “He managed to charm the nurse into smuggling in an extra supper tray.”

Joanna suppressed a giggle.

“How is he doing?” Pete asked.

“Great! He’s being released tomorrow. I told him I’d be there to pick him up.” Even with his back to her, Jo could hear the smile in his voice.

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Connie gushed as she gave Mac a hug.

Now was her chance to speak up and enter the conversation.

“Can I go along?” she asked softly, stepping into the well-lit room.

Mac turned toward her. “You bet,” he replied with a surprised smile. He took a moment to study her. “I thought you wanted to be left alone tonight?”

She shrugged and then reached out gingerly, grasping his hand. “I did. But I got lonely,” she explained with a smile of her own.

When silence fell, Pete cleared his throat and repositioned himself in his chair. “So Mac, wanna tell us what happened at the track today?”

“You still need to debrief?” MacGyver grinned, even though he knew his friend couldn’t see it.

“What can I say, old habits die hard!”

Everyone laughed as Mac and Jo took a seat on the couch, still holding hands.

“It’s kind of a long story but we ended up catching the guy.” Mac said, “I’ll give you the abridged version so I don’t keep you up past your bedtime.”

Pete huffed, Connie smiled playfully, and Jo squeezed his hand just a little tighter to let him know she was ready to hear whatever he had to say.

“Well,” Mac sighed, “It’s basically what Walter Smythe said when he hijacked our radio. His son, Bryan, was nineteen years old and serving under Stanley Reed when he was killed by enemy fire. Reed and several others were injured but survived. Mr. Smythe irrationally blamed Reed for his son’s death and wanted vengeance.”

“But that happened years ago? Why wait until now?” Joanna asked.

“He lost his job last year and then a month ago his wife passed away. That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and something in his mind snapped.”

“Didn’t he realize he could have killed hundreds of people with that bomb?” Connie asked, clearly upset.

Mac nodded. “That was the reason for the radio call. He assumed, and rightly so, that we would take appropriate action to prevent as much collateral damage as possible.”

“But what about you!” Jo protested. “He doesn’t even know you but was ready to blow you apart!”

Mac turned to look at her with a sympathetic gaze. “In his mind, the driver of that car, whoever it may have been, was honoring the man who killed his son. You have to remember, he wasn’t thinking straight.”

Jo lowered her eyes and felt a stab of pity for the man.

“So how in the world did anybody catch him? No one even knew who he was!” Pete blustered, apparently annoyed that this detail had been left out.

“Security knew that he had to be at the facility in order to interrupt our radio transmission. During the evacuation, a guard found a man huddled underneath the bleachers with an electronic jamming device and binoculars. Apparently he was waiting to see the results of his handiwork.”

“But how did he ever get near the car, much less rig it for all those accidents?” Joanna asked, her mind trying to make sense of it all.

MacGyver released her hand and scrubbed his face. “That’s the clincher. He paid off Claude Chapman, a new crewmember on the team.”

“Why would Claude ever agree to sabotage his own team?” she probed.

“Money can motivate people to do things you never imagined were possible,” Pete replied sadly. “I’ve seen it enough over the years, so I can’t say I’m surprised.”

“What’s gonna happen to them?” Jo asked.

“Currently they’re both in custody. With my statement and plenty of witnesses, they won’t be going anywhere for quite a while,” Mac assured her.

A hush fell over the room until Connie slapped her hands on her thighs and looked toward Mac and Jo.

“Well, I’m just glad no one was injured and the bad guys got caught. Now I believe it’s time for me and Pete to head off to bed. I’m sure you two have some things to discuss.”

It looked as if her husband was about to protest when she grabbed his arm, but he allowed her to guide him from the room. Alone with MacGyver, Joanna suddenly felt anxious. Could she say what she needed to say? Would he understand? She opened her mouth to begin the conversation, but Mac beat her to it.

“I really owe you a big apology,” he sighed gustily. “I knew this whole race thing could be dangerous. I shouldn’t have let you get involved.”

Her anxiety instantaneously turned to irritation. “First of all, I knew of the danger and I chose to get involved, just like you. Secondly, I’m the one who needs to apologize to you!”

“No way!” Mac protested. “You’ve got nothin’ to apologize for, and even if I didn’t force you into this situation, I still cut you off when you tried to tell me that you—“

“I shouldn’t have done that,” Joanna said firmly, interrupting him. “It was so selfish on my part. You were doing everything you could to keep everyone safe and I just wanted to make myself feel better by making sure I wouldn’t have any regrets if your cockamamie stunt didn’t work out. And then I did what I once promised you I’d never do: I ran.”

“Out of fear and anger. I get it,” Mac said softly.

Joanna nodded. “But I stayed away out of shame. I was a hypocrite, Mac!”

“What are you talking about?! You’re weren’t a—“

She held up a hand to shush him. “Yes, I was. And maybe still am.”

Mac’s face was a mask of confusion.

Taking a deep breath, she delved into her explanation. “When you and I were first getting to know each other, I couldn’t understand why women who supposedly cared about you were scared off by your job. I understood it was dangerous at times, but in my eyes that was all the more reason for them to want to be with you as much as possible, not run the other way! And today I did the exact same thing! When you needed me to be calm and supportive, I ran away from you instead!

“Listen,” Mac commanded, turning sideways on the couch and placing his hands firmly on Joanna’s shoulders, turning her towards him. “What happened today was tough on everybody. I figured you had run when I heard your headphones drop. At least, I hoped you had run because then I didn’t have to worry about you getting hurt. But I’ll admit, you had me scared when you wouldn’t talk to me afterward.”

“Scared of what?” Jo asked, her eyes wide and innocent.

“Scared of losing you,” he replied hoarsely, as if the words clogged his throat. He then shook his head and chuckled. “Do you think we’ll ever get this ‘committed relationship’ thing figured out?”

She thought her eyes couldn’t grow any wider, but they did. “Is that what this is?” she asked tentatively, as if saying it out loud would make it disappear.

He raised one hand from her shoulder to cup her cheek and her breath hitched.

“Considering that I fell for you the first time I saw you, have grown to love you more every day since, almost proposed to you, and have no desire to even look at another woman, I’d have to say yes.”

Tears welled in her eyes as she reached out to touch his face. “The day I met you my world turned upside down. I tried so hard not to love you but failed miserably. You are such a special man and I can’t imagine my life without you.”

“Then don’t,” he whispered huskily, “Because I’m not planning on going anywhere. You’re my home, Joanna. I love you.”

With one hand still caressing her cheek, she felt his other hand reach up and cradle the back of her head, gently urging her closer until their lips met in an all-consuming kiss. Oblivious to the world around them, they didn’t see Connie peek around the corner, hand over her mouth and eyes glistening happily.

“Oh Peter, did you hear that? They finally admitted they’re in love with each other!” she whispered excitedly.

“I could’ve told you, and them, that two years ago,” he grumbled.

Connie shot him a chastising look she knew he couldn’t see before saying, “Let’s go back to bed, dear, and leave the two love birds alone.”

“It’s about time,” came the surly reply.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sam paced back and forth in his hospital room, glancing impatiently at his watch. The doctor had signed his discharge papers and he had called his dad for a ride thirty minutes ago. What was taking so long? As he waited, he recalled MacGyver’s visit from the night before. At Sam’s insistence, his dad had relayed every detail of the day’s events. While he was glad no one had been hurt, he was disappointed he had missed all the excitement. The reporter in him just couldn’t help it! He was about to turn and take another lap when the large door swung open and Joanna walked through, followed by his dad.

“Sorry to keep you waiting, but traffic was brutal,” Mac said.

“Traffic is always brutal here,” Sam replied wryly before hugging his dad and then Joanna. “I was hoping you would have come last night,” he told her.

“I’m sorry, but there were some things I had to take care of,” she replied cryptically.

Sam watched as Jo looked to his dad. He literally felt the air in the room change as their gazes locked and they shared a loving smile. Oh, wow! Something big had happened between them and he had missed that, too! He’d have to pump the Thornton’s for information as soon as he could.

The ride from the hospital went smoothly, at least by Chicago standards, and when the trio entered the house they were greeted by the scrumptious aroma of Connie’s cooking. After indulging in a leisurely lunch, Mac announced it was time for him and Joanna to head back to Milwaukee.

“We’d stay longer, but it looks like you’re in good hands,” he commented to Sam before Connie embraced the two men.

Jo stepped forward to give Sam one last hug as Mac retrieved their suitcases.

“Now be sure to take it easy and follow the doctor’s orders,” Joanna instructed. “If you’re anything like your dad poor Connie has her work cut out for her, but you don’t want to end up back in the hospital. And remember, Mac and I are just a phone call away.”

“Yes, Mom,” he promised with a playful eye-roll, secretly enjoying her attention.

Connie, Pete and Sam followed MacGyver and Joanna outside where the couple climbed in the Jeep and waved farewell as they pulled out of the driveway and disappeared down the quiet street. As soon as the car was out of sight, Sam rounded on the older couple.

“Okay, tell me everything! I know something happened between my dad and Jo. Something good. Did they get engaged? Oh! They didn’t sneak off and get married without me, did they?!”

Connie smiled indulgently. “It was so sweet, Sam. They finally confessed their love for each other.”

“That’s it?” Sam frowned. “They just told each other they love them?”

“That’s it,” Pete confirmed.

“Aw, man! I could’ve told ‘em that a long time ago!”














Posted by: Dragondog 3 October 2019 - 05:47 AM
QUOTE
Chapter 17: Vengeance
I'm intrigued...

QUOTE
Rolling onto his back, he stretched like a lazy cat,
Me waking up. Regardless of where I sleep XD

QUOTE

“I gotta get to the paper,” he announced. “Thanks for breakfast. I’ll get out of your hair now, so to speak,” he snickered as he patted Pete’s bald head. The older man’s face turned red and Sam made a hasty exit.
Sam takes after his father XD

QUOTE

“What hair?” Mac asked, trying to keep his tone serious.

“Like father, like son,” Pete grumbled and MacGyver smiled.
I repeat... XD

QUOTE

“C’mon Pete, it’s only until he can earn enough money to get his own place. As for Connie? He seems to bring out the maternal instinct in women. I’ve even seen it with Jo.”
Oh crap, now that it's in writing... XD I mean, I pretty much adopted him, and he's the same age as me XD XD XD

QUOTE

“I’m sorry,” Sam apologized sincerely. “Mind telling me what happened? I might be able to help.”

This time the man laughed sadly. “You got any experience with racing, son?”

“A little.”

“Well, then you should know that it’s gonna take a lot more than a little help from you to get this car ready to go and get us a new driver by Sunday.”
I can guess where this is going XD

QUOTE
“Well, former driver. Brake line ruptured during a practice lap and he got close-up and personal with the wall.”
Yep, I'm even more sure of what's coming now XD

QUOTE

“Ruptured?” Sam’s reporter curiosity was piqued. “Isn’t that pretty unusual?”

“Yeah,” Ray sighed, scratching his head, “Especially since we had just replaced it. But every now and again you get a dud. That’s racing.”
And I know what's coming up here too XD

QUOTE

“I assume you still have it. Do you mind if I take a look at it?” Sam asked.

“Sure, follow me.”
Yep, here we go XD

QUOTE
Sam gingerly ran his index finger around the edge of the hole where the line had broken. Something didn’t feel right.
Yup XD

QUOTE

“I’m not so sure the line broke by accident,” Sam informed him. “Come here and look at this.”
Also yep XD

QUOTE

“That I can’t help you with, sir, but if you’re interested, I can still help you get that car fixed up and take her for a spin on Sunday. I’m no Dale Earnhardt, but I’ll do my best.”
Son of MacGyver indeed XD

QUOTE
In the stillness of the early morning, Sam pulled on his fire retardant jumpsuit and, with helmet in hand, started towards the track where he was to take his first practice run.
I kinda figured that was gonna happen too XD But it's a given that Sam is going to have a nasty accident himself now, isn't it?

QUOTE

“Well, I wouldn’t say that,” Sam replied self-consciously, running his fingers through his dark brown hair.
I almost feel like this chapter should've been called "Like Father Like Son" XD

QUOTE
Suddenly, the wheel jerked and became loose in his hands, his steering was gone. Sam frantically braked and shifted gears as the car headed for the wall, but it was out of control. He felt the car hit and then go airborne before landing on its side, the metal of the body screeching and sparking against the asphalt of the track. He felt his restraints break free as his head hit something hard and then everything went black.
Okay, I expected that, but not this soon... blink.gif

QUOTE
“You usin’ that pickle?”

Mac regarded the limp spear lying untouched on the wrapper. “Oh, I get it, you only love me for my food!” he teased while reaching across his desk to hand her the requested item.

“That’s not true!” she protested, still eyeing his midday meal spread out in front of him. “Are you gonna eat your cookie?”

“Yes! As a matter of fact, I am!” Mac laughed as Joanna pretended to pout.
Me whenever I eat with anyone XD XD XD

QUOTE
“Sam’s been in a car accident. He’s in the hospital and they won’t tell Pete anything. I’m gonna call Cynthia and have her cover for me here, then go home and pack a bag with some stuff for a few days. You do the same and I’ll swing by and pick you up.”
My favorite thing about this is that Mac doesn't even say anything about Joanna staying behind. He just assumes she's coming with, and she agrees love.jpg

QUOTE

“Hey yourself,” Mac replied, trying to sound lighthearted as myriad emotions churned in his gut at seeing his only son lying weak and helpless in a hospital bed.
I'm not sure which of them I feel worse for.

QUOTE

“No problem! My dad can drive for you!” Sam announced excitedly.
Geeze Sam, hold your horses XD

QUOTE

“It occurred to me that I never even asked if you could come. You just came.”

“You didn’t give me much of a choice!” she teased.
Like I keep saying, you guys are pretty much a family unit. So why not try the proposal again? I see no real reason not to tongue.gif

QUOTE

“Um, nothing. Everything’s good,” he radioed back, embarrassed that he forgot the crew was monitoring his radio transmissions. He thought he had rid himself of this particular demon after racing for Phoenix. He had thought wrong.
sad.gif

QUOTE

“You don’t need to worry about that right now. What you do need to concern yourself with is the bomb I have wired to your accelerator. Any let up in pressure will cause the bomb to explode. So unless you want to kill hundreds of innocent bystanders, I suggest you keep driving.”
Of course.

QUOTE

“My name’s Walter Smythe, though I doubt that rings any bells. You’re veteran hero got my son killed over in that sand box and now it’s time to get revenge!”
Was that based on the season finale for the MacGyver reboot, or just a coincidence?

QUOTE
Oblivious to the world around them, they didn’t see Connie peek around the corner, hand over her mouth and eyes glistening happily.

“Oh Peter, did you hear that? They finally admitted they’re in love with each other!” she whispered excitedly.
OH MY GOSH CONNIE roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif

QUOTE

“I could’ve told you, and them, that two years ago,” he grumbled.
Everyone in and reading this story XD XD XD

QUOTE

Connie shot him a chastising look she knew he couldn’t see before saying, “Let’s go back to bed, dear, and leave the two love birds alone.”

“It’s about time,” came the surly reply.
Lol, two kinds of people XD

QUOTE

Sam watched as Jo looked to his dad. He literally felt the air in the room change as their gazes locked and they shared a loving smile. Oh, wow! Something big had happened between them and he had missed that, too! He’d have to pump the Thornton’s for information as soon as he could.
Oh Sam roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif

QUOTE

“Yes, Mom,” he promised with a playful eye-roll, secretly enjoying her attention.
This is so cute XD XD XD

QUOTE

“Okay, tell me everything! I know something happened between my dad and Jo. Something good. Did they get engaged? Oh! They didn’t sneak off and get married without me, did they?!”
Pfft, Sam is my favorite shipper XD

QUOTE

“Aw, man! I could’ve told ‘em that a long time ago!”
Now which dad are you taking after? XD

Technically, they've had conversations like that before, but never in front of an audience XD

Also, is it just me or is this chapter slightly longer?

Posted by: uniquelyjas 3 October 2019 - 09:06 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 3 October 2019 - 05:47 AM)


QUOTE

“My name’s Walter Smythe, though I doubt that rings any bells. You’re veteran hero got my son killed over in that sand box and now it’s time to get revenge!”
Was that based on the season finale for the MacGyver reboot, or just a coincidence?

Since I don't watch the reboot this is purely coincidence. And yes, this chapter was a lot longer;)

Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 October 2019 - 02:21 PM
So....this chapter is pretty dull compared to the last one, but Mac and Jo need a breather!!

Chapter 18: What’s in a Name?

Joanna leaned back in her soft leather office chair, staring unseeingly at her computer screen. It was almost noon on Tuesday. She and MacGyver had arrived home from Chicago the night before and, while she should be walking on air now that Mac had told her in no uncertain terms that he had fallen in love with her, she was dead on her feet as the events of the weekend caught up with her and the fallout at work began. She had come into the office to find a stack of files on her desk, all supposedly requiring her immediate attention, but they had to wait until her boss called her into his office to chastise her for taking off on the day the firm landed one of its biggest accounts. How was she to know that would happen?! To top it off, Mac had called to ask her to lunch and she had turned him down. She hated to, but it was necessary because if she walked out of the office right now there was a good chance she may never return. A sharp knock on her door interrupted her reverie.

“Who is it?” she called.

“That man of yours!” a very familiar masculine voice replied.

Good grief! Joanna covered her face with her hands before mumbling, “Come in.”

She was met with a chuckling MacGyver.

“You’ve been talking with Geena, haven’t you?” she moaned.

“Hey, she’s my favorite receptionist around here! Calls ‘em like she sees ‘em!” he said as she peeked through her fingers and melted at the warm smile he gave her.

“Anyway, since you couldn’t come to lunch I figured I’d bring lunch to you.”

He held up two brown bags from their favorite deli and handed one to her. She opened it up and inspected the contents.

“Alfalfa sprout sandwich and yogurt? I think this one is yours,” she said, crinkling up her nose and handing it back to him while he handed her the one containing a turkey club and a bag of chips.

“Sorry about that,” he said with a mischievous grin indicating he wasn’t sorry at all and that, in fact, he probably mixed them up on purpose. “So, why’d you try to bail on me today?”

“I really didn’t want to but I’ve had a tough morning,” she explained.

“You wanna talk about it?”

“Not really,” she sighed, but continued anyway. “I came into a load of paperwork and then got reamed out by Hernandez for taking time off.”

“But you had that time coming!” Mac’s voice rose. “He can’t dictate how you use it!”

Joanna gave a sad laugh. “You know, a couple of years ago I would have been so mortified about getting yelled at that I would have run and cried in the ladies room. But now, I just can’t seem to care. There are other, more important things in my life and I refuse to let my job get in the way.”

“Am I one of those ‘things’?” he asked with a crooked grin that made her heart beat faster.

“You know you are!” she chided. “Now, cheer me up by telling me how things are going at Challengers.”

“It’s actually going a lot smoother than I expected now that we’re open twenty-four hours a day. Of course, most kids are still in school for the next couple weeks,” Mac answered around a mouthful of sprouts before swallowing.

Joanna frowned. “I wish I could help you out more.”

“Hey, you’re there every day after work to tutor, that helps out more than you know.”

She then watched as he eyed the stack of folders on her desk.

“Of course, if you can’t make it tonight everyone will understand.”

“Are you kidding?! Looking forward to working with the kids is the only thing that keeps me sane!”

“The only thing?” Mac asked huskily.

“You know what I mean,” she replied in a clipped tone signaling the end of the conversation.

MacGyver suppressed a grin as he stole a peek at his watch.

“I better get back,” he informed her. “Cynthia wants to take some time off to go shopping and after she covered for me all weekend I owe her big time.”

“I’ll say,” Jo agreed. “I’ll see you in a few hours.”

“You sure you don’t just want to go home and rest up?” he asked, his concern for her evident.

“I’m positive,” she said, smiling up at him.

He leaned over and wiped a glob of mayo from her lips with the pad of his thumb before kissing her gently. “Later,” he whispered, disappearing through the door before she had a chance to respond.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver spent the remainder of the afternoon alternately looking at the clock and watching the front door to the club. He couldn’t wait to see Joanna again. Something fundamental had shifted in him the other night on the Thornton’s couch when he had finally told her that he loved her. Finally said the words aloud, face-to-face, making it all very real. Interestingly, the sense of uneasiness he had anticipated never came. Instead, he felt a steadying calmness. A feeling that, for once, everything in his life was coming together. It hadn’t been that long ago that he had been, for all intents and purposes, alone in the world. Then Sam had found him and now he had found Joanna. Could they eventually become the family he was yearning for?

The sound of high-pitched voices coming from the recreation area broke into his thoughts. He went to stand in his office doorway, watching as the club members talked amongst themselves and chose various activities to participate in. He smiled as the teens and adolescents respectfully played and worked together regardless of age or skin color. That peace was suddenly shattered when a mob of teens, with Joanna’s head bobbing in the center, barreled their way through the front door, all talking at once, some waving hands and arms in exasperation.

“Okay guys,” she commanded. “Take a seat at the big table and I’ll join you in a minute. We’ll get this all worked out.”

“What’s going on?” Mac asked, taking Jo by the elbow and guiding her away from the chaos.

“I don’t have a clue. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, but I think it has something to do with not passing into the next grade level.”

MacGyver looked at the group, now seated quietly around a large, wooden dining table that served a variety of purposes. He recognized them as freshman from a nearby high school.

“Want me to talk to them?” he asked.

“No. I’ve got this. I just needed a minute to catch my breath. They were waiting for me when I pulled in.”

Mac frowned. “They know better than to accost an adult. Or anyone, for that matter.”

He started to walk toward them when Jo put a hand on his arm, causing him to stop and enjoy the tingling sensation he should not be so incredibly aware of at this moment.

“Relax,” she laughed lightly. “I said I’ve got this. They’re just upset. Everything’s fine...really!”

MacGyver hesitated for a minute before allowing his muscles to relax and his jaw to unclench. He had gone into super-protective mode in one point two seconds and he knew that would never do. Not with Joanna.

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“No problem,” she smirked. “Just don’t let it happen again.” She gave his arm a reassuring squeeze before she dropped her hand and headed into the teenage fray.

His concern put to rest, curiosity was now front and center in his brain. He trailed Jo to the small group and stood off to the side as he listened in on the conversation.

“It’s not fair! She can’t make us do anything!!”

“Hold on, Jessica. Who can’t make you do what?” Joanna asked calmly.

“The vice principal said we won’t pass ninth grade unless we do an extra credit assignment for Sociology,” Sergio explained.

“At least she’s giving you a chance to redeem yourselves. She could just let you fail,”
Jo reasoned, much to the students’ dismay.

“When you put it like that it doesn’t sound so bad,” a girl named Jordan muttered as the others nodded their heads.

“All right. So what’s the assignment and when is it due?” Jo asked, her eyes twinkling with the challenge.

This time it was Michael who spoke up. “We have to write up and give a presentation about our name. You know, its origin, what it means, if we like it or not. That sort of thing. But it’s due this Friday.”

“That sounds doable,” Jo responded confidently. “I’ll get some books and tomorrow you can come and do the research. On Thursday, we can get everybody here to listen while you practice your presentation. Then you’ll be all set for Friday!”

The students let go a collective sigh and MacGyver was astounded at how easily Joanna had not only diffused the situation, but gotten a plan of attack together so quickly.

“That was great!” he commended her once the teens had scattered.

“Thanks!” she replied. “So then you won’t mind if I leave early and hit the library before it closes?”

“Go for it!”

XXXXX

The following afternoon, MacGyver held open the front door to Challengers as Joanna carried in a tote bag full of books.

“Here, let me help you with that,” he said, reaching out to take the bag.

“Thanks,” she replied airily as she stepped past him and handed over the tote which was a lot heavier than it looked.

Mac followed her to the large table they had used the day before and started spreading out the books. Some were geared towards soon-to-be parents offering popular baby names while others were more reference-type books with historical information. They had just finished putting out some paper and pencils when the students arrived, smiling and happily chatting with one another. A much different scene than yesterday!

“Okay everybody!” MacGyver called above the din of voices. “Those of you who need to do the extra credit assignment need to come over to the table. Ms. Jo brought in a bunch of resources for you so let’s get started!”

To his surprise, the eight students eagerly headed his way and were soon paging through the various books and commenting loudly.

“Man, dig this name!”

“I’d hate to be called that!”

“If I have a girl, I’m naming her this!”

“Okay guys, listen up!” Jo said, her voice an octave lower demanding their attention. “You’re supposed to be looking up your own name. Got it?”

Their excitement turned to mumbles and hesitant head nods, but soon they settled around the table, reading the books and making notes on the paper while the adults monitored their progress and helped out when needed.

“Hey! I got an idea!” Michael said a few minutes into the project. “We should have Ms. Jo, Ms. Cynthia, and Mr. Mac do this assignment too!”

His classmates eagerly agreed as Mac’s stomach dropped to his toes. Only his family and a few close friends knew his first name and they rarely, if ever, actually used it since they knew how much he hated it. He was not about to divulge it to a bunch of blabber-mouth teenagers!

“Count me in,” Joanna told them. “And I’m sure Cynthia would love to participate as well.”

“What about MacGyver?” Sergio asked. “We don’t even know his first name!”

“Mr. Mac has a lot of work to do,” Jo replied, coming to his rescue. “Ms. Cynthia and I will just have to do.”

She glanced up at Mac and surreptitiously pointed her chin in the direction of his office and he took the hint.

“Ms. Jo’s right,” he said. “In fact, I need to get back to my office now.” He turned and walked away, thankful for the ‘out’ Joanna had provided him.

Hours later, when the last member had left, Mac and Jo went about their nightly routine locking up windows and doors and doing general clean-up of the rec area before heading home. Joanna suddenly paused and stood regarding him thoughtfully.

“What?” he asked.

“Look Mac, I know how much you hate your name, but did you ever research it, find out what it means? It might change your mind.”

He sighed. “Several years ago I had my family tree traced and studied its origin.”

“That was your last name. Did you ever learn about your first name?”

“There are some things that need to be left alone, and that’s one of ‘em!” he snapped but Jo wasn’t deterred.

“Did you ever think that maybe your name has a really great meaning or story behind it? I mean, your folks chose it for a reason, right?”

“It’s an old family name that I wish they would have kept in the past. It’s not up for discussion.”

“Fine,” Jo shrugged. “Have it your way.” She tossed out the trash she had collected, gave him a peck on the cheek and slipped out the door.

A shiver ran down Mac’s spine. That had been too easy.

XXXXX

It was five-year-old MacGyver’s first day of Kindergarten. His mom and dad walked him to his classroom door where he was greeted by his teacher.

“Hello, Angus, it’s good to meet you.” She held out her hand for him to shake.

First wincing then frowning at the use of his given name, he reluctantly but politely shook her hand as his parents had taught him.

“What do you say, son?” his dad prompted.

“It’s nice to meet you, too,” Mac muttered.

His new teacher led him to a large piece of carpet which would later be referred to as ‘the reading rug’. Girls knelt primly on one side while boys sat cross legged on the other. A little blonde girl offered him a shy wave which he returned before taking his place with the guys. The bell rang and signaled the start of the worst day of MacGyver’s life thus far.

Instead of taking tradition roll call the teacher asked each student to stand and introduce themselves. When it was his turn, he stood up and proudly stated, “Name’s MacGyver,” before quickly sitting down again.

“Thank you, Mr. MacGyver,” the teacher responded. “But in my classroom we address each other by our first names. Could you please share your first name with your fellow students?”

Mac slowly stood up again, the collar of his brand new shirt suddenly feeling stiff and tight. “Angus,” he muttered softly as the other boys and girls began to giggle and snicker. He felt his cheeks grow warm and he wanted to run out the door, but took his seat instead.

The second time the bell rang it was to signal the beginning of recess. He eagerly made his way to the door along with the rest of his classmates. Once on the playground, Mac approached a small group of boys who had a basketball.

“Can I play with you?” Mac asked hesitantly.

“Hey everybody! It’s Angus!” the boy holding the ball announced in a teasing taunt.

“Why’d your folks name you after a cow?” another jested.

Before MacGyver could say or do anything, a third boy pushed him roughly to the ground as the others gathered around, looking down at him and chanting his name. All he could hear was “Angus! Angus! Angus!”

Mac bolted upright in bed, breathing hard. His hair was damp and sweat trickled down his bare back. Man, he hadn’t had that dream since he was a kid! All this talk about his name had to end.

MacGyver arrived at Challengers earlier than usual the next day. As a result of his childhood nightmare, sleep had been out of the question. With Cynthia not due in for a few more hours, Mac grabbed some of the name books Joanna had brought the day before and locked himself in his office to do a little research. He actually had his doubts about whether or not a name like his would make publication, but he soon located it and began jotting down the information he found and, much to his surprise, it made him smile.

Later that day the after-school crowd began to pour in and along with them were Joanna and the eight students she had been working with. Mac and some of the older boys were put in charge of setting up folding chairs in rows to mimic a classroom setting. Room was left at the front where each presenter would stand. When most of the club members had arrived and filled the seats, Joanna stepped to the front and began explaining about the presentations. Mac took a seat in the back and watched as she orchestrated the event. The glow of her cheeks and the spark of fire in her eyes were testament to how much she loved working with and educating the youth in the community.

“To get things rolling,” Jo began, “Ms. Cynthia and I are going to share what we learned about our own names, and then we will listen to your fellow club members. Please remember to be respectful and listen carefully as they put a lot of effort into their presentations.

“As many of you know, my first name is Joanna. I was named after my maternal great-grandmother, Johanna. Both our names derive from the Hebrew and Greek term meaning ‘God is gracious’. According to the reference books, people named ‘Joanna’ are confident, ambitious, independent and self-sufficient. We also don’t like taking orders.” She winked playfully after that last sentence and Mac’s heart flipped.

As Jo quietly took a seat, Cynthia took her place in front of the teens and began her presentation.

“My name is Greek for ‘From Mount Cynthus’.” This statement was met with muffled giggles from the audience. “My name means I’m independent, practical, decisive, capable, efficient, and appreciate art and music.”

Wow, that described her perfectly, Mac thought as the students applauded and Cynthia was replaced by Michael.

“First of all, I hate my name,” the boy began earnestly. “It’s so common! There are guys named Michael everywhere I go! But after learning about it, I can see why folks would want to name their kid that. Ya see, it’s Hebrew for ‘Who is like God’ and really, who wouldn’t want to be like God?!” This received a hearty laugh. “Anyway, according to the books, I’m clever, responsible, self-confident, and I care about my family and friends so I figure that makes me a pretty awesome dude!” Michael shot his classmates a huge smile as everyone clapped happily. The next presenter was Jessica, who had been the first student to complain about the assignment.

“Just like Michael, I hate my name too. People often call me ‘Jessie’ and I don’t mind, but then a lot of kids tease me, calling me ‘Jessie’s Girl’ from that old ‘80’s song. Jessica is Hebrew and means ‘to see before’. The qualities I possess are courage, honesty, determination and creativity. I’m also outgoing and like to talk with people. All my teachers get on my back about that, but now I have scientific proof to show them why I do it!”

Joanna turned, caught Mac’s gaze and did an exaggerated eye roll before Sergio took his turn.

“I always thought my name was pretty cool. You know, really slick and attractive to the ladies. Now, thanks to this dumb assignment, I find out it’s Italian for ‘servant’, and I ain’t nobody’s slave!”

“Sergio…” Mac heard Joanna warn from her seat.

“Um, sorry about that, Ms. Jo. Okay, my name also means I’m friendly, sociable, charming, and give good advice. Heck, I could be the next ‘Dear Abby’!”

Joanna cleared her throat loudly and Mac tried not to laugh.

“But anyway, I also don’t like to be told what to do and I never change my mind once it’s made up, which is true. So I guess my name’s really not so bad after all.”

Everyone applauded and Mac watched Jo’s shoulders visibly relax. Sergio was apparently her most challenging student in the club. Next, a diminutive girl with glasses moved to the front.

“My name’s Jordan and I don’t like it because it’s usually a boy’s name. I think my parents just picked a name they could use either way. And this year I took a world geography class and kids started calling me ‘Jordan River’. But anyway, my name is Hebrew for ‘one who descends’. I’m gracious, capable, and clever, but I’m also a private person and I like to read and stuff but don’t like to do spontaneous things so I guess that sums me up pretty good.”

Every clapped as she took her seat and the next student began their presentation. As MacGyver listened to their reports, he was amazed at what Joanna had helped them accomplish in so little time. He was also learning a lot about some of his club members and looked forward to spending more time with them.

When the final student finished, they all huddled around Joanna and exchanged hugs and high-fives.

“Now do it like that in school tomorrow and make me proud, okay?!” she encouraged.

It seemed like forever until Jo was once again standing by herself. MacGyver walked up beside her and gently placed an arm around her shoulders.

“You’ve done good, teach!”

She leaned into him and smiled. “I didn’t do much, just provided the tools, the rest was all them.”

“And you loved every second of it.”

Jo nodded before turning, burying her head in his chest, and wrapping her arms around his waist. “I miss teaching, Mac. I miss it so much.”

“I know you do, baby. I know,” he crooned as he stroked her hair and let her silent tears dampen the front of his shirt.

XXXXX

Friday afternoon found Joanna pacing back and forth in the rec room waiting to hear how her students’ presentations went.

“Ya know, I just waxed that floor and now you’re wearing it all off,” Mac quipped, earning him a slit-eyed scowl.

“Cynthia, can you please come and tell Jo that the kids did great and she needs to stop worrying?” he called across the room.

“Nope!” Cynthia called back. “She said it herself, ‘Joanna’s’ don’t like taking orders!”

MacGyver threw up his hands and walked away, hoping to find something that needed fixing. The truth was, he was probably just as anxious as Jo was to hear the results.

At long last, the doors to Challengers flew open and Jo’s eight students scrambled in.

“We did it, Ms. Jo! We did it! We’re all gonna be sophomores!” Jessica exclaimed as the others quickly gathered around her for a celebration session.

Mac couldn’t suppress his own smile and the tinkling of Joanna’s laughter only made his smile grow. He was so engrossed in watching the happy group that he didn’t notice the appearance of a petite, middle-aged woman until he heard Cynthia greet her.

“Hello, I’m looking for Joanna Fairfax,” the woman stated. Dressed in a grey skirt suit with a white blouse buttoned up to her neck, Mac assumed the woman had come from the law firm.

“I’ll go see if I can pry her away from her adoring public,” he told Cynthia and the woman as he reluctantly went to interrupt the happy group.

Joanna was laughing and putting her hands up in a “time out” gesture as she addressed the teens that surrounded her.

“All right, that’s enough!” she huffed. “Why don’t you take your teenage energy and go do something productive with it?!”

After a final round of thanks and congratulations, the kids began to disperse allowing Joanna to see MacGyver making his way towards her. She smiled automatically at him, but when it was not returned she wrinkled her brow in concern.

“There’s someone her to see you,” he said flatly, indicating a woman in a grey suit.

“Who is she?”

“You don’t know?” Mac asked. “I assumed she was from the firm.”

Jo shook her head. “I’ve never seen her before.”

She slowly approached the stranger as MacGyver followed just steps behind. Who was this woman and what did she want?

Cynthia smiled and made the introductions. “Joanna, this is Mrs. Elizabeth Varga, vice principal at Lincoln High where several of the Challengers members attend.”

As the two women shook hands, Mrs. Varga’s stern face brightened. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person. Some of our students have told me a lot about you.”

“All good, I hope,” Joanna laughed.

“Absolutely. And that’s why I’m here,” Mrs. Varga said, looking around the large room. “Is there some place where we could speak in private?”

Jo glanced at MacGyver. “You can use my office,” he told the two women.

They smiled their thanks and walked away.

Now it was Mac’s turn to pace the floor. He’d re-wax it tomorrow if he had to. Twenty minutes later his office door opened and Mrs. Varga was the first to emerge. Both women had a smile on their face as she turned and shook Jo’s hand.

“I look forward to hearing from you next week and don’t worry, I can see myself out,” Mac heard the older woman say before heading to the exit. He looked at Jo who still stood in the doorway, a stunned look on her face, and hurried to her side.

“What was that all about?” he asked. “Are you okay?”

She nodded slowly before looking up at him with her liquid brown eyes. “She just offered me a job.” Her voice was monotone, as if she couldn’t believe what she was saying.

“Congratulations! That’s a good thing, right?”

“I’m not sure,” she replied flatly.

“Care to explain?”

She shook her head. “Not yet, Mac. I need to work some things out in my head first.”

“No problem,” he smiled softly. “I’m gonna head out soon. Why don’t you come over for dinner tonight.”

“I’d like that,” she said quietly.

XXXXX

Joanna picked at the piece of eggplant parmesan in front of her. She had only taken two bites while MacGyver was already on his third helping. Frog sat at her feet, watching her expectantly.

“When did you turn him into a vegetarian?” she asked.

“When he started begging for table scraps.”

“No more chicken livers?”

“Only on special occasions,” Mac grinned wryly. “So, feel like talkin’ about that job offer?”

Jo pushed her plate away and sighed. “Mrs. Varga wants to hire me to teach Freshman English this fall.”

“I thought you didn’t want to teach in a traditional school environment.”

“That’s just it! Lincoln High is a charter school, meaning they don’t have to adhere to the strict policies of the public school system. The administration, teachers, and even students have a lot more flexibility. Mrs. Varga said that most teachers even get all their lesson plans and grading done during the school day so they don’t have to do it at home.”

“That sounds perfect for you! And you did say you missed teaching.”

“It is, and I do, but unfortunately the position is only part-time,” she sighed.

“So?”

From the look on her face you would have thought he had just asked her to swim across Lake Michigan.

“So,” she replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm, “Even if this was a full-time position I would still be taking a significant pay cut and losing benefits.”

“So this is all about money to you,” Mac stated scornfully. After all the time they had spent together, she had never once appeared materialistic. If anything, he had admired her frugality. Had he misjudged her so completely or was she playing him for a fool after he had given her his heart.

“Yes! No!” she huffed. “Look, no one goes into teaching for the money. I’ve always been smart financially, but when I got laid off a few years back it was a real wake-up call for me. Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay rent or feed myself, but it was still an eye-opening experience.”

“I get that,” MacGyver replied, ashamed of his initial reaction. “But would you really rather stay at a job you never did like in the first place just for the money? I see how your eyes light up when you’re with the kids at Challengers. That’s what you were meant to do!”

“That’s why this is so hard on me, Mac. I really want the teaching job, but it’s scary to give up the financial stability I may need one day.”

They sat in heavy silence with their own thoughts for several minutes until Mac began to form an idea.

“You’ve put in a lot of volunteer hours at Challengers, and I really appreciate that, but maybe it’s time I--”

“No way!” she cut him off. “You are not going to pay me like some employee!”

“That’s not what I had in mind!” he shot back. “If you recall, you loaned me the money to start up the club in the first place and I haven’t paid you back one cent.”

“And this is helpful how?”

“Technically, we’re business partners, and you should be getting your share of our revenue.”

“I didn’t know you even had revenue? Besides, you should be putting it back into the club”

“We’ve gotten a few large donations and so far that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, but I would much rather have the money go to a compassionate, competent ‘partner’ rather than a can of fresh paint. Besides, Cynthia’s been dropping hints that she’d like to cut back on her hours. I think she forgot how challenging working at Challengers can be,” he grinned. “We could really use you around there, especially with summer here.”

“So let me get this straight. You’re suggesting I quit the law firm, spend the summer hanging out at Challengers and then start teaching in the fall?”

Her answer came in the form of the sly, crooked smile that always made her stomach squishy. In short, the one she couldn’t say ‘no’ to.

“All right, I’ll call Mrs. Varga first thing Monday morning.”

Mac’s smile faded and he stared at her suspiciously.

“What?!”

“That was way too easy,” he confessed.

“Maybe you’re just way too persuasive,” she responded coyly.

“Maybe you know this is the right thing to do.”

“Touche,” she replied, pulling her plate closer, suddenly ravenous.

“I have a surprise for you,” MacGyver announced as Joanna curled up in the corner of his couch after dinner.

“Oh, really?” she asked, bending over to help Frog up on the couch before cuddling him against her chest.

“Yes, really,” he countered as he pulled some note cards out of the back pocket of his jeans. “While you were working with the kids on their extra credit assignment, I took your advice and did a little research of my own.”

Her jaw slackened and she slowly shook her head. “Oh Mac, you don’t have to…”

“I want to. I want you to listen to my presentation.”

Joanna leaned further back into the cushions as MacGyver cleared his throat and began.

“My name is Angus. I’ve hated it for as long as I can remember. Growing up in a small town in Minnesota doesn’t exactly lend itself to the acceptance of unusual names. Especially names of cattle breeds. My first day of kindergarten I remember the other kids jeering and chanting my name until I cried. I begged everyone to call me something else, anything else, but ‘Angus’. Finally, my grandpa Harry took pity on me and started calling me ‘Bud’. Eventually, I convinced people to call me by my last name or simply ‘Mac’. A few days ago, a woman who has my absolute love and respect challenged me to take a deeper look at the name I’ve despised and hid from for most of my life.”

Here he paused and caught her eyes in a gaze that she swore would melt all her internal organs.

“My name’s origin is Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It is interpreted as ‘one choice’, ‘one strength’, ‘chosen one’, ‘unique strength’, and ‘exceptionally strong’. In Irish myth, my name means ‘god of love and youth and beauty’. My name also represents a Celtic god who helped his people with his wisdom and intelligence. It’s humbling to learn my name is defined by words such as ‘strength’, ‘chosen’, ‘love’, and ‘wisdom’ because I’ve always considered myself a pretty ordinary guy, but maybe my folks knew something I haven’t figured out yet. Or, as Michael would say, ‘I’m a pretty awesome dude!’”

Joanna laughed and clapped as MacGyver concluded his presentation and flopped down on the couch next to her, reaching out to fondle Frog’s ears.

“So what do you think?” he asked. “Did I pass?”

“With flying colors!” she assured him. “So, what do you think of your name now?”

“Let’s just say I won’t be asking people to start calling me ‘Angus’ anytime soon! I appreciate the meaning behind it, and I’m glad you encouraged me to learn about it, but I think I still prefer ‘Mac’ if that’s okay with you.”

“I suppose I can live with it,” she replied playfully, leaning in to kiss him, causing Frog to whine as he became squished between his two humans.

















Posted by: Dragondog 9 October 2019 - 09:56 PM
QUOTE
She and MacGyver had arrived home from Chicago the night before
I can't speak for everyone, but I need a day to recoup after road trips, so personally I wouldn't be at work quite so soon tongue.gif

QUOTE
She had come into the office to find a stack of files on her desk, all supposedly requiring her immediate attention, but they had to wait until her boss called her into his office to chastise her for taking off on the day the firm landed one of its biggest accounts. How was she to know that would happen?!
It was a family emergency, you ungrateful jerkwad

QUOTE
while he handed her the one containing a turkey club and a bag of chips.
I didn't realize Joanna shared my taste in sandwiches XD

QUOTE
You know, a couple of years ago I would have been so mortified about getting yelled at that I would have run and cried in the ladies room. But now, I just can’t seem to care.
You know, I can actually relate. I was always the sensitive type, but at the same time I hate humanity as a whole, so now I just get all deadpan when they try to make me feel bad about anything XD For example, a customer snapped at me last week for being uncertain and vague about where things were (I haven't figured it all out yet, I'm still new), but he fell back when he saw me shrink back, and then tried to make it up to me by being much more polite and warm. Didn't make me feel better, but instead of having to force niceness while trying not to cry over it, I had to force niceness while trying not to get super curt instead XD

QUOTE

He leaned over and wiped a glob of mayo from her lips with the pad of his thumb before kissing her gently.
Alternate version: He leaned over and wiped a glob of mayo from his lips with her hair.

...

Yeah, I need to go to bed XD (I read it wrong the first time, so that's where that came from XD)

QUOTE

This time it was Michael who spoke up. “We have to write up and give a presentation about our name. You know, its origin, what it means, if we like it or not. That sort of thing. But it’s due this Friday.”

“That sounds doable,” Jo responded confidently.
That actually does sound pretty easy, for an assignment smile.gif

QUOTE

“Man, dig this name!”

“I’d hate to be called that!”

“If I have a girl, I’m naming her this!”

“Okay guys, listen up!” Jo said, her voice an octave lower demanding their attention. “You’re supposed to be looking up your own name. Got it?”
To be fair, at least they're interested, right? XD

QUOTE

His classmates eagerly agreed as Mac’s stomach dropped to his toes. Only his family and a few close friends knew his first name and they rarely, if ever, actually used it since they knew how much he hated it. He was not about to divulge it to a bunch of blabber-mouth teenagers!
I mean, you can look up Mack, or see if a name similar to MacGyver is in there XD

QUOTE

“What about MacGyver?” Sergio asked. “We don’t even know his first name!”

“Mr. Mac has a lot of work to do,” Jo replied, coming to his rescue. “Ms. Cynthia and I will just have to do.”

She glanced up at Mac and surreptitiously pointed her chin in the direction of his office and he took the hint.
Smart girl XD

QUOTE

“Fine,” Jo shrugged. “Have it your way.” She tossed out the trash she had collected, gave him a peck on the cheek and slipped out the door.

A shiver ran down Mac’s spine. That had been too easy.
Yeah, we all know she'll do it if you won't XD XD XD

QUOTE

It was five-year-old MacGyver’s first day of Kindergarten. His mom and dad walked him to his classroom door where he was greeted by his teacher.
Okay, unexpected flashback time! XD

QUOTE
The bell rang and signaled the start of the worst day of MacGyver’s life thus far.
Awww, I know where this is heading :'(

QUOTE
When it was his turn, he stood up and proudly stated, “Name’s MacGyver,” before quickly sitting down again.
I initially read that in his adult voice XD

QUOTE

Mac slowly stood up again, the collar of his brand new shirt suddenly feeling stiff and tight. “Angus,” he muttered softly as the other boys and girls began to giggle and snicker. He felt his cheeks grow warm and he wanted to run out the door, but took his seat instead.
Does the teacher not see how upset he is, or does she just not care? (I mean, she seems nice enough, but I'm bitter about the education system dry.gif )

QUOTE

Mac bolted upright in bed, breathing hard. His hair was damp and sweat trickled down his bare back. Man, he hadn’t had that dream since he was a kid! All this talk about his name had to end.
I don't know if I'm more disgusted that the incident traumatized him enough where it still affects him today, or disappointed that we don't know more of what happened that day...

QUOTE
Sergio was apparently her most challenging student in the club.
Oh, he didn't seem that bad to me XD

QUOTE
He was so engrossed in watching the happy group that he didn’t notice the appearance of a petite, middle-aged woman until he heard Cynthia greet her.

“Hello, I’m looking for Joanna Fairfax,” the woman stated.
Hmm, now what have we here? hmm.bmp

QUOTE

Here he paused and caught her eyes in a gaze that she swore would melt all her internal organs.
I snorted laugh.gif

QUOTE

“My name’s origin is Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It is interpreted as ‘one choice’, ‘one strength’, ‘chosen one’, ‘unique strength’, and ‘exceptionally strong’. In Irish myth, my name means ‘god of love and youth and beauty’. My name also represents a Celtic god who helped his people with his wisdom and intelligence. It’s humbling to learn my name is defined by words such as ‘strength’, ‘chosen’, ‘love’, and ‘wisdom’ because I’ve always considered myself a pretty ordinary guy, but maybe my folks knew something I haven’t figured out yet. Or, as Michael would say, ‘I’m a pretty awesome dude!’”
So did you research all these names for this chapter?

QUOTE

“I suppose I can live with it,” she replied playfully, leaning in to kiss him, causing Frog to whine as he became squished between his two humans.
That mental image made me laugh laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 October 2019 - 05:22 AM
Thanks for the comments, Dragondog!! Yes, Joanna and I both like turkey club sandwiches with chips (just had one the other night!) And yes, I DID research all those names!! I'm gaining so much useless knowledge writing this story!!! LOL!

Posted by: Dragondog 10 October 2019 - 08:56 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 10 October 2019 - 08:22 AM)
Thanks for the comments, Dragondog!! Yes, Joanna and I both like turkey club sandwiches with chips (just had one the other night!) And yes, I DID research all those names!! I'm gaining so much useless knowledge writing this story!!! LOL!

Ah, the life of a writer laugh.gif

If, by some twist of fate, we ever meet irl, we should go get turkey clubs wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 11 October 2019 - 04:59 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 10 October 2019 - 08:56 PM)

If, by some twist of fate, we ever meet irl, we should go get turkey clubs wink.gif

Sounds good to me!!!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 16 October 2019 - 05:06 AM
Chapter 19: The Innocent

The June sunlight poured through the plate-glass window, creating an ethereal glow around Joanna who was busily packing her meager personal belongings into the oversized box MacGyver had brought her. In the waning minutes of her employment at the law firm, she chatted easily with Mike Harlow, Lee Vang, and Geena the Receptionist who had gathered around her now-empty desk to share their farewells and good wishes as Mac casually leaned against the door jamb taking in the scene.

“It’s been great working with you, Jo,” Mike said. “If you ever get bored you can come on back and help me catch up on the data entry I never get around to doing.”

“Thanks for the invitation, Mike, but I think the kids will keep me pretty busy both at Challengers as well as the high school,” she laughed and Mike pretended to pout before giving her a peck on the cheek and heading out the door, stopping to shake MacGyver’s hand.

“You got a good one there,” Mike told him. “Be sure to treat her right.”

“Count on it,” Mac replied with a smile.

Lee Vang was the next to speak.

“You’ll be missed around here,” he told her. “And remember, if you ever need legal counsel, I’m just a phone call away and more than happy to do pro bono work for families in the community.”

“Thanks, Lee. That means a lot to me, and Mac as well.” She gave him a brief hug before he, too, headed to the door, shook MacGyver’s hand and walked back to his office.

That left Geena.

“Oh, girl, this place won’t be the same without you,” she lamented as she embraced Joanna and squeezed her tight.

“I’m gonna miss you, too,” Jo replied, “but you know where Challengers is and we’re always looking for volunteers.”

“I may just have to check that place out one of these days,” Geena agreed. “Now I expect to be the first to know when that man of yours over there finally pops the question. Even if I’m dead in my grave!”

Joanna’s easy laugh made MacGyver’s heart soar.

“I can’t promise you’ll be the first, but you’ll definitely be in the top five!” she responded.

Hmmm. Jo really believed they were on the road to something permanent, and for the first time he could remember that excited him instead of tempted him to turn and run the other way. The phone in the lobby rang and Geena gave Joanna one last hug before hurrying off to answer it. Finally it was just the two of them.

“Any regrets?” Mac asked as he walked further into the room, hands jammed in the front pockets of his khaki pants.

“None,” Jo beamed up at him. “Thank you for encouraging me to do this. I think you’re starting to know me better than I know myself!”

MacGyver grinned as he glanced around the room.

“I thought Hernandez would come by to see you,” he commented.

“I saw him earlier today. Wished me well and offered to be a reference,” Jo said in a clipped tone.

Mac knew there was not much love lost between Joanna and her boss, hence her willingness to leave her current position. Before he could reply, Jo’s desk phone trilled and she frowned, no doubt wondering who would be calling just as she was preparing to leave...for good.

“Hello?” she answered.

“Hey Cynthia, what’s up?”

There was an uncomfortable silence while Joanna listened intently before her gaze caught MacGyver’s and conveyed a sense of urgent concern bordering on panic.

“We’re on our way,” she said firmly before hanging up.

Mac scooped up the box that Joanna had packed and followed her out of the office and down the hall before speaking.

“What’s going on?” he asked as they pushed through the main doors and stepped out onto the sidewalk.

Jo shook her head and kept walking. “It was hard to make everything out because of the background noise, but it has something to do with the Talbot kids. Cynthia said the police and someone from social services are there for them.”

“What?!”

“That’s all I could understand,” Joanna shrugged helplessly.

With lengthened strides they quickly arrived at their respective vehicles. Mac stowed the box he was carrying in the back of the Jeep and peeled out of the parking lot with Jo close behind. Davey and Suzy held a special place in his heart. Especially Suzy whom he had escorted to the Daddy/Daughter dance at her school and who insisted on calling him ‘Daddy Mac’. His stomach roiled at the thought of anything bad happening to those two kids.

Upon arriving at Challengers, MacGyver barreled through the front door stopping only long enough to survey the recreation room. All the teens were actively engaged in various activities, unfazed by any disruption the yet unknown situation may have caused. The only sign that something was wrong was little Suzy, with her brown bobbed hair so like Joanna’s, sitting in the corner Frog had commandeered for himself, hugging the long-suffering dog tight. Davey, with disheveled dark blond hair and an untamed cowlick, stood watch over her while a female police officer guarded them both. Tamping down his desire to comfort and protect the children, Mac strode into Cynthia’s office where Joanna was already witnessing a heated conversation between the club’s co-director and a conservatively dressed middle-aged woman who could only be from social services.

“And I’m telling you that Challengers is a certified emergency shelter! On top of that, Davey and Suzy are registered members of the club and have every right to be here!” Cynthia insisted, sending the other woman a scathing look.

“You don’t understand,” the social worker persisted.

“Oh, I understand all too well!” Cynthia shot back.

“Okay ladies, settle down,” MacGyver interrupted. “Are you all right?” he asked, turning to Cynthia.

“I’m fine, but--”

Mac held up his hand to keep her from saying more as he turned to the other woman.

“You must be from social services?”

“Yes. My name is Mrs. Hawley. May I ask what business you have barging into this private discussion?” she asked haughtily.

Mac swallowed the retort that was on the tip of his tongue and took a calming breath.

“Name’s MacGyver. I’m the director of Challengers Club and would like some answers about what’s going on here.”

Mrs. Hawley sighed before launching into her explanation. “Late this morning, the next door neighbor of the Talbot family called the police when she discovered the babysitter passed out on the couch from an apparent drug overdose and no sign of the children. The officers on the scene found the mother’s work number and address next to the phone as well as that of Challengers and went to the motel to arrest her once the EMT’s arrived and stabilized the sitter.”

“Arrest her?!” Mac nearly bellowed. “On what grounds?!”

“Two counts of child neglect and abandonment to begin with,” Mrs. Hawley sniffed in satisfaction.

“That’s ridiculous!”

“They were just doing their jobs, Mr. MacGyver, and I was called in to collect the children.”

“What’s gonna happen to them?” Mac asked, regaining his composure.

“They’ll be taken down to Child Protective Services and placed with an emergency foster family no later than tomorrow morning.”

“That’s not acceptable,” Mac stated firmly.

“That’s the way the system works, Mr. MacGyver,” the social worker retorted.

“Well the ‘system’ stinks!”

Before Mac could continue, Joanna stepped up beside him and lightly touched his forearm, halting any would-be tirade. Normally not one to raise his voice, all bets were off when someone close to him was threatened in any way.

“Mrs. Hawley,” Jo began in a placating tone, “last year Mr. MacGyver and I had papers drawn up to grant us emergency temporary custody of our clients’ children. I just called the law firm and confirmed that our names are still registered with CPS as emergency foster parents. Since Davey and Suzy are already comfortable with us, perhaps we could streamline the process and have you let us take temporary custody of them.”

“Well, of course I will have to verify that information and it’s not standard operating procedure,” Mrs. Hawley replied icily, “but if it is, indeed, legitimate you may have custody until a more permanent situation can be found.”

“Thank you,” Jo replied sweetly, unfazed by the other woman’s tone. She then turned to address MacGyver.

“I called Lee Vang. He’s agreed to represent Jill Talbot and will meet you down at the police station.”

Mac looked at Jo then out the office window to where the brother and sister remained in the corner.

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of them,” she answered in response to his unspoken question, and it was all he could do not to take her into his arms and show her how much her thoughtful actions and support meant to him, but he thought it best to refrain given the steely gaze leveled on them by the stern social worker.

XXXXX

MacGyver, Lee Vang, and Jill Talbot sat on hard metal chairs surrounding an equally hard metal table in the dank interview room at the local police precinct. Jill was still wearing her uniform from the motel where she worked as a housekeeper. Her eyes were bloodshot and streaks of mascara marred her gaunt cheeks, evidence of the tears she had shed since her arrest.

“We’re here to help you, Jill,” Lee began, “but you need to tell us everything that led up to this. Can you do that for me?”

“I...I can’t afford a real lawyer like you, Mr. Vang,” she sobbed.

“It’s okay,” Mac assured her. “Lee does pro bono work for Challengers. Now tell us what happened.”

“I worked the breakfast shift at the diner this morning like I always do. When I stopped home to change clothes, the neighbor lady who babysits Davey and Suzy wasn’t feeling well and left.”

“Hold on,” Lee interrupted. “Which neighbor lady is this?”

“She lives across the street and offered to watch the kids for free this summer. Her husband died last year and she said it would make her feel useful again,” Jill hiccupped.

Lee nodded, encouraging the woman to continue. “I didn’t know what to do because I had to get to my job at the motel and there was no one to watch my babies so I called my sister to stay with them.”

“Are you aware that your sister is a drug addict?” Lee asked gently.

“Yes, but she’s been clean for almost a year. I thought she’d be fine with the children otherwise I never would’ve called her!”

“Why didn’t you just bring them to Challengers?” Mac asked.

“You and Challengers have done so much for my family already, I don’t want to take advantage of your services.”

“But that’s what we’re there for,” MacGyver insisted.

“I know, and I’m sorry. I was just upset and not thinking straight.” This brought another onslaught of tears. “What’s gonna happen to my babies?”

“Joanna and I are registered emergency foster parents. We’ll take care of them until everything gets straightened out.”

“I can’t ask you to do that! How will I ever repay you?”

“We can talk about that later,” Mac told her, not wanting to upset her any more than she already was. “Now you just listen to Mr. Vang and do what he tells you. Everything will be fine.”

Jill offered the two men a watery smile before a guard entered and led her back to the holding cell.

Mac sighed and scrubbed his face with his hands. “So what happens now?” he asked Lee.

The lawyer glanced at his watch and frowned. “The courts are closed for the weekend. Ms. Talbot will be held here until her arraignment on Monday at which time I’m going to ask that all charges be dismissed.”

“Do you think the judge will agree to that?”

“It’s hard to say, but so far the prosecution has a very weak case, so that’s in our favor. You and Joanna just make sure those kids stay safe and leave the legal stuff to me, okay?” Vang smiled and shook MacGyver’s hand before the two men went their separate ways.

When Mac returned to Challengers, he immediately sought out his new charges. He found Davey sitting cross-legged in an overstuffed chair immersed in a book about dinosaurs while Suzy was carefully creating a finger paint masterpiece under Jo’s supervision.

“Look what I made Daddy Mac!” the little girl called from across the room.

MacGyver made his way over to the newspaper-covered table to examine her creation.

“It’s a picture of all of us!” she proclaimed happily. “See, there’s Mommy, and Davey and me and you and Ms. Joanna!”

“That’s great, sweetheart! But you need to wipe that blob off before it gets on your hands.”

Suzy immediately frowned and Joanna shot him a you-should-know-better scowl.

“That’s not a blob,” the girl protested. “That’s Frog!”

“Of course it is!” Mac replied quickly, trying to pry his foot out of his mouth. “I was just teasing you!”

Relief flooded him when the little girl giggled. “Here,” she said, thrusting the paper toward him. “You can hang it in your office!”

“That sounds like a great idea! Ms. Joanna, would you like to help me?” he asked, hoping she would pick up on what he was really trying to say.

“Sure,” she immediately agreed before grabbing another large piece of blank paper and addressing Suzy. “Here sweetie, why don’t you make a painting for your mom this time?”

Suzy shrugged and wordlessly dipped her fingers into the mushy paint and began drawing as if she hadn’t a care in the world.

Once secluded in his office, MacGyver told Joanna everything that had happened with Jill.

“I hope Lee is right,” she said. “There’s no way those charges should stick! Jill’s a great mom!”

“I don’t get why she’s the criminal in this when it’s all her sister’s fault,” Mac groaned.

“Unfortunately, I saw this type of situation more than once when I was working in the correctional facility. A parent can be prosecuted for leaving their children with a less-than-competent caregiver even if they don’t realize it.”

Mac was about to voice his protest but decided to save his energy and instead asked, “What did I miss on this end?”

“After you left, Cynthia and I asked the kids to tell us what happened. They said they were watching TV when their mom left for her second job and when the show ended they wanted to play with their aunt. When they couldn’t wake her up, they got bored and came to Challengers. Their presence didn’t raise any red flags because they’re here so often anyway.”

MacGyver jammed his fingers through his hair. “Man, talk about a mole hill turning into a mountain.”

“Tell me about it,” Jo commiserated. “Anyway, Cynthia and I talked with them and explained their mom wasn’t feeling well and that they would be staying with you and me for a ‘fun’ weekend so their mom could rest.”

“Well then, I better get the kids back to my place before Mrs. Hawley finds out I kept them up past their bedtime,” Mac smirked. “Wanna come by in the morning for pancakes?”

“Um, sure,” she replied softly, her eyes downcast.

Mac tucked his finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. “I just said something wrong. What is it?”

“Nothing,” she said, jerking her head away. “I just thought we were in this together. You know you don’t have to do your ‘hero’ stuff alone anymore.”

“Sorry, force of habit. Can you forgive me?” he asked, eyebrow quirked.

She nodded.

“How about we stop by your place on the way so you can pick up some things?”

She looked up at him sheepishly. “While you were gone I called my mom and she packed a bag for me and dropped it off. I’m good to go.”

For the first time that day, MacGyver’s world slowed and his attention was solely focused on the strong, beautiful woman in front of him. “Thank you,” he said before he dipped his head and found her lips with his. He kept the kiss soft and warm and, by necessity, all too short.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After leaving Challengers, MacGyver stopped at the Talbot home where he and Joanna helped the children each pack a small bag for the weekend before heading to his townhouse. He had barely unlocked the door before the brother and sister scampered across the threshold to inspect their new surroundings.

“How do you expect us to play hide-and-seek in here?” Davey demanded, arms folded across his chest.

“So much for open-concept architecture,” Joanna snickered.

“Where are the bedrooms?” Suzy asked, ignoring her brother’s concern.

“There’s only one bedroom. Upstairs,” Mac informed her.

“Where are we all gonna sleep?” she asked with a huff.

Jo sent MacGyver a bemused look and watched him squirm as he tried to figure out the answer.

“Well...I figure you and Ms. Joanna can sleep in the bed upstairs and Davey and I will bunk down here.”

“Why do they get the bed,” the young boy complained.

“Because they’re ladies and we, as gentleman, need to make sure they are comfortable.”

“Suzy ain’t no lady, she’s my sister!” Davey exclaimed.

Mac looked like a drowning man on dry land and it was all Jo could do to keep from laughing out loud. However, not wanting the battle of the sexes to escalate, she quickly altered the solution.

“How about Suzy and I take the bed and you and Mac can pitch a tent in the backyard and pretend you’re on a camp out?”

“But I wanna go camping, too!” the little girl cried.

Joanna groaned and covered her face with her hands. She could only imagine the goofy pay-back grin on MacGyver’s face and refused to meet his gaze.

“There’s plenty of room for the three of us in my tent,” Mac assured Suzy. “That is, unless Joanna wants to join us.”

This time she did look him in the eye and pulled a face before grabbing her bag and heading up the spiral staircase. “Not me! I’ll be very happy all alone in this great big comfy bed,” she proclaimed.

With the sleeping arrangements settled, at least for one night, they sat down to a late supper after which Mac put up the tent while the children bathed and got ready for bed. It was almost midnight by the time Joanna crawled into MacGyver’s bed and snuggled underneath the covers. The mattress was firm and the sheets smelled fresh. How often did Mac actually sleep in his bed anyway? She knew he had an affinity for couches and had always chalked it up to being part of his loveable quirkiness. But what if it was more than that? What if he got lonely sleeping in an empty bed night after night and crashed on the sofa so he wouldn’t have to face that particular demon? A pang of sadness stabbed her heart just as sleep claimed her.

Joanna slowly opened her eyes. How long had she been asleep? Minutes? Hours? It was impossible to tell, but the one thing she knew for certain was that she was not alone. Rolling over and raising herself up on one elbow she squinted into the darkness to find MacGyver standing at the foot of the bed.

“What’s wrong? Are the kids okay?” She was suddenly wide awake.

“Relax,” he whispered. “Everything’s fine. The kids are sleeping on the couch.”

“Why?”

“Suzy bailed on us after thirty minutes insisting she had seen a bear. About an hour later, Davey went into the house for a drink of water and never came back, apparently succumbing to the comfort of the couch. They just don’t make kids like they used to.”

“What about you?”

“I was only roughing it for them,” Mac replied, then nodded toward the empty side of the bed. “I was kinda hoping you’d be willing to share.”

Joanna silently answered by pulling back the unused covers, allowing MacGyver to slip into bed. She swore he was asleep before his head even hit the pillow, but she stayed awake much longer listening to his soft, rhythmic breathing and enjoying the weight and warmth of his body next to hers. The next time she awoke, rays of sunlight were streaming through the skylight overhead and a small ruckus had erupted downstairs.

“I want my mommy!” Suzy wailed loudly.

“Don’t be such a crybaby!” Davey shouted back.

“I’m not a crybaby!” Suzy protested in return.

Mac bolted out of bed and down the stairs before Joanna regained enough consciousness to sit up.

“Knock it off, you two,” she heard him say in a calm but firm voice.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

After assuring Suzy that she would see her mother soon and convincing Davey not to call his sister names, MacGyver went into the kitchen to whip up a batch of his world famous pancakes while the siblings watched Saturday morning cartoons. Joanna soon joined them, already showered and dressed for the day, but the dark circles under her eyes told him she must have had a restless night. A twinge of guilt shot through him as he recalled the night before. He couldn’t remember the last time he had slept so soundly. Just lying next to Jo had been like a soothing balm to his soul.

“You’re letting them eat in front of the TV?” she asked behind a yawn.

“Good morning to you, too,” Mac grinned.

“Sorry. Good morning,” she mumbled.

“I keep forgetting you’re not a morning person,” he apologized as he pulled a kitchen chair away from the table for her to plop down in.

“So, what’s on the agenda for today?” Jo asked once they had both taken several bites of their breakfast.

“I thought we’d all go to Challengers. You need to pick up your car since you left it there yesterday and Cynthia deserves a break.”

“Sounds like a plan,” she agreed.

After putting away the breakfast dishes, Mac showered and dressed while Joanna wrangled the kids and got them ready for the day. When they arrived at Challengers they found one group of teens in the middle of a heated pick-up basketball game while another group tried their hand at street hockey. Inside the club, members were playing table games, working out on the exercise equipment or simply chatting and laughing amongst themselves. Davey quickly found the dinosaur book he had been reading the day before and buried himself in its pages while Suzy made a beeline for the corner where Frog, up until now, slept peacefully. Joanna followed MacGyver to his office where he quickly placed a call to Lee Vang.

“Any news?” she asked after he hung up.

“No,” Mac sighed. “He said we won’t know anything until after the initial court appearance on Monday.”

“So we just have to wait,” Jo frowned.

MacGyver went to stand behind her and began massaging her shoulders.

“I know it’s frustrating, but we don’t have a choice,” he said before burying his face in the curve of her neck, taking in her sweetness. A soft knock on the door interrupted him.

“Go away,” he groaned, not willing to move an inch.

The knock came again and Joanna eased out of his grasp with an apologetic smile. “You probably should answer that since we are at work.”

With a heavy sigh Mac opened the door and looked down to find Suzy and Davey looking up at him.

“We’re bored,” they informed him in unison.

Of course they were bored. They were the youngest members of the club and few teens wanted to spend their time at Challengers babysitting. It was dumb thinking on his part to expect them to spend the entire day entertaining themselves.

“I just remembered I have some errands to run,” Jo announced, stepping up beside him. “I could use a couple helpers. What do you say?”

“I wanna come! Mommy says I’m the bestest helper in the whole world!” Suzy proclaimed.

Davey rolled his eyes. “I guess it beats sitting around here all day,” he replied flatly.

Mac wasn’t sure if Joanna truly had errands or not, but he sincerely appreciated her efforts to distract the children. She grabbed her purse and shot him a bright smile as if she had read his thoughts before herding the kids out the door.

MacGyver sequestered himself in his office for the rest of the morning. With Joanna now working full-time at Challengers for the summer, he figured he would use this time to revamp the schedule. After an hour of frustrating confusion he was seriously thinking about leaving this particular task for Cynthia, or perhaps even Joanna herself. Coordinating high level security for visiting foreign dignitaries or executing a secret reconnaissance mission in a hostile Middle Eastern country was a piece of cake compared to working out a weekly schedule with a cast of ever-changing volunteers. Not quite ready to admit defeat, he decided to clear his head. He shot a round of pool with Raul before heading outside where he demonstrated the finer points of street hockey to a small group of boys and played a little one-on-one b-ball with some of the newer members. The Talbots might be the youngest members of the club, but Mac would happily admit to being the oldest!

Back in his office, he put in another couple hours of work and actually had a somewhat complete schedule to show for it. By mid-afternoon, a number of adult volunteers were on duty and he was anxious to see how Jo and the kids were doing so he collected Frog and headed home. What he saw when he turned the Jeep into his driveway made his heart ache in the most wonderful way. Joanna was kneeling on the grass between Suzy and Davey, their hands digging in the narrow strip of dirt between the house and walkway which had probably once been a flower garden and would be again if the flat of colorful petunias sitting on the front step was any indication. Was this what other men felt when they returned home to their wife and children? A wave of love and contentment washed over him as he slowly climbed from the car. Frog wiggled past him before awkwardly scampering to the backyard, presumably to avoid Suzy’s strangling hugs, and it was the little girl who first acknowledged his presence.

“Look, Daddy Mac! We’re makin’ a garden!”

“I can see that,” he called back happily.

As he got closer to the little domestic scene, he noticed that Joanna had put Davey in charge of digging holes while she helped Suzy release the plants from their plastic containers and place them in the dirt, carefully burying their roots.

“You’re doing great, keep it up,” Jo encouraged them as she slowly rose to her feet and made her way to MacGyver.

“So this was the ‘errand’ you had to run earlier?” he asked for only her to hear.

“I’ve had the idea in the back of my mind for awhile and today seemed like the perfect opportunity. I hope you don’t mind.”

“Not a chance,” he assured her.

“But you’re gonna have to remember to water them every now and again,” she instructed.

“Don’t worry,” Mac said with a wicked grin. “I’ll put Frog in charge of that.”

Joanna playfully swatted his shoulder just as the children announced they had completed their task.

“How does it look, Daddy Mac?” Suzy asked.

“It looks perfect. Every time I see the flowers I’ll think of you.”

Suzy smiled and ran to wrap her arms around his waist, grubby hands and all.

“Why don’t you go in and wash up and we’ll all go out to dinner to celebrate the new garden,” Mac suggested and was met with a chorus of cheers.

Dressed in clean clothes with freshly scrubbed hands, the foursome were soon seated at a table at their favorite Italian restaurant. They had ordered two pizzas to accommodate everyone’s taste and once they were served, there was no shortage of opinions, especially when it came to MacGyver’s half of one of the pies.

“Ew! What’s that?!” Davey asked, wrinkling his nose.

“It’s pineapple,” Mac laughed, holding out a piece to the boy. “Want some?”

“No way!”

“Why do you have so many veggies on your pizza?” Suzy asked him, truly bewildered. “Are you being punished?”

“No. I like veggies,” he answered simply, which caused the little girl to shake her head in dismay before biting into her own piece.

Armed with leftovers in Styrofoam carry-out containers that would be tomorrow’s lunch, they left the restaurant to find dark storm clouds hovering in the western sky. MacGyver checked the weather report as soon as they arrived home and informed Joanna that several strong storm squalls would be passing through during the night. While not looking forward to dealing with potentially frightened children, the wild weather did make sleeping arrangements incredibly easy: Everyone in the household piled onto Mac’s bed, including Frog. Sleep was intermittent at best as the occupants dozed until a loud clap of thunder would awaken them. Finally, near dawn, the last line of storms rumbled away over Lake Michigan allowing exhaustion and fear to give way to peaceful slumber.

Hours later, Mac awoke gasping for air. At some point, Suzy had rolled over and laid her arm across his windpipe. Moving gingerly to relieve the pressure yet not wake the girl, he laid back and listened to the lingering rain fall in a steady rhythm against the roof. Joanna, Davey and Suzy still slept, their faces slightly flushed and serene, while soft snores emanated from the bulldog on the foot of the bed. Oh, how easily he could get used to waking up to a scene like this every day for the rest of his life. The sudden ring of the telephone shattered the dreamy peacefulness. MacGyver rolled out of bed and jogged down the stairs hoping to quiet the phone before it woke anyone else.

“Hello?” he answered, his voice still raspy from sleep.

Hey, Mac! Sorry to disturb you on a Sunday morning.” It was Lee Vang.

“No problem. What’s up?” Mac asked quietly so as not to disturb the still-sleeping trio upstairs.

“I’m preparing for Jill Talbot’s arraignment tomorrow and was wondering if you and Joanna could have the kids there. It’d be even better if you could also get Ms. Wilson and some of the volunteers to go too.”

Mac scrubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “That might be a problem,” he hedged. “See, we kinda lied and told the kids their mom was sick. We didn’t want to upset them more than they already were.”

“I understand,” Lee said, “but I plan on going out on a limb with the judge and could really use some back up.”

“Don’t worry, Lee. I’ll take care of it. We’ll see you tomorrow,” MacGyver promised.

He hung up the phone and turned to find Joanna standing at the foot of the stairs, her arms wrapped around her waist.

“What did Lee want? What are you going to take care of?” she questioned.

He relayed the telephone conversation to her before they both headed back upstairs to get the kids up and dressed. A short while later they were all seated around the kitchen table for breakfast. Mac sipped a protein shake while Jo ran her spoon back and forth through a bowl of cereal. Picking up on the adults’ discomfort, Davey and Suzy took a couple bites of pancakes before declaring themselves full. MacGyver caught Jo’s gaze and they both knew it was now or never. So, over the half-eaten meal, they took turns explaining to the two young children exactly what had happened with their mother and that they would all be going to the courthouse tomorrow. When they were done speaking, Suzy climbed onto Mac’s lap, buried her head in his shoulder and began to sob. Davey shoved his chair back and ran out the front door. Mac watched Joanna follow without trying to intercept him, knowing the boy needed some time to process what he had just heard.

Heavy gray clouds blanketed the sky for the rest of the day, aptly reflecting the mood in the townhouse. Once breakfast dishes were done and the children were settled in front of the TV, Joanna went to her house and then the Talbot’s to collect court-worthy clothes for the next day. While she was gone, MacGyver called Cynthia and a couple other volunteers who knew Davey and Suzy well. They all agreed to be in court for Jill’s arraignment and offered encouraging words. With those tasks complete, the day passed slowly and sullenly. The brother and sister had apparently agreed to divest themselves of adult interference and built an invisible barrier between them and their guardians so much so that after a silent supper of leftover pizza they climbed the stairs together and crawled into bed, leaving Mac and Joanna sitting on the couch to watch an old black and white western on television that couldn’t even hold MacGyver’s interest.

XXXXX

The courtroom was abuzz with activity when Mac, Jo and the kids arrived Monday morning. Davey squeezed Joanna’s hand and clung to her side while Suzy refused to walk, insisting that MacGyver carry her. It didn’t take long before he found Lee Vang, Cynthia, and a couple other Challenger parent volunteers standing in the front row of the gallery.

“Thanks so much for coming and bringing the children,” Lee said as he greeted them with handshakes

“So what’s the plan?” Mac asked as he settled a protesting Suzy in an empty seat while Jo did the same with her brother.

“Just wait and see,” Lee smiled, leaving MacGyver to wonder how the man could appear so confident and optimistic.

A hush fell over the crowd when the judge appeared and took his seat behind the bench as everyone followed suit. Three cases were presented before Jill Talbot was escorted to the defendant's table where Lee waited for her. She was still wearing her housekeeping uniform which was now dirty and wrinkled, but to Mac’s relief, her children were spared from seeing their mother in jail clothes and handcuffs. Once advised of her constitutional rights and having the charges against her read, she was asked to enter her plea. MacGyver watched as Jill peeled her eyes away from the judge only to land on her lawyer as Lee cleared his throat and began to speak.

“Your honor, on behalf of my client, I ask that you dismiss this case immediately and rescind all charges.”

“Counselor, you are well aware this is not the time nor the place for such a motion,” the judge warned.

“On the contrary, your honor, this is exactly the time. Ms. Talbot has two jobs she is currently at risk of losing as well as children who need their mother to return home. What happened last week is not my client’s fault. She did what she believed to be in the best interest of her children. Any and all fault lies clearly with her sister, who is being tried and prosecuted separately.”

“You’re not going to let this go, are you Mr. Vang?” the judge asked the lawyer even as he eyed MacGyver, Joanna, and the rest of the Challengers contingent.

“No, your honor, I am not.”

The judge sighed loudly. “Would all pertinent parties to the case adjourn to my chambers?” Though phrased as a question, Mac knew it was a command.

As the group crowded into the judge’s private quarters, Davey and Suzy ran to their mother, each grabbing one of her hands and holding on for dear life. MacGyver couldn’t help but think he saw a slight crack in the judge’s stern countenance.

“Your honor, I must strongly object to this unprecedented turn of events,” the prosecuting assistant district attorney sputtered.

The judge pinned him with a steely gaze. “This is not a hearing so you cannot object,” he reprimanded, “and even if you could, it would be overruled since I want to hear what Mr. Vang has to say.”

Lee took this opportunity to pounce. “As you can see, your honor, the Talbot children are healthy and well-cared for with no sign of neglect. In addition, my client has never received so much as a speeding ticket. The D.A. has a weak case at best, so I suggest we save the court time, the taxpayers money, and the Talbots a lot of distress by allowing them to walk out of this courthouse today as a family.”

The judge once again turned his attention to the prosecutor who was nervously re-adjusting his tie. “Exactly what type of evidence do you have against the defendant?” he asked.

“I have an eyewitness, your honor.”

“And what will your eyewitness testify to?”

“She found the defendant's sister unconscious and no children in the house.”

“Can she testify that the children were in imminent danger?”

“No, your honor.”

“Can she testify to a cycle of neglect?”

“Um, no, your honor.”

After several minutes of silent consideration, the judge turned his attention to Lee Vang.

“Given the prosecutor’s painful lack of evidence, I will make an exception and accept your motion to dismiss this case.”

The Talbot’s and their supporters breathed a collective sigh of relief before profusely thanking the judge and being led out a side door by the bailiff. In the parking lot, hugs and handshakes were exchanged before Davey and Suzy, along with their mother, piled into Lee’s sedan for the ride home while Joanna and MacGyver climbed into the Jeep with promises to quickly return the children’s meager belongings that remained at the townhouse.

Less than an hour later, the couple sat at Mac’s kitchen table nibbling on a light lunch of fruit and yogurt.

“So, what are your plans for the rest of the day,” MacGyver asked Jo, mainly to break the silence that had fallen between them since leaving the courthouse.

She shrugged. “Since it’s technically my first day of work at Challengers I was gonna meet with Cynthia and start learning some of the behind-the-scenes stuff. You know, the stuff you don’t like to do.”

Mac allowed himself to smile at her quip before turning serious.

“It’s been a pretty crazy past few days. Why don’t you go home and start fresh tomorrow?”

“What about you?” she countered, sidestepping his question.

“I thought I’d pack up the kids’ stuff and drop it off on my way to the club,” he replied. His voice almost monotone.

“Sure is quiet around here without them,” Joanna observed. “They sure have a knack of worming their way into your heart when you’re not looking.”

“No argument here,” Mac agreed. “But there is one member of this household who’s not gonna miss ‘em.”

MacGyver slanted his eyes to where Frog laid stretched out under the coffee table, snoring loudly.












Posted by: Dragondog 19 October 2019 - 11:15 PM
First of all, I'm really sorry it took so long to read and review this. But in my defense, since my job keeps me on my feet all day, I'm usually struggling not to pass out when I come home, and I usually end up falling asleep with my light still on, so my reviews will probably be coming in late anyway :/

Anyway, here we go:

QUOTE

Hmmm. Jo really believed they were on the road to something permanent, and for the first time he could remember that excited him instead of tempted him to turn and run the other way.
If this one has the same number of chapters as the last one, we're about halfway through now... What are you waiting for Mac? laugh.gif

QUOTE
The only sign that something was wrong was little Suzy, with her brown bobbed hair so like Joanna’s, sitting in the corner Frog had commandeered for himself, hugging the long-suffering dog tight.
Frog's such a good boy love.jpg

QUOTE


“That’s the way the system works, Mr. MacGyver,” the social worker retorted.

“Well the ‘system’ stinks!”
Lol, that's not the word I would use...

QUOTE

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of them,” she answered in response to his unspoken question, and it was all he could do not to take her into his arms and show her how much her thoughtful actions and support meant to him, but he thought it best to refrain given the steely gaze leveled on them by the stern social worker.

Social Worker: *grumpy witch*
MacGyver: *grabs Joanna and smothers her*
Social Worker:... You're not suitable...

QUOTE

“Look what I made Daddy Mac!” the little girl called from across the room.
I love Suzy so much love.jpg

QUOTE

“That’s great, sweetheart! But you need to wipe that blob off before it gets on your hands.”

Suzy immediately frowned and Joanna shot him a you-should-know-better scowl.

“That’s not a blob,” the girl protested. “That’s Frog!”

“Of course it is!” Mac replied quickly, trying to pry his foot out of his mouth. “I was just teasing you!”
<--- Why I don't spend time with kids XD

QUOTE
Mac tucked his finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. “I just said something wrong. What is it?”

“Nothing,” she said, jerking her head away. “I just thought we were in this together. You know you don’t have to do your ‘hero’ stuff alone anymore.”

“Sorry, force of habit. Can you forgive me?” he asked, eyebrow quirked.

She nodded.

“How about we stop by your place on the way so you can pick up some things?”

She looked up at him sheepishly. “While you were gone I called my mom and she packed a bag for me and dropped it off. I’m good to go.”
I feel like she spends more time at his place than she does her own XD

QUOTE
“Where are the bedrooms?” Suzy asked, ignoring her brother’s concern.

“There’s only one bedroom. Upstairs,” Mac informed her.

“Where are we all gonna sleep?” she asked with a huff.

Jo sent MacGyver a bemused look and watched him squirm as he tried to figure out the answer.

“Well...I figure you and Ms. Joanna can sleep in the bed upstairs and Davey and I will bunk down here.”

“Why do they get the bed,” the young boy complained.

“Because they’re ladies and we, as gentleman, need to make sure they are comfortable.”

“Suzy ain’t no lady, she’s my sister!” Davey exclaimed.

Mac looked like a drowning man on dry land and it was all Jo could do to keep from laughing out loud. However, not wanting the battle of the sexes to escalate, she quickly altered the solution.

“How about Suzy and I take the bed and you and Mac can pitch a tent in the backyard and pretend you’re on a camp out?”

“But I wanna go camping, too!” the little girl cried.

Joanna groaned and covered her face with her hands. She could only imagine the goofy pay-back grin on MacGyver’s face and refused to meet his gaze.
Ah, the joys of children... yucky.gif

QUOTE


Joanna slowly opened her eyes. How long had she been asleep? Minutes? Hours? It was impossible to tell, but the one thing she knew for certain was that she was not alone. Rolling over and raising herself up on one elbow she squinted into the darkness to find MacGyver standing at the foot of the bed.
All right, creeper, enough already XD XD XD

QUOTE

“Suzy bailed on us after thirty minutes insisting she had seen a bear. About an hour later, Davey went into the house for a drink of water and never came back, apparently succumbing to the comfort of the couch. They just don’t make kids like they used to.”
Another accurate representation of children XD

QUOTE

“I want my mommy!” Suzy wailed loudly.

“Don’t be such a crybaby!” Davey shouted back.

“I’m not a crybaby!” Suzy protested in return.

Mac bolted out of bed and down the stairs before Joanna regained enough consciousness to sit up.

“Knock it off, you two,” she heard him say in a calm but firm voice.
And again... XD

QUOTE
Davey quickly found the dinosaur book he had been reading the day before and buried himself in its pages while Suzy made a beeline for the corner where Frog, up until now, slept peacefully.
So Frog slept at Challengers all night hmm.bmp XD

QUOTE
“I know it’s frustrating, but we don’t have a choice,” he said before burying his face in the curve of her neck, taking in her sweetness. A soft knock on the door interrupted him.

“Go away,” he groaned, not willing to move an inch.

The knock came again and Joanna eased out of his grasp with an apologetic smile. “You probably should answer that since we are at work.”
laugh.gif

QUOTE
With a heavy sigh Mac opened the door and looked down to find Suzy and Davey looking up at him.

“We’re bored,” they informed him in unison.
The best part is that's exactly what happens when couples have children. No more time to themselves tongue.gif

QUOTE
Everyone in the household piled onto Mac’s bed, including Frog
Aww tongue.gif I kinda want to see a drawing of this. Everyone in a pile, with Frog on top XD

It's sad to see the kids getting so upset sad.gif

Glad it got worked out pretty quickly though smile.gif

QUOTE


“No argument here,” Mac agreed. “But there is one member of this household who’s not gonna miss ‘em.”

MacGyver slanted his eyes to where Frog laid stretched out under the coffee table, snoring loudly.
Oh Frog XD

Posted by: Dragondog 20 October 2019 - 09:07 PM
I randomly woke up at 7 AM, went, "The title of this chapter was Innocence, which I assumed meant that the kids' mother was innocent, but it also has to do with the children, who are unaware of what's going on, and are adorable innocent cinnamon rolls." Then I fell back to sleep laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 October 2019 - 04:57 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 20 October 2019 - 09:07 PM)
I randomly woke up at 7 AM, went, "The title of this chapter was Innocence, which I assumed meant that the kids' mother was innocent, but it also has to do with the children, who are unaware of what's going on, and are adorable innocent cinnamon rolls." Then I fell back to sleep laugh.gif

LOL...Glad you made the connection...that's what I intended when I came up with the title!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 23 October 2019 - 05:00 AM
**Dragondog, I think you will find this chapter quite interesting;) Enjoy!!!


Chapter 20: Deja Vu


“Hello? Hello?!”

MacGyver slammed the telephone receiver back down into the cradle.

“Whoa! What did that phone ever do to you?” Joanna quipped from his office doorway.

He sent a steely gaze her way.

“I’ve been getting prank calls all day,” he growled. “As soon as I answer they hang up.”

Jo shrugged. “It’s the start of summer vacation and kids are bored. Didn’t you ever do stuff like that when you were young?”

Mac’s eyes softened. “Yeah, I suppose I did some dumb things in my time. I guess I’m just cranky today.”

“That time of the month, huh?” Joanna asked, glancing at the pile of invoices on his desk.

“Yeah. I really wasn’t thinking when I told Cynthia to take the day off.” He jammed his splayed fingers through his hair in frustration.

“Why don’t you sign some blank checks and take off. I can handle the bills.”

MacGyver looked at her skeptically.

“Don’t you trust me?” she asked. A mix of hurt and indignation in her voice.

“Of course I trust you. I just don’t want to overwork you right off the bat.”

Jo’s light laugh warmed him as she came to stand behind his chair and massage his shoulders.

“Wow, you really are tense,” she observed, kneading his taut muscles.

MacGyver could feel the warmth of her hands through the thin fabric of his shirt and willed himself to relax as her thumbs began to caress the back of his neck. Man, he loved this woman!

“I’ll go home on one condition,” he told her.

“And what’s that?”

He reached up and grabbed her forearms, gently yanking her upper body over the back of his chair.

“That you come with me,” he grinned mischievously.

Jo pulled free of his light grasp and walked around to the front of his desk.

“That would defeat the entire purpose and you’d just come back to this stuff tomorrow. Go home or go skating or...something! Just get out of here and relax!”

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied with a mock salute, giving her a peck on the tip of her nose as he passed her on his way out the door.

XXXXX

After two hours of working up a sweat on the ice followed by a long, hot shower, MacGyver still felt a niggle of soul-deep anxiety. His sixth sense, which he had so often relied on in the past, was clearly trying to tell him something, something he was unable to comprehend. Dressed in grey sweatpants and a black tank top, he now rifled through his refrigerator looking for something to eat. Not particularly hungry, he grabbed an apple from the crisper, took a bite, and pushed the door closed with his hip. No sooner had he swallowed than the telephone rang. He tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress a groan. Tempted to let the answering machine take it, he took another bite of fruit before deciding to answer the call after all. It could be something or someone important...like Joanna.

“Hello?” he mumbled around a mouthful of sweet, juicy apple.

He was greeted with an eerie silence before an all-too-familiar maniacal laugh came over the line, causing him to swallow hard. The voice was raspy and somewhat mechanical, but he would recognize that evil tone anywhere.

“No! No way! You’re dead!” he yelled, before clicking off the call and sending the cordless handset flying across the room.

He dropped his apple on the counter and crumpled into the nearest chair, the heels of his hands pressed against his eyes.

“It’s not him. It’s not him,” Mac muttered over and over, trying to convince himself he hadn’t heard who he thought he heard.

MacGyver had no idea how long he sat there, repeating his mantra, but when he next looked up darkness had settled over the apartment. Both ashamed and angry for letting a dead man control his emotions so easily, he made his way to the couch where he sprawled out and eventually fell into a fitful slumber.

Much to his dismay, Mac awoke several times during the night, his spine tingling with the sensation that someone was watching him. Each time, he took a turn around his apartment to ensure all windows and doors were locked and no one was lurking in the shadows. Even Frog slept undisturbed. He was completely alone.

The following morning, a bleary-eyed MacGyver entered his office to find Joanna leaning lazily against his desk before slowly walking towards him, reaching up to wrap her arms around his neck, and gracing him with a soft yet sensual kiss.

“Wow! What did I do to deserve that?!” he asked, surprised and a bit stimulated by her assertiveness.

“As if you didn’t know,” she chided with a knowing smile.

“With a welcome like that I’d do it a lot more, but honestly, what are you talking about?”

Jo frowned and took a step back. “The flowers you sent to my house yesterday.”

“What flowers?”

“The long-stemmed red roses you had delivered,” she replied.

“As much as I’d like to take the credit, I didn’t send you roses, or anything else for that matter. Wasn’t there a card?”

“Yeah,” she replied, her mood seriously soured. “All it said was ‘Much love, M’.”

“‘M’? Not my name?”

“No,” Jo responded, now seeming to slip into confusion. “But who else could it be?”

“It’s not him,” Mac whispered to himself. “It’s. Not. Him.”

“Not who?” Joanna’s voice was far away.

Mac shook his head to resettle his thoughts and bring himself back to the present.

“A ghost from my past. Remember me telling you about Murdoc?”

“That crazy assassin that kept trying to kill you? Yeah, I remember. But he’s been dead for over a year, Mac. You watched him die. You went to the morgue to make sure he was dead. It can’t be him,” she reasoned.

“You don’t know Murdoc,” he muttered.

“C’mon Mac, think about this logically,” Joanna urged. “Maybe one of your friends is just playing a joke on you. Maybe it’s just Jack and his weird sense of humor.”

MacGyver shook his head adamantly. “No. None of my friends would ever joke about Murdoc,” he told her firmly.

“What about your enemies? I’m sure you have some.”

“Yeah...but the phone calls, the flowers...this has ‘Murdoc’ written all over it,” Mac sighed as he lowered himself into the chair behind his desk.

He was interrupted by a soft tap on the door jamb where Cynthia stood holding a large brown envelope.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, but I thought you’d want to see this.” She raised the package she held a bit higher. “It was in with the morning mail, but there’s no postmark or return address, just your name on the front.”

“Thanks Cynthia,” Jo replied as she took the envelope and passed it to MacGyver as the other woman headed back to her office.

Dread and curiosity warred with each other as Mac stared at the parcel now in his hands. With Joanna watching, he tore it open and tipped it sideways, allowing several photographs to slide out. He studied the grainy images one by one before passing them to Jo, the blood draining from his face. There were pictures of him and her, both alone and together, pictures of their houses, of Challengers, of the club members playing outside.

“He’s been stalking us for weeks,” Joanna whispered incredulously.

“That does it,” MacGyver announced as he stood up and began putting the photos back into the envelope. “This is definitely Murdoc and I gotta get out of here.”

“Why?! Where are you going?!” Jo demanded.

“I’m not sure yet. I just have to get away from you and Challengers. It’s me he wants. I’m not gonna put anybody else in danger.”

“Then I’m coming with you,” she declared.

Mac rounded on her, his voice rising. “Haven’t you heard a word I said? This is Murdoc we’re dealing with. I need to do this alone!”

“Isn’t there anyone you can call? Tell them what’s happening? Maybe they can help.”

“Everyone is convinced he’s dead. They’ll think I’m the lunatic!”

“What about Pete?” she asked quietly.

MacGyver took a deep breath before blowing it out. “It would be a stretch, even for him. I’ll be in touch.” He kissed her tenderly on the forehead before turning to leave.

XXXXX

Mac pulled his empty duffle bag out from underneath the bed, set it on the mattress, and began haphazardly filling it with clothes and other necessities. He had decided to head up to Harry’s cabin. That was probably where Murdoc anticipated he would go. He still hadn’t formed a plan about what to do when he finally came face-to-face with his archenemy. He’d deal with that when the time came. Right now he had to draw the danger away from everything he held dear. His phone rang and he gave it a venomous glare. This time he would let the machine get it. He heard the beep and then a familiar voice came over the speaker.

“MacGyver, it’s Pete. If you’re there, pick up.”

Mac scrubbed his face with his hand. He really didn’t want to talk to anybody, but if things went south with Murdoc, this could be the last conversation he would have with his friend.

“Hey, Pete.”

“Joanna called and told me what’s happening. Are you out of your mind?!”

“Maybe.”

“You and I both know Murdoc is dead, so before you go running off, take a minute to think things through. Who else might be behind this?”

“I don’t know Pete. I just don’t know,” Mac replied despondently before ending the call.

Calmer now, MacGyver forced his mind to go into field ops mode. His history with Murdoc had made their rivalry personal and allowed emotion to get in the way of logic. He wasn’t going to let that happen again. Sitting at his kitchen table, he took a closer look at the pictures that had been delivered to Challengers, studying them objectively. Something wasn’t right. The quality was off. Not quite blurry, but not crystal clear either. Photography was part of the assassin's M.O., but it was also one of his passions. Like everything else he did, the images he produced were neat and clean. And then there was the content. Specifically, the photo of the kids at Challengers. Though most always categorized as a cold-blooded killer, Murdoc drew the line at harming children. While concentrating on the pictures, the phone call from the night before began to replay itself in MacGyver’s head. It, too, had been ‘off’. The raspiness of the voice and that mechanical sound, almost like a...tape recorder!

Mac grabbed the telephone and quickly dialed Pete’s number.

“It’s not Murdoc,” he announced as soon as his call was answered.

“See? I told you!” Pete proclaimed.

“But if it’s not Murdoc, it’s someone who wants me to think it is.”

Mac considered this for a moment.

“Pete, what’s the status of HIT?”

“Well, as you know, we were able to shut them down using the information against them that Murdoc gave to you several years ago, but they somehow resurfaced though not to their initial extent. Shortly after you left Phoenix they went dormant. The Foundation, DXS, and other government agencies all monitored them for activity but by the time I retired it seemed they had shut down for good.”

“Can you verify that and get back to me?”

“Sure,” Pete promised. “You gonna be sticking around for a while?”

“Yeah.” Mac hung up. All he could do for now was wait.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

From the second MacGyver turned his back on her Joanna began to worry. Where would he go? What would he do? He had let his emotions get the better of him and he wasn’t thinking straight. She wanted to help him, but how? If she went to him, she could possibly be putting herself in danger as well as be a distraction for him. If she stayed away, he was on his own. Out there alone with a murderer after him. Hopefully Pete had been able to speak with him and help him see reason. Nervous energy had her re-organizing Mac’s office when Raul came to her.

“Ms. Jo, there’s a man here to see you.”

“Thanks Raul. I’ll be out in a minute. Where’s Ms. Cynthia?”

“She’s upstairs cleaning the dorm rooms. Do you want me to get her?”

“No, let’s see what this guy wants first. If I can’t help him we’ll call for her.”

It didn’t take Joanna long to spot the stranger standing just inside the rec room chatting with some of the teens. She walked slowly, taking time to assess him. Of average height and build, his dirty blond hair was cut military-short showcasing his piercing blue eyes. He wore a loose-fitting suit and his smile was strained. Joanna stood tall and confident as she approached him.

“Good afternoon,” she said in greeting. “I work here at Challengers. Is there something I can help you with?”

He turned his empty smile on her causing a shiver to run down her back as she looked into eyes that were cold as ice.

“I was actually hoping to see MacGyver. He and I are old chums.”

Loud warning bells went off in her head. Was this Murdoc?

“I’m sorry. Mac’s not here right now. If you give me your name I can tell him you stopped by when he comes back.”

“You must be Joanna,” the man said, totally disregarding her suggestion.

“How do you know my name?” She hoped her voice didn’t betray the quivering in her stomach.

“Like I said, Mac and I are old friends. I tend to keep myself abreast of his...activities. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll just stay and wait for him.”

The man took a seat on a tattered couch and casually crossed his legs.

“I’m actually not sure when he’ll return. He may have even gone out of town for a few days” Jo said, groping for anything to say that would get this unsettling man to leave.

“You are so naive, my dear. He will come when you ask him to. After all, he’s partial to saving damsels in distress.” The man slowly opened his jacket to reveal a shoulder holster holding a handgun.

Joanna couldn’t believe her eyes. “It’s true. You are Murdoc! You’re alive!” She kept her voice low so the kids couldn’t hear.

“I think it’s time you made a phone call, eh?”

“And if I don’t?”

The man shot to his feet and slapped Joanna across the cheek hard enough to make her head spin.

“Oh, I think you will. Now go call MacGyver like a good little girl.”

Joanna nodded and obediently went to the telephone on the reception desk and dialed his number.

“The line’s busy.”

“Keep trying.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“What do you got for me, Pete?” Mac asked anxiously after answering the phone on the second ring.

“Not much, I’m afraid,” the older man sighed. “HIT is still officially underground, but there is some suspicion among certain government agencies that there’s been some activity in the recent months. Mainly in Europe.”

“What kind of activity?”

“My sources couldn’t divulge that information, but they did tell me that a rogue agent by the name of Clancy has gotten antsy and may have struck out on his own. Possibly to prove his worth to HIT.”

“Did this Clancy character have any connection with Murdoc?”

“Mac, you know I couldn’t ask that! Just my poking around has probably raised some eyebrows. I did, however, put a couple trusted people on alert, just in case Clancy is the one harassing you.”

“I understand, Pete. Thanks for your help.”

“Keep me posted,” Pete instructed as Mac clicked off the call.

MacGyver had barely set the phone back on the counter when it rang again.

“Hello?”

“Hi Mac, it’s me.” Joanna said in a tense voice.

“Are you okay?” he asked, but she just continued talking.

“An old friend of yours is here and waiting to see you.”

Mac’s heart plummeted to his toes. “Do whatever he tells you. I’m on my way!”

MacGyver ran to his Jeep and headed to Challengers. The trip had never seemed so long even though he was pretty sure he was breaking every land speed record known to man. He screeched to a halt in front of the large building before taking a moment to collect his thoughts. He had no idea what he was stepping into. He needed to be calm, careful, and focused. There were too many people in harm’s way. He cautiously entered the recreation room to find everyone huddled together in the exercise area facing a man who had a gun trained on them. Cynthia’s dark eyes were wide with fear, while Joanna’s were mere slits staring down her captor. A reddish mark, much like the imprint of a hand, marred her cheek and made his blood boil. But he had to remain objective and diffuse this situation without anyone getting hurt.

“Rule number one at assassin school is to never leave your back exposed. Were you absent that day, Clancy?”

“Sarcasm doesn’t become you, MacGyver. Besides, rule number two is to know your enemy. I know you don’t carry a weapon, and any attack on me would cause my gun to fire into this mass of humanity you seem so keen on protecting.”

“What are you doin’ here?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Clancy asked, still not turning toward his foe. “I’ve come to kill you.”

“Then kill me and get it over with, but let everyone else go. They mean nothing to you.”

“Mmmm, no. I think not. You see, your friend Murdoc had somewhat of a moral code, albeit a bit twisted, that caused him to leave loose ends, especially where you were concerned. I, on the other hand, have no such qualms regarding children and innocent bystanders. I do whatever it takes to get the job done. And this time I will succeed where Murdoc consistently failed and become HIT’s new golden boy.”

“But HIT’s been disbanded. There’s nothing in this for you,” Mac argued.

“Oh, MacGyver,” Clancy chuckled. “You and your intelligence agents are such simpletons. HIT has been active for years. Carrying out assignments right under your noses. But that’s neither here nor there. It’s time for you and me to take care of some business of our own.”

“This is flat out murder, Clancy. How do you plan to get away with it?”

The hitman sighed. “If you must know, while your friends are mourning your untimely death, at my hands, no less, the stove in your so-called kitchen will suddenly have an unexplained gas leak causing an explosion. It could be days before all the bodies are recovered from the rubble. But, alas, your friends will have succumbed to the fumes before the blast can kill them. Unfortunately, it will be quite painless for them.”

Tired of talking to the back of the madman’s head, MacGyver’s first instinct was to shout out and make him turn around and face him like a man. Mac was, as always, more than willing to give up his life for his friends, but this time, his death would seal their fates as well. He needed a plan, and he needed one quick. His eyes began to methodically search the room until his gaze fell upon a pair of hand weights someone had forgotten to pick up and put away, a bright pink vinyl covering concealing the five pounds of solid cast iron underneath. Too bad they lay just on the edge of Clancy’s peripheral vision. He’d need a diversion to get the man’s eyes to move away just a bit. Knowing he needed help and trusting in the unspoken connection he and Joanna often shared, he stared at her until he knew she felt his gaze. He breathed an inward sigh when he felt her eyes collide with his. Once he had her attention, he let his eyes slide from hers, to the weights, and back. After two glances she lowered her chin imperceptibly to indicate she understood.

“You’re awful quiet back there, MacGyver. What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?” Clancy taunted snidely.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna knew Mac was counting on her to keep Clancy occupied while he reached for the would-be weapons. But what could she do? As a teacher, she had learned to quickly evaluate her students’ strengths and weaknesses. She thought she had a pretty good idea of Clancy’s as well.

“You’re a real piece of work, you know that Clancy?” she said, her voice steadier than she could have ever anticipated.

“What do you mean?” he snapped, his gaze sending icy shards through her.

Ah, yes. A person’s ego was always their downfall. He had to know what she thought of him.

“You think you’re better than Murdoc. That you can do what he couldn’t. But the funny thing is, you wouldn’t be here today without him.”

“How so?” There was no denying the anger in the man’s voice. She had hit a nerve. Caught him off guard. She took the smallest of steps to her right, but he didn’t notice. Gotcha!

“Well, you see,” she began to explain, all the while taking miniscule steps that, if his gaze followed, would keep Mac out of his field of vision. “It took you using Murdoc’s tricks to reel MacGyver in. The phone calls, the flowers, the paranoia and fear. You knew Mac would rise to Murdoc’s bait, but not to yours. Not to plain old Clancy who he didn’t even know existed until today. And then you go and turn your back on the most dangerous man in this room.”

Her heart was in her throat as she watched Mac, over Clancy’s shoulder, move just enough to reach out and quickly grab the bright pink dumbbells.

“Shut up!” cried the assassin. “You know I could shoot you right now!”

“You’re gonna kill us all anyway so what difference does it make,” she shot back, belatedly realizing that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say. Thankfully she seemed to have already lost his interest.

“Enough games! MacGyver, come stand in front of me and face me like a man while I kill you!”

“Yeah, no, that’s not gonna happen.”

“Why not?” Jo detected an uneasy edge in Clancy’s voice. “Afraid I’ll miss and hit one of the little hostages instead? Well, let me assure you, Mr. MacGyver, I don’t miss!”

Joanna knew Mac wouldn’t make a move until everyone else was out of harm’s way. She had to get Clancy to turn around. She hoped that the adrenaline already flowing through his system coupled with every human’s basic fight-or-flight instinct would do the trick.

She took a deep breath and then, without warning, screamed “Look out!” as she raised her arm to point to a spot behind him.

Clancy automatically pivoted, holding his gun out in front of him. MacGyver took the opportunity to bring one of the weights down hard across the man’s wrist, sending the weapon clattering harmlessly to the floor. He jammed the other weight into Clancy’s gut, causing the hit man to fall backwards, gasping for breath. One final shot to the jaw and the man was unconscious.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Hours later, MacGyver sat on the front stoop of Challengers. Dusk had fallen and the club members had headed home. Moments after Clancy had been subdued, officials from various agencies had descended on the club like a swarm of killer bees. Pete had already called to inform Mac that the assassin was in custody and providing authorities with enough information to permanently neutralize HIT. He was lost in his own thoughts when he felt Joanna’s hand lightly squeeze his shoulder.

“How’re you doin’?” she asked.

“I should be asking you that,” he replied, reaching up to take her hand and gently eased her down beside him. “You did a really good job in there, but you did have me worried when you started comparing him to Murdoc. That could have gone south really quick.”

Jo shrugged. “I took a calculated risk. I figured if I was going down, I’d go down swinging. I’m pretty sure I learned that from you.”

MacGyver remained silent as he fiddled with the audio cassette tape he had found on Clancy that had captured Murdoc’s evil laugh one last time.

“I guess I finally believe that he’s dead,” he murmured.

A tall man in a dark suit approached. “Excuse me, sir, but I need that for evidence.”

Mac wordlessly relinquished the tape. The weight he had carried for almost two decades lifted from his shoulders only to be replaced by a strange sort of sadness.

“Tell me about him,” Jo requested softly.

“Huh?”

“Murdoc,” she clarified. “Tell me about him.”

Mac scrubbed his face with his hands. He had worked so hard to shield Joanna from the exact person she was now asking about. What could he say?

“Murdoc worked for HIT as a contract assassin who spent approximately fifteen years trying to kill me.”

Jo shook her head. “That’s what he did, I want to know who he was. There must have been something special about him to have affected you so deeply. Besides trying to kill you, that is,” she concluded with a smirk.

MacGyver sighed thoughtfully before speaking again.

“He was highly intelligent, very creative, and had a really twisted sense of humor.”

“Kinda sounds like you,” Joanna observed.

“Maybe, if he had made a few different life choices, we could’ve worked for the same side.”

“So then you don’t believe he was inherently evil?”

“I did. For awhile. But then he came to me. Told me he had a sister who was in trouble and asked for my help.”

“And you gave it,” Jo surmised.

Mac nodded. “We worked together to rescue her, only she had no idea who Murdoc really was. That was his doing. His way of protecting her from his enemies. She never knew he was her brother. While we were trying to get to her, I could feel the pain inside him. It was then that I knew he was capable of unconditional love even if he didn’t realize it himself.”

“So he wasn’t pure evil,” she concluded.

“No,” Mac replied. “But I think he always saw himself that way and acted accordingly. I bet he never even had a funeral. Every man deserves at least that.” Mac’s voice was husky now and he allowed Jo’s warm hands caressing his back to comfort him.

“Sounds like you two may not have been that different after all.”

MacGyver let himself chuckle at this. “If you would have said that ten years ago I would have unequivocally denied it. But now...I guess you could say we’re more like opposite sides of the same coin.”

“And you miss him.”

“I wouldn’t go that far!” Mac exclaimed. “But no man should die believing he’s evil and unlovable. Not even Murdoc.”

Jo laid her head on his shoulder, still rubbing his back, and he reveled in her love and understanding.

“He must have been a very lonely man,” she mused.

A lump formed in MacGyver’s throat. “I suppose he was.”

Posted by: Dragondog 24 October 2019 - 06:48 PM
QUOTE
**Dragondog, I think you will find this chapter quite interesting;) Enjoy!!!
Yay biggrin.gif

QUOTE

Mac’s eyes softened. “Yeah, I suppose I did some dumb things in my time. I guess I’m just cranky today.”

“That time of the month, huh?” Joanna asked, glancing at the pile of invoices on his desk.
I COMPLETELY misunderstood what Joanna meant X'D X'D X'D

QUOTE


He was greeted with an eerie silence before an all-too-familiar maniacal laugh came over the line, causing him to swallow hard. The voice was raspy and somewhat mechanical, but he would recognize that evil tone anywhere.
Can't wait to hear this explanation... XD

QUOTE
Both ashamed and angry for letting a dead man control his emotions so easily,
With the amount of trauma he caused you, you're within your rights Mac.

QUOTE

Jo frowned and took a step back. “The flowers you sent to my house yesterday.”
DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN

QUOTE
“That does it,” MacGyver announced as he stood up and began putting the photos back into the envelope. “This is definitely Murdoc and I gotta get out of here.”

“Why?! Where are you going?!” Jo demanded.

“I’m not sure yet. I just have to get away from you and Challengers. It’s me he wants. I’m not gonna put anybody else in danger.”

“Then I’m coming with you,” she declared.

Mac rounded on her, his voice rising. “Haven’t you heard a word I said? This is Murdoc we’re dealing with. I need to do this alone!”
I really, really want him to realize: Murdoc knows about Joanna. She's in danger regardless...

QUOTE
Though most always categorized as a cold-blooded killer, Murdoc drew the line at harming children.
Was this ever stated in canon?

QUOTE
The raspiness of the voice and that mechanical sound, almost like a...tape recorder
Yeah, I kinda figured XD

QUOTE

It didn’t take Joanna long to spot the stranger standing just inside the rec room chatting with some of the teens.
He's gonna try to kill you, Jo...

QUOTE
“Shut up!” cried the assassin. “You know I could shoot you right now!”

“You’re gonna kill us all anyway so what difference does it make,” she shot back, belatedly realizing that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say.
Oh my gosh, this us exactly what I would say laugh.gif

That conversation in the end is heartbreaking and amazing and ARRRRRRGHHHH love.jpg XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 25 October 2019 - 05:03 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 24 October 2019 - 06:48 PM)
That conversation in the end is heartbreaking and amazing and ARRRRRRGHHHH love.jpg XD

I thought you'd appreciate the ending conversation!! As for Murdoc not killing children...not sure if it's doctrine but it seems I read or heard about it somewhere. Regardless, he only killed adults.

Posted by: Dragondog 25 October 2019 - 09:00 PM
I know the VS said he won't kill children... Considering he didn't kill Amy or her mother in Strictly Business, but only tried to trick them (until Amy's mom found out the truth), I'd say it's pretty solid wink.gif )

Posted by: uniquelyjas 26 October 2019 - 10:10 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 25 October 2019 - 09:00 PM)
I know the VS said he won't kill children

Aha! That must be where I got that idea. Honestly, my mind has so many weird Mac/Murdoc facts it's scary!! LOL!!

Posted by: Dragondog 27 October 2019 - 09:27 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 26 October 2019 - 01:10 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 25 October 2019 - 09:00 PM)
I know the VS said he won't kill children

Aha! That must be where I got that idea. Honestly, my mind has so many weird Mac/Murdoc facts it's scary!! LOL!!

Some of the best facts to have! tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 October 2019 - 05:02 AM
Chapter 21: Saving the Dude Ranch

Joanna carefully balanced two glasses of ice cold lemonade in her hands as she used her elbow to slide MacGyver’s patio door closed behind her. She set the drinks on a small, wrought iron table which also held the cordless phone and watched as Mac tossed an old tennis ball across the backyard and Frog gave chase. She smiled at his odd, bow-legged lope as he retrieved the ball and returned to drop the slobber-covered toy at Mac’s feet. His master rewarded his effort with a hearty ear rub.

“Why don’t you two take a break?” she called as she sat down in a lawn chair next to the table.

MacGyver turned and graced her with a smile which she automatically returned. He retrieved a fresh bowl of water for Frog before joining her at the table and taking a sip of his own drink. It was a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon which they both surprisingly had free from Challengers thanks to the large number of community volunteers. It felt good to be together, just the two of them, away from work and responsibilities on this lazy summer day.

“You know, pretty soon it’s gonna be a year since the law firm forced us into becoming emergency foster parents and our licenses are gonna expire. Do you plan on re-upping?” Mac asked.

Wow, that question had come out of left field!

“I actually haven’t thought about it. What are you planning on doing?”

“After the situation with the Talbot kids I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea.”

“You have a good point,” Joanna conceded, taking a long drink of her lemonade before staring off into the distance, knowing that now was as good a time as any to bring up what had been weighing on her mind lately.

“Do you want kids of your own, MacGyver?” she asked softly.

“I’ve already got one,” he chided playfully.

“Sam’s an adult. I was thinking of the younger variety.”

“I don’t know,” he replied as Jo saw him shrug out of the corner of her eye. “Years ago the idea was always in the back of my head, but when Sam showed up I guess I stopped thinking about it.”

“Well, you better start thinking about it,” Jo replied a bit more harshly than she intended. “If you want a bunch of baby MacGyvers you’re gonna need to stop hanging out with me and find someone to help you with that.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Mac asked, his voice full of disbelief.

Joanna stared straight ahead and shrugged even as a shiver slid down her spine. She felt awkward talking about this, but she didn’t want him to have any regrets if he decided to stay with her.

“Jo, what are you trying to tell me?!” There was a hint of panic in his voice. Was she using this as a way to back out of their relationship?

“Let’s face it, Mac. I’m not getting any younger. You can still have children. Me, not so much.” This time she turned and looked him in the eye.

“And I’m perfectly okay with that,” he replied, his voice both gentle and firm. “I always figured if we wanted kids we’d adopt. Rather than bring a new one into this world I think I’d rather help out the ones already here.”

“Mac, did you hear what you just said?” she asked, her eyes wide with surprise. But before either of them could say anything the telephone rang.

MacGyver grabbed the handset and clicked onto the call.

“Hello? Hey, how’s it going?” He got up from his chair, offered Joanna an apologetic smile, and slipped into the apartment for some privacy leaving her to mull over what she had just heard. He had used the words ‘we’ and ‘kids’ in the same sentence as naturally as breathing!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Sorry to interrupt your Sunday, but me and Neil didn’t know who else to call.”

“What’s goin’ on, Chuck?” Mac asked, his voice serious. It had been a while since he had seen his two best friends from Mission City and was now concerned about what had prompted the call.

“Remember Mark Bennett from high school?”

“Yeah,” Mac replied thoughtfully. “Didn’t his folks own a farm just outside of town.”

“Yep. They sold it to Mark and his wife, Linda, when they retired and moved to Arizona. Mark and Linda turned it into a dude ranch.”

MacGyver could hardly contain the laugh that tried to escape.

“A dude ranch?! In Minnesota?!”

“I know it might sound a little corny, but it was actually doing quite well up until recently.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Ya know that old abandoned hospital? Well, some big Japanese electronics company bought it and turned it into a state of the art factory that opened about a month ago.”

“What does this have to do with the ranch?”

“The factory offers great pay and benefits that Mark couldn’t match. He lost almost half his employees to it and he didn’t have that many to begin with.”

“That’s too bad, but why are you telling me this?”

“Mark’s got a big group coming in this week. We’ve been asking friends and neighbors to volunteer some of their time to help out. I remember you used to hang around your grandpa’s farm as a kid and you know your way around horses so I just thought…”

“That I’d drop everything and come help at the ranch.”

“Well, yeah! I guess.”

Mac pinched the bridge of his nose and tried not to sigh. “Things are different now, Chuck. I have responsibilities.”

“You mean you have to clear it with the little woman.”

MacGyver could practically see Chuck’s smirk over the phone line. “There is no ‘little woman’,” he replied firmly.

“Hey, sorry man! It’s just that Neil told me you showed up at the reunion with a real special lady. I just assumed…”

“Well, you assumed wrong! Listen, let me think about this and I’ll call you back later.”

Mac hung up the phone before his friend could say anything else. He returned to the patio where Joanna was tossing Frog’s ratty old ball.

“Who was that?” she asked absently.

“My friend, Chuck, from back home.”

“The one who owns the sporting goods store?”

“Yeah, that’s him,” Mac confirmed before relaying their conversation to Jo.

When he had finished explaining everything his friend had told him, Joanna finished the remainder of her lemonade in one long gulp and rose from the chair.

“Well, I better get out of your way so you can pack,” she announced.

MacGyver’s hand snaked out and grabbed her arm.

“Wait a minute! You’re okay with this?”

Jo looked at him, a bit stunned. “Of course I am. It’s what you do, right?”

“Right. I mean, I used to, but,” Mac shut his mouth to stop the stuttering.

“Don’t worry about it,” she laughed lightly. “Cynthia and I will make sure everything’s covered at Challengers. In fact, I’ll take Frog over there right now. You go do what you have to do.”

Mac wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close.

“You’re amazing, you know that?”

“Of course,” she shrugged playfully. “But it’s nice to hear once in a while.”

Not knowing when he’d get another chance, he slowly lowered his head to hers until their lips met in a tender caress.

“I’m gonna miss that,” he told her in a husky voice.

“Me too,” she replied softly before clipping Frog’s leash to his harness and leading him out the gate.

XXXXX

Mac tossed his last pair of clean jeans into his duffle and was ready to call it a night when he heard a knock on his front door. There, grinning like a Cheshire cat, stood Jack Dalton.

“Hola mi compadre!”

“Jack, what are you doin’ here?” MacGyver moaned, knowing that even though he didn’t mean to, Jack always managed to bring trouble his way.

“Can’t an old buddy drop in to see how another old buddy is doing?” he asked innocently.

“Not when one old buddy lives two thousand miles away!”

“Au contraire! I just flew a couple of fat cats into the Windy City for a convention and thought I’d cruise on up.”

Mac popped his head out the door to find a flashy red sports car parked in the driveway.

“She’s a beauty, ain’t she? High end rental,” Jack announced as if reading his mind.

“You can’t afford that!”

“Big tips! One of the perks of the job!” the pilot exclaimed as he eased his way into the apartment. Tossing his ever-present aviator cap on the kitchen counter he caught sight of MacGyver’s bag

“Going somewhere?” he asked, eyebrows raised.

“Yes, I am,” Mac replied succinctly. “And no, you cannot stay here while I’m gone.”

“In that case, I’ll come with you.”

“Don’t you have clients you need to take back to L.A.?” MacGyver asked, not even trying to hide the frustration in his voice.

“Huh?...oh, them...they’re catching a flight out of O’Hare for Tokyo day after tomorrow and my schedule just happens to be clear. So, where’re we goin’?”

Realizing he was stuck with Jack like green on grass, Mac flopped down on his couch and began to explain.

“Do you remember Mark Bennett from high school?”

“Mark Bennett...Mark Bennett,” Jack rolled the name around on his tongue. “Was he ever in the market for a fake ID?”

“I don’t know,” MacGyver groaned. “Do you want to hear this or not?”

“Sorry, I’m all ears.”

“Mark and his wife, Linda, run a dude ranch outside of Mission City. They’re a little short-handed this week so I’m going up to help out.”

“Sounds like a blast! When do we leave?!”

Mac sighed. “Jack, what do you know about ranches?”

“What’s there to know?! Campfires, s’mores, singing Kumbaya with cute cowgirls.” Jack waggled his eyebrows.

“I meant horses, Jack. Horses.”

“No problemo! I learned everything I need to know about equines from my uncle Charlie!”

“Uncle Charlie?!” MacGyver shook his head in disbelief. “You’re thinking of horse racing! Your uncle was a con who used to rob your piggy bank!”

“So?”

Mac squeezed his eyes shut already regretting what he was about to say.

“Fine, Jack. You can come. It’s a long drive so we leave at first light.”

XXXXX

It was early afternoon the following day when MacGyver drove his Jeep up a long, gravel driveway and parked next to a sprawling ranch house. Three women stood on the porch exchanging hugs before the younger two skipped down the stairs to a battered pick-up truck. The remaining woman was tall with curly red hair and looked to be about six months pregnant, though Mac was no expert in that area. He hopped out of the Jeep and headed to the porch with Jack on his heels.

“Excuse me! Could you tell me where I could find Mark Bennett?” he asked, keeping his tone light and friendly.

“He’s out grooming one of the trails,” the woman replied. “But I’m his wife, Linda. Is there something I can help you with?”

“Name’s MacGyver. This is my friend, Jack Dalton.”

“Of course! Chuck said you’d be arriving today, but I thought you were coming alone?”

“Slight change of plans,” Mac explained with a forced smile as Jack climbed the steps, doffed his aviator cap, and brought Linda’s hand to his lips.

“A pleasure to meet you, ma cherie.”

It was all MacGyver could do to not roll his eyes, but Linda seemed to find the gesture amusing as she giggled before inviting them in.

“I’ll give you a tour of the house and by then Mark should be back to show you around the grounds. As you can probably tell, we’ve done quite a bit of remodeling,” she called over her shoulder to the men who followed her slightly waddling gait. “We downsized the living room to serve as the lobby and expanded the dining room to accommodate the maximum number of guests.”

“Do all your guests eat here?” Mac asked as she guided them into a large country kitchen.

“It depends,” Linda answered airily. “Each cabin has a small kitchenette since eating out isn’t exactly a prime option in this neck of the woods. We’re prepared to provide three meals a day for everyone.”

“So, exactly how many is ‘everyone’?” Mac inquired.

“We have five cabins that can house up to five people, so when we’re booked, that’s twenty-five guests.”

“And you’re booked for this week?”

“Yep! The first family arrives Wednesday. We should have a full house by Thursday evening.”

Jack let out a whistle through his teeth.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself!” Linda quipped with a smile as she continued the tour. “Back here are the bedrooms for Mark and me and the household staff. You two’ll be in the bunkhouse with the rest of the guides and ranch hands. There’s a kitchen in there as well and the foreman likes to think he’s a chef so you won’t have to worry about going hungry.”

“So how many employees do you have?” MacGyver asked.

“Depends on how busy we are. Thanks to you and Jack and other volunteers, the ranch care and activities are all covered. I have three housekeepers coming in, but unfortunately, you just saw half of my kitchen staff leave when you pulled up. They got full time jobs at the new factory,” Linda frowned.

“Then there are only two people to cook for everyone,” Jack concluded after doing some quick mental math.

“Yep. Just me and Ellie.”

“Don’t you have anyone else to help out?” Mac asked.

“Nope. Not on short notice like this. But we’ll get by. We always do!”

They had returned to the lobby in time to see Mark striding toward the house. MacGyver greeted him enthusiastically and then introduced him to Jack.

“I remember Jack,” Mark smiled. “By reputation, mostly. I never found myself in need of a fake ID!”

The three men shared a laugh before Mark led them to the bunkhouse. The wooden structure was well built with all the basic amenities. Bunk beds lined one wall while the rest of the area consisted of a small kitchen and dining area as well as a corner with a TV and a few comfy chairs.

“You two can bunk here,” Mark said.

“Thanks,” Mac replied, tossing his duffle on the lower mattress.

“Hey, why do I have to take the top bunk?” Jack complained. “I get airsick!” His left eye twitched.

“You’re a pilot, Jack. You don’t get airsick. Besides, I’m the one afraid of heights, remember?”

“All right,” Jack grumbled as he hoisted up his luggage. “But if I fall out of bed and break my neck it’s all your fault.”

XXXXX

The rest of the afternoon went by quickly as Mark first took his two new volunteers on a tour of the guest cabins randomly spaced amongst large pine trees. They were relatively new buildings made to look old and rustic but with all the comforts of home. He and Mac then saddled three horses and the trio checked out one of the shorter, easier trails available for guests to ride with a guide. MacGyver noticed Jack holding the reins a bit too tight and shifting uneasily in the saddle whenever his horse twitched.

“You doin’ okay, Jack?” he asked with a smirk.

“Yeah. Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?” Jack’s wide eyes were glued to the dirt path ahead and his knuckles were turning white as one hand now gripped the saddle horn and Jack tilted precariously to the side as his horse adjusted its gait to the terrain.

Mac reached out, grabbed Jack’s sleeve, and righted him on his mount.

“You’ve got to squeeze him with your knees,” MacGyver instructed. “Make sure he knows you’re up there and that you’re in charge.

“In charge. Right,” Jack repeated a bit breathlessly.

“Now loosen your grip on the reins. The horse knows where he’s going and you’re confusing him,” Mac coached.

Jack slackened his grip completely, but the well-trained horse continued to plod evenly down the trail. MacGyver shook his head, wishing yet again that he had listened to his gut and left Jack back in Milwaukee.

After they had returned to the ranch and tended to their horses, the three men and Linda sat down to a hearty meal she had prepared in their absence.

“Tomorrow I’ll show you guys the other trails we use,” Mark said in between bites of his wife’s delicious stew. “Today I took you on the one we use for kids and beginners. The ‘bunny slope’ so to speak. The others are much more interesting.”

“Interesting?!” Jack croaked as he almost choked on his sip of iced tea.

“And more challenging,” Mark added with a cheeky grin.

“Um, I was thinking,” Jack hedged. “Maybe it would be better if I stayed behind and learned how to do some of the other things around here. Ya know, maybe muck out the barn or something?”

“You? Muck horse stalls?” Mac looked at his friend with both suspicion and concern.

“Yeah! You got a problem with that?!” Jack responded a bit more defensively than necessary.

“No way. Suit yourself,” Mac answered evenly, slathering butter on a hot biscuit and smiling to himself. Go figure, Jack Dalton was afraid of riding horses!

The conversation continued to center around the ranch and it wasn’t long until the subject of the kitchen staff, or lack thereof, came up again.

“You shouldn’t be working so much,” Mark gently scolded his wife. “I’m sure if we look hard enough we’ll find somebody.”

“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” Linda replied. “Ellie and I spoke earlier and planned a very simple menu.”

“But still…”

“Hey! What about Joanna?” Jack eagerly suggested.

“Joanna?!” Three voices echoed back.

“Who’s Joanna?” Linda asked.

“She’s Mac’s...um...well, it’s kinda hard to explain,” Jack replied.

“She’s a friend of mine,” MacGyver replied succinctly.

“A very good friend, if you get my drift,” Jack added with a wink.

Mark and Linda exchanged hopeful glances. “Do you think she’d come?” Mark asked.

MacGyver’s first instinct was to shut down this idea immediately. Jo didn’t deserve to get caught up in his problems, or those of his friends.

“Jo’s covering for me at Challengers,” he replied, hoping that would end the discussion.

“C’mon Mac!” Jack exclaimed. “You and I both know Cynthia could run Challengers on her own with one arm tied behind her back. Can’t you just call Jo and see what she says?”

MacGyver knew he was fighting a losing battle with his friend. He also knew that Joanna would never forgive him if he refused to ask her for help she might be able to provide.

“Fine. I’ll give her a call,” he relented as Linda pointed to the telephone mounted on the wall next to the oversized refrigerator.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna guided her car up the long driveway and parked to the side of the large ranch house. Except for MacGyver’s Jeep, the place looked to be deserted even though it was mid-afternoon. As she stepped from her vehicle, she inhaled the combination of fresh cut grass, hay, manure, horse sweat and smiled. Her friends in the city would probably think she was crazy, but the earthy smells of the ranch soothed and grounded her. She had been so jealous that Mac had been invited up here, but she hadn’t let on, knowing she had her own duties at Challengers. However, after receiving MacGyver’s call last evening she could hardly wait to arrive. Ever since she had been a little girl she had dreamed of living on a farm, preferring livestock to people. Even though she was here to help in the kitchen, she was bound and determined to enjoy her surroundings.

She had just raised her face to the warmth of the sun when she heard the front door to the house open with a soft creak. A pretty redhead with an extended belly stood on the porch and waved to her.

“You must be Joanna!” she called. “Grab your things and come on in!”

Jo did as she was told and soon found herself back on the front porch sitting in a white wicker chair and sipping a glass of ice water.

“I didn’t expect it to be so quiet around here,” she observed as Linda reached for her own glass of lemonade.

“Consider it the calm before the storm. Forty-eight hours from now we won’t have time to breathe.”

“Speaking of which, shouldn’t I be learning my way around the kitchen?”

Her hostess literally waved off her question. “There’ll be plenty of time for that. Life moves slower out here. None of that big city rush. Besides, it’s much more fun to make a new friend.”

Linda’s warm smile immediately endeared the woman to her.

“Where are the guys?” Jo asked, looking toward the stable area.

“Mark took Mac to check out a couple of the riding trails our guests will be using. They won’t be back for a few hours yet.”

“What about Jack?”

“Last I heard he was laying down clean straw in the horse stalls.”

Joanna’s eyes went wide with surprise. “I thought he’d be out riding with Mac?”

“They all went for a trail ride yesterday,” Linda said, her eyes gleaming with mirth. “Let’s just say I think it gave Jack a new perspective…a very high perspective!” The two women giggled at the thought of Jack’s fear of horseback riding before Jo sobered.

“I shouldn’t laugh,” she confessed. “My mom’s the same way so I know how he feels. I’m just glad he can still make himself useful.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that. We can never have too many extra hands! Now, why don’t you tell me how you and MacGyver met?”

“It’s kinda a long story,” Joanna hesitated, her head spinning at the quick turn of direction the conversation had taken.

“Like I said, we got nothin’ but time, for now anyway.”

Jo spent the next several minutes trying to condense the events from the time Mac had saved her from falling off a stool at the now-defunct Challengers Academy to now.

“So you two are quite the item, huh?” Linda asked with a smile before taking a sip of her cool drink.

“What makes you say that?”

“Weren’t you listening to yourself just now? Besides, when Jack brought up your name at supper last night, Mac got the same look on his face that Mark gets on his whenever he looks at me and Junior, here. I know two people in love when I see them.”

“Yeah, well, we’re taking things slow. Really slow,” Jo responded, a bit unsure why she felt the need to defend the pace of their relationship. The heat of a blush began to blossom and she decided to turn the tables. “So, you and Mark met in high school?”

“Oh, no,” Linda laughed. “Mark is several years older than me. Besides, I was born and raised in St. Paul. In college I had gotten an internship at a big marketing firm where Mark was already halfway up the corporate ladder. We hit it off and the rest is history!”

“Is this your first?” Jo nodded toward her new friend’s belly.

“Yep! We had finally settled into married life and were thinking of starting a family when the Bennett’s retired and we decided to move up here and take over the ranch. After eight years of putting all our energy into this place, I finally put my foot down and told Mark it was now or never if he wanted to have a little cowpoke. No way am I havin’ a kid after I turn forty, you know what I mean?!”

Joanna summoned a smile and nodded, recalling the similar conversation she had with Mac a couple days ago. Before the two women could say anything more, a familiar voice floated around the side of the house.

“So there we were, high above the Pacific Ocean, both engines on fire with no land in sight when--Oh! Hiya Jo!”

“Hi, Jack,” she greeted him, a pretty young housekeeper at his side. He whispered something in her ear, making her giggle before she turned and headed back to one of the cabins.

“What can I say?! The ladies love a pilot!” he boasted. “Aren’t Butch and Sundance back yet?”

Linda glanced at her watch. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed. “I guess we really did lose track of time! They should be back soon. Jo, let’s go start dinner so you can get familiar with the kitchen.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Mark and MacGyver guided their horses around the final bend in the trail that ended in the pasture just beside the barn. Mac’s stomach did an odd little flip of happiness when he saw Joanna’s car parked next to his. Once their mounts were groomed and fed, the two men headed into the main house to find Linda and Jo working companionably in the kitchen, preparing a light supper. Soon the two couples and Jack were sharing the meal and engaging in light-hearted conversation. MacGyver was pleased to see Joanna relaxed and laughing. Upon Mark’s recommendation, everyone went to bed early as their first guests of the week were due to arrive tomorrow.

Just before noon on Wednesday, a green mini-van pulled into the drive and a man, woman, and twin pre-teen girls emerged. The Donaldson family. They received a warm welcome from their hosts as ranch hands emerged from the bunkhouse to deliver their luggage to the cabin they would call home for the next several days. Insisting that they were planning on providing their own meals and entertainment, Linda gladly sent them on their way with a map of the grounds which included hiking trails and directions to “secret” fishing holes. The remainder of the day kept the staff busy preparing for the Schultz family scheduled to descend upon the ranch the following day. Ranging in age from seven to seventy and spanning three generations, the family had indicated on their reservation form that they would be taking advantage of all the food and entertainment services available. They were obviously the reason the Bennett’s needed as much help as they could get. It was nearly twilight before MacGyver had a chance to slip out of the stables with some snacks for the horses grazing in the paddock. As he rounded the corner of the building he saw Joanna standing by the split-rail fence, stroking the blaze of a pretty little chestnut mare. He watched as Jo lowered her hand, only to have the horse nip at her shoulder. Joanna’s girlish giggle carried on the soft summer air as she resumed caressing the mare’s muzzle. Mac smiled as he pulled out his Swiss Army knife and cut one of the apples he carried into wedges.

“Here,” he said, approaching Jo. “Try this.”

Jo put the wedge of fruit in the palm of her hand and offered it to the mare who gently took it between her velvet lips, chewed, swallowed, and nickered for more.

“What’s her name?” she asked MacGyver.

“Missy.”

“Well, Missy, you’re incorrigible, you know that?” Joanna teased the mare as her friends, spurred by the presence of a sweet treat, gathered along the fence.

“You’re really good with them,” Mac complimented her once the apples and carrots had all been eaten and the horses resumed munching on the grass.

“I wish I knew more about them,” she shrugged.

“You love them and respect them. That’s an awful good start.”

They stood in companionable silence watching the horses graze and frolic until pinpricks of starlight studded the now-black sky. After exchanging tender kisses and whispered farewells they returned to their respective quarters to prepare for the busy days ahead.

Morning came way too quickly for MacGyver and his counterparts who spent the day tending to the horses as well as the seemingly never-ending influx of Schultz’s. Every now and again he would catch a glimpse of Linda, Joanna, and Ellie setting out the cold buffet lunch or family style dinner they had prepared for the guests. Mark had sent Jack out with a bucket, work gloves and trowel to gather any stray stones from the riding trails that may have appeared since their last grooming leaving Mac to help out wherever he was most needed until he was summoned to his friend’s office late that evening. Mark was slumped in a chair behind his desk when MacGyver knocked softly on the already open door.

“Mac, thanks for coming. Please have a seat.” Mark motioned to a well-worn leather couch on the opposite wall as he came around to lean against his desk.

“I take it this isn’t a social call?” MacGyver ventured.

“Unfortunately not,” Mark replied. “Consider it more of a pre-emptive strike.”

Mac’s tired eyebrows shot up. “That sounds interesting.”

“I’ll cut right to the chase,” Mark began. “Grandpa Schultz signed up the entire family for a trail ride tomorrow.”

Mac quickly did the calculations in his head. “That’s twenty people!”

“Including children,” Mark sighed. “Our limit on any ride is ten. Generally less if there are kids.”

“Aw man…”

“But, he did sign a waiver stating he understood our policies and the risks that going against them may incur. He also signed waivers to use the black diamond trail and not require helmets.”

Mac winced at the ski term reserved for the most challenging slopes. “Are they nuts?”

“Maybe. More importantly, they’re rich and used to having their own way,” Mark stated. “Unfortunately, he has his mind made up and all the proper paperwork has been filed. To top it off, they’re all novice riders.”

“That’s where I come in?” Mac asked, getting a feel for what his friend was going to ask him.

“Yeah. There’s no way I’m taking them on a half-day ride on our most difficult trail alone. I need you to have my six.”

“You got it! What time do we leave?”

Early Friday morning MacGyver joined all available ranch hands to help saddle and assign the horses to their riders. The youngest, seven-year-old Timmy, would be riding Missy, the chestnut mare that Joanna had grown so fond of. She was small, gentle and predictable, and Mac was going to be sure to keep the boy close to Mark at the front of the line with the older, and hopefully somewhat more experienced, riders toward the back.

With the ride scheduled to begin at nine o’clock, the Schultz family gathered outside the stable at promptly eight-thirty to review the rules and riding tips Mark made sure everyone heard before mounting up. Unfortunately, Mark was nowhere to be found. With each passing minute, the riders grew more restless. MacGyver was just about to go to the house to see what the hold up was when he saw Mark and Joanna walk out the front door and head toward the eager group, their faces full of concern. He politely excused himself from the Schultz’s and met them halfway.

“What’s wrong?” Mac asked without preamble.

“It’s Linda,” Mark replied. “She’s been sick all night and now she’s worried about the baby. So am I. We have an emergency appointment with her doctor in Mission City this morning.”

“You take care of Linda,” MacGyver instructed. “I can handle the trail ride on my own.”

“Thanks Mac,” Mark said, clapping a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “But I can’t let you do that.”

“What other option is there? I doubt the Schultz’s would take kindly to rescheduling.”

“There is one option,” Mark replied, looking at Joanna.

“Her?!” Mac exclaimed as if Jo wasn’t there.

“Yes, me!” she bit back, taking offense to the tone he had used.

MacGyver scrubbed his face with his hands. “I’m sorry, Jo, but you don’t have much more experience than most of these riders. It’s too risky.”

Mark reached out and grabbed a grey gelding he introduced to Joanna as ‘George’.

“Look Mac, you told me Jo has a way with horses, and I know she has a way with you as well. You’ll make a great team and ole George here has done this a hundred times. He’ll take care of both of you.”

“I don’t know…” Mac waffled, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“Look, it’s either me or Jack,” Joanna said firmly.

MacGyver’s eyes met hers and his gaze softened in an attempt to convey a silent apology for his earlier reaction. He knew she could sit a horse well enough, and he knew these horses were trained and docile. And he could use another hand in case something went wrong.

“Alright,” Mac capitulated. “But we’ll take it nice and slow...for everyone’s sake.”

Mark breathed a sigh of relief before he went to address the group and Mac and Jo mounted up. With MacGyver in the lead and Joanna bringing up the rear, the group set off to the trailhead single file. Mac took a deep breath before guiding his charges into the woods.

An hour and a half into the excursion, many of MacGyver’s initial concerns had been seemingly put to rest. The Schultz contingent turned out to be much more level headed and friendly than he anticipated, and they took direction well. Only a few times had he heard Joanna call out reminders to keep the horses on the smooth dirt path or ride single file and he had done the same. Now they had come upon a grove of trees with a natural spring.

“Okay everybody, let’s stop here for a while.”

Saddles creaked as riders dismounted. Some older riders groaned, already getting a little saddle sore. Mac couldn’t help but grin.

“Lead your horses over to the spring and let them drink. I suggest you do the same,” he instructed. “The facilities are behind the trees. We won’t be stopping again until lunch.”

“Don’t you mean the facilities are the trees?” Joanna asked, already standing by his shoulder with George in tow.

“Nope,” Mac smirked. “Go ahead and have a look. I’ll take care of ole George here.”

Jo headed toward the clump of trees he indicated while the family broke off into small groups to chat about their experience so far and some took advantage of the snacks Ellie had packed in their saddlebags. He had just begun leading the horses away from the water when Joanna emerged from the woods shaking her head.

“Port-a-Potties?! Really?!”

MacGyver smiled widely. “Only the best for Bennett Ranch guests! You see, people like to think they’re roughing it without really, well, roughing it!”

“And I, for one, appreciate that policy!” Jo teased.

It wasn’t long until they were back on their way. Some riders had fallen out of order, but they had all proved to be responsible so Mac wasn’t worried. There was more conversation and laughter as everyone relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. MacGyver answered as many questions as he could regarding the area and pointed out spots of interest that Mark had introduced him to the other day. With the summer sun high in the sky, the trail opened out into a wide meadow sooner than Mac had expected. Once again, he told the group to dismount and take their horses to a large, clear stream for a drink. With that chore accomplished, boxed lunches, once again courtesy of Ellie, were removed from saddlebags and the family once again broke off into groups to share their meals. Mac and Jo unloaded feed bags with oats, carrots, and apples and tended to the horses before settling down with their own food.

“Everything goin’ okay back there?” Mac asked, just as Joanna took a bite of her chicken salad sandwich.

“Hmm,mm,” she confirmed before swallowing. “From what Mark said I was afraid there’d be trouble.”

“I’m certainly not gonna complain,” Mac promised, leaning back on his elbows and tilting his face to the sky. When Joanna finished eating, she did the same.

“This sure is a beautiful spot,” she commented softly.

“Yep,” he agreed. “Probably the best on this trail.” He recalled another lovely spot Mark had shown him not far from the ranch. Hopefully he would find some time to take Joanna there...just the two of them. But right now the Schultz’s were packing up the remains of their lunch, eager to get back to their ride.

The second half of the trail wove in and out of shady woods, sun splashed meadows, and gurgling streams that seemed to follow them wherever they went. The hills were a bit steeper, the path narrower than before. Mac made sure to set a comfortable pace for the horses as well as their riders. None too soon they came upon their final resting site before returning to the ranch. Now used to the routine, the group of riders dismounted and watered their horses without MacGyver’s instruction before tending to their own needs. Everyone had spread out, some to take pictures of the landscape, others to stretch their legs. Joanna approached Mac as if drawn by a magnet.

“I think we’re gonna make it,” he said, sliding his arm around her shoulders after stretching out his own back.

“I don’t suppose the Bennetts have a hot tub hiding somewhere?” she asked as he felt her muscles flex under his hand.

“I doubt it,” he replied. “But don’t worry, you’ll feel a lot worse in the morning!”

“Oh, thanks a lot!” she grumbled.

Suddenly, from somewhere in the trees, they heard the sound of branches snapping, a panicked whinny, and a high-pitched shriek. Mac, Joanna, and several of the adults charged into the woods in the direction of the noise. Several yards away they saw Timmy sitting on the ground, tears rolling down his cheeks while the mare he had been riding had her reins caught in a tree branch and was refusing to put any weight on her hind right leg.

“You check on Timmy,” MacGyver directed Jo, “And I’ll take care of the horse.” He saw myriad emotions quickly play out across her face as she looked at her favorite little mare before heading towards the boy.

In no time the area was packed with well-meaning relatives and Joanna was in the middle of the chaos. When she finally made her way back to MacGyver it was to tell him that Timmy was fine, just a little shook up and more worried about the horse than himself.

“And well he should be,” Mac muttered, holding back the seething anger that roiled in his gut. “He knew better than to take her off the path.”

Joanna reached out and gently touched his forearm. A calming source just when he needed one the most.

“How is she?”

“I’m not sure,” he sighed, holding onto the reins he had just finished untangling. “I think she might have a stone in her shoe, but I’m more concerned about the gash on her fetlock.”

The couple’s gaze fell to the mare’s lower leg where blood streamed onto the mossy ground. When they looked up it was to find Grandpa Schultz and Timmy approaching.

“Terrific,” Mac muttered under his breath. “They’re probably gonna find a way to blame us for this and a lawsuit would kill the business.”

“Mr. MacGyver, my grandson here has something to say to you.”

Mac and Jo exchanged curious glances before giving the boy their full attention.

Timmy kept his eyes averted, “I’m sorry, Mister. I know I wasn’t supposed to take Missy off the trail, but I thought she might like some shade. Everything was fine until I tripped over an old dead log and yank her reins too hard. She reared and…”

“Wait a minute,” MacGyver interrupted, letting go a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. “You weren’t riding her?”

The boy shook his head and looked up cautiously. “Is she hurt?” he asked meekly.

“Yeah,” Mac replied, refusing to sugarcoat the situation. “I’m just not sure how bad.”

“Is there anything we can do to help out?” Schultz asked.

MacGyver looked to where the family had gathered a short distance away.

“I’d really appreciate it if you could get everyone back to the trail. I need to get the mare outta here and the less people around, the better. She’s spooked and in pain.”

The older man immediately headed back to his clan and took charge as MacGyver quickly and skillfully removed Missy’s saddle.

“What do you need me to do?” Joanna asked softly from behind him.

“Missy knows and trusts you. You can help me get her back up on the path where I can take a closer look at that wound. Give me your blouse.”

Without question, Jo shrugged out of the lightweight cotton shirt she wore over her tee. Mac took it and together they began to approach the injured horse, murmuring encouraging words to her all the way. Once Joanna had grabbed the mare’s reins, Mac slowly lifted the shirt and wrapped it around the horse’s eyes to blindfold her so she would need to rely on them to lead her out. It was tough going as the mare struggled not to use her injured leg, but eventually, with Jo’s and Mac’s hands gently yet firmly guiding her, all three made it back to the trail. MacGyver carefully removed the blindfold and handed it to Jo.

“Take this to the stream and get it cold and wet. And grab the first aid kit from my saddlebag,” he instructed.

He crouched down and examined the mare’s leg more closely as he waited for Joanna to return. It was bleeding much heavier than he would have liked. Sooner than expected Jo was handing him the cold, wet cloth. He gingerly began to wipe the blood away. He was hoping to use the gauze pads and tape in the emergency kit as a bandage, but the bleeding was too heavy. Instead, he tightly wrapped the shirt around the mare’s leg to create a pressure bandage. He then got out his knife, lifted the injured hoof, and selected a tool to dig out the stone he found lodged in her shoe.

“Is she gonna be okay?” Joanna asked, concern shadowing her face.

“I hope so,” Mac sighed, even as he saw fresh blood already seeping through the cloth. “At least we’re three-fourths of the way home. I’ll take Timmy up with me, you bring up the rear with Missy. Take it slow and easy.”

“Okay everybody! Time to get movin’!” Mac called as everyone mounted up. He swung Timmy up on his horse before climbing on himself and watched as Joanna mounted George and grabbed Missy’s lead, waiting for everyone to be on their way before she began the trek.

They hadn’t traveled very far before Jo called out to MacGyver.

“Mac, you better come back here!”

He quickly dismounted, but instructed the others to remain in the saddle.

“What is it?” he asked, but he answered his own question when he looked down to find the mare’s makeshift bandage saturated with blood that was now leaking onto the ground.

“Aw man,” he said, scrubbing the back of his neck. “We gotta find a way to stop the bleeding.”

“Any ideas?”

Mac jammed his hand into his pant pocket and wrapped it around his ever-present knife.

“Just one. I can try to cauterize the wound, at least enough to keep the bleeding manageable until we can get back, but it’ll take time and I’ll need your help.”

“What about them?” Joanna nodded toward their guests. “The trail’s well-marked. Should we send them on ahead?”

Mac shook his head. “Ranch policy says guests must not ride this trail without a guide. If anything happens, there would really be trouble.”

Not knowing what else to do, MacGyver headed over to speak with Grandpa Schultz. After relaying the guidelines they needed to follow and what needed to be done to the horse, the family elder ordered everyone to dismount and promised to keep them occupied while Mac and Joanna took care of Missy.

As Jo worked to soothe the horse and keep her calm, MacGyver went back into the woods to find some twigs and kindling. He soon had a small fire started a few yards down the path. As the flames grew, he placed his open knife on a rock to allow the flames to heat the steel blade. When he was satisfied it had grown hot enough, he kicked dirt onto the fire to extinguish the flames and then, wrapping his hand in Joanna’s damp, blood-stained shirt, picked up his knife and headed back.

“Okay, stand off to the side and hold onto her lead and try to keep her still,” he instructed. “But let her go if she bolts. Trying to pin her down would be more dangerous for all of us.”

Jo did as he asked, stroking the horse’s muzzle the entire time. Mac let his hands run lightly over the horse’s wither, side and flank to reassure her before crouching down by the bleeding fetlock. He could picture many outcomes, most ending with a hoof in his face. He silently prayed she was too tired and weak to fight him and then set to his task before the blade of his knife cooled off. He took a deep breath and firmly applied the flat piece of metal to the cut on the mare’s leg. The smell of blood and burning flesh caused bile to rise in the back of his throat. A few peaceful seconds passed before Missy reacted, sidestepping away from him before yanking the halter lead out of Jo’s hand. She hobbled down the path as fast as she could before stopping, her twitching body shiny with sweat.

“Go back to where I left her saddle and get the blanket,” Mac said.

He slowly approached the frightened animal and, once Jo gave him the saddle blanket, he began to rub her down, all the while speaking in low tones and making sure she could see him. After several minutes, the mare became calmer than she had been since the accident and was actually putting more weight on her injured leg. Cautiously optimistic, MacGyver examined her wound once again. Though some blood still seeped out, most of the gash had been sealed. It wasn’t pretty, but it would have to do until they could get back to the ranch and call for a vet.

Mac stepped up behind Joanna and began kneading her neck and shoulders, the knots there belying her calm, confident demeanor.

“Is she gonna be okay?” Jo asked, looking up at him with tired eyes.

“Yeah,” Mac nodded with a smile. “She’s gonna be okay.”

XXXXX

When they arrived back at the ranch an hour later than expected, a controlled chaos erupted. Ranch hands were dispatched to tend to the horses while MacGyver told Mark everything that had happened. Much to everyone’s surprise, Grandpa Schultz offered to cover all the vet bills since the injury was his grandson’s fault. Once the horses and guests were taken care of, Mac and Joanna headed to their separate quarters to shower and change before supper.

That evening’s meal was a casual affair. After getting cleaned up, Mac and the other ranch volunteers built a huge bonfire and set out bales of hay at a safe distance as seating for their guests. Once everyone was settled, including the Donaldson family who had decided to join in the festivities, Linda, Joanna, and Ellie emerged from the house carrying trays loaded with hot dogs, buns, various condiments and homemade potato salad. Everyone burst into cheers in anticipation of the weenie roast...and the s’mores making which was sure to come later. MacGyver caught Jo’s eye and motioned her over to where he sat. She gave him a tired smile and plopped down beside him, resting her head on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around her waist to keep her close.

“Tired?” he asked, and felt her nod against him.

“How’s Missy?” she asked.

“The vet says she’ll be fine. He said we did a good job given the circumstances. How’s Linda?”

Joanna raised her head. “She’s basically fine, as well. The doctor said her blood pressure is slightly elevated, most likely due to the stress she’s been under. He ordered her to start taking it easier with the threat of three months bedrest if she doesn’t.”

“Sounds like Mark’s gonna have a battle on his hands,” Mac said drily, earning a laugh from Jo.

“What about Mark?” the ranch owner asked as he headed toward them carrying two plates laden with food.

“Just that you’re gonna have your hands full if you expect Linda to take it easy,” MacGyver explained as he eyed his supper warily. “Do you have any idea what’s in these things?” he asked, poking at his hot dog.

“No. And I don’t think I want to!” Mark laughed, patting Mac on the shoulder before heading back to his wife.

MacGyver had a fork load of potato salad headed for his mouth when an all-too-familiar voice called out.

“Hola, Kemosabe and maybe-hopefully-soon-to-be Mrs. Kemosabe!”

“Hi Jack,” Mac and Jo answered in unison.

“Heard about your little adventure today, pal. Trouble just seems to dog ya!”

If that wasn’t the pot calling the kettle black, MacGyver didn’t know what was, but before he could open his mouth to protest his friend continued.

“Look what I found in the bunkhouse.” Jack produced an old acoustic guitar from behind his back. “Perhaps you could grace us with some dinner music?”

“Fat chance!”

“Aw, c’mon Mac!” Jack whined. “I know you don’t like to play in front of people, but what would a campfire cookout be without a sing-a-long?!”

“Quiet?”

“Exactly! And we can’t have that now, can we?!”

“Apparently not,” Mac muttered.

As guests and staff alike finished their meals, made s’mores, or just relaxed around the fire, MacGyver grabbed the guitar and began to pluck out the notes to “Home on the Range.” Soon everyone was singing along and he played a few more songs that he figured both adults and kids would know. It didn’t take long before voices began to fade and the events of the day caught up with everyone. Small groups began to excuse themselves and head back to their cabins. Those remaining helped clean up before turning in themselves. Soon MacGyver found himself alone. Warmed by the fire and looking up at the stars, he leaned back against the hay bale he was sitting on, cradled the old guitar, and began to play the quiet strains of a piece he had composed himself and titled “Eau d’Leo”. The last time he had played that song had been over a year ago on New Year’s Eve when a blizzard had stranded the Thorntons, Joanna and him at a B&B in Door County. It was there that he told Pete he had feelings for Jo. The corners of his mouth tugged upward at the memory.

“Whatcha smilin’ about, cowboy?” Joanna asked as she settled next to him.

“Nothin’,” he lied as he went to set the guitar aside.

“No, don’t,” Jo commanded, putting a staying hand on his arm. “Keep playing. Please? I love that song.”

“But you’ve only heard it once,” he pointed out skeptically.

“Well, it made a strong impression on me.” She smiled and then snuggled against his side.

Repositioning the instrument, he started playing from the beginning, wishing it never had to end.

XXXXX

Late Sunday morning, the Bennetts, MacGyver, Joanna, and Jack waved good-bye as the final members of the Schultz family drove away.

“I hate to do this, Mark,” Mac said when the car was out of sight, “but we really need to get going, too. I’m sorry we can’t stay longer and help out.”

“Didn’t you hear?”

“Hear what?” Jack asked.

“When I took Linda to her doctor’s appointment on Friday I was approached by the leader of the high school’s 4-H Club. They’ve decided to make the Bennett Dude Ranch their summer project. We’re gonna have all the help we’ll ever need!”

“That’s great!” MacGyver said. “But what about when the baby comes? The kids’ll be back in school.”

“Things always slow down a lot by then,” Mark explained. “Besides, while we were in Mission City I also heard some rumblings that some of our former employees aren’t enjoying their high paying factory jobs as much as they thought they would. Any ranch hand worth his salt can’t stand to be cooped up, standing over an assembly line for twelve hours a day. I have a feeling I’ll be doing some rehiring over the next few months.”

After exchanging handshakes, hugs, and farewells, the trio from Milwaukee headed toward their cars.

“Hey, Jo! I’ll drive your car if you wanna ride home with Mac,” Jack offered.

Joanna sent MacGyver a panicked look that made him laugh.

“Don’t worry,” he assured her. “Jack drives better than he flies.”

“Ya know, Mac. If you keep complaining about my piloting skills I’m gonna have to ban you from my plane!”

“Promises, promises….” Mac whispered in Jo’s ear causing her to giggle as he slung his arm across her shoulders and guided her to the Jeep.































Posted by: Dragondog 1 November 2019 - 12:04 AM
Ok, this chapter is really long... But even though it's two in the morning, I will read through and review it, because my laptop is going in the be serviced, and may be kept overnight, so it's better I do this now (also, I don't have to go to work until noon, so being up so late shouldn't affect my shift that much XD)


QUOTE
and watched as Mac tossed an old tennis ball across the backyard and Frog gave chase. She smiled at his odd, bow-legged lope as he retrieved the ball and returned to drop the slobber-covered toy at Mac’s feet. His master rewarded his effort with a hearty ear rub.
Funny story, this French Bulldog (or Boston Terrier) mix used to wear all the fuzz off of his tennis balls, and chew on the bare rubber, and it would get all slick from his drool, and randomly come flying out of his mouth. Sometimes it'd go straight up and he'd jump up and catch it again XD It was hilarious every time XD XD XD

QUOTE

“Do you want kids of your own, MacGyver?” she asked softly.
Hey hey, proposal first, missy XD (Not that planning ahead is a bad idea, of course)

QUOTE
“If you want a bunch of baby MacGyvers you’re gonna need to stop hanging out with me and find someone to help you with that.”
As someone who doesn't want kids, I can relate to Jo's statement XD

QUOTE
leaving her to mull over what she had just heard. He had used the words ‘we’ and ‘kids’ in the same sentence as naturally as breathing!
How long you been dating now? What'd you expect? XD

QUOTE
It had been a while since he had seen his two best friends from Mission City and was now concerned about what had prompted the call.
That moment you realize your friends only call you when they need you for something XD

QUOTE
“You mean you have to clear it with the little woman.”

MacGyver could practically see Chuck’s smirk over the phone line. “There is no ‘little woman’,” he replied firmly.

“Hey, sorry man! It’s just that Neil told me you showed up at the reunion with a real special lady. I just assumed…”

“Well, you assumed wrong! Listen, let me think about this and I’ll call you back later.”
I'm really glad Joanna didn't hear that...

QUOTE
There, grinning like a Cheshire cat, stood Jack Dalton.
I can picture that in my head XD XD XD

QUOTE

“Hey, why do I have to take the top bunk?” Jack complained. “I get airsick!” His left eye twitched.
Of all the excuses you could've come up with, Jack XD

QUOTE

“She’s a friend of mine,” MacGyver replied succinctly.


“A very good friend, if you get my drift,” Jack added with a wink.




I'M SORRY BUT THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT'S GOING ON IN THIS STORY:






QUOTE

“But, he did sign a waiver stating he understood our policies and the risks that going against them may incur. He also signed waivers to use the black diamond trail and not require helmets.”
Someone's gonna get hurt...

QUOTE


MacGyver smiled widely. “Only the best for Bennett Ranch guests! You see, people like to think they’re roughing it without really, well, roughing it!”

“And I, for one, appreciate that policy!” Jo teased.
Same, Jo, same XD

QUOTE

“I think we’re gonna make it,” he said, sliding his arm around her shoulders after stretching out his own back.
But then, suddenly,-

You gotta admit, the Schultz family, including little Timmy, is much more reasonable and responsible than anticipated.

I feel like they're going to make a donation as an apology.

QUOTE

“Just one. I can try to cauterize the wound, at least enough to keep the bleeding manageable until we can get back, but it’ll take time and I’ll need your help.”
Sounds painful.

QUOTE
“Look what I found in the bunkhouse.” Jack produced an old acoustic guitar from behind his back. “Perhaps you could grace us with some dinner music?”

“Fat chance!”

“Aw, c’mon Mac!” Jack whined. “I know you don’t like to play in front of people, but what would a campfire cookout be without a sing-a-long?!”

“Quiet?”

“Exactly! And we can’t have that now, can we?!”

“Apparently not,” Mac muttered.
Oh, I can't WAIT for this one roller.gif

Okay, not what I expected was gonna save the ranch, but close enough laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 1 November 2019 - 05:11 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 1 November 2019 - 12:04 AM)
Ok, this chapter is really long... But even though it's two in the morning, I will read through and review it, because my laptop is going in the be serviced, and may be kept overnight, so it's better I do this now (also, I don't have to go to work until noon, so being up so late shouldn't affect my shift that much XD)


Yeah, it was a long chapter. I find whenever I introduce new OC's they get kinda long! Thanks for staying up and reading it! That story about the dog was so cute and funny. I can see that happening to Frog...well, maybe not the jumping up and re-catching it part...not sure he'd have the energy...LOL!!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 5 November 2019 - 12:27 PM
Chapter 22: A House Divided

MacGyver stood on the front stoop of the Fairfax home. A bouquet of wildflowers in one hand, he knocked on the door with the other. He inhaled deeply, enjoying the sweet scents of the warm summer day.

“I got it!” Joanna called from inside and he smiled at the lightness in her voice.

“Hi there,” he grinned when she appeared in the doorway. She wore a white tee and black shorts and looked carefree and wonderful. His heart did a little flip.

“Oh, you shouldn’t have!” she exclaimed, reaching for the flowers he held.

“I didn’t,” he confirmed, pulling them away. “At least not for you. These are for your mom.”

Joanna wrinkled her nose playfully. “You don’t have to butter her up, you know. She already loves you!”

Mac shrugged as Judy Fairfax appeared behind her daughter. “You could at least invite the poor man in!” she admonished.

Jo’s cheeks flushed slightly and she stepped aside, allowing MacGyver to enter the small foyer attached to the living room. Before he could say anything, Judy Fairfax had him wrapped in a motherly hug.

“It’s been too long, Mac! I’ve missed having you around!”

“I’ve missed you too, Mrs. Fairfax, but things at Challengers have been keeping me pretty busy.”

“You know to call me ‘Judy’,” she scolded, “And I know that my daughter has also been keeping you busy, but I won’t complain about that!”

As he followed Jo and her mom through the house to the backyard where Joe Fairfax was putting supper on the grill, he could feel the love and support that made this house a home. Joanna was the third generation to live here and, as an only child, one day it would belong to her. Would he be sharing it with her?

Mr. Fairfax greeted him with a hearty handshake as his daughter beamed. Mac knew how much this little family meant to Jo and his heart swelled knowing they had unconditionally welcomed him into their ranks, even if he did tend to go AWOL with their daughter at times!

Dinner was a casual affair filled with easy conversation and light-hearted banter. Jo and Mac regaled her parents with stories from their time at the ranch which awakened memories of the family’s first trail ride which brought even more laughter as Judy expressed her horror at how tall her horse was and bemoaned the fact that it wiggled and twitched.

After dessert was eaten and the dishes were cleared, the small group adjourned to the living room where Joe tuned the television to a baseball game, sans volume, but still earned a scowl from his wife which made Mac chuckle. Dusk fell as conversation continued and MacGyver became loath to return to his empty townhouse. Suddenly, a car in desperate need of a muffler roared up the street and pulled to a screeching halt in front of the Fairfax home. Joanna’s mother was out of her chair and looking out the bay window before Mac could blink.

“Jude, would you just settle down,” Joe complained as his wife partially blocked his view of the TV screen.

“That’s the third time this week that car’s been around here,” Judy protested. “And here comes the other one!”

Joanna rolled her eyes. “Ma, would you just sit down and mind your own business?!”

Ever curious, MacGyver joined Judy at the window.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“These two cars pull up, just sit there for awhile, and then speed off. I think it’s a drug deal,” Judy informed him.

“Could be,” he muttered. Even though the Fairfaxes lived in one of the safest sections within the city limits, crime did not discriminate. “Let’s call the police.”

“By the time they get here it’ll all be over,” Judy protested. “I’m not gonna take this anymore!” She pushed off the window sill and charged through the front door before anyone realized her intentions.

MacGyver was the first to gather his wits and, with long strides, quickly caught up to Jo’s mom who was halfway across the front yard, headed toward the offending autos.

“Get out of my neighborhood!” she yelled, stalking purposefully toward the vehicles.

Mac glanced at the car parked closest to them. As the occupant rolled down the window, MacGyver saw a ray of light from a nearby streetlamp glint off of what he immediately recognized as the muzzle of a gun.

“Get down!” he cried as he lunged through the air, placing himself between Joanna’s mom and the weapon, pulling her to the ground with him at the same time. He felt a white-hot heat slice through the side of his abdomen before landing on the soft grass, his head hitting something hard before everything went black.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna and her dad had been watching the scene unfold from the front steps when the flash of a gun firing sent them running toward the two crumpled forms on the lawn as the cars sped away. Neighbors quickly emerged from their homes to see what the ruckus was all about and commands to call 911 quickly filled the night air.

With tunnel vision brought on by blind panic, Joanna fell to her knees and rolled MacGyver’s large form off her mother’s much smaller one. Both were covered in blood, but her mom was already struggling to sit up as neighbors came to her aid. With Judy insisting that she was fine and her husband now by her side, Jo turned her focus solely to MacGyver. He had a long gash on his temple where his head had connected with a decorative garden rock when he fell, but of more immediate concern was the dark stain flooding his shirt. Instinctively, Joanna pressed on the ragged wound with the palms of her hands in hopes of staunching the blood that flowed freely through her fingers and onto the already dewy grass. Her next door neighbor took off his own T-shirt and handed it to her. She took it wordlessly and pressed it to Mac’s side, holding her breath until the wail of sirens began to draw near.

Moments later, the once peaceful street erupted in chaos as paramedic and police units arrived. Firm but gentle hands grasped Jo’s shoulders and pulled her away from MacGyver’s prone, unconscious body.

“Let them work,” a soothing female voice told her as paramedics began to tear away Mac’s shirt and evaluate his injuries.

“You need to give us your statement, ma’am,” that same voice said. “What happened here?”

“Mac. I have to stay with Mac. I can’t leave him. I can’t run.”

“There’s nothing you can do for him now, ma’am. Please come with me.”

Joanna connected the voice to that of a female police officer and reluctantly allowed herself to be led to a quiet corner of the yard before her knees buckled and she sunk to the ground once again.

“Are you injured as well?”

Jo followed the officer’s concerned gaze to the bright red stain on her shirt. Blood. Mac’s blood. She shook her head in reply.

“Then tell me what happened.”

Joanna mechanically chronicled the events of the evening, all the while attempting to catch glimpses of MacGyver which the officer deftly blocked, much to Jo’s frustration. However, when she finally saw the gurney being lifted into the back of an ambulance she stood up.

“I have to go with him,” she declared.

“I’ll have an officer take you to the hospital when we’re done here.”

“I am done,” Jo firmly informed the woman, and headed toward the ambulance.

She had only taken a few steps before she was intercepted by a taller, stronger male officer. She was about to protest when a grandmotherly neighbor she had known most of her life wrapped comforting arms around her waist.

“We need to get you cleaned up, child,” the elderly woman said. “You can’t show up at the hospital looking like that!”

Her mind slowly beginning to clear, she looked down at the stain on her shirt as well as the sticky blood now drying on her hands. The adrenaline from earlier was quickly leaving her system only to be replaced by the chills and dizziness of shock. With the woman’s arms supporting her, they went into the house where she was quickly divested of her soiled clothes and wrapped in a warm blanket while her hands were scrubbed clean in the kitchen sink. Feeling physically improved, she went upstairs to pull on jeans and a clean top. When she returned to the living room where the remaining neighbors and emergency personnel now gathered she found herself pulled into her mother’s arms.

“I need to go to him,” Jo murmured.

“I know, baby,” Judy replied, stroking her daughter’s hair.

“Don’t call me that!” Joanna cried, jerking out of her mom’s grasp. Mac called her ‘baby’. Only Mac could call her that!

“Maybe you should wait until tomorrow, after you’ve had some rest,” Judy suggested, her eyes full of concern.

“No!” Jo shook her head emphatically. “I have to go now!”

“Then at least have your father drive you.”

Joanna capitulated since arguing would only keep her from getting to Mac. Father and daughter rode in silence. Joe dropped her off at the emergency entrance where she promised to call with any news before hurrying through the automatic doors and into the antiseptic environment of the hospital.

“I’m here to see MacGyver,” she said without preamble upon reaching the front desk. “He was brought in a while ago with a gunshot wound and head injury.”

“Are you a relative?” the young receptionist asked.

“No, but--”

“Then I’m sorry, you’ll just have to have a seat.”

Joanna closed her eyes and took what she hoped would be a deep, calming breath, but it didn’t work.

“Isn’t there anything you can tell me about his condition?”

“No ma’am. I’m sorry.”

Jo was trying to decide whether to scream or cry when a petite, dark-haired woman of Asian descent approached her.

“Excuse me,” she said gently. “I heard you ask for MacGyver. What is your name?”

“Joanna. Joanna Fairfax,” she replied, staring blankly at the woman in scrubs.

“I’m Wendi Vang, a trauma nurse here. I believe you and Mr. MacGyver used to work with my husband, Lee.”

Jo’s mind sputtered as she tried to process what the kind-looking woman had said. Then it finally clicked.

“Yes,” she responded on a sigh of relief. “He’s helped us out on a couple of occasions. Can you tell me anything about Mac?”

“Come with me,” Wendi instructed quietly.

Together they walked to the nurses’ station where she quickly logged onto a computer.

“These new privacy laws stink,” she said for Jo’s ears only. “And I’m afraid they’re only going to get worse. Anyway, MacGyver was immediately rushed into surgery and is there now.”

Joanna’s breath hitched at the news as Wendi’s well-trained fingers flew over the keyboard.

“I put your name on his chart as the main contact person. Make yourself as comfortable as you can and I’ll see to it that you receive any information on his condition as soon as it becomes available.”

“Thank you,” Jo whispered as tears held at bay too long threatened to fall.

Wendi stepped beside her and put a hand on her shoulder.

“From what Lee has told me, you and MacGyver have a very special relationship. It’s only right.”

Joanna nodded and sank down in a cushioned vinyl chair to wait. It seemed like an eternity before Wendi Vang appeared again, this time with a small smile on her face.

“Mac is out of surgery and in recovery. The doctor said the bullet went straight through and missed all his organs and major arteries. He lost a lot of blood, though, and that will slow his recovery. Plus, he has a pretty bad concussion.”

Flooded with relief that MacGyver would survive, Jo let out an exhausted giggle. “A concussion is nothing new for him. He’ll be fine.”

Wendi’s smile disappeared as she sat down in the chair next to Joanna’s.

“I’m afraid that’s the doctor’s main concern at this point. MacGyver’s charts show a history of head trauma. With each injury, his chances for a full recovery decrease.”

“What exactly are you trying to tell me?”

“I can’t really say anything. A neurologist will be working with him and able to give you more details. Right now the important thing is that he wakes up, and the sooner the better.”

“When can I see him?”

“They’ll be moving him to a private room within the hour, but I can take you there now, if you like.”

Joanna simply nodded and before she knew it she was standing in the doorway of an empty hospital room on the fourth floor. Wendi grabbed the attention of the head nurse.

“This is Joanna Fairfax. She’ll be staying with Mr. MacGyver.”

Joanna had just walked over to a large window that looked out over the lights of the city when she heard Wendi’s voice again.

“Just put it over there,” she ordered.

Jo turned around to find two orderlies positioning a reclining chair with footrest where Wendi indicated.

“I figured you’d want to stay the night so I thought we could at least try and make you comfortable.”

“You sure have a lot of pull around here for a trauma nurse,” Joanna observed with a thin smile.

“You mean I have a lot of pull around here for a trauma nurse whose husband is a lawyer and willing to represent doctors or patients,” she laughed warmly.

After thanking Wendi for all her assistance, Jo surveyed the sterile room, her eyes coming to rest on a telephone sitting on the nightstand. Even though it was late, she had some calls to make.

“Hello,” Judy Fairfax answered in a brisk tone.

“Hi Mom, it’s me,”

“How is he?”

Jo told her mother what Wendi had told her.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to send your father to pick you up so you can come home and rest?”

“Yeah, Mom. I need to be here.”

Judy sighed wearily. “I understand. Keep us posted and tell Mac we love him.”

Joanna disconnected the call and dialed a different number.

“MacGyver, I swear if this is you calling in the middle of the night to ask me for another favor I’m--”

“Pete, it’s Joanna.”

The man on the line gasped and immediately gentled his voice.

“What’s happened to MacGyver?”

“If Sam is there, can you put him on the extension so I don’t have to repeat myself? I’m sorry, but it’s been a long night.”

Joanna heard Pete tell Connie to go wake Sam and as soon as she heard the telltale click indicating Sam had picked up his line she launched into the reason for her call.

“I’m on my way,” Sam said as soon as she finished her monologue.

“No, Sam. Get some sleep and drive up in the morning. The last thing I need is for you to get in an accident because you’re tired and upset,” she instructed.

After a long silence Sam grudgingly agreed. She was just hanging up the phone when a pair of orderlies wheeled MacGyver’s bed into the room and locked it in place. She smiled at them weakly before they turned and left.

Joanna lovingly studied Mac’s unconscious form, drinking in the sight of him. The harsh overhead fluorescent lights made his pale skin appear gray. A large gauze bandage covered the gash on his temple. She gently smoothed back the long bangs that had fallen over his forehead. Watching the steady rise and fall of his chest, she carefully pulled back the lightweight blanket and thin sheet that covered him to find him shirtless, his abdomen wrapped in sterile dressings protecting the bullet wound. Tucking the covers back over his broad chest and muscular shoulders she finally allowed herself to slump down in the recliner and shed silent tears until she fell asleep.

Jo awoke in the pre-dawn hours when a nurse came in to take MacGyver’s vitals yet again.

“Any change?” she whispered hopefully.

The nurse shook her head. “Everything’s the same, but his vitals are strong so that’s a good sign.”

Joanna thanked the nurse for the information and changed positions in her chair hoping to get a couple more hours of rest, but sleep would not come. Instead, her mind began replaying the events of the previous evening. They had all been having such a nice time. Then her mother had to be nosy and look out the window. Then she ran out the door. Then she yelled at the hoodlums. Then she fell to the ground with Mac. Then Mac was shot and unconscious and it was all her mother’s fault. If only she had kept her mouth shut. If only she had stayed inside and minded her own business. Anger sparked deep in Joanna’s soul and over the next hours became a raging inferno that forced her into a decision she never thought she would have to make.

A soft knock on the doorjamb startled Jo awake. Apparently she had managed to doze off at some point without realizing it. Weak rays of sunlight told her it was early morning. She turned toward the door to find Sam standing there, wide eyes fixed on his father. Rising from her chair, her movement caught Sam’s attention and he strode to her and embraced her firmly.

“How is he?” Sam asked, his voice raspy.

“The same.” Jo smiled sadly.

Before they could say anything more, a nurse entered the room followed by two orderlies.

“Excuse us, but Mr. MacGyver has an appointment in radiology this morning,” she said a bit too brightly for Joanna’s taste. “It’ll take about an hour so feel free to grab some breakfast in the cafeteria.”

They watched silently as a still unconscious Mac was wheeled out of the room for what Joanna knew was a brain scan.

“You hungry?” Sam asked after everyone had departed.

“No, but I would like to go home. I know you just got here but would you mind--”

“C’mon,” Sam said, keys already in hand. “You’ll feel better after a long, hot shower and a few hours of sleep in your own bed.”

“Actually I was gonna...oh, you’re crashing at your dad’s place, aren’t you?” she asked deflatedly.

“Yeah. Something wrong with that?”

“No, I was just planning on doing the same thing.”

Sam shot her a questioning glance.

“It’s a long story,” was her reply.

“None of my business,” he shrugged easily. “I’ll just take the couch.”

It was still early when Sam deposited Joanna in her own driveway. Knowing her parents would still be asleep, she quietly slipped in the back door and trudged up the stairs. She had just pulled out her suitcase and began to toss some clothes in it when the telltale squeak of a step forewarned her that she was not alone. Her jaw and fists clenched as she summoned the last of her energy to keep her composure.

“I thought I heard you come in,” her mom said softly. “How’s MacGyver?”

“The same,” Jo replied coldly.

“What are you doing?” Judy asked, noticing the suitcase.

“I just can’t be here right now,” she answered flatly.

“Why? Where will you go?”

“Mac’s. Maybe Challengers.”

“But sweetheart, I just don’t understand.”

“I need some space, all right?” Joanna’s frustration was mounting.

“Look, I know you’re upset about Mac, but he’ll be just fine.”

“That’s just it, Ma! If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t be upset about Mac because he wouldn’t have gotten shot and be lying unconscious in the hospital as we speak!”

“Honey, I never thought anyone would get hurt.” Judy Fairfax reached out to touch her daughter’s arm but Joanna quickly pulled back.

“Do you have any idea what it was like for me last night, hearing a gunshot and watching the two of you fall to the ground?!” Jo shot back. “I thought I lost two of the people I love most in this world! I’m glad you’re okay, Ma. I really am. But if you had just minded your own business the man I love wouldn’t be hurt! I’m sorry, but I just can’t be around you right now.”

Ignoring the tears pooling in her mother’s eyes, Joanna slammed her suitcase shut, hurried down the stairs and got in her car. She saw Judy watching her from the living room window as she pulled out onto the street, but she didn’t give her mom a backwards glance. Right now her world was all about MacGyver.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver’s head pounded, his side ached, his mouth was dry, and he felt like he’d been asleep for a month. He tried to peel an eyelid back, but as soon as a pinprick of bright light hit it he slammed it shut. Ouch! That little experiment just ratcheted up his headache exponentially. Where was he? What had happened to him? He calmed his racing mind and allowed his natural thoughts to fall into order. Then he remembered. He had been visiting with Joanna’s family. Her mom had gone outside. He had followed. He saw a gun. He had been shot. That explained the pain in his side. He fell. His head hit something hard. Aw, man. He was recovering from another concussion. After all the blows he had taken to the head, he should have figured that part out sooner. An involuntary moan escaped his lips and set off a cacophony of voices around him. Some were familiar, others not. Before he could sort them out, someone pried his eye open and aimed a blazing light right at it. He winced and pushed his head as far into his pillow as he could trying to escape the offending brightness to no avail. The same procedure was performed on his other eye. He worked his mouth, trying to make words come out, but nothing happened. Suddenly he felt something against his lips. A straw. He began to greedily suck in cool water, but it was pulled away all too quickly. The voices had quieted. He decided to test his own.

“Jo?” he croaked pitifully.

“I’m here, Mac. I’m here. You’re gonna be alright.”

He felt her warm hand cup his cheek and he leaned into it. He forced his eyes open and met her liquid brown gaze, shiny with unshed tears. Hopefully of relief.

“Your mom…” He hated how weak and hoarse his voice was.

“She’s fine, thanks to you. She sends her love.”

Mac tried to smile and hoped he succeeded. He saw another figure step up to stand next to Joanna.

“Sam?”

“Hey, Dad! How you feelin’?”

“I’ve been better,” he quipped before turning serious. “How long have I been out?”

“About two days,” Joanna told him. “The doctors have been running brain scans and they say everything is normal.”

“If they’re describing my brain as normal then something must be wrong with it.” He summoned enough energy to pull a face, making Sam and Jo chuckle.

A deep, unfamiliar voice interrupted them. “Now that Mr. MacGyver is conscious, he needs to rest,” a doctor in a white lab coat informed them. “You can come back in a few hours.”

As Joanna turned to leave, Mac reached out and grabbed her wrist with more strength than he thought possible. It was then that he saw the recliner positioned behind her.

“You’ve been here this whole time?” he asked, his eyes sliding to the chair.

“Most of it,” she amended. “Now get some rest and I’ll see you later.” She bent down and placed a soft kiss on his forehead, her lips lingering just a moment longer than necessary. He was pretty sure he drifted off to sleep with a smile on his face.

MacGyver slept sporadically over the next twenty-four hours. Each time he awoke it was to find either Sam or Joanna, or sometimes both, watching over him. Initially he wanted to tell them to go away, that he was fine. But he soon discovered he found comfort in knowing that they were by his side.

A few days later, the doctor deemed Mac recovered enough to be discharged. He was sitting on the side of his hospital bed dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt when Sam appeared in the doorway, accompanied by a nurse pushing an empty wheelchair. Time to go home at last!

Sam hovered over MacGyver like a mother hen as they made the short trek from the driveway to the front door. Upon entering, Mac noticed rumpled blankets piled on his couch.

“Haven’t you been sleeping upstairs?” he asked his son.

“Nah, that mattress is too hard. The couch is fine.”

Mac eyed Sam curiously but decided not to waste his energy pursuing this particular conversation. He gingerly climbed the winding stairs to his bedroom, with Sam close behind. The bed was neatly made and immediately he honed in on the fresh scent of Joanna’s coconut shampoo.

“Has Jo been sleeping here?”

“Yeah, sometimes,” Sam replied evasively. “We figured you wouldn’t mind.”

And he didn’t. In fact, a secret part of him that he rarely acknowledged thrilled to the idea that Jo wanted to feel close to him when they were apart.

“Where is she now?” he asked.

“Challengers. Cynthia wasn’t feeling well this morning. That’s why Jo couldn’t come with me to pick you up,” Sam explained. “Why don’t you lie down for a while? She’ll probably stop by later and you could use your beauty sleep,” he teased.

Mac summoned a weak smile, stretched out on the bed, and fell into a blessedly deep and uninterrupted slumber.

XXXXX

After a few days of recuperating at home under Sam’s careful supervision, MacGyver began to grow restless and, much to his son’s dismay, decided it was time to head back to work and for Sam to do the same. He had no sooner entered the Challengers Club when he was accosted by teens cheering his return. Joanna and Cynthia hung back, smiling widely, but it was Jo’s pale skin and hollow eyes that held his attention and concern.

“Why don’t you take the rest of the day off and get some rest?” he urged her once they were alone in his office.

“That’s okay. I’m fine,” she insisted.

He reached out and caressed her cheek. “No, you’re not. You’ve been running yourself ragged between covering here and checking up on me. Let me take you home.”

She shook her head vigorously. “I said I’m fine.”

Mac knew better than to push the issue, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to keep tabs on her. Something wasn’t right and he was going to find out what it was.

MacGyver quickly regained his energy as the days passed and he found himself arriving at Challengers earlier and staying later, just like he used to. And when Joanna wasn’t spending time with him at his place she was at Challengers as well, and Mac couldn’t help noticing that her car never seemed to move from its reserved space. Late one night, on a hunch that had been growing steadily stronger, MacGyver hopped into his Jeep and headed to Challengers. Sure enough, there was her car, parked exactly as it had been over twelve hours ago.

His unexpected arrival raised the eyebrows of more than one third-shift adult volunteer. He smiled in greeting as he made his way to the staircase which led to the second floor dorm rooms. Word of their shelter services hadn’t yet spread so only one door was shut tight. Mac tapped gently before entering. Joanna was lying on her back and from the glow of moonlight coming through the window he could see her open eyes staring at the ceiling. He perched himself on the edge of the empty bed next to hers.

“Wanna tell me why you ran away from home?”

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about,” she mumbled.

“Look, I know that you stayed at my place while I was in the hospital and that’s okay,” he quickly reassured her. “I want you to feel safe and comfortable there. But now you’re staying here?”

“I worked later than I planned so decided to crash here for the night.”

MacGyver’s eyes slid to the suitcase propped up against the wall and back to Jo who was now looking at him. He raised his eyebrows in question and Joanna rolled her eyes.

“You’re not gonna leave until I talk about it, are you?” she asked with a sigh.

“Nope,” he replied with what he hoped was an encouraging grin.

Joanna sat up and swung her legs over the side of the bed so she was facing him.

“Sitting in the hospital room with you the night you got shot gave me a lot of time to think. By morning, I decided the whole thing was my mom’s fault and I went home to pack a bag.” She then recounted the words she and her mother exchanged.

“And you haven’t been home or talked to her since?”

Jo shook her head.

“You do know that the only person responsible for what happened that night is the jerk who fired the gun.”

This time Jo nodded, but Mac could tell she wasn’t convinced.

“Okay, so you think your mom is nosy. That’s just a part of who she is, just like running to the rescue is a part of who I am.”

This time Joanna’s gaze locked with his.

“Promise me that tomorrow you’ll go talk with her and straighten everything out.”

“Fine,” Jo murmured, her shoulders slumped either in defeat or relief.

“Good. Now that that’s settled, let’s get some sleep.”

MacGyver sprawled out on top of the bed covers.

“You don’t have to guard me like some prisoner. I said I’ll go home and I mean it.”

“Good,” Mac confirmed without moving muscle. He smiled when he heard Joanna let out a huff and grumble as she crawled under the covers, her back to him.

XXXXX

Late the following afternoon MacGyver sat tapping a pencil against the top of his desk with no particular rhythm while staring out into the recreation area waiting for Joanna’s return. Her bed had been empty when he awoke this morning, both her suitcase and her car gone. A pang of envy hit him square in the chest as he yearned for the chance to go home and speak to his own mother just one more time. Even if only to say goodbye. Joanna and her parents loved and protected each other fiercely and he had been humbled when they opened their lives and their hearts to include him. As if his thoughts had conjured her, Jo came swooping into the room wearing a pastel sundress and a lighthearted smile. She cheerily greeted everyone she passed and looked as if a great burden had been taken off her shoulders. A heavy burden she had carried around needlessly for too long.

“I take it things went well with your mother?” he inquired once he had her attention.

“We had a good talk,” she confirmed. “About a lot of things. Everything’s going to be fine.”

“I’m glad,” he smiled. “You know, I never meant to come between you and your mom. I don’t want you to feel like you ever have to choose between me and your family.”

“I know, and you didn’t. This was all on me. I was scared and needed someone to blame, even if it was misdirected.”

Mac draped his arm over her shoulders and pulled her to his side, the one without the bullet hole, and kissed the top of her head.

“So, did the cops ever catch the creeps who started all this?”

“Oh! With everything that happened I forgot to tell you!” Jo exclaimed pulling away from him. “One of my neighbors got their license plate number and they were apprehended a few blocks away.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Yeah,” Joanna sighed. “Now things can get back to normal.”

Mac quirked a brow at her.

“Or at least as normal as things can get around here,” she laughed















Posted by: Dragondog 8 November 2019 - 08:27 PM
*phew* Okay, finally making the time to get into this happy.gif

QUOTE
Chapter 22: A House Divided
Huh, wonder what this entails?

QUOTE
Before he could say anything, Judy Fairfax had him wrapped in a motherly hug.
Fsr all I can think of is this:
user posted image

QUOTE
“By the time they get here it’ll all be over,” Judy protested. “I’m not gonna take this anymore!” She pushed off the window sill and charged through the front door before anyone realized her intentions.
Wow, mark this as the stupidest thing you've ever done, Judy...

QUOTE

“Get down!” he cried as he lunged through the air, placing himself between Joanna’s mom and the weapon, pulling her to the ground with him at the same time. He felt a white-hot heat slice through the side of his abdomen before landing on the soft grass, his head hitting something hard before everything went black.
This is why you don't interfere with criminal activity...

Also, this is why the house is divided, isn't it? Judy almost got Mac killed here (though we all know he'll pull through in the end XD)

QUOTE
“Maybe you should wait until tomorrow, after you’ve had some rest,” Judy suggested, her eyes full of concern.
Because she's totally going to be able to get some rest after that. Right.

QUOTE
Jo turned around to find two orderlies positioning a reclining chair with footrest where Wendi indicated.
She's really going all out, isn't she? I like her XD

QUOTE

“Pete, it’s Joanna.”

The man on the line gasped and immediately gentled his voice.

“What’s happened to MacGyver?”
He. Just. KNEW. *insert a crying emoji that doesn't exists on this site yet*

QUOTE

“No, Sam. Get some sleep and drive up in the morning.
Okay, does no one realize that people dealing with trauma don't just "go to sleep"? XD

QUOTE

Joanna lovingly studied Mac’s unconscious form, drinking in the sight of him.
That's really creepy... XD

QUOTE
The harsh overhead fluorescent lights made his pale skin appear gray.
Everyone's a vampire tonight...

QUOTE
Then Mac was shot and unconscious and it was all her mother’s fault. If only she had kept her mouth shut. If only she had stayed inside and minded her own business. Anger sparked deep in Joanna’s soul and over the next hours became a raging inferno that forced her into a decision she never thought she would have to make.
I knew it. But... *swallows hard* what "decision she never thought she would have to make"?...

QUOTE
Apparently she had managed to doze off at some point without realizing it.
I do that a lot... XD

QUOTE

“C’mon,” Sam said, keys already in hand. “You’ll feel better after a long, hot shower and a few hours of sleep in your own bed.”
Sam's already treating his future mother-in-law right XD

QUOTE

“Honey, I never thought anyone would get hurt.” Judy Fairfax reached out to touch her daughter’s arm but Joanna quickly pulled back.
WELL WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GONNA HAPPEN?!

QUOTE
He fell. His head hit something hard. Aw, man. He was recovering from another concussion.
Lol, he's used to it by now XD XD XD

Of course Mac tries to get Jo to make up with her mom... XD

Aaaand happily ever after. For this chapter XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 November 2019 - 12:03 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 8 November 2019 - 08:27 PM)

QUOTE
“By the time they get here it’ll all be over,” Judy protested. “I’m not gonna take this anymore!” She pushed off the window sill and charged through the front door before anyone realized her intentions.
Wow, mark this as the stupidest thing you've ever done, Judy...


For the record, though I doubt in this day and age my mom would actually go running outside, she IS always in the window if there's a strange car parked in our neighborhood, etc. And she's not afraid of them seeing her! We have had some drug deals go down like that (rarely)...so this really isn't much of a stretch if you can believe it!

Posted by: Dragondog 9 November 2019 - 11:42 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 9 November 2019 - 03:03 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 8 November 2019 - 08:27 PM)

QUOTE
“By the time they get here it’ll all be over,” Judy protested. “I’m not gonna take this anymore!” She pushed off the window sill and charged through the front door before anyone realized her intentions.
Wow, mark this as the stupidest thing you've ever done, Judy...


For the record, though I doubt in this day and age my mom would actually go running outside, she IS always in the window if there's a strange car parked in our neighborhood, etc. And she's not afraid of them seeing her! We have had some drug deals go down like that (rarely)...so this really isn't much of a stretch if you can believe it!

Oh I believe it, my mom does the same thing. But she's more likely to call the police than she is to go running outside. But we live in a really bad neighborhood, so getting shot is kinda expected if we were to try that out.

I hope that comment didn't come out as offensive, I can be pretty toungue-in-cheek, but at most I just meant that personally confronting baddies is a bad idea most of the time blush.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 November 2019 - 11:58 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 9 November 2019 - 11:42 PM)

[/QUOTE]
For the record, though I doubt in this day and age my mom would actually go running outside, she IS always in the window if there's a strange car parked in our neighborhood, etc. And she's not afraid of them seeing her! We have had some drug deals go down like that (rarely)...so this really isn't much of a stretch if you can believe it! [/QUOTE]

Oh I believe it, my mom does the same thing. But she's more likely to call the police than she is to go running outside. But we live in a really bad neighborhood, so getting shot is kinda expected if we were to try that out.

I hope that comment didn't come out as offensive, I can be pretty toungue-in-cheek, but at most I just meant that personally confronting baddies is a bad idea most of the time blush.gif

No offense taken!! We live in a very good neighborhood which can lull you into a false sense of security. But times are changing and crime IS moving in. Back in the '80's, a small grocery store by us got robbed one evening and my dad took off in pursuit of the robber and "treed" him! So I kinda transferred that incident to this story.

Posted by: Dragondog 10 November 2019 - 11:09 PM
[QUOTE=uniquelyjas,10 November 2019 - 02:58 PM] [QUOTE=Dragondog,9 November 2019 - 11:42 PM]
[/QUOTE][quote]
For the record, though I doubt in this day and age my mom would actually go running outside, she IS always in the window if there's a strange car parked in our neighborhood, etc. And she's not afraid of them seeing her! We have had some drug deals go down like that (rarely)...so this really isn't much of a stretch if you can believe it! [/QUOTE]

[quote]Oh I believe it, my mom does the same thing. But she's more likely to call the police than she is to go running outside. But we live in a really bad neighborhood, so getting shot is kinda expected if we were to try that out.

I hope that comment didn't come out as offensive, I can be pretty toungue-in-cheek, but at most I just meant that personally confronting baddies is a bad idea most of the time blush.gif [/QUOTE]
[quote]No offense taken!! We live in a very good neighborhood which can lull you into a false sense of security. But times are changing and crime IS moving in. Back in the '80's, a small grocery store by us got robbed one evening and my dad took off in pursuit of the robber and "treed" him! So I kinda transferred that incident to this story. [/QUOTE]
I guess it depends on the neighborhood. I've lived in this one a long time, and sometimes I can hear gun fights going on during the summer. Usually mistake it for fireworks, though hmm.bmp

Glad no offence was taken smile.gif

Posted by: Dragondog 11 November 2019 - 08:21 PM
What's even up with the quotes?..

Forget it, you get the idea XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 12 November 2019 - 06:45 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 11 November 2019 - 08:21 PM)
What's even up with the quotes?..

Forget it, you get the idea XD

I thought the same thing, but I'm used to wonky computer stuff so it didn't both me!! LOL!!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 14 November 2019 - 09:41 AM
Chapter 23: Mid-Summer Gala

Sam stepped off the elevator and scanned the large, third floor room affectionately known as the bull pen by his fellow stringers. Flimsy partitions divided rows of computer desks into small cubicles and he soon found his prey tucked away in the far corner staring blankly at her monitor.

“Hey! How’s my favorite crime beat reporter today?” he asked cheerily.

“Hi, Sam,” Becca replied listlessly.

Rebecca Williams was a freelance journalist who, like Sam, had connections at the Tribune and impeccable references, yet she, like him, had been relegated to the role of stringer until a permanent position opened up. A couple years younger than Sam, she hailed from Kentucky but had moved to Chicago after graduating college in Santa Barbara. A bit short and a little on the chubby side, she generally wore her long brunette hair in a ponytail and her striking green eyes hidden behind glasses. She had been one of the first people Sam had met at the Tribune since she was always there searching for a story. Shy and reserved in the beginning, they eventually struck up an easy friendship. He was like a big brother to her and she was like the girl-next-door to him.

“You sound kinda down,” Sam observed. “Maybe this’ll help.”

He handed her a tall, clear plastic take-out cup and she immediately recognized the bright yellow contents.

“A pineapple Slurpee!” she exclaimed, her face brightening as she took a long pull of the frozen beverage through the straw.

“Better?”

“Not really,” she sighed, leaning back in her chair.

“C’mon Becca, talk to me,” Sam said as he pulled up a chair next to hers. He made a face when she looked at him strangely. “What?!”

“You’re the only person who calls me that,” she told him thoughtfully.

Suddenly ashamed that he may have crossed some invisible boundary by calling her by a nickname Sam quickly backpedaled.

“I’m sorry. You should have let me know you didn’t like it.”

“It’s not that,” she replied with a genuine smile. “It’s just that everyone I know always calls me ‘Rebecca’. It’s kinda nice that you don’t.” Her gaze suddenly slid to the floor and her cheeks began to turn pink. Sam suppressed a grin. It had been awhile since he caused a girl to flush.

“You gonna tell me what’s bothering you?” he pressed.

“This.” Rebecca slapped a square envelope of high quality paper down on her desk. “It’s an invitation to the Annual Tri-State Fundraising Gala for Non-Profit Agencies. My editor assigned it to me because all of the other lifestyle reporters have other functions to cover.”

“So?”

“So, I’m a crime reporter! I don’t do ‘fluff’ pieces. Especially ones that involve getting all dressed up and eating dainty finger foods just to garner inane quotes from people who have more money in their bank account than I’ll ever see in my lifetime!”

“It could be fun.” Sam tried to sound encouraging as he perused the invitation. It certainly sounded like a dull way to spend an evening, but he thought women liked that sorta thing. Suddenly, he found himself pinned by emerald green eyes.

“I’m glad you feel that way. My editor wants pictures, too, so I told him you’d go as my photographer.”

“Whoa! No! No way!” he protested.

“Why not? It could be fun,” she responded with a sly smile.

Sam closed his eyes and sighed. He knew he was going to give in. There was something about Becca that made him always want her to see her happy.

“Alright. Just tell me when and where and I’ll be there.”

“It’s Saturday night...in Milwaukee. I was kind of hoping you would give me a ride.”

“Milwaukee?”

“Yeah. The three states take turns hosting it. Last year it was here in Chicago and the year before that it was in Minneapolis. I thought it would also be a good opportunity for you to visit your dad.”

Sam couldn’t argue with that, and he appreciated Becca’s thoughtfulness, even if it was a means to her beneficial end.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver was beginning to hate Mondays. When he worked for the DXS and Phoenix, he could never understand why people dreaded Mondays and looked forward to Fridays. Out in the field, hours blended into days, days became night and then day again. The focus was always on the mission at hand, not which day of the week it was. Since he had settled into a somewhat normal routine, he was beginning to see Mondays in a whole new light. Even though he still worked some nights and weekends, Mondays brought a special, and not very pleasant, feeling. Perhaps it was the pile of phone messages, or the stack of mail, or the ever-present to-do list of things to get accomplished by the end of the week. Yeah, there was just something about Mondays he didn’t like and he had a feeling today was not going to be the exception.

Plopping down in his chair, he scrubbed his face with his hands before his eyes landed on a square envelope placed front and center on his desk between the piles of phone messages and bills. A yellow sticky note on the front read ‘Don’t Forget’ in Cynthia’s flowing handwriting. Mac sighed and reached for the envelope, carefully extracting a single piece of cardstock.

“You are cordially invited to the Annual Tri-State Fundraising Gala for Non-Profit Agencies to be held on--”

Mac’s eyes widened and he barreled out of his office and into Cynthia’s waving the invitation in her face without losing momentum.

“When were you going to tell me about this?!” he demanded. “It’s this Saturday!”

“Calm down, MacGyver,” Cynthia replied in her naturally soothing voice. “It was delivered several weeks ago but your mind was on other matters so I RSVP’d for both you and Joanna.”

“Does she know?”

“Of course she does. She even bought a new dress for the occasion. Which reminds me, you can pick up your tux from the cleaners on Wednesday.”

“What?! How did you even know I own a tux?!”

By now Joanna was peeking around the doorframe, probably to see what the ruckus was about.

“One night when you were working late I went by your place and did a little recon mission. I found it stuffed in the back of your closet,” Jo explained.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” Mac’s angry glare bounced between the two women who at least had the decency to appear slightly remorseful.

“We know how you feel about these things, MacGyver,” Cynthia responded, her voice still calm and steady. “Besides, you’ve had so much going on lately there never seemed to be a good time to tell you.”

Mac’s anger deflated a bit. “Well, you’re not wrong,” he conceded. “But from now on remember that tampering with someone else’s mail is a federal offense!” He then returned to his office, slamming the door closed so loudly it even made him wince. Yeah, there was just something about Mondays.

After an hour of staring at a spreadsheet on his computer, MacGyver heard a light tap on his door. When no one took the initiative to enter, he got up and opened it himself to find Joanna standing there, looking contrite.

“I’m sorry we kept the invitation from you. We really didn’t mean to upset you.”

Mac jammed his fingers through his hair. “Nah, I’m the one who needs to apologize. I was way out of line coming down on you and Cynthia like that. I don’t know what got into me.”

He noticed a small group of teens begin to take notice of their conversation and silently motioned Jo into his office and closed the door behind her. She looked timid and unsure. His heart squeezed. He went to stand in front of her, just close enough so that when he reached out his hands rested lightly on her hips. When she didn’t pull away, he moved closer and tightened his grip.

“So, tell me more about this gala,” he urged tenderly.

Joanna looked up, her eyes hopeful. “We were actually lucky to get invited since we’ve only been in existence a few months. I think the Phoenix Foundation might have had something to do with that.” She stopped here and smiled a little. “Anyway, it’s a great opportunity to meet leaders of organizations like ours as well as donors to aid with financial backing. If we hit it off with the right people, we may not have to solely rely on the Foundation for grants.”

“Then I guess dusting off the ole penguin suit will be worth it,” he replied with a crooked grin.

XXXXX

Late Wednesday afternoon, while trying to keep his freshly pressed tuxedo wrinkle-free, MacGyver opened his front door to a ringing telephone. Hanging the outfit on the railing of his staircase, he quickly answered the call.

“Hello?

“Hey dad! What’s up?!”

“Hi Sam! How’re you doin’?”

“I’m good. Listen, a friend of mine here at the Tribune is going to Milwaukee to cover a story this weekend and I’m coming along as the photographer. I was wondering if we could hang out and get ready at your place Saturday?”

“Sure!” Mac agreed, a wide smile on his face. Sam, like him, was pretty much a loner. But unlike him, Sam hadn’t made any lifelong friends, not even someone like Jack Dalton. It was good to hear that Sam had a buddy to work with.

“Tell ya what,” MacGyver continued, “Why don’t you come up in the morning and we’ll spend the day together. Joanna and I have an event to go to that evening but I don’t want to waste one of your visits.”

“I don’t suppose your ‘event’ would be the fundraising gala? It sounds like something Phoenix or Challengers would be invited to.”

“Actually it is,” Mac replied slowly. “And I bet your friend is covering it, right?”

“Right! Hey, that’ll be cool! We can all go together!”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mac agreed. “See ya Saturday!”

Saturday morning, MacGyver opened his front door to find his son standing next to...a woman? She wore baggy shorts, a loose-fitting t-shirt, and had her long dark hair pulled through the back of a baseball cap.

“Hi Dad! This is my reporter friend Becca. Becca, this is my dad, MacGyver. But you can call him ‘Mac’.”

“Nice to meet you, Mac,” the girl said shyly as she tentatively held out her hand.

“It’s a pleasure,” MacGyver replied with a smile, shaking her hand. “Please, c’mon in.”

Once inside, Mac noticed his son had a garment bag draped over his shoulder.

“Want me to put that away for you?” he asked. “Wouldn’t want your tux to get wrinkled.”

“Yeah, sure,” Sam replied. “Becca’s dress is in there too.”

MacGyver took the bag upstairs and removed the pair’s outfits. He hung Sam’s tuxedo next to his, but upon seeing Becca’s dress, his jaw dropped. He held up the yards of white fabric with large blue flowers. Admittedly, he was a typical man and didn’t know all that much about women’s fashion but, as with art, he knew what he liked, and this wasn’t it. In fact, the piece reminded of him of his grandma’s old living room curtains. He had always hated those curtains. Feeling oddly protective of the near stranger, he knew he couldn’t let her go to the prestigious event in this so he picked up the phone and hit one of two numbers he had on speed dial.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The ringing of the telephone startled Joanna awake. She groaned. Figuring it was going to be a late night at the gala she had wanted to sleep in this morning.

“Hello?” she answered groggily.

“Jo. I need your help.”

MacGyver. This must be how Pete Thornton feels when Mac calls asking for favors in the middle of the night.

“What is it?” she ground out, her throat still dry from sleep.

“Remember I told you Sam and his friend from the Tribune were coming in today?”

“Yeah.” She suppressed a yawn.

“Well, his friend turned out to be female.”

“Sam’s got a girlfriend?!” Jo exclaimed, suddenly wide awake.

“No! I mean, I don’t think so. But she brought this dress that’s...well...I really need you to come over. It’ll all make sense when you see it.”

“Fine, I’ll be there soon.” Joanna shuffled off to shower and dress, wishing Mac would make half as big a deal out of her new outfit later that day.

An hour later Sam introduced Jo to Becca. Though shy and a bit awkward, Joanna took an immediate liking to the young woman.

“Listen,” Joanna addressed the girl. “I was just in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop by to see what you’re wearing to the gala tonight. Since we’re all going together I’d hate for our outfits to clash.”

Waves of doubt flitted across Rebecca’s face before she finally gave into the three encouraging smiles and went up to the bathroom to change.

When the journalist next appeared, Jo couldn’t help but gasp. There stood Becca, her hair loose and heavy around her face, her body swallowed up by billows of blue and white fabric.

Joanna turned her head and whispered in Mac’s ear, “She looks like she could be a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!”

MacGyver nodded grimly. “That’s why I need your help,” he whispered back.

“It’s horrible, isn’t it?” Becca asked in a sad voice as she teetered in high-heeled pumps.

“I wouldn’t say it’s horrible,” Sam offered as Jo stepped forward and began plucking at pieces of the material.

“Sam’s right,” she agreed. “It’s just needs a few adjustments.” Jo tried to keep her voice positive as she glanced at her watch. Eight hours until they were due to arrive at the gala.

Joanna sat cross-legged on the floor as she folded over the hem that reached the girl’s ankles.

“Mac, do you have pins or something to hold this hem up?”

A few seconds later he held a roll of duct tape in front of her face.

“You’re kidding, right?” she looked up at him, rolling her eyes when he simply shrugged.

Tearing off a piece of the silver tape, she started tacking up the skirt and then stood to observe her handiwork. Even that little alteration had made a difference. Jo then examined the sleeves that were way too long and poufy and the bodice which was way too blouson. No amount of duct tape could fix this and there wasn’t enough time to rip out all the seams and re-sew it to fit.

“It’s hopeless!” Becca cried. “I’m not the type of girl who gets all dressed up and goes to charity events! I’m just a big old klutz who can’t even pick out a decent dress!” She turned and ran up the stairs, almost tripping as she got to the top.

Joanna turned to find MacGyver and Sam staring like deer caught in a car’s headlight, obviously on the verge of panic at the thought of having to deal with a hysterical female. In a way she couldn’t blame them, but she knew what she had to do.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this,” she told them before heading after Becca.

By the time Joanna got upstairs, the dress was nothing more than a puddle at the foot of the bed and the bathroom door was closed. She knocked on it lightly.

“Becca? It’s me. Can I come in?”

When there was no answer, Jo tested the doorknob to find it unlocked and poked her head into the small room. Becca was bent over the sink already wearing her shorts and t-shirt and splashing cold water on her face. When she noticed Joanna’s presence she turned off the faucets and grabbed a towel to dry her face.

“You okay?”

Shaking her head Rebecca perched on the edge of the tub. “I shouldn’t have come. This stuff is way outta my league.”

“Why did you buy that dress?” Joanna asked gently.

Becca sighed. “I got the assignment on short notice. I ordered it out of a catalogue and even paid extra for next day delivery. I thought it would camouflage this.” She glanced down at her less-than-perfect figure. “Instead it just makes it worse!”

“I understand. I used to have the same problem,” Jo assured her.

“You? No way!”

“Yep,” Joanna smiled sadly as she carefully sat down next to Becca. “I had a medical condition that caused me to gain a lot of weight in a short amount of time. I got it under control rather quickly, but the damage had already been done. I thought wearing loose, baggy clothes would hide my curves, but they only made me look bigger. I eventually lost a lot of the weight, but more importantly, I learned how to dress in a way that complements my figure.”

“That’s great, but how’s that gonna help me tonight?” Becca moaned.

“We still have time and I know a few places. Grab your purse,” Joanna ordered.

The two women returned downstairs to find Mac and his son sprawled on the couch already engrossed in an old black-and-white movie.

“I’m stealing Becca for the rest of the day. Pick us up at my place,” Jo called.

Mac lifted his hand and waved to indicate he had heard her before she turned and walked out the door.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Would you stop that!” Mac ordered, swatting at Sam’s hands and trying to pull away.

“But you’re tie’s crooked.”

“No, it’s not!”

“Fine! Have it your way!” Sam threw up his hands in disgust.

“Thank you! I will!” Mac shot back. “We need to hustle if we’re gonna pick up the girls on time.”

“Yes sir,” Sam replied with a mock salute that lightened the mood and put an end to their senseless bickering.

Half an hour later father and son stood in the Fairfax’s living room waiting for their ‘dates’. Joanna entered the room first and MacGyver’s jaw dropped of its own accord. Somehow she always managed to look beautiful, and somehow she always managed to take his breath away. Tonight she was dressed in a pale yellow satin sheath dress with an ivory lace overlay that fell just below her knees. Strappy, high-heeled sandals accentuated her legs, and she had done something to her bobbed hair to make it extra full and bouncy.

“You look great,” Mac told her as she walked up to him with a smile and began to straighten his tie.

“Oh, sure…you’ll let her fix your tie,” Sam complained.

MacGyver shot him a quelling sideways glance.

“I told you it was crooked,” his son smirked.

Sam looked away from his dad just in time to see Rebecca make her own appearance. Neither man could believe this was the same girl they saw earlier. Her long, slightly curled locks had been tamed and captured in a simple up do making her appear taller. She wore an emerald green dress that added extra depth to her eyes in spite of her glasses. The top of the dress was fitted, but not too tight, while the knee length skirt flared out slightly giving her the illusion of an hourglass figure. Sensible yet stylish black flats completed her ensemble.

“What do you think?” she asked, wringing her hands nervously in front of her.

Mac looked at Sam’s stunned expression and gave him a little nudge to get his attention.

“Oh...um...you look awesome,” Sam stammered before regaining his usual charm.

He walked up to his friend and took her hands in his.

“Who are you and what have you done with Becca?” he quipped, causing the young woman to smile as Mac choked back a laugh.

A short while later, with Joanna seated next to him and Sam and Becca in the backseat, MacGyver pulled the Nomad up to the Pabst Mansion, the historic site chosen for this evening’s festivities.

“Very impressive,” he observed, not even trying to hide the awe in his voice. “Looks like Flemish Renaissance Revival architecture.”

“You have a good eye,” Jo complimented him. “Captain Frederick Pabst, founder of Pabst Brewery, had it built for him and his family in the late 1800’s. Now it’s a national landmark.”

The foursome entered through the large, carved front doors and were greeted by a butler standing in the main foyer. Upon inspecting their invitations, he welcomed them warmly and wished them an enjoyable evening. From floor to ceiling, the house was ornate and opulent. Abundant with valuable works of art and antique furniture, it was an overwhelming sight. Small groups of people were scattered throughout the front parlor and gentlemen’s study chatting and laughing with food and drink in hand. Other guests strode the long hallways and grand staircase simply admiring the mansion itself.

It didn’t take long before a city councilman recognized MacGyver and approached the small group. They exchanged the proper niceties before the discussion turned to Challengers Club. Mac knew that this was one of many conversations he would have that night to promote the club and hopefully secure extra funding.

Once the man left, MacGyver guided Joanna toward the plush dining room, his hand placed lightly on the small of her back. He grinned when he saw Sam copy the gesture. Though he had only spent a small amount of time with Becca, he easily pegged her as the shy, quiet type. What puzzled him was his son’s sober demeanor. Normally enthusiastic and talkative, Sam had hardly said a word after leaving the Fairfax’s. Come to think of it, neither had Rebecca.

The large dining room table was laden with food and the two couples helped themselves to glasses of punch, dainty finger sandwiches, and mini cream puffs and chocolate eclairs. Once everyone’s appetite had been sufficiently satisfied, MacGyver suggested they split up so they could complete their tasks more quickly, emphasizing his request by running his finger along the inside of his collar and grimacing.

“Would you just give it up?” Jo snapped as soon and Sam and Becca were out of earshot. “I see you in buttoned up shirts rather frequently and your tie is not that tight.”

“Yeah, but it’s still a tie!” he retorted.

Joanna rolled her eyes, causing him to chuckle as he put his arm around her waist.

“Come on,” he instructed. “Let’s go see and be seen so we can get outta here.”

About an hour later, after giving his Challenger’s spiel at least a dozen times to prominent potential donors, MacGyver was leading Joanna back to the refreshment table when Sam suddenly appeared beside them, an anxious look on his face.

“Have you seen Becca?” he asked breathlessly.

“No, we thought she was with you,” Joanna replied, her brows knitted together in concern.

“She was. We were upstairs and she managed to snag an interview with the mayor. It seemed like it was gonna take a while so I decided to sneak away and take some exterior shots, but when I came back she was gone!”

“Well, people don’t just disappear. She has to be around here somewhere,” Mac reasoned.

The trio began to scan the crowd when a sudden, high-pitched shriek came from the butler’s pantry. They hurried toward the sound and stopped in the doorway to find Rebecca standing on a chair, her face contorted in horror as a man in a maître de uniform berated her.

“Madam! I must insist you get down from that chair immediately! It is original to the house, a veritable antique worth much money and you are ruining it with your shoes!”

“I’m not going anywhere until you kill it!” Becca shot back.

“Kill what madam?!”

“The spider! The spider that’s on the floor!”

“I assure you, madam, you are quite mistaken. I oversaw the preparation of this room myself and can assure you there are no spiders on the floor or anywhere else for that matter!”

By now MacGyver had eased his way into the small room and, by following Rebecca’s line of sight, saw the tiny spider in question. Somehow the fortunate arachnid had escaped the footsteps of the waiters, but his luck had just run out. Mac grabbed a small cocktail napkin from a nearby counter, reached down and squashed the little fellow even as he felt a pang of guilt.

“Alright Becca, you can come down now,” he assured her. But the young woman did not move.

Sam reached his hand up to her. “Come on, Becca. You heard my dad. The spider’s gone.”

In a daze of shock, the young woman mechanically grabbed Sam’s hand and allowed him to help her climb down from the chair. Once on solid ground, she wrapped her arms around his waist, buried her face in his chest and began to sob. Sam was soothing her as best he could when she pulled away without warning, looked at him as if he were a spider, and bolted from the room.

Sam exchanged a perplexed look with his dad. “What just happened?” he asked before both men turned helpless gazes toward Joanna.

“What?” she asked defensively, knowing full well what they expected her to do. “You want me to go after her, right?”

They both nodded.

“Because I’m a girl and I understand these things?”

Again they nodded, Sam’s puppy dog eyes boring into hers and Mac’s imploring smile melting her heart.

“Fine,” she replied firmly, pulling herself up to her full height and squaring her shoulders before leaving the room in Becca’s wake, albeit at a more sedate pace.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna followed the path she assumed Rebecca had taken, peeking in each room she passed, but the girl was nowhere to be found. On a hunch, Jo opened the front door and stepped out on the large porch to find Sam’s friend sitting on the top step, her knees pulled up to her chin, her face in her hands, and her shoulders trembling with sobs.

“Mind if I join you?” Jo asked before slowly lowering herself onto the step. She rubbed soft, comforting circles on Becca’s back and waited for the tears to stop.

Finally, the young woman raised her head, face flushed and mascara smeared.

“I made such a fool of myself back there,” she moaned, and Joanna was afraid she’d start crying again.

“No you didn’t,” Jo assured her. “A lot of people are afraid of spiders. You’ve heard of ‘arachnophobia’ haven’t you?”

Becca shook her head. “That doesn’t even begin to cover it. I have arachnophobia to like the one-hundredth degree! I didn’t get you kicked out of the party, did I?”

“No. Everything’s fine,” Joanna promised and hoped she wasn’t lying.

“I’m just so embarrassed! Sam’ll probably never wanna look at me again!”

Aha! So this was about more than just spiders!

“No way! In fact, Sam’s the one who asked me to come look for you. He’s worried about you.”

“Then why didn’t he come find me himself?”

“Because everybody is scared of something, and I think Sam has a phobia about crying girls,” Jo chuckled and Becca offered her a watery smile.

“You really like him, don’t you?”

Rebecca nodded shyly. “What’s not to like? He’s kind, thoughtful, handsome, charming. But…”

“But you don’t think a guy like him would be interested in a girl like you,” Joanna surmised.

“How did you know that?” Becca asked, looking at Jo with something akin to awe.

“‘Cause I felt the same way about his dad. Sometimes still do, actually. I’m constantly amazed that a man as well-traveled and experienced as he is could ever be content with a girl who’s lived in the same place all her life.”

“So, you think there’s a chance that Sam could like me too?”

“I do.”

“Then why has he been acting so strange tonight?” Rebecca frowned.

“How do you mean?”

“He’s hardly said a word to me all evening and he totally bailed on me when I was interviewing the mayor.”

“Didn’t you see the way he looked at you when he first saw you tonight?” Jo smiled. “I think he was a little shocked by your transformation. You went from being the girl next door to Cinderella. Guys have a hard time processing that. And as for him not talking? Anyone who can render that boy speechless has to be pretty special.”

Rebecca’s only response was a grin and a thoughtful sigh.

“Tell you what,” Joanna continued. “Why don’t we get you freshened up and then we’ll get outta here.”

“I can’t go back in there looking like this!” Becca protested.

“Don’t worry. I saw a back entrance that the staff uses. We can sneak in that way.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver strode toward Sam who was standing in the main foyer.

“I can’t find them anywhere!” he said, throwing up his hands in frustration.

“They’re sitting on the front steps talking,” Sam replied quietly.

“Then why aren’t you out there?”

“I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“Since when?!” Mac didn’t wait for his son to answer but instead grabbed him by a lapel and led him to a dark, empty corner. “What is with you tonight anyway?” he asked in an exaggerated whisper.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean my usually charming, talkative kid has hardly said a word all night! Now, what gives?”

Sam shrugged his shoulders and lowered his gaze to his shoes.

“You like Becca!” MacGyver proclaimed.

“Of course I do. She’s a nice girl,” Sam muttered.

“You know what I mean. I saw the way you looked at her earlier, and I also saw the way she looked at you.”

“There’s nothing going on between us, Dad.”

“Do you want there to be?”

Sam sighed. “I don’t know,” he moaned, running a hand through his hair. “Becca’s a really great girl but I’m afraid I’ll end up hurting her.”

“How so?”

“What if I get bored at the Tribune? What if I decide I want to travel? Try new things?”

“What if you ask Becca out for a cup of coffee or a burger and go from there?”

“I guess I am kinda puttin’ the cart before the horse,” Sam admitted. “Did you ever feel like this with Joanna?”

“Sam, you know I did. But we cared enough about each other and our relationship to work through those things together. Now why don’t you go out there and butt in like you normally do?!”

Sam laughed as he opened the front door and stepped out onto the large porch, but the women were gone.

XXXXX

Sunday morning MacGyver and Joanna stood in the doorway of his townhouse waving good-bye to Sam and Becca. Once their car was out of sight they walked into the living room and collapsed on the couch.

“You look beat,” Mac observed.

“Gee, thanks,” Jo responded, pulling a face. “Becca kept me up half the night talking about the gala...and Sam.”

“I know the feeling. Sam slept like a log.”

When Joanna shot him a questioning look he laughed and explained, “A log being cut in half by a chainsaw is quieter than him. Man, can that kid can snore!”

“Do you think we’ll see her again?” Joanna asked soberly.

“If Sam has his way I’d say we can count on it. He’s gonna ask her out on a real date when they get home.”

“Really?! That’s terrific!” Jo exclaimed before becoming oddly silent.

“You’re worried about something. What is it?” MacGyver probed.

“Is Sam really serious about her, or was it just the fancy night and pretty dress?”

“Well, the dress sure didn’t hurt,” Mac replied, recalling the effect Joanna’s own appearance had on him. “But Sam knows his feelings. I think he would’ve asked her out sooner but he’s afraid he’ll end up hurting her.”

“Do you think he will?”

“Not on purpose. I told him to just take things slow and not give up too easily.”

“Sounds like good advice,” Jo praised. “Are you speaking from experience?”

“You know I am. I guess only time will tell...for all of us.”











Posted by: Dragondog 15 November 2019 - 01:33 AM
QUOTE
“It’s not that,” she replied with a genuine smile. “It’s just that everyone I know always calls me ‘Rebecca’. It’s kinda nice that you don’t.”
Shipshipshipshipshipshipshipship...

QUOTE

Sam closed his eyes and sighed. He knew he was going to give in. There was something about Becca that made him always want her to see her happy.
First two sentences: Like father like son. Third sentence: Shipshipshipship...


QUOTE

“What?! How did you even know I own a tux?!”

By now Joanna was peeking around the doorframe, probably to see what the ruckus was about.

“One night when you were working late I went by your place and did a little recon mission. I found it stuffed in the back of your closet,” Jo explained.
Totally not creepy at all... XD

QUOTE

MacGyver took the bag upstairs and removed the pair’s outfits. He hung Sam’s tuxedo next to his, but upon seeing Becca’s dress, his jaw dropped. He held up the yards of white fabric with large blue flowers. Admittedly, he was a typical man and didn’t know all that much about women’s fashion but, as with art, he knew what he liked, and this wasn’t it. In fact, the piece reminded of him of his grandma’s old living room curtains. He had always hated those curtains. Feeling oddly protective of the near stranger, he knew he couldn’t let her go to the prestigious event in this so he picked up the phone and hit one of two numbers he had on speed dial.
'Kay Captain Posh... XD

QUOTE

“Sam’s got a girlfriend?!” Jo exclaimed, suddenly wide awake.
I can't decide which is funnier: The concept of Sam having a love life being shocking enough to jolt her awake, or the idea of shipping him with someone exciting her so much that she doesn't even realize that she's acting like he does when he sees his dad and her together XD

QUOTE

“It’s horrible, isn’t it?” Becca asked in a sad voice as she teetered in high-heeled pumps.
Poor thing sad.gif

QUOTE

“Mac, do you have pins or something to hold this hem up?”

A few seconds later he held a roll of duct tape in front of her face.
*chokes* roller.gif

QUOTE

“It’s hopeless!” Becca cried. “I’m not the type of girl who gets all dressed up and goes to charity events! I’m just a big old klutz who can’t even pick out a decent dress!” She turned and ran up the stairs, almost tripping as she got to the top.
That's a mood XD

QUOTE

Joanna turned to find MacGyver and Sam staring like deer caught in a car’s headlight, obviously on the verge of panic at the thought of having to deal with a hysterical female.
Oh come on guys! X'D

QUOTE

Becca sighed. “I got the assignment on short notice. I ordered it out of a catalogue and even paid extra for next day delivery. I thought it would camouflage this.” She glanced down at her less-than-perfect figure. “Instead it just makes it worse!”
I repeat: Poor thing sad.gif

QUOTE

The two women returned downstairs to find Mac and his son sprawled on the couch already engrossed in an old black-and-white movie.
...Okay then... XD

QUOTE

“Would you stop that!” Mac ordered, swatting at Sam’s hands and trying to pull away.

“But you’re tie’s crooked.”

“No, it’s not!”

“Fine! Have it your way!” Sam threw up his hands in disgust.
Classic parent/child banter (speaking from experience) XD

QUOTE
Somehow she always managed to look beautiful, and somehow she always managed to take his breath away. Tonight she was dressed in a pale yellow satin sheath dress with an ivory lace overlay that fell just below her knees. Strappy, high-heeled sandals accentuated her legs, and she had done something to her bobbed hair to make it extra full and bouncy.
Somehow all I can picture is Belle XD

QUOTE
“You look great,” Mac told her as she walked up to him with a smile and began to straighten his tie.

“Oh, sure…you’ll let her fix your tie,” Sam complained.

MacGyver shot him a quelling sideways glance.

“I told you it was crooked,” his son smirked.
XD XD XD

QUOTE

“What do you think?” she asked, wringing her hands nervously in front of her.
Glad I'm not the only one with that tic XD

QUOTE
Mac looked at Sam’s stunned expression and gave him a little nudge to get his attention.

“Oh...um...you look awesome,” Sam stammered before regaining his usual charm.
When you've spent two hours looking for the perfect word, and then you give up XD

QUOTE

“Who are you and what have you done with Becca?” he quipped, causing the young woman to smile as Mac choked back a laugh.
I read that in the same husky tone Mac uses for Joanna XD

QUOTE
What puzzled him was his son’s sober demeanor. Normally enthusiastic and talkative, Sam had hardly said a word after leaving the Fairfax’s. Come to think of it, neither had Rebecca.
Hmmm...

QUOTE

“Have you seen Becca?” he asked breathlessly.
Uh oh...

QUOTE

“I’m not going anywhere until you kill it!” Becca shot back.
*sigh*

QUOTE


“The spider! The spider that’s on the floor!”
I don't like spiders either, but geeze...

QUOTE

Sam exchanged a perplexed look with his dad. “What just happened?” he asked before both men turned helpless gazes toward Joanna.

“What?” she asked defensively, knowing full well what they expected her to do. “You want me to go after her, right?”

They both nodded.

“Because I’m a girl and I understand these things?”

Again they nodded, Sam’s puppy dog eyes boring into hers and Mac’s imploring smile melting her heart.

“Fine,” she replied firmly, pulling herself up to her full height and squaring her shoulders before leaving the room in Becca’s wake, albeit at a more sedate pace.
roller.gif

QUOTE


“I made such a fool of myself back there,” she moaned, and Joanna was afraid she’d start crying again.
Now I feel guilty...

QUOTE

“I’m just so embarrassed! Sam’ll probably never wanna look at me again!”

Aha! So this was about more than just spiders!
Shipshipshipshipshipshipship...

Also, she kinda sounds like a freshman high shool student XD

QUOTE

“Because everybody is scared of something, and I think Sam has a phobia about crying girls,” Jo chuckled and Becca offered her a watery smile.
tongue.gif

QUOTE
And as for him not talking? Anyone who can render that boy speechless has to be pretty special.”
Yeah 'cause he never shuts up, right? XD

QUOTE


“Since when?!” Mac didn’t wait for his son to answer but instead grabbed him by a lapel and led him to a dark, empty corner. “What is with you tonight anyway?” he asked in an exaggerated whisper.
Time for the male version XD

QUOTE

“You like Becca!” MacGyver proclaimed.
Anything else to proclaim, Sherlock?

QUOTE

Sam sighed. “I don’t know,” he moaned, running a hand through his hair. “Becca’s a really great girl but I’m afraid I’ll end up hurting her.”
Like father, like son...

QUOTE
Sam laughed as he opened the front door and stepped out onto the large porch, but the women were gone.

XXXXX

Sunday morning
That was a sudden time jump XD

QUOTE

“Really?! That’s terrific!” Jo exclaimed before becoming oddly silent.
Literally everyone in this story is a shipper XD

QUOTE

“You know I am. I guess only time will tell...for all of us.”
For Sam and Becca that's a given, but for you two... it's been how long now? XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 19 November 2019 - 02:33 PM
Ch. 24: Heat Wave

Joanna sat back on her heels and tossed the ragged sponge into a bucket of dull, gray water which had been clear and soapy when she began scrubbing one of the dormitory’s bathroom floors thirty minutes earlier. She stretched her back muscles as rivulets of sweat trickled down her neck, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand.

“Has the air conditioner stopped working?” she asked.

Cynthia, who had been cleaning the toilets, laughed ruefully. “It better not have! A lot of people are counting on it.”

Milwaukee was in the second day of what was predicted to be a week-long heat wave with temperatures in the nineties and high humidity. Thanks to their networking the weekend before, the mayor had asked MacGyver and Joanna to make Challengers an official shelter and cooling station until the dangerous weather released its grip on the city. That meant a lot of foot traffic and strangers coming and going twenty-four hours a day.

“Besides,” Cynthia continued, “MacGyver could fix it in an emergency. That is, after he talks the firemen into opening the hydrant so the kids can cool themselves in the water.”

Jo smiled sadly. Poor Mac. So many people relied on him, yet he hardly ever relied on anyone. Even her.

“What do you say we break for lunch?” Cynthia suggested.

“You don’t have to ask me twice!” Joanna snapped off the protective rubber gloves she had been wearing and scrambled to her feet before the other woman changed her mind.

Back in Cynthia’s office, Joanna frowned.

“Have you seen my ring?” she asked.

“What ring is that, dear?” Cynthia inquired absently while shuffling through a pile of messages.

“The sapphire one I always wear. I took it off and left it on your desk.”

“It must be around here someplace then,” the older woman replied. “It surely didn’t grow legs and walk away.”

Joanna was about to commence her search when the main door slammed open followed by a wave of giggles. Curious, she and Cynthia quickly headed toward the noise. When she saw the cause she stopped dead in her tracks. MacGyver stood in the doorway soaking wet. His hair slicked back and his t-shirt and jeans clinging to him like a second skin accentuating his firm, athletic build.

“They opened the fire hydrant,” he announced with an adorably crooked grin.

He glanced around the room until he pinned Joanna with his gaze. She felt a flush bloom on her cheeks, embarrassed that he had caught her staring at him. But his eyes gleamed with mischief and his grin widened just for her.

“Lucky I keep a change of clothes upstairs,” he said as he went to step into the room.

“Don’t you move!” Cynthia admonished. “I don’t want you dripping all over my clean floor. I’ll go get you a towel.”

A few minutes later, Mac was vigorously rubbing his shaggy hair with one towel before using another to remove as much moisture from his clothes as possible before Cynthia allowed him to go to the dormitory and change.

When the commotion had died down, Joanna returned to Cynthia’s office to resume the search for her ring. Once certain that the piece of jewelry was not on the desk or hidden under a stack of paperwork that had accumulated during the morning, Jo dropped to her hands and knees to begin a thorough search of the threadbare carpet when a masculine voice from behind startled her.

“Looking for something?” MacGyver asked, leaning casually against the doorframe clad in fresh, dry clothes.

“No! I mean, I thought I dropped a paperclip,” she sputtered.

“Ah,” came his reply, the tone telling her that he would accept the lie...for now.

Joanna was surprised that the fib came so easily to her. But then again, she was more than a little embarrassed that she may have lost one of her most precious possessions due to her lack of responsible behavior. She figured she would be cleaning today, yet instead of keeping the ring in her jewelry box, she slipped it on her finger out of habit. Now it was gone. Presumably lost as she balked at the thought that anyone at Challengers would trespass in Cynthia’s office and steal it. Yet, Rosie Garcia had been in and out all morning to deliver messages and other paperwork. But Rosie would never do something like that!

“Cynthia said you guys were taking a break. Wanna go grab something to eat?” Mac asked, breaking through Joanna’s thoughts.

“Sure,” she replied half-heartedly as she considered the whereabouts of her ring.

“Great! Come on,” he said, spontaneously grabbing her left hand and rubbing his thumb over her knuckles.

“Hey, you’re not wearing your ring today,” Mac observed.

Joanna shrugged. “I knew we’d be cleaning today and I didn’t want to risk damaging it so I took it off.” At least that wasn’t a lie and MacGyver accepted her explanation without question.

They were headed out the door when Raul Garcia rushed in.

“Ma! Ma! The ice cream truck is here! Can I have some money?!”

“Mijo! Slow down!” Rosie scolded. “You’re not a little boy anymore. And what happened to the money from your allowance?”

Jo watched as the young teen’s gaze dropped to the floor.

“I kinda spent it all,” he mumbled.

“Ack! What am I going to do with you! You need to learn the value of a dollar!”

“I’m sorry, Ma.” Raul looked up now. “I’ll do better next week, but can I please have some money before the ice cream truck leaves?”

Mac and Joanna grinned as Rosie shook her head even as she removed her purse from the drawer she always kept it in. Finding her wallet, she opened it up only to frown.

“I could’ve sworn I had more cash than this,” she lamented, handing a couple of singles to her son. “I just went to the bank a few days ago!”

“Maybe you need to watch your money better, too,” Raul replied cheekily before barreling out the door to buy his treat.

“I do not understand…” Rosie muttered.

“Maybe you stopped somewhere and picked up something you weren’t planning to,” Jo suggested. “It happens to all of us!”

Rosie summoned a smile. “I suppose you must be right. What other answer could there be?”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver and Joanna returned from lunch to find Cynthia standing on the front steps of the club, speaking with a police officer.

“Excuse me, is there something wrong?” Mac asked, approaching the cop.

“And you are?” the man in the dark uniform asked.

“Name’s MacGyver. I’m the director here at Challengers.”

The other man extended his hand in greeting. “Nice to meet you. I’m Officer Hill. I was just informing Ms. Wilson that we will be running extra patrols past your club for the next few days. People tend to get a little crazy when it gets this hot. I also think you should know there’s been a rather significant rise in gang activity in the area, so please don’t hesitate to call us if you see anything out of the ordinary.”

“Will do. Thank you, officer,” Mac said warmly, the two men shaking hands once again before the policeman returned to his car.

“So, who are the popular gangs around here?” he asked, turning to Joanna.

Jo raised her eyebrows in response. “I’m hardly an expert,” she began sarcastically, “But the Latin Kings were the main players last I heard.”

“Good to know,” Mac replied with a smile before heading inside.

The afternoon sun bore down relentlessly as Challenger members and volunteers helped prepare for the expected influx of people seeking relief from the heat. Joanna and Cynthia finished cleaning while MacGyver and a couple of older boys carried in large cases of bottled water and huge bags of ice. Rosie collected donations from people in the community who offered everything from box fans to brownies. As the sun descended in the western sky, people from all walks of life began to file in seeking a comfortable place to sleep. Many were homeless and Mac recognized them from the neighborhood. Others were elderly or families with small children who were living in dangerously hot conditions. Club volunteers assisted with getting the guests settled and familiar with the rules. When most of the activity had died down, Mac pulled Joanna into his office.

“I just wanted to let you know that I’m spending the night here,” he said. “With all these strangers I wanna be around just in case something happens.”

Jo laughed. “Cynthia told me the same thing earlier. In fact, I offered to stay with her so I guess we’re all here for the long haul.”

After a short, impromptu meeting, it was decided that the three of them would take turns monitoring activity in the center. MacGyver volunteered for the first shift and Joanna and Cynthia headed to their respective offices to rest until it was their turn. He settled himself in the chair behind the small reception desk that was normally occupied by Rosie. He silently shook his head, wondering how she managed to work a full time third shift job and volunteer all day at Challengers as well as raise Raul. He made a mental note to sit down with Cynthia and go over the accounts to see if there was a way to pay her for her services.

Macgyver’s chin had dropped to his chest and he was struggling to keep his eyes open when he heard raised voices coming from the parking lot. He glanced at his watch. It was just a couple of minutes before midnight. He rose from the chair and hurried outside to see what was going on.

“You don’t belong here! This ain’t your turf!” a teen Mac recognized as a Challengers Club member yelled at a group of young men hidden in the shadows.

“Oh yeah?! I heard the mayor on the news and he said anyone could come so here we are!” a twenty-something man with a rather thick Hispanic accent shot back.

Mac watched as the teen from Challengers lunged at his opponent and wasted no time getting between the two.

“Hold it!” MacGyver commanded, separating them before either could throw a punch.

When Mac was satisfied that a brawl was not about to ensue, he turned his attention to the young man who seemed to be the antagonist and the small group of teens standing behind him and immediately understood what the problem was.

“Challengers doesn’t turn anyone away,” MacGyver began to explain. “But it’s also a gang-free zone. You’re more than welcome to join us, but you gotta lose the colors first,” he said, looking to the yellow and black bandannas the boys wore either on their heads or around their necks.”

“Forget it, man!” the leader spat. “The Kings don’t go nowhere we ain’t respected.” He turned, snapped his fingers, and the others fell in behind him stalking off into the night.

MacGyver turned to the remaining teen who stood under a street lamp and now recognized him as Diego.

“That was a really dumb thing to do,” Mac scolded. “What made you come out here in the first place?”

The teen shrugged. “I heard a noise outside my window and wanted to see what was up.”

“Well, the next time you hear strange noises come and get me. You know that could’ve turned out really bad for you tonight.”

“Yes sir,” Diego responded sullenly as they both headed inside.

Mac returned to find Joanna standing next to the chair he had recently vacated, her arms crossed protectively in front of her.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“A few members of the Latin Kings decided to pay us a visit.”

Jo’s eyes grew wide and MacGyver knew what she was thinking. “Don’t worry, everything’s fine,” he assured her. “Why don’t you go back to the office?”

She shook her head. “It’s almost time for my shift, anyway. Besides, I haven’t been able to sleep.”

“Why not?” Concern furrowed Mac’s brow.

“It’s probably just the heat and knowing there are strangers around,” she replied before settling herself in the desk chair.

Mac wasn’t buying that. Joanna had been distant all afternoon and evening, and he doubted the heat was to blame, but he’d have plenty of time to ferret out the truth tomorrow.

“All right,” he reluctantly agreed. “But come and get me if there’s any trouble.” He headed towards his office even though he knew he would be wide awake the rest of the night.

The following day, as the ones before it, dawned sunny, hot, and humid. A truck arrived from a local store to deliver donated cases of bottled water, ice, and snacks. Mac was helping Jo and Cynthia put away the needed supplies when Diego came running up to them.

“My bike’s gone! The Latin Kings stole my bike last night!”

“Whoa, take it easy,” Mac replied, gently grabbing the boy by the shoulders. “Are you sure it was stolen?”

Diego rolled his eyes. “Of course I’m sure! It was there when I went to bed and now it’s gone!”

“How do you know one of the Kings took it?”

The boy looked at him as if he was questioning Mac’s sanity.

“They were here last night,” Diego said, as if that proved their guilt.

“Yeah, but I didn’t see any of them take your bike. Did you?”

“No, but one of them could’ve taken it before we went outside.”

“And you’re sure you locked it up on the rack yesterday?” Mac inquired.

Diego’s gaze fell and he refused to look MacGyver in the eye. “I lost the lock last week,” he mumbled. “But I thought it would be safe with all the other bikes there!”

Mac sighed. “Anyone could’ve taken your bike. You know that. And why didn’t you ask me for a new lock? We have to be extra careful with things that are important to us.”

He looked up at Joanna for reinforcement but was met with a stunned expression before she turned and hurried away.

“Go with Ms. Cynthia and call the cops to report your stolen bike,” Mac instructed before going after Joanna.

He found her in her office, organizing her desk like she always did when she was upset about something. His eyes found her hands of their own accord. She still wasn’t wearing her beloved ring.

“When are you going to tell me what’s going on with you?” he asked softly.

“There’s nothing going on with me,” she replied defensively. “I told you last night, it’s just the heat.”

“I didn’t believe that last night and I don’t believe it now,” he informed her, walking up to her and grabbing her empty left hand. “Does it have anything to do with this?” he asked, tenderly stroking the finger that usually displayed the dark blue sapphire.

Joanna’s eyes welled with tears. “I think it’s been stolen,” she sighed shakily. “I hadn’t meant to wear it yesterday, but put it on by force of habit. I left it on Cynthia’s desk before we went upstairs to clean the dorm bathrooms. When we came down for lunch it was gone.”

“Are you sure you just didn’t misplace it or overlook it?” Mac asked, squeezing her hand tighter hoping to comfort her.

“I looked everywhere. Yesterday and last night. I even questioned some of the volunteers, but no one has seen it.”

“Who had access to the office?”

“I know for sure that Rosie did. But if someone forgot to lock the door, anyone could’ve gone in.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?”

Joanna’s chin began to quiver. “I didn’t want you to think I was some dumb, irresponsible flake.”

“Aw baby,” he crooned, stepping around the desk and pulling her to him. “You are absolutely none of those things. You had every right to believe your ring would be safe in Cynthia’s office.”

Jo buried her face in his shirt and he rested his chin on the top of her head as she allowed tears to fall. He held her tight until her trembling stopped and she started to pull away.

“We should call the police,” he suggested gently.

“It won’t do any good,” Jo replied, wiping the moisture from her cheeks. “Whoever took it is sure to have pawned it by now.”

“It still wouldn’t hurt. And we need to get the word out around here in case it’s just lost.”

Joanna nodded her acquiescence just as Rosie knocked frantically on the office door.

“Mr. MacGyver, I am so sorry to interrupt, but I need you to look at something.”

“Sure, what is it?”

Rosie reached into her purse and pulled out a clear plastic zip bag with a powdery white substance inside.

“Is this what I think it is?” she asked anxiously.

Mac dipped a finger in the bag and gingerly tasted a bit of the white powder.

“It’s cocaine. Where’d you find this?”

“It was floating in our toilet this morning. I wanted to ask Raul about it, but he had already left. I thought he’d be here, but he’s not.”

“I’m gonna go find him,” MacGyver declared, shoving the bag of drugs into his back jean pocket.

“Do you know where he is?” Rosie asked.

“No, but I have a hunch.”

MacGyver replayed the last twenty-four hours in his mind. Joanna’s ring and Diego’s bike had both mysteriously disappeared as well as cash from Rosie’s wallet. And then, for no apparent reason at the time, local gang members showed up. Now, a bag of coke had been found in the Garcia home.

He turned to Joanna and kissed her quickly on the lips, not caring that Rosie was watching. “Don’t worry, we’re gonna get to the bottom of this,” he promised before walking away.

After getting some information from Diego, MacGyver took off in his Jeep to cruise the Latin Kings’ turf. He slowly drove up one block and down another, but the streets were empty. Apparently, like cops, gang bangers were never around when you needed one. He was just about to give up when he passed an alley and caught movement in his peripheral vision. Parking the Jeep, he climbed out and walked back toward the alley, his nerve endings tingling with awareness. Before moving further, he did a visual assessment of the narrow passageway. Nothing. But a shiver sliding down his back told him things may not be as they seemed. He began to stealthily walk through the alley, alert and ready to pounce on anything that moved. He was about halfway in when he saw a pair of ragged tennis shoes peeking out from behind a large cardboard box.

With the element of surprise on his side, MacGyver grabbed the box and in one swift motion flung it aside to find Raul huddled against the brick wall of the building behind him, knees pulled up to his chest, eyes wide with fear.

“Raul! What are you doing here?”

“I’m hiding from them! They’re gonna kill me!” the young teen cried.

“Who?! Who’s after you?”

“The Latin Kings. They’re gonna kill me!” Raul repeated.

MacGyver pulled the small bag of cocaine out of his pocket.

“It wouldn’t have anything to do with this, would it?” he asked calmly.

Raul nodded as Mac sat down on the ground next to him.

“So, you usin’, dealin’ or both?”

“I ain’t doin’ none of that,” the teen insisted.

“Raul, your mother found this in your house. Now what’s goin’ on?”

“I was taking a shortcut home a couple days ago and accidently walked through Kings’ turf. They jumped me and tried to get me to join. When I refused, they said I would have to pay up if I didn’t want them to hurt me or my mom.”

The gears began to turn in MacGyver’s mind and suddenly clicked.

“So you were supposed to sell this coke and give them the money to keep them away from you and your mom?”

Raul nodded. “I didn’t want to! Honest! So I flushed it. Or at least I thought I did.”

“Plastic floats, man,” Mac reminded him only to be greeted by silence, but he figured he could guess the rest.

“Okay, so you planned to get rid of the coke, but you still needed to pay them off so you took money from your mom’s wallet and stole Diego’s bike and Ms. Joanna’s ring. Am I right?”

“Yeah,” Raul mumbled. “Only, when I tried to hock the bike and ring I didn’t get as much as I thought I would. If I don’t get the money by six o’clock tonight I’m a dead man!”

“Relax. I’m not gonna let anything happen to you,” Mac promised.

“How you gonna do that?”

“Well, first of all, I’m taking you back to Challengers and we’re gonna call the police.”

“Are you loco?! Do you know what gangs do to snitches?!”

“Raul, it’s the right thing to do. Now let’s get outta here.”

Back at Challengers, Rosie greeted her son with a suffocating hug followed by a scathing reprimand when he confessed to what he had done.

“C’mon,” Mac said, putting a guiding hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Let’s go in my office and make that phone call.”

A few minutes later they emerged from the room to find Joanna, Rosie and Cynthia huddled nearby.

“Well…?” Joanna asked impatiently.

Mac jammed his splayed fingers through his sweat-dampened hair. “I talked with Officer Hill, the cop we met yesterday. He said there was nothing the police could do unless the gang was caught doing something illegal. Raul gave his statement and Hill is gonna pass it on to the anti-gang taskforce.”

“What about tonight?” she pressed as Rosie stood next to her anxiously wringing her hands.

“I don’t know,” MacGyver sighed, keenly aware of the expectant gazes that had settled on him. He had always been the man with the plan. The guy that got called in to do what the best of the best could not. Today, he felt horribly inadequate.

“I got an idea!” Raul suddenly exclaimed. “The cop dude said they needed to catch the gang in the act right?” He waited for Mac to nod before continuing. “Then let’s go through with the payoff! You can put a wire on me. We’ll get them on tape and take it to the police! I just saw it on TV and it worked like a charm!”

“No way! It’s too dangerous,” Mac proclaimed. “Besides, this is real life, not some television show.”

There had to be something he could do. But what? Back in L.A. he would’ve gone to one of his trusted friends on the police force but here he had no one. Nevertheless, he mentally scrolled through the Rolodex in his brain.

“I think I might have an idea,” he announced.

“What is it?” Jo asked.

“I need to make a phone call,” was all he said before turning and walking back into his office, well aware of the frustration on Joanna’s face at being left out of his plan. But he didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up in case things didn’t work out.

“Lee Vang, attorney at law, how may I help you?”

“Hey Lee, it’s MacGyver.”

“Mac! Good to hear from you! Step in front of any speeding bullets lately?”

“Ha, ha, very funny. What ever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”

“When your wife works as a trauma nurse you hear a lot of stories. Wendi knew we were friends and thought you wouldn’t mind.”

MacGyver hadn’t met Wendi Vang when he had recently been rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound, at least not while he had been conscious, but Joanna had told him how understanding and helpful Wendi had been and he would be forever grateful for that.

“Is there something I can help you with?” the lawyer continued.

“You wouldn’t happen to have any connections in the police department? Maybe someone who owes you a favor?”

“What kind of trouble are you in this time, Mac?” Lee chuckled.

MacGyver explained everything about Raul’s run in with the Latin Kings and the impending repercussions.

“Raul Garcia. Isn’t that the young man I defended earlier this year in a case involving vandalism and gang activity? The one whose mom makes those killer tamales?”

“I’m afraid it is,” Mac admitted.

“That boy sure has a knack for finding trouble. Are you sure he’s not related to you?”

“You’re just a regular comedian today, aren’t you, Vang? Can you help us out or not?”

Lee’s voice became serious. “I have some people I can contact. I’ll have them meet you at Challengers.”

XXXXX

MacGyver saw Joanna look nervously at her watch. It was five o’clock. One hour until Raul was scheduled to meet the Kings at the abandoned factory by the river. Lee Vang had sent over four off-duty narcotic detectives, two of whom were already in position in the communication van a block away from the meeting site. The van was disguised with signage indicating it was an air conditioning repair company, a rather common sight in the city these days so it was doubtful anyone would find its presence suspicious. The two remaining detectives had commandeered MacGyver’s office and swiftly secured Raul and his mother behind closed doors. Joanna had taken Rosie’s place at the reception desk, happily greeting bedraggled persons seeking relief from the heat, pretending that Challengers was operating as usual. He knew she was upset that he planned to tag along with Raul and the detectives, and even more upset that she couldn’t join them, but it was important for her to remain and help Cynthia keep the club running. Mac pulled up a chair and sat next to her, wanting to spend a few quiet moments together before he headed out.

“What are they doing in there?” she whispered to him as she glanced at his closed office door.

“They’re wiring him up and giving him instructions on what to say and how to act given different scenarios.”

“So he really is gonna be like that guy on television?”

“Pretty much,” Mac confirmed, putting a calming hand on her thigh. “But don’t worry. We’ll have lots of eyes on him. He won’t be alone for a second.”

Joanna turned to look at him. “That’s what they always say and the sting always goes south.”

“Have you been watching TV with Raul?” MacGyver teased, trying to lighten the mood. However, given Joanna’s deep frown and steely gaze, his effort had been unsuccessful.

“I don’t like this, Mac.”

“Neither do I. But we don’t have many options at this point. If he would’ve come to us right away then maybe…”

His office door opened and the small group emerged and headed toward MacGyver.

“Ready to go?” the first detective asked.

“Let’s do this,” Mac replied.

“Okay, we’re going to leave the building separately and at intervals, just in case they have someone watching the place,” the second detective instructed. “MacGyver, you go last. Make sure Raul doesn’t get intercepted between here and the factory. And when you get there, go straight to the van. I’m not in the mood for any collateral damage.”

Fifteen minutes before the designated meeting time, MacGyver slipped through the back door of the surveillance van. A detective handed him a pair of headphones and binoculars. Mac climbed into the driver’s seat and trained the binoculars on the front of the abandoned factory where Raul stood just outside the main doors.

“I’d feel better if we had some cameras on him,” Mac commented.

“Didn’t have enough notice to get them set up,” came the officer’s curt reply. “Besides, didn’t want to risk being made by any Kings that might be hanging out.”

Mac couldn’t argue with that. As he sat watching Raul, he felt his adrenaline build and his heart rate increase. The worst part of any mission, at least for him, was the waiting. He glanced at his watch. Six o’clock on the nose. When he looked up, he saw three gang members sporting their black and yellow colors approach Raul from either side of the old building. MacGyver put on his headset and readjusted the binoculars. A tall, broad shouldered male separated himself from the others and stood to face Raul.

“You got my cash?”

“I changed my mind, Manny,” Raul said in a stronger voice than Mac expected. “I ain’t sellin’ no dope.” Raul held out the bag of coke to the gang leader who snatched it from his hand.

“Sounds like we got ourselves a problem then,” Manny sneered, moving in closer.

“There’s no problem. Let’s just forget the whole thing,” Raul suggested.

“It don’t work like that, dude. You come around on King turf you either join up or pay up.”

“I ain’t joinin’ and I ain’t payin’!”

“I guess you don’t care about that pretty little mama of yours.”

“What do you mean?” Raul asked, his brave facade crumbling.

“You gotta protect your family, man. That’s what I mean.”

Raul shifted his weight from one foot to another, nervously licking his lips as he glanced around to find the other gang members slowly surrounding him, guns and knives visible and threatening.

“All right! All right! I’ll sell your stupid dope! But just this one time so you don’t hurt my mom!”

An evil, satisfied grin spread across Manny’s face as he handed the coke back to Raul. As soon as the bag with the white powder hit Raul’s hand, the detectives lunged from their hiding places and the two officers in the van barreled out the back doors. Shouts of “Freeze! Police!” and “Drop your weapons!” rent the evening air. For a moment it was if time stood still. Then suddenly the police had all the boys down on the ground, handcuffs snapped into place. MacGyver breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The takedown had been quick and harmless. He lowered his binoculars and was pulling off his headset when he saw a teen in Latin Kings colors race from the factory, past the van Mac was in. Acting on pure instinct, MacGyver tumbled out the driver’s side door and quickly regained his feet to chase after the boy. It didn’t take long for Mac to catch up and, hurtling through the air, slam the gang member into the ground, landing on top of him. Before Mac could right himself, the teen rolled over, knife flailing in his hand. MacGyver felt the sharp sting of the blade as it sliced his bicep, but his focus remained on the miscreant writhing beneath him. He reached out, grabbing the knife-wielding arm and pounding it hard into the ground until the boy’s grip slackened and the weapon fell harmlessly away. Mac stood, wadding the teen’s shirt front in his fist and pulling him up to his feet. Together they stumbled back to the van where MacGyver handed the escapee over to one of the detectives.

“Looks like we better get you an ambulance,” the officer said, looking at the blood flowing from Mac’s upper arm as he took custody of the boy.

“It’s just a flesh wound,” MacGyver shrugged. “I’ll be fine.”

“Yeah, right,” the cop smirked before turning to speak into his walkie-talkie.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna sat at the Challengers reception desk smiling welcoming smiles at newcomers seeking relief from the heat and happily accepting donations from the community, but inside her heart was fluttering and her stomach churning. She glanced at her watch for the fifth time in the last four minutes. How long until she heard something? The meeting should have taken place thirty minutes ago and yet no one had called to inform them of the outcome. She was about to glance at her watch again when Cynthia approached and put a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“I just heard from the detectives,” she informed Joanna. “Raul is safe and all the gang members are in custody.”

“So no one was hurt?” Jo asked with cautious hopefulness.

“MacGyver sustained an injury. They wouldn’t give me any details, but he’s on his way to the hospital right now.”

Without a word, Joanna quickly retrieved her purse, grabbed her keys and headed out. It wasn’t until she was behind the wheel, already driving down the road that she realized she hadn’t even said good-bye to Cynthia much less apologized for leaving her alone to run the center, but upon hearing Mac was hurt, nothing else seemed to matter.

Joanna rushed through the automatic doors of the emergency room only to be greeted by Wendi Vang.

“Wow! You made good time. The ambulance hasn’t even arrived yet!” Wendi grinned, but Jo failed to find any humor in her observation. “The medics just called in. Mac’s okay, just a knife wound that’s going to need stitched up.”

Joanna breathed a sigh of relief, thankful the injury wasn’t worse. The nurse’s pager went off and she politely excused herself, leaving Jo to take a seat in the emergency waiting room. Sitting on the hard plastic chair, she leaned her head back against the wall, her eyelids fluttering closed of their own volition as the stress and excitement of the day finally caught up with her. To her surprise, she must have dozed off because the next time she opened her eyes it was to find MacGyver standing in the waiting room watching her, a crooked grin on his face. The only evidence of his injury was a ripped and bloodied shirt sleeve and the white dressing peeking out of the tear.

“Hi,” he greeted her softly. “Tough day, huh?”

“You could say that,” she agreed, standing but not moving towards him.

“You’re upset,” he observed.

“I was worried,” she amended. “But Wendi assured me you’d be okay even before you got here.”

“But you stayed.”

“I figured you’d need a ride home,” she shrugged.

A young doctor wearing glasses and a lab coat interrupted them.

“Excuse me, Mr. MacGyver, but here are your discharge papers. Remember to keep the site clean and dry and we’ll see you back here in ten days to take out the stitches.”

“Thanks,” Mac murmured, taking the papers and shaking the physician’s hand before turning back to Joanna. “Shall we go?”

Jo turned her back to him and headed out the door, leaving him to follow in her wake. Once in the car she cranked the engine and jacked up the air conditioning as MacGyver struggled to push the passenger seat back and buckle his seat belt.

“You’re upset,” Mac repeated as she pulled out of the parking lot feeling his eyes on her.

“I’m not upset,” she sighed heavily. “I’m just trying really hard to get used to the idea that the emergency room is your second favorite hang-out after the ice rink.”

“That’s not true,” he retorted. “Wherever you are is by far my absolute, number one hang-out. The ice rink is second and the hospital is a distant third.”

By now they were parked in MacGyver’s driveway, the car idling. Joanna finally turned to look at him and genuinely smiled for what seemed to be the first time in days. When he smiled back, her stomach did a funny little flip.

“You wanna come in?”

“Do you need help with something?”

“No, I just thought…”

She reached out and put a hand on his cheek to silence him. “I think it’s best if we both just get a good night’s sleep.”

“But we’re okay, right?” he asked, the worry in his eyes and concern in his voice tugging at her heart.

“We’re way better than okay,” she assured him before they leaned toward each other, their lips meeting in a kiss that melted her from the inside out.

XXXXX

Joanna looked up at the clock on the wall and frowned.

“I thought MacGyver would be here by now,” she said, a bit deflated.

“I called him last night and told him to take the day off,” Cynthia informed her.

“I know. That’s why I thought he’d be here already!” she chuckled with Cynthia joining in.

An unpredicted cold front had swept through the region the night before leaving behind comfortable temperatures and low humidity. Cynthia, Joanna, Rosie, and several Challengers members had spent the better part of the morning cleaning the dorms and recreation area in an effort to get the club back to normal since there was no longer a need for cooling stations. Jo had just stowed the last of the cleaning supplies in a closet when MacGyver poked his head through the doorway.

“Is Diego here?” he asked, a secretive smile on his face.

“Yeah, he’s around,” Jo replied.

“Go find him and bring him outside.”

Knowing better than to question Mac’s request, Joanna went in search of Diego and escorted him out to the parking lot, the others following close behind out of curiosity. There, MacGyver stood grinning widely with a bicycle standing in front of him.

“Well, what do ya think?” he asked the boy whose eyes had gone wide.

“Is that my bike?” Diego asked in disbelief.

“Sure is!” Mac proclaimed. “Bought it back from the pawn shop this morning.”

Diego whooped with joy as he grabbed his bike, hopped on, and began riding laps around the lot. As everyone laughed and clapped and congratulated MacGyver on his find, Joanna snuck back into the building and slunk into her office. Sitting at her desk, she put her face in her hands, ashamed of her selfish feelings. Naturally, she was glad to see that Diego had gotten his bicycle back, but she couldn’t help feeling jealous because his property had been recovered but not hers. Of course, pawn shops were notorious for quickly selling valuable items like jewelry as opposed to a boy’s old, rusty bike. Suddenly, she heard footsteps approaching and quickly lowered her hands, pretending to study her blank computer screen.

“Why aren’t you outside with the others,” Mac asked, standing casually in the doorway.

“With all the craziness of the past few days I have a lot of work to catch up on,” she replied, hoping her voice didn’t reveal her true thoughts.

“Well, when I was out this morning trying to track down Diego’s bike, I found something in one of the pawn shops I thought you might like.” He slowly walked behind her desk and, with a hand supporting her elbow, silently encouraged her to stand as she gazed at him skeptically.

Once they were standing face-to-face, he reached into the front pocket of his pants and pulled out his gift. Between his thumb and forefinger he held a dark blue sapphire ring with diamond accents. Joanna’s breath caught. She couldn’t believe her eyes.

“It can’t be,” she shook her head in amazement. “Is that really my ring?”

“Now you sound like Diego!” Mac laughed. “Yes, it is really your ring. The store owner recognized it as a high quality piece of jewelry that most likely didn’t belong to the man who hocked it. He didn’t put it on display in case someone came looking for it.”

“I can’t believe it!” Jo exclaimed, finally allowing her excitement to bubble to the surface.

She reached out to take the ring, but MacGyver quickly pulled his hand away.

“Hey!” she scolded.

“If I’m going to give you a ring I’m going to do it the right way,” he explained as if to a child. “Now, hold out your hand.”

Joanna gave him an exaggerated eye roll but held out her right hand, palm up.

“Not like that,” Mac chided as he stepped even closer and took her left hand in his. With his other hand he gently, almost reverently, slipped the precious piece on her ring finger.

Jo’s jaw slackened and her mouth went dry. “Maaac?” she asked uncertainly.

MacGyver bent his head so his lips were against her ear, his breath tickling her neck.

“Don’t worry. I’m just practicing.”








Posted by: Dragondog 21 November 2019 - 07:41 AM
QUOTE
Ch. 24: Heat Wave
Wonder if there's a double meaning or not wink.gif

QUOTE

“They opened the fire hydrant,” he announced with an adorably crooked grin.
Of course they did XD

Wait... does that mean MacGyver was the one giggling?

QUOTE

“Don’t you move!” Cynthia admonished. “I don’t want you dripping all over my clean floor. I’ll go get you a towel.”
I don't want you dripping all over my clean floor. That's probably still wet from having just been mopped. That will be just fine if you do drip. (Well, maybe a bit of work with the mop would be needed to keep it from streaking funny from the drips XD).

QUOTE

“No! I mean, I thought I dropped a paperclip,” she sputtered.

“Ah,” came his reply, the tone telling her that he would accept the lie...for now.
Why did she lie in the first place?

QUOTE

Joanna was surprised that the fib came so easily to her. But then again, she was more than a little embarrassed that she may have lost one of her most precious possessions due to her lack of responsible behavior.
Oh please... XD

QUOTE
Name’s MacGyver.
It's completely impossible for me to NOT read that in his voice XD

QUOTE
People tend to get a little crazy when it gets this hot.
Ah. There's the real significance of this chapter's title XD

QUOTE

Mac sighed. “Anyone could’ve taken your bike. You know that. And why didn’t you ask me for a new lock? We have to be extra careful with things that are important to us.”

He looked up at Joanna for reinforcement but was met with a stunned expression before she turned and hurried away.
And HERE we go...

QUOTE

Mac dipped a finger in the bag and gingerly tasted a bit of the white powder.
SURE, JUST RANDOMLY TASTE SOMETHING YOU FOUND IN A BAG!

(I'm pretty sure this is from ATLA)

Male character: Hmm, what's this? *tastes it* *spits it out* IT TASTES LIKE... ROTTEN PENGUIN MEAT!

Female character: You've been hallucinating on cactus juice all day, and now you just LICK SOMETHING YOU FIND ON THE WALL OF A CAVE?!

Male character: Well what can I say? I have a natural curiousity...

QUOTE
“Besides, this is real life, not some television show.”
Mac, sweetie, have I got some news for you...

QUOTE

“What kind of trouble are you in this time, Mac?” Lee chuckled.
Mood roller.gif

QUOTE

“That boy sure has a knack for finding trouble. Are you sure he’s not related to you?”

“You’re just a regular comedian today, aren’t you, Vang? Can you help us out or not?”
This is what I'm like 99% of the time laugh.gif

QUOTE

“Pretty much,” Mac confirmed, putting a calming hand on her thigh. “But don’t worry. We’ll have lots of eyes on him. He won’t be alone for a second.”

Joanna turned to look at him. “That’s what they always say and the sting always goes south.”

“Have you been watching TV with Raul?” MacGyver teased, trying to lighten the mood.
Nah, she's just becoming self-aware laugh.gif

Yeah, it never goes as planned XD Better than it could've, though...

QUOTE
“I’m just trying really hard to get used to the idea that the emergency room is your second favorite hang-out after the ice rink.”
Glad she brought that up XD

I kinda figured Mac would be able to buy back the stolen goods XD

QUOTE
The store owner recognized it as a high quality piece of jewelry that most likely didn’t belong to the man who hocked it. He didn’t put it on display in case someone came looking for it.”

“I can’t believe it!”
Me neither. Most Pawn Shop owners suck XD

QUOTE

“If I’m going to give you a ring I’m going to do it the right way,” he explained as if to a child. “Now, hold out your hand.”
For a moment I thought he was going to propose again XD

QUOTE


Jo’s jaw slackened and her mouth went dry. “Maaac?” she asked uncertainly.
Idk why, but that line cracks me up roller.gif

QUOTE

MacGyver bent his head so his lips were against her ear, his breath tickling her neck.

“Don’t worry. I’m just practicing.”
*brain shuts down trying to figure out whether that counts as a proposal or not*

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 November 2019 - 10:15 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 21 November 2019 - 07:41 AM)
QUOTE

“No! I mean, I thought I dropped a paperclip,” she sputtered.

“Ah,” came his reply, the tone telling her that he would accept the lie...for now.
Why did she lie in the first place?

QUOTE

Joanna was surprised that the fib came so easily to her. But then again, she was more than a little embarrassed that she may have lost one of her most precious possessions due to her lack of responsible behavior.
Oh please... XD

This whole ring thing and Jo's reaction is based totally in reality. I was in my mid-twenties and had my sapphire ring stolen from a motel room. I left it on the dresser instead of putting it away and we believe the maid swiped it. Anyway, my mom went BALLISTIC that I was so irresponsible, etc. We called the cops to report it and they sent an older officer and by then my mom and I were going at it and I was in tears and the cop was trying to calm us both down assuring me it wasn't my fault and trying to convince my mom of it. Let me tell ya, it was pretty traumatic!!

Posted by: Dragondog 22 November 2019 - 09:49 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 21 November 2019 - 12:15 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 21 November 2019 - 07:41 AM)
QUOTE

“No! I mean, I thought I dropped a paperclip,” she sputtered.

“Ah,” came his reply, the tone telling her that he would accept the lie...for now.
Why did she lie in the first place?

QUOTE

Joanna was surprised that the fib came so easily to her. But then again, she was more than a little embarrassed that she may have lost one of her most precious possessions due to her lack of responsible behavior.
Oh please... XD

This whole ring thing and Jo's reaction is based totally in reality. I was in my mid-twenties and had my sapphire ring stolen from a motel room. I left it on the dresser instead of putting it away and we believe the maid swiped it. Anyway, my mom went BALLISTIC that I was so irresponsible, etc. We called the cops to report it and they sent an older officer and by then my mom and I were going at it and I was in tears and the cop was trying to calm us both down assuring me it wasn't my fault and trying to convince my mom of it. Let me tell ya, it was pretty traumatic!!

In your situation it makes a bit more sense, especially when your mom is going at you XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 22 November 2019 - 11:08 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 22 November 2019 - 09:49 AM)
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 21 November 2019 - 12:15 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 21 November 2019 - 07:41 AM)
QUOTE

“No! I mean, I thought I dropped a paperclip,” she sputtered.

“Ah,” came his reply, the tone telling her that he would accept the lie...for now.
Why did she lie in the first place?

QUOTE

Joanna was surprised that the fib came so easily to her. But then again, she was more than a little embarrassed that she may have lost one of her most precious possessions due to her lack of responsible behavior.
Oh please... XD

This whole ring thing and Jo's reaction is based totally in reality. I was in my mid-twenties and had my sapphire ring stolen from a motel room. I left it on the dresser instead of putting it away and we believe the maid swiped it. Anyway, my mom went BALLISTIC that I was so irresponsible, etc. We called the cops to report it and they sent an older officer and by then my mom and I were going at it and I was in tears and the cop was trying to calm us both down assuring me it wasn't my fault and trying to convince my mom of it. Let me tell ya, it was pretty traumatic!!

In your situation it makes a bit more sense, especially when your mom is going at you XD

Thanks. I guess the whole point I was trying to make is that Jo is super-responsible and thinking she lost/misplaced something would be very upsetting and embarrassing and she doesn't want Mac to see her in a bad light.

Posted by: Dragondog 22 November 2019 - 09:59 PM
I can understand that, just not relate to it, so apologies again if my snarkiness came out too strongly tongue.gif

I don't wear any jewlery, so I've never been in that situation, but I do get upset when I lose something (but I'm more honest about it). Most of what I misplace is either found or not very valuable. Usually both XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 23 November 2019 - 12:25 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 22 November 2019 - 09:59 PM)
I can understand that, just not relate to it, so apologies again if my snarkiness came out too strongly tongue.gif

I don't wear any jewlery, so I've never been in that situation, but I do get upset when I lose something (but I'm more honest about it). Most of what I misplace is either found or not very valuable. Usually both XD

No, no, no!! Do NOT apologize! I wish we would have had this conversation a couple years ago when I first wrote this chapter and posted it on a fan fic website. My aunt, who was a professional author for a time, told me one thing that's really stuck with me, and that is to make sure your characters' motivations and actions make sense. You've actually inspired me to go back and tweak this part, giving it more of a back story to explain Jo's reaction to losing the ring. As I said, it's based on my own experience, but I didn't share everything...What made my experience really bad was that, from the time I was old enough to keep a ring on my finger, my grandma always made sure I had a sapphire one (my birthstone). After she died, I felt I as outgrowing the one I had been wearing for several years so I took the stones and had them reset. THIS was the ring that was stolen and my mom was super upset because because they were the stones my grandma (her mom) had bought for me so there was obviously a lot of sentimental value. That's where the strong emotions really came from...along with me being super responsible and just tossing it on the dresser the night before. Si THANK YOU for the feedback!!

Posted by: Dragondog 24 November 2019 - 09:38 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 23 November 2019 - 02:25 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 22 November 2019 - 09:59 PM)
I can understand that, just not relate to it, so apologies again if my snarkiness came out too strongly tongue.gif

I don't wear any jewlery, so I've never been in that situation, but I do get upset when I lose something (but I'm more honest about it). Most of what I misplace is either found or not very valuable. Usually both XD

No, no, no!! Do NOT apologize! I wish we would have had this conversation a couple years ago when I first wrote this chapter and posted it on a fan fic website. My aunt, who was a professional author for a time, told me one thing that's really stuck with me, and that is to make sure your characters' motivations and actions make sense. You've actually inspired me to go back and tweak this part, giving it more of a back story to explain Jo's reaction to losing the ring. As I said, it's based on my own experience, but I didn't share everything...What made my experience really bad was that, from the time I was old enough to keep a ring on my finger, my grandma always made sure I had a sapphire one (my birthstone). After she died, I felt I as outgrowing the one I had been wearing for several years so I took the stones and had them reset. THIS was the ring that was stolen and my mom was super upset because because they were the stones my grandma (her mom) had bought for me so there was obviously a lot of sentimental value. That's where the strong emotions really came from...along with me being super responsible and just tossing it on the dresser the night before. Si THANK YOU for the feedback!!

Well, I'm glad i could help then smile.gif

And ouch! I can see why that was such a bad experience sad.gif I can't imagine losing something of that value blowup.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 27 November 2019 - 06:04 PM
Ch. 25: Aunt Betty’s B&B

“Welcome to Cloverton! Home of Aunt Betty’s Bed and Breakfast proudly owned and operated by none other than our very own Penny Parker!” MacGyver proclaimed as he turned his Jeep onto Main Street and cruised the two lane road lined with several storefronts on either side that comprised the downtown area of the small town. It had been nearly ten years since Mac first visited here with Penny to check out the large Tudor Revival style mansion she had inherited from her aunt and it appeared nothing had changed. In fact, he highly doubted anything about this town had changed since the 1950’s.

“I still don’t feel right about leaving Cynthia alone at Challengers,” Joanna protested from the passenger seat.

“She gave us her blessing, remember?” Mac reminded her. “Besides, it’s been a crazy summer and in a couple weeks you’ll be starting your new part-time job at the high school. I thought this would be a good chance for us to spend some time together, just the two of us.”

“You did call Penny to let her know we’re coming, right?”

“Yes. I called. Now would you stop worrying! All you have to do for the next few days is relax. Do you think you can handle that?”

“I guess I can try.”

MacGyver glanced over to find Jo smiling playfully back at him and his heart squeezed in the most delightful way.

A few minutes later, he parked the Jeep in front of the large house. The masonry base, stone chimneys, and upper stories done in stucco and timber were all familiar. However, the overgrown trees and shrubs had all been trimmed and colorful flower beds scattered throughout the yard gave the old place warm appeal. He climbed from the driver’s seat and met Joanna at the back of his vehicle, ready to open the hatch.

“MacGyver!” a bubbly female voice called. “Joanna! I’m so glad you’re here!!” Penny Parker skipped down the front steps and engulfed them each in an enthusiastic hug.

“It’s good to see you too, Penny,” Mac chuckled. He opened the back of the Jeep and went to reach for a piece of luggage when Penny put a staying hand on his arm.

“You can get your stuff later,” she told him. “First, I want you to see your room. Oh! I just know you’re gonna love it!!” She flashed her famous smile before unwittingly turning her back on her new guests, assuming they would follow.

As MacGyver and Joanna climbed the grand staircase, Mac’s head swiveled to take in the changes that had been made to the house. His memory of a dreary, shadowy shell was soon quashed by the bright, welcoming warmth the home now exuded. He followed the two women down the long hallway to the corner room where Penny stopped beside a closed door.

“Oooh, this is so exciting!!” Penny cried, her body quivering with barely contained excitement. Jo tossed Mac a grin over her shoulder just as the younger woman threw the door open.

“Ta da!!” she exclaimed as her guests warily crossed the threshold.

In the center of the large room accented in red and gold stood an ornately carved king size canopy bed, its comforter littered with pink rose petals. Mac watched as Joanna moved forward and picked up one of the pieces of the velvety flower, gently rubbing it between her thumb and forefinger, a questioning look on her face. MacGyver shrugged and took a step back, bumping into a standing silver ice bucket. He pulled out a chilled bottle.

“That’s sparkling grape juice,” Penny explained with a knowing grin from her position just inside the doorway. “I know you don’t drink...well, at least you never used to...and I figured Joanna doesn’t either...or at least she wouldn’t mind--”

Mac held up a hand to silence his friend. “What is this all about?” he asked.

Penny’s gleaming smile fell just a fraction. “It’s the honeymoon suite! I wanted to make it extra special for you!”

“Penny,” Jo replied gently albeit with a slight blush, “We’re not on our honeymoon.”

“But I assumed when MacGyver called to tell me he wanted to bring you someplace special that you two had gotten married.” Penny’s frown deepened and tears began to pool in her eyes. Mac walked up to her, took her shoulders in his hands, and ducked his head so he was looking into her eyes.

“Penny, don’t you think that if Jo and I had gotten married we would have invited you to the wedding?”

“Oh, I never thought about that,” she said quietly. “But you could have eloped!” she stated hopefully. Mac shook his head.

“I’m such an airhead,” Penny moaned, tears threatening to fall once more. “I went through all this trouble because I wanted to do something really special for you guys and I blew it!”

“It really is lovely, Penny,” Joanna said. “It means a lot that you went through all this trouble just for us.”

“Really?” the younger woman asked, rallying just a bit.

“Really,” MacGyver assured her.

“I just thought of something else,” Penny wailed. “I don’t have any place else for you to sleep! I booked all the rooms because I thought you’d be sleeping...well, you know...together! I mean, it’s okay if you do...it’s not like it’s any of my beeswax...but I suppose I could figure out something if you don’t…”

“This will be just fine. We’ll make it work,” Joanna declared, once again coming to the rescue.

“Yeah. I could always sleep in the bathtub,” Mac teased, but the old joke fell flat.

Joanna continued to address Penny. “That bed is so huge Mac and I won’t even know the other is there. We can even put pillows down the middle. It’s no problem.”

What she said was true and right, yet he felt unduly disappointed that she planned to keep her soft warmth well away from him. Then again, with those kinds of thoughts running through his head, perhaps her plan was wise. If not, there was always the bathtub.

XXXXX

“What in the world did you pack?” MacGyver complained as he hefted Joanna’s suitcases out of the Jeep.

“Just the basic necessities and a few books,” she replied airily.

“It feels more like everything but the kitchen sink and an entire library.”

“I like to have options,” she shrugged, picking up a small wicker basket with a hinged, quilted cover.

“What’s that?”

“My knitting.”

“You knit?”

“Yeah. I knit hats and scarves to donate to my church’s winter clothes drive,” Jo explained then grinned cheekily. “There are still some things you don’t know about me, Mac.”

They were about to enter the house with their belongings when they heard a high-pitched squeal followed by the crash of a metal rain gutter on the porch’s concrete overhang. They automatically cringed.

“Oh, terrific!” Penny exclaimed as she stood on the lawn surveying the damage. “Now what am I going to do?!”

“Why don’t you tell me what you were doing in the first place?” Mac asked, abandoning the luggage to join his friend, Joanna close behind.

“I was trying to clean out the gutters before the next rain and now look what happened,” she pouted, her shoulders slumped in defeat.

“Don’t you pay someone to do that kinda stuff?” he inquired.

Penny let out a huff. “I did until last week.”

“What happened last week?”

“My handyman was cleaning out the gutters in back when he fell off the ladder and broke his leg. He won’t be able to work for six weeks!”

“So, hire someone else,” Mac suggested.

“It’s not that simple,” Penny replied softly, literally wringing her hands.

“Why not?”

“Well, before the ladder incident my cook was frying chicken for supper when the pot tipped over and the oil burned her hands. She quit on the spot! With two freak accidents in one week some of the townspeople are saying the house is--”

“Don’t tell me they think it’s haunted,” MacGyver interrupted.

Penny nodded silently, her eyes on the ground.

“We’ve been through this already. There’s no such thing as ghosts!”

“And I’m not the one saying it’s haunted!” Penny shot back. “In fact, before I opened for business, I had a séance just to make sure.”

“Aw, Penny!” Mac threw his hands up in the air in exasperation and turned away but she ignored him.

“Anyway, the house got a clean bill of health,” she proclaimed.

“Don’t worry, Penny. Mac and I will help out while we’re here,” Jo promised.

Mac spun to face the two women. “No! No way!” he protested. “We came here to relax and that’s exactly what we’re gonna do!”

Joanna grabbed his arm and pulled him several yards away from the house.

“What has gotten into you?! Penny’s your friend and needs our help! She could’ve gotten killed trying to clean those gutters by herself!” Jo exclaimed, her steely gaze boring into him.

“That’s exactly my point!” he spat back. “My friend’s always need my help and I’m getting sick and tired of being their go-to guy! Penny’s been running this place for years and has apparently been doing just fine without me. She can manage on her own.”

“I can’t believe you just said that!” Joanna responded, her tone conveying both shock and disappointment. “If you want to kick back and relax, fine! But I’m gonna help Penny! And you can sleep in the bathtub!!” She turned and strode purposefully toward the house.

“Fine!” Mac called to her retreating figure, slapping his palm against his forehead when he realized how selfish and childish he sounded. He hurried to catch up so he could apologize as well as agree to assist with the B&B. He had let his pent up frustration get the better of him. There was no way he would deny Penny his help. He entered the foyer to find Joanna standing stock still, watching a heated argument between their host and one of her guests.

“And I’m telling you that I had the entire house rewired and brought up to code. I don’t know what’s wrong!” Penny insisted.

“Well I suggest you find out my dear! And when you do, I’ll be in my room handwriting my manuscript!” an older gentleman with a grey mustache and reading glasses replied frostily.

“What was that all about?” MacGyver asked once the man had returned upstairs.

“Oh, him,” Penny replied dejectedly. “That’s Mr. Bidwell. He says he’s an author who needed a quiet place to work on his next novel but all he’s done since he arrived a couple days ago is complain. Right now he’s upset because his electric typewriter isn’t working and he insists there’s something wrong with the electrical sockets in his room.”

“Did he ever consider that there might be something wrong with the machine?” Mac asked.

“That’s it, MacGyver! You’re a genius!” Penny gushed. “Why don’t you go and see if you can fix it?!”

“Um, Penny, I don’t know…” He caught Jo’s reprimanding look out of the corner of his eye and cleared his throat. “Lead the way,” he sighed.

After Penny knocked on Mr. Bidwell’s door and introduced him to MacGyver, the man grudgingly stepped aside allowing Mac to enter. He immediately went to the old typewriter that, like the rest of the town, looked like it belonged in the 1950’s.

“Nice looking machine,” Mac mused.

“Indeed, my boy!” the author boasted. “I’ve traveled around the world with it. Made me the top-selling novelist you see today. Never gave me a moment’s problem until I came here.”

“Mind if I take a look?” MacGyver asked politely.

“Go ahead, if you must, but please be careful.”

“You bet.”

Before taking off the cover, Mac checked to make sure the machine was unplugged. He was not in the mood to get electrocuted today. Once he exposed the inside workings he surveyed each section carefully. Though not an expert in the field, he couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. For good measure, he pulled out his Swiss Army knife, found the tool he wanted, and checked to make sure that all the wires were in place and secure. He carefully put the heavy cover back on and plugged it in.

“Go ahead, give it a try,” he encouraged Mr. Bidwell.

The older man sat down in the chair and touched a key. It worked perfectly. He typed a word, then a sentence, then a paragraph.

“Well, I’ll be!” he exclaimed. “What did you do to it young man?”

“Oh, nothing much,” Mac hedged. “I just tweaked a few things.”

“And I thank you for that. It works as good as new! Now please, be on your way. I have a novel to finish!”

“How did it go? Were you able to fix it?” Penny asked anxiously when MacGyver returned downstairs.

“Actually, I couldn’t find anything wrong with the typewriter or the socket. I pretended to tinker with it, but it was fine. Mr. Bidwell is happily typing away as we speak.”

“Gosh, that’s kinda strange, isn’t it?” Penny’s eyes widened.

Mac shrugged. “Not really. It’s an old machine and bound to act up at times. It probably has happened before but Bidwell would rather blame you than admit it.”

XXXXX

The piercing ring of the alarm clock startled MacGyver awake. He slapped at it hoping to find the snooze button. He then turned and looked at the red glowing digits. Two in the morning?! He looked across the wide bed at Joanna. True to her word she was huddled on the far edge, seemingly still fast asleep, with a wall of pillows between them. At least he wasn’t in the bathtub. Making sure the alarm feature on the clock was no longer set, Mac rolled over and went back to sleep.

Thirty minutes later the clock blared again. Mac shot up, grabbed it, and banged it against the nightstand. This couldn’t be happening! He once again looked at Jo who had turned onto her back and was snoring softly. Deciding that perhaps there was something wrong with the wiring in the building, MacGyver leaned over and unplugged the digital clock before flopping on his back to stare at the ceiling until slumber claimed him once more.

A distant but persistent ringing coaxed MacGyver awake, his hand automatically searching for the button to shut off the alarm. But wait. Didn’t he unplug it during the night? He sat up shaking his head. Apparently now he was dreaming about hearing the alarm! Joanna emerged from the bathroom, already showered and dressed for the day.

“Hey there, sleepyhead!” she greeted him cheerily. “I thought you were the morning person?”

“Did you hear the alarm clock ring just now?” he asked.

“No. Why? Did you have it set?”

“I don’t suppose you heard it during the night?” he continued, ignoring her question.

“Nope,” she shook her head. “I slept like a rock!”

“So I noticed,” he groaned, peeling back the covers and slowly climbing out of bed.

“Mac? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. I just didn’t sleep very well is all. By the way, what are you doing up so early?”

“Penny and I are gonna try to recreate Aunt Betty’s famous cinnamon rolls. You sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” he replied with a reassuring smile. “I’m gonna take a quick shower and I’ll meet you downstairs.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Penny was already in the kitchen retrieving ingredients from the pantry when Joanna appeared.

“How did you sleep?”

“Wonderfully,” Jo replied. “I hate to say it, but I guess Mac was right. I really need some time away from work.”

Penny smiled and handed Joanna an apron. Soon the two women were combining flour, sugar, and eggs and rolling out dough, all the while chatting amiably until a loud yowl from upstairs interrupted them.

“What was that?” Penny asked, fear evident in her eyes.

“I don’t know, but it sounded like it came from my room!”

Together they bolted up the stairs and down the hallway, ignoring the guests peeking out of their rooms to see what all the ruckus was about. When they got to the honeymoon suite, Joanna pushed the door open and skidded to a stop so quickly that Penny almost knocked her over from behind. They gaped at MacGyver who stood in the bathroom doorway dripping wet, hair plastered to his head, towel wrapped around his waist, and scowling like a bear who had just been woken from hibernation.

“Wha...what happened?” Jo asked, biting back a giggle.

Mac’s gazed was pinned on Penny. “I just ran out of hot water! That’s what happened!” he snapped.

“But that can’t be.” Penny’s expression was one of pure innocence and confusion. “I had an extra-large water heater installed just so something like this wouldn’t happen!”

Turning serious, Joanna pushed past MacGyver, reached into the tub, and turned on the faucet.

“The water’s just fine, Mac,” she reported as it flowed over her hand. “Maybe you accidentally knocked the--”

“I didn’t ‘accidentally’ do anything! I’m telling you, there was no hot water!”

“Well, there is now,” Jo shrugged. “Why don’t you get dressed and come downstairs. We’ll go for a walk or something.”

“Fine,” Mac ground out as Joanna and Penny retreated, both of them giggling softly.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“You’ve really done a great job with this place,” MacGyver commented later that morning as Penny was giving him and Joanna a tour of the grounds. After a quick jog and a hearty breakfast including a fair facsimile of Aunt Betty’s cinnamon rolls, Mac was feeling much more like himself.

“I really didn’t do that much,” Penny replied shyly. “I just hired people to do it for me.”

“But they still used your ideas, right?” Mac cajoled.

“Well, yeah. I guess,” she shrugged.

They were just about to round the front corner of the house when they heard raised voices coming from the porch swing.

“That’s Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. They’re here celebrating their sixtieth wedding anniversary.” Penny whispered to Mac and Jo.

“Doesn’t sound like they’ll make it to sixty-one,” MacGyver observed, earning slaps on either arm from his female companions.

“I’m tellin’ ya, Iris, that girl is downright incompetent! I told her I wanted somethin’ special for our anniversary and what does she do? She sticks us in a room with twin beds and a TV that’s on the fritz!”

“Don’t be so hard on the poor girl, George! After all, I heard she used to be an actress. What can you expect?! But I must say her cooking does leave something to be desired.”

Mac’s jaw clenched as he watched tears well in Penny’s eyes. Sure, she might be a bit hapless at times, and she had a tendency to find trouble but that wasn’t really her fault. Penny’s greatest problem was that she had a trusting heart and childlike innocence about her. And MacGyver didn’t consider that a bad thing. Suddenly they heard a loud clank, clatter, and then a thud followed by irate bellows and cries for help. Rounding the corner the trio saw that one of the chains securing the swing to the porch canopy had broken, causing George to crash to the ground and an overweight Iris to land on top of him. They hurried to make sure the elderly couple was okay.

“That’s the last straw I tell you!” George bellowed, struggling to his feet as MacGyver put a steadying hand under the man’s elbow. “We’re packing our bags and going home!”

“Oh, Mr. Jackson, please wait!” Penny begged. “Let me make it up to you!” She threw Mac an apologetic glance before continuing. “The honeymoon suite just became available. I’ll have your things moved right away!

“I’m sorry, young lady, but that’s too little too late,” he growled.

“Now George, be reasonable,” Iris urged as she brushed the dirt from her dress. “It’s not her fault the swing broke.” Then she turned her attention on Mac and Joanna. “Are you the young couple staying in the honeymoon suite?”

“Yes ma’am,” MacGyver replied.

“But didn’t I see you arrive just yesterday?” Iris asked. “You can’t be planning on leaving already!”

“Actually we--”

“George, we can’t take that room away from them! Look how much in love they are...just like us sixty years ago! We’re paid up to tomorrow. One more night won’t make a difference.”

“Well, I suppose not,” her husband grumbled.

“Then it’s settled! We’ll all stay right where we are!” Iris declared. “But I do think George and I will be going into town for dinner this evening.”

Penny sighed with relief as Mac put his hands on her shoulders.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she smiled reassuringly.

“Then why don’t you show me where the handyman keeps his tools so I can fix that swing?”

“Oh Mac, you don’t have to do that!”

“I want to, Penny. That’s what friends are for.”

XXXXX

MacGyver stared at Joanna, longing and frustration warring in his heart. She was curled up in a wingback chair on the other side of the living room engrossed in one of her novels. The other guests, and even Penny, had retired for the evening and it was finally just the two of them. And she was ignoring him completely. This was not what he had envisioned when he planned this little getaway.

“I’m gonna get a snack,” he announced. “Want anything?”

“No,” Jo mumbled, not even looking up from the page.

Mac pushed himself off the couch and headed for the kitchen. As he entered the room he saw Joanna’s knitting basket sitting on the small table in the corner. A skein of blue yarn and a pair of knitting needles sat next to it. Apparently she had been keeping Penny company earlier as dinner cooked and he repaired the television set in the Jackson’s room.

He had just turned toward the counter when he heard a soft clink behind him. He turned and found one of Joanna’s knitting needles on the floor. Not thinking much of it, he picked it up and put it back on the table which he assumed was slightly less than level, making sure it was still before rummaging through the cupboards for something to eat. He had just begun to spread some peanut butter on a piece of whole grain bread when he heard the clink again.

“Really?” he muttered, putting down his knife and once again picking up the knitting needle. This time he stabbed it securely into the skein of yarn.

Feeling satisfied, he returned to his snack and had just taken a bite when he heard the noise again. He turned and stared at the offending tool lying on the floor, noticing that its counterpart remained securely tucked away as he had left it. He moved to pick up the needle but stopped himself. Joanna could pick up after her own self! He was looking out the window into the starless night as he chugged a glass of milk when he sensed her presence.

“Mac, have you seen my knitting?”

“On the table,” he grunted without turning around. “And pick up the needle on the floor while you’re at it.”

“There’s nothing on the floor,” she said, the confusion in her voice causing him to turn and look for himself. Jo was right. The needle was on the table, just as he had originally found it.

“What the…?! I’m telling you, I heard the needle fall and saw it lying on the floor,” he insisted.

“Well it isn’t there now,” she replied, irritating him by pointing out the obvious.

MacGyver had had enough. He needed this day to be over.

“You going back in the living room?” he asked brusquely.

“No, I was planning on going upstairs.”

“Then I’ll turn off the lights.” He brushed past her without a glance.

“Mac, is everything okay?” Jo asked, dogging his heels.

“Everything’s just swell,” he replied drily.

He was halfway across the room when he felt her reach out to him.

“Mac…”

Her voice was so soft and sweet he couldn’t help but stop and turn toward her.

“Look,” she continued gently, “I know today’s been kinda--”

“Stop,” he commanded huskily, putting his hands on her shoulders and squeezing gently. “Let’s forget about today. Just now I acted like a dumb, selfish kid because Penny’s goofy problems and your friendship with her got in the way of us spending time alone and I’m sorry.”

He waited silently as Joanna looked around the room then back at him, a mischievous gleam in her eye.

“It looks like we’re alone now,” she whispered, smiling up at him.

“So it does,” he grinned.

He pulled her toward him, lifting his hands to her face as she wrapped her arms tightly around his waist, bringing them even closer together. Her eyes fluttered close as his lips found hers, kissing her the way he had been aching to since they first arrived.

When they were both breathless, MacGyver broke the kiss, still cradling Joanna’s face in his hands he leaned his forehead against hers.

“I think we should stop,” he said, his voice ragged.

“Why?” she whispered against his lips.

“Because we’re sharing a room,” he stated huskily.

“So?” She playfully nipped his lower lip.

“We’re sharing a bed.” He nipped her back, enjoying the intimate playfulness she had initiated.

“So?” Her breath mingled with his. “Oooh!” she finally comprehended, pulling away from his touch. “Maybe you’re right,” she conceded, her cheeks flushed.

“Of course, I could always sleep down here on the couch,” he suggested, already missing the warm softness of her body in his arms.

“It’s not like you haven’t done it before,” she reasoned.

That was all the encouragement he needed. He reached for her again, closing his eyes knowing that his lips would find hers of their own accord, when suddenly he felt hands on his chest pushing him backward. His eyes flew open and his arms flailed instinctively in an attempt to keep his balance. He took a step back to steady himself, but his foot caught on the edge of an Oriental rug and the next thing he knew he was lying on his back. His view of the ceiling was quickly eclipsed by Joanna’s concerned face.

“Mac! Are you okay!” she asked anxiously, kneeling beside him, her eyes wide with concern.

“What’d you do that for?” he moaned, rubbing the back of his head which had hit the floor with a sickening thud.

“Do what? I didn’t do anything,” she protested. “I didn’t even have a chance to touch you!”

“What happened?! I thought I heard something fall!” Penny exclaimed, emerging from her private quarters and hurrying down the hall to the living room. Her eyes widened when she found MacGyver on the floor.

“That ‘something’ was me,” he groaned, regaining his feet. “I tripped,” he explained, glancing suspiciously at Joanna whose expression was innocence personified.

“I told you I didn’t touch you!”

“Oh, yeah?! Then whose hands did I feel on my chest?!”

“I can’t believe this is happening again,” Penny moaned.

“What?” Jo and Mac asked in unison.

“Isn’t it obvious?” their host asked. “I have a new ghost!”

“I am not having this conversation again!” MacGyver exclaimed, spinning on his heels and striding toward the far end of the room.

“Then how do you explain all the strange things that have been happening?” Penny challenged.

“I don’t know! Accidents? Faulty plumbing and electricity? Coincidence?”

“I thought you didn’t believe in coincidence,” Joanna observed.

“Well I believe in it a heck of a lot more than I believe in ghosts!” he shot back.

Heavy silence shrouded the room.

“Look,” Mac sighed, his voice calmer now. “Why don’t we take a closer look at all these ‘incidences’ and try to find a logical explanation, okay?”

Penny perked up immediately. “Great! I’ll go put on a pot of coffee!”

“Penny, wait! I--”

“I know you don’t drink coffee, MacGyver. It’s just a saying!”

“No. I was going to say that I didn’t plan on having this discussion tonight. It can wait until morning.”

Mac watched Penny’s happy face crumble and he felt like a first-class heel. “Then again, why put off until tomorrow what can be done tonight.” Penny’s bright smile immediately returned and MacGyver felt as if he had just successfully navigated a minefield blindfolded.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“You don’t really believe in this stuff, do you?” Mac asked Joanna as they settled themselves around the kitchen table while Penny went to grab something to write on.

“Don’t you want to put Penny’s mind at ease?” she asked.

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“You didn’t answer mine! But I’m not gonna say I don’t believe.” MacGyver pulled a face, but Jo continued. “People have been experiencing hauntings for centuries and there’s been tons of pretty scientific and persuasive research done on the subject. I would think you could at least respect that.”

“I do, but--”

“Here we go!” Penny came bouncing back into the room, took a seat and handed Joanna a pen and legal pad. “What’s the plan?”

“We’re gonna make a list of all the weird things that have happened, the people affected, and see if we can find a common denominator,” Joanna explained. “Now, when would you say this all started?”

Penny thought for a while before answering. “I guess the beginning of last week when the cook burned her hands,” she replied. “Boy, you should have heard some of the words that came out of her mouth!”

“Did you two get along?” Jo continued.

“I guess,” Penny shrugged. “I mean, we weren’t friends or anything. She thought she was too great a chef to be working at a B&B, but she wasn’t, really. Some of the stuff she cooked was just awful! And she wouldn’t try fun, new things. Like try to make Aunt Betty’s cinnamon rolls.” The young woman smiled warmly at Jo who smiled back, remembering their culinary experiment and subsequent success twelve hours earlier.

“Okay, what happened next?” Joanna asked, frowning as she watched MacGyver fidget in his chair.

“That would have to be the handyman falling off the ladder,” the younger woman replied definitively. “I had been asking him to clean out the gutters for weeks, but he kept grumbling about being nagged by someone young enough to be his daughter. He finally gave in and look what happened.”

Jo shot Penny a sympathetic smile as Mac headed for the refrigerator and a glass of juice. “Next?”

“Oh, you were here for that! It was when Mr. Bidwell’s typewriter wasn’t working.”

“Right. And you said he had been complaining a lot.”

Penny nodded vigorously. “You’d think if he didn’t like it here he’d just leave!”

“Okay, we’re up to number four,” Jo announced.

“That would have to be Mac’s alarm clock going off,” Penny offered. “And number five would be when he lost hot water in the shower.”

“I told you, some glitch in the wiring and a too-small hot water heater can explain those,” Mac reasoned even as Joanna sent a quelling look his way.

“Does that take us up to the swing chain breaking while Mr. and Mrs. Jackson were sitting on it?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Penny mumbled, chewing her lower lip. “I thought they liked me until I heard them talking about me.”

MacGyver reached over and covered her hand with his. “Don’t worry about it. We managed to get everything straightened out. And I’m sure they like you. They were just a little disappointed with their circumstances.”

Penny smiled her thanks at Mac who had turned his attention to Joanna.

“I guess that brings it back to me and the knitting needles rolling off the table which, by the way, simply means the table...this table...isn’t level.”

“Well that’s easy enough to check,” Penny said, getting up and rummaging through a drawer before producing an old fashioned level and putting it in the middle of the table.

Everyone stood up so they could watch the little bubble which, once stilled, proved that the table was completely even.

“That can’t be,” MacGyver muttered.

Jo shrugged and motioned to the device. “The proof’s right there.”

Mac plopped back down in his chair and let out a huff. “Then I guess the final incident is me not being pushed back by Joanna.”

“Right,” she replied absently, already studying her notes.

“Did you find anything helpful?” Penny asked, peering over Jo’s shoulder.

“I’m not sure,” she answered, her brows knitting together. She aimed her next words at MacGyver. “Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that there is a ghost here. It seems the only people it bothers are those who’ve had run-ins with Penny. It’s almost like he, or she, is protecting or avenging her.”

“Then why, ‘for the sake of argument’ does he, or she, have a beef with me?!” Mac glowered.

“I have no idea,” Joanna replied thoughtfully. “Maybe it gets a kick out of annoying you or making you think you’re going crazy or something.”

“And it obviously doesn’t want me to have a love life, either,” he mumbled.

“Aha! So you admit I didn’t push you!” Jo exclaimed triumphantly.

“That’s not what I meant!”

“You said it yourself, MacGyver,” Penny goaded.

“Can we just get on with this?” he snapped.

“Fine,” Joanna replied frostily.

“Penny, did you bring anything new into the house right before the cook’s accident?”

“I bought some groceries the day before. Why?”

“I mean, did you find or buy some kind of object...maybe a decorative antique? It’s pretty well established that ghosts can attach themselves to objects and wherever the object goes, so does the ghost.”

Penny started to shake her head then stopped. “Wait a minute...on the way to the supermarket I stopped at this little pawn shop because I’ve been meaning to get rid of some of Aunt Betty’s old costume jewelry and I ended up buying a ring!” At that, Penny shot up out of her chair and hurried to her quarters. Upon returning, she had the ring in the palm of her hand and held it out for Joanna and MacGyver to inspect.

“A silver skull?” Jo asked warily.

“Weird, right? But I don’t know...it just seemed to call to me. Like I had to have it. Not that I ever plan on wearing it!”

“A death’s head ring,” Mac said under his breath so softly Joanna wasn’t sure if she heard him correctly.

“What?” she asked, hoping for clarification.

“Nothing,” MacGyver responded a bit too quickly. “I’ve had enough for tonight and I’m going to bed. If you two want to stay up and tell ghost stories, don’t let me stop you.”

Joanna watched as Mac emptied his glass of juice in the sink, exited the kitchen, and climbed the stairs. Something wasn’t right. Rising from her own chair, she picked up the pad of paper and gave the pen back to Penny.

“I think we should call it a night, too,” she suggested.

“But what about the ring? How are we gonna find out whose ghost is attached to it?”

“Let’s worry about that in the morning, okay?” Right now, Jo was more worried about Mac.

Joanna opened the door to the honeymoon suite to find MacGyver lying on top of the bedcovers, staring at the ceiling.

“Wanna tell me about it?” she asked, climbing onto her side of the bed.

“There’s nothin’ to tell. I just got tired of all that dumb ghost talk.”

“That’s not true and you know it. I watched you turn three shades whiter than a ghost when Penny showed us that ring. You recognized it, didn’t you?”

Mac suddenly sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hands. “It just isn’t possible.”

“What isn’t possible?”

“Murdoc always wore a ring exactly like that. It was like his signature,” MacGyver ground out.

Joanna crawled across the bed until she was sitting next to Mac, a comforting hand placed gently on his back. She could feel his warm, taught muscles through the thin fabric of his shirt.

“There have to be hundreds of rings like that roaming around,” Jo reasoned. “You can’t really believe it could be Murdoc’s?”

“Just like I don’t really believe in ghosts?” he countered.

“Mac, think about this logically.”

“I am!” he exclaimed. “That’s the problem!”

Joanna must have looked as bewildered as she felt because he continued without missing a beat. “Remember when I told you how Murdoc posed as that rock opera director, Jacques La Rue? It was then that he fell in love with Penny. And Penny thought she loved him when he was Jacques. It makes perfect sense that he would want to protect her and harm people he believed hurt her. And me? Well, I’m just a great big juicy bonus!”

“Are you listening to yourself?” Jo asked incredulously.

MacGyver must have considered it a rhetorical question because he didn’t respond.

“Look, first thing tomorrow morning the three of us will go to that pawn shop and find out where that ring came from. Chances are some kid found it in an alley and decided to cash in.”

“You’re right,” he acknowledged, sounding more like himself. “I’m just letting this stupid house get to me...again.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The next day, MacGyver, Joanna, and Penny were standing outside the Cloverton Pawn Shop when the owner opened for business.

“What can I do for you folks?” the tall, lanky man asked.

Penny placed the ring on the counter.

“We were wondering if you remembered who sold you this ring,” MacGyver said.

“Sure do!” the store owner replied. “One don’t quite forget a piece like that. At least not around these parts. Guy who hocked it wanted to get rid of it real bad, too. Didn’t even haggle over the price.”

The trio looked at the man encouragingly and that was all it took for him to continue his story.

“Seems this guy was into buyin’ stuff at estate sales and such. Said he’d been in L.A. when he’d seen this ring. Story goes it belonged to some big time secret assassin. The dude’s been dead for over a year, but some of his possessions were found in an abandoned warehouse and sold off. But like I say, it’s just a story. Probably to get people to pay more than the stuff is worth.”

“Why was the man who sold it to you so anxious to get rid of it?” Penny asked.

“Can’t rightly say. Some mumbo-jumbo about them poltergeists or somethin’. With what he was willin’ to take, I wasn’t gonna ask. Now, if you’re thinkin’ about returnin’ that I’m ‘fraid all sales are final.”

“We understand,” MacGyver assured him in a clipped tone. “Thanks for takin’ the time to talk to us.”

Penny retrieved the ring and the small group headed to the Jeep. The ride back to the B&B was completed in silence. MacGyver kept his jaw clenched and his spine stiff as his logical mind tried to make order of all he had heard and experienced. He glanced in the rearview mirror periodically, always to find Penny staring at the silver piece of jewelry in the palm of her hand.

When they arrived at the house it was to find guests milling about the gardens, enjoying the late summer day. Penny silently hurried from the car and into the kitchen to prepare the midday meal. Mac expected Joanna to follow her, but instead she followed him up the stairs and into their room. He sat down on the end of the bed and scrubbed his face with his hands.

“This has to just be a big, freakish coincidence, right?” Jo asked, sitting down next to him but keeping space between them.

“Right,” he muttered.

“I mean, everything that’s happened can’t be because of the ring. And the odds of Murdoc’s ring showing up here after all this time have to be astronomical. Right?”

“Yeah,” he murmured.

“So what now?”

“I gotta convince Penny to get rid of that ring.”

Joanna’s jaw dropped and in any other situation Mac probably would’ve laughed. “You seriously believe Murdoc’s attached to that ring?” she asked.

“No. But Penny does and that’s what matters.”

Minutes later, Joanna had taken over cooking duties while MacGyver spoke with Penny in the living room.

“You want me to what?!” she cried, causing him to flinch.

“You gotta get rid of it. Throw it into the deepest lake you can find, bury it in the middle of nowhere. I don’t care, just get it out of this house.”

“But I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts,” she challenged, fingering the silver skull that now hung from a chain around her neck.

“Let’s just say I prefer to play things safe these days,” he grinned.

“Fine,” she frowned.

“Hey, I know how you felt about him when you thought he was Jacques, but that wasn’t him. It never was. It was all an elaborate act. It meant nothing.”

“Yeah, sure,” she agreed softly before heading back to the kitchen, her downcast eyes never leaving the floor.

XXXXX

“You all packed?” MacGyver asked from his side of the bed later that night.

“Yeah, I just wish we didn’t have to leave so soon,” Joanna bemoaned as she climbed under the covers on the other side.

“So then you wouldn’t be opposed to coming back sometime?” He purposely flashed her the smile he knew she couldn’t resist.

“I’d love to. But make it clear that we need separate rooms. I don’t want Penny making any assumptions again.”

Mac made a show of looking around until he found and caught her eyes.

“I don’t know. I kinda like this one,” he replied, his voice a bit raspy as he lost himself in the liquid chocolate depths. “Only next time we won’t need the pillows as chaperones.”

“What are you saying?” Jo asked suspiciously.

“Just thinkin’ out loud,” he replied smoothly, checking one final time to make sure the alarm clock was unplugged before sliding under the covers.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

In the room directly below the honeymoon suite, Penny lay on her bed facing the nightstand, staring at the silver death’s head ring that seemed to be staring back. She thought back to that night so long ago when Murdoc had captured her, revealing his true identity, as Pete and MacGyver fought for their lives in an elaborate trap he had devised. She remembered trying to convince him that he was musical, charming, and romantic and how he told her she brought those qualities out in him. How he didn’t know what it was like to smile until he met her. How he had fallen in love with her. And what was her response? She had called him insane right to his face, snuffing out any hint of hope or joy that may have been there. Now, in hindsight, perhaps he had possessed some good qualities. Perhaps he really had loved her. MacGyver wanted her to get rid of the ring. But what if Murdoc’s spirit was, indeed, attached to it, and he was even now watching over her, protecting her, loving her. She gently took the ring, placing it safely in the drawer of her nightstand. What MacGyver didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.








Posted by: Dragondog 30 November 2019 - 11:16 AM
QUOTE

MacGyver glanced over to find Jo smiling playfully back at him and his heart squeezed in the most delightful way.
Wouldn't it just be so romantic to propose inside a nice, comfortable room inside a B&B, and then to run off for a quick wedding, (because you both don't really like being fussed over), and then return to Challenger's and surprise everyone with the sudden news? Well, I suppose Sam would be ticked off, being left out, but-

QUOTE

“MacGyver!” a bubbly female voice called. “Joanna! I’m so glad you’re here!!” Penny Parker skipped down the front steps and engulfed them each in an enthusiastic hug.
*GLOMP* XD

QUOTE

“Penny,” Jo replied gently albeit with a slight blush, “We’re not on our honeymoon.”
*clears throat* It's not too late to change that ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

QUOTE

“I’m such an airhead,” Penny moaned, tears threatening to fall once more. “I went through all this trouble because I wanted to do something really special for you guys and I blew it!”
I mean, she is an airhead sometimes, but I always get heartbroken when she feels like it sad.gif (Besides, sometimes she reminds me of me XD )

QUOTE

“I just thought of something else,” Penny wailed. “I don’t have any place else for you to sleep!
Of course you don't... (I swear, sleeping together is practically a pasttime with them now XD)

QUOTE

“This will be just fine. We’ll make it work,” Joanna declared, once again coming to the rescue.

“Yeah. I could always sleep in the bathtub,” Mac teased, but the old joke fell flat.
This made me laugh laugh.gif

QUOTE

Joanna continued to address Penny. “That bed is so huge Mac and I won’t even know the other is there. We can even put pillows down the middle. It’s no problem.”
I love beds like that. I just like space XD

QUOTE

“It feels more like everything but the kitchen sink and an entire library.”
Not working for Phoenix has made you out of shape, huh Macky? XD

QUOTE


“Yeah. I knit hats and scarves to donate to my church’s winter clothes drive,” Jo explained then grinned cheekily. “There are still some things you don’t know about me, Mac.”
So is this based in reality?

QUOTE

“I was trying to clean out the gutters before the next rain and now look what happened,” she pouted, her shoulders slumped in defeat.
Super Mac to the rescue again? XD

QUOTE

“And I’m not the one saying it’s haunted!” Penny shot back. “In fact, before I opened for business, I had a séance just to make sure.”
What the heck Penny...

QUOTE

Mac spun to face the two women. “No! No way!” he protested. “We came here to relax and that’s exactly what we’re gonna do!”
Since when are you so big on relaxing? Normally you're the one leaping up to help XD

QUOTE

“What has gotten into you?! Penny’s your friend and needs our help! She could’ve gotten killed trying to clean those gutters by herself!” Jo exclaimed, her steely gaze boring into him.
Joanna gets it XD

QUOTE

“That’s exactly my point!” he spat back. “My friend’s always need my help and I’m getting sick and tired of being their go-to guy! Penny’s been running this place for years and has apparently been doing just fine without me. She can manage on her own.”
Ok boomer...

QUOTE


“I can’t believe you just said that!” Joanna responded, her tone conveying both shock and disappointment. “If you want to kick back and relax, fine! But I’m gonna help Penny! And you can sleep in the bathtub!!” She turned and strode purposefully toward the house.
Wow, not even married and she's already kicking him out of the bed XD

QUOTE

“Fine!” Mac called to her retreating figure, slapping his palm against his forehead when he realized how selfish and childish he sounded. He hurried to catch up so he could apologize as well as agree to assist with the B&B.
Good boy XD

QUOTE

“Actually, I couldn’t find anything wrong with the typewriter or the socket. I pretended to tinker with it, but it was fine. Mr. Bidwell is happily typing away as we speak.”

“Gosh, that’s kinda strange, isn’t it?” Penny’s eyes widened.

Mac shrugged. “Not really. It’s an old machine and bound to act up at times. It probably has happened before but Bidwell would rather blame you than admit it.”
DUN DUN DUUUNNNNNNNNNN

QUOTE

“I’m tellin’ ya, Iris, that girl is downright incompetent! I told her I wanted somethin’ special for our anniversary and what does she do? She sticks us in a room with twin beds and a TV that’s on the fritz!”

“Don’t be so hard on the poor girl, George! After all, I heard she used to be an actress. What can you expect?! But I must say her cooking does leave something to be desired.”
Oh poor Penny...

QUOTE

“George, we can’t take that room away from them! Look how much in love they are...just like us sixty years ago!
roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif EVEN RANDOM STRANGERS "FEEL THE LOVE TONIGHT"!

QUOTE

“What happened?! I thought I heard something fall!” Penny exclaimed,

Mac: Yeah, my shirt fell.
Penny: That sounded way heavier than a shirt...
Mac: I was in it when it fell.

QUOTE

Joanna must have looked as bewildered as she felt because he continued without missing a beat. “Remember when I told you how Murdoc posed as that rock opera director, Jacques La Rue? It was then that he fell in love with Penny. And Penny thought she loved him when he was Jacques. It makes perfect sense that he would want to protect her and harm people he believed hurt her. And me? Well, I’m just a great big juicy bonus!”
Okay, but if that ends up being what happened, it's actually kinda cute in a way XD

While we're on that subject, I have to laugh at the image of Murdoc's ghost watching Mac and Jo making out and being like, "Okay, I've seen enough for one night..." *pushes Mac* That's better, lol."

So the ending... Cliffhanger? XD

Also, ironic how this was posted around the same time as the VS which ALSO has a ghost storyline XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 November 2019 - 12:02 PM
OMG...I never connected it with the VS episode!!! I promise it was totally random! And yes, I do knit hats and scarves to donate to my church...actually just took in 7 sets last week. And I do take my knitting on vacation! I loved the dialogue you added with Murdoc watching Mac and Jo make out...yes, he would do exactly that!!

Posted by: Dragondog 1 December 2019 - 09:04 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 November 2019 - 02:02 PM)
OMG...I never connected it with the VS episode!!! I promise it was totally random! And yes, I do knit hats and scarves to donate to my church...actually just took in 7 sets last week. And I do take my knitting on vacation! I loved the dialogue you added with Murdoc watching Mac and Jo make out...yes, he would do exactly that!!

It's even funnier when you realize how long Mac and Jo went before Murdoc pushed him. Like:

Murdoc: Ergh, I took some time out of hell... just to watch this?!

Ugh, go back to your room...

Mac: We should stop.

Murdoc: Yes, you should.

Joanna: Why?

Murdoc: Listen to the man, woman!

Mac: Because we share a room.

Joanna: So?

Murdoc: *groans*

Mac: And we share a bed.

Jo: So? Oooh, yeah, you have a point.

Murdoc: 'Bout time...

Mac: Or I could take the couch...

Murdoc: Seriously?

Joanna: I mean, it's not like you haven't done it before...

Murdoc: Okay, first, the couch is MINE, second, I'm not dealing with this any more *muttering under his breath* How dare he have better luck with women than I ever did? *pushes Mac* That felt deliciously satisfying...

BONUS

Penny: *shows them the Honeymoon suite*

MacGyver: Penny, we're not married.

Murdoc: What? I've been dead for like.... MacGyver why are you so SLOW?!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 2 December 2019 - 06:17 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 1 December 2019 - 09:04 PM)
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 November 2019 - 02:02 PM)
OMG...I never connected it with the VS episode!!!  I promise it was totally random!  And yes, I do knit hats and scarves to donate to my church...actually just took in 7 sets last week.  And I do take my knitting on vacation!  I loved the dialogue you added with Murdoc watching Mac and Jo make out...yes, he would do exactly that!!

It's even funnier when you realize how long Mac and Jo went before Murdoc pushed him. Like:

Murdoc: Ergh, I took some time out of hell... just to watch this?!

Ugh, go back to your room...

Mac: We should stop.

Murdoc: Yes, you should.

Joanna: Why?

Murdoc: Listen to the man, woman!

Mac: Because we share a room.

Joanna: So?

Murdoc: *groans*

Mac: And we share a bed.

Jo: So? Oooh, yeah, you have a point.

Murdoc: 'Bout time...

Mac: Or I could take the couch...

Murdoc: Seriously?

Joanna: I mean, it's not like you haven't done it before...

Murdoc: Okay, first, the couch is MINE, second, I'm not dealing with this any more *muttering under his breath* How dare he have better luck with women than I ever did? *pushes Mac* That felt deliciously satisfying...

BONUS

Penny: *shows them the Honeymoon suite*

MacGyver: Penny, we're not married.

Murdoc: What? I've been dead for like.... MacGyver why are you so SLOW?!

LOL!!! That is awesome!!

Posted by: Dragondog 2 December 2019 - 09:42 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 2 December 2019 - 08:17 AM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 1 December 2019 - 09:04 PM)
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 November 2019 - 02:02 PM)
OMG...I never connected it with the VS episode!!!  I promise it was totally random!  And yes, I do knit hats and scarves to donate to my church...actually just took in 7 sets last week.  And I do take my knitting on vacation!  I loved the dialogue you added with Murdoc watching Mac and Jo make out...yes, he would do exactly that!!

It's even funnier when you realize how long Mac and Jo went before Murdoc pushed him. Like:

Murdoc: Ergh, I took some time out of hell... just to watch this?!

Ugh, go back to your room...

Mac: We should stop.

Murdoc: Yes, you should.

Joanna: Why?

Murdoc: Listen to the man, woman!

Mac: Because we share a room.

Joanna: So?

Murdoc: *groans*

Mac: And we share a bed.

Jo: So? Oooh, yeah, you have a point.

Murdoc: 'Bout time...

Mac: Or I could take the couch...

Murdoc: Seriously?

Joanna: I mean, it's not like you haven't done it before...

Murdoc: Okay, first, the couch is MINE, second, I'm not dealing with this any more *muttering under his breath* How dare he have better luck with women than I ever did? *pushes Mac* That felt deliciously satisfying...

BONUS

Penny: *shows them the Honeymoon suite*

MacGyver: Penny, we're not married.

Murdoc: What? I've been dead for like.... MacGyver why are you so SLOW?!

LOL!!! That is awesome!!

Thank you laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 December 2019 - 08:52 AM
Chapter 26: Rolling Thunder

Sam weaved his way around the cubicles that made up most of the third floor of the Chicago Tribune with one destination in mind: The desk of Rebecca Williams. True to his word, a few days after the fundraising gala in Milwaukee, he had asked Becca out to dinner. They had kept the evening light and casual as conversation and laughter flowed easily. They had gone out a few times since, and Sam now recognized his feelings for Becca were definitely testing the boundaries of friendship and threatening to spill over into something more. He wondered if she felt the same.

Rebecca was furiously typing away on her keyboard when Sam arrived at her ‘office’.

“Big story?” he asked.

Becca looked up, her green eyes quickly finding his dark brown ones. There was a twinkle there he hadn’t noticed before. Perhaps it hadn’t been there before.

“No, just trying to meet a tight deadline,” she explained. “I can’t believe I finally get an actual assignment and I’m gonna mess it up if I don’t get it to the editor by the end of the day. By the way, how’s your toe?” she asked, biting her lower lip.

“Still attached,” he quipped, but when her frown stayed in place he sobered. “It’s starting to feel better already and the doc says the new nail should grow back just fine.”

Their most recent date had included an excursion to a local bowling alley. Despite Rebecca’s protests that she was a first-class klutz and lousy bowler, Sam had insisted she couldn’t be as bad as she thought and now he was paying the price. He had been standing behind her, giving her encouraging advice as she approached the alley, swinging the ball behind her when it slipped from her fingers only to land squarely on his big toe. Emergency room x-rays showed nothing was broken, and Sam put on a brave face in spite of the pain to keep Becca from feeling too badly. Now, five days later, he was finally able to walk without a limp, at least when other people were present.

“I wanted to let you know that Joanna and my dad invited us up to Milwaukee for the Labor Day Weekend. The Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships are throwing big block parties for the 94th anniversary of the company and they thought we’d like to go.”

Rebecca looked at him as if he had grown a second nose and third eye.
“Do you have any idea how much crime occurs in Chicago over a holiday weekend?! I could get three front page stories just by standing on a street corner for an hour! I can’t leave the city!”

“Whoa,” Sam held up his hands in surrender. “Don’t get all riled up. It’s not that big a deal, okay?”

“Okay,” she responded, a bit calmer.

“Then I guess I’ll see you when I get back on Tuesday.” Sam shot her his most devastatingly charming smile before turning his back and walking away...slowly.

“Sam, wait!”

The photojournalist turned to find Becca’s head popping out of her cubicle and he swallowed a grin of satisfaction.

“Change your mind?” he asked, feigning nonchalance.

“Yeah, I guess,” she admitted, blushing furiously as she made her way toward him. “I mean, I hear that Harley’s a big deal up there. Maybe I could still get a good story and have so