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|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.
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.
“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|
|Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 May 2019 - 10:03 AM|
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|
Oh, you sly dog
*insert Lenny face here*
No, Joanna, he just kisses you like that to show how much your friendship means to him...
Frog's behavior always fits the mood perfectly
Joanna, if you haven't figured it out by now, you are hopeless
|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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
“I promise I’ll call you soon with all the details.”
“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.
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?”
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.”
“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.
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.”
“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|
So he's not dead
I understood that reference
Well, that's nice of him
It's Jack, what do you think? XD
Sheesh, go to sleep, Hamilton
Where have you been? XD
I wouldn't have been able to resist walking in and scaring him
*chokes* Some things really have changed...
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
Boy, Willis gets right to the point, eh? XD
*frustrated sigh* Is she mad again?
Lol, he just can't lose it, can he? XD
Yeah, 'cause no one wants your brain, Jack
He's such a child XD XD XD
I feel like this is referencing something, but idk what. I'm uncultured XD
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
You're just now wondering that? XD
I like his sense of humor XD
I really don't think he's named Mildew XD
Sure, we've seen you do so multiple times. It never ends well XD
But you're cramping his stylllleeee XD
XD Mac probably would, too
Jack knows all *Lenny face*
|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|
That explains it. I've never seen X files
|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.”
“I’m sure Joanna’s a great girl to hang out with, but now you’re gonna break her heart.”
“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.”
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.
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|
Calm down, Romeo
This made me want to slap Jack, but at the same time I'm cracking up at his "point five" remark XD
I feel like that remark is going to make Mac paranoid for a while... XD
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
Was she just carrying that list around in hopes MacGyver would drop by? XD I kid, I kid
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
Was their love ever true? XD
Stop comparing your relationship to other people's
It's 'Joanna' isn't it? XD XD XD
Never mind... XD XD XD
I think this might be the slowest burn I've ever read XD
*Murdoc voice* MACGYYYYYVEERRRRRRRRRR!
I can never decide which of them I'm more annoyed with
|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.
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?”
“Dad did give you a hockey jersey for Christmas, right?”
“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.
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.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.
“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.
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 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.”
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.
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.
“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|
That sounds promising ;-)
On one hand, I'm happy to see Sam again. He's one of my favorite characters. But on the other hand.... He's not going to be pleased when he finds out Mac is sort of MIA
Gee, Sam, who taught you manners. Calling your dad by his name XD
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Well, at least he got a suitable explanation
Well hello, hot stuff XD XD XD
Yeah okay, we all know who he got his skills from XD
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
I feel you, Sam. I get salty when my ship isn't canon as well XD
Me with my (very short) ship list XD
I find it kinda comical how she needs to defend her romantic choices from Sam XD
Sam knows about that?
I shouldn't be laughing this hard, help me
Mood. Big mood XD
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 ( ), but I'm very frustrated right now at this XD
At least he's honest
Oh look, they've already got accurate parenting skills XD XD XD
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.
( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
I'm glad Sam wisened up quickly
Oh no, I know what he's up to ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
I have that problem too
Good boy. But you're not coming
And I freaking called it! XD
Rofl, this is my new favorite scene X'D X'D X'D
0.0 Well that was extremely straightforward X'D
What?! Since when?! 0.o X'D
SAM YOU DIDN'T!!! X'D
Hahaha no X'D
I didn't know I could love Sam any more, but THIS CHAPTER X'D
I feel like the next conversation between father and son is going to be interesting XD
Wait... Did Sam call Neil already?
Close enough. Sam, boy, what are we gonna do with you?
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
Me too XD
My cooking XD
This is becoming a past time now XD
I literally lol'ed XD
He just reminded me of Jack XD
Yeah, tread carefully. He's not taking your crap anymore XD
Oh Sam XD
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|
|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.
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.
She hadn’t been called that since her days at Challengers Academy.
“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.
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.
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!”
MacGyver took a breath. “So, Raul is supposedly the one swinging the baseball bat on the surveillance tape, right?”
“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|
Is Jack okay now? Mac's back, I see XD
Ah, okay XD
I hate it when that situation happens
The shade XD
That was fast XD
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|
I kinda figured there was some personal stuff in there, tbh
|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.
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.
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
Oh, here we go again
Yeah, I kinda assumed that's what she meant XD
Somehow this whole discussion is a roller coaster, and I think it's funny
This is exactly what Animal Crossing players experience whenever visiting Tom Nook's store
Me after math class
For some reason I find it funny that he goes all the way over there before calling her XD
*talk. Sorry, I know I keep doing that, it's a reflex
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
I actually do answer all my calls like this
|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?”
“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!”
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.
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.
“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|
Pete knows Mac only too well
No, Mac.... Don't lose yourself!
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
Tbh I would be Joanna in this case
Well, that escalated quickly XD
I'm Mac in this situation XD
Now I crave lo mien...
Why'd I have to go and be allergic to MSG?
Anyway, back to the story XD
I misunderstood the meaning of this at first
This is how good friendships end XD
What's the term for platonic friendzoning? Because that just happened XD I think it's my above comment, actually.
Pfft, Mac XD XD XD
Well you did flirt with his girl... XD
...And they never saw Jack or the Jeep ever again... XD
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
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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|
Dream sequence. Calling it now
That's actually a really cute idea XD
Definitely a dream. Er, a nightmare XD
Calm down, Maleficent...
Called it. I called that stuff
Is this just a thing with them now?
Wait are they... actually married? XD
I really don't think that's Murdoc
Okay, I'm allowed to be wrong once, right?
I'm just assuming this is another nightmare?
Why am I laughing? XD XD XD
This is definitely a dream, right?
IS THIS A DREAM OR NOT?!
Last time I checked, you were in hell.
This whole scene is a Hamilton song XD
I knew it. It was a dream. I called it.
Btw, you almost made me hate you, Jas XD XD XD
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
I misunderstood what "spooning" meant in this sentence
( ͡° ͜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|
I was gonna say, did Helman perform some arcane pagan ceremony or something?
|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:
I feel she made that up XD
She may or may not be telling the truth with that one...
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
I'm more interested in why she's wearing his clothes
My social skills
About my social skills...
Oh, okay, that makes more sense
I want. I really want
How do these two manage to be so adorable?!
Nice going, Cynthia...
Lol, ABORT MISSION
I really feel like Jack x Cynthia is going to be a thing here
|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.
“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—“
“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.”
“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|
Maybe Mac's not the only one growing up a little
Frog is such a caring boy
Food. Yes, food is good
Mac needs to get a "Do not disturb" sign for his front door...
Jack's not fully grown up yet XD XD XD
Or they didn't want him XD
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|
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...|
|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.
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.”
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!”
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?!”
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.
“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.”
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.
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 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!”
|Posted by: Dragondog 9 August 2019 - 11:52 AM|
It's Minnesota. It's never the temp it's supposed to be.
I feel like Mac didn't want to wait up simply because he didn't want to listen to Jack's singing XD
Everyone knows a Jack. The Jack I know is me. I don't care about fashion either
Sheesh, is there anything better to do? Is it that noteworthy?
See, Sam's not so bad
What a perfect last name for what's about to happen XD
Can't decide whether he's the biggest grudge collector I've ever seen, or completely insane.
Insane. Definitely insane.
He's supposed to fly them out tomorrow. He's gonna have a bad hangover XD
Wow. They're all insane -_-
This amused me far more than it should have XD
I'm sure she will XD
I know where this is going...
I'm still laughing at Jack's lack of a love life XD XD XD
I saw that coming XD
Please oh please oh please tell me Mac said that in the same tome Jack usually does
|Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 August 2019 - 01:35 PM|
I'm fairly certain he did
|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.”
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.
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.”
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|
Is it sad that I had to pause before finishing the sentence to remember where he works now?
For a second, I didn't see the 'and' XD
That was fast
Me trying to help when someone starts unloading to me XD
Well, now my heart is broken, poor girl DX
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.
Mine as well
Well, I was right XD XD XD
This whole conversation is adorable XD
Welcome to the world of marriage (from what I've heard, anyway)
XD Nice going, Jo!
Hmm, they've both wondered about this now... ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
I love these two XD
Rofl, "Daddy mac"
Hmm, not sure this will end well...
Yeah, I saw that coming... :-( Some friends...
Why am I getting Lilo and Stitch vibes from this though? XD
Awww, Mac always knows just what to do :-D
Oh my gosh, I think I might be tearing up, why is this so cute?!
|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.
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.”
“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.
“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?”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.
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.”
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!
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.”
“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.
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.”
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|
Personally, I would've checked his neck a lot sooner
Something else I would've done much earlier...
I'm really curious about Frog's past now...
Well hello to you too, grumpy...
That happens to me every time I sleep on the couch, too XD
Frog's got a secret, all right. And he's probably in danger now
Mac didn't put that there...
Saw that coming...
I've actually wondered this a lot
Well, Frog has quite a past, hasn't he?...
Yeah, they replaced it with a harness for a reason, right? XD
This little bit from Frog's POV is adorable XD
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
XD XD XD
Frog, what are you up to?
Well why did you wear your favorite shirt knowing you might get shot?
They're all so cute and happy in the end
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.
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!”
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.
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.”
“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|
Wow, jumpin' to conclusions much?
My mom has a cleaning business, and I often help out, and that whole sentence is my eternal mood XD
Mac's got a point here, tbh.
What, is he gonna propose again?
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 )
I really have that song stuck in my head now
Woah, Mac boy,
What's funny is I haven't eaten recently either, and I really, really want to join them now
Me: *reading this* Aww-
My brain: I want pizza.
Me: What the heck?
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
MAC YOU SLY DOG
That's an interesting shift. I remember when she used to be afraid that he would disappoint her...
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.”
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!”
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.
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.
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?”
“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.”
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?”
“Did someone deliver a plain white box for a Penny Parker?”
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.
“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.”
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.
“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?!”
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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
PFFT, I know what that's referencing!
You should be happy you're in the back row
You two are going to flip out on your wedding night, aren't you? XD
Oh, that's where the title of the chapter came from XD
Sheesh, Jo, chill, he can't tell you about everyone he's befriended... XD
That's either the fastest first act ever, or they spent a long time making out XD
Someone really needs to teach Penny about boundaries XD
Penny's not always as dumb as she acts XD
I can picture that, and it's hilarious XD
Understatement of the century XD
Jo is starting to annoy me
Good call, Joanna
You write Penny's dialogue really well
Lol, I love how she prepares for this XD XD XD
Okay, so did Murdoc steal the guy's identity the first time around or what?
Mac reminds me of a little kid in this XD
You gotta admit though, if you're not feeling confident or positive for any reason, Penny's the best person to have around XD
Okay, something is probably wrong with those candies...
Called it XD
I feel you, doc XD
I wouldn't accept any more deliveries for the time being, thank you very much :/
That... sounds like an awful idea...
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...
Wait... he's not Zito, is he?
This installment is just packed with references XD
And it'd be much better to wake Mac up and tell him such instead of sneaking out yourself...
Also saw that coming...
I mean, I feel bad for her, but... she's not exactly wrong...
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
XD XD XD
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
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?|
|Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 September 2019 - 09:20 AM|
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|
Works for me