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Posted by: uniquelyjas 22 October 2018 - 03:18 PM
Chapter 1: The End of the Beginning

The mid-November wind-driven rain battered the walls of the telephone booth.

“We’re gonna spend another day here to check out Alcatraz and then head home!” MacGyver all but yelled into the telephone in order to be heard above the storm. “We’ll see you when we get back!”

“But Mac!” Pete yelled back as well, aware of the noise in the background, “a lot has changed since…”

MacGyver cut him off. “I know, Pete, and I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. We’ll catch up when Sam and I get to your place!”

“But Mac…” Pete tried again.

“See you soon!”

And the line went dead.

MacGyver sprinted back to the pick-up, hoping to get inside before he got drenched. Too late. His shaggy hair was soaked, plastered to his head, and his clothes hadn’t fared much better. Home. When was the last time he had thought of anyplace as ‘home’? He glanced at Sam. His son was bone dry and dozing in the passenger seat of the rusted old pick-up they had been forced to buy several hundred miles back, their battered and broken motorcycles secured in its bed.

As the rain continued to pour down, MacGyver sat pensively in the driver’s seat. It had been two and a half years since he and his photojournalist son had discovered each other and set out on a journey along the West Coast to do some father-son bonding. It seemed so long ago, now. With the new knowledge that he had a son, albeit a grown one, Mac’s priorities had changed in an instant. Without hesitation, he had handed over his letter of resignation from the Phoenix Foundation to his long-time friend and boss, Pete Thornton. He gave his landlord a couple extra month’s rent to make up for the lack of notice, trusted that his neighbor and self-appointed caretaker, Mama Lorraine, would put his belongings in storage, and packed only a few necessities on the back of his Harley before heading out with Sam on their motorcycles to explore the country and their new-found relationship.

Everything had started out great. No assignments, no deadlines, no ticking bombs, just two guys and the open road. Exploring big cities and tiny towns not even worthy of a dot on a map, the two crashed in seedy motels or camped and foraged in the wilderness, sharing stories of their past well into the night. The corners of Mac’s lips started to curve upwards. Of course, they had also had their share of adventures along the way. Seems the two had a knack for encountering people in need or getting themselves involved in situations that might have been better off left alone. But righting wrongs was something Mac did…would always do, and apparently Sam had inherited that trait.

Sam. The young man and his camera had been inseparable. He could shoot several rolls of film in a day…perhaps more when his dad wasn’t watching! At the first opportunity, he would get them developed and stow them safely in his satchel until he had the opportunity to sell some to a local newspaper or magazine. Not that he needed the money or recognition. He simply enjoyed the feeling of creating something to share with others. Mac began to think that, given Sam’s natural curiosity, ingenuity, and interest in helping others, he had the makings of a great investigative reporter. Perhaps when they returned to L.A. Sam would consider starting a career in this field.

Upon reaching the Canadian border, an unspoken agreement had the duo turning their bikes south and heading back down the coast. As weeks had turned into months and then eventually years, father and son had both become a bit saddle-weary. The easy comradery and eagerness to learn about each other had slowly dissolved into periods of tense silence and even boredom. The seedy motels became seedier, and the campouts became more work than fun. It was time to go home.

MacGyver sighed as the rain continued to beat relentlessly on the roof of the truck. There was that word again: Home. After over 30 months of living a true nomadic lifestyle, Mac found himself yearning to put down roots for the first time since he was a kid. A plan began to form in his mind. He and Sam would crash at Pete’s until Mac could buy them a place…a house…a real home. No more apartments, lofts or houseboats. He had family now and his son deserved stability, permanency. Maybe he did, too. Pete would surely tease him about sounding like an old man. But let’s face it, he wasn’t getting any younger. This trip had seen him reach the wrong side of forty. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it did get him thinking more about the future. Settling down with Sam, surrounding himself with friends, and maybe even finding a woman to share his life with didn’t spook him the way it would have a few years ago. On the contrary, it gave him something to look forward to.

Feeling as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, a weight he didn’t even know had been there, Mac grinned broadly as he fired up the truck and headed into town for one last night in a motel bed.


The incessant high-pitched whine slowly penetrated MacGyver’s sleep-fogged mind. The pounding in his temple beat in double-time as he reluctantly pealed one eyelid open and then the other. “What the….?” It took him a few moments to remember where he was.

“About time you woke up, Sleeping Beauty!” Sam laughed from behind the kitchen counter where he was whipping up a green concoction in the blender. “Wouldn’t want you to miss breakfast,” he continued, as he nodded toward the glass container.

Mac grunted and closed his eyes again. He was back in his old apartment, lying on the well-worn couch which, for so many years, had been comfortable and welcoming but now felt harder and lumpier by the day. Mac had insisted his son use the bed. “Fool,” he grumbled, as he once again began to pry his eyelids open.

Suffice it to say, things had not gone as planned upon returning to L.A. When Mac and Sam appeared on Pete’s doorstep a few weeks ago, it was only to find that Pete and his ex-wife, Connie, had gotten back together and were trying to work things out…finally. During their marriage, she had always complained that Pete was married to his job more than to her. With his friend now completely blind, Mac was glad there was someone in his life to help him adjust to the changes that had been so cruelly forced upon him. Due to a fortunate twist in fate, Mac’s old place had been recently vacated and Pete had enlisted Mama Lorraine to retrieve MacGyver’s belongings from the downtown storage unit and return his friend’s apartment to its former glory, if one could call it that. Mama Lorraine was also quick to see that the refrigerator was filled, a point not wasted on her two returning neighbors.

“What’s that?” Mac nodded toward the blender as he pushed himself off the sofa.

“It’s a special recipe Mama Lorraine gave me. I told her you had been having headaches and she assured me this would cure just about anything.”

MacGyver pinned his son with his gaze. “I have not been ‘having headaches’,” he said in as surly a voice as he could manage. “The only ‘headache’ I have around here is you!”

Sam cocked an eyebrow and smirked, “You mean to tell me that a guy who gets knocked out as often as you doesn’t get headaches?”

MacGyver was now sitting at the breakfast bar, ready to change the subject.

“So, to what do I owe the honor?” he asked as Sam eagerly poured them each a glass of the green drink.

“What?” Sam asked, feigning insult. “Can’t a guy make breakfast for his favorite dad?”

Mac studied his son. The son he had hardly seen since returning to L.A. Their first couple days back they had spent together getting their rides back in working condition. The pick-up had heaved its last breath upon their arrival in Pete’s driveway and Mac’s Harley was DOA with no hope of an impending resurrection. He had donated Harry’s vintage truck to the Challengers Club to be used in a money-raising raffle and his good friend and pain-in-the butt, Jack Dalton, had been awarded custody of Mac’s beloved Jeep which he was sure Jack had managed to destroy in short order. He knew Jack would never do such a thing on purpose, but bad things tended to happen when Jack was involved. So that left the Nomad, which MacGyver had put up on blocks before heading out to parts unknown. There were some things a guy just couldn’t part with. It didn’t take long before the old wagon was up and running and Sam’s motorcycle, which had fared much better than his father’s, was repaired.

Then Sam had changed. MacGyver couldn’t turn around without finding his son’s eyes glued to TV news programs or his nose buried in the newspaper or a history book. He started going out for hours on end, sometimes not even coming home to sleep. Mac became worried, his paternal instincts kicking in with a vengeance. More than once he had confronted Sam about his clandestine activities, but his son wouldn’t talk to him. The relationship they had built these past three years was crumbling around them and MacGyver had no idea how to fix it. Duct tape and a paperclip couldn’t repair this. And then suddenly today, Sam was smiling, energetic, fixing breakfast for his dad and concerned about his headaches. Instead of feeling relief, Mac felt a solid ball of dread begin to form in his stomach. He had learned long ago to trust his gut, and his gut was telling him that something was up. Something he wasn’t going to like.

“C’mon Sam, what’s up?” Mac was now wide awake and his voice was strong, demanding.

“What makes you think something’s up, Dad?”

“Gee, let me see…” Mac’s voice dripped with sarcasm. “First we were all buddy-buddy, then for the last few weeks you spend as much time away from home as possible, and when you are home you hardly speak to me, and now you’re fixing me breakfast and trying to cure a headache I DO NOT HAVE!” Ouch! That little outburst sent his pounding temple into overdrive causing Mac to think that maybe he should drink the green stuff just in case it worked. Mama Lorraine’s natural cures had worked in the past. What could it hurt?

“You really wanna know what’s goin’ on?” Sam rounded on his father. “I’ve been doing research for my new job!”

“Job?! You got a job?!”

“Don’t sound so shocked, Dad. I’ve been taking care of myself for a good long time!”

It suddenly felt as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Mac and Sam rarely talked about the years they hadn’t known about each other, but when they did, it always hurt. It was a different hurt for each of them, but a hurt nonetheless.

Macgyver took a deep breath and let his heart rate settle back to normal. “So, what kind of job did you get?”

“I got hired on by a newspaper as a photojournalist.” Sam replied proudly.

“That’s great!” MacGyver exclaimed, excited for his son. “You’re following in your mother’s footsteps. She’d be proud of you, ya know?”

Sam sighed and didn’t meet Mac’s eyes. “There’s more, Dad,” his voice little more than a choked whisper.

Mac hadn’t been a father for long, but he was pretty sure those were words he didn’t want to hear.

“Go on,” Mac prompted.

Sam forced himself to stand tall and look his father square in the eye. “I’m going to be a photojournalist embedded with U.S. Troops in Saudi Arabia,” he said evenly, just as he had rehearsed it a dozen times.

“Dammit Sam!” MacGyver yelled as he slammed the palms of his hands against the kitchen counter, “Are you out of your mind?!?! There’s a war going on over there!”

“Technically the war is over,” Sam shot back. “It’s now a peace-keeping mission.”

“There will always be unrest there, Sam. Why do you think the troops are staying?! And you’re putting yourself right in the middle of it! Why?”

“There are stories that need to be told, Dad. Stories that didn’t end when the fighting stopped.”

MacGyver jammed his long fingers through his hair, fear, frustration, and pride all vying for a place in his heart.

“I know that, Sam, but you don’t have to be the one to tell them.” MacGyver willed his voice to sound calm, normal. “I just found you, I don’t want to lose you again.”

Understanding and compassion shown in Sam’s eyes. “You’re not going to lose me, Dad.”

“You can’t know that!”

“Look, I know what you’re thinking, but when you were my age you were diffusing bombs and disposing of land mines in Vietnam.”

Darn kid had a point. Sam was, for all intents and purposes, a grown man. A man on a mission. A man like Mac had been….still was.

“So, when do you leave?” Mac asked calmly.

Sam’s eyes found the floor. “Tomorrow afternoon,” he stated softly.

“Tomorrow!!!” MacGyver all but bellowed. “And when, exactly, were you planning on telling me this!?!?”

Sam remained silent. He could provide no good answer to that question. He had been wanting to tell his dad all week, but the time never seemed right. He had hoped to ease into his announcement over breakfast this morning. Bad plan.

MacGyver had made his way to the living room window and was now leaning his forehead against the cool glass. Physically, mentally, and emotionally depleted, he allowed the silence to hang in the air rather than say something he might regret later.


MacGyver slumped against the back of his sofa, his head tilted and resting on the cushion, his stocking feet propped on the coffee table. It had been over a week since Sam had left. Over a week since Mac had pulled all the window shades, blocking out the bright December sun. Upon hearing about Sam’s sudden departure, Pete had called constantly, leaving message after message pleading with MacGyver to call him back. Annoyed by the constant pestering, Mac had given in and answered the phone, grunting “I’m fine, Pete,” before ripping the cord from the wall. Periodically, he would hear Mama Lorraine tap her distinctive cadence on his front door. When he was sure she had left, he would amble over, open the door and pick up the brown grocery bag she always left. His kitchen counter was overflowing with various fruits and vegetables while his fridge was about to explode from the stacks of yogurt, tofu, and Tupperware containers filled with Mama’s “special” recipes, very few of which MacGyver could recognize and even fewer that he actually felt like eating.

The day Sam left, Mac’s first instinct had been to pack up his camping gear and head for the forest to take refuge in the glorious solitude of nature. That was his usual MO when he felt like brooding. This time, however, the idea just made him tired…and sad. A reminder of all those nights spent under the stars sharing stories with his son. So he decided to stay put, literally.

Over the last couple of days, MacGyver’s thoughts had slowly shifted from Sam to himself and what the future now held for him. The warm, cozy images of hearth and home he had briefly harbored had left with Sam despite his son’s not-so-subtle hint that he wouldn’t mind having a new step-mom when he returned from his assignment. The corners of MacGyver’s mouth spontaneously curved upwards as he remembered their departing conversation. “Yeah, good luck with that one, kid,” he had grunted.

With a sigh, Mac heaved himself off the couch. Even though his mind wanted nothing but to shut out the pain of yet another loss, his body began to protest the lack of movement it used to crave. He lazily padded through the kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, surveyed its contents and let door swing closed. He glanced at the array of fresh fruit on the counter, much of it beginning to spoil which sent a pang of guilt through MacGyver’s already wounded heart. His gaze landed on three black plums, looking ripe and juicy. He heard himself chuckle as he recalled the time Mama Lorraine had tossed him one of those plums, assuring him the inside was “as red as your sweetheart’s lips.” He picked up the fruit and took a healthy bite, checking out the flesh as its juices dribbled down his chin. “She wasn’t lyin’” he mumbled to himself as he went for another bite. One last taste and the fruit had been consumed, its pit tossed in the trash. MacGyver continued to amble through his apartment looking at this and touching that when his hand happened upon his trusty Swiss Army Knife laying on his desk. Mac ran his long, capable fingers along the tool, gently caressing it before grasping it tightly in his fist. He closed his eyes and was bombarded by unbidden images….jungles, deserts, mountains, avalanches, camels….camels? His eyes popped open and he saw his surroundings, and his life, in a clear new light. He knew what he had to do.

MacGyver took a quick and much-needed shower before slipping into fresh clothes. Soon he was standing in front of Pete’s house, urgently ringing the doorbell, an energy coursing through him he hadn’t felt since he and Sam had left L.A. He could hear Pete grumbling on the other side of the door, “Hold your horses, I’m coming…”

Pete opened the door and was greeted with a familiar voice, “Hiya, Pete!” MacGyver!! In an instant, the two friends were in a strong embrace, slapping each other on the back as guys do because it makes hugging another man look okay.

Pete stepped back. “How’ve you been, Mac?” he asked gently, concern evident in his unseeing eyes.

“I’m okay, Pete,” Mac replied confidently. “I wasn’t for a while, but I am now.” Mac smiled. For the first time, he noticed Pete was still in his bathrobe.

“It’s past noon. Shouldn’t you be dressed?”

“What? Uh?” Pete stammered as Connie appeared behind him adjusting the satin belt of her dressing gown.

Mac felt his cheeks grow warm. “Um, maybe I should come back….?”

“Nonsense!” Connie quickly replied as she reached out and put a hand on MacGyver’s should. “Pete’s been worried sick about you! Now you come inside and make yourself comfortable while I put on a pot of coffee.”

MacGyver took a breath, but before he could say anything Pete whispered, “She doesn’t know. It’s what she does when we have guests. You don’t have to drink it.”

Mac grinned and allowed himself to be led inside. He was soon ensconced in a supple, over-stuffed leather chair. Pete sat in a matching one across from him. A coffee pot and ceramic mugs sat untouched on the table between them.

“Gosh, Mac, I can’t tell you how relieved I am that you’re here and okay. I kept calling and calling….I tried to get over to your place, but Connie refused to take me, insisting you needed some space.”

“It’s alright, Pete. And Connie was right. I needed some time to work things out in my head.”

“Probably not an easy feat given that complicated brain of yours,” Pete teased and both men laughed.

“So, now that you’ve had some time to think things through, what’s the next move?” the older man asked.

“What makes you think there is a ‘next move’? MacGyver asked.

“You wouldn’t have come out in the sunlight if there wasn’t.”

“Well, Pete,” Mac began, leaning forward in his chair, elbows resting on his knees, “I wanna come back. I wanna come back to the Phoenix Foundation.”



Posted by: Dragondog 22 October 2018 - 04:42 PM
QUOTE
In an instant, the two friends were in a strong embrace, slapping each other on the back as guys do because it makes hugging another man look okay.
I completely cracked up roller.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 22 October 2018 - 05:54 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 22 October 2018 - 04:42 PM)
QUOTE
In an instant, the two friends were in a strong embrace, slapping each other on the back as guys do because it makes hugging another man look okay.
I completely cracked up roller.gif

I think I should trademark that line...I had another reader that really liked it too!! hmm.bmp

Posted by: uniquelyjas 26 October 2018 - 08:17 AM
Chapter 2: All In His Head

“That’s excellent, Mac!” Pete exclaimed, both excited and relieved that his friend had finally found his way ‘home’. “You were the best field operative the Phoenix Foundation ever had. I’m sure they’ll be glad to have you back.”

MacGyver sighed and relaxed back into the supple leather chair. “So, when do you want me to start? I bet you got a ton of files on your desk screaming for attention. And I’m not picky...yet. Send me to rescue some diplomat in Timbuktu or track the mating ritual of polar bears in the Arctic Circle….your wish is my command!”

“Um, Mac…” Pete started hesitantly, “things have changed….”

The seriousness in his friend’s voice caused MacGyver to once again lean forward in his chair. He was getting a gut feeling again, and it wasn’t good.

“What ‘things’?”

Pete sighed gustily. From the moment MacGyver had called him from San Francisco he knew this conversation was coming. “Mac, accepting your resignation was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Things just weren’t the same without you around. And when Connie reached out to me, well, my priorities changed.”

“Changed how, Pete?”

“I realized there’s more to life than work. Can you believe it! Me, the eternal work-a-holic,” he chuckled. “Anyway, about a year after you left, I put in for retirement.
My eyesight wasn’t going to get any better and it felt really good having Connie back in my life, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know Pete,” Mac replied earnestly. Hearth and home. At least one of them had found it.

The older man continued, “Knowing I’d go stark raving mad just rattling around at home, the Board of Directors agreed to keep me on as a consultant for some of the more challenging projects.”

“Am I one of those projects?”

“When haven’t you been!” The two men laughed, easing some of the tension that had hung in the air between them.

“So,” MacGyver started determinedly, “how do I go about re-upping?” He felt sad and disappointed that he and Pete wouldn’t be working together like they used to. Things were certainly going to be different, but he still believed going back to Phoenix was what he had to do.

Pete stayed silent for a moment. He knew Mac wasn’t going to like what he had to say.

“Peeeeete?”

“The Foundation has become increasingly concerned about the overall health and well-being of their employees. In particular, their field operatives. I still have enough pull to get you in the door, but from there it’s all on you.”

“Fair enough. Just tell me what I gotta do.”

“Well, you’ll have to pass a physical exam,” Pete began.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Mac interjected. “I can ace that obstacle course.”

“Undoubtedly, especially since you’re the one who created ‘Macgyverland’,” Pete grinned before continuing. “But it’s more than that, now. You also have to pass a comprehensive medical exam as well as a psychological profile assessment.” Pete waited for the resistance he knew would come quickly.

“Awww, C’mon Pete!” Mac whined, sounding for all the world like a petulant child. “The last time they poked around in my head they recommended you fire me because they thought I was burning out,” his voice dead serious now.

“I know how you feel about those evaluations, Mac,” Pete said gently, “but it’s standard operating procedure now.”

Pete anxiously awaited MacGyver’s response. How badly did his friend want this? Would this be the deal breaker?

Mac sighed and threw his hands in the air as if surrendering. “All right, just tell me when and where and I’ll be there.”

“I’ll put in a call this afternoon and let you know,” Pete replied as relief washed over him. He had expected MacGyver to dig in his heels. Obviously, Mac was itching to get back to the work he thrived on.

The two men rose from their chairs and headed to the front door. MacGyver reached out for Pete’s hand and shook it. “Thanks for helping me out,” he said. “So, got any inside info that’ll help me pass these tests?”

Pete chuckled, “Just be nice to them, Mac. They’re only doing their jobs. And,” he added, “you might wanna get a haircut!”

“You know Pete, I may just do that,” MacGyver replied, running his hand through his shaggy hair as he headed to his car.


MacGyver did not get a haircut, but he did arrive ten minutes early to his appointment with the Foundation’s new staff physician. As he sat in the lobby, flipping through an outdated magazine, he felt a rare onslaught of nerves. Which was ridiculous, of course. He had nothing to be nervous about. He was in great physical condition if he did say so himself. And it had been several days since he had even a mild headache. This would be a breeze.

A middle-aged man with graying hair and a slender build soon entered the room and introduced himself to MacGyver as Dr. Kastner. The two men shook hands before the doctor started flipping through the thick file he held.

“Ah yes, Mr. MacGyver,” the doctor addressed him. “You have quite a lengthy, and interesting, medical history.”

“What can I say, Doctor? I have an interesting job.”

“Hmmmm,” was all the doctor said as MacGyver shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Apparently ‘Vagueness 101’ was a prerequisite for medical school.

MacGyver was in the small exam room buttoning up his shirt when Dr. Kastner came in and sat down, a concerned look on his face.

“What’s up, Doc?” Mac asked, and then flinched as the doctor grimaced at his Bugs Bunny remark.

“Have a seat, Mr. MacGyver,” the doctor said as he motioned to a chair across from the exam table.

MacGyver obeyed as the doctor continued. “As I was looking through your chart, I couldn’t help but notice the numerous head injuries you’ve sustained over the years. More than one has resulted in a concussion and even amnesia.” The man fixed MacGyver with a concerned stare. “When was the last time you suffered a blow to the head?”

“Well, I really can’t remember, sir,” MacGyver replied. “That’s not a good answer, is it?”

The doctor remained silent.

“Alright, a few months back I was on vacation and found myself in a ‘situation’ of sorts.”

“Exactly what kind of ‘situation’ are you talking about Mr. MacGyver?”

“Oh, you know, the kind where someone took offense to something I said and introduced my head to the sidewalk.” Mac knew that wasn’t what the doc wanted to hear, but he also knew he had to be honest if he was going to get back into the Foundation.

“I see,” the doctor replied calmly. “Did you lose consciousness?”

“No, just a bit of my pride.”

“Tell me, Mr. MacGyver, have you been experiencing any issues such as headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating, recall problems?”

Time to come clean.

“Well, I have been having headaches off and on for a while now. But they always go away.”

“Do you experience nausea or light-headedness with these headaches?”

“Sometimes,” MacGyver grudgingly admitted.

“I see,” the doctor said gently. “Head injuries are serious business. They can have long-term effects which aren’t always immediately noticeable. I’m going to order an MRI of your head and neck.” The doctor held up a hand to stop Mac’s protest. “It’s in your best interest.”

“And I won’t be cleared to return until I comply, correct?”

“I’m afraid so. It’s –“

“Standard operating procedure,” Mac cut in, his voice flat.


That afternoon found MacGyver sitting in yet another office lobby. This one belonged to Dr. Darnell, the Foundation’s psychiatric guru. The same doctor who found Mac unfit to work a case due to job burn out. MacGyver wasn’t nervous about this appointment. He was ready. To his surprise, the interview was not as challenging as he had anticipated. Apparently, taking a three year vacation had ‘cured’ his ‘burn out’ and Dr. Darnell promised to declare MacGyver fit for return to his previous status as soon as he was cleared by Dr. Kastner. That’s not to say there weren’t a few speed bumps he had needed to flatten along the way. The doctor had worn a frown as MacGyver’s sudden departure from Phoenix was recounted. Apparently, for most folks, leaving town and all your earthly possessions behind at a moment’s notice to go on a road trip with a son you never knew for an indeterminate length of time was generally frowned upon. Of equal concern was MacGyver’s less than stellar coping mechanisms when said son up and left for the Middle East with a day’s notice. But in the end, Mac was able to assure Dr. Darnell that his motives were pure, his loyalties true, and his psyche sound. He just need to get back to work. That was all that mattered.


MacGyver awoke slowly as the late December sun labored to penetrate the window shades he had pulled the night before. The familiar pounding in his temples had returned, along with a dull ache that encompassed his entire head. He forced his eyes open, only to blink against the muted sunlight. “Aw man,” he moaned, as he closed his eyes and rolled over, trying to bury his head in his pillow. “I really should have taken Pete up on his offer instead,” he thought as he decided whether getting up was worth the effort…and pain. He took some comfort in knowing that his particular headache had nothing to do with getting hit in the head, but everything to do with Mama Lorraine’s Christmas Celebration Extraordinaire the previous day.
In retrospect, he really should have taken Pete and Connie up on their invitation when they had asked him to Christmas Day dinner at their house, but he had graciously bowed out, not wanting to feel like a third wheel on the festive day. Unfortunately, MacGyver found that it was darn near impossible to decline Mama Lorraine’s invitation.
By noon on Christmas Day, the street below MacGyver’s apartment had been barricaded off and a large, gaily decorated fir tree took center stage, an almost life-size nativity scene nestled under its lowest boughs. Hours later, tantalizing smells began pouring out from his neighbors’ houses and he joined the small crowd gathering in the street. The dinner hour saw the sun dipping below the horizon and the street bustling with men, women and children in colorful Haitian garb dancing to native and popular music that blared from large speakers and wishing everyone they met a Merry Christmas or Jwaye Nowe. Long tables laden with every kind of food imaginable framed the perimeter of the festivities.
Now, one of the perks of Mac’s job had been traveling around the world and immersing himself in various cultures. He had missed that these past few years, so he happily joined in the celebration Mama Lorraine had orchestrated. He clapped his hands to the music, played street games with the children, and joined in on some caroling once the words turned to English. He even had a kiss stolen by a pretty young blonde. Apparently mistletoe was a universal language. Every time he turned around he was handed a disposable plate heaping with delightful tastes and textures. As Mac enjoyed the variety of bold, spicy dishes he headed towards a large metal tub filled with ice and bottled water. He had just reached out his hand to grab one when he heard giggling behind him and looked over his shoulder to see several young boys gathered around what appeared to be a large punch bowl.
“Hey Mister!” a little dark-haired boy called.
Mac estimated the child to be around nine or ten years old. The water forgotten, he made his way over to the boy.
“Jwaye Nowe,” Mac wished the boy a Merry Christmas. Apparently, he didn’t get the pronunciation quite right as the group once again broke into a round of laughter.
When the boys had settled down, the one who had first called out to him approached with a cup of whatever the bowl held, presumably a fruit punch as MacGyver had seen adults and children alike drinking it as they roamed the street. Mac accepted the cup with a smile and made a big show of taking an experimental sip. The liquid was sweet with notes of licorice and just a touch of bitterness. MacGyver emptied the cup in two more swallows.
“Outstanding!” Mac declared, and within seconds the boy was handing him another cupful which he drank a little slower this time. He found the taste interesting and oddly addictive…sorta like potato chips. He was on his fourth cup when he met up with a happy and energized Mama Lorraine.
“Ah, MacGyver!” She called, her Haitian accent a bit heavier than usual. “I see you have been introduced to anisette.”
When she saw the confusion on his face she tipped her head to the almost empty cup in his hand.
“Yeah,” Mac replied with an easy smile. “Good stuff.” And he held up his glass in a mock toast.
“And all this time you telling me you don’t imbibe!”
“I don’t.”
“You do now, my boy!” Mama called as she headed off to mingle with the other revelers.
Mac shrugged his shoulders and headed back for another cup of punch…um, anisette.
It was nearly 2am before MacGyver tumbled into bed, and almost 3am before the sounds of the street party below died down enough to allow him to drift into peaceful oblivion. And it was back to that oblivion he now wished to return when he heard a distinctive knock on his door.
“Not now, Mama,” he grumbled as he struggled to sit upright. The room started to spin. He squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that when he opened them again everything would be standing still.
The knocking continued
“I’m coming,” he tried to holler, but his voice was weak and his mouth dry.
MacGyver opened the door to find a glowing Mama Lorraine on the other side, her smile as bright as the sunshine that hurt his eyes.
“That wasn’t punch I was drinking last night, was it?” he asked before Mama could say a word.
“No, my dear MacGyver,” she crooned. “It was anisette. A sweet drink with just a touch of the spirits.”
“There was more than a ‘touch’ in that stuff. My head is killing me! Why do you let the kids drink that?!”
“The children, they are used to it and only have but a cup. But you are not used to the liquid spirits so I brought you this to drive off the remains I knew you must be suffering from.”
It was only then that MacGyver noticed the glass of brown goop she held out to him. “This will help you feel better.”
Mac sighed as he opened the door wider so she could enter.
“I am NOT drinking THAT!” he proclaimed emphatically.
‘But it will—“
“I am not drinking that,” he declared again, cutting her off. Normally, he would welcome one of Mama Lorraine’s natural home-grown cures, but he didn’t think he could stomach this one right now. “I’m sorry, Mama, I just don’t feel like—“
The ringing of his phone interrupted the conversation.
“Excuse me,” he said to Mama as he picked up the receiver.
“Hello?”
“Hello, my name is Jenny and I’m calling from Dr. Kastner’s office. Is Mr. MacGyver available?”
Good. The results of his MRI were back. He was eager to get back to work.
“This is MacGyver.”
“Dr. Kastner asked that I schedule an appointment for you to come in and discuss the results of your MRI as soon as possible.”
MacGyver sighed. “Can’t you just tell me over the phone? Do I really need to come in?”
“I’m sorry, sir, but yes, the doctor wishes to speak with you in person.”
“All right,” Mac gave in a scheduled an appointment for the next day. He hung up the phone and turned to find Mama Lorraine still standing in his living room.
“Did you get some bad news, hon?” she asked, concerned etched on her brow.
“No. At least I don’t think so. Apparently it’s just standard operating procedure.”
The following morning saw MacGyver once again waiting in Dr. Kastner’s lobby flipping through the same magazine as before. However, unlike his previous visit the week before, Mac did not feel a bit nervous. He was anxious. Anxious to have the doctor sign off on his chart and declare him fit for work.
Within minutes, Dr. Kastner opened a door and bid MacGyver to enter his office. The room was well-appointed with a large, mahogany desk, expensive leather chairs, and framed degrees hanging on the walls. As the doctor settled himself behind his desk, Mac took a seat across from him.
“So,” MacGyver started the conversation, “when can I start working?”
Dr. Kastner regarded the younger man in front of him with concern in his eyes.
“That’s why I wanted to speak with you in person. We have a few things to discuss.”
Mac’s stomach began to roil and his palms began to sweat. He instinctively knew that he did not want to hear what the doctor had to say.
“I’ll get right to the point,” Dr. Kastner continued. His voice was gentle now. “The MRI showed some abnormalities on your brain.”
“What do you mean by ‘abnormalities’?” MacGyver knew a fair deal about human biology and he wanted real answers.
“It’s hard to say exactly, without further examination, but given your history and recent headaches, I am fairly certain that the shadow we found is either built up scar tissue from over the years or a bruise on the brain from a recent encounter with a sidewalk you mentioned. If it is, indeed, a bruise, it should heal itself. If it is scar tissue, we may have to be more pro-active.”
“You mean surgery, right?”
“It probably won’t come to that, but it is a possibility. My recommendation for right now is to follow-up with another MRI in a month to see if there are any changes. If it is a bruise and it heals, I’ll clear you for field duty.”
“And until then?” MacGyver asked.
“I am going to release you to light duty. The best thing you can do right now is get plenty of rest, take pain meds as needed for the headaches, and most importantly, protect that head of yours from sidewalks, fists, and any other ‘incidences’ that could cause trauma to your brain.”
“So I guess taking up boxing is out of the question,” Mac quipped, trying to lighten the heavy mood that had descended on him.
“Yes,” Dr. Kastner smiled sadly, “I’m afraid it is.”
MacGyver stood up and prepared to leave the office. He thanked the doctor for his time and honesty, gave a weak smile and walked out the door. He had to talk to Pete.


“They want me to be a desk jockey, Pete!” MacGyver all but yelled into the phone. He had called Pete immediately upon returning to his apartment, not even bothering to take off his jacket.
Pete sighed, “I’m sorry, Mac. I know how you feel.”
“There is absolutely no way you can know how I feel!” As soon as the words left his mouth MacGyver regretted them. Pete may be the only person who could empathize since Pete had been forced out of the Foundation due to a medical condition as well.
“I’m sorry, Pete. I didn’t mean that.”
“I know, Mac. Forget about it.” So,” Pete continued, “what are you going to do now?”
“I don’t know, Pete,” Mac replied. “I never thought of doing anything else but field ops. I’d go nuts sitting at a desk all day. They’ll probably even make me cut my hair.”
Pete chuckled, “Well, hopefully it won’t come to THAT!”
MacGyver laughed, then turned solemn. “Seriously Pete, what are my options?”
“Well, I’m sure they could use you in Research and Development. You’ve always liked tinkering with things. There are plenty of projects going on at Phoenix that would welcome your knowledge and, um, creativity.”
“Yeah, I guess….”
“Look, first thing tomorrow I’ll put in a call. See where I can get you assigned. And look on the bright side, it may only be for a month and then you can get back to gallivanting around the globe saving lives with duct tape and paper clips. If not, perhaps it’s your body’s way of telling you you’re getting too old for that kind of stuff and you need to take it easy.”
“Gosh Pete, you sure know how to cheer a guy up,” MacGyver replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.








Posted by: Dragondog 27 October 2018 - 05:52 PM
Gee, wonder how Mac's head is going to end up? unsure.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 October 2018 - 07:13 AM
Chapter 3: Transitions

MacGyver rattled around his apartment for the next two days, keeping the cordless phone handset close by in case Pete called with an assignment. By the middle of the third day, he had to get out. Go somewhere, do something, anything! He grabbed his jacket, keys and flipped on the answering machine before heading the Nomad toward downtown Los Angeles and the Challengers Boys and Girls Club where he had volunteered for several years in a variety of capacities from mentor to handyman. The inner city center was a safe place for youth to congregate, recreate, and receive academic assistance all with the goal of keeping them off the streets and away from gangs and violence.

Mac parked his car in a lot surrounded by a tall, chain-link fence and soon found himself pulled into the middle of a pre-teen street hockey game. After several minutes of purposely muffed shots and one goal, MacGyver made his way to the door of the building.

“Hello!” he called. “Anybody home?”

“No way,” a deep voice boomed from across the large rec room. “That can’t be MacGyver I hear!”

Mac heard heavy, sure footsteps approaching before being soundly embraced by a large, African-American man. MacGyver heartily returned the greeting before breaking away to assess his friend. About 10 years Mac’s senior, R.T. Hines was a former U.S. Marine who had taken over the operation of Challengers from the Club’s founder, Cynthia Wilson, a few years earlier. Tough, unyielding, but with a heart of gold, Hines ran the center with a steel fist and warm heart, treating each member as if they were his own child. Judging from the pick-up hockey game outside, the large number of teens vying for turns at the game tables in the recreation hall, and another group of kids planning what Mac assumed was the annual New Year’s Eve party, it was obvious the club was indeed in good hands.

“I didn’t know you were back in town.”

“Yeah,” Mac replied. “Got back in November.”

“And it took you this long to come by and see us?!” Hines mockingly scolded.

“I had some things to take care of first, ya know?”

Hines squinted his eyes and examined MacGyver’s face. “Yeah, sure, I understand.”

The air hung heavy between the two men. Hines knew Mac well enough to know there was a lot he wasn’t saying. He also knew that Mac couldn’t be forced to talk about anything he didn’t want to. The ex-Marine sighed in resignation and decided to change the subject.

“So, did Peter Thornton tell you about the school?” Hines asked with renewed enthusiasm.

“Actually, Pete and I haven’t had the opportunity talked about Challengers,” Mac answered.

“Well, then come on over and let me get you up to speed!”

Hines led MacGyver to a far corner of the rec room. Vending machines stood sentinel against the wall and there were several mismatched sets of dining tables and chairs.

“Pick your poison, I’m buying,” Hines addressed Mac, nodding toward the machines.

“Got any orange juice in one of those?”

“One OJ comin’ right up!”

Hines handed the bottle of juice to MacGyver who broke the plastic seal and uncapped the bottle, taking a long drink before casually leaning back in his chair. Across from him, Hines chugged a soft drink before he, too, leaned back contentedly.

“So, what were you saying about this school?” MacGyver asked.

“Ah, piqued your curiosity, did I?” Hines teased.

Mac raised one eyebrow in response.

“Alright then,” Hines coughed and turned serious. “Shortly after you and Sam cut out, the Phoenix Foundation received a large sum of money from an anonymous philanthropist with one request: That the money be used to fund programs designed to educate at-risk youth. So, to make a long, bureaucratic story short, the Phoenix Board of Directors, along with Mr. Thornton, started Challengers Academy, a co-ed high school for teenagers who have been in juvie, are in juvie, or are on the path to juvie.”

“Sounds like an interesting concept,” MacGyver mused as he drained his bottle of orange juice.

“It’s more than a concept, Mac. It’s an honest-to-goodness state accredited school that’s been up and running for about two years now. You know that old brick building next door?”

“Yeah, the one the kids are constantly trying to explore.”

“Well, that’s the school now!”

Mac thought back to the building he had passed on his way in. In a former life it had been a bustling warehouse, but a declining economy had forced its doors closed and time had taken its toll on the large structure. From the outside, it still appeared to be the abandon warehouse MacGyver had scoured more than once for wayward teens hungry for adventure.

“That’s a school?!”

“Sure is! I know it doesn’t look like it from the outside— “Mac interrupted with a grunt but Hines continued, “but with the hard work of a construction team, community volunteers, and dedicated teachers we turned it into a model educational center.”

Hines could see that MacGyver still had his doubts. “How about we go over there now and I give you the grand tour? School is out for winter break so there aren’t any teachers or students around, but you’ll get the general idea.”

“Sure, what the heck,” Mac shrugged. “I’ve got some time on my hands.” Too much time, he thought dejectedly.

As the two men entered the old building and Hines threw on the lights, MacGyver could hardly believe what he saw. Long, bright corridors were flanked with what Mac could only assume were classrooms. At the end of one hallway was a room labeled ‘Office’ and another ‘Teachers’ Lounge’. Hines kept up a steady narrative, clearly enjoying showing off the place.

“We have state-of-the art classroom facilities and highly trained instructors. Students engage in a rigorous curriculum of all core subjects plus electives such as Music and Physical Education in order to obtain their high school diploma.”

Mac stopped and poked his head into what appeared to be a large study hall.

“That’s the Learning Center,” Hines replied before MacGyver could question him. “Any student is welcome there at any time for extra assistance with academics. It also serves as the computer lab. The teachers take turns staffing it and provide any assistance a student may need.” Mac nodded, clearly impressed.

“So how many students come here?”

“We have 120 students enrolled and our absenteeism rate is quite low,” Hines answered proudly. “Of course, a lot of our success is due to the fact that we have abbreviated schedules. Most students only attend a few hours a day as opposed to traditional schools where students are generally required to attend around 7 hours each day.”

“Sure wish I could have gone to school for only a few hours a day,” Mac smirked. “But seriously,” he continued thoughtfully, “with that many at-risk kids in the building at the same time, aren’t you concerned about safety and discipline problems?”

“Absolutely!” Hines exclaimed. “In fact, that was one of the most challenging aspects of getting the school up and running. Phoenix was kind enough to loan us a security expert in the beginning to help set up surveillance cameras and an emergency communication system. All teachers and staff are trained in basic self-defense skills as well as strategies to recognize and de-escalate potential trouble. There is also a uniformed officer at the front door whenever school is in session to screen students as well visitors who enter and leave the building.”

“Is he armed?” Mac asked.

“Only with Mace, a radio, and his wits. Our goal is not to have the students fear us, but rather work with us to keep the school community safe and conducive to learning and interacting with others. The participants know the rules and expectations. It is a privilege to attend here that can be taken away.”

Mac nodded, duly impressed.

They continued to the far end of the building where a large, multi-purpose gymnasium awaited, complete with retractable bleachers.

Mac let out a low, appreciative whistle and Hines beamed with pride. “Here is where our physical education classes take place. We also play team sports here including basketball, volleyball, and sometimes even tennis and soccer. If our funding continues, we have plans to buy up surrounding properties to convert to a baseball diamond and football field.”

“Very impressive,” Mac responded as he continued to survey the gym. “Any plans for a hockey rink?”

Hines let out a belly laugh. “I should have known you’d ask about that! Unfortunately that would require a whole other building and a lot of maintenance. Not to mention the cost of the required gear.”

“Have you approached Phoenix about it?”

“Whoa, one step at a time, Mac,” Hines cautioned. “Besides, academics come first around here.”

“As well they should,” MacGyver conceded, as Hines steered him back through the maze of corridors and back out to the parking lot.


MacGyver tacked up the new calendar on his kitchen wall and then went to look out the rain-splattered window as thunder rumbled in the background. January 1995 was starting out as gray and depressing as he felt. He had spent New Year’s Eve at Challengers chaperoning their yearly party. He was assigned to stand guard at the refreshment table to ensure that no one spiked the punch. A job he took very seriously since his experience at Mama Lorraine’s Christmas party. He enjoyed talking with the teens, reuniting with many he used to spend time with on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that enjoyment was short lived. It would soon be a week since he asked Pete for an assignment at Phoenix, and he had yet to hear from his friend. He knew Pete well, and he knew that no news was bad news. He flopped on his couch, grabbed the TV remote, and tuned into a college football bowl game. “Happy New Year, Mac,” he grumbled to himself.

The sky continued to spit rain late into the evening as the final game of the day was in its waning minutes. Mac was dozing when the shrill ring of his telephone jerked him awake. He fumbled for the receiver.

“Hello,” he said groggily.

“Happy New Year, Mac!” Pete exclaimed cheerfully.

“Not so far.”

“Oh, I think you’ll change your mind when you hear what I have to say,” Pete replied, the smile on his face somehow coming through the receiver to Mac.

“You got an assignment for me, Pete?” MacGyver asked as he rose from the couch now fully awake and trying to quell his excitement.

“I do,” Pete assured him. “That is, if you still want it after you hear about it.”

“I want it! I want it! What is it?!”

“Whoa, calm down. Meet me at Phoenix tomorrow at 10am and I’ll give you all the details.”

“C’mon Pete, can’t you just tell me now?”

“Sorry, Mac. You’ll just have to wait. But look on the bright side, I hear that patience builds character,” Pete chuckled as the line went dead.


MacGyver arrived early to the Phoenix Foundation the following morning. The last time he had been there was for his MRI results. Today he clipped on his ID Pass and roamed the once-familiar halls to check out some of the projects the think tank was working on. As he poked his head in various labs and offices, he found few faces he remembered and garnered cautious stares from the new employees. He couldn’t believe how much things had changed since he left.

He made his way to Pete’s office. Helen, his secretary, was seated at her desk, holding down the fort as always.

“Hi Helen, how’re you doing?”

“MacGyver!” The older woman hopped out of her chair faster than Mac thought possible. Before he knew it, he was wrapped in her arms and relishing the motherly hug she saw fit to bestow on him.

“And here I thought you didn’t care,” Mac said facetiously.

“Of course I care,” she said as she pulled away and swatted his shoulder. “Whenever Pete sends you out on an assignment I never know if you’ll come back in one piece what with all those stunts you pull! It’s no wonder you’re still single. And at your age! Well, I guess no woman in her right mind is going to want to marry the likes of you…never knowing when, or if, you’ll come home. Such a shame…” she continued to cluck like a mother hen and MacGyver was amazed at how the woman had managed to make him feel ten years old again.

Soon her intercom buzzed and she instructed MacGyver to enter the inner office. Pete sat at his old desk, a few members of the Board standing behind and to the side of him, hidden in the shadows. Pete was taking the lead on this case, but he was being watched carefully.

“Hiya, Pete! Whatcha got for me?”

“Ah, hello MacGyver, thank you for coming down on such short notice. Please, have a seat,” Pete gestured toward where he knew a chair would be.

Mac’s senses immediately went on high alert. Why was Pete being so formal? And who, exactly, were the guys in the shadows?

“No problem,” MacGyver said, deciding to play along with the formality as he settled into the chair across the desk from his friend.

“So, I heard you paid a visit to Challengers. Mr. Hines said you seemed quite impressed with the school they started.” Pete settled comfortably into his chair.

“Yeah, I did and I was,” Mac replied, a bit confused at where this conversation was going.

“I’m glad you feel that way, MacGyver,” Pete began, as he slid a thick manila file across his desk towards Mac’s voice, “because I’m assigning you to oversee security at our other Challengers Academy.”

“You mean there’s more than one?” Mac asked, eyebrows raised.

“Yes. When the one here in L.A. saw such immediate success, the donor asked that we open another school in a different part of the country that also has a large population of at-risk teens. You will find all the information you need in that file, and Helen has dossiers on all the staff members. Please review the files and be prepared to leave by the end of next week.”

Pete stood up and the shadowed figures moved forward signaling the end of the meeting. Mac shook Pete’s hand, nodded at the other gentlemen, and left to pick up the files from Helen.

“What just happened in there?” Helen asked in a loud whisper as she handed the pile of files to MacGyver.

“I’m not sure,” Mac replied slowly, “but I definitely intend to find out”.

Leaving the heap of files in his car, MacGyver hurried into his apartment, peeled off his jacket and flung it across a chair as he picked up the phone and dialed Pete’s private line at Phoenix. At least he hoped it was still Pete’s private line.

“Hello?” Pete answered.

Mac let out a sigh before turning indignant. “What the heck was that all about, Pete?” he demanded.

“I’m sorry I didn’t have time to warn you, Mac—“

“Warn me about what?!”

“When you left the Foundation…the way you left…well, it ruffled some feathers. The Board members were not pleased that I allowed our top field agent to fly the coop so easily.”

“Cute metaphor Pete.”

“Today’s meeting was as much about me as it was you. I had to prove to them that I was still your boss and could make you toe the line if I’m to oversee your assignments,” Pete explained. “By the way, thanks for playing along.”

“No problem. Sorry I got upset. I’m just not used to—“

“Forget about it, MacGyver. Look, Connie is serving apple pie ala mode for dessert tonight. Why don’t you come to the house where we can talk freely and I’ll tell you all about your new assignment. Deal?”

“Anything for ice cream, Pete,” Mac teased before disconnecting the call.


That evening found Pete and MacGyver at the Thornton’s kitchen table savoring Connie’s dessert as they discussed the details of Mac’s new assignment.

“Did you read through the files I gave you?”

“You know how I feel about dossiers, Pete,” MacGyver replied before quickly shoving a huge forkful of pie and ice cream into his mouth.

“I know,” Pete answered with a long-suffering sigh. “You prefer to talk to people, get to know them, listen to your gut.”

MacGyver just nodded, still chewing the large piece of dessert.

“MacGyver?”

“Oh, sorry Pete,” he said around a mouthful of pie. “I forget you can’t see when I nod.”

“Did you at least look at the file about the Academy?”

“No. I left it in the car.”

Pete rolled his eyes. MacGyver was a meticulous genius, but he was also one of the most unorganized bachelors Pete had ever met.

“Well, then, I guess we’d better start from scratch,” Pete proclaimed as they headed into the living room and more comfortable seating.

“After you and Sam left, Phoenix opened a satellite office in Chicago. It seemed sensible that the second Challengers Academy be located there as well. Unfortunately, the Illinois Department of Education had some ‘issues’ with our little project so we were forced to look for a different location. We decided on the next largest city in the same general area and voila Challengers Academy-Milwaukee Campus was born!”

Mac remained silent.

Pete forged ahead. “And I thought, given your involvement with Challengers here and you being raised in that area of the country, it seemed like a natural fit.”

“So what, exactly, do you need me to do?”

Pete grinned satisfactorily. He had piqued MacGyver’s interest. He was going to take the assignment.

“Well,” Pete cleared his throat, “your assignment is actually two-fold. Like I said at the office, you will be going in as the new security advisor. They’ve run into some problems in that area and I know you can do the job.”

“That’s not a problem,” Mac replied confidently. He had a great deal of experience in setting up and testing security systems for some of the most sensitive and vulnerable government agencies in the country.

“And then there’s the second part,” Pete continued. “The Foundation wants you to submit a report on the growth and success of the program for future funding purposes.” Pete braced himself for the response he knew would follow.

“Aw, c’mon Pete!” MacGyver complained. “You know I hate anything having to do with politics and bureaucracies. Besides, what do I know about education? Don’t ask me to be the one to give or take back funding.”

“Now settle down, Mac,” Pete said calmly. “Phoenix is only asking for your observations and opinions about the school. The Board will have the final say, as always. And it’s not an issue of taking away funding. Thanks to the generous donation of our anonymous benefactor, we have a surplus of funds. We just need to decide how best to use them and your reports will be considered when the Board makes their final decisions.”

Mollified by this explanation, Mac asked, “So how long will this assignment last?” He was supposed to have another MRI in a few weeks and, if all went well, could be cleared for active field duty within a month.

“Well, that’s still a bit unclear,” Pete hedged. “When you get to the school you will contact the administrator, Evelyn Quinn, who can give you a better idea of what needs to be accomplished. However, I’d say to plan to stay for at least a couple months. Possibly until the end of the semester if you run into setbacks.”

“And by ‘setbacks’ you mean if I don’t pass the Foundation’s concussion protocol.”

“I’m afraid so,” Pete said flatly. “And don’t worry,” he continued quickly, “Phoenix is providing you with a company credit card and expense account. You also have a furnished apartment near the school.”

Mac wasn’t too keen on the idea of such a long term assignment. Especially since he’d only been home for less than two months. But, if he wanted back into Phoenix, he’d have to pay his dues.

“So, when are they expecting me?”

“As soon as you can get there.”

“Great. Just great.”

*******************************************************************
MacGyver spent the next few days preparing for his trip. Pete had offered him a plane ticket, but Mac preferred to drive the two thousand some odd miles that would take him to his next assignment. He gazed longingly at the Nomad and shook his head.

“Sorry ole girl, driving halfway across the country in January is not something I want to put you through.” So he put the classic car back up on blocks and pulled out the battery to hide in Pete’s garage.

“Just in case Jack gets a hankering for a road trip,” he had explained to Pete.

“But he could just buy a new one,” Pete replied.

“Jack? Buy something?!”

“You got a point, Mac.”

Nevertheless, Jack Dalton was his best friend since childhood and, since Jack was currently between ‘lucrative business prospects’, MacGyver had invited him to stay in the apartment so Mac wouldn’t have to put everything into storage….again. Jack had jumped at the offer and MacGyver had a feeling he had just made a really dumb decision.

All that was left was to load up the Chevy Blazer the Foundation had provided for him. Mac was used to traveling light, so he made quick work of packing. Jack and Pete stood on the sidewalk in front of his apartment as he stowed his duffel bags in the back of the SUV, followed by his hockey stick, helmet, and favorite pair of gloves. He then bid his two friends a fond farewell with promises to keep in touch and stay alive.


After three days on the road and a snowstorm that followed him like a lost puppy, MacGyver finally arrived at his destination. He pulled out the piece of paper Pete had given him with the address of his apartment and maneuvered the vehicle through the slick city streets until he found the building he would be living in for the next several weeks. He parked the Blazer by the curb and stepped out to survey the non-descript two-story apartment building. “Home sweet home,” he murmured, “for now…..”


Posted by: Dragondog 30 October 2018 - 11:34 AM
Mac being so overeager to accept a job reminded me of a child laugh.gif

QUOTE

“Anything for ice cream, Pete,” Mac teased before disconnecting the call.


QUOTE
“Did you at least look at the file about the Academy?”

“No. I left it in the car.”

Pete rolled his eyes. MacGyver was a meticulous genius, but he was also one of the most unorganized bachelors Pete had ever met.
I love Mac roller.gif



QUOTE
So he put the classic car back up on blocks and pulled out the battery to hide in Pete’s garage.

“Just in case Jack gets a hankering for a road trip,” he had explained to Pete.

“But he could just buy a new one,” Pete replied.

“Jack? Buy something?!”

“You got a point, Mac.”

Nevertheless, Jack Dalton was his best friend since childhood and, since Jack was currently between ‘lucrative business prospects’, MacGyver had invited him to stay in the apartment so Mac wouldn’t have to put everything into storage….again. Jack had jumped at the offer and MacGyver had a feeling he had just made a really dumb decision.


That cracked me up sooo much roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 October 2018 - 12:07 PM
I'm so glad you're enjoying and commenting on my story, Dragondog! Jack is always so much fun to write about!!

Posted by: Dragondog 30 October 2018 - 05:56 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 October 2018 - 03:07 PM)
I'm so glad you're enjoying and commenting on my story, Dragondog! Jack is always so much fun to write about!!

Jack, Penny, and Murdoc and Mac's bickering- from my experience so far, they're the best to write XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 November 2018 - 10:15 AM
Chapter 4: The Stranger

MacGyver opened the back hatch of the Blazer and pulled out a large, military style duffle bag. With his free hand, he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the key Pete had given him. He entered the front of the newly renovated economy apartment building, crossed the small lobby, and took the elevator to the second floor. The doors whooshed open and Mac stepped out, facing a long hallway. He checked the apartment number on the key and approached the first door on his right: 2A. Nope, not his. He turned and looked at the door across the hall. 2B…or not to be, he thought, as he smoothly slid the key into the lock and twisted the knob. With a gentle push the door swung inward as if inviting him in to his new, albeit temporary, home.

Mac slowly stepped over the threshold and allowed the heavy duffle to drop with an oomph to the floor. He looked straight ahead down the hall that led to what appeared to be the bathroom. To his left, large windows let in the final rays of the setting sun, illuminating the open living area sparsely furnished with a couch, two mismatched chairs, coffee table and television set. Against the wall, next to the door, sat a large, worn, wooden desk with a personal computer already hooked up. He figured that was Phoenix’s way of reminding him to keep up with his reports. Across from the living room a closed door indicated his bedroom, next to which was a galley kitchen that boasted a breakfast bar with two stools. Immediately to his right was a space he assumed was the dining area, but instead of a table and chairs, he was greeted by a brand new air hockey table. “Thank you, Pete!” Which reminded him, he needed to call his friend and let him know he had arrived. It only took a quick glance for him to find the cordless telephone and charging base in the middle of the breakfast bar. Another hint from Phoenix? Mac grinned as he picked up the phone and dialed the familiar number.

“Hello?” a sweet female voice answered.

“Hi Connie, it’s Mac.”

“Oh MacGyver, I’m so glad you called! Pete has been driving me nuts worrying about you! Hold on while I get him.”

Mac heard a ‘clunk’ as Connie set the handset down and then her muffled voice called Pete’s name.

“Mac, is that you!?!”

“Yeah Pete, and you don’t have to yell,” MacGyver said with a smile.

“Oh, um, sorry. I’m just…just so glad to hear you made it to Milwaukee safely. You are in Milwaukee, aren’t you?”

“Yes, Pete,” Mac replied slowly, as if speaking to a child. “I am in Milwaukee. At least, that’s what the road sign said. Any reason I shouldn’t have arrived here safely?”

“No, no,” Pete replied. “You know me, a born worrier, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, etcetera.”

“Yes, I know, Pete. You’ll be glad to hear that my trip was as dull and mundane as those suits you wear.” If you don’t count getting stuck in the snow for three hours and almost hitting a deer…on multiple occasions.

“Well, I’m just glad you arrived safely. Have you contacted Evelyn yet?”

“No, I was planning on calling her first thing in the morning. I still have to unload the truck and get settled.”

“Oh, of course. Take your time.”

“Will do. And Pete, thanks for the air hockey table.”

Pete chuckled, “I just wanted to help make you feel more at home.”

“Well, you succeeded, and I’m grateful. There’s only one problem…”

“Oh?” Concern returned to Pete’s voice.

“I don’t have anyone to play with.”
“All the more reason for you to make some new friends,” Pete replied, hanging up before MacGyver could retort.


Joanna Fairfax plopped down in her desk chair and leaned back. She stared at the thin manila folder sitting on her desk front and center. She glanced at the tab labeled ‘A. MacGyver.’ Honestly, if she read through this file one more time she swore her eyes would bleed. Since receiving the dossier from Evelyn, her supervisor and friend, she had read every word at least ten times and was still unable to form a complete mental picture of the man who was coming on board as the new security advisor. When the file had been delivered by a special courier, Joanna couldn’t help but notice how thin it was. Upon first coming to work at Challengers Academy as the Director of Education, Joanna had been asked to provide several detailed documents and private information to the Phoenix Foundation. Quite frankly, she was surprised they didn’t ask for an IOU for her first-born child. Then again, being over forty and hopelessly single with no prospects in sight, even they probably figured that was a lost cause!

With a sigh, Joanna leaned forward and began leafing through the papers yet again, searching for anything that might give her a better idea of exactly who A. MacGyver was. The same words popped out at her: Vietnam Special Forces, bomb disposal expert, degrees in physics and chemistry, security systems expert, former DXS agent and a list of countries he had operated in, many of which Joanna had never even heard of. In addition, it said he had some working knowledge of several foreign languages and excellent observation skills. His resume read like a script from an Indiana Jones movie. Yet there was precious little, actually make that no, information about the man, himself. No birth date, no home town, no out-of-focus photo ID. And no clue as to why the Phoenix Foundation would send such an accomplished agent on such a mundane mission.

Joanna leaned back in her chair once again and rolled this information around in her brain. She was an intelligent woman. She could figure this out. Slowly a theory began to form. If he had served in Vietnam, he was definitely older than her. His science background screamed ‘nerd’. And the fact that he was assigned to such a safe and boring mission had to mean he could no longer handle himself in the field. A mental picture quickly followed. She closed her eyes to help flesh out the details. Middle-age, average height, overweight, balding, glasses (perhaps held together with masking tape), wrinkled dress shirt, ugly tie, and last but not least a pocket protector. OK, maybe she was going a bit overboard, but not by much! And why did she even care?! Well, she knew why, but she wasn’t about to admit it to anybody.

When Joanna had turned forty, she had made peace with the fact that she would be single for the rest of her life. She had a comfortable existence sharing a house with her parents and working at a job she enjoyed. She had never been much for the dating scene anyway. First school and then work took priority over socializing. Her career didn’t lend itself to meeting attractive, eligible men either. Female teachers far outnumbered their male counterparts. For instance, there were only two male teachers in the entire Academy. Mr. Kowalksi, the science teacher, was coming to the end of his career, marking the days until he could retire. Mr. Simmons, the math and social studies teacher, had his drawbacks as well. Closer to Joanna’s age with a lanky build and slicked back dark hair, the adjective that always came to mind when she saw him was ‘sleazy’. Oh, he was a good teacher and the kids liked him well enough which was more than she could say for the females on staff whom he was always pestering for dates. He had even approached Joanna on a few occasions before she summarily put him off by declaring she did not fraternize with other staff members outside of work. But it would be nice to have an attractive man around, just to look at. A girl could dream, couldn’t she?

Joanna pushed herself to her feet and went to the window where she could see white flakes falling from heavy gray clouds once again. As she watched the snow fall silently to the ground her mind wandered back to the time her best friend had signed her up with a computer dating service as a birthday present. Joanna had gone out on a handful of first dates, but never any second ones. Her friends and family insisted she was too picky, but she knew the truth. The type of man she was attracted to was, unfortunately, attracted to women not like her. Average on all accounts, she was vanilla ice cream and guys wanted rocky road. The sound of sleet hitting the window drew her attention away from her self-inflicted pity party. Great. Not only would she have to brush the snow off her car when she left, she’d have to scrape off the ice as well. She hated winter!

Determined to dispel her sour mood and get something accomplished, she walked back to her desk and closed the offending file. She slipped off her red wool blazer and tossed it on the back of her chair. Time to take down the Christmas decorations, she decided. She pulled a rickety wood step-stool over to the wall which held her large bulletin board and gingerly climbed up to stand on the second and top step, her hands pressed against the wall to help her keep her balance. Soon she was busily pulling push pins from the cork and carefully removing cheerful holiday pictures which she immediately replaced with inspirational and educational posters. She became so engrossed in her endeavor that she almost didn’t hear the soft tap of knuckles on her doorframe.
Since she and Evelyn were the only ones in the building during winter break, she addressed her boss without turning around.

“So, how does it look?” Joanna asked.

“Looks great from where I’m standing,” a masculine voice replied.

Startled, Joanna snapped her head around to look over her shoulder. Too fast. She had moved her head too fast. The room started to spin and she started to sway! Before Joanna could right herself she felt two large, strong hands at her waist, gently steadying her.

“Whoa, take it easy there!”

Turning around more slowly this time, she looked down to discover the source of the voice…and the hands. There, looking up at her, stood a handsome man with an unruly mop of dark blonde hair, penetrating brown eyes, and a smile that could melt the largest of snow piles. Now there was a guy she wouldn’t mind seeing every day.

“Th…Thanks,” she stuttered.

“Do you always climb stools in heels?” the man asked, a hint of laughter in his voice.

“No,” she replied indignantly, quickly regaining her balance and sensibilities. “Sometimes I wear flats!”

The good looking stranger chuckled briefly before asking, “What’s this?” as he tapped the plastic and metal contraption holding the waistband of her skirt closed.

She glanced down with a look of chagrin. While she had been reaching for the top of her bulletin board, her silky white blouse had hitched up, exposing her makeshift closure.

“It’s a binder clip,” she replied shortly.

“I can see that. What’s it doing there?”

“I lost the button this morning and couldn’t find a safety pin. The material is too thick for even a jumbo paperclip to hold so,” she shrugged, “I used a binder clip.” Why she bothered to give the stranger so much information she couldn’t say.

“Ah,” he replied simply before reaching a hand up to her. “Let me help you down,” he stated.

“I’m fine,” she replied brusquely even as she wondered how she was going to gracefully get down from the stool in the tight black skirt and heels she was wearing while this man was apparently determined to watch her every move.

“Humor me,” he replied in a voice that held no humor at all. Only concern.

Joanna conceded, ever so lightly placing her hand in his. As she began her descent, her grip tightened and she waited for an ‘I told you so’ that never came. “I hate heights,” she murmured under her breath. The stranger grinned.

Once back on solid footing, she murmured her thanks and took a step back to discreetly assess the stranger a bit further. He was about her age and tall, the top of her head reaching just past his chin…in three-inch heels. His hair was a bit too long and shaggy for her taste, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. He had high cheek bones, and a strong jaw. Even though he wore a cable-knit pull-over sweater the color of oatmeal underneath a brown leather bomber jacket, she could tell by the contour of his clothes that he was physically fit. As her eyes reached his slim, jean-clad legs, they instinctively sought out his left hand. More specifically, the fourth finger of his left hand. No ring. No tan line. Her heart leapt. Of course, that didn’t mean much nowadays.

Joanna focused on smoothing her skirt and subtly adjusting her blouse as she fought to regain control of her wayward eyes.

“Nice outfit,” the man remarked, as he went to retrieve her jacket from the chair.

“Thanks,” Joanna replied with all the confidence she could muster. “I’m meeting a new staff member today and wanted to make a good impression.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that,” he said with an attractive smile as he helped her slip into the red blazer he now held.

She was trying to stifle a blush before she suddenly realized that she had no idea who this man was or why he was here. Oh, where had her brain cells gone!

“I’m sorry,” she said in her most professional voice. “Is there something I can help you with?”

“I hope so. I’m here to see Evelyn Quinn, the school administrator.”

“Do you have an appointment?” Evelyn had only mentioned meeting with the new security advisor today.

Before the stranger could respond, Evelyn opened her office door and headed toward them.

“I heard some voices and came out to see who was here,” she explained. Turning to the man she exclaimed, “You must be Mr. MacGyver! It’s so nice to finally meet you in person! Peter has told me so much about you!”

“Only believe the good stuff,” Mac quipped, as he pulled out his Phoenix ID to confirm his identity.

“Trust me, Mr. MacGyver, it was all ‘good stuff’ as you put it.”

Ms. Evelyn Quinn was a spritely woman. A good foot shorter than MacGyver, her ginger hair was cropped close and her face belied her age.

“So you and Pete are friends?” Mac asked.

“Of course! Didn’t he tell you? We go way back. Connie and I were college roommates. I met Pete when they started dating. In fact, he was the one who convinced me to come out of early retirement to help get Challengers Academy up and running. That should have all been in my dossier.”

MacGyver’s eyes found the floor.

“You did read my dossier, didn’t you Mr. MacGyver?”

“Please, call me ‘Mac’, and I’m afraid the dog ate my homework.”

At first he feared his attempt at humor would be lost on her, but the next moment found her laughing heartily. “Pete told me you’re allergic to paperwork! I see you’ve already met Joanna.”

“Not formally, we just bumped into each other,” he grinned mischievously.

“Well, then let me do the honors,” Evelyn began. “Joanna, I’d like to introduce you to Mr. MacGyver, our new security advisor.”

Mac could literally see her eyes become shuttered and her face turn wooden. What had just happened?

“Hi, my friends call me ‘Mac’,” he said warmly as he offered his hand for her to shake.

“Hi, I’m Joanna Fairfax, Director of Education,” She shook his hand firmly but quickly.

“Her friends call her ‘Jo’,” her boss added.

If the look Joanna shot her could kill, Evelyn would have been dead on the spot.

“Nice to meet you, Jo,” MacGyver responded in what he hoped was a friendly, harmless tone.

“Nice to meet you, too, Mr. MacGyver,” came the icy reply.

“Joanna, could you please bring the new-hire paperwork and meet us in my office?” Evelyn asked.

“Of course. I’ll be there in a minute,” she said smoothly, waiting until the two had left her office and headed down the hall before turning to her desk. “Oh my God, Oh my God,” she muttered repeatedly to herself as she walked back and forth waving her hands in front of her face in an effort to cool her blushing skin. “He was supposed to be a nerd! An old, fat, bald nerd!!” She stopped her pacing and took a deep, calming breath. She felt like such a fool! She had let her guard down with the stranger. She had let him touch her. Dear Lord, she had practically ogled him which he surely didn’t miss given his ‘excellent observational skills’. And then she had turned into an ice queen when she discovered his identity. What must he think of her? And how was she going to work with him on a daily basis?

After gathering her wits as well as the requested paperwork, Joanna entered Evelyn’s office to find her boss seated behind her desk and MacGyver relaxing in one of two visitors’ chairs. Evelyn motioned Joanna to take the seat next to him.

Mac hadn’t missed the way she had checked him out earlier. Now it was his turn. Taller than Evelyn, her head would fit neatly beneath his chin if she would get rid of those stupid heels. She wore her dark brown hair in a jaunty pixie cut that flattered her features and her brown eyes sparkled with bits of gold. Her loose fitting blouse and blazer concealed her figure, but MacGyver remembered the firm feel of her waist and the contour of her hips as he had helped her regain her balance earlier. Finally, Mac glanced at her hands. A dark blue sapphire solitaire accented with diamonds twinkled at him from where a wedding ring would be. For some reason he had assumed she wasn’t married or even engaged. Did she wear that ring to purposely throw guys off her scent? She was beginning to puzzle MacGyver, and he could never leave a puzzle alone.

MacGyver spent several minutes completing the appropriate forms. Even though he was a temporary employee, the school was required to have documentation for him. Evelyn invited MacGyver to return Thursday so he could start meeting the staff and getting familiar with the layout of the school.

“Joanna will be happy to show you around and I’m sure you’ll have some questions for each other.”

The trio began walking down the hall to the main exit when Evelyn stopped just short of Joanna’s office.

“There’s an empty room next to Jo’s office that you can use while you’re with us, MacGyver,” Evelyn offered. “I’ll make sure she passes a key on to you.”

“Thanks. I’d appreciate that,” Mac responded just as a telephone rang close by. Joanna scurried into her office to answer it while Evelyn continued to escort MacGyver to the exit.

“And don’t mind Joanna,” Evelyn instructed. “It takes her a while to warm up to new people, some more than others,” she explained as she looked MacGyver up and down before giving him a wink.

Mac chuckled softly. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”



Posted by: Dragondog 4 November 2018 - 06:58 PM
Caaaaaan you feel the love tonight tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 November 2018 - 08:12 AM
Chapter 5: New Kid on the Block

MacGyver arrived at the school early Thursday morning. He was hoping to have some time alone to look around before taking the official tour. He pulled into the staff lot and parked his Blazer next to a dark red, modestly appointed Chevy Cavalier with a window sticker sporting the words “Chevy Thunder”. Mac chuckled. It certainly wasn’t a muscle car, but he could see it was well-maintained, well-loved.

He looked up at the old brick school building. It was two stories high and ‘L’ shaped. From his previous visit, he knew the short leg of the ‘L’ housed the administrative offices and teachers’ lounge. He slowly walked across the large parking lot, trying to avoid puddles of slushy snow while looking to see what kind of security system was already in place. He noticed a small camera perched on each corner of the building which was better than nothing, but was it enough?

MacGyver saw the teaching staff beginning to arrive so he joined the little parade that led him through the front doors and into the warmth of the old building. He was about to head to the offices when he heard laughter and talking coming from down the long corridor. Curious, he followed the noise to a large recreational room. Much like in L.A., a number of vending machines lined one wall and there were metal picnic tables set up in a corner. In the opposite corner, there was an old television set surrounded by overstuffed couches that had seen better days. There was also a pool table, a pinball machine and a few arcade-style video games. Voices continued to fill the air and Mac noticed a small group of women chatting as they put away various cleaning supplies. His gaze immediately landed on Evelyn. Though short in stature, her red hair stood out making her immediately recognizable. But it was the brunette standing next to her that captured his interest.

Since no one had noticed him yet, he knocked loudly on the door jamb. “Excuse me, ladies,” he called politely.

Five heads swiveled around to face him.

“Oh, Mr. MacGyver! We lost track of the time!” Evelyn was the first one to speak. “I hope you weren’t waiting long.”

“Not at all,” Mac replied. “You have quite a recreation room here.”

“Thank you,” the older woman replied. “We wish we had more to offer the students, but we generally rely on donations.”

MacGyver thought that odd since Pete had assured him the Academy received sufficient funding. He’d have to look into that…later. Right now his attention was fixed on Joanna. Clad in faded jeans and an oversized Green Bay Packer sweatshirt, she looked as good as she had the day they met…if not better. Her face was free of make-up, her wispy bangs fell just above her eyebrows, and the diamond studs in her earlobes twinkled in the sunlight pouring through the windows. Out of shameless curiosity, Mac looked down at her hands. No ring today. Hmmm.

Joanna made her way quickly towards him, her gaze not quite meeting his but landing somewhere around his chin. The other women resumed their chattering.

“Nice outfit,” he said with appreciation.

Joanna quickly glanced down at her clothes as if she had forgotten what she was wearing, a guilty look flooded her face. “Oh, well, we’re cleaning today…” she let the sentence hang.

“You a fan?”

“Of cleaning? Not really, but it needs to be done.”

“No, I meant the Packers.”

Joanna’s cheeks grew warm. “Yep! Born and bred,” she answered. How could she have been so stupid to misunderstand his question? “You?”

“I’m not much into football. More of a hockey fan myself.”

“Oh,” she replied flatly.
“I apologize for keeping you waiting,” she changed the subject, her professional veneer now firmly in place. “Please follow me to my office and we’ll begin your orientation.” As she stepped past him, he caught the distinct scent of coconut radiating from her hair. He breathed in deeply to savor the smell.

Now, Mac had traveled all over the world and was the first to admit that he had admired and enjoyed the company of quite a number of beautiful, exotic women including the many young, blonde beach bunnies he had left behind in L.A. But it wasn’t until now, as he watched Joanna’s hips sway to a steady, unpretentious rhythm, that he realized how much he missed good, old-fashioned, down-to-earth, Mid-Western girls. Um, women.

“Aw man, what am I thinking?” he muttered, as he wiped his hand down his face. She’s just part of my assignment, no one special, he tried to convince himself, yet from the first moment they met he had felt…something.

“I’m sorry, did you say something?” Joanna asked as she turned around to look at him.

“Um, no…nothing,” he replied, surprised to see they were already at her office door.

“Please come in and have a seat,” she motioned for him to enter ahead of her.

He obeyed, once again inhaling the sweet coconut scent as he stepped past her.

Settling into the chair behind her desk Joanna addressed him: “I thought we’d start off by me giving you an overview of our program and expectations before touring the facilities. Hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to meet the majority of the staff today as well.”

“Sounds like a plan.” MacGyver couldn’t help noticing she had yet to make eye contact with him. Was it simply shyness or something more?

“I assume you’re familiar with the basic concept of Challengers Academy having visited the one in L.A.” she began and Mac nodded. “There are some differences between us, however. For instance, we have class year round. Summer is a time for students to either catch up or work ahead. We also require that students remain on the premises from 9am to 4pm. We try and keep their academic schedule light so they can use the rec room or computer lab when they’re not in class.” Joanna continued her monologue and stopped only to answer any questions MacGyver was able to get in when she took a breath, but he didn’t mind. In fact, he enjoyed hearing the passion and dedication in her voice. She clearly cared for the school and, as she put it, ‘her’ students.

Suddenly, MacGyver heard Joanna’s stomach rumble with hunger causing her to look up at the clock above the door.

“Oh dear,” she moaned apologetically. “It’s already lunch time and you must be starving!”

‘I could eat,” he smiled lazily. “I saw a restaurant on my way here, do you want to go out and grab a bite?”

Joanna’s expression closed in a flash and MacGyver realized he had already pushed her too far. “It could be a working lunch, talk more about Challengers,” he back-peddled, but her expression remained unchanged.

“No thanks, I have work to catch up on,” she replied stonily. “Perhaps some other time.”

Sensing his dismissal, MacGyver nodded his head in agreement, got up from his chair and walked out the door, closing it behind him. Evelyn was standing in the hall.

“So, how did it go?” she asked.

“I thought everything was going great, until I asked her to lunch,” he frowned.

“Shot you down, did she?”

“Like a heat-seeking missile,” he grumbled.

Evelyn put her hand on his forearm, “Don’t give up. Jo isn’t one to trust easily, but once you earn it, you’ll see it was worth the effort.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

True to her word, Joanna spent the afternoon giving MacGyver a tour of the school and introducing him to the faculty. The first floor of the building was dedicated to staff offices and multipurpose rooms. There was a large room that served as the computer lab and learning center, much like the one Hines had showed him in L.A. This was also the domain of Mrs. Lynn Wade, a middle-aged woman of medium height, graying hair, and stern expression. She was all business, and Mac could appreciate that…to a point.

Next door was the freshly cleaned recreation room where he had found Joanna that morning, and at the end of the hall was a large gymnasium. Rickety wooden bleachers flanked the faded markings of a basketball court. The hard wood floor was scratched and stained, and the basketball hoops lacked nets. This was so different than the one in L.A.

“So,” MacGyver ventured, “what kinds of sports programs do you offer here?”

“Basketball,” Joanna replied, her tone clipped. “Mr. Kowalski is the coach, you’ll meet him in a few minutes.”

“Just basketball?”

“Yes,” Joanna answered. Seeing the questioning look in MacGyver’s eyes she sighed and continued, “All other team sports require gear and equipment we can’t afford right now. As it is, all our basketball games are played on the road because, as you can see, our gym isn’t quite up to par.”

“So I suppose a hockey rink is out of the question?” Mac quipped, curious to see her response.

“Do you have any idea how expensive it is to buy the necessary gear, much less rent and maintain the facility?”

“I do. I grew up playing hockey. It’s a great sport for kids who need to let out some frustration without breaking the law.”

“I suppose,” Joanna said simply and headed back the way they had come, pointing out the large kitchen and cafeteria on the opposite side of the hallway. She pushed open a heavy metal door that led to a stairway. She explained that all the academic classrooms were on the second floor. That way, when school wasn’t in session, the doors to the stairway could be locked allowing kids to still have access to the areas on the first floor in an effort to keep them involved in Challengers rather than street activities.

There were only three rooms in use upstairs. The first one belonged to Ms. Candace “Candy” Miller, the English teacher. Tall, young, and fit with bushy blonde hair she practically purred a greeting as Joanna introduced her to MacGyver who politely shook the teacher’s hand despite his fear of being impaled by her long fingernails. He snuck a peek at Joanna standing behind him and noticed her shoulders had slumped and she looked sad. No, not sad really, more like resigned. Was this yet another piece to add to the Joanna Fairfax puzzle?

Stepping into the classroom across the hall, Mac was introduced to Mr. Todd Simmons, the math and social studies teacher. Joanna explained that, with low enrollment numbers and lack of qualified instructors, teachers might be called on to teach more than one subject. MacGyver estimated Todd to be about his age and height, though lankier with dark, shiny hair slicked back from his face. After the two men exchanged handshakes and some small talk about sports, Mac turned to head back to the doorway Joanna had retreated to, but a strong hand on his shoulder stopped him.

“Hey, man,” Todd whispered in MacGyver’s ear, “don’t waste your energy on her. You’ll never get anywhere with the Ice Queen.”

“Is that so? I thought she might be married or engaged since she wears a ring.”

“No way, man! And if she keeps going at this rate she never will be. She’s shot me down every time I’ve asked her out. Says she doesn’t date co-workers. Guess us lowly teachers aren’t good enough for her,” Todd said with a sneer.
“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind,” Mac said as he walked toward the door, keeping a more colorful reply to himself. He decided he didn’t like Todd.

“And last but not least,” Joanna said as entered the classroom next to Todd’s, “this is Mr. Walter Kowalski, the science teacher and basketball coach.

Walter looked up from the newspaper he had been reading. Mac shook the older man’s hand and then surveyed the room. He let out a long, low whistle as he took in the state-of-the-art laboratory and was drawn to the huge glass and metal cabinet that housed various supplies and chemicals to be used in experiments. Clearly this was one aspect of Challengers where no expense had been spared.

“Wow,” MacGyver finally spoke. “I could have some serious fun with all the stuff you got here.”

“Knock yourself out,” Walter responded. “I never use it. Don’t even have a key to that cabinet. Don’t want these darn kids getting a hold of stuff they don’t know how to use.” Mac raised a questioning eyebrow at Joanna who simply shrugged and rolled her eyes.

“So,” Mac thought he tried another topic. “How’s your basketball team doing this season?”

His question was met with a grunt from Walter whose attention had already turned back to his newspaper. Joanna motioned MacGyver to join her in the hallway and he happily obliged.

“Talk about a disgruntled employee,” he complained.

“He’s just counting the days until he can retire this summer. Good science teachers are hard to come by. I’m hoping you’ll have some free time to spend with the class and show them some experiments and stuff. I hear you’re pretty good at that,” she said, her lips turning into a hint of a smile. Reaching into her front jean pocket she pulled out a small silver key and held it out to MacGyver. “Here’s the key to the cabinet,” she said slyly as she dropped it into the palm of his hand. “And as for the basketball team, they have yet to win a game this season.”

“Ouch! That’s gotta be tough.”

“Yeah, but there’s not much you can do when your players keep fouling out. They’d rather fight than play by the rules. One game all but four players fouled out giving their opponents the equivalent of a power player for the last 8 minutes of the game!”

Mac caught her use of the hockey term and smile inwardly. “Shouldn’t that have been an automatic forfeit?”

“Yes...no…I don’t know,” she threw her hands in the air. “This is a recreational city league for alternative schools and clubs. It isn’t sanctioned by WIAA.” At the questioning look on MacGyver’s face Joanna explained further. “The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association. It’s my understanding the other team was asked if they wanted a forfeit, but they chose to keep playing.”

“Rub some salt in the wound.”

“Something like that.”

Mac realized that as they had been talking Joanna had led them back to the office area. She was standing in front of the office door next to hers. She reached in her pocket and pulled out another key. “The phone and computer are already connected. Let us know if you need anything else.” And with that she disappeared into her own office, or refuge, as Mac was beginning to think of it.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Friday, the final day of winter break, was a whirlwind of activity at Challengers. The first item on MacGyver’s agenda was to meet with Officer Carl Wilson, a large, burly African-American man Mac found easy to talk to. Officer Wilson was a retired police officer and Challengers’ first line of defense. Uniformed and armed with Mace, he had been with the school since day one and manned the guard booth at the front door. No one got in or out without going through Officer Wilson.

After some polite conversation to break the ice, MacGyver decided Carl was a trustworthy man and had the makings of a valuable ally so he decided to ask the question that had been niggling at him ever since he received this assignment.

“Officer Wilson,” he began.

“Please, it’s Carl when the kids aren’t around.”

MacGyver smiled. “Alright, Carl. I’ve been curious as to what happened with the previous security advisors.”

“Humph!” Carl grunted disgustedly before launching into his tale. “The first guy was sent out by the Phoenix Foundation to get things up and running. He was good. Real good. Unfortunately, national security apparently trumps a non-profit school and he was reassigned back to L.A. Left poor Ms. Evelyn high and dry, so to speak. Phoenix didn’t have any qualified men to send so she had to hire from the outside. The next dude was wound tighter than a Rolex knock-off. Thought he was a darn drill sergeant. No way was Ms. Jo gonna let him bully her kids around like that! Then this last guy,” Carl shook his head sadly, “afraid of his own shadow, he was. Cowered at even the thought of an aggressive student. Slipped his letter of resignation under Ms. Evelyn’s door after everyone had left for the night.”

“Wow,” Mac responded, shaking his own head in disbelief. Whatever he had expected to hear, it certainly wasn’t that.

“Well, now that I’m here we’ll get things back on track,” he confidently promised Carl.

“Good to hear,” the officer smiled widely showing off a straight row of pearly white teeth. “And if you need any help, just you let me know!”

“Thanks Carl, I’ll be sure to do that.”

Back at his office, the other teachers were beginning to gather in the teachers’ lounge next door. The aroma of Italian cuisine filled the air.

“MacGyver,” Ms. Evelyn called to him. “Please fill a plate and join us.”

Mac loaded a plate with various pasta dishes and bread sticks before joining the fiery red-head.

“It’s become a back-to-school tradition to cater in lunch for the staff before the new semester starts. Gives them a chance to catch up with each other and show them our appreciation before the chaos begins on Monday!”

MacGyver looked around the room as teachers and other staff members chattered quietly between bites of food. Some of the faces were familiar from yesterday, some he had not yet met. He frowned slightly when he realized a certain brunette was missing from the festivities.

“She took a plate back to her office,” Evelyn leaned over and whispered to him as if reading his mind.

“Of course she did,” he muttered before taking a heaping bite of eggplant lasagna.

After the luncheon, Mac stayed behind to help Evelyn clean up. He also had some things he wanted to discuss with her.

“Well,” Evelyn addressed him before he had a chance to speak. “What do you think of Challengers so far?”

“Actually I was hoping you had some time to talk about that,” he replied.

Evelyn dumped the last pile of disposal plates in the trash. “Let’s go to my office and chat.”

Back in the administrator’s office, Evelyn took a seat behind her desk and pinned him with a no-nonsense gaze as he settled in across from her.

“I assume you have some questions after your little tour yesterday?”

How did this woman read his mind like that?

“As you know, Mr. MacGyver,” Evelyn continued, “this school is essentially a pilot project due to the success of its predecessor.” Mac nodded but remained silent. “Unfortunately, we have run into some unanticipated developments. I’m sure you can see that we have somewhat of a mismatched patchwork of teachers. Good instructors are hard to find and even harder to keep when you ask them to work year round and carry a heavier load than their colleagues in the public sector. We’ve spent a lot of money in an effort to improve our staff, but we have seen little return on our investments. This is especially frustrating because it takes funds away from other areas of the school.”

“Such as the rec room and the gym.” Mac was beginning to get the picture.

Evelyn sighed. “Yes. Those are two examples. Building upkeep is another. We are becoming more and more reliant on staff and community volunteers to help out.”

“But Pete assured me you had plenty of funding to cover all your expenses?”

“And we did! But it takes more than money to keep a school running. It takes people, Mr. MacGyver. People who are willing to invest their time and energy to help our students. People who care about our community and the changes that need to be made in order to keep our children safe and allow them to succeed in life.”

“But I’m sure if you told Pete—“

“Peter knows. He’s doing all he can, but at the end of the day all the Board cares about are the numbers. And quite frankly, ours aren’t looking very good.”

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MacGyver stared out his office window as heavy gray clouds blocked out the sun. A snowstorm was predicted to hit the area that evening and most of the teachers and staff had already headed home. He was still trying to wrap his head around everything Evelyn had told him. At least it was now clear to him why Pete had asked him to report his observations and opinions about the school. Perhaps a narrative explanation of the data could sway the board to continue the funding.

A knock on his door startled him out of his reverie and Ms. Evelyn walked in.

“MacGyver, go home. It’s late and there’s nothing more for you to do today. Besides, you’ll need to rest up for Monday,” she teased.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he agreed, running his fingers through his hair.

As Mac was gathering his things to take home, he heard Ms. Evelyn knock on Joanna’s door and the muted sounds of a conversation. He stepped into the hall to find Joanna bundled up and loaded down with her purse and briefcase.

“Now you two go home. I don’t want to see either of you until Monday morning,” Evelyn ordered.

“I guess we better do as she says,” his comment directed toward Joanna.

“Yeah,” she replied in a tired voice, taking one last look at the paperwork on her desk. “There’s nothing that can’t wait a few days.”

“Well, I guess I’ll see you Monday,” Mac offered, as he made his way to the Blazer.

“Yep,” Joanna replied. “Bright eyed and bushy tailed!” Her attempt at enthusiasm falling short as she headed toward the car next to his.

“Wait a minute!” He stopped short. “You’re ‘Chevy Thunder’?”

She flashed him a mischievous smile as she slipped into the driver’s seat, the first flakes of snow beginning to fall.




Posted by: Jediferret 6 November 2018 - 09:31 AM
Love all the good humor.

I so relate to Joanna. XD Nice job! I'll keep reading. happy.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 November 2018 - 09:49 AM
QUOTE (Jediferret @ 6 November 2018 - 09:31 AM)
Love all the good humor.

I so relate to Joanna. XD Nice job! I'll keep reading. happy.gif

Thanks Jediferret!! I'm so glad you're liking it and will continue to read! I'm especially glad you like Joanna. Given the way people (women!) reacted to any possible love interest for Mac during the series I was really wary about using her and, many many chapters later, I'm still careful with how I use her and to not let her overshadow Mac.

Posted by: Dragondog 6 November 2018 - 03:42 PM
QUOTE
Evelyn put her hand on his forearm, “Don’t give up. Jo isn’t one to trust easily, but once you earn it, you’ll see it was worth the effort.”


This is me. I am Joanna laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 November 2018 - 03:50 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 6 November 2018 - 03:42 PM)
QUOTE
Evelyn put her hand on his forearm, “Don’t give up. Jo isn’t one to trust easily, but once you earn it, you’ll see it was worth the effort.”


This is me. I am Joanna laugh.gif

thumbsup.gif me, too!!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 8 November 2018 - 07:33 AM
Chapter 6: Begin Again

Monday morning Joanna awoke from a fitful slumber ten minutes before her alarm was set to wake her. She sighed, debating whether or not to turn over and wait it out or get a head start on the day. She stared at the ceiling, anxiety roiling in her stomach. It was the first day of the new semester. The last semester if things didn’t turn around and Challengers lost their funding. There were so many things to think about, so many things that could go wrong. She slipped out of bed and headed for her bathroom.

Twenty minutes later she padded quietly down the stairs to the kitchen she shared with her parents. She turned on the TV news, keeping the volume low so as not to wake them. She didn’t want to see another human being any sooner than she absolutely had to. The weatherman was calling for snow every day that week. Not a lot, just enough to make life miserable. “Terrific,” she grumbled around a mouthful of cereal. Her mind drifted back to the school and the job that consumed her, defined her, controlled her. Things were such a mess! Supplies and structural maintenance were needed, but more importantly, she needed better teachers if the school was to succeed. She had been so embarrassed to introduce her staff to MacGyver. To his credit, he had been charming and polite on the outside, but she knew he was accomplished at reading people and didn’t even want to guess what he had really been thinking during their little tour.

And then there was MacGyver, himself. For the first time in more years than she could count, she and her mom had stayed up late Saturday night as she talked through the conflicting emotions this man evoked in her. She had worked hard to create her ‘ice queen’ façade until it had become second nature to her. A defense mechanism she could switch on as easily as a lightbulb. It greatly disturbed her that this stranger had been able to get under her skin in two short days, and she didn’t know how to react to that. The obvious choice was to be the detached professional and keep him at arm’s length. After all, his time here was temporary. That thought made her sad. She sensed that he was a good man, a man she wanted to trust and spend time with, a man who could save her from her worst enemy….herself.

Joanna pulled into the staff parking lot and guided her car into its usual space. Normally the first one in and last one out, she was surprised to see Evelyn’s car as well as MacGyver’s truck already there. She gathered her things and headed into the building. She stowed her coat and boots in her office before heading down the hall to greet Evelyn. When she passed MacGyver’s office, she noticed his door was open. During the drive over, Joanna had decided she would try and be nice to him. Maybe even flirt a little. It could be fun. After all, he’d be leaving sooner or later so she really didn’t have anything to lose. And she just might gain a friend.

She knocked lightly on the door before stepping over the threshold. MacGyver looked up from his computer and offered her a warm smile.

“You’re here bright and early,” she said, trying to sound cheerful.

“What can I say, I’m a sucker for mornings.”

“Can I ask you something?” she uncharacteristically blurted out.

“Sure,” he replied, his attention now focused solely on her.

“How did you get this assignment?” He did not respond immediately so she continued, trying to fill the silence. “From what I did read in your dossier, you have quite an impressive background. You should be guarding diplomats or something, not babysitting teenagers.”

“First of all,” he leaned back in his chair, “I happen to like ‘babysitting’. I spent a lot of time at Challengers out in L.A. and I like feeling that I’m making a difference in these kids’ lives.”

Joanna felt heat begin to rise in her cheeks. Had he just chastised her?

“Secondly, I didn’t pass the Foundation’s physical and was assigned to light duty.” With that statement he stood up to stare out the window.

Joanna was glad he was no longer watching her as her lower jaw literally dropped at his words. She gazed at the long sleeved henley stretched firmly across his straight, broad back, his khaki pants lightly hugging his hips. How could this man not pass his physical?

As if feeling her eyes on his back, MacGyver turned to face her. His features seemed to soften, most likely in response to the utter confusion that must be displayed on her face.

“I didn’t pass concussion protocol,” he explained.

“Oh,” was all Joanna could bring herself to say. She was not prepared for this.

“As you said,” he continued, “I have quite an impressive background. Unfortunately, it also came with a few too many blows to the head by various means and it’s now catching up with me.”

“I’m sorry,” Joanna breathed softly.

“Yeah.” MacGyver raked his hand through his hair. “Which reminds me, I need to take a day off next week. I’m scheduled for another MRI.”

“Oh, of course. No problem. Just let Evelyn know when.”

“Will do,” he smiled reassuringly. “Now I have a question for you.”

“Don’t make it too hard,” she teased, cocking an eyebrow playfully in hopes of changing the sullen mood that had descended upon the room.

“Got any advice for a guy’s first day?”

“Stay away from the teachers’ lounge,” she told him without hesitation. Now it was his turn to look surprised.

“Why?”

“It’s where teachers get together to gossip and spread rumors. They also vent about the students. Eventually they start to believe what they hear. I prefer to keep an open mind so I stay away.”

“Got it,” he said with a nod. “Anything else I should know?”

“We’ll be having an all-school assembly in the gym first thing. Be sure to come up to the front with the other teachers.” Joanna glanced at her watch. “Well, I better get going. I have some things to do before the students arrive.” And with that she turned on her heel and went back to her own office, no longer feeling like chatting with Evelyn.

Well, that conversation certainly didn’t go as Joanna had expected. She had been prepared for some light chit chat about the weather or the football playoffs. Instead, they ended up talking about traumatic brain injuries! She reconsidered the plan she had made in the car earlier this morning. Perhaps it would be best to keep her distance from this enigmatic man with an unusually dangerous job and propensity for concussions.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Shortly before 9am, MacGyver made his way to the front of the gym and sat down on a metal folding chair next to his new colleagues. Teenagers noisily clambered up the old bleachers, greeting friends they had not seen over the long winter break. Ms. Evelyn stepped up to a microphone connected to an ancient public address system and welcomed the students with a typical ‘go get ‘em’ speech. It was then Joanna’s turn to step up to the mic. Mac couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to stand a little taller and speak a bit more confidently as she addressed the teens. The Challengers Code of Conduct was reviewed and then, for the sake of new students, she introduced the teachers one by one. MacGyver noticed that, unlike typical schools where teachers were addressed by their last name, these students were asked to address them by the appropriate prefix and first name.

After introducing Ms. Candy and Mr. Todd, Joanna’s eyes landed on him.

“And I am pleased to introduce the new security advisor, Mr. MacGyver.”

Mac raised one eyebrow at her.

“Um, Mr. Mac if you prefer,” she amended before turning to dismiss the students. Hmmm, perhaps the ice queen was melting just a tad.

As bodies poured out of the gymnasium and into the corridor, Mac was caught in a whirlwind of activity that made the week fly by. He monitored the halls, assessed the effectiveness of the current security measures, and researched how other alternative high schools managed student and staff safety. But his favorite activity was assisting Mr. Kowalski in the science lab. He enjoyed mixing up his special ‘recipes’ and seeing the teens’ faces as chemicals reacted with each other in various ways. Unfortunately, his other duties left him with little time to indulge himself with the kids in the lab.

Following Joanna’s suggestion, MacGyver stayed away from the teachers’ lounge, opting to mingle with the students in the cafeteria or rec room whenever he had a chance. He hardly saw Joanna and couldn’t help but notice that every time he walked past her office she had her door closed tight. He figured she probably had a lot of paper work to do, but sometimes he could swear he would hear it click shut just before he rounded the corner. The few times he did see her she was assisting in the learning center surrounded by students all seeking her attention. He knew how they felt. Her eyes shone brightly as she helped them one by one with their daily assignments amidst raised hands and requests for ‘Ms. Jo’. MacGyver sensed an energy about her that was not present when she was behind her desk. She was truly a puzzle he was becoming obsessed with solving.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As predicted, and much to Joanna’s dismay, it snowed a bit every day that week. Nothing major, but enough to cover the cars and make the roads slick. Early in the week, Joanna stayed at work as long as she could because when she left she’d have to brush the snow off her car. A common and mundane activity, but one she especially hated for no good reason. To her surprise, every afternoon when she got to the parking lot, her car was already free of snow. At first she assumed it was a student trying to get on her good side. After all, it wasn’t a secret which car she drove. But Officer Carl was a stickler when it came to protecting staff and their property. No way would he let a student get near someone’s car. At least not more than once. She glanced at the parking space next to hers and the small pile of clumped snow. It was always empty by the time she left, but she knew MacGyver had claimed it for his SUV. She felt a tingle of warmth in the pit of her stomach. Yep, looked like someone was trying to get on her good side. She smiled.

The following week seemed interminably long, and it was only Tuesday. The thrill of returning to school had worn off already causing a high absenteeism rate. The kids that did show up were restless and looking for trouble. It wasn’t anything the staff couldn’t easily handle, but it was one more thing Joanna was losing control over. MacGyver had been there yesterday to help out, but he was at the Phoenix facility in Chicago today for his MRI. His absence shouldn’t make a difference. She had worked there a year and a half unaware of his existence, but in the last week had come to depend on his calm, steady presence. She shook her head as if it would help her mentally erase all thoughts of him. A pile of paperwork awaited and she had several phone calls to make. And still it was only Tuesday.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver arrived back in Milwaukee late Tuesday afternoon. He had tried to charm the Phoenix radiologist into giving him the results of his test, or at least letting him sneak a peek for himself, but the woman was intolerable and insisted he wait like everyone else. Hopefully someone would call with the results before the weekend.

He was back at work on Wednesday and returned to his normal routine. It was only his second week there, too soon to actually have a routine, but he did. Not that anything was ever routine when dealing with at-risk high schoolers! That afternoon he stayed later than normal, closeted in Evelyn’s office with Joanna to brainstorm ways to alleviate the tension that had been building amongst the students and staff. It was well after 5pm before he left the building. The winter sun had already set and he couldn’t help but notice how dark it was. Lighting. He definitely had to get some serious outdoor lighting in place. Rounding the corner to the parking lot, he noticed Joanna’s coupe sitting by itself, Evelyn’s hatchback parked several spaces away. Where was his Blazer? As he moved closer, he could see a small pile of glass glinting in the light from the building behind him. The glass formerly known as his driver’s side window.

“Aw man!” he exclaimed, though no one was there to hear him. Throwing his hands in the air, he turned back to the school.

MacGyver stomped down the hall to his private office, startling Evelyn and Joanna who were gathering their coats.

“Mac, what’s wrong?” Evelyn inquired before Joanna could form a coherent thought.

“Someone stole my truck,” he answered through gritted teeth, trying to remain calm. “I thought the lot was supposed to be secured.”

“Carl takes care of that,” Joanna told him.

“Obviously not!” MacGyver shot back. He tone was harsher than he had intended and he immediately felt guilty as Joanna’s eyes found the floor.

“Where is he anyway?” Mac asked, glancing around.

“He leaves at five,” Evelyn replied.

And then they all realized that Carl had left while they were still meeting. A waiting thief would have had plenty of time to smash the window and hot wire the truck before MacGyver had even left the building.

“Terrific,” Mac muttered as he picked up the phone to call the police.

“One of us will stay with you,” Evelyn informed him. She was standing ramrod straight while next to her Joanna shifted her weight from one foot to the other as if she couldn’t decide whether to stay or run like the wind.

MacGyver pinched the bridge of his nose as his head began to pound. Apparently the stress of waiting for his MRI results, dealing with unruly teens, and having his vehicle stolen had been, well, stressful.

“That’s not necessary,” he replied while waiting for his call to be answered.

“And just how do you plan on getting home, young man?” Evelyn asked.

Boy, was he losing it! The guy everyone called on to save the day was suddenly stranded at school without a set of wheels. He scrubbed his face with his hands.

“Guess I hadn’t thought about that,” he replied quietly.

“Well, I should get myself home and walk Lady before she relieves herself in my house. Perhaps Joanna would be willing to stay and drive you home. It’s practically on her way,” Evelyn suggested with a saccharin smile.

Mac saw a hint of panic in Joanna’s eyes briefly appear right before she pinned Evelyn with the dagger-shooting gaze she had used on the woman the day he had first met them.

Before Joanna could reply, an officer came on the line and MacGyver began to explain what had happened.

“I understand, sir,” the officer responded. “I’ll send a patrol car over as soon as one is available.”

Mac knew that was cop code for ‘it’s not a priority’ so he figured a little name-dropping wouldn’t hurt.

“I don’t think you understand, officer,” he began politely, “I’m a field operative with the Phoenix Foundation and I’m in a bit of a rush.”

“No problem sir! We’ll send someone right over.” Bingo!

As MacGyver hung up the phone, he heard Joanna in her office making a phone call of her own. He didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but the walls in this part of the building were thin, more like partitions.

“I’m gonna be late, Ma. Mac’s truck was stolen.” She called him ‘Mac”!

“No, that’s OK. I’ll pick something up on the way home.” A police officer walked through the front door garnering MacGyver’s attention and causing Joanna to hastily end her call.

“You guys really need to keep that door locked after hours,” the officer cautioned.

“Yes, I know, officer. But things got a bit hectic around here,” Joanna replied in a defensive tone.

“You know, Joanna, you don’t need to stick around,” MacGyver turned to her. “I’ll manage to get home.”

“No,” she answered firmly. “I can drive you, it’s not a problem. I promised Evelyn.” Of course, she was doing it for Evelyn. Not him.

“But you don’t even know where I live!”

“I assume you’re staying in the apartment building Phoenix rents for long-term temporary Challengers staff.”

“Yeah,” was all Mac could get out before the officer cleared his throat, anxious to get on with the report.

The police officer spent the next 30 minutes gathering basic information from MacGyver and Joanna, peppering them with questions about possible suspects, and examining the crime scene.

MacGyver suddenly remembered the surveillance cameras he had seen on the building.

“What about surveillance footage?” He asked the officer.

The officer turned to Joanna. “You have surveillance cameras of the area?”

Mac looked at Joanna expectantly. “Well, um, not really. The cameras don’t work anymore,” she said, cringing inwardly.

“What do you mean they don’t work?” MacGyver fairly growled at her.

“They take a beating in this climate. We couldn’t afford to have them repaired or replaced. We hoped leaving them up would be enough deterrent for would-be thieves.” MacGyver continued to glare at her. “I guess we were wrong,” she said flatly, biting her bottom lip.

“Um, well, okay folks,” the officer said uncertainly, sensing the tension in the air. “I’ll file the report as soon as I get back to the station, but to be honest, the chances of recovering your vehicle are pretty slim. Slimmer if you want it intact.” And with that the officer nodded farewell and headed out into the night.

MacGyver let out a tired sigh. Would this day ever end?

“You ready to go?” Joanna asked softly as she closed her office door behind her, coat on and briefcase in hand.

“No, actually I’m not,” Mac retorted. “How many nights do you leave here after dark? Huh? The lighting stinks and now you tell me the cameras are just for show! Don’t you at least value your personal safety?!”

“Of course I do,” Joanna shot back. “Look,” she continued softly, all the fight had left her face, “can we just get out of here?”

MacGyver felt pangs of guilt pummel his chest at her gentle, broken voice. He hadn’t meant to yell at her. He was tired, that was all. Tired and stressed.

“Yeah, let’s go,” he muttered quietly, urging her ahead of him with his hand on the small of her back.

Posted by: Dragondog 8 November 2018 - 05:11 PM
Oooh, the tensiooooonnnn laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 8 November 2018 - 06:37 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 8 November 2018 - 05:11 PM)
Oooh, the tensiooooonnnn laugh.gif

This may be one of the toughest (or most frustrating) assignments Mac's ever had...LOL!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 14 November 2018 - 09:06 AM
Chapter 7: A Matter of Trust

Joanna pulled her car up to the curb in front of MacGyver’s apartment building. Both she and MacGyver had been silent on the short drive to his place. Mac started to reach for the door handle as he turned to face her.

“Thanks for the ride,” he said.

“No problem,” she glanced at him with weary eyes.

“You know, you didn’t have to do this. I would’ve figured out something.”

“I promised Evelyn I’d take you home,” she said firmly.

MacGyver’s stomach growled loudly and he glanced at the glowing clock on the dashboard. It read almost 7pm. Joanna had to be hungry as well.

“How about you come on in and I’ll fix us something to eat?”

Mac held his breath as he waited for her answer.

“That’s okay. I was planning on hitting a drive-thru on the way home.”

Shot down again!

“Consider it a thank you,” he urged.

Joanna stared out the windshield into the night. She had promised herself she would try to be nicer to Mac and she was hungry. Only a fool would pass up free food.

She sighed. “Alright. As long as you don’t mind.”

“I wouldn’t have offered if I did.”

Joanna turned off the ignition and they both climbed out of the car and headed into the building. MacGyver unlocked his apartment door and motioned Joanna to enter ahead of him. He shrugged out of his jacket and then took her coat, hanging them both in a small closet.

“Feel free to look around. I have to call Pete and let him know about the truck,” Mac offered. “Don’t hold the furniture against me, it came with the place.”

Joanna chuckled softly causing MacGyver to grin as he headed for the phone. The light on his answering machine was blinking, indicating he had a message. He’d get it later. Right now he had more important things on his mind, like asking Pete for a new car by morning.

Joanna slowly began to wander through MacGyver’s open-concept living room, her curiosity stronger than her shyness. She could see that he had already added some of his own décor to the otherwise drab space. Various pieces of hockey equipment were stowed in a corner and a Calgary Flames jersey was draped over the back of his desk chair. On the desk was a computer. Joanna wrinkled her nose. She didn’t like computers or, more accurately, they didn’t like her. She had to use one at work, but she sincerely hoped it was a passing fad. As she continued her self-guided tour, she noticed a guitar case leaning against the wall in the opposite corner. Next to the TV, a bookshelf housed a collection of video-taped Westerns

Mac finished his call to Pete and hung up the phone. “Well, what do you think?” he asked her.

“Nice,” she replied sincerely. “Contemporary NHL I see.”

Before MacGyver could respond, he saw her gazing appreciatively at the brand new air hockey table.

“You play?” he asked.

“No. I’m not very coordinated,” she answered softly.

“Well, you know how to fix that, right?” Mac asked lightheartedly. She looked up at him with questioning brown eyes. “Practice.”

“You can’t seriously want to play with me?!”

“Why not? I can’t play alone.”

Joanna looked very unsure, and at that moment he would do or say just about anything to make her smile.

“Look, I’ll play with my hockey gloves on. That should make us about even.”

Her stomach rumbled loudly before she could respond. “Maybe we should eat first,” she suggested with a grin.

“Good idea,” Mac replied with a firm nod. “Why don’t you see what’s in the fridge while I change out of this shirt,” he proposed, already working to loosen the collar.

“Mind if I use your phone?” she called as he headed down the hallway toward his bedroom.

“Not at all,” he answered. “Tell your mom I said ‘hi’.”

How did he know she was calling her mom? He didn’t even know her mom!

After informing her mother that she was at Mac’s and would be home later than anticipated, she opened his refrigerator and cautiously peered inside. She found yogurt, tofu in various forms, sprouts, and a couple kinds of juice. Didn’t the man know the meaning of ‘comfort food’? She decided to check out the freezer. Ice cream. Aha, that must be his guilty pleasure, but it wouldn’t do for supper.

“Find anything good?” he asked as he reappeared in the kitchen.

“Umm….”

“How about we order a pizza? Any preferences?”

“Pizza sounds good,” she replied with what sounded like relief. “Get whatever you like on it. I’m not fussy.” MacGyver shot her a look that said he didn’t believe her, but she chose to ignore it.

After ordering their dinner he decided to check his messages. He hit ‘play’ and a young woman’s voice announced that his test results had come back and he should call in the morning.

“Was that about your MRI?” Joanna asked, still standing in his kitchen.

“Yeah,” he let out a sigh.

“Are you worried?”

“No,” he replied confidently. “Not really,” his confidence slipping just a bit at the concerned look on her face. “Well…maybe a little.”

An hour later saw the pair leaning back comfortably on the sofa, an empty pizza box between them and soft drinks on the coffee table. After savoring the first few bites of their meal they had fallen into easy conversation.

MacGyver was unusually talkative as he regaled Joanna with stories about growing up in Minnesota and falling in love with hockey. He told her about the summer his dad took him on a quest to visit every major league baseball park in the country. They had gone to a Braves game right here in Milwaukee before heading to Wrigley Field and Comisky Park in Chicago. He reflected with humor on how bored he became and begged his dad to go home so he could play hockey with his friends, ending their quest after attending only three games. He even talked about the death of his parents, a subject he normally went out of his way to avoid, yet somehow the words flowed easily tonight.

“So, what exactly do you do for the Phoenix Foundation?”

MacGyver knew she would ask that eventually and, like always, a satisfying answer was hard to provide.

“Oh, a little of this and a little of that,” he offered.

“Well, that certainly clears things up,” Joanna responded wryly.

MacGyver jammed his fingers through his hair. A gesture Joanna had come to realize was a sign of frustration.

“I’m not trying to hide anything, it’s just that what I do is tough to explain.”

Joanna thought for a moment before deciding to accept his answer.

“I can understand that,” She replied. “My career path has been a bit untraditional and I’ve had jobs that are kinda hard to explain as well.”

Much to her surprise, Joanna found it incredibly easy to let down her guard as she then went on to tell him how she had wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl, but after college life hadn’t worked out the way she had planned. She talked about growing up in a small but loving family and how she and her parents still lived in the house her grandparents had built during World War II. She laughed openly as she recalled stories of her days as a student in a strict Catholic school as well as her experiences teaching in the correctional facility where she had met Evelyn and forged a strong friendship.

Somewhere along the line, Joanna had kicked off her shoes and tucked her feet up under her on the couch. Her head now lolled on the back cushion. For the first time in a long time she felt completely at ease and, dare she say, happy.

“How do you like the job you have now?” Mac inquired.

“It’s good,” she replied dully, a bit of the light fading from her eyes.

“Really?” MacGyver’s eyes bored into hers as if he could read her soul. Drat the man! He could convince a zebra to give up her stripes with that look!

“Things have been stressful lately,” she confessed.

“Tell me.”

“You really wanna know?”

MacGyver’s silence and penetrating gaze were her answer.

Joanna sighed. “I’m sure you’ve noticed we don’t exactly have a top-notch faculty nor do we have the facilities in the shape we would like. The students aren’t performing up to expectations and now we are beginning to have security issues as well.”

“And you blame yourself.”

Before Joanna could think of a proper retort, Mac continued, “You’re not in it alone, you know.”

“I know,” she murmured, “but everyone is overworked right now and I have a hard time asking people for help.”

“You don’t ask ‘people’ for help. You ask your friends. Evelyn, your colleagues, me.”

Joanna broke eye contact and Mac knew he had pushed her as far as she was willing to go…for now.

“So, rumor has it you make it a rule to not date guys you work with.”

Joanna’s eyes flashed at him, “You’ve been talking to Todd.”

“More like he’s been talking to me but, yeah.”

She let out a laugh. “Well, in a way it’s true. I created that rule to get him off my back!”

“Then what about this?” He slowly reached out and lifted her left hand from where it was resting on her thigh and gently fingered the sparkling sapphire ring. “You wear it there to scare guys off?”

Joanna tensed, but made no effort to remove her hand from his. “Perhaps at one time,” she replied thoughtfully. “But quite honestly, I wear it there because that’s the only finger it fits on, and I’m too cheap to have it resized.” MacGyver let go of her hand, threw back his head, and laughed. Joanna soon joined in.

“Can I ask you something else?” MacGyver inquired once their laughter had died down.

“You’re kinda nosy, you know that?”

“Yeah, my friends say I’m famous for that,” he smirked.

“Okay, go ahead,” Joanna smiled, deciding that resistance was futile.

Mac’s face turned serious and she wondered if she had made a mistake. His voice was low and mellow.

“Do you think, in time, you could ever learn to trust me, even a little?”

“I think I already trust you,” she replied, her voice little more than a whisper.

“Since when?” MacGyver shot back. This was certainly not the answer he had been expecting!

“Since the first day we met when you kept me from falling off that stupid stool.”

“And all this time I thought you hated my guts!” MacGyver exclaimed in relief.

“Who says I can’t do both?” Joanna challenged.

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MacGyver awoke early the next morning after a restless night. He wasn’t one to easily get stressed out, but he had found himself rummaging through his kitchen drawers at 1am to find something to tinker with. He looked out his front window, the winter sun still waiting to make its appearance, to find a Jeep Wrangler much like the one he used to drive parked where his Blazer should be. Pete had come through. After a quick shower and even quicker breakfast, Mac stared at the phone. He needed to call for his MRI results. His gut clenched. His entire future might be determined by a two minute conversation. He placed the call, only to be greeted by a friendly, recorded voice informing him the office was not yet open. He slammed the phone down more forcefully than he had intended to. He would call once he got to the school. He gathered his things, including two small, white boxes which held the results of his late-night handiwork, and headed off to work.

Joanna’s Chevy was the only car in the lot when he pulled in. Officer Carl wasn’t even here yet. A shiver ran up his spine. He didn’t like the idea of her being alone in the school. The urge to protect her sprang to life. The previous evening’s conversation had been quite enlightening. Joanna had started to show him a side of herself he believed not many people were privy to. Whether she liked it or not, he considered her a friend, and he believed that when you made a friend, you took on a responsibility, and now Joanna had become his.

The door to Joanna’s office stood open. Had her feelings changed for him or was she just not expecting him in this early? She was seated behind her trusty desk, eyes down. He knocked gently on the door to get her attention.

“Good morning,” he greeted her, leaning lazily against the doorjamb.

“Good morning,” she replied automatically before looking up. Her eyes lit with curiosity when they landed on the boxes he was holding.

MacGyver walked up to her desk and held out one of the boxes.

“What’s this?” she asked, a hint of suspicion in her voice.

“Consider it a ‘thank you’ for giving me a ride last night.”

“I thought that was what the pizza was for?”

Mac sighed, “Just go ahead and open it.”

Joanna slowly removed the top cover and warily studied the contraption inside before taking it in her hand.

“What is it?”

“What does it look like?”

Joanna turned the object over in her hands, studying it.

“It looks like a doorstop. With tiny wheels. And a battery.”

MacGyver nodded. “Now open this one.”

She opened the box and pulled out what looked to be a remote control belonging to a toy car. She met his gaze and raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

Deciding not to keep her in suspense any longer, he took the items from her hand and walked back to the door. He slid the wheeled device under the door, like a doorstop. He then took a step back and worked a toggle on the remote. As if by magic, the door began to close. Once the door had closed just short of clicking completely shut, MacGyver worked the toggle again. This time the door slowly opened. He then looked at Joanna with a self-satisfied grin.

“Well, what do you think?”

“I don’t get it,” she replied. “I’m perfectly capable of opening and closing a door.”

“I know that. I just figured that you must be getting pretty tired of having to get up and close the door every time I’m around, so I thought I’d help you out.”

Busted!

“It’s that obvious?” she inquired embarrassingly.

MacGyver simply shrugged.

Joanna approached him and took the remote from his hands. “I’m sorry. I guess I have been acting kinda childish.”

“Forget about it. I know deep down you can’t stop thinking about me,” he teased.

Joanna’s eyes grew wide as saucers making MacGyver laugh as he left for his office. He had barely cleared the threshold when he heard the whir of a small motor and the door began to close behind him. A playful female giggle carried through the air.

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Joanna’s attention returned to the report she had been working on before MacGyver had interrupted her. She chuckled to herself as she glanced at the homemade device he had made for her. It was becoming painfully obvious that there was little she could hide from this man. He had gotten under her skin, and not in a bad way. She didn’t know how long she could continue teasing and rebuffing him. She didn’t know if she wanted to.

Emotionally confused, Joanna got up and opened her door the normal way. She intended to head to the teachers’ lounge for something to drink until she noticed MacGyver had his door closed. This struck her as odd since she hadn’t heard him leave his office and there weren’t even any students in the building yet. She knocked. No response. After a moment’s hesitation, she tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. She opened the door carefully, not wanting to intrude but curious at the same time. He was standing with his back to her, looking out the window.

“MacGyver?”

No response.

Joanna entered the office and tried again. “Everything okay?”

Still no response.

Joanna now stood beside him, looking out into the cold winter day. “What’s going on?”

Finally he turned and looked at her. His eyes were dull and his face was sullen.

“I got the test results,” he stated bluntly.

Joanna was sure her features now mirrored his. “And?” she prompted.

“The doctor concluded that I do have a brain bruise and it is slowly healing.”

Joanna let out a sigh of relief. “That’s a good thing, isn’t it?”

“I guess,” Mac jammed his fingers through his hair. “It means I’m still on light duty, though.”

“When can you have another scan?”

“The doc said it’s no use doing another one until I complete this assignment. He wants to give it more time to heal.”

“But it will heal, right?”

“He couldn’t really say for sure,” MacGyver answered in a lifeless tone.

Joanna’s mind failed to form an acceptable response. How did you tell someone whose career may be ending that everything would be okay? She allowed her fingers to reach out and lightly touch the back of his hand. Wordlessly, his palm found hers and they stood together, watching as a large gray cloud floated across the sun.






Posted by: Dragondog 14 November 2018 - 06:41 PM
love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg love.jpg

MacGyver and his door stop thingy roller.gif

I'm just now realizing this is the fanfiction you told me about when I wrote mine, which I bookmarked but still haven't read... Until now, since you're posting chapters XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 14 November 2018 - 06:56 PM
I'm glad you're enjoying it, Dragondog! And come to think of it, I could really use that door stop thingy at work!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 16 November 2018 - 11:41 AM
Chapter 8: Jesse James

The days began to pass quickly and uneventfully at Challengers Academy, a fact not lost on MacGyver and Joanna. There was plenty to do without dealing with cranky teenagers. By an unspoken agreement, they both kept their office doors open whenever they were in, but Joanna still kept the odd little doorstop in place and the remote close by…just in case.

MacGyver’s first task was to get decent lighting in the parking lot and surrounding area. After much research and discussion with various contractors, the campus could now pass for a landing strip at night. In addition, he made sure he was the last one to leave the building each day. He had expected Joanna to bristle at being escorted out, but she was surprisingly compliant. Often they would use the short walk to their cars to catch up on the day’s events since they both kept busy with their own duties and exchanged little more than polite greetings as they passed in the halls during the day. Was she finally accepting the friendship he was extending? Evelyn openly enjoyed his attentiveness and he soon found himself taking on the role of personal pack mule as opposed to protector. It seemed the administrator always had something for him to carry and load into her car and his mock complaints were met with her lilting laughter.

Mac’s second project, and one he took an especially active role in, was getting new, high-resolution security cameras set up on the roof of the facility so every aspect of the outside area could be accounted for. Not only would these cameras capture everything on video tape, but they would provide a direct, real-time feed to a bank of monitors now located in Officer Carl’s station at the entrance to the building. Once the equipment was installed and working properly, he gathered the faculty and staff to show them the upgrades. After providing the appropriate oohs and aahs, they all headed back to their classrooms and work spaces.

Soon it was MacGyver’s favorite time of the day. Chemistry lab. He had promised Mr. Kowalski that he would do a demonstration for the students to hopefully get them excited about the class. He set out the necessary materials and waited until all the teens filed into the room and took their seats before he began.

“Who can tell me what you use to put out a fire?” Mac asked as an easy way to get the class involved right off the bat.

“Water!” they almost all replied in unison. Okay, so much for hand-raising.

“Most of the time that’s true,” Mac agreed. “But what else can be used?”

The students sat quietly, some fidgeting a bit in their seats, but no one volunteered to answer. Finally, a boy in the back slowly raised his hand and MacGyver nodded for him to speak.

“I was watching a TV show and they used a whole bunch of foam.”

“That’s right,” MacGyver smiled at him. “Anyone know why firefighters sometimes have to use foam instead of water?”

More silence.

Mac continued, “Sometimes water can actually make a fire worse. In fact, water can actually start fires and today I’m gonna show you how.”

Kids that had been slouching in their seats suddenly sat up straighter and those who had been whispering to friends turned their attention to him. Got ‘em, he smiled inwardly.

MacGyver patted a pad he had put on the demonstration table. “This is a fire proof mat where I’ll do the demonstration,” he explained.

In a glass beaker he mixed together small amounts of zinc dust and ammonium nitrate before adding a few grains of ammonium chloride. He carefully dumped the powdery combination onto the mat and made a small depression on the top of the pile.

“Okay, now how do you think I can set this on fire?” he asked.

A girl in the front confidently raised her hand. “You said you were gonna use water to start a fire, so you’re gonna put water on it.”

“You got it!” Mac praised her. “But I’m only going to use one drop of water.” He held up a small eye-dropper and, after releasing a droplet of liquid he quickly stood back. The zinc ignited and flashed with a brilliant blue-white flame that was followed by a dense cloud of white smoke.

The class gasped at the initial reaction before calling out various, and sometimes colorful, exclamations. By the time MacGyver opened the window to dissipate the smoke, everyone was clapping. Mac warned the students not to attempt to do the experiment on their own and promised that he would show them more ‘cool things’ as the semester progressed. He caught Joanna’s gaze as he dismissed the class. He had seen her sneak in about halfway through and take a seat in the back. Was she watching to make sure he didn’t mess up? Or had he already messed up and she was just waiting to call him on it?

“Meet me in my office after school,” she directed Mac, following the teens out the door. “I have a favor to ask.”

“You got it,” he replied, his heart practically singing. Finally, she was asking for help. Help from him!

The remainder of the day dragged on for MacGyver as he tried to figure out what Joanna wanted. Granted, he’d do anything she wished, but curiosity was in his DNA. At last, the final bell tolled and the students quickly vacated the building. Mac laughed to himself. That was the fastest he’d seen them move all day! But who was he to laugh as he headed towards Joanna’s office, his pace quicker than usual. When he arrived her door was closed.

“Aw, come on!” Just when he thought their friendship was making progress she literally closed the door on him.

Frustrated, he turned toward his own office when he heard the fast, rhythmic click of heels coming towards him. He recognized the cadence immediately.

“Sorry, but I had to take care of something,” Joanna explained, slightly out of breath as she unlocked her door and ushered him in.

“Nothing too major, I hope.”

“No, just needed to get some student grades from the teachers for a report I’m working on.”

When they had both taken a seat, Joanna leaned forward, arms resting on her desk.

“By the way, nice job in there today,” she complimented him. He smiled in satisfaction. “So, you’re probably wondering why I asked you here today—“

“Joanna, it’s me,” he interrupted tersely. “Cut the professionalism. What do you need me to do?”

“Fine,” she huffed and relaxed back in her chair. “I was wondering if you could make some time in your schedule to tutor a student in sophomore biology.”

“Sure, I can work something out,” Mac assured her. “But my biology is kinda rusty. What about Mr. Kowalski?”

Joanna gave him an ‘are-you-kidding-me’ look.

“Right,” Mac nodded. “Counting the days to retirement.”

“Not only that, but if Jesse doesn’t understand what he’s teaching in class, I doubt she’ll understand him as a tutor.”

“Point taken. So, who is this ‘Jesse’?”

“Her full name is Jessica Jameson. She likes to be called Jesse James.”

“Sounds like a tomboy.”

“She’s a sixteen-year-old going through an identity crisis. Her dad left before she was born and her mom just got sentenced to court-ordered in-patient rehab. She’s living with her grandmother and is new to the area.”

“Poor kid,” Mac mumbled.

“Yeah,” Joanna agreed. “Oddly enough, records and test scores from her previous school show her to be quite intelligent. She’s doing well here in all of her classes except science which used to be her strongest subject.”

“Well, biology can be tough.”

Joanna smiled. “When I was in high school I tested out of it so I wouldn’t have to cut up any animals. Anyway, I went ahead and scheduled a meeting with her before classes tomorrow morning. Can you come in a little early so I can introduce you?”

“No problem. I’ll be here.”

“I have another question for you.”

MacGyver remained silent, allowing Joanna to continue.

“The security lighting and the cameras you’ve put up…they look pretty expensive. I’m sure you know Evelyn and I have been working on a shoestring budget…”

Mac was nodding his head. “I know. A lot of the money was earmarked for safety upgrades. That’s what I’m tapping into.”

“Oh, okay,” Joanna relaxed a bit.

MacGyver decided it was time to put all his cards on the table. “Look, I’m also here for another reason. Phoenix wants me to report on the school to help determine future funding.”

Joanna’s face fell.

“Hey, don’t worry. I see the problems, but I also see how much this school means to you and Evelyn and the kids. I’m going to strongly suggest you receive extra funding for the next term. Even if it means digging into Phoenix’s own pockets. I’m not going to let this school fail.”

For once, Joanna was speechless. MacGyver stood up and headed toward the door.

“See you in the morning,”

“Hey!” Joanna called. He turned toward her. “Thank you….Mac.”

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The following morning, MacGyver arrived early and headed straight to Joanna’s office where he found her talking amicably with a teenage girl he assumed was Jesse. The girl had dishwater blonde hair that appeared greasy and unkempt. She wore a faded blue t-shirt, jeans with holes in them, and high-top athletic shoes that appeared a couple sizes too big. She was about Joanna’s height and her build was lanky. MacGyver cleared his throat to announce his presence.

Both females turned towards the door.

“We were just talking about you,” Joanna said with a smile.

“Don’t believe a word she says,” Mac said in a staged whisper to the teen, hoping to elicit a giggle or at least a grin, but all he got was a wary glance.

“Jesse, this is Mr. Mac. The biology tutor I was telling you about.”

“Nice to meet you.” He put out his hand. After glancing at Joanna and receiving an encouraging nod, Jesse put her hand in his. It was cold, clammy, and limp. MacGyver had filleted fish with a firmer handshake. He didn’t claim to know a lot about kids, but he instinctively knew this wasn’t going well.

“How about we meet in the science lab after the chemistry class?” he ventured.

“Sure,” came the soft reply.

“Jesse, why don’t you head to your first class, now?” Joanna prompted.

“Yes Ms. Jo.” Jesse left the office, head down, refusing to look at MacGyver.

The adults watched her leave before Joanna motioned Mac to what he was starting to consider ‘his chair’.

“Was it something I said?” he asked.

Joanna sighed. “No. I don’t know. We were having a great conversation until…” she let the sentence hang.

“Until I showed up,” Mac finished for her.

“The only thing I can figure is that she’s uncomfortable around men because she never had a father figure growing up,” Joanna tried to reason.

“That for me?” MacGyver changed the subject as he pointed to the text book on her desk along with a manila file folder.

“Yes. Mr. K. outlined the topics she needs to review as well as the lab experiments she needs to complete.”

“Sounds good. I’ll stop by after our session and let you know how it went,” he offered.

“Thanks, I’d appreciate that,” Joanna said, gracing him with a gentle, genuine smile.

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It was 4pm. MacGyver lay sprawled in his chair at Joanna’s desk. His shirt was wrinkled, his hair disheveled from jamming his hand through it numerous times, his throat was dry and his head ached. Joanna sat across from him, biting her lower lip to keep from laughing out loud.

“It’s not funny,” he grumbled. “I tried everything! I was nice, I was serious, I was funny, I ignored her…nothing! It was like tutoring a rock!”

Joanna bit her lip harder, her eyes dancing playfully.

“Go ahead!” he bolted from the chair and began to pace. “Go ahead and tell me I’m a miserable failure after one hour of trying to be a real teacher!”

Joanna let out the giggle she had been holding in, but turned serious when he stabbed her with his gaze.

“Let me ask you this,” she began calmly. “Did she learn something?”

“No! Yes! I don’t know!” he threw his hands in the air and fell back into the chair. “She buried her nose in the book and answered all the questions perfectly….all the while refusing to talk to me, much less look at me.” He was back to grumbling.

“First of all,” Joanna began, “she proved that she knows more than she shows in class. Second of all, don’t be so hard on yourself. All teachers go through this. Maybe you just tried too hard to connect with her.”

MacGyver looked at her skeptically but let her continue.

“You just need to be yourself and show that she can trust you. Rumor has it you can be a pretty charming guy when you want to be.”

“Thanks for the pep talk,” he replied, his confidence returning.

“Now go mope in your own office,” she directed, her hands making a shooing motion.

MacGyver continued to tutor Jesse every afternoon. He took Joanna’s advice and stayed true to himself. Jesse continued to do well in her studies, at least with him. And there were changes in her behavior as well. She became more comfortable with Mac, looking him square in the eye and laughing at even his dumbest jokes. He noticed her hair looked cleaner and she dressed less like a boy and more like the teenage girl that she was.

Finally, the day MacGyver was dreading finally arrived: Their first dissection. It was only a crayfish, but the environmentalist in Mac wished schools would get rid of this archaic exercise. He had looked ahead in the curriculum...a frog was next. Great.

MacGyver and Jesse stood side-by-side at the lab table donned in protective aprons, gloves, and goggles. They stared down at the dead crustacean.

“Go ahead,” he urged, “look at your notes and take it one step at a time.”

MacGyver noticed Jesse’s hand shaking as she pick up the sharp instrument that would make the initial incision. Mac stepped behind her and reached around to put his hand on top of hers to steady it and guide it through the first cut. It was then that he noticed she smelled like flowers. A lot of flowers. As they continued to examine the crayfish, Jesse’s hand relaxed, her confidence growing. Yet, when MacGyver pulled his own hand away, she began to shake again. By the time they had finished, Mac felt a heavy weight pressing against his chest. She was leaning into him. Uh oh. As casually as possible, MacGyver hurried her along to clean up the mess they had made and complete her lab report.

“Good job today, Jesse,” he praised her as she headed out the door.

“Thanks Mr. Mac. And you can call me Jessica.” She then disappeared down the hall.


“You gotta help me!” MacGyver demanded. Joanna once again sat behind her desk looking at him, but this time her expression was more serious.

“Well, Jesse can’t be the first girl to have a crush on you,” she pointed out as Mac nodded his head in agreement, recalling an expedition that had stranded him with four teens in the wilderness. One of those teens had been a girl who wanted to use him to make her boyfriend jealous. “How did you handle it before?”

“I was straight with her.”

“Then I suggest you be ‘straight’ with Jesse.”


“But I don’t want to hurt her. She’s had a tough life. And you, yourself, said she could use a male role model.”

“And I believe that’s the reason she’s latched on to you,” Joanna explained. “She’s desperate for attention from the opposite sex and you just happened to be there.”

“Gee, thanks a lot,” Mac said sourly.

“You know what I mean. You also know what you have to do.”

“Yeah.” He dragged his hand down his face. Bringing down a Columbian drug cartel was preferable to breaking a young girl’s heart.

The following afternoon, MacGyver waited in the science lab for Jesse to arrive for their tutoring session, a lead weight forming in his stomach. He never used to be prone to such anxiety. He’d been out of the field for too long. He needed to find productive ways to work off his adrenaline. If he kept going like this he’d have an ulcer by summer.

“Hi Mr. Mac,” Jesse said breezily as she all but danced into the room. “What’s the plan for today?”

“Have a seat, Jesse,” Mac replied in a calm, confident voice he had mastered during his years of field ops and interrogations.

“What’s up? You sound so serious?”

“We need to talk.” Hmm, usually it was the girls that said that to him!

MacGyver looked at the quizzical expression on the teen’s face and steeled his resolve as he sat in a chair across from her.

“We need to talk about yesterday. And you and me,” he clarified.

“You mean, you felt it too?” Hope and excitement filled her eyes.

MacGyver knew he had to give it to her straight. No lectures, no platitudes, no pithy comments. Just keep it real.

“No Jesse, I didn’t,” he said evenly. The girl’s face fell and his heart clenched.

“No, I know you did! And don’t tell me I’m too young. I know what I felt!”

“I’m sure you think you know what you felt, but it isn’t real. It’s all a part of growing up. And yes, you are too young. But look around you. This school is full of boys who would jump at the chance to spend time with you.”

“All the boys here are so immature,” she responded haughtily. “All they care about is how good of a ballplayer I am. But you’re different. You really care about me. You’re handsome, intelligent, fun—“

“Jesse stop. Yes, I care about you, but not in the way you think. And if you let yourself act more like a sixteen-year-old girl like you have been instead of the tomboy I first met, I’m sure the guys here would notice you and appreciate you as more than just another teammate,” MacGyver said earnestly.

Jesse stared down at her hands folded in her lap. “It’s just hard, ya know?” Her voice was little more than a whisper.

“What’s hard?” Mac gentled his own voice.

“Moving to a new town. Coming to a new school. Trying to fit in.”

“You’re right. It is hard. But maybe you need to stop trying so hard to ‘fit in’ and just be yourself.”

The girl let out a very unladylike snort.

“Jesse,” MacGyver continued, “What did you really find attractive about me?”

She glanced up shyly. “You’re new here, too. And you’re different.”

“Different than who?”

“All the other teachers here.”

“That’s exactly my point! I caught your attention because I’m new and different. Don’t you think the boys here would be attracted to someone new and different too?”

“I never really thought about it like that,” she mumbled.

“Well, think about it! Stop selling yourself short and give people a chance!”

After a long silence, MacGyver heard Jesse sigh. “I guess I did act kinda stupid,” she admitted.

“Not stupid. Just human. Everybody makes mistakes once in a while. The trick is learning to live with it and move on.”

“Will you still keep tutoring me?” Jesse asked shyly.

“Do you really need the extra help, or were you just fakin’ it so I’d get assigned to work with you?”

The blush on her cheeks was his answer. “I thought so.”

“Do you hate me, Mr. Mac?”

“No, I don’t hate you,” he replied earnestly. “Now why don’t you get outta here and go do something teenagerish!”

“Thanks Mr. Mac, for everything.”

Jesse smiled as she headed out the door leaving MacGyver to wonder how his own son had navigated his teen years. Regret niggled at him, but then he recalled what he had told Jesse moments earlier. Everyone makes mistakes, but you have to move on.

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Joanna stood in MacGyver’s office doorway watching him type away at his computer.

“So, how’d it go with Jesse?” she asked.

MacGyver let out a sigh. “Good, actually. We talked and I think she’s gonna be okay.”

“Good, I’m glad,” Joanna responded, lingering by the door. Mac looked up at her pointedly. “Um,” she continued, “You still owe me a game of air hockey.”

“I believe I do,” he laughed, surprised that she had taken the initiative. “How about you follow me back to my place. We’ll order a pizza and then see how ‘uncoordinated’ you really are!”

“Sounds good. But remember, you promised to play with your hockey gloves on!” she reminded him playfully before heading to her office to gather her things, completely unaware of Jesse standing just around the corner. Tears in her eyes.









Posted by: Dragondog 16 November 2018 - 03:01 PM
Poor Jesse sad.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 November 2018 - 11:27 AM
Chapter 9: You’ve Got Mail


As soon as MacGyver opened his apartment door he headed to the phone to order a pizza leaving Joanna to hang up their coats. She had only been here once, but she seemed quite comfortable. Almost as if she belonged here. Perhaps it was because the apartment and most of its contents were owned by the Phoenix Foundation instead of MacGyver himself, making it less intimate.

Mac hung up the phone and joined Joanna at the air hockey table.

“So, how much do you know about the game?” he asked.

“You use this thing…” she held up a game piece that resembled a sombrero, or maybe a meat pounder, with a round, flat surface and a handle sticking up in the middle.

“It’s called a mallet or striker.”

“Right. You use this thing to hit the puck or keep the puck out of your own goal.”

“Are you sure you never played before?” Mac asked teasingly. Joanna cocked an eyebrow in response. Mac cleared his throat. “It’s customary to play to seven points, but people often change it to ten. It’s your call.”

“Let’s see what the score is after one of us reaches seven and I’ll let you know then.”

“Fair enough,” MacGyver laughed and turned on the table. It whirred to life, providing a cushion of air for the puck to glide on.

“Oops, almost forgot,” Mac said, as he walk to a corner in the living room. “Hockey gloves!” He held up his favorite pair and started to put them on.

Joanna laughed. “You’re not really gonna play like that?!”

“Hey, a deal’s a deal.”

Joanna shrugged and MacGyver gave her the puck to start the game. Her movements were hesitant, reaction time slow, and depth perception bad. Wearing the large, cumbersome hockey gloves, Mac played just as poorly if not more so.

“Time out!” He called. He shook off his gloves. “Instead of playing for points, why don’t we just practice for a while so you can get the feel of the game?”

“Whatever you say, coach,” she declared.

As they glided the puck back and forth between them, Joanna’s grip on the mallet relaxed and her coordination improved. Every so often MacGyver would start to pick up the pace and Joanna was able to quickly adjust. He was impressed. After a while they started playing for points. Mac let Joanna get a couple easy goals before she scolded him.

“You don’t have to patronize me. Win or lose, I want it to be fair and square.”

“Alright then,” MacGyver responded as he swept the puck across the table into her goal. She pretended to pout, but continued to play determinedly.

Her play was improving by the time the pizza was delivered. They sat side-by-side at the breakfast bar chomping on their supper and chatting casually.

“So, are you a hockey fan?” MacGyver asked even though he thought he knew the answer.

“Not really. My first love is football. Born and bred a Packer fan, remember?” she said proudly. “But I do like to watch hockey when I get a chance. I’ve been to a few Milwaukee Admirals games and that was fun.” She stopped and laughed under her breath.

“What?” Mac asked with a curious smile.

“You wanna know one of my biggest regrets in life?”

“Yeah.” He turned to look at her, resting his chin in the palm of his hand. She had his undivided attention.

“I wasn’t into hockey when Team USA won gold in the 1980 Olympics. I missed the whole ‘Miracle on Ice’!” She paused. “I bet you watched every game.”

“Just about,” MacGyver responded. “I had just started working at the DXS so I was moving around quite a bit. Fortunately part of an assignment had me working security for the Olympics so I got to see some of the games,” he said matter-of-factly.

Joanna’s mouth fell open. “You actually saw Team USA play in the Olympics?!”

“Yep.”

“That is so cool!” she exclaimed, her excitement making Mac laugh.

“Maybe we could take in a couple of Admiral’s games before the season ends,” he ventured.

“That would be great!”

“Good. I’ll look into getting us some tickets,” he promised as she smiled again before biting into her last slice of pizza.

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The days flew by as February faded into March, though the weather improved little. Mac had forgotten how late spring came to the Midwest. His days fell into an easy routine as he took on various roles at Challengers. He noticed Joanna was interacting a lot more with the students. She spent a lot of time helping out in the learning center and he even saw her eating lunch with Jesse in the cafeteria a few times. It was obvious to MacGyver that Joanna was happiest when she was with her kids. Too bad her job kept her chained to a desk most of the time. One afternoon they crossed paths in the corridor after school.

“Hey, how’s it going?” Mac asked her.

“Good,” she replied happily. “I’m forcing myself to get of the office more and I’m really enjoying it.”

“So I’ve noticed. I see you’ve also been spending some time with Jesse.”

“Yeah,” Joanna replied, wrinkling her brow. “She has really warmed up to me lately.”

“What is it?” MacGyver noticed uncertainty in her voice.

“I’m not sure. Sometimes she makes me uncomfortable. Like she’s watching me or something.” Joanna shrugged, “I suppose it’s just teenage stuff.”

“Yeah, sure,” Mac agreed, unconvinced. Always one to listen to his gut, he believed if it felt like something was wrong, then something was wrong.

They said goodbye and headed to their separate destinations. Jesse glared at them through the rec room window. Her earlier tears replaced by anger.

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Mac and Joanna had fallen into the habit of meeting at his place a couple evenings a week to play air hockey and eat take-out. This was one of those evenings. Joanna had informed him she had a quick errand to run first and would be a little late, so he took the time to grab his mail from his box in the lobby before heading to his apartment. Upon entering, he tossed his keys on his desk and began shuffling through the envelopes. Junk mail. He had only lived here a matter of weeks and he was already receiving junk mail! Then his hand paused as he saw the distinctive military post mark on a crinkled envelope. He quickly ripped it open and pulled out a single page. He read the first words eagerly: ‘Dear Dad’. It was from Sam!

MacGyver sank into his couch and slowly read the scribbled missive, savoring every word.

Dear Dad,
Sorry I haven’t written sooner. Things have been crazy around here and I hardly ever stay in one place more than a couple days. The trip over here to the sand box (that’s what the soldiers nicknamed this part of Saudi Arabia) was long, but I arrived safely. As of the writing of this letter I am still alive….ha ha! I’ve become buddies with some of the troops and even some of the villagers. I’ve already gone through more rolls of film than I can count. I think I have some great photos for publication. Look for them!! There are still so many stories that need to be told. People in the States have no clue what it’s really like over here. I have to stop now. The mail pick up is arriving. Are you still getting those headaches? Gotta go….Love, Sam

Beneath his signature was an address to the military base where he could receive mail. Mac read the short letter twice, a crazy grin on his face. A knock on his door drew his attention away. He got up to answer it, tossing the letter on the breakfast bar next to some take-out menus he had picked up. He ushered Joanna into the apartment.

“Hey listen, do you mind if I go change out of this shirt?” he asked, looking at his white dress shirt with disdain.

“No problem. Go ahead,” she encouraged with a laugh. Everyone knew how much he hated the stiff shirts. And don’t even get him started on ties!

“There are some menus on the bar. It’s your turn to choose,” MacGyver told Joanna as he headed down the short hall towards his bedroom.

Joanna walked over to the kitchen area and started to pick up the folded brochures when her gaze landed on a wrinkled letter that looked like it had done war with the postal service. Before she could do the ethical thing and look away, her eyes landed on two words: ‘Dear Dad’. Her breath caught. Was MacGyver writing a letter to his dad? But he had told her his dad had died when Mac was still a child. She then saw an envelope with the matching handwriting addressed to A. MacGyver. Did MacGyver have a child? A knot formed in the pit of her stomach. She glanced down the hall to make sure MacGyver was still in the bedroom. Then, as if on autopilot, she picked up the letter and began to read. The knot in her stomach tightened and her face grew hot. Mac had a son named Sam. A son old enough to somehow be involved with the military in the Middle East. A son he had never once even mentioned to her much less discussed. During their time together he had told her about his fear of heights, love of animals and joy of travel. Never had he seen fit to inform her that he had a child! What else was he keeping from her? Was there a Mrs. MacGyver? Other children? A tiny voice in her head said it was none of her business. They were just temporary colleagues. Casual acquaintances. He deserved his privacy. That voice, however, was drown out by her heart which screamed of betrayal. He had lied to her even as he asked her to trust him! Granted, it was a lie of omission, but still a lie. Why didn’t he feel he could share this part of his life with her?

She heard the bedroom door open and the heavy footsteps that would soon lead him to her. She quickly dropped the letter and turned to watch as he entered the kitchen.

“So, what’s it gonna be?”

Joanna looked at him with what could only be described as utter horror.

He looked down at his chest. “Don’t you like my shirt?” he quipped.

“I…I…” her look of horror intensified, if that was even possible. “I have to go,” she breathed out quickly. “This was a bad idea. I’m sorry.” She turned quickly, almost tripping over her own feet as she headed to the closet, grabbed her coat, and fled out the door.

MacGyver stood in the middle of his now-empty apartment completely stunned.

“What just happened?” he asked no one in particular.

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Mac awoke early the next morning. Truthfully, he had hardly slept at all. He couldn’t get the picture of Joanna’s horrified face and her hasty departure out of his mind. He had turned the events of the previous evening over in his mind so many times he feared he’d give himself another concussion. She had been perfectly fine when he left to go change. What had happened? He had already checked his answering machine. There were no messages she might have accidently overheard. He gathered his things and headed to Challengers hoping that she had gotten over whatever had upset her.

When he pulled into the parking lot, Evelyn’s hatchback was present as well as Joanna’s car. Didn’t anybody ever sleep? He parked his car in its usual space and headed for his office. He noticed Joanna’s door was shut tight, his remote control door stop removed. The frown he had been wearing grew deeper. This was getting ridiculous. He decided to bypass his own office and headed straight to Evelyn, not even breaking his stride as he knocked on the doorjamb to announce his entrance.

“Ah, MacGyver! I see you came in early as well,” she crooned, her face a study in serenity, except Mac could see her mouth was slightly pinched.

“What’s wrong with Joanna?” he demanded as he unceremoniously dropped himself in one of the visitor’s chair. “And don’t pretend you don’t know.”

Evelyn leveled a glare at him that would break any student. He glared back. After several seconds, the older woman blinked and refocused her gaze on the controls of an ancient P.A. system on the far wall.

“I don’t know what’s bothering her,” she immediately held up her hand to quell any response. “I know Joanna and she needs time and space to think things through. She also knows I’m here to listen if she needs to talk. Until then…” Evelyn simply shrugged.

“But you’re technically her boss,” MacGyver reminded her. “Can’t you make her tell you what’s going on?” Evelyn’s eyebrows shot up and Mac instantly wished he could take back his words. He was way out of line.

“Even if I could make her tell me I wouldn’t,” Evelyn replied, her tone slow and deliberate. “Joanna deserves just as much privacy and respect as anybody else. As long as her work doesn’t suffer, there is nothing I can do.”

“I’m sorry, Ms. Evelyn,” Mac replied contritely, jamming his fingers through his hair. “I was way out of line just now.”

“It’s alright,” she assured him. “You’re only upset because you care. And that’s a good thing.”

MacGyver nodded and retreated to his office.

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Joanna sat in her office staring at a spreadsheet and trying to convince herself she was actually working. She hadn’t slept a wink all night. Her mother had offered to listen to whatever she had to say, but Joanna hadn’t been ready to talk. Her emotions were too raw. She was so ashamed of how poorly she had misjudged her new colleague and how deeply he had hurt her with his lie. There was a soft knock on her door.

“Who is it?” she asked lifelessly.

“It’s Evelyn. May I come in?”

Joanna got up and opened the door, suddenly sad that she had smashed her little doorstop to smithereens when she arrived that morning.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Evelyn asked gently.

Joanna just shook her head.

“Wrong answer!” the shorter woman declared.

Joanna glanced at the thin wall she shared with MacGyver. “Not here,” she replied softly, and headed towards Evelyn’s office.

After settling herself in the same chair Mac had vacated just moments before, Joanna sat staring at the floor. Evelyn relaxed into her desk chair and waited. A heavy silence permeated the room.

“I think you ought to know that MacGyver is very concerned about you,” Evelyn stated softly.

Joanna’s head jerked up and she looked at her boss. Her once-hollow eyes now seething with anger. “I highly doubt that,” she replied curtly.

“Tell me what happened.”

“What did he tell you?”

“Not much, actually. He’s quite dumbfounded.”

Joanna rolled her eyes. “Talk,” Evelyn commanded. “Whatever you tell me is absolutely confidential.”

“You’re a school administrator, not a priest.”

“And you’re stalling.”

“It’s really embarrassing and I know I’m probably making a big deal out of nothing but,” Joanna’s shoulders fell in defeat, “I found out he has a son he never even mentioned to me.”

Evelyn’s face remained neutral, her speech deliberate. “You raised a lot of questions for me in that brief statement,” she stated calmly.

Joanna braced herself. She had just opened a can of worms.

“First of all, how did you find out about his son?”

Joanna’s gaze hit the floor again. “I kinda accidentally read a letter from him,” she answered softly.

“I see.”

“I didn’t mean to!” Joanna responded, feeling the need to defend herself. “Mac told me to look at some take-out menus and the letter was laying right there out in the open. I know I shouldn’t have read it, but I was curious…”

“Does MacGyver know you saw the letter?”

“I don’t think so. If he does he sure didn’t let on.”

“Hmmm. Now for my second question. Why do you feel embarrassed?”

“I’m embarrassed for getting so upset.”

Evelyn remained silent, a cue for Joanna to continue.

“I shouldn’t be getting so upset about a man I’ve known for less than two months and who will be leaving at the end of the term if not sooner. It’s stupid!”

“And what, exactly, are you upset about? The fact that he has a son or the fact that he didn’t tell you about him?”

“Both,” Joanna answered. “But mainly that he lied to me, and just after I told him I trusted him!”

“Do you think he didn’t tell you about Sam on purpose?”

“I don’t know!” Joanna was getting confused. “Wait a minute, how do you know his name? You knew he had a son this whole time?!” Her anger flared.

“Yes. But it’s not my story to tell.”

Joanna’s frustration mounted. She wished to go back in time, back to the days before she had ever laid eyes on the name ‘A. MacGyver’.

“I believe you have some things to think about,” Evelyn said gently. “The students will be arriving soon.”

“Yes ma’am.” Joanna got up and turned toward the door, relieved for the dismissal.

“And Joanna,” Evelyn called, “talk to MacGyver.”

The young woman paused for a moment before squaring her shoulders and heading into her day determined not to talk to MacGyver ever again!

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MacGyver heard Joanna walk past his door and he immediately bolted into Evelyn’s office.

“What did she say? What’s wrong?”

“I promised her I would keep our discussion confidential,” Evelyn replied evenly.

“Can you at least answer a question?”

Evelyn didn’t protest. “Does it have anything to do with me?”

“Yes,” came the simple response.

“What? What did I do?” he pleaded, his pride taking a fall, but he didn’t care. Why this was so important to him he really didn’t care to explore at the moment. Right now he just wanted some answers.

“I can’t tell you that. You need to talk with Joanna.”

MacGyver sighed loudly. Maybe he should just forget about it. He’d be going back to L.A. in a few months anyway.

“MacGyver,” Evelyn responded. “You are an ingenious young man. Use that big brain of yours to figure this out. The answer is right under your nose.”

Stunned by the cryptic reply, Mac stared at Evelyn who had turned her attention to the paperwork piled up on her desk. That was it. She’d told him as much as she was going to.

By the end of the day MacGyver’s head was pounding. What had Evelyn meant? What was ‘right under his nose’? He decided he had to start looking at this as he would any other case. He had to think like a field op again. Whatever upset Joanna happened at his place. He was sure of that.

Upon returning to his apartment late that afternoon, he decided to recreate the events of the previous evening. He stood by the door. He had opened the door to let Joanna in. Okay, harmless enough. Then he had gone to the bedroom to change. He retraced his steps. Nothing. He had then returned to the kitchen and found Joanna looking as if she had seen a ghost, but he could not find anything amiss.

Wait a minute. He was going about this the wrong way. He needed to see the evening through Joanna’s eyes. MacGyver went back to the entrance to his apartment and looked around slowly. Granted, it was a little dustier than the last time she had been there, but everything appeared the same and she wasn’t bothered by it before. What next? He headed to the bedroom and told Joanna to look at the restaurant menus. This time, he headed to the breakfast bar as he assumed Joanna would have done. The menus were still there and he reached out to pick them up. It was then that he saw a single sheet of crumpled paper next to his hand. Sam’s letter. Joanna must have seen it. She must have read it! Mac felt a surge of anger and betrayal well up inside him. How dare she go around reading his mail! However, guilt suddenly replaced the anger when he realized it was him who had carelessly tossed the letter on the counter for all the world, or at least Joanna, to see.

But why had she gotten so upset? Granted, he couldn’t remember ever talking about Sam with her. But did that warrant her current behavior? With a sigh MacGyver realized he had just been handed more pieces to the puzzle that was Joanna. Now he just needed to find out how they fit together. He needed to talk with her.






Posted by: Dragondog 21 November 2018 - 07:21 PM
Huh boy, Mac, you've got an interesting problem you've gotta fix now wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 22 November 2018 - 08:45 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 21 November 2018 - 07:21 PM)
Huh boy, Mac, you've got an interesting problem you've gotta fix now wink.gif

And I doubt duct tape and a paperclip will work this time!! whistle.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 25 November 2018 - 12:13 PM
Chapte 10: He Loves Me Not

Sometimes the simplest plan is the best plan. MacGyver decided to just wait for Joanna to get over her initial shock and anger at finding out about Sam. How long could she hide, after all? In watching her with the students, Mac had found her to be intelligent, open-minded, and sympathetic. Surely it was just a matter of time until they would talk it out and put this whole incident behind them.

Hours turned into days, and Joanna kept herself locked in her office. She no longer helped out in the learning center or joined students for lunch in the cafeteria. If MacGyver didn’t park next to her car every day, he wouldn’t even know she was there. As time passed, his frustration mounted so he decided to stay as busy as possible to keep his mind off the stubborn female. He spent his time helping Officer Carl monitor the security cameras, and he assisted Mr. K. in not only Chemistry, but Biology and Physical Science as well. He ate his lunch in the cafeteria, usually surrounded by students eager to hear about his adventures with the DXS and Phoenix and he happily shared the declassified details of his exploits. After school he could be found assisting teens with the computers in the learning center or monitoring the recreation room. It was here, as he was making some minor repairs to the ancient pinball machine, that Jesse found him.

“Hi Mr. Mac!” She greeted him enthusiastically.

“Hey Jesse, how’s it going?”

“All right,” she shrugged. “I’m really glad you’re helping out in my Biology class.”

“Well, it keeps me out of trouble,” he teased.

Jesse’s face grew serious. “Mr. Mac, do you like Ms. Jo?”

Well, that was a loaded question that came out of nowhere. “Do you like her?” he countered, wary of the twist in the conversation.

“Yeah, I guess,” Jesse responded thoughtfully. “She’s pretty nice.”

“That she is,” MacGyver agreed with a smile.

“You’ve seemed kinda sad lately, Mr. Mac. Is something bothering you?”

MacGyver eyed the teen carefully, trying to decide what to say. “A friend of mine is going through a tough time right now and I’m just concerned. It’ll all blow over soon, though,” he assured her.

“Well, if you need to talk, my friends say I’m a good listener,” she offered.

Despite the warmth of her words, MacGyver couldn’t help seeing the coolness in her eyes. “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind,” he responded, patting her on the shoulder before turning back to his tools, silently signaling the conversation was done.

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After yet another day passed with still no Joanna sightings, MacGyver decided it was time for Plan B. If he couldn’t wait her out, he would draw her out…carefully. He made sure to arrive before she did the next morning and gently slid some take-out menus under her office door with a note that read ‘still your turn’. The day crawled by as he waited for Joanna to respond to his offer, even if it meant she threw the papers in the face. Nothing. He was in his office late that afternoon trying to catch up on some paperwork when he heard Joanna leave for the day. He soon followed suit only to find the pamphlets he had left for her tucked under the windshield wiper of his Jeep. Strike one.

The next day, MacGyver decided to take a more traditional route. One that had proved successful for generations. He sat at his desk, flipping through the Yellow Pages searching for a florist. After finding one nearby and calling in his request, he leaned back in his chair, a self-satisfied grin spread across his face. Hours later, he was once again squeezed in the security booth with Carl when a delivery van pulled up. MacGyver quickly buzzed in the young courier bearing a vase of freshly cut spring flowers and directed him straight to Joanna’s office. He was confident she would be too polite to turn the man away and he was correct. The van driver returned empty-handed except for the sizable tip he was tucking into his pocket. Mac relaxed a bit. It was only a matter of time, now.

MacGyver had just made his way through the cafeteria lunch line and settled his tray at a table full of freshman when the P.A. system crackled to life. The boisterous room suddenly quieted. Apparently, school-wide announcements were a rare thing. Above the static he heard Evelyn’s voice: “Mr. MacGyver, please report to the Administrator’s office at your earliest convenience.” What in the world could be so important to warrant such a request? Mac bolted from his seat, abandoning his lunch tray as he quickly headed to the office. He tried to remain calm and not allow himself to think of the horrible scenarios he might need to deal with.

When he got to Evelyn’s office, the door was partially closed. He knocked briefly before walking in.

“What’s going on? What’s wrong?” He demanded.

“Ah, MacGyver! I didn’t mean to worry you. I just thought you should know…” She waved her hand to the corner of her desk. A vase of colorful blooms mocked him. “Joanna brought these to me. She said she’s allergic.”

“Is she?” he asked warily.

“I don’t know. But that’s not the point now, is it?”

MacGyver hung his head in defeat and frustration as he turned to leave.

“MacGyver!” Evelyn called. “Don’t give up on her!”

“I don’t intend to, ma’am,” he replied as he headed back to his lunch.

Mac decided to leave work earlier than usual that afternoon. He not only had to find a way to get Joanna to talk with him, but he was yearning to work off the frustration that had been growing daily. He stopped to chat with Officer Carl.

“I don’t suppose you know of any hockey rinks around here?” he asked the officer.

“No sir, I don’t. I’m a football man myself.”

MacGyver smiled and shook his head. Minnesotans learned to skate before they could walk and apparently Wisconsinites cut their teeth on the ole pigskin.

“There is that fancy indoor center that opened a couple years back,” Carl mused.

“Tell me,” Mac encouraged him.

“It’s called the Pettit National Ice Center. If I recall it has one or two ice rinks and a speed skating oval.”

“Sounds impressive,” Mac observed.

“Eh, if you’re into that sorta thing I suppose.”

MacGyver received directions on how to get there from Carl before hurrying home to grab his gear. Some one-on-one time with the ice was exactly what he needed to gain some perspective.

He arrived at the modern skating facility around supper time. The place was deserted except for one rink where a small group of young boys practiced basic hockey skills under the watchful eye of their coach. MacGyver suited up and stepped onto the adjacent rink. For several minutes he simply skated around the perimeter, hockey stick in hand. He loved the sensation of gliding over the smooth ice. It was as close as a man could come to flying without leaving the ground. He then snagged a puck and started skating around would-be defensemen, taking shots on goal. He was about ready to call it a night when thoughts of Joanna started creeping back into his brain. He decided to put himself through one final exercise. He piled up some pucks in front of the net to practice his slap shot. This skill demanded his concentration: stick position, blade placement and weight shift. One after another, he sent the pucks slamming into the net. It was so easy without a goalie! He smiled ruefully to himself.

The next morning MacGyver limped into Challengers. Man, he had to get himself back into shape! Fortunately, the hockey practice had cleared his mind and presented a fool-proof way to lure Joanna to him. He used his lunch break to run a quick errand. When he returned, he pulled a small white envelope from his jacket pocket and took out the contents. Two tickets to that evening’s Admirals game. First row behind the home team’s bench. They didn’t get any better than that. Feeling quite pleased with his offering, he tucked the tickets back into the envelope and slid them under Joanna’s office door. Now all he had to do was wait, again. But this time he could taste success.

It was almost 5pm and still no word from Joanna. MacGyver was worried. He checked the parking lot. Her car was gone. He muttered a mild oath under his breath and headed to the main entrance.

“Hey Carl,” he greeted the officer as he was finishing his shift.

“Hey Mac, how goes it?”

“Not sure. Did you by any chance see Joanna leave?”

“Sure did. In fact, she told me to give this to you.” Carl handed him a very familiar white envelope.

MacGyver gingerly opened the envelope, not quite sure what he expected to find. He peered inside and saw it filled with bits of paper. What the..? He tipped the envelope upside down to allow the contents to fall on Carl’s desk like pieces of confetti. “Oh no, she didn’t!” he exclaimed, not realizing he had said the words out loud.

“Didn’t what?” Carl asked, curiously looking over Mac’s shoulder.

“That stubborn, insufferable, cold-hearted woman tore up the hockey tickets I gave her!” Frustration made his head pound as anger burned in his stomach. “That’s it! I give up!” MacGyver threw his hands in the air. “Let her hide in her office and hate my guts! I don’t care anymore! I’m done!” Mac turned on his heel and left the building.

Carl watched him go, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “That poor boy’s got it real bad,” he chuckled to himself as he locked up the school for the night.

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Joanna sat behind her desk, rubbing her throbbing temples. It was finally Friday. What’s more, it was a teacher work day which meant the students would be leaving at noon and the staff would follow shortly. Granted, the concept was to have the teachers stay and use the extra time to catch up or get ahead in their work, but most took the afternoon off. Officer Carl had asked if he could leave early to spend time with his kids and grandkids who were driving up from Chicago and Joanna had readily complied. Even Evelyn was leaving early. Joanna sighed. Maybe she should leave early as well. Who knew how exhausting avoiding one man could be? She hadn’t even had the energy to get dressed up today. She looked down at her lightweight pull-over, jeans and athletic shoes. She put her head in her hands and sighed. This nonsense with MacGyver had to stop.

As the hustle and bustle of the morning grew, Joanna remained steadfastly locked behind her office door reflecting on the last couple weeks. She had behaved so badly. Her initial anger and shock had dissipated rather quickly, and she found herself wanting to reach out to Mac on several occasions, but she always managed to talk herself out of it. It became more difficult for her to stand her ground when he went on the offensive. How she longed to share another take-out meal with him, enjoy the fragrant flowers he had sent, or attend a hockey game with him by her side. She had shed a tear with every rip she had made in those precious tickets until the paper was damp. To others, she hoped she appeared to be standing up for her principles. But she knew the truth. She had taken advantage of this rift in their friendship to push MacGyver away before he walked out on his own. In a few short weeks, she had allowed herself to believe that this attractive, intelligent, caring man actually cared about her. How could she have been so foolish! Though she had lived a sheltered life, she wasn’t naïve. MacGyver had traveled around the world and surely had left a trail of broken hearts in his wake, including Sam’s mother. She was determined to not be one of them. Except, she probably already was.

Joanna knew she couldn’t stay locked away forever, and to be honest, she missed spending time with the kids. Come Monday, she would resume her professional façade and treat MacGyver as she did the rest of the staff until his assignment was over and he went home to L.A. The dismissal bell startled her from her reverie. Evelyn poked her head in Joanna’s office to say good-bye and wish her a happy weekend with orders to enjoy the warm spring weather that had finally arrived. Carl buzzed her phone to let her know he was leaving for the day. Joanna promised herself she would leave, as well, just as soon as she finished inputting some data into her computer.

Twenty minutes later there was frantic pounding on Joanna’s office door followed by panicked calls of “Ms. Jo! Ms. Jo!”

With a surge of adrenaline, Joanna flew to her door and threw it open to find a tearful Jesse on the other side.

“Ms. Jo! You gotta help!” the girl wailed. “Something’s wrong with Mr. K.!”

“Jesse, calm down and tell me what’s happening,” Joanna said calmly, taking the girl by the shoulders.

“I think he’s dying! You have to come quick!” And with that Jesse took off running down the long corridor leaving Joanna no choice but to follow. All rational thought left her as they barreled through the stairway door, taking the steps two at a time. As they approached the science lab, Jesse hesitated, motioning for Joanna to go first. She stepped over the threshold and stopped, surveying the room and finding no one.

“Where is he?” she asked Jesse.

“Over there, on the floor behind his desk,” she pointed, her hand shaking.

Joanna started to rush over to the area Jesse had indicated, but halfway there she heard the classroom door close with a loud bang and the unmistakable sound of the deadbolt engaging. Joanna whipped around to find Jesse leveling the barrel of a handgun at her chest.

Joanna automatically raised her hands in a ‘don’t shoot’ gestured. Her mouth was dry, her legs weak, and her heart pounded rapidly, but she knew she had to remain calm.

“Where’s Mr. K.?” she asked Jesse as non-threateningly as possible.

The teen shrugged nonchalantly “Got me, last time I saw him he was headed for the parking lot.” Her voice was cold. Devoid of emotion.

Joanna locked gazes with Jesse. She had watched and read enough crime-dramas to know she had to keep the girl talking until she could find a chance to escape.

“Jesse, c’mon. Can’t we talk about this?” she asked, praying she could somehow keep the girl from shooting her.

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MacGyver decided to head home early since almost everyone else was gone. As he was making his way back to his office he encountered Ms. Candy, the bubbly English teacher, teetering toward the exit in her stilettoes. He rolled his eyes. “Bye Candy!” he called to her.

She turned around at the sound of her name. “Oh, good-bye Mac! Is everything Okay with Joanna?”

Good grief. Had they become grist for the high school gossip mill? He decided to play dumb.

“What do you mean?” he ventured.

“I was just coming out of the teachers’ lounge when I saw Joanna and Jesse running down the hall.”

MacGyver’s pulse kicked up a notch. “Where were they going?”

“Who knows? Maybe one of the lab rats got loose. Anyway, have a great weekend!” And with that she was gone.

MacGyver knew something was very wrong. He felt it in his gut. He had to find Joanna and Jesse, but how? As far as he knew there was no one else in the building, and if there was trouble, searching room by room would waste precious time. He then recalled the P.A. system in Evelyn’s office. If his memories from his own high school days served him correctly, the speakers worked both ways allowing principals to listen in on classes from their offices.

MacGyver hurried to Evelyn’s office and tried the doorknob. Locked as he expected. He dug in his pants pocket for his Swiss army knife. He had little use for it lately, but still carried it with him constantly. He found the appropriate tool and proceeded to pick the flimsy lock easily. He then made his way to the P.A. system, taking inventory of the controls. Each toggle was labeled by room. If Joanna or Jesse were talking, he should be able to locate them. He started flipping the switches one by one, beginning with the rooms on the lower level. Silence. He started on the second floor. When he turned on the switch for the science lab he heard female voices. He let out a sigh of relief that was incredibly short lived when he heard Joanna’s voice.

“Jesse, put down the gun and we’ll talk about whatever is bothering you.”

Good girl, stay calm, keep her talking.

“No!” Jesse snapped. “You’re not good enough for him! You make him sad!”

MacGyver listened anxiously, trying to get a better handle on the situation while at the same time trying to think of a way to diffuse it. Jesse was unstable. He had to be careful.

“Who Jesse?” came a steady voice. “Who do I make sad?”

“Mr. Mac, that’s who!” Jesse spat at Joanna.

“Jesse, Mr. Mac and I—“

“Shut up!” The teen was in a rage now. “At first I was jealous, ya know? He was always walking you to your car or talking about going over to his place. But then you changed. You stopped talking to him and that made him sad. He doesn’t need you! He needs me!!”

MacGyver had heard enough. He had to get to the science lab and subdue Jesse, hopefully without hurting her. But how? From what Joanna said, she was being held at gun point. He’d have to figure out something on the way. He sprinted down the corridor and up the stairs, slowing when he neared the science room so Jesse wouldn’t hear his approach. He scanned the hallway, looking for anything he could use as a weapon or diversion. Mac’s eyes lit upon a fire extinguisher hanging on the wall. A plan began to form, but he had to get into the classroom first and surely Jesse had locked the door. He wondered how much longer Joanna could keep the delusional girl occupied. He pulled the extinguisher off the wall and decided to gamble and take the direct approach. He knocked loudly on the door.

“Jessica, it’s Mac, let me in,” he urged.

“No!” she shouted. “You just want to keep me from hurting Joanna!”

“That’s not true, Jesse,” he called through the door. “I don’t care about Joanna, I care about you!” He winced at the lie he was forced to tell. “If you hurt Joanna you’ll be taken away from me. Please don’t let that happen! I can help you if you’ll let me in,” he promised.

He heard movement and held his breath, holding the fire extinguisher behind his back. He heard the locks click open. Progress. He reached out with one hand and turned the knob slowly. He gingerly inched the door open knowing he might only have mere seconds to assess the situation and take action. He entered the room to find Jesse and Joanna facing off against each other several feet apart. Jesse’s hand trembled as she tightened her grip on the gun and Joanna continued to stare down her assailant. MacGyver used this opportunity to gently pull the pin from the extinguisher and slip it into his back pocket.

“Put down the gun, Jessica,” Mac said evenly.

“No! She has to die!”

MacGyver chanced a glance at Joanna. Her jaw was set, and her eyes conveyed determination. She wouldn’t go down without a fight.

“No one has to die,” MacGyver tried to convince Jesse. “I already told you, I don’t care about Joanna. Let her go so we can be together.”

The gun Jesse was holding wavered slightly, and Mac knew he had to act now if everyone was going to get out of here unharmed. In one swift movement, he swung the fire extinguisher from behind his back, aimed the nozzle between the two females, and squeezed the discharge lever slowly, creating a cloud of CO2. Jesse began to cough and he bolted toward her, aware of Joanna running past him toward the door. He quickly approached Jesse from behind. Reaching out to grab her wrist, he increased the pressure until she dropped the weapon. He then wrapped his arms around her, pinning her own arms to her side. She screamed and kicked and fought against his hold until she had no more fight left in her. She began to cry and sank to the floor, taking MacGyver with her, now nothing more than a puddle of teenage angst.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As soon as Joanna was sure Jesse’s vision had been obscured by MacGyver’s smoke screen, she bolted for the door and ran to her office. She lunged for the phone and dialed 911. It seemed like hours until her call was answered, but in reality it was only a few seconds. Joanna explained the situation to the dispatcher as calmly and succinctly as possible and then stayed on the line as directed. She could only hope that MacGyver had been able to disarm Jesse before either of them got hurt.

A long while later, Joanna sat on the back step of an ambulance. An EMT checked her vitals. When the police had arrived on scene, Joanna had led them to the classroom where they found MacGyver looking up at them as he comforted the broken girl. Joanna willed her eyes to make contact with his and her breath caught at what she saw there. Remnants of fear lingered, but an astounding gentleness dominated accompanied with a gentle smile. Before she could respond, an officer moved in to secure Jesse and lead her away as two other officers swept in and took Joanna and MacGyver in separate directions to give their statements and answer questions about the incident.

Joanna was arguing with the EMT’s about her condition when MacGyver approached.

“I am absolutely fine!” Joanna’s voice rang out clearly. “I do not need to go to the hospital!”

MacGyver smiled at the beleaguered technicians and motioned for them to give her some space. When they were out of sight, Mac settled himself next to Joanna.

“I’m fine,” she replied before he could ask. “I’m just a little shook up.”

“That was quite an ordeal you went through. You stayed calm and did all the right things,” he told her, wondering if his pride for her was evident on his face.

“Thanks,” she said quietly.

MacGyver noticed her limbs begin to tremble. He reached for a blanket the EMT’s had offered her earlier which she had quickly discarded.

“Here, put this around you. You’re going into shock,” he explained matter-of-factly. He expected Joanna to fight him, but when she didn’t, he helped her tuck the blanket around her and then held her close to his chest, pleased when she didn’t pull away.

“We need to talk,” she informed him weakly.

“Yeah, but not now. You need to go home and get some rest.”

Joanna moved her head so she was looking up at him, but she remained in his embrace.

“There’s a park a few blocks from here. Meet me there tomorrow? 2 o’clock by the boathouse?” she asked tentatively.

“I’ll be there,” he promised, as a female police officer approached.

“Ma’am,” she addressed Joanna, “do you have a way to get home?”

“She most certainly does,” came Evelyn’s authoritative reply.

The officer silently slipped away as Evelyn approached the duo.

“The police called me,” she explained before either of them could ask. “You both Okay?”

“Yes ma’am,” they replied in unison.

“I fear this situation is far from resolved, but we’ll deal with that later. Right now let’s all go home and try to forget about it for a while,” Evelyn commanded.

Joanna nodded and slowly stood up, the blanket she had snuggled in dropped to the ground. She tested her legs, making sure they would support her before she walked with Evelyn to her car. Before sliding into the driver’s seat, the short woman turned to MacGyver who had followed a few paces behind them in case Joanna needed his support.

“Well done, Mr. MacGyver,” the spunky administrator praised. “Well done.”




Posted by: Dragondog 25 November 2018 - 07:42 PM
Me reading about all the tricks Mac tried to cheer up Joanna: Mac you idiot, it's going to take more than that. dry.gif

Me reading about Joanna's feelings towards Mac now: Joanna, you idiot. doh.gif

Me reading the ending parts: Jesse you idiot. sad.gif

Seriously, I love this so far, looking forward to the next chapter wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 25 November 2018 - 08:40 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 25 November 2018 - 07:42 PM)


Seriously, I love this so far, looking forward to the next chapter wink.gif

Glad to hear it!! There are plenty more chapters to come!! Can't promise that no one will be an idiot, though!

Posted by: MacGyver85 25 November 2018 - 09:14 PM
This is great!

QUOTE
Me reading about all the tricks Mac tried to cheer up Joanna: Mac you idiot, it's going to take more than that. dry.gif

Me reading about Joanna's feelings towards Mac now: Joanna, you idiot. doh.gif

Me reading the ending parts: Jesse you idiot. sad.gif

Seriously, I love this so far, looking forward to the next chapter wink.gif


That's really similar to what I thought

Posted by: uniquelyjas 26 November 2018 - 07:05 AM
QUOTE (MacGyver85 @ 25 November 2018 - 09:14 PM)
This is great!


Thanks so much!! I really appreciate the feedback:)

Posted by: Dragondog 26 November 2018 - 05:18 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 25 November 2018 - 10:40 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 25 November 2018 - 07:42 PM)


Seriously, I love this so far, looking forward to the next chapter wink.gif

Glad to hear it!! There are plenty more chapters to come!! Can't promise that no one will be an idiot, though!

That's why we love them, though! tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 27 November 2018 - 09:37 AM
Chapter 11: Connectivity

MacGyver’s phone was ringing when he entered his apartment late that afternoon.

“Hello?”

“MacGyver! What in the world is going on out there?!”

“Hi Pete,” Mac replied calmly while pinching the bridge of his nose. “We had a little incident at Challengers, that’s all.”

“That’s all?! That’s all?! A student holding a teacher at gunpoint is more than a ‘little incident’! Phoenix has been scrambling to keep this from the media and panicking the public. Tell me exactly what happened.” Pete demanded.

MacGyver sighed and described the events of the day…again. “The girl is in custody and everyone is safe.” He concluded after several minutes.

“But how could something like this happen?” his boss queried.

“That’s what I’m going to look into on Monday. However,” MacGyver assured him, “this looks to be a calculated, onetime incident.”

The wind left Pete’s sails. “Alright MacGyver. I trust you’ll handle the situation appropriately. Oh, by the way, did you get the letter I forwarded to you?”

“Yeah, I got it Pete,” Mac replied flatly.

“It was from Sam, right? Is everything okay?”

“Everything’s fine, Pete,” MacGyver insisted as he looked at the missive still laying on the counter. “I gotta go. I’ll be in touch.” MacGyver hung up the phone.


MacGyver arrived at the boat house fifteen minutes early. He had mentally been rehearsing answers to possible questions Joanna might ask. This was very much out of character for him, but he knew he had to choose his words wisely if he was going to win back Joanna’s trust and friendship.

Joanna approached him ten minutes later. She was dressed casually in jeans and a light denim jacket to protect her from the slight chill in the spring air. Mac offered her a small smile which she hesitantly returned.

“Thanks for coming,” she said shyly.

“I said I would.”

“Do you always keep your promises?”

“I sure try to. Do you want to walk?” MacGyver nodded toward the paved path that wound around a large lagoon.

“Sure,” Joanna replied, stuffing her hands in her pocket and focusing her attention on the ground.

“So…” Mac began. “I know you saw Sam’s letter and you probably have a lot of questions.”

Joanna flushed. “I really didn’t mean to read it. It was just…there.”

“I know.”

When Joanna didn’t respond, MacGyver took the lead.

“As you know, Sam is my son. He’s currently in the Middle East working as a photojournalist embedded with American troops.”

“You and his mom must worry about him.”

MacGyver admired the way Joanna slipped the idea of Sam’s mom in the statement without actually asking the question he knew she was thinking.

“I try not to worry. He’s a grown man and can take care of himself. As he tends to remind me, he’s been on his own for a long time.”

Joanna stopped and turned towards him, quirking her eyebrow. Mac had learned this was her way of saying ‘tell me more’.

The last thing MacGyver felt like doing was playing 20 questions, so he decided to bite the bullet and tell Joanna the entire story. Well, at least the parts he knew about. If she hated him for it, then that’s the way it would have to be.

“Let’s sit down,” he said, leading her to a well-worn wooden park bench.

Joanna complied but remained silent, her eyes still questioning.

MacGyver blew out a breath and began recounting the series of events that had brought Sam into the world and this current situation.

“I met Sam’s mom, Kate Malloy, when she was studying to become a photojournalist. We obviously became very…close. She loved traveling and adventures as much as I did. She always said the only way we’d be happy was if we were on the road to somewhere else.” Mac paused, smiling sadly at the memory. “Anyway, after she graduated she took an assignment in Brazil. That was the last time I saw her. About ten years ago, according to Sam, she was covering a story in China when she was shot by Chinese soldiers. Sam saw the whole thing. Kate didn’t have any family, so some reporter friends of hers brought Sam back to the States and took care of him.

“Why didn’t you bring Sam home?” Joanna asked quietly as she processed the information.

“I didn’t even know he existed until a few years ago when we accidentally met on an assignment I was on.”

“Didn’t anyone ever try to find you?”

MacGyver shook his head. “Kate never told anyone my name. Not even Sam. They only way he recognized me and made the connection was from a photo he had in a locket his mom had given him when he was a child.”

After several minutes of silence, Joanna got up and slowly resumed walking around the lagoon. MacGyver followed a few paces behind, recognizing her need for mental and physical space. Just when Mac had thought she would never utter another word to him ever again, she stopped abruptly, turned and looked up at him. Her eyes were unreadable.

“Did you love her?” She asked. Her voice strong and sure.

“I did.”

“What would you have done if she had told you she was pregnant?”

“I would like to think I would have done the right thing and asked her to marry me. Settle down. Raise the baby. I don’t run from my responsibilities.”

Joanna started walking again, and this time MacGyver was at her side.

“Why do you think she didn’t tell you about Sam?”

“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. “I suppose she knew I would want to marry her, but she also knew that wasn’t the life for me. At least not then.”

“Maybe it wasn’t the life for her,” Joanna declared.

MacGyver had never thought about it like that. “What do you mean?”

“Well, you said she took an assignment in Brazil when she had to know she was pregnant, and then she continued her work even after Sam was born. She took a child to Communist China for a news story. Did you ever think that maybe she was the one who wasn’t ready to settle down?”

Mac had been prepared for Joanna to go all self-righteous on him. He hadn’t expected her to, in essence, defend him.

“I guess I never thought about it that way.”

“So, what did you and Sam do once he discovered you?”

“Oh, the usual. We worked together to bring down a Chinese smuggling operation. I took a hard fall, broke my arm and got knocked unconscious.” He tried to sound light-hearted and add some levity to what had been perhaps the most intense conversation he had ever had with someone.

“Just the usual, hey?” she laughed.

“So, when is Sam coming home?” she asked, curiosity in her voice.

“I don’t know,” Mac replied. “I honestly don’t know if he will ever come home. He’s used to being on his own, living where life takes him. Like I used to be.”

“’Used to be’?”

MacGyver grunted. In for a penny, in for a pound he decided. “Once we caught the Chinese smugglers, Sam and I did a two and a half year motorcycle tour of the West Coast. When we got back to L.A., I thought we’d put down some roots. I wanted to give him the stability he had missed as a kid.” At this point Mac snorted in self-disgust. “I even thought about buying a house, maybe get a dog. Sam could get a job or go to college.”

“But that’s not what Sam wanted,” she stated rather than asked.

“No, he wanted adventure. Like I did at his age.” He shrugged. “What could I do? I had to let him go.”

“But he knows you’re there for him, right?”

“I sure hope so.”

“Don’t hope Mac,” she put her hand on his forearm, “tell him.”

“You called me ‘Mac’,” he grinned. “Was it just a mistake or are we friends now.”

“I have a feeling you haven’t shared this story with many people. I feel privileged that you shared it with me,” she said solemnly. “Besides, ‘MacGyver’ just has too many syllables in it!” she grinned.

“Oh, like ‘Joanna’ is any better!” he teased, feeling more playful than he had in a while.

“Touche,” she laughed. “I suppose you’ve suffered long enough! You can call me ‘Jo’.”

“Gladly,” he sighed as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

By this time they had arrived back at the boat house. MacGyver stared out over the glassy water of the lagoon, but he could feel Joanna’s gaze focused on him.

“Do you feel guilty? About not being there for Sam?” she asked.

“Yeah, I suppose I do,” he confessed, jamming his hand through his hair as he watched a flock of Canadian geese skim across the small the lake.

“It’s not your fault, you know,” she assured him gently. “You had no way of knowing.”

“I know,” he agreed. “I just keep wondering, if I had followed her…”

“Would you have been happy?”

“I loved her.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“I don’t know,” Mac sighed gustily, throwing his hands in the air. “No. I wouldn’t have been happy. There! Is that what you wanted to hear!?”

“I only wanted to hear the truth,” Joanna replied calmly. “You can’t take responsibility for something, or someone, you knew nothing about, and you can’t change the past.”

MacGyver finally turned to look at her, amazed at the serenity he saw on her face. “And here I thought you were going to be the one to get upset when you learned the truth about my past. About Sam.”

A hint of sadness tinged Joanna’s other peaceful countenance. “A lot of people underestimate me.”

“Are you saying I’m like a lot of other people?”

“Trust me, you are nothing like a lot of other people! What I’m saying is, don’t underestimate me.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he responded, his casual drawl back in place.

“You better,” she said with a smile before glancing at her watch.

“Need to get going?” he asked.

“Yeah, I should…um… by the way, my mom asked me to invite you to dinner tomorrow night if we were still on speaking terms after today. She has this thing about feeding people who save my life.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose,” he replied, offering her a way out.

“No imposition,” she said as she pulled out a piece of paper with her address and handed it to him. “Come around 4pm.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said softly as he watched her head to her car, deciding that she was predictably unpredictable.


“You’re the one who wanted to have him over,” Jo pointed out the next day as her mother fretted over dinner.

“I just want to make something he’ll like,” Judy Fairfax insisted. A petite woman with short, curly brown hair, Joanna’s mother looked several years younger than her age.

“Trust me. I’ve seen the man’s collection of take-out menus. I doubt he’s fussy.”

“But you said he had a lot of healthy, vegetarian food in his refrigerator.”

“Yes. And I’ve also seen him chow down on the mystery meat in the cafeteria. The chicken enchiladas will be just fine. Besides, if he doesn’t like them he doesn’t have to eat them.” Joanna tried to hide the frustration in her voice. They had the same conversation every time they had guests for dinner.

Joanna’s apprehension grew as the day progressed. It was silly, really. She and Mac had already shared a few meals. He was just a friend, nothing to worry about. Yet, it was important to her that her parents like him.

She peeked in the living room to check on her dad. He was in his recliner watching a basketball game. At least he had changed from his house slippers to loafers and he wore a long sleeved polo shirt in place of the threadbare plaid flannel shirt he typically wore on Sundays. Like her mom, Joe Fairfax did not look his age. Lucky for Jo, youthful genes ran in both sides of the family.

MacGyver arrived promptly at four o’clock. Joanna let him and introduced him to her parents.

“Mac, this is my mom, Judy Fairfax.”

“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Fairfax,” MacGyver replied congenially as he shook her hand.

“Please, call me ‘Judy’,” she instructed with a wide smile.

“Alright.”

“And this is my dad, Joe.”

“Nice to meet you, Mac,” her dad said and offered a hearty handshake.

“Doesn’t it get kinda confusing with ‘Jo’ and ‘Joe’?” Mac asked.

“Sometimes,” Joanna replied. “But at least there’s a 50/50 chance one of us will answer!”

Everyone laughed and the ice was quickly broken as Judy Fairfax whisked MacGyver away on a tour of their home. Built by Joanna’s grandparents during World War ll, there was a lot of history…and expansion, of which Mac received a play-by-play description. Once MacGyver had been properly regaled of the stories of the first floor, Judy dispatched him and Jo to the rooms upstairs, previously occupied by Jo’s grandmother before her death and now inhabited by Joanna.

“Now don’t rush down,” Mrs. Fairfax insisted. “Supper won’t be ready for a while yet.”

MacGyver allowed Jo to lead him up the staircase before whispering in her ear.

“Is there something I should know about?” he asked conspiratorially.

Joanna’s momentary confusion soon turned to amusement and she smiled.

“No. My mom’s harmless. However, she’s also not one to pass up the chance to throw an attractive single man in my path.”

MacGyver did not look convinced.

“Don’t worry,” Jo insisted. “Mom knows I’m not in the market for a guy.”

“Why not?” MacGyver frowned and wondered why he found this disconcerting.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


After MacGyver had bared his soul to her yesterday, Joanna decided from that point on she would be brutally open and honest with him as well. He deserved that much, especially after the dreadful way she had treated him.

“Look at me, Mac,” she directed with resignation. “I’m over forty years old, I still live with my parents, I’ve never been in a serious relationship, I’m dull as dirt and can’t compete with all the skinny young blondes out there like Ms. Candy. I tried a couple times. It didn’t work.”

MacGyver appeared stunned by her outburst, but when he took her shoulders to turn her towards him, she saw a mixture of anger and sympathy in his eyes.

“You listen to me,” he instructed, his voice low and deep, “I don’t ever want to hear you put yourself down like that again! You are an attractive, intelligent, witty, determined woman. From what I can see, you have a great relationship with your parents. That’s something to be proud of because not a lot of people do. Personally, I envy you that. And trust me when I say you are anything but dull! I know from first-hand experience!” At this point Mac chuckled and Joanna joined in though she was still awed by his declaration. She was pretty sure he had spoken more words in the last two days than during the entire time he’d been on this assignment.

The telephone rang, startling them both. MacGyver looked at her questioningly.

“We screen our calls. If it’s someone important Mom will get it.” Joanna had barely finished her explanation when her mom called up to her.

“It’s Evelyn…pick up the phone!”

Mac and Jo shared a glance, each knowing that receiving a Sunday phone call from their boss meant something was up. Joanna picked up her extension.

“Hi Evelyn.”

“Hi Jo. I’m sorry to bother you on a Sunday, but I wanted to let you know I’m calling an emergency meeting for tomorrow after school to discuss Friday’s incident. I just wanted to give you a heads up so you can plan accordingly.”

“Thanks, I appreciate that.”

“It’ll just be you, me and MacGyver. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to reach him today.”

“Oh, um, he’s actually here with me now. I’ll let him know. Bye, Evelyn!” Joanna quickly ended the call before her friend could ask any questions. MacGyver watched her expectantly.

“Evelyn wants to meet with you and me after school tomorrow to talk about what happened Friday,” she relayed.

“Good idea. There are some things I’ve been thinking about and would like to run by both of you.”

“Like what?”

“It can wait until tomorrow. No shop talk today, OK?”

“OK,” she reluctantly agreed as they were called to dinner.

The next two hours passed quickly, filled with good food and lively conversation. Judy kept up the Fairfax’s end of the conversation while MacGyver once again talked about growing up in Minnesota and shared stories of his past adventures. Before Joanna knew it, the dessert dishes had been cleared from the table and her mother was herding everyone into the living room for continued visiting. Unfortunately, MacGyver announced that he needed to head home in order to prepare for tomorrow’s ad hoc meeting. Reluctant good-byes were exchanged. Mac and Jo’s dad once again exchanged hearty handshakes while her mom enveloped him in a warm hug while pushing a Tupperware container into his hands. MacGyver then motioned with his head for Joanna to join him outside so she quickly grabbed a jacket.

“So, you think they like me?” he ventured as they stood in the driveway.

“Of course they did!” she chuckled. “My mom doesn’t send leftovers home with someone in her favorite piece of Tupperware if she doesn’t like them. I think she’s already taken you under her wing!”

Mac examined the plastic bowl he was holding as if he was now just seeing it for the first time.

“I’ll get it back to you tomorrow.”

“No hurry. Mom will only want to fill it up again and send it back,” she teased. “I have a feeling you’re going to be her new pet project.”

Mac’s gaze became serious. “You’ve really got something special here, ya know. Promise me you’ll always remember that.”

Joanna nodded soberly. “I will. Thanks. And know that you’re always welcome here as well.”

MacGyver cleared his throat to break the silence that had descended upon them.

“I, uh, wanted to run something by you regarding Challengers.”

“I thought we weren’t talking about work today?”

“Well, it’s not exactly ‘work’. I’ve got this idea for a hockey team—“

“Mac, I already told you, hockey costs a lot of money. Money we don’t have!”

“That’s what I wanted to talk about!” MacGyver insisted. “I’ve been spending some time at the Pettit Center and got talking to one of the managers—“

“The Pettit Center?! Are you insane?! That’s—“

“Would you just listen to me?” Mac worked hard to keep his frustration in check. “I think I can talk them into renting to us for a discounted rate. I’m going to look into getting Phoenix to put up money for uniforms and equipment. I think we can really make this work!”

Joanna didn’t look convinced.

“C’mon, Jo! You said yourself the basketball team was a flop! Why can’t you give this a chance?”

“Hockey season’s almost over.” It was a weak excuse, but the only one Joanna could think of at the moment.

“I know, and that’s perfect! We can get a head start on next season. Plus, there won’t be as much demand for ice time, therefore a cheaper rate.”

Mac was gaining steam, but so was Jo.

“And who is going to coach this team?”

MacGyver pulled himself up to his full height, threw back his shoulders and smiled broadly.

“You!?” Joanna exclaimed. “And what happens when you go back to field ops and get shipped off to God-knows-where? Who’s gonna coach then?”

“I’m gonna need an assistant coach anyway. I’ll find someone. Trust me.”

She did trust him. And she was starting to really like the idea of a hockey team. With the indoor rink, the kids could play year-round and if somebody threw a punch they’d end up in the penalty box instead of the police station.

“Look, just think about it, okay?”

“Okay,” she agreed. Honestly, it was getting harder and harder to say ‘no’ to this man!




Posted by: Dragondog 27 November 2018 - 11:07 AM
Yay, they made up biggrin.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 27 November 2018 - 12:16 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 27 November 2018 - 11:07 AM)
Yay, they made up biggrin.gif

Of course!!

Posted by: Dragondog 27 November 2018 - 06:31 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 27 November 2018 - 02:16 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 27 November 2018 - 11:07 AM)
Yay, they made up biggrin.gif

Of course!!

Not that I doubted laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 November 2018 - 07:46 AM
Chapter 12: Belt and Suspenders

After returning home from the Fairfax’s, MacGyver pulled out some paper and penned a response to Sam’s letter. Although he had intended to keep it short, he ended up explaining about his headaches, his assignment at Challengers, and Joanna. As he wrote, he was amazed at how his life had changed in a few short months. And he had a feeling the transformation wasn’t complete. After stuffing the letter into an envelope, MacGyver proceeded to reflect on the unfortunate incident with Jesse and scribbled several notes to discuss with Evelyn and Jo. As he replayed that afternoon in his head, he became acutely aware of the many mistakes he, as security advisor, had allowed, and the familiar feeling of guilt gripped his heart. It was pure luck that Joanna hadn’t been killed.

MacGyver, Evelyn, and Joanna all made a point of arriving especially early Monday morning to quickly debrief before the rest of the staff and students arrived. Thankfully, the local media had not picked up on Friday’s story. However, it was difficult to determine what was being said on the streets. Therefore, Evelyn decided to call an impromptu all-school assembly to briefly address the incident. As staff and students entered the building, Officer Carl and other faculty members funneled everyone down the long corridor to the gym where Evelyn already stood behind a microphone flanked by Joanna on one side and MacGyver on the other. The trio aimed to get two messages across to the teens. They wanted to assure the students that Challengers was still a safe zone, but they also wanted to make it clear that any inappropriate behavior would not be tolerated.

After the final morning bell had rung, Evelyn stepped up to the microphone. She provided a very brief overview of Friday’s incident and assured everyone that the student would no longer be attending Challengers. She urged everyone, particularly staff members, to remain vigilant and encouraged the students to confide in a trusted adult if they were aware of any suspicious activity or just needed to talk. Evelyn stressed the need for honest communication to keep everyone safe and then dismissed the teens to their classes.

A police officer was waiting by the main entrance and approached Joanna as she headed for her office. MacGyver and Evelyn remained by her side and she was touched by their unspoken show of support. The officer had been sent to ask if Joanna wanted to press charges against Jesse. Joanna declined. Sensing MacGyver’s disapproval, she turned to him and explained her decision.

“I know Jesse needs to be held accountable for her actions. But I know enough about the legal system to believe that there has to be a better alternative to help her through this.”

Evelyn agreed. “I’ll make some calls and get a good social worker assigned to her case. I’ll stay on top of this. Don’t worry about Jesse.”

Joanna smiled her thanks, knowing Evelyn understood. Mac’s expression had softened as well. As soon as the officer had left, they each headed to their respective offices, leaving the doors wide open.

Joanna quickly completed some routine paperwork before spending the majority of the day interacting with students and staff in the learning center, rec room, and cafeteria. She felt it was important for everyone to see that she harbored no ill effects from her ordeal. She refused to take on a victim mentality and did not want others viewing her as a victim either.

MacGyver went into full field ops mode, prowling the corridors and carefully inspecting classrooms when they weren’t in use, making mental notes of ways the school could be better secured. At one point, Mac even retraced the steps Joanna had taken and considered what could have been done to prevent the incident. After lunch, he left the building saying he had some important errands to run before the meeting later that afternoon.

Evelyn assumed her normal duties, though she did flip on the P.A. system every now and again to listen in on some of the classes. Everything seemed to be running smoothly. As promised, she placed a few phone calls to some juvenile court judges and social workers regarding Jesse to make sure the girl received the proper treatment. Joanna was right. Juvie was no place for an obviously troubled teen who needed help, not punishment.

The afternoon passed quickly and soon Evelyn, Joanna, and MacGyver were heading towards the teachers’ lounge which Evelyn had commandeered for their meeting. A bowl of various fresh fruits and another filled with granola bars greeted them, along with bottled water and a pitcher of juice.

“Who’s the caterer?” Joanna asked as she reached for a water and her favorite flavor of granola.

“I believe we are seeing the results of Mr. MacGyver’s little errand from this afternoon,” Evelyn replied with a wink.

“Guilty as charged!” Mac held up his hands in mock surrender.

“Impressive,” Joanna complimented him as they exchanged smiles.

Evelyn studied the interaction. Had these two finally called a truce? Or better yet, decided to show they actually liked each other? Too bad it had taken Joanna being held at gunpoint for them to get over their pride or pettiness or whatever was getting between them.

Once each of them had grabbed a snack, Evelyn took a seat at the head of the rectangular table. Joanna sat on her right with MacGyver across from her on Evelyn’s left. The administrator called their little meeting to order and began the discussion.

“I’ve read the police report and your individual statements. This afternoon, I want us to take a look at why this happened and what we can do to prevent something like this from happening again.”

Mac and Jo whipped their heads toward her. “It’s all my fault!” they insisted in perfect unison before giving each other an uncomprehending stare.

The vehemence of their statements caught Evelyn off guard, but she quickly regained her equilibrium. “Oh, really?” she challenged. “Joanna, since you are the victim in this case, why don’t you tell us your version of the events?”

Evelyn chose to ignore the younger woman’s discreet eye roll at the term ‘victim’.

“I was in my office after school finishing up some data entry,” Joanna began until her boss interrupted her.

“Was your door open or closed?”

“It was closed,” Jo admitted as she shot a glance toward MacGyver.

Oh my, if the situation wasn’t so serious Evelyn could really have some fun with these two.

“Go on,” the older woman prompted.

“You had left and Carl had informed me he was leaving as well. About five minutes later someone was pounding on my door and calling my name. When I opened the door, Jesse was there and very upset and afraid that Mr. K. was dying. She took off running and I instinctively followed, a bit panicked myself.” Joanna went on to recall the rest of her harrowing experience.

“Now,” Evelyn said calmly. “Please explain to me and Mr. MacGyver why you think you should take responsibility for the incident.”

“I’ve replayed the whole thing over and over in my head and I did so many things wrong. First of all, it never even occurred to me that Jesse should not have had access to my office. And when she told me she had been with Walter, I never asked why! I just assumed he was tutoring her after school which, once I thought about it, would never happen.” Evelyn had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from grinning as she caught Mac and Jo exchange wry smiles.

Joanna continued her line of reasoning: “I also should have tried to find another adult to go with me instead of blindly following Jesse, and I should never have turned my back on her when I entered the room. I didn’t know what we would find and I was trying to protect her from what we might see.”

“You bring up some valid points,” Evelyn concurred, as she leaned back in her chair. “However, hindsight is always 20/20. At the time, did you feel your actions were appropriate and in everyone’s best interest?”

“Yes, I did,” Joanna responded softly. Evelyn could not miss the gentle, sympathetic gaze with which MacGyver watched her young friend.

“Then I don’t see any problem,” Evelyn concluded. “Now it’s your turn, Mr. MacGyver.”

“I assumed everyone was gone for the day so I decided to head out early as well. I wouldn’t have even known anything was wrong if Candy hadn’t asked about Jo.” He ran his large hand through his hair, guilt weighing him down more and more. He continued to convey his version of events. “Joanna did everything right. When Jesse turned on her, she didn’t panic. She kept Jesse talking and didn’t make eye contact with me while I tried to negotiate with Jesse even though I had to say some hurtful things. And I didn’t even have to tell her when to run. She knew exactly what to do,” he finished, unable to hide the pride in his voice. “It’s my fault she had to go through that,” he added flatly.

“Then please explain to Joanna and me why you think you should take responsibility for the incident.”

“I’m your security advisor! I’m the one who’s supposed to make sure these things don’t happen, but I didn’t!”

“All right, MacGyver. What would you have done differently?”

Mac shifted his weight and reached into his back pocket, pulling out the notes he had made last night. “First of all, there’s no way Jesse should have been able to bring a gun into the school. We need to secure the entrance better. I’m thinking we should bring in a metal detector for everyone to walk through.”

Evelyn nodded but remained quiet, so MacGyver continued.

“We also have to be able to better monitor the students inside the building. I’m thinking cameras in the corridors, common rooms and classrooms.”

“Hold it right there!” Joanna broke in.

Evelyn held up a hand to Jo. “You had your turn.”

Joanna crossed her arms in front of herself and slouched in her chair as Evelyn turned her attention back to MacGyver.

“We also need communication devices in all rooms,” Mac went on. “Phones, panic buttons, some way to indicate trouble. Finally, there needs to be a routine procedure in place to sweep the building to make sure all the students are gone when they need to be. And that’s just the prevention aspect. We need to develop an action plan and guidelines for when a situation does arise.”

“You have a lot of interesting ideas, MacGyver,” Evelyn responded, her voice neutral. “They also sound quite expensive and somewhat labor intensive.”

“You can’t put a price tag on safety,” he countered.

“Safety? That’s what you call it?” Joanna had straightened up in her chair and pinned MacGyver with her dagger-shooting glare. “I call it a prison! This is supposed to be a safe and welcoming place where students don’t have to fear judgement and punishment! I’ve taught in correctional institutions with less safeguards! I will not allow you to waltz in here and turn Challengers into a jail!” she yelled across the table.

Evelyn had never heard Joanna yell at anyone before and was stunned into silence which was soon broken by MacGyver as he went toe-to-toe with Jo.

“How can you possibly be against safety precautions when just a few days ago you had a gun pointed at you!? If I had done my job, I wouldn’t have almost gotten you killed!” MacGyver slammed his hand on the table, shot up from his chair and turned to the window behind him in one swift motion.

“This isn’t all about you, Mac!” Joanna shot back.

“Enough you two,” Evelyn warned sternly. “I suggest we take a break before discussing this matter further.” With that she turned on her heel and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her leaving MacGyver staring out the window and Joanna staring at his back.

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The anger that had fueled Joanna’s outburst was quickly drenched by the overwhelming guilt she saw in MacGyver’s eyes before he abruptly turned away from her. She got up from her chair and slowly walked over to stand next to him, careful not to invade his personal space. She, too, stared out the window.

“You haven’t cornered the market on guilt, you know,” she told him gently. “I made some poor decisions, too.”

“But if I had done my job properly, you wouldn’t have had to make those decisions to begin with!”

“Mac, there’s no way you could have predicted—“

“I was sent here to do one job. Secure the facility. And I failed. I let myself get distracted and lost my focus. Phoenix was right to pull me from field ops. I’ve clearly lost my edge.” He hung his head and sighed.

“That’s not true!” Joanna turned to face him. “It was you and your quick thinking that rescued me. Besides,” she continued quietly, “I feel like I’m one of the main reasons you’ve been distracted.”

MacGyver looked down at her. “We make a fine pair, don’t we,” he laughed humorlessly.

“Yeah,” Jo agreed with an unladylike snort.

“Maybe we could try working with each other instead of against?” MacGyver suggested.

“I think that’s the best idea I’ve heard so far,” Joanna smiled at him. “Should I go let Evelyn know we’re ready to resume the meeting?”

“Yeah,” he smiled back. “And while you’re doing that, I need to get something from my office.”

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Five minutes later the little group reconvened. Joanna noticed MacGyver now had three small boxes on the table in front him. Evelyn resumed her place at the head of the table.

“I trust we are ready to proceed as the rational adults we all are?” she queried.

Her two subordinates nodded before MacGyver spoke up.

“Ms. Evelyn, I owe you and Jo an apology. I let my personal feelings get in the way and I guess I kinda went all ‘belt and suspenders’ on you,” he smiled sheepishly as Evelyn burst out laughing.

“Now that’s a phrase I haven’t heard in a long time!” she exclaimed gaily as MacGyver joined in the laughter.

Joanna smiled uncertainly, not understanding what must obviously be an inside joke. Evelyn was the first to notice the younger woman’s confusion.

“Pete Thornton, Mac’s boss, always described himself as a ‘belt and suspenders’ type of guy meaning he was overcautious and expected and prepared for the worst,” she explained.

As the meaning of the strange little phrase dawned on Joanna, she laughed as well. “I hope I get to meet Pete. I think we have a lot in common!”

Once the laughter had died down, Evelyn got the meeting back on track. “I think we can all agree that we have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s agree on some of the main points before we adjourn for the evening.”

MacGyver cleared his throat to capture the women’s attention.

“As we said earlier, communication is a key part of any successful security plan. This isn’t the answer, but at least it’s a start,” he said, as he slid one of the boxes in front of him to Joanna and another to Evelyn while keeping one for himself.

Joanna gingerly removed the cover and pulled out a device which fit in the palm of her hand. Evelyn and MacGyver did the same.

“What is it?” Jo asked.

“It’s a cell phone,” Mac answered her.

“I can see that. What do you want us to do with them?”

“We need to carry these at all times,” he began. “I’ve already preprogrammed them. Hitting key number one will automatically dial 911. Joanna and Evelyn, I’m your first emergency contact so just hit number two for me. Number three will connect you to each other. You can add more contacts later on. Joanna, I made you my first emergency contact and Evelyn will be my back-up if both of you agree.”

The two ladies nodded their agreement.

“Now the next step,” MacGyver continued, “is to figure out the most effective school-wide communication system.”

“What about walkie-talkies?” Joanna ventured, warming to Mac’s plan.

“That’s an option, but I was leaning more towards outfitting all adults with cell phones like ours. Not only are they smaller and easier to carry, but an alert can be sent out discreetly and silently,” MacGyver explained.

“But what if something happens to a teacher and they can’t use their phone? How could someone else call for help?”

“Are you going ‘belt and suspenders’ on us, Joanna?” Evelyn lightly teased.

“She has a good point, Evelyn. Each room should have an emergency communication device that anyone can use. Sorta like a fire alarm. Since you already have a working P.A. system in place, the simplest solution might be to rig it so each room can not only receive but transmit from it as well.”

“Didn’t this school used to have telephones in each room?” Joanna asked Evelyn.

“I believe it did,” her boss replied thoughtfully.

“If that’s the case,” MacGyver added, “the wires may still be in the walls and we’d just have to connect them again. That might be the place to start.”

“Good idea, MacGyver. You go ahead and look into that,” Evelyn instructed him. “Now for the metal detector…”

“Phoenix is always working on prototype detectors to improve effectiveness and efficiency. I’ll make a few calls and see if any are ready to go. I could get us approved as a field test site and we’d get the latest technology without spending a dime,” MacGyver offered.

“Lovely,” Evelyn praised. “Now the last item we’ll discuss for tonight is the cameras. Joanna, I know you have some concerns about this. Would you care to elaborate?”

Joanna consciously softened her features and took a few calming breaths before addressing MacGyver directly. “I’m sorry for my outburst earlier, I know you’re only trying to keep everyone safe. I’m fine with cameras in the hallways, and I’m even on board with putting them in the common rooms. Those are areas that are difficult to monitor due to the large ratio of students to adults. But I just can’t condone cameras in the classrooms.” She had to make him understand. “I firmly believe teachers would be less effective because they would feel their power has been usurped, not to mention the fact that they would feel like their work is being scrutinized, or the students feeling like they’re being spied on.”

“But that’s not the idea,” MacGyver insisted.

“I know,” Joanna replied, proud at the calm tenor of her voice. “But, speaking as a teacher myself, that’s how I would feel. Look at it this way, Mac,” she urged. “How would you feel if you had to wear a body-cam every time you went into the field? Even if it was only intended for your own protection? Can you honestly say you’d be comfortable with that?”

“You’re right,” he replied with a crooked smile. “I’d hate it!”

“Then it’s agreed, no cameras in the classrooms,” Evelyn ordered. “On that note, let’s all go home for the night. MacGyver, feel free to start implementing your plans and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. Let’s all remember that this is a process, and we need to take our time and do it right. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” Mac and Jo responded in unison.





Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 December 2018 - 08:26 AM
Chapter 13: Spring Break: The Beginning


The following days passed in a blur of activity. Joanna escaped her office as much as possible in order to take a more active role with the students and faculty. MacGyver, on the other hand, stayed closeted in his office either researching various security measures implemented in other schools around the country or studying the blueprints of the old school building to get a clearer idea of what lay behind the longstanding walls. It surprised them both when Evelyn beckoned them into her office late Friday afternoon.

“So, how do the two of you plan to spend Spring Break next week?” asked the spunky administrator. Evelyn didn’t miss the shadow that briefly crossed each of their faces. The shadow that indicated they feared she was going to interfere with their plans. Oh, if they only knew!

“I was planning on using the time off to visit the Phoenix office in Chicago and see if I could get some security measures in place while the school is empty,” MacGyver replied matter-of-factly.

“And you, Joanna?” Evelyn asked.

“I was planning to come in and catch up on some paperwork.”

“No,” Evelyn declared.

“What do you mean, ‘no’?” MacGyver asked.

“With everything you’ve both been through lately, I want you to take some real time off and ‘get out of your heads’ so to speak. Relax, forget about work for a while, have some fun!”

Evelyn sighed as Mac and Jo looked at her blankly. Well, she hadn’t expected it to be easy. At least not with these two.

“Mr. MacGyver,” she prompted, “do you still enjoy fishing and the great outdoors?”

“Yes ma’am,” he answered without volunteering more information.

“Joanna, do you and your folks still go to that place on Lake Delton?”

“Yes, every summer,” Jo answered succinctly. She and Mac both looking perplexed.

Good grief, was she going to have to spell it out for them? She hoped they were being purposely obtuse because she hated to think that two intelligent adults couldn’t put the pieces she was handing them together.

“Do I have to spell it out for you?” she asked, frustration tinged her voice.

Joanna was the first to respond. “Are you suggesting we go up to the lake…together?” Her brow wrinkled with concern.

“Look, Honeypots,” she replied, pinning both of them with her steely gaze, “I’m not asking you to elope, just spend some time together, away from work, relaxing and enjoying yourselves.”

“With all due respect,” Joanna spoke up, “couldn’t we do that on our own?”

“You could,” she replied, “but where’s the fun in that?! Besides, if you’re together you’ll keep each other honest and not try to sneak back to work!”

Evelyn watched as MacGyver and Joanna exchanged meaningful glances before MacGyver spoke up, answering for both of them. “OK, we’ll leave on Monday,” he said flatly.

“Lovely!” Evelyn exclaimed gleefully. “I’ll see you after the break!”

Once the appropriate farewells were given and the pair had left her office, Evelyn stood looking out the window, hoping she had made the right decision. Best case scenario they’d return with a solid friendship. Worst case scenario….she didn’t want to go there, but the words ‘justifiable homicide’ niggled at her brain.

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Monday morning Joanna pulled her Cavalier up to Mac’s apartment building. By the time she parked and climbed out of the driver’s seat, MacGyver was already heading towards her. She popped the trunk to allow him to deposit the duffle bag he carried before they both settled into the car and began their trek.

Sunny and mild, it was the perfect Wisconsin spring day. Three hours after leaving Mac’s place and making a quick stop at a nearby grocery store for basic provisions, Joanna maneuvered her car into the small parking lot of The Delton Bay Resort. She released her seatbelt and leaned her head back, allowing her body to relax and soak in the peacefulness she always found here. It was her sanctuary. The one place she could go to forget her worries and just be herself, if only for a few days out of the year. MacGyver, on the other hand, had crawled from the passenger seat as soon as Jo had shifted into park and was now exploring his new surroundings. She heard him let out a prolonged, appreciative whistle and smiled. When she told people about the resort, they generally pictured rustic log cabins, not the two and three bedroom vacation homes that were placed strategically amongst the towering trees that shaded the grassy lawn. Three boat docks and a small, sandy beach beckoned visitors to the water’s edge.

Joanna slowly made her way towards the main house and office to check in. MacGyver joined her, insisting she let Phoenix pick up the tab. The long-time owner, Kathy ‘Kat’ Barnes, smiled widely as the pair entered the small office. She and Jo had become friends over the years and eagerly looked forward to their summer reunions. This extra trip was a bonus. After MacGyver had been properly introduced, the financial transaction completed, and the luggage removed from the car, Joanna led the way across the lawn to the two-bedroom home they would share. She stood back as MacGyver took in the large open living, dining, and kitchen space that occupied the front half of the house. Patio doors opened onto a wraparound deck and large windows overlooked the water. Down the hall was a bathroom and bedroom with two twin beds as well as a master bedroom with a private bath. Joanna was headed directly to the smaller bedroom that she always stayed in when she felt MacGyver’s large, gentle hands on her shoulders.

“Oh no, you don’t,” he announced, halting her progress. “That one’s mine,” he declared, nodding toward the room.

“But I always stay in this room,” Joanna explained.

“Not on my watch,” Mac insisted, as he steered her towards the master suite.

Every fiber of her being wanted to protest. She considered him her guest and since he was physically larger than her, he should take advantage of the larger room. Instead, she bit her lip to stay quiet and vowed she would let MacGyver have his way…for now.

After they had stowed their belongings and put away the food they had bought, MacGyver entered the living room and announced he was going fishing. He had a telescopic pole in one hand and tackle box in the other.

“There’s a bait shop down the street,” Joanna offered.

“No need,” Mac replied cryptically as he set down the rod and box and pulled out a stick of gum from his back pocket. He carefully unwrapped it, popped it in his mouth, and began to chew, all the while seeming to enjoy Joanna’s quizzical gaze.

“This will do quite nicely,” he said, holding up the metallic gum wrapper.

Jo’s gaze turned to disbelief and she raised one eyebrow.

“Fish are attracted to shiny objects. When the sun hits this wrapper it should catch their attention and make them want to investigate.”

“These are pretty smart fish up here,” she warned him. “They always manage to eat the worms off my dad’s hook without getting caught.”

“That’s even better,” MacGyver replied seriously. “They won’t be expecting this!” His eyes twinkled as Joanna let go a little laugh. “Hey,” he continued, “would you mind bringing out that box on the table?”

For the first time, Joanna noticed another tackle box on the dining table. This one was smaller than the other. “Sure thing,” she replied lightly as she grabbed the box and headed after Mac. She found him staring at something above the tree line.

“What’s that wooden platform up there?” he asked

“One of the zip line stations,” she replied. “Have you ever done that before?” She inclined her head toward the attraction.

“Never just for fun,” Mac mused, heading toward the lake.

“I assume these are for guests to use?” he asked as he flipped over a canoe that had been pulled onto a grassy incline. Before Joanna could answer, he had the long, thin boat in the water and his fishing gear on its floor. He reached for the box Jo held.

“I don’t get it,” Joanna commented thoughtfully as she relinquished the box. “You don’t use bait but you have two tackle boxes.”

“That one,” he nodded to the larger box sitting in the canoe, “is my tackle box. This one,” he held the other one up high, “is for Phoenix. When Pete found out where I was headed he asked if I’d take some water samples to send back.”

MacGyver settled himself in the little boat and took up his paddle. “Care to join me?” he asked Joanna.

“In that?!” she replied with distaste.

“Yeah! Don’t you trust me?”

“I trust you all right, it’s that floating tin can you’re sitting in I don’t trust.”

“C’mon, people have been using canoes for centuries.”

Joanna held up her hand toward him. “I don’t need a history lesson and I’m not getting in that thing.”

“Suit yourself,” MacGyver chuckled, as he expertly turned the canoe toward the open water and began to paddle away.

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Joanna watched from shore as Mac reached deep into the water with his oar, causing the canoe to swiftly slide across the glass-like water. His movements were strong yet graceful as he handled the boat efficiently, not expending any unnecessary energy. The gentle breeze ruffled his too-long, darkening-blonde hair and Joanna stood mesmerized.

“So where’ve you been hiding him?” Kat asked accusingly.

Joanna jumped, unaware that her friend had walked up behind her.

“I haven’t been ‘hiding’ him anywhere. We just met a couple months ago.”

“You go, girlfriend!” Kat exclaimed, her long blonde hair waving in the breeze, her hazel eyes glistening with excitement.

“It’s not like that, Kat. He’s here from L.A. to help out at the school. He’s a temporary colleague, that’s all.”

“Whatever you say, Jo,” Kat replied as she patted her friend on the shoulder.

“I have a book I want to finish,” Joanna muttered, as she turned her back on Kat and the lake and headed for the house.

Several hours later, Joanna had finished her novel and was knitting a winter scarf. MacGyver still had not returned. It wasn’t a big lake and there weren’t enough fish in it to keep even the most avid sportsman entertained for this long. And how much time could collecting water samples take? Much to her chagrin, Joanna found herself heading out to the deck to watch for Mac as she heartily tried to convince herself he wasn’t worth the effort…but he was. Jo shivered, blaming the lake-cooled breeze, and stepped inside to grab a jacket. When she returned, it was to find MacGyver pulling the canoe ashore, chatting and laughing with Kat who had apparently gone out to help. Joanna’s breath caught, hurt and jealousy knotting in her stomach before she could rein in her emotions. As if sensing her presence, Mac turned around and waved to her. She returned the gesture half-heartedly as she watched him say some final words to Kathy before heading towards the house. He carried the case for the water samples but that was all. Joanna figured Kat had assured him his fishing gear would be safe in the canoe.

“What, no fish?” she asked, hoping to sound nonchalant.

“Nope. Not today.”

“Oh,” Joanna replied. Turning around she mumbled, “But you sure were out there long enough.”

“What?”

“Nothing!”

“Hey, I know I kinda lost track of time. You weren’t worried or anything, were you?”

“Of course not!” she all but snapped at him. “What do I care how long you sit out there waiting for a fish to chew on your gum wrapper. I’m hungry, let’s get something to eat.” And with that she headed to her bedroom and closed the door…loudly.

A wide smile began to spread across MacGyver’s face. He was finally starting to figure out the puzzle that was Joanna Fairfax, and he knew with certainty that she only got upset with people she cared about.

When Joanna finally emerged from her room after changing clothes, she found a freshly showered MacGyver wearing clean khakis and a collarless shirt flipping through the television channels.

“So, where do you want to go eat?” she asked, trying to sound friendly and in control. She had decided that, since they were stuck with each other anyway, the days would go a lot smoother if she stopped trying to pick a fight with every little thing MacGyver did or said that got under her skin.

“It’s a surprise,” he answered, holding out his hand to her.

“What’s that for?” she asked, looking pointedly at his hand.

“Car keys. I’m driving.”

Jo felt herself begin to bristle, but before she could say anything MacGyver responded. “If you drive I’d have to tell you where we’re going. Then it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

Well, the man did make a logical argument. Joanna grabbed her car keys off the dining table and tossed them across the room wear Mac effortlessly snagged them out of the air.

Minutes later they pulled into the parking lot of an exclusive, upscale restaurant that Joanna had passed thousands of times but never stopped to dine there.

“This place is awfully expensive,” she informed MacGyver, her front teeth worrying her bottom lip.

“Don’t worry. I’ve got a Phoenix credit card and expense account. Let’s just enjoy, OK?”

Joanna quickly agreed which surprised them both, but she figured this might be the only chance she had of darkening the door of this particular supper club. Why look a gift horse in the mouth?

MacGyver escorted Joanna into the restaurant and to their secluded table, his hand never leaving the small of her back. She heard him chuckle softly when she opened her menu and her eyebrows instinctively shot up upon seeing the prices.

“Remember, this is on Phoenix. Order anything. We’ll eat tofu sandwiches tomorrow,” he teased.

Joanna was still studying the menu and waffling between a few choices when their waitress delivered the glasses of ice water they had requested and stood ready to take the rest of their order. Before Jo could make up her mind she heard Mac talking to the waitress.

“We’ll each have a house salad, Maine lobster tail and baked potato.”

Joanna’s head snapped up. That had to be the most expensive meal on the menu!

“Anything else?” the waitress asked.

“Butter and sour cream for the potato,” Joanna added. What the heck, might as well go all out!

“That stuff’ll kill you, ya know,” Mac whispered as the server walked away.

“Then at least I’ll die happy,” Joanna whispered back mischievously.

The pair conversed amicably between savoring bites of their delicious meal. Joanna was glad she had allowed MacGyver to splurge. When it was time for dessert, they ordered one Turtle Sundae to share. The server placed it between them and they leaned forward and dug in. Joanna thought this probably looked quite intimate to the other diners, but she didn’t care. In fact, she kinda liked that idea.

By the time they arrived back at the resort, the sun had been down for a while and colored lights strung between the trees illuminated the small beach area. The night air was cool, but not uncomfortable. Even so, MacGyver suggested that they relax by the fire before calling it a night. Sated from the large, delicious meal they had just consumed, Joanna didn’t have the energy to argue. Besides, it sounded rather nice.

Kat was waiting outside the office when they came walking up the drive.

“So, was Wally’s everything I told you it was?” she asked MacGyver.

“That and more. Thanks for the suggestion.”

Joanna’s inquiring glance flitted between them.

Mac cleared his throat. “I think I’ll go get my fishing gear,” he told the two women and then headed to the lake.

As soon as MacGyver was out of earshot, Kat grabbed Jo by the arm.

“So, how was it?” she demanded eagerly.

Joanna shrugged, “It was nice.”

“Nice?!” Kat exclaimed in frustration. “You go to one of the finest, most romantic restaurants in town with a gorgeous guy who is totally into you and you say it was ‘nice’?!”

Joanna worked hard to downplay the dinner. “I told you before that MacGyver is just a temporary colleague, that’s all. What’s more, the insufferable man made me eat lobster and share his dessert,” Joanna pretended to pout.

“The heathen!” Kat exclaimed before the two broke out laughing.

“By the way, how did you know which restaurant we went to,” Jo asked, once their giggles had died down.

“This afternoon he asked me the best place to take a girl out to dinner,” Kat shrugged.

“Is that what you guys were talking about when he came back from fishing?”

“Yeah, why?”

“No reason,” Joanna muttered, suddenly regretting how she had reacted earlier that day. “I better head in.”

The two women wished each other a good night and returned to their respective homes. As Joanna walked through the living room, she picked up the remote to turn on the enclosed gas fireplace before changing into jeans and a sweatshirt. She settled herself on the couch and glanced at her watch. Where was MacGyver? How long could it possibly take to retrieve and stow his fishing gear? Once again, she found herself waiting for him.

Unable to sit still any longer, Joanna crossed the room and stepped onto the deck. A shadowy figure headed towards her and she didn’t need to see its features to know it was Mac. She had quickly learned to recognize the rhythm of his gait and the way he carried himself…among other things. She stepped off the deck and closed the space between them.

“Where have you been?” they asked in unison.

MacGyver motioned for her to speak first.

“I turned on the fireplace,” she gestured towards the house. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Well I started a fire in the pit by the shoreline,” he explained, nodding his head toward the flames licking the air. “I’ve been waiting for you!”

They stood staring at each other, as if waiting to see who would flinch first. Finally MacGyver threw his hands in the air, a gesture he was doing more and more often.

“Fine,” he exhaled. “We’ll go inside.” As he stepped past Jo, she put her hand on his arm to stop him.

“No,” she contradicted softly. “I like your idea better.” And she headed towards the fire pit giving Mac no choice but to follow.

The pair settled themselves side-by-side next to the fire in plastic patio chairs Kat provided for her guests. Joanna slouched and stretched out her legs, crossing them at the ankle while she crossed her arms and rested them on her stomach. MacGyver did the same.

“Cold?” he asked.

“No. I’m fine.”

Silence reigned as they stared silently into the fire, watching the bob-and-weave dance of the flames. Occasionally MacGyver got up to add a log or poke at the embers.

“A penny for your thoughts,” MacGyver ventured as he allowed the fire to slowly die down.

“I’m not sure they’re worth that much,” Joanna responded quietly, still staring at the fire.

MacGyver turned his head to look at her. “Enough with the self-deprecating remarks. Is it so hard to just talk to me?” he asked firmly but without censure.

“No, it isn’t,” Joanna sighed, rolling her head against the back of the chair so she was now looking him in the eye. “It’s actually incredibly easy so be careful what you wish for,” she warned him.

“I always am,” he spoke softly, his eyes searching hers.

Joanna sighed again and turned back to the fire which was now little more than dying embers. She found comfort and safety in the darkness which now enveloped her and she yearned to pour her heart out to MacGyver, but she didn’t know how. It wasn’t her way.

“It’s about work,” she confessed after several long minutes of silence.

“What about it?”

“I don’t know,” she shook her head. “Everything?”

“The school’s not turning out the way you envisioned,” he stated more than asked.

“No. I remember when we first started the school. Everyone was so excited and hopeful. We had top-notch faculty, the other staff was great, and we all worked together like a well-oiled machine. Now I’ve got a teacher counting the days to retirement, another that hits on anything in a skirt, and one that cares more about keeping her manicure appointment than turning in grades on time!”

“What needs to happen to improve Challengers?” MacGyver asked.

“I’m at the point where I want to fire everybody, cancel the upcoming summer session and just start from scratch!” There, she had said it. The thoughts that had been keeping her up at night for weeks on end had finally been spoken and now hung in the air over Lake Delton.

“Have you talked to Evelyn about this?”

“Mac, things just don’t work like that. It’s too complicated!”

“Then un-complicate it. Stand up and fight for your ideas like you fight with me!”

“Do you really think it could work?” Jo asked quietly.

“I think you could make it work,” he encouraged her.

“But it would take too much time and money,” she countered.

“Would canceling the summer session give you enough time?”

“Yeah, probably.”

“Then do it.”

“You’re starting to sound like a Nike commercial,” Joanna laughed. “But what about the money?” she asked, quickly sobering. “You tell us not to worry about it, but this would be a huge undertaking and it costs money to get quality teachers.”

“Don’t worry about the money,” Mac insisted. “We’ll take care of it. And by ‘we’ I mean Pete. He needs something to occupy his time now that he no longer has to think up life-threatening missions to send me on.”

“We could really do this!” Joanna said excitedly, finally convinced.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!” Mac exclaimed as he reached over and grabbed her by the shoulders to give her a shake, making her giggle.

“Now go get some sleep. I have a big day planned for us tomorrow,” MacGyver informed her.

“Oh really,” she drawled. “Care to enlighten me?”

“Nope.”











Posted by: Jediferret 4 December 2018 - 10:30 AM
Awww... lol

I dunno why, but I keep thinking Mac has a mustache as I read this. haha

Anyway, I'm still enjoying it! Reading the interaction between Mac and Joanna is so relatable and fun! Good job! thumbup.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 December 2018 - 10:49 AM
QUOTE (Jediferret @ 4 December 2018 - 10:30 AM)

Anyway, I'm still enjoying it! Reading the interaction between Mac and Joanna is so relatable and fun! Good job! thumbup.gif

Thanks! I'm glad you like the Mac/Jo combo. Given people's reaction to him having a girlfriend on the show, I'm really cautious with Joanna...Obviously I want readers to like her, but I don't want to take away from Mac being Mac...if that makes sense!

Posted by: Dragondog 4 December 2018 - 11:13 AM
QUOTE
“That stuff’ll kill you, ya know,” Mac whispered as the server walked away.

“Then at least I’ll die happy,” Joanna whispered back mischievously.


Oh my gosh, SAAAAAMMMMEEEE laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 December 2018 - 01:33 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 4 December 2018 - 11:13 AM)
QUOTE
“That stuff’ll kill you, ya know,” Mac whispered as the server walked away.

“Then at least I’ll die happy,” Joanna whispered back mischievously.


Oh my gosh, SAAAAAMMMMEEEE laugh.gif

thumbsup.gif

Posted by: MacGyver85 4 December 2018 - 08:59 PM
QUOTE
“Butter and sour cream for the potato,” Joanna added. What the heck, might as well go all out!

“That stuff’ll kill you, ya know,” Mac whispered as the server walked away.

“Then at least I’ll die happy,” Joanna whispered back mischievously.


QUOTE
“Nice?!” Kat exclaimed in frustration. “You go to one of the finest, most romantic restaurants in town with a gorgeous guy who is totally into you and you say it was ‘nice’?!”

Joanna worked hard to downplay the dinner. “I told you before that MacGyver is just a temporary colleague, that’s all. What’s more, the insufferable man made me eat lobster and share his dessert,” Joanna pretended to pout.

“The heathen!” Kat exclaimed before the two broke out laughing.


roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif I love it!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 5 December 2018 - 06:52 AM
QUOTE (MacGyver85 @ 4 December 2018 - 08:59 PM)
QUOTE
“Butter and sour cream for the potato,” Joanna added. What the heck, might as well go all out!

“That stuff’ll kill you, ya know,” Mac whispered as the server walked away.

“Then at least I’ll die happy,” Joanna whispered back mischievously.


QUOTE
“Nice?!” Kat exclaimed in frustration. “You go to one of the finest, most romantic restaurants in town with a gorgeous guy who is totally into you and you say it was ‘nice’?!”

Joanna worked hard to downplay the dinner. “I told you before that MacGyver is just a temporary colleague, that’s all. What’s more, the insufferable man made me eat lobster and share his dessert,” Joanna pretended to pout.

“The heathen!” Kat exclaimed before the two broke out laughing.


roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif I love it!

Thank you!! clapping.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 5 December 2018 - 12:45 PM
Chapter 14: Spring Break: The Tourists

Early the next morning, MacGyver was relaxing in a living room chair flipping through a guide book for the area when he heard the soft squeak of Joanna’s bedroom door opening. He watched as she padded sleepily down the hall towards him and the kitchen. She wore green and yellow plaid lounge pants and a white, oversized sweatshirt. He let out a wolf whistle to catch her attention. It worked. Her head jerked up and she glared at him.

“You look—“

“Shut up,” she warned.

“Comfortable. I was gonna say ‘comfortable’,” he explained innocently.

She grumbled something he couldn’t quite make out and he had a feeling he was glad he couldn’t understand her reply.

“Not a morning person?” he asked.

“Only if morning starts at noon,” she replied smartly.

“But you’re always at work so early…”

“I do what I gotta do,” she shrugged.

MacGyver watched as Joanna rambled around the kitchen preparing her breakfast. He thought back to their fireside conversation the night before. He admired how dedicated Jo was to her job and the kids, but he also believed she shouldered too many responsibilities. Responsibilities that weren’t hers to carry. He longed to lift the misplaced burdens. Perhaps that was why, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, he became determined to show her a good time today. He longed to see her bright smile and hear her contagious laughter that she kept so fiercely locked away.

“So, what’s on the agenda for today?” she asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“I thought we could play tourists,” he replied, holding up the brochures he had picked up in the resort’s office earlier.

“Sure,” she replied. “We could check out some of the shops downtown and go from there.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mac concurred, surprised she had agreed so easily.

An hour later, Joanna’s car was parked in a public lot and they were strolling along the five city blocks that made up the downtown area of this tourist destination. MacGyver enjoyed checking out the souvenir shops, especially the wood carvings and paintings, while Joanna gravitated toward locally crafted jewelry and pottery. It didn’t take long to figure out that most of the stores sold the same things at the same prices. What a racket! MacGyver was growing bored when his gaze fell upon a sign advertising an old time photo studio.

“Hey, let’s check that out!” He eagerly headed towards the storefront, his long legs quickly eating up the short distance with Joanna in tow. Two large windows on either side of the door displayed black and white photos with modern families dressed in vintage clothes, posing in front of various tableaus ranging from the Wild West to Woodstock.

“We gotta do this!” MacGyver exclaimed with a child-like enthusiasm that made Joanna laugh.

Once inside the little studio, the photographer instructed the duo to choose their scene and costumes of the one-size-fits-all variety.

Joanna began examining their choices. “So, what should we be?” she asked him.

“I wanna be a cowboy,” he answered without hesitation, not caring if he sounded like a five-year-old. Growing up in Minnesota, he dreamed of being a hockey player…or a cowboy. What little boy didn’t? Now was his chance.

“OK, then I’ll be the barmaid,” Joanna decided as she held up a low-cut, long-skirted dress. She grinned saucily and Mac’s pulse jumped.

Once properly outfitted, the photographer instructed them to begin striking poses and ‘just have fun with it’. The camera began to click and old-time piano music blared from hidden speakers. A bit unsure at first, Joanna stood dutifully behind the bar pretending to hand Cowboy Mac a mug of beer. Before long, MacGyver hoisted Joanna up on the bar where she sat with her legs crossed and skirt pulled up to her knees enticingly. Warming to the role of cowboy, he grabbed a stiff length of rope and lassoed the barmaid who tried to appear chagrined despite her laughter at his antics.

After the impromptu photo session, Mac and Jo, both still in costume, stood by a table examining the many pictures of their western selves, carefully deciding which ones they wanted to buy.

After changing into their street clothes, Joanna and MacGyver walked out of the studio and into the bright spring sunshine. They shared a light lunch at a sidewalk café before heading back to the car.

“Having fun?” Mac asked from the passenger seat as Joanna slid behind the wheel.

“Yeah, I am,” she responded thoughtfully. “I really am. What’s next on the agenda?”

Mac’s heart lightened at the easy way Joanna had slipped into ‘tourist mode’ and was looking forward to their next venture.

“I think I want to play cowboy again. Ever been horseback riding?”

“Yeah!” Joanna’s face brightened, then instantly dimmed. “But it’s been several years.”

“No problem,” MacGyver assured her. “As long as you know how to start, stop, steer, and sit properly, the rest is a piece of cake!”

“I can handle that,” she promised. Mac showed her the brochure he had found advertising trail rides and she followed the directions to the given location.

The place looked nothing like the picture. A large barn with peeling paint sat adjacent to an unkempt corral where still-saddled horses stood nibbling weeds and grass. A dilapidated lean-to on the far side did a poor job of providing shade to the tired horses resting there.

Joanna stopped the car and MacGyver could feel her looking at him.

“I don’t like the looks of this place,” she said softly, as if afraid of being overheard.

“Me neither,” Mac replied as he continued to look out the window and assess the situation.

“Shouldn’t the horses be unsaddled until they’re ready to be ridden?”

“Not necessarily, but it is rather odd seeing we seem to be the only ones here. It’s not as if they have a lot of people waiting to ride,” MacGyver replied thoughtfully.

“The horses don’t look very energetic, either,” Joanna observed. “Maybe we should go.” She reached to turn on the ignition, but Mac covered her smaller hand with his to stop her.

“I think it’s best if we stay,” he told her. Something was definitely wrong here and MacGyver wanted to investigate.

They slowly got out of the car and started walking towards the corral when a short, pudgy, middle-aged man wearing denim overalls and a worn cowboy hat appeared from the barn. Four lanky teenagers clad in Western garb also appeared and made their way towards the corral. Apparently they were the stable boys.

“Stay close and no matter what I say or do, follow my lead, okay?” Mac whispered to Jo who nodded her head in agreement.

“Howdy folks! Name’s Earl. What can I do you for this fine afternoon?” the pudgy man asked with a smile as he headed their way.

MacGyver thought the answer was obvious, but responded anyway. “We’d like to go for a trail ride.”

“Oh, what a shame,” the Earl shook his head. “We’re short-handed today and my only guide just left with the last party of the day.”

Mac surreptitiously surveyed the small parking area and spied a beat up minivan.

“No problem,” MacGyver said confidently. “We’re both experienced riders and know the area well. If we could just have a couple of mounts we’ll head out and catch up to them.”

“Sorry. No can do. It’s against policy, you see. How do I know you’re not going to take off with my stock?”

“I’m willing to pay double.”

The man’s eyes bulged and he smiled widely. “Well, you two look like honest folk. Tommy!” he called to one of the boys. “Get a couple of horses for the lady and gentleman here!”

“Actually,” MacGyver cut in, “we were hoping to pick out our own rides.”

“Well, I don’t know…”

“I’ll pay triple.”

“Well, then, go right ahead,” Earl invited as he puffed out his chest.

“Convenient that you have all your horses saddled and ready to go,” MacGyver commented casually before he caught Joanna’s gaze and held it a bit longer than necessary. Giving her an imperceptible nod he hoped she’d pick up on what he wanted her to do.

“Well, like them Boy Scouts say, ‘always be prepared’!” Earl chortled as Mac handed over his credit card.

Joanna had already slipped into the corral and was in the process of choosing her horse when MacGyver joined her. Together, they strolled amongst the large animals, patting their necks and smoothing their withers. Some startled at their touch. Others tried to avoid them altogether. The invading humans walked leisurely, visually inspecting the animals’ coats, eyes, and what they could see of their mouths. Finally, Mac grabbed the lead rope of a large black quarter horse and headed toward the corral’s gate. Joanna followed, leading a gentle bay mare to a mounting block. MacGyver effortlessly swung himself onto the back of his horse. Had the saddled slipped slightly? It was hard to say. Nudging the black with his heels, he met Joanna and her bay at the trailhead. Together they settled into a rhythmic walk and followed the well-worn path.

“What do you say we do a little off-roading?” Mac suggested.

“Lead the way,” Jo encouraged.

MacGyver gently tugged right on the reins, leading his horse into a field decorated with wildflowers and dotted with leafy trees. He heard a slight scuffle behind him as Joanna’s bay momentarily resisted the change in direction.

“I think she’s used to the trail,” Joanna commented.

“Could be,” Mac agreed. “Let’s pick up the pace and see how they respond.”

The couple and their horses trotted side-by-side before Mac suddenly pulled back on his reigns, causing Jo to do the same.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Not sure,” he responded. “Thought I might have felt the saddle slip.” Again. “Let’s just walk them for a while.”

He heard the mare skitter once more. Thinking Joanna must be holding the reigns too tight, he turned around to tell her to slacken her grip.

“My grip can’t get any looser,” Joanna told him as she held up the limp leads.

“You shouldn’t give her that much slack,” he instructed. “She could take the bit and run.”

“I doubt that. She seems pretty listless.” But MacGyver saw Jo tighten the reigns just a bit even as she was talking.

“Mac?” Jo called, an edge to her voice he hadn’t heard before.

“What is it?”

“I’m not sure, but I think my saddle moved.”

“Let’s stop and check things out.” This was getting weird. He watched the mare side-step as Joanna signaled for her to halt. Suddenly his own mount began tossing his large, dark head from side to side.

“Let’s dismount, but try not to put extra weight on your stirrup in case the saddle is loose,” he instructed. Unlike the traditional method, MacGyver gracefully swung his right leg forward over the horse’s head, kicked his left foot out of the stirrup and lowered himself to the ground. He watched as Joanna impressively executed the same maneuver.

“OK, let’s see what’s going on,” he muttered, looking around to make sure they were alone.

Joanna led her bay over to him, a concerned look on her face. “Her bit is wedged in her mouth,” she told Mac. “See how irritated the skin is?”

MacGyver examined the mare’s mouth, a grim look on his face.

“I didn’t think I pulled that hard on the reins,” Joanna said softly.

“You didn’t. The chafing on her mouth happened over a period of time.”

Mac then went to examine his own horse’s mouth. “He’s OK,” he informed Jo who had been watching anxiously. “Let’s check out these saddles.”

As MacGyver unclipped straps and unbuckled cinches, his muscle memory took over from his time spent riding as a boy and he was soon tossing the black’s saddle and blanket on the ground. He approached to examine the horse’s back, bile rising in his throat at the site of several large, angry welts. Anger burned in his chest.

“Take his reins,” he instructed Joanna as he quickly unsaddle the little mare. She had the same sores though not as bad. Probably because she was smaller and carried less weight.

“Are they saddle sores?” Joanna asked, her voice husky.

“Yeah,” Mac replied, fighting to quell the rage building within him. “Most likely from the saddles being too loose and worn the whole day. From the look of things, they’ve been this way for a while.” How could anyone treat defenseless animals this way? It was unconscionable!

“What about her mouth?”

MacGyver sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy, but he had to get that bit out. He slowly moved from the mare’s side to her head, keeping a hand on her at all times so she knew where he was and wouldn’t spook when she saw him.

“C’mon baby, take it easy, let me help you,” he crooned as he slowly reached up to undo the buckles and straps of the bridle. With an economy of movement, Mac pulled the bridle down over the horse’s ears, gently coaxing the bit from her mouth. “That’s it, just a little more…” he murmured. The bit came out and MacGyver stepped back in case the bay decided to protest. When she didn’t strike out, Mac once again approached her and began to stroke her long nose with one hand while holding the bridle with the other.

“Joanna, come here and take the lead rope off the bridle and snap it on her halter.”

Joanna quietly did as he asked and joined him in soothingly stroking the mare with one hand as she held the reins of his horse in her other.

“What are we going to do now?” she asked, keeping her voice low so she wouldn’t spook the horses.

“We’re going to take them back and call in the proper authorities. My guess is these aren’t the only horses that have been mistreated.”

MacGyver stacked Joanna’s smaller saddle on top of his bigger one along with the saddle blankets.

“You lead the horses and take the bridle, I’ll carry these,” he told her as he lifted the saddles into his arms.

They walked side-by-side, the horses following behind them. MacGyver chuckled when his horse reached out and began to gently nibble his hair.

Returning to the trailhead they saw a number of police cars and an ambulance pulled up to the barn, a group of people gathered around it. Earl broke away from the group and headed directly towards them.

“What have you done to my horses?!” he bellowed, his face so red MacGyver half expected the man to have a heart attack and drop dead at his feet.

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” Mac shot back, not caring that his voice sounded harsh as he dropped the saddles at Earl’s feet.

“What’s going on over there?” Joanna interrupted, raising her chin toward the barn.

“Oh…um…nothing!” Earl stuttered. “Just a little misunderstanding is all.”

“Is that so?” Mac asked, heading toward the crowd before Earl could answer. Joanna followed with the horses plodding behind her.

“Excuse me, what’s going on over here?” MacGyver asked one of the police officers.

“Who are you?”

“Name’s MacGyver. My friend and I just got back from a ride. Is everything okay?”

Mac had been surreptitiously surveying the scene as he spoke to the officer. A little boy no older than seven or eight sat on the ground flanked by EMT’s while a couple, presumably the boy’s parents, spoke animatedly to another police officer.
The guide and stable hands were also being interviewed.

“Horse got spooked and threw the kid. Looks like he has a broken arm,” the officer stated matter-of-factly.

“Could’ve been a lot worse,” MacGyver observed before Earl blustered into their conversation.

“Dang kid messed with my horse!” the older man exclaimed. “They’re gonna get one of them big city lawyers and sue me! You just watch! And it’s all that little brat’s fault!”

MacGyver pinned Earl with a steely glare, fighting to control the anger that roiled within him. “Where’s the horse now?” he asked. His teeth clenched, his voice barely audible.

“He was pretty riled up when we got here so we shot him with a tranquilizer and put him in his stall,” the officer supplied.

MacGyver suddenly became aware of Joanna standing by his side. She kept their two mounts behind her as if protecting them. Her mere presence caused MacGyver to relax just a bit.

“Officer,” he said calmly, “if you take a look at that horse in there I bet you’ll find the same kind of sores on his back and possibly around his mouth as we did.”

Without prompting, Jo led the horses up to the officer for inspection.

“The accident wasn’t the boy’s fault,” Mac continued. “And it wasn’t the horse’s fault either. I believe that Earl here has been mistreating these animals for some time now. The horse was in pain, that’s why he threw the boy.”

“Hey, Chief!” the officer called. “Come over here and take a look at this!”

Joanna was quickly relieved of the animals as she and Mac were separated to give their statements to still more officers. By the time the police released them, MacGyver’s head was pounding and he was way past hungry. Joanna rejoined him looking tired and pale.

“What’s going to happen now?” she asked, concern showing in her weary eyes.

“The local police will get the proper authorities involved. The horses will get the medical treatment they need and Earl will be shut down.”

“Good,” she replied, her shoulders slumping with relief.

“You hungry?” Mac asked.

Joanna simply nodded as she dug in her pocket and held out her car keys to him.

MacGyver’s eyebrows shot up and he pointed a finger at himself as if to ask, “me?”

Joanna nodded again and headed toward the car.

They stopped at a small diner on the way back to town and ate in companionable silence. Back at the resort, Kat was once again waiting for Joanna to arrive and swiftly herded her friend into the office to get the scoop on the day’s events. MacGyver headed to the house and strode purposely to his bedroom, grabbed the duffle bag he had stowed under the bed, and pulled out his cell phone, punching in the numbers he had memorized almost a decade ago. He strolled back to the living room and gazed out the patio doors as he waited for his call to be answered. After several rings, a familiar voice greeted him.

“Hey, Pete. It’s Mac.”

“It’s so good to hear from you!” MacGyver couldn’t help but smile at the enthusiasm in his friend’s voice.

“Are you having a good time? Is everything OK? Did you get the water samples?” Pete peppered him with questions.

Mac assured him that the water samples had been properly obtained and stored. He then took a deep breath and launched into an account of the last several hours.

“And what do you want Phoenix to do about it?” Pete asked.

“I don’t know! Something!” Mac pleaded as he jammed his fingers through his hair. “They’re good animals, Pete! They need to be taken care of. Given good homes.”

“OK, I’ll see what I can do,” Pete said in surrender. “Other than that, how are things going?”

MacGyver continued to gaze out into the now-dark night.

“This whole episode today made me realize how much I miss being in the field, taking down the bad guys, protecting the innocent. I need that back, Pete.”

“You’re starting to sound like a superhero.”

Mac ignored the statement. “I’m going to schedule another MRI for the day after school lets out for the summer. With any luck I’ll get a clean bill of health and be celebrating the Fourth of July in the wilds of Africa or someplace.”

Joanna’s reflection suddenly appeared in the glass door. He hadn’t heard her come in. He turned to look at her, her face blank and unreadable. How much of the conversation had she overheard? Had his talk of leaving upset her? Was she having trouble dealing with what she experienced today?

“Pete, I gotta go,” Mac said and clicked off the call before his friend could say good-bye. “Jo, listen—“

Joanna cut him off. “It’s been a long day. I’m going to bed,” she informed him flatly and headed to her room, closing the door behind her.

MacGyver stared at the closed door for several minutes before flopping down on the sofa to find an old Western movie to watch on TV. Unfortunately, even the classic show wasn’t enough to hold his attention which kept wandering back to Joanna. He soon shut off the television and started down the dark hallway. He was about to enter his bedroom when he thought he heard a noise coming from Joanna’s room. He stepped close to her door, putting his ear against it. Sobbing. She was crying. Mac’s heart squeezed at the sound, an overwhelming urge to comfort her clawed at him. He tapped his knuckles lightly on the door. No response. He tried the doorknob. It was unlocked.

“Joanna, I’m coming in,” he announced before turning the knob completely and entering the room. Moonlight streaming through the window fell across the king-size bed. MacGyver could see Joanna’s form curled up on the far side of the mattress, her back to him and her shoulders quaking as more sobs escaped. He slowly made his way around the bed and sat next to her on the edge of the mattress. He put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked softly.

She shook her head against the pillow.

“Do you want me to leave?”

Again she shook her head without lifting it from her pillow.

MacGyver moved his hand from her shoulder and began tenderly massaging her back in small, circular motions. Her sobs turned to hiccups and eventually the silence of the room was disturbed only by her rhythmic breathing and gentle snores. Mac continued rubbing her back long after she had fallen asleep. His eyes caressed her face, now relaxed and peaceful. How he wished he could provide her lasting solace so her eyes would never hold pain, anger, or fear again.


Posted by: Dragondog 5 December 2018 - 07:20 PM
*reads all about Mac acting like a five-year-old* roller.gif

*reads all about the poor horses* sad.gif

*reads all about Mac's conversation with Pete, and how Joanna overheard* doh.gif

*reads the ending* love.jpg broken.jpg love.jpg broken.jpg love.jpg broken.jpg

So this might be the best chapter so far. Such a roller coaster of emotions clapping.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 December 2018 - 05:58 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 5 December 2018 - 07:20 PM)
So this might be the best chapter so far. Such a roller coaster of emotions clapping.gif

Thanks! You have to know that this was my first attempt at fan fic EVER! I think the chapters (most of them) improve as the story goes along and I get more *into* it! Some will always be better than others, but I'm glad you liked this one:)

Posted by: Dragondog 6 December 2018 - 12:11 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 6 December 2018 - 07:58 AM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 5 December 2018 - 07:20 PM)
So this might be the best chapter so far. Such a roller coaster of emotions clapping.gif

Thanks! You have to know that this was my first attempt at fan fic EVER! I think the chapters (most of them) improve as the story goes along and I get more *into* it! Some will always be better than others, but I'm glad you liked this one:)

Could have fooled me. I thought you seemed pretty experienced at this already when I read this wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 December 2018 - 12:24 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 6 December 2018 - 12:11 PM)
Could have fooled me. I thought you seemed pretty experienced at this already when I read this wink.gif

Thanks! I've heard that from other readers as well and I'm really pleased. To be fair, I must tell you I have my college degree in English for which I did A LOT of writing...however, that was mostly analytical. I dabbled in poems and short stories in high school and college but haven't done any creative writing since then (I'm 48 yrs. old) until I discovered fan fic and got inspired about a year and a half ago.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 December 2018 - 06:51 AM
Chapter 15: Spring Break: Miracles and Tragedies

Joanna awoke slowly. Her throat was dry, her head ached, and her eyes were sore and slightly swollen from the tears she had shed the night before. She remembered MacGyver coming to her, comforting her. She didn’t remember him leaving. He must have stayed until she was asleep. Her heart warmed. She sat on the edge of the bed, looking out the window. In her haste to bury herself under the covers last night she had failed to pull the curtains. Heavy grey clouds shrouded the sky and a misty fog rose from the water. All was quiet and still. She heard the patio door slide open or closed, she wasn’t sure which. Mac was already up and about.

After showering and donning her blue jeans and favorite Packer sweatshirt, she went in search of her friend. Yes, she now considered MacGyver her friend. Perhaps she always had but was too stubborn to admit it until now. She found him standing at the edge of the yard staring out over the lake. He slowly turned as if sensing her presence.

“Morning,” he greeted her, his voice gentle.

“Morning,” she whispered in reply.

“How’re you doing?”

“I’m fine. But I owe you an apology for last night,” she began softly.

“Nothing to apologize for.”

“I know most guys hate it when girls cry—“

“I’m not most guys,” he assured her before she could say more.

“Yeah, I’ve kinda figured that out about you. You tend to run toward things most people would run away from.” Silence, though she thought she saw a small smile tug at his lips. “Like at the stables yesterday,” she continued. “I wanted to leave when things didn’t feel right, but you didn’t hesitate to get involved. If it wasn’t for you, Earl would still be mistreating those horses.”
“Hey, don’t sell yourself short, I couldn’t have done it without you,” MacGyver reprimanded mildly.

“But all I did was stand there. I didn’t even say anything.”

“That’s not true,” Mac responded firmly. “You followed my lead and kept the horses calm and protected. We were in a nasty situation but you stayed focused and did all the right things, just like with Jesse.”

Joanna’s gaze fell and she remained quiet.

“Is that what upset you? The horses?”

“Maybe subconsciously,” she shrugged. “I’ve seen stuff like that on TV but never in person. It was hard to see, but I know they’ll be taken care of now.”

She glanced up at MacGyver and saw confusion marring his chiseled features. This conversation was harder than she had anticipated, but she had grown to respect Mac too much to try and hide things from him. Besides, she needed to share her pain with someone and he was there, hopefully ready to listen.

Joanna turned her back to the lake and walked to a large, red-wood swing. Mac followed her. They sat side-by-side on the bench and began to sway smoothly back and forth.

“Last night, when Kat and I were talking, she told me she’s sold the resort.” Her eyes began to sting as unbidden tears threatened to fall. She repositioned herself on the swing, folding one leg under her so she could turn and face MacGyver. “I know that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but this place is really special to me. It’s my refuge, my sanctuary. The one place I can come and let go of the inhibitions I live with for fifty-one weeks a year.”

Her head fell. “I guess that sounds pretty corny, hey?” she tried to laugh.

MacGyver reached out and put his strong index finger under her chin, tenderly raising her head until their gazes locked. He was looking at her the same way he had looked at the injured horses; not with pity, but with a kind of sorrow.

“It’s not ‘corny’ at all,” he murmured, as his thumb wiped away a stray tear from her cheek. “We all need a place like this. From the minute we arrived I saw a whole different side of you. The part you try to hide. The part of you that laughs, and teases, and flirts, and lives in the moment.” He drew his hand away as Jo attempted to give him a watery smile. “Did she say why she’s selling?”

“Yeah,” Joanna nodded. “A big developer is buying up a lot of lake property to build a condo community. She’s had a hard time keeping this place up and running, and he made an offer she couldn’t refuse.”

“I’m sorry,” he offered weakly.

Her gaze fell yet again. “I was going to tell you about it when I got back to the house, but you were on the phone with Pete. I heard how anxious you are about getting back into the field and I just felt like…I felt like I was losing everything.” Before Mac could reply Jo quickly continued, “I know your assignment here is temporary and I know that you have to leave, I just…”

“Aw baby,” Mac opened his arms and she leaned into his embrace, laying her head on his shoulder. “You’re not gonna lose me. I’ll always be here for you. I’m just a phone call away. I promise.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Joanna warned him, raising her head and pulling back to look him in the eye.

“I never do.”

The air hung heavy between them.

Suddenly large drops of rain began to fall. “Oh terrific, looks like we’ll be stuck inside today,” Jo murmured.

“C’mon, I’ve got something I think will cheer you up,” Mac smiled as he grabbed her hand and they sprinted to the house, reaching shelter just as the sky opened up and rain poured down. He left Jo in the living room as he headed to his bedroom. When he came back he was holding a video cassette.

“A movie?”

“Better,” he grinned. “Hockey.”

Her brow furrowed.

“More specifically,” he explained, puffing out his chest, “The 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ game.

Joanna’s eyes brightened. “How did you manage to get that?”

“Phoenix owed me a favor for an assignment I did for them a while back,” he shrugged. “Why don’t you grab us some snacks,” he suggested.

While Mac was getting the tape cued up, Joanna poured them each a glass of orange juice and filled two large plastic bowls with the fruit salad she had made the previous day. The pair settled into matching recliners and soon became engrossed in the game as the rain continued to fall.

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MacGyver couldn’t remember the last time he enjoyed watching a hockey game so much, or perhaps watching someone else watch a hockey game. From the first face-off of the game, Joanna’s eyes were glued to the TV. He wondered if she bothered to blink. True to her word, she had a strong basic understanding of the sport, but Mac soon discovered that a little knowledge was a dangerous thing as she began to pepper him with questions about the rules, penalties, and players. MacGyver took his time and answered all her queries until she was satisfied with his explanations. When she could not think of any more legitimate questions, she started to make humorous editorial comments and inquire about facets of the game most people took for granted. The more he pretended to get exasperated with her, the more she thought of off-the-wall comments and questions to share. Still, she paid rapt attention to the game and expressed her disappointment when referees would break up fights which Mac found both amusing and endearing. Most of the women he knew didn’t care for hockey, claiming it was too violent. Not Joanna. She seemed most delighted and cheered the hardest when a member of Team USA would check an opponent hard against the boards.

The afternoon passed quickly as the rain continued to fall, sometimes increasing in intensity accompanied by flashes of lightening and rumblings of thunder before slowing to a gentle patter on the roof.

MacGyver continued to enjoy watching Joanna’s excitement as she cheered for USA goals and strong defensive moves. With ten minutes left in the game, the US team had a 4-3 lead and Jo was literally on the edge of her seat, causing Mac to smile. As time ticked down, the Soviets took several wild shots on goal. The closing minutes found Joanna leaning forward in her chair, hands folded in front of her face, her lips moving silently. Was she actually praying?!

“Relax,” Mac grinned. “I promise that we win.”

“Shhhh,” she responded, obviously annoyed that he dared break the silence of such a historic moment. As the final buzzer sounded and the team and their fans celebrated, tears flowed freely down Jo’s face. MacGyver remained silent, giving her time to collect herself. To be honest, those final minutes and the ensuing revelry never failed to give him goosebumps.

“Wow! What a way to win the gold medal!” Joanna exclaimed.

“That wasn’t the medal game,” Mac explained. “That was the game that got them to the medal round. They still had to beat Finland.”

“Oh,” Jo frowned.

“Had enough hockey for one day?” he asked.

“Well,” Joanna responded sheepishly, “I’m getting kinda hungry.”

MacGyver glanced at his watch, surprised at how late it was.

“No problem,” Mac assured her. “We can always catch the last game some other time.”

“You want Chinese?” he asked, holding his cell phone in one hand and a delivery menu in the other.

“Sure,” Joanna replied. “Get whatever you like. Just don’t order anything too spicy. Oh, and don’t forget Crab Rangoon!”

“Yes ma’am!” MacGyver had the weird notion to salute her.

He dialed the number to the restaurant and perused the menu as he waited for someone to answer his call.

“Fortune Restaurant, how can I help you?” a slightly accented female voice came on the line.

“Hi. I’d like to place an order for delivery.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but we have stopped delivery service until the storm passes.”

“Oh, I see. Thanks anyway.” He hung up the phone.

“What’s up?” Joanna asked.

“They’re not delivering because of the rain.”

Joanna scrunched up her nose. “That’s strange.”

“Should we try for pizza?” Mac suggested.

“No, I’m sure it would take way too long. Let’s just eat what we have.”

MacGyver feasted on his famous alfalfa sprout sandwich and tofu while Joanna boiled some eggs which she paired with a hunk of cheese and a yogurt she pilfered from Mac.

“So, do you want to watch the gold medal game or find something else to do?” MacGyver asked after they had finished eating. Joanna shot him an ‘are you kidding me?’ look. “OK, more hockey it is!”

Joanna went to tidy up the kitchen as MacGyver turned the TV back on and tuned into a local television station. Even though the evening news was long over, a concerned looking meteorologist appeared on the screen, a very active weather radar behind him and the words ‘tornado warning’ scrolling along the top.

“Um, Joanna, you better come here.”

“What’s wrong?” she asked, as she stood beside him, now also focused on the TV.

“They said a strong thunderstorm with a history of producing funnel clouds is headed this way.”

Jo stood unresponsive.

“C’mon,” Mac grabbed her by the upper arm to spur her into motion. “Let’s grab some essentials and head for cover.”

MacGyver strode calmly yet purposefully toward his room, trusting that Joanna would follow. From her reaction, he assumed she had a deep-seated fear of such storms, but now was not the time for psychoanalysis. He pulled two large plastic bags from his duffel and turned around to hand one to Jo.

“It’s waterproof,” he explained as she reached out to him. “Grab a change of clothes and a few other essentials, but make it quick!”

Once MacGyver had packed his own emergency bag he headed to Joanna’s walk-in closet. She was still adding items to her own bag.

“There’s a trap door here that leads under the house,” he told her. “We’ll crawl down there and lay low ‘til the storm passes.”

As MacGyver struggled to lift the heavy door, Joanna rebelled. “Oh no! No way!” she proclaimed. “There’s no telling what kind of creepy-crawlies are living under there. I’m going to your bathroom. It’s an interior room with no windows.” And she began to walk away. Mac reached out to grab her but caught an armful of air instead.

“But this is the safest place,” he called, trying to reason with her as the wind and rain beat against the windows.

“I’ll be sitting in the shower stall if you need me,” she called back.

Insufferable woman! MacGyver started to go after her when there was a loud pounding on the door. Joanna had gotten there first and Kat was stepping into the small entryway.

“Grab your stuff and come with me,” she instructed. “I have a full basement under my house.”

The trio hurried across the lawn to the far side of the yard where Kat’s house sat. They reached it just as hail began to fall. Dripping wet, they rushed down the steps to the dark, dank basement. The storm seemed less ferocious here. Maybe it was passing them by. The high glass-block windows were no longer being beaten with rain and the lightening had ceased.

“I’m going up and check things out. You two stay here,” MacGyver instructed Kat and Jo.

Mac reached the first floor and hurried to the closest window. The rain had, indeed, stopped and the fury of the storm was replaced with an eerie calm. Suddenly, he heard what sounded like a freight train off in the distance. The sound grew closer as pressure began to build in his ears. He knew what was coming and he knew they didn’t have much time.

“Take cover!” he yelled as he scrambled down the stairs. He caught sight of a heavy wood dining table pushed against a wall.

“Under here,” he instructed, grabbing each woman by the hand. They scurried under the table and assumed a tuck-and-roll position. The roar was exponentially louder now and MacGyver’s ears felt ready to pop. Instinctively he leaned over Jo, protecting her head and back with his body while he attempted to protect his own head with his arms. He could feel the house above them begin to shake. The sounds of booming thuds and shattering glass surrounded them. He could feel Joanna trembling against him, a small whimper escaped from her lips.

“Hang on, we’re gonna be OK,” he promised, his mouth close to her ear. He felt her nod slightly. Time stood still as the storm raged on. The assault seemed to last for hours, though Mac knew in reality it had probably been less than a minute. When the roaring wind retreated and the earth was still once more, the threesome slowly unfolded themselves and crawled out from the shelter of the table. MacGyver led them up the stairs, uncertain as to what they would encounter. Blackness. The storm had taken out the power. Mac pulled two small flashlights from his pocket and handed one to Joanna. Kat had her own.

“Let’s split up and check on the house,” Kat commanded.

MacGyver preferred they all stick together, but he knew Kat was anxious about the condition of her home. After instructing the women to be careful and watch where they stepped, three beams of light went off in different directions. A few minutes later, the little group reconvened in the kitchen. Damage was limited to a few broken windows and everyone was greatly relieved. Unfortunately, the relief was short-lived as Mac opened the back door and cautiously stepped out to survey the property. Joanna and Kat followed close behind. It had started to rain again, but no one seemed to notice as they focused their light beams on the devastation that surrounded them. Of the five vacation homes, two were nothing more than a pile of matchsticks. The roofs were missing from two other homes and a large oak tree had fallen directly on the house MacGyver and Joanna had been sharing causing it to lean precariously on its footings. Several smaller trees had been uprooted while large branches had been ripped from older trees and thrown haphazardly around the yard. The small sandy beach was washed away and the aluminum canoes and rowboats had been tossed around like toys. Joanna and Kat started moving forward to further investigate, but MacGyver stopped them.

“There’s nothing we can do in the dark,” he said helplessly. “Let’s go back in the house. Kat, do you have a generator?”

“There’s one in the garage, but I haven’t had a chance to get gas for it. I do have extra flashlights and bottled water, though.”

“OK,” Mac sighed, running his hand through his wet hair that was now plastered to his head. His well-trained mind had gone into emergency management mode and he began to check off his mental to-do list. “Let’s go into the house and call the gas company. I don’t smell a leak, but we need to play it safe. Then we’ll call your insurance company.”

“Don’t bother,” Joanna emerged from the doorway. “The phone is dead. The lines must be down. I was trying to call home but…” her voice faded and Mac knew she wanted to let her family know she was okay.

“Let’s try my cell,” he suggested, pulling the phone out from his inside jacket pocket. At least something had managed to stay dry. He turned it on, then raised his flashlight to look at the screen. “Great,” he muttered, “no service. A tower must be down.” The worried look on Jo’s face tugged at his heartstrings.

Once MacGyver was able to convince the women to stay in the house and change out of their wet clothes, he went rummaging in the garage and basement for something to cover the broken windows. He found several assorted pieces of wood as well as some heavy plastic tarps that he firmly secured over the openings. Next on the agenda was to find some form of communication. By now, the wailing sirens of first responders were everywhere as red and white flashing lights danced on the smooth surface of the lake. Mac gingerly made his way across the yard, careful to avoid any downed wires or dangerous debris before heading up the road. At the top of the hill, a large tree lay across the street, a lone police cruiser stood guard and warned people away. MacGyver approached the officer.

“Excuse me,” Mac called by way of introduction. “Our phones are down and I was wondering if I could use your radio?” He pulled out his Phoenix Foundation ID for good measure and showed it to the officer.

In minutes his call was patched through to the Chicago field office. After giving instructions for them to contact Joanna’s parents as well as Pete and Evelyn, he thanked the officer and headed back to the house to find Joanna and Kat sitting by the fireplace and sipping hot cocoa. He felt like a drowned rat dripping in the doorway and he probably didn’t look much better. Kat quickly retrieved two large towels and instructed him to use the guest room to dry off and change. When he emerged looking a little less the worse for wear Kat shoved a mug of warm liquid into his hands and followed him to the fire. All three sat silently, listening to the sounds of crackling wood as it was consumed by the flames.

“What time is it?” Joanna asked quietly, still staring at the fire.

MacGyver glanced at his watch. “It’s not even ten.”

“It feels like it should be midnight,” she responded wearily.

“Well, it wouldn’t hurt any of us to get a good night’s sleep,” Kat pronounced. “We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow. Joanna, you can take the guest room. Mac, I’m sorry but you’ll have to sleep on the couch.”

“No problem,” he replied. His apartment had spoiled him. It had been a while since he spent any quality time on a sofa.

The following morning dawned sunny and seasonably warm. A stark contrast to just twelve hours earlier. MacGyver had slept better than he had expected but not as much as he had hoped. He pulled himself off the lumpy couch and headed for the door, reluctant to see the devastation he knew awaited him in the light of day. He stepped out and once again surveyed his surroundings, awed and humbled by Mother Nature’s wrath, yet thankful for her fickleness that had spared Kat’s house. As Mac turned and headed toward the lake, he saw Joanna sitting on a picnic table. He could only imagine the sadness and pain she must be feeling. He was about to turn and head back, leaving her to her thoughts, when he remembered her words from the day before: “You tend to run toward things most people would run away from.” He yearned to offer her any comfort or solace he could so he continued forward.

“How was your night?” he asked gently, climbing up next to her on the table.

“Pretty lousy,” she confessed. “How was yours?”

“About the same.”

Joanna laughed quietly and turned to look at him, the expression on her face nothing like what he expected to see. Instead of sadness, anger, or fear he saw only profound peace and serenity.

As if reading the questions dancing in his eyes, Joanna began to speak, her voice calm and sure.

“Yesterday was really a cathartic experience for me,” she explained. “I was so upset about Kat selling the resort it never occurred to me that I could lose it in other ways as well.” At this point she paused to look around at the storm damage. “I was also so afraid of losing you, but you were there when I needed you. Protecting me. When we were under that table and it sounded like the world was being ripped apart, I realized that you will always be there for me if I need you, no matter how hard I try to push you away,” she smiled. “And thanks for contacting my folks. You really didn’t have to.”

“Yeah, I did,” he replied huskily, putting his arm around her shoulders and drawing her close to place a soft kiss on her temple.

“So,” Mac cleared his throat, “how do you feel about staying a couple extra days to help get this mess cleaned up?”

“You trying to be a hero again?” Joanna teased, nudging him with her shoulder.

“Nope. Just a friend.”

Posted by: Dragondog 10 December 2018 - 03:58 PM
And that was another roller coaster of emotions. Joanna really reminds me of myself. And I wish I had a friend like Mac

And while I'm not usually a shipper, I ship those two tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 December 2018 - 05:00 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 10 December 2018 - 03:58 PM)
And that was another roller coaster of emotions. Joanna really reminds me of myself. And I wish I had a friend like Mac

And while I'm not usually a shipper, I ship those two tongue.gif

I think we ALL wish we had a friend like Mac wub.gif

And I'm glad you're liking Joanna. I worked really hard to create a girl people would want to see Mac with.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 12 December 2018 - 08:13 AM
Chapter 16: The Setback

MacGyver pulled his Jeep into the Challengers parking lot Monday morning. He glanced at the clock on the dash, realizing he had never been this late before, even though school didn’t start for thirty more minutes. He almost drove past his usual space since Joanna’s Cavalier was absent. Mac was just climbing out of his car when the Chevy appeared next to him and Joanna jumped out, obviously running behind as well. She smiled at him over the roof of her car and together they headed into the building. He noticed a lightness in her step that hadn’t been there a week ago.

“Did you get some rest?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she replied, trying to stifle a yawn. “Just not enough,” she added ruefully.

“Same here,” he agreed as they reached their offices and began to prepare for the day ahead.

Joanna and MacGyver hadn’t arrived home from the lake until late Saturday night after agreeing to stay a couple extra days to help Kat and her neighbors clean up from the storm. Though small in size, the twister had packed a punch, skipping along several miles and causing sporadic damage. After making sure that Jo and Kat would be okay cleaning up the resort, MacGyver had struck out on his own to help others, including emergency clean-up crews, clear the streets and haul away debris.

While he was cutting fallen trees, repairing chainsaws, securing power lines, and finding alternative ways to make the general tasks easier, Joanna and Kat focused on cleaning up what they could at the resort while still leaving enough of the mess untouched so the insurance adjuster could make an accurate report. Mac had found a pair of long iron bars and showed them how to magnetize them by striking them against a nearby fire hydrant. The two woman then carefully scoured the yard, picking up nails and other small metal objects that might have been missed initially.

MacGyver found Joanna to be a hard and willing laborer. She did what was needed without question and took each assignment, no matter how menial or dirty, to heart, not stopping until it was completed. She actually enjoyed donning oversized gloves and a hammer to pound nails out of boards that had been ripped free from the houses. She said it was a good way to get rid of her frustrations. Even though the weather had turned unseasonably warm and her sweaty bangs stayed plastered against her forehead and her cotton t-shirts were damp with sweat by noon, she never complained. In fact, Mac had never seen her smile or laugh so much, and he admired her work ethic and resiliency.

As for himself, MacGyver took great satisfaction in once again being able to assist people in challenging situations. At first, his body protested the onslaught of physical activity which used to be part of his daily routine. Long nights on Kat’s lumpy couch added to his discomfort, but he didn’t mind. Feelings of accomplishment far outweighed the physical pain and exhaustion.

By mid-morning, the students and staff had resumed their pre-break routine. Joanna knocked on Mac’s open office door and he invited her in.

“I’ve been thinking,” she began.

“Uh oh,” he replied with a quirky smile that he knew disarmed her every time.

She rolled her eyes in the cutest way before continuing. “I’ve been considering your request to form a hockey team. I think it’s a great idea. I’ve already gotten approval from Evelyn so you can start recruiting right away. If you could get a group together by summer, that’d be great. A lot of these kids’ homes don’t have air conditioning so what better place to cool off than a hockey rink?”

“That’s great!” Mac exclaimed, standing up so fast he almost tipped over his chair. He wanted nothing more than to give her a celebratory hug, but he refrained, wary of pushing the boundaries of their developing friendship.

Joanna laughed at his exuberance. “On that note, Evelyn wants to see us in her office at noon,” she stated before leaving, a smile still on her lips.

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The short, red-headed academy administrator leaned back in her desk chair. There was a soft knock on her door promptly at midday and she smiled, welcoming MacGyver and Joanna into her office.

“So, how was your vacation?” she asked, “tornado notwithstanding.”

“Interesting.” This from Joanna.

“Educational,” replied MacGyver.

Evelyn leaned forward folding her hands on her desk. “It was a vacation. Not a field trip. How was it? Really?”

The two glanced knowingly at each other before Mac spoke up.

“It was good. Really,” he replied. Joanna simply smiled in agreement. Well, that was interesting!

“I think I know you both well enough to assume that you discussed some work issues,” Evelyn stated. “We have less than two months until the summer session. What are your plans for moving forward?”

MacGyver started speaking while Joanna chewed her lower lip.

“I want to continue to line up a metal detector and get communication devices installed throughout the building. Joanna just told me I have the go-ahead to start putting a hockey team together, so I’d like to get on that as well.”

“Sounds like you have your plate full,” Evelyn observed. “If I may ask, are you planning to stay longer than originally anticipated?”

She saw MacGyver glance furtively at Jo before answering. “I was planning on having another MRI in a few weeks and making a decision based on the results.”

“That sounds fair,” Evelyn replied.

“And what about you, Joanna?”

“Um, I think I’ll let the two of you take it from here,” MacGyver said as he started to stand. Joanna quickly turned her head and shot him a look. It wasn’t the ‘dagger stare’ Evelyn expected, but a pleading gaze.

“Or I can stay if you don’t mind,” he responded, settling back into his chair. Things were getting interesting indeed.

Joanna took a deep breath. “Evelyn, I think you’ll agree with me when I say that Challengers Academy has not stayed true to the vision we had for it. If anything, it has declined in all aspects since we first opened.”

“I do agree,” Evelyn concurred. “I assume you have some suggestions to help get the school back on track?”

Joanna glanced at MacGyver who appeared to be sending her looks of silent encouragement. She raised her chin a bit, her confidence firmly in place.

“I do,” Joanna announced, “but they are both a bit radical.”

Evelyn remained silent, consciously keeping her expression neutral as she waited for Jo to continue.

“The first thing I want to do is cancel the summer term,” Joanna said matter-of-factly.

“And why do you want to do that?”

“Because I want to fire the entire faculty and staff and start from scratch to build a cohesive team, not continue on with the patchwork quilt we have now,” Jo replied bluntly.

“That is a very radical proposition,” Evelyn agreed. “I assume you realize it will take a great deal of time and energy?”

Joanna nodded.

“Do you feel confident this is the best solution?”

“I do,” Joanna replied without hesitation. Clearly she had thought this through.

“Will the current employees have a chance to reapply?” Evelyn asked.

“Of course. But they also need to understand that if we find stronger applicants, we cannot guarantee their re-hire.”

Evelyn paused for good measure as she pretended to seriously consider the plan. However, it was all she could do to contain her excitement that Joanna had finally made a firm, albeit drastic, plan to turn the school around. And it appeared she also had a partner in crime.

“Fine,” Evelyn agreed. “I’ll call a mandatory emergency all-staff meeting for Wednesday after school. No sense putting this off. I’ll also inform Phoenix of the plan and keep them in the loop. Now, go grab some lunch. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

“Yes ma’am,” Jo and Mac replied in unison before leaving the office.

Evelyn’s eyebrows rose as MacGyver put his hand on the small of Joanna’s back to guide her through the door. And Joanna let him.

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The next few weeks passed quickly at Challengers Academy. The emergency staff meeting was uncomfortable but necessary. To expedite the hiring process, it was decided that MacGyver would interview non-faculty applicants as well as perform all background checks while Joanna interviewed faculty candidates with Evelyn making all the final hiring decisions.

MacGyver had also posted hockey sign-up sheets around the school and names were slowly added as practice was scheduled to start the following week. Joanna found it curious that most of the interested students were freshman, many she knew to be small for their age, and several with no hockey or even skating skills. She smiled and shook her head. Knowing MacGyver, these were exactly the kids he was looking for. The underdogs. The kids who needed to gain physical strength and mental toughness. They probably would never win a game, but each goal would be a victory.

A week later, Joanna was working her way through an influx of resumes she had received since a nearby private high school had announced it was closing at the end of the semester. Several highly qualified teachers with impressive credentials were seeking a new home, and Jo was excited to start meeting with them face-to-face. But that would have to wait until school was out for the summer. She sighed and glanced at her watch, surprised to see it was already dinnertime. With the mid-May sun staying higher in the sky with each passing day, Joanna easily lost track of the time. MacGyver had been going to the ice rink every day right after school to coach his new team…if you could call it that. Even Evelyn was leaving earlier these days saying she needed to tend to her yard. Joanna had just begun to gather her things before heading home when the cell phone on her desk rang, startling her. She had kept it with her at all times since Mac had given it to her and it hadn’t rung once. Checking the name on the small screen, she saw that it was MacGyver and quickly pressed the correct button to answer his call.

“Hey Mac, what’s up?”

“Is this Ms. Jo?” a child-like voice asked hesitantly.

“Yes, this is Ms. Jo. Who is this?” Joanna’s defenses went on alert.

“This is Raul, from Challengers.”

Raul. A small Hispanic boy who had transferred in mid-year and whose name she had seen on the hockey sign-up list.

“Raul? Where are you and why are you calling from Mr. Mac’s phone?”

Repressed memories of Jesse James luring Joanna to the science lab surged to the front of her brain.

Before the boy could answer, she heard a man’s voice in the background and then the shuffling of the phone being transferred from one hand to another.

“Is this Joanna Fairfax?” a gravelly male voice asked.

“Yes, this is Joanna,” she replied cautiously. Her heartrate had quickened and her mouth had gone dry. Where was Mac and who was using his phone?!

“My name is Winston. I’m one of the managers here at the Pettit Center. There’s been an accident and your name was listed in the phone as an emergency contact.”

“I’m on my way!” Joanna gasped and clicked off the call, not bothering to ask for details. Something had happened to MacGyver. She had to get to him!

Pausing only long enough to lock the school’s main door behind her, Joanna drove to the ice rink in record time. She was running through the parking lot just in time to see a side door open and two paramedics wheel out a gurney, heading towards an ambulance parked nearby. Several boys and an older man emerged from the doorway and stood against the building. All wore worried frowns. Joanna knew instinctively that Mac was the prone figure lying on the stretcher, his head and neck immobilized by a large, padded brace.

“Where are you taking him?” she called to the medics.

“West Memorial,” the one in the lead said calmly.

Joanna nodded and watched as the gurney was loaded into the back of the ambulance. The doors slammed shut and the vehicle took off, siren blaring.

“What happened?!” Joanna demanded as she rounded on the little group.

“We’re sorry, Ms. Jo,” a young boy she didn’t recognize whimpered, only to be slapped on the arm by a taller, African-American boy she did know.

“Damon?” She pinned him with her most menacing teacher glare.

“It was just an accident.” Damon shrugged as if it was no big deal.

“What was ‘just and accident’?” Joanna asked, enunciating every syllable. Her professionalism as well as her patience had flown out the window the second she learned Mac had been injured.

It was Raul’s turn to speak up. “Mr. Mac was teaching us some skating steps when…when he…when he fell and hit his head.” Since when did the boy stutter?

“Was Mr. Mac wearing a helmet?” she asked as calmly as she could.

“Naw man, none of us were,” Damon answered her. “The dude was just showing off his skating moves when he wiped out. Must’ve caught the edge of his blade or something.”

Mac didn’t strike her as the type of man to be hot-dogging around a hockey rink, especially with children present, but before Joanna could respond, the older man stepped forward and addressed her.

“You must be Ms. Fairfax. I’m Winston, we spoke on the phone.” He held out his hand and she shook it automatically.

“Did you see what happened?” Joanna asked.

“No ma’am, I’m sorry. They were just skating around like the kid said. I had to take a call in my office and when I got back the guy was laying on the ice.”

“Did he lose consciousness?” Joanna turned back to the boys.

“He might’ve blacked out for a couple seconds, then he started groaning and holding his head,” the boy she didn’t know answered.

“Look, I gotta get to the hospital. Do you boys all have a way home?”

As soon as Winston assured her he would look after the boys, she hurried back to her car, pulling her cell phone from her purse and calling home to let her mom know what was going on and promising to call with any new information.

The automatic doors to the emergency room whooshed open as Joanna hurried through and found the nurses’ station.

“I’m looking for a patient. His name is MacGyver,” she announced, hoping to catch someone’s attention.

“Are you a relative?” a tall, gray-haired nurse asked brusquely.

“No. We work together. I’m his emergency contact.”

“I’m sorry,” the nurse replied firmly, “but we can only give out information to family members.”

“But the paramedics brought him in about 20 minutes ago,” Joanna continued, raising her arm to check her watch and confirm the time. Her fingers brushed the high work counter, her sapphire ring catching on the edge causing her to hiss as it dug into her skin. She absently rubbed the sore skin when an idea began to form. It was worth a shot.

“You don’t understand,” she told the nurse, trying to sound believable. “I’m his--“

“Excuse me,” a middle-aged doctor wearing a white lab coat approached her. “Did I hear you say you were looking for a Mr. MacGyver?”

“Yes!” she replied hopefully.

“Is your name ‘Joanna’?”

“Yes, I’m---“

“Right this way. He’s been asking for you.” The doctor led her down a long hall, past several partitioned off rooms. “In here,” he said, motioning to the last door on the right.

Joanna paused on the threshold, unsure of what she might see. MacGyver lay flat on his back in a hospital bed still wearing his clothes from school. The bulky brace the paramedics used had been replaced with a more moderate plastic collar. Mac’s sandy colored hair splayed across his pillow.

“We’ve immobilized his head and neck until we can run some scans and determine the extent of his injury,” the doctor explained.

Joanna nodded her understanding before gingerly making her way to MacGyver’s side, leaning over the bed slightly so he could see her without having to move his head.

“You came,” he whispered hoarsely, slowly raising his hand from the bed, searching for hers.

“Of course,” she whispered back, her hand finding his.

The doctor cleared his throat. “Excuse me,” he interrupted politely, “but it’s time for Mr. MacGyver to go up to radiology.”

It was then that Joanna noticed two hospital orderlies entering the room.

“Joanna,” the doctor continued, “you can go to the waiting area and someone will get you as soon as we bring him down.”

“You don’t have to…” Mac whispered.

“No. But I will,” she replied, gently prying her hand from his as he was rolled away.

The doctor escorted Joanna to the emergency waiting room. “We found his Phoenix Foundation ID in his wallet and contacted them immediately. They are faxing over his medical records as we speak so we should have them by the time the test results come back.”

Jo simply nodded and sat down, watching the doctor disappear down the long corridor to tend to another patient.

An hour later a nurse came to inform Joanna that Mac was back in his room and escorted her down the hall. Once again Joanna stopped in the doorway. Mac was now wearing a hospital gown, but the neck brace was gone and the top of his bed had been raised to a forty-five degree angle. Moving closer she saw that his eyes were bright and the earlier grogginess seemed to have faded.

“Hey,” she greeted him, pulling a molded plastic chair next to the bed and sitting down.

“Hi,” he replied, his voice less scratchy. “They should have the test results pretty soon. When they found out I work for Phoenix I became a top priority,” he grinned wryly.

“What happened at the ice rink?” Joanna asked. “How did you fall?”

MacGyver closed his eyes and ran his large hand down his face. “I can’t remember,” he confessed. “I remember showing the kids a few basic skating moves but that’s all.” There was frustration in his voice, but Jo didn’t want him to get upset so she quickly changed the subject.

“By the way, thanks for asking for me.” Seeing MacGyver’s puzzled expression she explained further. “When I first got here they wouldn’t let me see you because I’m not a relative. I was about to…lie, when the doctor saw me and said you’d been asking for me.”

“Yeah, they’re pretty strict about that stuff,” he concurred. Then he grinned mischievously. “I told the doc you were my fiancé. I was counting on you wearing that in case we needed proof.” He pointed to her birthstone ring.

Joanna let out a small laugh and then blushed. “I was going to tell the nurse the same thing. I guess great minds think alike!”

Just then there was a knock on the door and a different doctor entered. He said he was from neurology and began discussing the results of MacGyver’s brain scans. The old bruise was still present and he confirmed that Mac had sustained another concussion when his head hit the ice earlier.

“Can you recall the accident?” The doctor asked.

“I remember skating, but that’s it. The next thing I knew I was on a gurney.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” the doctor said flatly. “From your medical records it appears you collect brain injuries like some people collect stamps. I suspect you are suffering from remote temporal retrograde amnesia.”

“What exactly does that mean?” Joanna asked.

“It’s the reason I don’t remember the accident, at least not yet. It may come back to me in time,” Mac supplied with a sigh.

Jo looked to the neurologist for confirmation. “He’s correct,” the doctor replied to her unspoken question. “Right now the best thing he can do is get a lot of rest.” To MacGyver he said, “We’d like to keep you overnight for observation just as a precaution.”

Mac started shaking his head before the doctor finished the sentence and then winced in pain.

“C’mon doc,” MacGyver began to protest, “You just said I’ve had concussions before. I know the drill, and I’m going home.”

“Is there someone who can stay with you tonight?” the doctor asked.

MacGyver smiled slyly, reached out and took Jo’s hand, threading his fingers through hers. “My fiancé here won’t leave my side, I promise. Right sweetheart?”

That rat!

“I’ll be on you like a flea on a dog, dear,” she promised.

“Alright then. You go ahead and get dressed, Mr. MacGyver, and I’ll give your fiancé instructions for follow-up care.” The doctor and Joanna stepped out of the room, closing the door behind them. Mac grinned broadly. He had managed yet another escape.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“I need to stop home and grab a few things if I’m going to spend the night at your place. It’ll only take a couple minutes,” Joanna informed MacGyver as she drove out of the hospital parking structure.

“You didn’t think I was serious about that?!” Mac asked incredulously. “I only said that so they’d spring me!”

Joanna’s heart dropped to her toes. How stupid she was to think that MacGyver might actually need her, want her, to help him.

“But the doctor said someone should check on you hourly to make sure you don’t lose consciousness again. Do you have a friend or neighbor—“

“Look, I’ve been through this before. If it’ll make you feel better I’ll set my alarm every hour to wake me.”

“And I suppose your alarm will call 911 if you slip into a coma and don’t shut it off!” Joanna shot back.

“I just don’t want you to feel obligated,” he said softly.

“I thought we were friends, Mac. That makes me automatically obligated. Now please, swallow your pride for one night and let me help you.”

“Alright,” MacGyver gave in. “You can play Florence Nightingale for tonight, but that’s it.”

“It’s a deal,” Joanna grinned.

The stop at Jo’s house lasted only long enough for her to change into jeans and a sweater, throw some other necessities into a small duffle bag, and place a call to Evelyn to let her know what was happening. Soon she and Mac were slowly walking through the lobby of his apartment building. He dug in his pants pocket and pulled out a key.

“While we’re here, mind if I get my mail?” he asked, not waiting for a reply as he walked gingerly towards the wall, opened his box and pulled out its contents. When they entered his apartment, he flipped through the envelopes before handing them to Joanna.

“Things are still a little fuzzy,” he explained, lowering himself to the couch.

Joanna shuffled through the mail to make sure there was nothing important when she saw a familiar postmark.

“Looks like you got a letter from Sam,” she told Mac who had closed his eyes and was resting his head on the back of the sofa.

“Would you read it to me?” he asked sheepishly.

“Of course,” she replied, stunned that he trusted her with such a personal letter. She tore open the envelope and began to read:

Dear Dad,

Thanks for the long letter. I’m not much for words. I use pictures to tell my stories. Hopefully you can see them someday soon. I was supposed to get a couple weeks of leave, but stuff happened. Actually, a lot of stuff happened, but it’s hard to explain. I know you understand.

The Challengers Academy sounds really cool and Joanna sounds like a great lady. You need someone like her in your life. Do you think she’s step-mom material?

Joanna paused and glanced at MacGyver. His eyes were still closed but a blush was creeping up his neck. She quickly continued reading:

I’m glad you finally had your headaches looked into and that it’s nothing serious. By the time you get this letter you’ll probably be back in the field, just like me!

Gotta run, another story calls!

Love,
Sam

MacGyver lifted his head as Joanna handed him the letter and sat down next to him.

“I hope you don’t mind that I told him about you?”

“No, not at all,” Joanna replied quickly. “Maybe I’ll get to meet him someday,” she added.

“Yeah, sure,” Mac agreed listlessly as a heavy silence permeated the room. Neither one wanted to broach the subject of the last paragraph.

After several long minutes, MacGyver sighed gustily. “Well, I might as well face it, after tonight I’m done as a field agent. Guess I’ll be hanging around longer than I thought,” he told Jo.

“Look at it this way,” she tried to encourage him. “Phoenix’s loss is my, um, Challengers gain.”

“Yeah,” he forced a small smile.

“Maybe after another few months you can have another MRI and—“

“Didn’t you hear what the doctor said?” he snapped. “I still have the bruise from last time. I wouldn’t have passed concussion protocol even if I hadn’t fallen on the ice!”

Joanna looked down at the floor, unsure of how to respond.

“Hey, I’m sorry,” Mac said, gentling his tone. “I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”

“That’s okay. I understand,” she told him softly. “Maybe you were right all along. Maybe I should just leave you alone tonight.”

“No!” he exclaimed quickly. “I mean, after all your fussing you might as well stay. At least until I can rig the alarm clock to call 911. I’m gonna go change and then you can tuck me into bed. How does that sound?”

“It sounds corny as heck,” she replied bluntly.

Mac smiled. “Sorry that you have to bunk on the couch. There’s a pillow and blanket in the front closet.”

“Thanks. And don’t worry, I’ll be fine out here.”

As MacGyver headed to the bathroom, Joanna went to the kitchen to raid his ‘fridge. She hadn’t eaten since lunch. As she passed the breakfast bar she saw the message light blinking on his answering machine.

“Mac,” she called, “you have a phone message.”

“Be right there,” he answered.

She had just grabbed a yogurt when Mac appeared before her wearing pajama bottoms and a long sleeved t-shirt.

“Bathroom’s all yours if you want to change,” he offered.

“Oh, no thanks. I’m good.”

“You’re gonna sleep in your clothes?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “I want to be ready just in case…well, belt and suspenders, ya know?”

“I know,” he replied solemnly before hitting the playback button on the machine.

“MacGyver! What in the world is going on?! Phoenix just notified me a Milwaukee area hospital put in an emergency request for your medical records! Call me…if you can. If not, have someone else call me.” The message ended abruptly.

“Aww Peeete!” Mac ran his hand down his face. He was tired, sore and frustrated. He did not want to have to make this call but knew he needed to.

“Go ahead and call him,” Joanna instructed. “I’ll just get settled.”

Jo rummaged through the bag she had brought, pulled out a thick novel, and curled up on the couch. She tried to concentrate on the words, but couldn’t help overhearing MacGyver’s side of his conversation with Pete.

“I’m fine!” Mac insisted. Jo could hear the older man’s voice on the other end of the line but couldn’t make out his words.

“I don’t remember,” MacGyver admitted sheepishly.

“No, I’m not alone.” Then, “she’s a friend, Pete.”

“I will. Goodnight.” And with that he hung up the phone.

“Everything okay?” Joanna asked.

“Yeah,” Mac mumbled.

“He’s only upset because he cares,” she offered.

“I know,” MacGyver replied repentantly as he flopped down on the sofa next to Jo.

“You must be hungry,” she ventured. “I could fix you a snack or something.”

Mac shook his head and winced. “Do you want some aspirin?”

“No,” he sighed. “I just want to crawl in bed and forget this day ever happened. No pun intended.”

“Holler if you need anything. Otherwise I’ll see you in an hour,” Jo informed him as he rose from the couch.

“Hey, thanks for everything, Jo. I mean it.” He bent down and placed a chaste kiss on the top of her head before turning towards his bedroom

“No problem,” she declared as she set her travel alarm and settled in for a long night, her head tingling where his lips had touched.

Joanna’s eyelids were growing heavy and the words of her novel were beginning to blur when her alarm chirped for the first time. She shut if off then hesitated, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. She had been in Mac’s place several times, but never in his bedroom. Of course, she was just being silly. They were only friends and, on top of that, he was injured and needed her help. She rubbed her tired eyes, chiding herself. Eyes. She needed to check his pupils like the doctor had told her. She rummaged in her bag once again, pulled out a small pen light, and headed to his room. Mac had left his door slightly ajar and a dim lamp burned on the dresser. She knocked softly on the door before walking in. MacGyver lay on his back in the middle of his double bed.

“Mac,” she whispered, reaching out to shake his shoulder. No response. “Mac,” she said a little louder. “Are you awake?”

“I am now,” he grumbled as Joanna let out a sigh of relief.

“The doctor said I need to check your pupils to make sure their equal and reactive. Could you scooch over? I can’t reach from here.”

“No,” Mac muttered.

“Look,” Joanna said, no longer shy but determined. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way. Are you gonna let me look in your eyes?”

He just shook his head even though it must cause him pain.

“Well, then I guess we do this the hard way,” she proclaimed as she climbed onto the bed, crawled over to him, and sat with her legs straddling his stomach. The shocked look on his face made her want to laugh out loud, but she controlled herself.

“I gave you a choice,” she shrugged. Clicking on the small flashlight she leaned over to look directly into his eyes.

He rolled his head to the side. “Not tonight, dear. I’ve got a headache.”

“In your dreams,” she scoffed.

MacGyver laughed and finally allowed her to examine his eyes. When she was satisfied that both pupils were of equal size and shrunk when the light hit them she crawled off the bed and straightened the sheets she had wrinkled.

“See you soon,” she said, but doubted he heard her. Mac was already snoring when she reached the door.

And so the routine began. Every hour, on the hour, Joanna’s alarm chirped and she padded down the hall, called Mac’s name, received a grunt in reply, and went back to reset the clock and catch another fifty-five minutes of sleep. In the early, pre-dawn hours she felt the need to check his eyes again. Just to be sure.

“Mac,” she whispered loudly standing by the bed. “Let me check your eyes again.”

“OK,” he agreed, all resistance gone. She figured he was just too tired to argue.

“Could you scooch over this time?” she asked nicely, hoping he would see fit to comply.

“No. I liked it the hard way.” He then gave her a long, slow smile which would have curled a lesser woman’s toes.

“I should’ve just left you to die,” she muttered under her breath as she once again crawled across his bed.

“What was that?”

“Oh, nothing,” she replied innocently. She readied her flashlight and started to lean forward when she felt his hands settle softly on her jean-clad thighs. Her stomach did a little dance, but she wasn’t about to let on how his touch affected her as she continued with her examination.

“Am I gonna make it, doc?” Mac grinned up at her.

“I think you’ll pull through,” she proclaimed, leaning back but making no move to leave. His hands stayed warm on her legs.

“You’re planning on going to work tomorrow, aren’t you?” he asked.

“Technically it’s today and yes, I planned on going in.”

“Then would you please forget about me and get some rest.” It wasn’t a question but a command.

“It’s only a few more hours,” Joanna protested.

“Exactly.”

“We’ll see,” she murmured as she crawled off the bed.

When Joanna next awoke, sunlight was streaming through the front window. She bolted upright and looked at the clock. She had slept three hours straight! How had she slept through the alarm? She checked the clock again, this time noticing that the alarm button was set to the ‘off’ position. Had she forgotten to set it when she returned from checking Mac’s eyes? What kind of care-taker was she?! Throwing off the blanket, she rushed to his bedroom only to find him sitting on his bed, already dressed and putting his shoes on.

“Something wrong?” he asked innocently.

“Yeah, I’m sorry. I must have accidentally shut my alarm off when it rang and I didn’t—“

“It wasn’t an accident,” he cut her off. “I couldn’t get back to sleep so I turned it off. One of us needed to get some rest.”

“I agree. And it should have been you!”

“How was I supposed to sleep when you kept pouncing on my bed all night?” he teased.

“I didn’t pounce— “she stopped short, refusing to take the bait. “How do you feel?”

MacGyver raised an eyebrow to let her know he hadn’t miss the sudden change of topic.

“I have a headache, but I’ve had worse,” he shrugged, standing up and heading to the kitchen.

“Any dizziness, nausea?” she asked, following behind him. “Do you want an ice pack, some aspirin?”

MacGyver stopped and turned so abruptly Joanna almost smacked into his chest. “I’m fine,” he insisted. “I told you, I’ve been through this before. No big deal. Besides,” he continued when he saw her frown, “I had a great nurse looking after me.”

“Thanks for saying that.”

“I’m only telling the truth,” he replied. “Not many people would’ve hung around like that.”

“Well, maybe I’m ‘not many people’,” she smiled shyly, realizing they had had a similar conversation in reverse not that long ago.

“I’m glad,” he smiled back.

“I should really go home and change before work,” she said, suddenly feeling awkward.

“Yeah, you probably should.”

“I’ll tell Evelyn you’ll be out the rest of the week.”

“Tell her I’ll be in tomorrow,” he retorted.

“I’ll call you later,” she said as if she hadn’t heard him, then hesitated. “Have you remembered anything more about your fall?”

“Nope,” he sighed, clearly frustrated that the memory eluded him.

“Hang in there, it’ll come,” she said as she gathered her things and walked out the door. In the meantime, she was going to try and find some answers herself.


















Posted by: Dragondog 12 December 2018 - 07:46 PM
QUOTE

The Challengers Academy sounds really cool and Joanna sounds like a great lady. You need someone like her in your life. Do you think she’s step-mom material?


I choked roller.gif

So, Evelyn has been shipping them from the start, Sam apparently ships them, Pete probably ships them... laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 December 2018 - 06:00 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 12 December 2018 - 07:46 PM)
QUOTE

The Challengers Academy sounds really cool and Joanna sounds like a great lady. You need someone like her in your life. Do you think she’s step-mom material?


I choked roller.gif

So, Evelyn has been shipping them from the start, Sam apparently ships them, Pete probably ships them... laugh.gif

LOL! Yeah, pretty much everybody is probably shipping them, except themselves of course!!!

Posted by: Dragondog 13 December 2018 - 06:37 PM
It's like how people say that they can sense when others are in love or belong together, but they're always blind to their own selves laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 19 December 2018 - 08:37 AM
Chapter 17: That’s a Wrap

It was only ten o’clock in the morning and MacGyver was already bored. After Joanna left, he had fixed himself a light breakfast and turned on a morning news show that failed to hold his attention. He pulled his guitar out from its resting place in a corner of the living room and began to pluck at the strings, but he couldn’t concentrate. Deciding that maybe he needed to rest after all, he sprawled out on the couch. The blanket and pillow Joanna had used the night before were still there and he could smell her coconut shampoo and another scent that was uniquely hers. He sat up and put his head in his hands. He had flirted shamelessly with her at times the night before. What had he been thinking? He wished he could blame the pain medication, but he hadn’t taken any. What’s more, she hadn’t rebuffed him, though she hadn’t reciprocated, either. She had stood her ground, and he found that oddly stimulating. The telephone rang, interrupting his thoughts. He picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“Good morning,” a cheerful female voice greeted him. “May I please speak with Mr. MacGyver?”

“Speaking.”

“This is Jenny calling from West Memorial to follow-up on your visit to the emergency room yesterday. How are you feeling today?”

“Fine.”

“Do you have any concerns or questions you would like a doctor to address?”

Well, he did have questions, but he highly doubted a medical doctor could help him find the answers. “No,” he replied flatly.

“All right, sir. If you begin noticing new or worsening symptoms, please contact your physician or have someone bring you to the ER.”

“Will do.”

“Thank you for your time. Have a great day!”

“You too, Jenny.” He hung up the phone.

He had barely taken two steps when the phone rang again.

“Hello?”

“Hi Mac, it’s Joanna.”

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Not much. How are you feeling?”

“Bored.”

She chuckled. “Sorry about that. How’s your head?”

“Okay.”

“Need anything?”

“I’m good.”

“Okay,” she almost sounded disappointed. “I’ll check back later.”

Mac wanted to tell her not to bother, but a part of him liked the fact that someone was worried about him. He clicked off the call and poured himself a glass of milk. The gnawing question returned: What had caused his accident? He hadn’t fallen on the ice since he was a kid. Well, not without being pushed anyway. And the rink had been perfectly maintained, no chips or cracks on the icy surface. He went to the closet and retrieved his skates, inspecting them carefully. The blades were smooth, sharp and balanced. He decided to return to the Pettit Center. Maybe going back to the scene would jog his memory.

MacGyver laced up his skates and stepped onto the ice. He skated around the perimeter of the rink slowly at first, testing his balance. With each circuit he increased his speed and his adrenaline began to flow. The headache he had nursed since last night all but vanished as he pushed himself across the smooth surface, clearing his mind as he flew over the ice. Unfortunately, no memories returned. After several laps, Mac decided to alter his approach. He closed his eyes and imagined his eager young athletes waiting for his instructions. Alone on the ice, he mimicked the drills he had put them through. The sound of raised voices caught his attention. A man and a boy were arguing in the adjacent rink. As MacGyver watched the quarrel, the fog in his brain began to lift. He closed his eyes again. Disconnected images appeared. A small boy. A larger boy. Yelling. Arms flailing. Weightlessness. Blackness.

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The morning dragged on for Joanna. Evelyn had scolded her for coming into work after the events of the previous night but really, what else could she do. After calling MacGyver, it was clear he no longer needed or wanted her help. His short, clipped answers had concerned her, but she was too tired to waste her energy trying to figure out that man. At least for now. Heat rose in her cheeks as she recalled climbing onto his bed not once, but twice. Good grief, she had acted like she was the one with the head injury! With her daily work well in hand, her next priority was to do a little detective work and see if she could unravel the cause of Mac’s fall. He was too experienced a skater to take such a hard fall for no apparent reason. She had to speak with the boys who had been with him. They were the only witnesses.

Joanna patrolled the corridor as the students moved from one class to the next. She soon spied Damon on his way to the science lab.

“Damon!” She called as she approached him. His eyes shuttered when he saw her.

“Damon, could I talk to you for a sec?”

“I don’t wanna be late to class.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll give you a pass. I need to ask you some questions.”

“If it’s about Mr. Mac, I don’t know nothin’! I told you that!” he spat.

“I know you did. I was just hoping you might have remembered something else since last night,” she explained calmly.

“Well I haven’t. Can I go to class now?”

“Yeah, go ahead,” Joanna acquiesced with a sigh. It was clear Damon wasn’t going to shed any new light on the topic. Based on his account from yesterday and his reaction just now, Jo had the uneasy feeling the boy was hiding something. But she needed proof.

A short while later Jo was assisting in the learning center when Raul raised his hand.

“What do you need, Raul?” she asked, her tone light and friendly.

“I don’t get this math problem,” he responded with a slight accent.

Joanna sat down next to him at the table. “That is a tough one,” she observed. “How about if you do it like this?” She went on to show the solution step-by-step.

“Hey, that wasn’t that hard!” the boy exclaimed causing Joanna to laugh.

“Raul, can I ask you a question?”

“Sure, Ms. Jo.”

“It’s about Mr. Mac.”

Raul’s eyes grew wide and Joanna knew she had to proceed cautiously.

“He’s okay, isn’t he?” Raul asked anxiously.

“Yes, he’ll be just fine. He’s at home resting today.” Raul appeared to let out a breath he had been holding.

“Yesterday you told me that he fell on the ice.”

Raul nodded.

“Can you tell me why he fell?”

“How do you mean?” the boy looked furtively around the quiet room.

“Hey, how about we go to my office and chat. We can get something from the rec room vending machines on the way.”

“Okay!” Raul smiled. Bribery, especially with food, always worked.

After picking out a soda and a chocolate bar, Raul settled himself in a chair in Joanna’s office. She left the door slightly ajar before easing into her own chair.

The boy was now happily munching away, his inhibitions lessened. “Raul, Mr. Mac is a very good hockey player,” Jo began.

Raul nodded and swallowed. “I know. He told us he almost made it to the pros, but he got hurt.”

“That’s right,” Joanna concurred, but she felt she was making little progress getting him to answer her question.

“Was Mr. Mac showing off how good a skater he was yesterday?” She tried again.

This time the boy shook his head emphatically. “No! He was skating real slow, showing us how we are supposed to skate so we can play hockey as good as him!”

So, Damon had lied and Mac hadn’t been hot-dogging, just as she had suspected.

“Was there anything on the ice Mr. Mac could have tripped on?”

“No ma’am.” Raul took his time finishing his candy bar and soda and Joanna sensed his hesitation to continue.

“Raul, I need you to tell me what made Mr. Mac fall, and don’t pretend you don’t understand what I’m asking you.”

The boy sat silently staring at the floor for what seemed like an eternity. Joanna’s frustration mounted, but she kept quiet. Eventually Raul met her gaze. Fear shown in his eyes, but so did the desire to tell the truth.

“Didn’t Mr. Mac tell you?” The boy looked genuinely confused.

“No, he forgot how he fell when he hit his head.”

“Oh.” Raul seemed to consider her response before continuing.

“Mr. Mac was teaching us to skate like him. Damon started teasing us and then he pushed Jimmy and made him fall. Jimmy got up and tried to hit Damon. Mr. Mac got between them. He started shouting at Damon to leave Jimmy alone and then Damon shoved Mr. Mac real hard. That’s when he fell and hit his head.”

“And you were afraid to say anything because you didn’t want to get Damon in trouble.”

Raul nodded soberly.

“Thank you for telling me this, Raul. I’m glad you told me, and Mr. Mac will be too.”

That prompted a small smile on his otherwise serious face.

The lunch bell rang and Joanna encouraged Raul to join his friends in the cafeteria. She, on the other hand, needed to talk to Mac. She picked up her desk phone and dialed. There was no answer. Unbidden thoughts of catastrophic events bombarded her. She asked Evelyn for an extended lunch break and headed straight to MacGyver’s apartment.

Joanna parked at the curb as usual, but Mac’s Jeep was nowhere to be found. He had been out of the hospital for less than twenty-four hours and he was already driving around?! This man was going to be the death of her. No, scratch that. Caring about this man was going to be the death of her! She grabbed her purse and searched for her cell phone before realizing she had left it on her desk. Drat! Where would Mac go? When he wasn’t at home he was at school or…the ice rink!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Mac!” Joanna? MacGyver opened his eyes and turned toward the sound of her voice before skating quickly to where she stood on the other side of the boards, a smile emerging from his lips.

“I’m remembering, Jo! It’s just bits and pieces right now, but it’s all starting to come back!”

“That’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. “What do you remember?”

“There was some kind of fight. Someone was yelling. I think it was me. I see arms reaching out and then I’m weightless and falling. Then everything goes dark.” He frowned, disappointed that he couldn’t remember more.

Joanna was smiling and nodding her head encouragingly. “You figured out what happened, didn’t you?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she nodded again.

“Tell me.”

“I can’t,” she said weakly. “Or at least I shouldn’t. The doctor said it was best if you remembered on your own.”

“Did he say you couldn’t give me hints?” He summoned up his most enticing grin.

“Well, not technically,” she replied, her brow furrowed.

“Then will you ‘not technically’ help me remember?”

Joanna hesitated.

“C’mon Jo. I need to know what happened!”

“Alright,” she agreed after a moment’s consideration. “But we’re gonna do it my way.”

Had MacGyver expected anything less? He doubted it. “Fine. Let’s just get on with it,” he grumbled.

“Close your eyes,” she instructed.

Mac had already tried this, but he complied.

“You were here with a small group of students. Can you see them?”

“I can’t make out their faces. Who were they?”

Joanna continued without answering. “Is one of the boys bigger than the others?”

“Yeah.”

“What is he doing?”

“I can’t tell. Wait. He’s picking on the other kids.”

“Anyone in particular?”

Mac started to shake his head but then paused. “Yeah, Jimmy, the little blonde kid.”

“What is the bigger boy saying,” Jo continued to prompt.

“His name is Damon,” MacGyver declared with certainty. Then his eyes popped open, memories clicking like gears in a fine Swiss watch. “His razzing caught my attention and I saw him push Jimmy to the ice. Before I could get to him, Jimmy was on his feet going after Damon. I got between them and yelled at them to knock it off. That’s when Damon pushed me hard in the chest and I fell backward. I blacked out.”

Joanna was smiling and nodding her head furiously. Apparently his memories corresponded with what she had learned.

“That’s exactly what Raul told me!” Joanna concurred. “Now that you remember, you need to tell Evelyn what happened.”

An hour later, MacGyver was sitting in Evelyn’s office, giving her a clear, step-by-step account of his ‘accident’. “So,” he concluded, “what’s going to happen with Damon?”

Evelyn sighed deeply. “Damon struck a fellow student and injured a staff member. At any other school that would be grounds for expulsion.”

MacGyver winced.

“However,” the administrator continued, “this isn’t your average school and Damon isn’t your average student.”

“How do you mean?”

“Damon has been in the foster care system since he was a young child. Over the past several years he’s lived with five different families. None of them wanted to keep him. His school record is pretty much the same. He’s been expelled and suspended for more days than he’s attended. He has severe anger management issues and receives counseling, but apparently it’s not helping. Normally I would suggest a suspension from school and no more hockey, but I fear that would just perpetuate the cycle. Challengers is supposed to be about breaking that cycle.”

For the first time since Mac had met Evelyn she appeared tired and defeated. Her fire and passion gone.

“Before you make a decision, can I talk with him?” MacGyver asked.

“Be my guest. But don’t be disappointed when he doesn’t listen.”

MacGyver was standing outside the English classroom waiting for Damon’s last class of the day to end when the dismissal bell rang and students poured into the corridors. It didn’t take long for Mac to spy the boy.

“Damon, can we talk?”

“I got places to be,” Damon scowled and turned his back.

MacGyver was by his side in an instant. “We can walk and talk ‘til you get there.”

The boy rounded on Mac. “I don’t got nothin’ to say!”

“Well maybe I do!” MacGyver said quickly, struggling to keep control before Damon walked away. “How about we raid the vending machines in the rec room?”

Damon shrugged. “It’s your dime,”

MacGyver smiled to himself. He never knew a kid, including himself, who could pass up free food.

Ten dollars and a pile of junk food later, Mac sensed Damon was willing to talk. Or at least listen.

“Look Damon,” he began, “I know what happened at the ice rink the other day. I remembered everything.”

The boy looked wary but didn’t bolt, so Mac continued.

“You could be suspended from Challengers and barred from playing hockey.”

“No problem there, man. Summer vacation’ll come early for me,” the teen said with false bravado.

“Oh yeah? What about not being allowed back on the ice?” MacGyver challenged.

The boy shrugged, head down.

“From what I’ve seen, you’re a pretty good skater. Probably better than all the other kids put together. Am I wrong?”

“So I skate!” he shot back. “Don’t see too many Black guys from the ‘hood in the NHL, do ya?!”

“You’re right,” Mac conceded. “But that can change. It can start with you!”

“Easy for you to say! You’re white!” Damon hissed.

“No, it’s not easy for me!” MacGyver banged his hand on the table. “When I was your age I wanted nothing more than to play in the NHL. But stuff happened. I didn’t make it. But at least I tried! Are you going to give up without trying?”

Thirty minutes later, MacGyver walked Damon to the front door and shook his hand.

“See ya tomorrow?”

“You bet, Mr. Mac.”

MacGyver smiled and turned to find Evelyn watching him in disbelief.

“What just happened here?” she asked.

“Damon and I came to an understanding, that is if you’re willing to not suspend him and allow him to play hockey.”

“That boy could be big trouble, Mac,” she warned him. “Are you sure about this?”

“He gave me his word. That’s good enough for me.”

Evelyn didn’t look convinced, but she nodded and headed back to her office, leaving MacGyver to hope he just hadn’t made a really big mistake letting Damon off the hook.

The following morning, MacGyver was once again sitting across from Evelyn at her desk.

“Mac, I called you in today because there a couple things we need to clarify.”

He was sure he already knew what they were, but he kept quiet and allowed his superior to continue.

“First of all,” Evelyn began, “I need to know how long you are planning on staying at Challengers. As you know, next week Friday is the last day of school for the summer. Originally your assignment was open-ended, but with the changes Joanna has proposed, I’m afraid I need a more definite timeline.”

“I can stay as long as you need me to.”

“That’s not a definite answer,” Evelyn quirked her brow.

“I can guarantee I’ll stay through the summer,” he responded. Given his latest head injury, he wasn’t in a hurry to have Phoenix put him on the desk duty he knew was in his future.

“Good,” Evelyn responded, apparently satisfied. “Now, for a more pressing issue. Since we will be interviewing for new staff as well as getting communication and safety devices in place, I asked the custodian to turn on the air conditioning. He couldn’t get it to work, and I was wondering if you’d be willing to see if there was something you could do?”

“I’d be happy to take a look, but I can’t make any promises.”

“That’s all I ask.” Evelyn grabbed a set of keys from her desk drawer and led MacGyver up the stairs and out onto the roof of the building. A decades-old air conditioning unit stood sentinel in the far corner. MacGyver pulled out his Swiss Army knife and removed the panels. He poked and prodded, bent over this and crawled under that. Finally he emerged.

“Well…” Evelyn prompted.

Mac sighed, “I hate to tell you this, but I think it’s shot.”

“Isn’t there something you can do? Pete used to say you could make a bomb out of chewing gum and a paperclip!”

“Pete tends to exaggerate,” MacGyver replied dryly. “There’s too much damage for a quick fix. Several parts are broken and they probably aren’t even made anymore.” Mac wiped his brow and sighed. He hated when he had to admit that some things could not be fixed.

“So we need to replace the entire unit,” Evelyn stated in a dismal tone.

“Afraid so.” Then he had an idea. “You wouldn’t happen to have any old window A/C units would you?”

“I don’t know. I’ll give you the keys to the storage room and you can take a look.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The last week of the semester arrived and it couldn’t go fast enough for Joanna. She was looking forward to cleaning house, both figuratively and literally, and creating the school environment she had been striving for since she was first hired on. She was also excited that MacGyver would be staying on, at least for three more months. Unfortunately, she had a number of reports to complete and submit from this past year before she could move on. To make matters worse, the weather had turned unseasonably warm and the central air was out of commission making students, faculty, and staff even more eager for summer vacation.

Thankfully, MacGyver had found an old window air-conditioner tucked away in the storage area. After tinkering with it for several hours, he declared that it should help fight the heat as long as it wasn’t overused. Evelyn decided to have him install it in the teachers’ lounge which, over the next few months, would serve as the interview room. Of course, there was a good chance schedules would overlap and toasty offices would have to be utilized as well, but it was better than nothing.

The day before school ended, MacGyver headed down to the Phoenix Foundation offices in Chicago to present his final report on the Milwaukee-based Challengers Academy. Joanna had expressed her concerns to him several times over the past few days, and each time he reassured her that everything was going to be okay. That he was on her side and would get them the money and manpower needed to make the school comparable to its L.A. counterpart. Nevertheless, Jo was unable to concentrate on her work and spent a good amount of time pacing in her office. When that space became too restrictive, she moved to the main corridor on the pretense of monitoring hallways and classrooms. The truth was, she wouldn’t be able to relax until MacGyver returned and gave her a detailed report of the meeting and, more importantly, the final outcome.

It was late in the afternoon, long after the final dismissal bell, when MacGyver pulled his Jeep into the school parking lot. Joanna and Evelyn had been waiting by the front entrance since he had called to tell them he was back in town. They both frowned when he walked in. His suit was wrinkled, dress shirt disheveled, tie askew.

“Long day?” Evelyn ventured.

Mac rubbed the back of his neck and headed to his office.

The two women exchanged concerned glances and followed quickly behind him. They found him staring out his office window, suit jacket already hanging on the back of his chair. Joanna knew his mannerisms too well. The silence, the staring. Things had not gone well.

“What did the board say?” Joanna asked, cutting straight to the chase.

“I told them about the plans to shut down for the summer, revamp the faculty and add extra security measures,” he said, all while continuing to look out over the parking lot.

“And…?” Jo’s stomach was burning up.

MacGyver finally turned around, a huge smile plastered on his face. “And…they praised your initiative, volunteered any assistance we may need, and basically handed us a blank check to cover any and all expenses.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful!” Evelyn cried and quickly reached up and wrapped MacGyver in a celebratory embrace.

Joanna was more reserved. “Are you kidding?” she asked.

MacGyver disengaged from Evelyn and walked to where Joanna stood. He put his hands on her shoulders and ducked his head to look into her eyes.

“I have never been more serious,” he said in a low, smooth voice. “Phoenix promised to fund whatever the anonymous donation doesn’t cover.”

Caught in his gaze and trying to process the welcome news, Joanna didn’t immediately react causing Mac to back away, his smile fading. Evelyn silently slipped from the room, giving MacGyver a motherly pat on the arm as she past.

“I’ve never met anyone who’s taken good news so poorly,” Mac remarked to Joanna.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize, just explain.”

Joanna sighed, “I guess these past few months are just catching up with me. Jesse, the tornado, your accident, not knowing if I was going to have a job next week...” She looked up and gave MacGyver a shy smile.

“…not knowing if you were going to have me around next week,” Mac concluded for her.

“That too,” she agreed, her smile deepening.





Posted by: Dragondog 19 December 2018 - 06:36 PM
QUOTE
“How about we raid the vending machines in the rec room?”

Damon shrugged. “It’s your dime,”


QUOTE
Ten dollars and a pile of junk food later, Mac sensed Damon was willing to talk.


blink.gif That's a lot

Posted by: uniquelyjas 19 December 2018 - 07:19 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 19 December 2018 - 06:36 PM)


QUOTE
Ten dollars and a pile of junk food later, Mac sensed Damon was willing to talk.


blink.gif That's a lot

Now that I re-read it you're right! Guess I was going off of the prices I see on vending machines these days...over $1 for a soda, etc.

Posted by: Persona non grata 19 December 2018 - 07:49 PM
I'm totally willing to buy that Mac's thought-process on "how much is enough" was just "eh, one of everything will probably do it."

Also, the visual of health-conscious MacGyver wandering around with a literal armful of junk food sounds hilarious.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 20 December 2018 - 06:00 AM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 19 December 2018 - 07:49 PM)
I'm totally willing to buy that Mac's thought-process on "how much is enough" was just "eh, one of everything will probably do it."

Also, the visual of health-conscious MacGyver wandering around with a literal armful of junk food sounds hilarious.

Thanks! And Damon is a growing teenage boy so they can definitely eat...especially if someone else is paying!! LOL! And Mac knows that sprouts and bean curd won't cut it:)

Posted by: uniquelyjas 28 December 2018 - 04:37 PM
Chapter 18: A MacGyver Wedding

June 1, 1995

Dear Sam,

It was good to hear from you. At least I know you’re alive and kicking. So much has happened since I last wrote. I had a set-back and am still on light duty at Challengers, but let me start where I left off last time…

MacGyver glanced guiltily at the stack of resumes patiently awaiting his attention. He pushed the files a little further away. Man, he hated paperwork! It was the first day of summer vacation, and the next few months were going to be anything but a vacation given the commitment he had made to Challengers. Surely no one could fault him for taking a break and writing a letter to his son half a world away.

A couple hours later, after a little writing and much procrastinating, MacGyver settled on the couch, resumes at his side, ready to review them and separate them out into “Yes” and “No” piles. Once he had sorted out the applications, Mac sighed heavily. The ‘No’ pile was twice the size of the ‘Yes’ pile. Oddly enough, the only Challengers non-faculty employee who had reapplied was Officer Carl Wilson. Mac was glad to see that. He would happily rehire Carl. Mac would give him a call first thing Monday morning.

A car horn pierced the otherwise quiet afternoon. MacGyver ignored it at first, but when it continued to blare incessantly Mac went to look out his front window to find the cause of the ruckus in his usually peaceful neighborhood. He could not believe his eyes when he saw a blue and white 1957 Chevy Nomad station wagon parked in front of his Jeep. His Nomad which he had left behind in L.A. when he made the temporary move to Wisconsin. He’d recognize it anywhere! Like a kid on Christmas morning, MacGyver rushed out of his apartment building to the classic vehicle. Pete sat in the passenger seat with ex-wife Connie behind the wheel. In the back seat sat Jack Dalton grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“What are you guys doing here?” Mac asked, thoroughly delighted to see his long-time friends. “Why didn’t you call and tell me you were coming? And why did you bring the Nomad?”

“Whoa! Slow down there, Kemosabe,” Jack instructed his childhood friend as he climbed from the car. “One question at a time!”

The two men exchanged brief but heartfelt hugs before MacGyver turned to see Pete and Connie standing next to each other on the sidewalk. He caught both of them in a large embrace before herding everyone through his building’s lobby and up to his apartment. Once the initial excitement died down and everyone found a seat, MacGyver posed his original questions once again.

“What are you guys doing here?”

“Can’t a guy drive two thousand miles over hill and vale to visit his best amigo?” Jack asked.

“No Jack,” Mac answered succinctly. “Especially not you who would fly in a tin can before spending three days on the road.”

“You wound me, Mac,” Jack feigned offense placing his hand over his heart.

“Perhaps Pete should explain,” Connie suggested.

The blind man cleared his throat before turning in the direction of MacGyver’s voice.

“Connie and I decided to move to Chicago,” Pete explained matter-of-factly.

“What?! Why?! Pete, you hate cold weather!”

“Yeah, well, certain ‘higher-ups’ at Phoenix suggested my consultant skills would be put to better use in a, how shall I say, smaller division.”

“I’m sorry, Pete,” Mac replied solemnly. “But what about Connie’s travel agency?”

“It was getting to be too much for me,” the ever-stylish yet down-to-earth lady confessed. “I hired a few strong managers. It’s in good hands. Besides, I could always open an expansion office,” she smiled.

“Well that’s just great,” MacGyver smiled, “But why’d you stop here?”

“That should be obvious, Mac. I have a dear friend in the area,” Pete replied. “Besides,” he continued, “I’d really like to go over to Challengers, check things out, you know?”

“Yeah, I know Pete. But what about Jack?”

“What about Jack?” Jack asked as he shot MacGyver a look.

“Well, that’s where it gets a little…complicated,” Pete hedged.

“Then could someone please uncomplicated it for me?” Mac asked no one in particular.

“Pete and Connie are getting remarried and I’m the best man!” Jack announced proudly.

Three pairs of eyes pinned him to his seat. “What?” he asked innocently. “He said to uncomplicated it!”

“That’s great, Pete!” MacGyver exclaimed. “I’m really happy for the both of you, but why didn’t you tell me? You know I would have wanted to be there, be your best man.”

Pete shrugged. “Connie and I were just going to have a civil ceremony at the courthouse back in L.A. With you way out here, we asked Jack to stand up in your place.”

“In his place?!” Jack interjected. “Pete, I’m hurt!”

“What made you change your plans?” Mac inquired as he struggled to make sense of everything he was hearing.

“Can you believe there’s a waiting list at the courthouse?” Pete laughed. “And then Phoenix wanted me out here sooner than planned.”

“Plus, our house was only on the market a few days before we found the perfect buyers,” Connie added. “So we decided to pack up and spend some time here until our house in Chicago is ready. It should only be a week or so. Pete and I made reservations at a nearby hotel. We plan to drive down to Chicago and get married next weekend. Of course, you’re invited.

MacGyver shook his head as if the action would help the pieces of this puzzle fall into place.

“But how does Jack and the Nomad fit into all of this? And who’s taking care of my place while Jack’s here?!”

“Allow me,” Jack said as he got up from his chair and took center stage in Mac’s small living room. “Phoenix is anxious to get the Jeep back, and we thought you’d like to have your old wheels back.” MacGyver nodded. He couldn’t argue about that. “And Connie needed someone to co-pilot that boat for her since Pete isn’t the best map reader around, no offense Pete.”

“What about my place, Jack?” MacGyver was afraid of the answer, but he needed to know.

“I have some friends looking after it,” Jack replied nonchalantly. “Don’t worry. Ole Uncle Jack has everything under control.”

“That’s what worries me,” Mac groaned. “By the way,” he began cautiously, “I don’t remember hearing where you plan to stay.”

“Well right here, of course,” Jack stated, motioning to the couch. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

XXXXX

MacGyver plodded into his kitchen Monday morning, poured himself a glass of orange juice, and willed his eyes to stay open.

“Sleep well, Compadre?” Jack asked with a grin as he folded his blanket and smoothed imaginary wrinkles from the couch cushions.

“No, Jack, as a matter of fact I didn’t.” Mac tipped his head to one side to add emphasis.

“Sorry to hear that. Was your head bothering you again?”

“No, Jack. It wasn’t my head. It was you!” MacGyver snapped, not bothering to ask how Jack had found out about his headaches. Word apparently traveled fast in his small circle of friends.

“Moi? What did I do?!”

“You snore, Jack. You snore. Loudly!”

“Well there are just some things a guy can’t help, ya know, like—“

MacGyver held up a hand to cut his friend off. “And when are you going to tell me why you’re really here?!”

“I already told you. I helped drive the Nomad and I’m here for the wedding.”

Mac squinted at his friend. “That’s it? Nothing else?”

“Like what?” Jack asked naively.

“I don’t know!” MacGyver threw up his hands. “Some sort of scheme, a shady business venture, a buried treasure…Aha!”

“Aha what?”

“Your left eye twitched when I said ‘buried treasure’,” Mac observed.

“So, maybe there’s an eyelash in it or something,” Jack attempted to explain.

“Aw, c’mon Jack! Everyone who knows you knows your left eye twitches when you’re lyin’!”

“Alright, alright! I just happened to be doing some, um, research on the area and,” Jack’s voice quickened with excitement, “there’s an old abandoned school and convent between here and Chicago. Legend says there are tunnels underneath leading out to Lake Michigan that were used by gangsters and bootleggers from Chicago. Maybe even pirates!”

“Great, Jack. Next your gonna tell me it’s haunted.”

“Well, since you mentioned it…”

“Stop it, Jack! There’s no such thing as ghosts and you know it.” MacGyver turned on his heel and headed back to his bedroom to dress for the day.

XXXXX

Mac pulled the Nomad into his normal parking space at Challengers to find Pete and Connie in their rental car already waiting for him and Jack. He led them into the building and called out for Evelyn and Joanna. He had seen their cars in the lot so he knew they were around somewhere. They both came from the direction of their offices.

“Peter!” Evelyn exclaimed when she saw her old friend and immediately wrapped him in a warm hug.

“And Connie!” The two women hugged each other and gushed about how good the other one looked.

“This is my friend Jack,” MacGyver motioned to the man next to him.

“Ah, Pete’s told me a lot about you!” Evelyn teased and she wrapped him in a hug as well. Jack’s eyes bulged out and for once he was rendered speechless. Mac almost laughed, but his attention was now on Joanna who had hung back in the shadows.

“Joanna, come and meet MacGyver’s friends,” Evelyn ordered with an encouraging smile.

Jo stepped up to the small group and stood in front of Pete.

“It’s nice to finally meet you, Mr. Thornton,” she said politely, reaching out to take the hand he offered.

“Likewise. And please call me ‘Pete’. MacGyver has told me a lot about you.”

Mac watched as her cheeks turned pinked.

“And I’m Connie, Pete’s soon-to-be-no-longer-ex-wife.”

Before Joanna could shake her hand, Connie was hugging her as if they had known each other for years. MacGyver let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding as he saw Jo relax in the embrace of her new friend.

“What did you say?” Evelyn demanded.

Connie answered with a warm laugh. “Pete and I are getting remarried in Chicago next weekend. Of course you’re both invited!”

Before the women could respond Jack approached Mac, cleared his throat and adjusted his shirt collar.

“Joanna,” he said reluctantly. “This is my friend, Jack.”

“Enchante, senorita,” Jack crooned, taking up her hand and placing a kiss on the back.

MacGyver winced inwardly. Women either giggled or cringed at a Jake Dalton greeting, but Joanna did neither.

“Nice to meet you,” she said in a professional yet friendly tone. Her eyes danced with amusement as she gently removed her hand and casually wiped it on the back of her pants leg. MacGyver wanted to laugh, but he controlled himself, not wanting to hurt Jack’s feelings.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Once the appropriate small talk had been dispensed with, Evelyn and Joanna headed back to their offices while MacGyver took his friends on a tour of the school, detailing the projects he hoped to accomplish this summer. While the men discussed the details of the undertakings, Connie slipped away to search out Evelyn.

Evelyn and Joanna were in the administrator’s office when Connie knocked lightly on the door. The short red-head got up and met her at the threshold to give her another hug and congratulate her on her upcoming remarriage before insisting that the bride-to-be take a seat in the visitor’s chair next to Jo.

“I meant what I said before,” Connie reiterated looking back and forth between the two other women. “I really do want you both to come to Chicago for the wedding. The boys decided that both Mac and Jack will serve as best men so I need two wonderful ladies to be my maids of honor. Please say you’ll come.”

Evelyn readily agreed, but Joanna remained silent. Sensing the other women looking at her she replied shyly, “I really am flattered, but we only just met. I don’t want to intrude.”

Connie let out a laugh and then sighed. “I guess my invitation may have seemed abrupt. It’s just that, with everything Pete has told me about you from his reports from MacGyver, I feel like I already know you!”

Joanna was still uncertain, thinking of several excuses to extricate her from this sudden commitment as she glanced at Evelyn, seeking guidance. Her boss gave her a discreet nod and Jo struggled to set aside her discomfort and agreed to the gracious woman’s request.

“Wonderful!” Connie exclaimed. “I know you’re all very busy, but perhaps we could meet for lunch one day so I can give you all the details and we can coordinate outfits.”

“That sounds lovely,” Evelyn assured her as Joanna’s organized mind revolted at the sudden upheaval in her well-scheduled week, but she nodded her ascent as well.

Wednesday was sunny, hot and humid. The kind of day Joanna loved…when she didn’t have to work. Dressing professionally yet coolly was always a challenge. She had two interviews scheduled for this morning before her and Evelyn were to meet Connie for lunch. MacGyver, Jack, and some interns from the Chicago Phoenix office planned to spend the day thoroughly cleaning and repainting the recreation room. Of course, Mac had included Pete in the day’s activities insisting that a person didn’t have to see dirt in order to clean it.

Before Joanna knew it, Evelyn and Connie were standing outside her door waiting to go to lunch. They dined at a nearby restaurant, enjoying the climate controlled atmosphere while Connie laid out the plans for the upcoming weekend. They were scheduled to leave for Chicago Friday evening to hopefully miss rush hour traffic. Two hotel rooms had been reserved: One for the men and one for the women. Connie had planned well, but that was to be expected given her line of work. Upon returning to Challengers, the three women went to check on the progress the men had made in their absence. They only went as far as the rec room doorway to avoid getting splattered with paint or cleaning products, but even from there Joanna could feel the stifling air hanging in the room. Despite having opened some small windows, there was no cooling breeze to be had.

Joanna’s gaze immediately sought out MacGyver, and the sight of him made her body go rigid and her cheeks turn hot. Joanna was used to seeing him in loose fitting henleys, baggy colorful shirts and the occasional suit, but today he was wearing his usual jeans paired with a black tank top that displayed his broad chest, strong shoulders, and well-developed upper arms. His smooth, taut skin glistened with moisture while his slightly-too-long sweaty hair clung to his long, sturdy neck and she fought the urge to go wipe his dripping bangs out of his eyes. She usually didn’t notice these things, but since she had met Mac, her life had been anything but usual.

“Enjoying the view?” Evelyn asked, causing Joanna to gasp in surprise. Before she could respond she heard Connie address Evelyn.

“Appears she’s doing a little window shopping,” the usually prim and proper woman observed with a smirk.

“Hmmm,” Evelyn replied as if Jo wasn’t standing there. “But you know the trouble with window shopping?” she directed her question to Connie.

“Yep. You never actually buy anything!” And then the two of them giggled like school girls while Joanna wished for a sink hole to appear and swallow her whole.

Suddenly Connie’s hand was on her shoulder. “Don’t be embarrassed dear,” she implored. “We were only having some fun with you. Mac is a very attractive man, both inside and out. I’d be worried if you didn’t stop and appreciate that every now and again.” Connie smiled again, but this time it was with genuine affection.

Joanna returned the smile, politely excused herself, and headed toward her office, but not before overhearing Connie ask Evelyn about the status of her and MacGyver’s relationship. Joanna hurried away, not wanting to hear the answer because she, herself, wasn’t sure what the answer was.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The week flew by quickly for MacGyver. Between conducting interviews, working on the rec room, and catching up with Pete and Jack he had hardly seen Joanna at all. Therefore he was pleased when he saw her pull up in front of his apartment building Friday evening. He had genuinely missed her and looked forward to spending time with her. It had been decided, by Connie and Evelyn, that Jack would drive the elder members of the wedding party down to Chicago in the roomy Nomad while Mac and Jo took the Jeep which had been deemed too uncomfortable for ‘old’ people. MacGyver had been an agent too long, and a bachelor even longer, to know a set-up when he saw one, but for once he didn’t mind. Their efforts were so obvious it was amusing.

As they stowed their luggage and climbed into their respective vehicles, Mac felt Jo’s gaze boring into him.

“You got a haircut,” she said, as if he didn’t know.

It was really just a trim, but MacGyver was glad she noticed.

“Yeah, it’s my wedding present to Pete and Connie. Along with agreeing to be trussed up in a suit and tie.” Truthfully, Mac would do whatever it took to make the Thornton’s day perfect and memorable.

Companionable silence reigned in the Jeep as they made the short road-trip south. Normally this wouldn’t bother MacGyver, but a niggling question gnawed at him and he thought perhaps Joanna might have an answer.

“Jack was telling me about an abandoned convent on the shores of Lake Michigan that might be haunted.”

“Yeah, St. Mary’s School for Girls in Prairie Point. My great-grandma worked there.”

MacGyver glanced at her, his curiosity rising.

“Have you ever been there?”

“A long time ago. I found it pretty creepy.”

“Do you believe in ghosts?” MacGyver meant to tease her, but was surprised by her answer.

“I don’t believe in them. But I don’t not believe in them, either,” she replied.

“Do you know anything about the tunnels?”

Mac saw Joanna’s head snap toward him. “Jack knows about the tunnels?”

“You sound surprised.”

“There are several widely known stories about the place being haunted. Many of which have been debunked, by the way. But it’s hard to find information about the tunnels. If they even exist.”

“How did you learn about them?” he asked.

“Local rumors,” she shrugged. “You can supposedly access them from the chapel, but I also heard the entrances have been blocked. Is Jack planning on going ghost-hunting?”

“More like treasure hunting, but yeah.”

“Are going with him?” she asked with a grin.

“No! Absolutely not! No way, never! Well…maybe. Yeah, probably.”

Joanna laughed out loud.

It was ten o’clock that night when the small group arrived at the high rise luxury hotel located on Michigan Avenue just a few blocks from the lake. MacGyver slid his keycard through the electronic lock, allowing Pete and Jack to enter as he surveyed the well-appointed room which offered two double beds and a sleeper sofa along with a microwave and mini-fridge. Mac assumed the set-up was the same for the women’s room across the hall. Tomorrow night Pete and Connie would be sharing the honeymoon suite before settling into their new home Sunday morning. Jack had offered to help the couple move in and they were quick to accept an extra body to assist with the onerous task, insisting he stay in their guest room for as long as he needed. Mac shook his head. Did they have any idea what they were in for? MacGyver would have liked to have stayed and helped his friends, but he was technically still on assignment and needed to return to Milwaukee and Challengers.

Early Saturday morning Mac entered the lobby area to take advantage of the free breakfast buffet. He found Joanna already sitting at a table browsing through a magazine, half-way through her meal. After grabbing a glass of juice, a yogurt and a banana, MacGyver made his way towards her.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” he asked.

Joanna looked up, the look in her eyes turning from surprise to pleasure when she saw him.

“What would you do if I said it was?” She asked cheekily.

“I’d have to go to Plan B,” he replied.

“Which would be…?

“Don’t know. Haven’t thought of it yet.”

Joanna laughed and motioned for MacGyver to join her. Sitting across from her, he noticed her pale skin and drooping eyelids.

“Sleep well?” he asked, though her face had already give him the answer.

“No,” she grumbled. He cocked and eyebrow. “Turns out Evelyn snores like a chainsaw. There are some things you just don’t need to know about your friends.”

Mac grunted. “Tell me about it. Both Jack and Pete kept me up half the night. When I left, they were still sleeping like babies.”

Having finished her breakfast, Joanna closed the magazine and began to rise. “I better get back to the room,” she told him. “Connie has Pete’s credit card and insists we do some damage to the Miracle Mile before the ceremony this afternoon.” She headed towards the elevators, soon out of sight.

At 3pm there was a knock on the door. MacGyver opened it, taken aback by the woman standing there. He was used to seeing Joanna in professional as well as casual attire, but nothing had prepared him for this. She stood in front of him wearing a light aqua sundress that gracefully draped her figure, showing it off to perfection. The skirt flared slightly, the hem falling just below her knees and flitting around her legs with the slightest movement. He couldn’t help noticing the tie he had been struggling with for the last ten minutes was the same lovely blue as her dress. The tie Connie had insisted he wear. Why hadn’t she just given him a sign to put on his back that said ‘I’m with her’?

“And they say women are never ready on time,” she quipped, crossing her arms in front of her and leaning on the doorjamb as she balanced on high-heeled beige sandals.

“There’s a first time for everything,” Mac smiled back just now noticing Evelyn standing off to the side. The shorter woman wore a peach colored sheath that matched Jack’s tie, and behind her Connie wore a light beige skirt suit, a bouquet of summer flowers already in hand.

“Here, let me help you with that,” Joanna said, causing MacGyver to step back as she and the other two women entered the room. Jo reached up and began straightening and tightening Mac’s tie when Jack emerged from the bathroom.

“MacGyver,” he scolded. “Why didn’t you tell me we had three lovely visitors?”

The women snickered and soon the small party was standing in front of the hotel, hailing taxis. As with the room, the women road in one car and the men in the other, their destination the Cook County Courthouse. Upon their arrival, they were escorted into a small conference room and greeted by the judge who was to perform the ceremony. He and Pete had been good friends back in the day so the judge had arranged to marry his friend outside of normal hours when there would be less of a crowd. The judge donned his black robe and instructed Evelyn and Joanna to stand next to Connie and stationed MacGyver and Jack next to Pete. He then opened the portfolio he carried and began to recite the age-old words that would bond Pete and Connie together for the rest of their lives…again.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” Mac’s mind drifted. He recalled the way Joanna had looked, standing in his hotel room doorway, her face glowing and eyes sparkling as if she hadn’t a care in the world. He remembered the soft touch of her hands as she deftly fixed his tie as if she had been doing it all her life. He wondered what it would feel like if it was Joanna he was standing next to in front of the judge, making forever promises to each other. A forearm to his gut jerked him from his reverie.

“Wha?”

“The ring,” Pete hissed.

Fully present now, MacGyver began patting his suitcoat in search of the small velvet pouch Pete had given him for safe-keeping until this exact moment. When he finally pulled the ring from an inside pocket, the room gave a collective sigh and the ceremony continued.

“I knew Pete should’ve given me the ring,” Jack complained as he elbowed Mac in the ribs. Mac frowned and focused hard on the rest of the proceedings.

After rings and kisses were exchanged and the proper documents signed and witnessed, the happy group headed back to the hotel’s premier restaurant for an intimate celebratory dinner. The Thornton’s were picking up the tab and everyone was under strict instructions to order whatever they wanted, regardless of cost. Drinks were served and toasts were made. Joanna and Evelyn each indulged in a glass of white wine while MacGyver ordered sparkling water and the newlyweds sipped champagne. Jack took advantage of the full bar and free liquor.

Dinner was a delightful affair with scrumptious food and even more enjoyable company. After being escorted to a large, round table, Connie instructed MacGyver to sit between Evelyn and Joanna and he happily obliged. Conversation flowed easily and there was much laughter and good-hearted teasing. Even though Joanna didn’t have a history with the group, she managed to hold her own and join in the happy discussions. This pleased Mac perhaps more than it should have, but he had sensed how apprehensive she was about the trip and he was glad she had been able to relax and allow his friends to accept her.

They had just finished a decadent chocolate dessert when a small band stepped onto a dais at the front of the dining room beside a small dance floor. After briefly tuning their instruments they started playing a slow waltz. MacGyver saw Pete whisper something in Connie’s ear that made her giggle, then the two were off to the dance floor.

“What’s wrong?” Joanna leaned over and whispered in Mac’s ear, obviously seeing the confusion on his face.

“I didn’t know Pete could dance,” he replied as he watched the couple in awe.

Soon the band segued into a more upbeat tune. Connie guided Pete back to the table as younger couples made their way to the floor. Next it was Jack who leaned over toward Evelyn.

“Excuse us,” she offered politely as Jack led her toward the other dancers. Joanna’s mouth fell open.

“What’s wrong?” Mac whispered in her ear.

“I didn’t know Evelyn could dance,” she replied.

“First snoring, then dancing…this is turning out to be quite an enlightening trip,” Mac observed as Joanna giggled softly.

Jack returned Evelyn to her chair as the band launched into a well-known swing dance number.

Jack bowed to Joanna. “And now it is your turn, mademoiselle.”

“Oh, I don’t really dance,” she hedged.

“Neither do I, but what the heck!” Jack exclaimed as he reached for her hand.

“She said she doesn’t dance,” MacGyver stated firmly, glaring at his friend.

Joanna watched the two men. Jack still had possession of her hand.

“Well, I always did like this song,” she relented. “I guess one dance can’t hurt.” And off she went with Jack.

Mac felt his hackles rise even as he willed himself not to be jealous of his friend. After all, he could just as easily be dancing with Jo now if he had bothered to ask instead of sitting like a bump on a log. He focused on taking calming breaths as he watched the duo attempt to execute the basic steps of the jitterbug, laughing when their efforts failed to produce the desired result. Honestly, Jack was one of his best friends. He should be glad that Joanna was getting along with him. After all, Jack Dalton tended to be an acquired taste.

The lively tune turned into a slow, rhythmic ballad and Jack pulled Joanna close. That did it! MacGyver quickly got up from his chair and made his way across the dance floor. He tapped Jack on the shoulder.

“Get your own girl,” Jack mumbled as he attempted to bury his head in Joanna’s neck.

MacGyver poked Jack in the shoulder. Hard.

“All right, all right, she’s all yours,” Jack said, releasing Joanna and backing away a bit unsteadily.

Joanna walked into Mac’s arms and they began gently swaying to the music in perfect rhythm with each other.

“I’m sorry about Jack,” Mac murmured softly.

“No problem, I could’ve handled him,” Joanna assured.

MacGyver pulled back so he could look her in the eye. “I’m sure you could’ve,” he smiled, before once again holding her near until the song ended.

It was 2am and MacGyver sat on the edge of his bed, dropped his head in his hands and groaned. The only thing worse than a snoring Jack was a snoring intoxicated Jack. Mac pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe a walk would help. He was reaching for his jacket by the door when he heard a muffled noise in the hallway. He looked out the peephole and saw Joanna sneaking out of her room across the way. Mac quickly opened his door, the noise catching her attention, and joined her in the hall.

“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked.

“No,” she said with a yawn. “I guess I’m still kinda wound up from this evening. And Evelyn’s snoring again. What about you?”

“Jack.”

“Ah.”

“Where were you headed?” he asked, noticing she was dressed as well.

“I thought I’d go down to the lobby. See what’s on TV or look through a magazine or something.”

“I was gonna go for a walk, get some fresh air. Wanna join me?”

“You’re going for a walk in the middle of the night in downtown Chicago?” She shot him a look that said he was one beaker short of a chemistry set.

“I heard this was the good side of town,” he assured her with a grin as they left the building and turned east, heading to Lake Michigan. MacGyver was surprised at the number of people still meandering the streets at this hour.

“Did you have a good time today?” he asked.

“Sure. It was very nice.”

“You don’t sound too enthusiastic,” Mac observed.

Joanna sighed. “I’m sorry. The whole day was lovely. I just find weddings in general to be rather depressing?”

MacGyver remained silent, giving her time to find the words to elaborate.

“Kinda gets me thinking about what I’m missing out on. I guess that sounds pretty selfish.”

“Not really,” Mac declared. They had reached the paved path that ran parallel to the lake. Lights of distant freighters twinkled in the darkness and the full moon shone brightly on the water.

“How come you’ve never gotten married?” Joanna asked bluntly, literally stopping MacGyver in his tracks. This had to be one of the most direct questions she had ever asked him.

“I thought we already talked about this?”

“You told me why you didn’t marry Sam’s mother. There must have been other women in your life you were serious about.”

“And how can you be so sure?” he smirked, trying to lighten the mood.

“Trust me, Mac. In my experience, a guy like you has to work really hard at staying single. I’d extol your virtues, but I don’t want you to get a big head.”

“There were a couple girls,” MacGyver admitted. “But it was a long time ago.”

“What happened?”

“One or the other of us would leave because we couldn’t handle the thought of being tied down. We wanted freedom, adventure. I guess the easy answer is that I’m afraid of commitment.”

“What’s the hard answer?” Joanna asked quietly.

Mac sighed. “I guess I’m afraid of making a mistake. Of letting someone down that I care about, having someone I love get hurt.”

Joanna simply nodded as a visible shiver went up her spine. By now they had abandoned the concrete path and were walking side-by-side on the beach. The sand was still warm, but the breeze off the lake had significantly cooled the air.

“You’re cold. Here,” Mac said, slipping out of his lightweight jacket and draping it around her shoulders before she could protest. “So, what’s your story?” he asked gently.

“I always saw myself as a wife and stay-at-home mom. I guess I thought it would just magically happen. One day I looked around to see all my friends married with children and realized that life had happened without me. By the time I understood what I should have done it was too late.”

MacGyver reached down and grabbed Joanna’s hand, bringing her to a halt.

“Don’t say that,” he said brusquely, turning to look at her. “It’s not too late for you. And hopefully not for me, either,” he added with a crooked smile.

Her brown eyes searched his as if asking for a promise that this was true. The vulnerability he saw there was his undoing.

MacGyver dipped his head slightly, his gaze zeroing in on her soft, pink lips. He hesitated, giving Joanna a chance to back away when she wordlessly raised her face to his, apparently eager to accept what he offered. Cupping her face in his large hands he carefully lowered his mouth to hers until their lips met in a gentle, soft caress. He didn’t rush, but he didn’t linger. His heart fluttered as if he was a schoolboy kissing a girl for the first time. He would readily admit that he had kissed his fair share of women, but he couldn’t recall any of them feeling exactly like this. Maybe it was because he had never kissed someone exactly like this before.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Rise and shine, sleepy head!” Evelyn crowed as she entered the room with a disposable breakfast tray laden with various fresh fruit and muffins.

“’Morning,” Joanna mumbled from under the heavy down duvet. It had been nearly 4am Sunday morning by the time she and MacGyver arrived back at the hotel. She had kicked off her shoes and crawled back into bed fully clothed, but sleep was elusive as her mind replayed, in vivid detail, every word, every touch from their walk on the beach even as she berated herself for overthinking it. But that’s what she did. She overthought…everything! Maybe, just this once, she could let things play out. She had just been kissed by an incredible man. If it went no further it was still more than she could have hoped for.

Joanna threw back the bed clothes and reached for her shoes. When Evelyn turned to find her fully dressed she cocked her head and furrowed her brow.

“I went for a little walk last night,” Joanna offered hesitantly.

Evelyn nodded and went back to arranging their breakfast. “I heard you come sneaking in early this morning like a wayward teenager and wondered what you’d been up to.”

Joanna smiled to herself as she wondered how her boss would react if she said she’d been kissing MacGyver.

“You should know better,” Evelyn continued. “It’s not safe to go walking the streets alone in the dark.”

“I wasn’t alone,” Joanna assuaged her, heading to the bathroom.

“Oh? Ooooh!”

“It was just a walk, Evelyn,” Jo called over her shoulder.

“Whatever you say, dear!”

An hour later saw the group of six once again in the lobby sorting out transportation plans for the day. Mac had to return the Jeep to Phoenix and Jack, Connie, and Pete needed to be taken to the Thornton’s new home.

MacGyver took the Jeep to Phoenix while Jack took the Nomad and dropped off Joanna, Evelyn, Pete and Connie at the new house before picking Mac up at the Foundation and returning to the Thornton’s. Connie happily showed off her new home as she guided her friends through the maze of boxes the movers had left in each room. Everyone laughed at Jack’s hangdog look when she showed him the guest room, currently devoid of any furnishings.

“Don’t worry, Jack, we’ll have the beds ready for tonight. After you finish putting them together,” Connie promised delightfully.

Jack looked imploringly at MacGyver who held up his hands in a gesture of surrender.

“Don’t look at me!” Mac warned him. “It was your idea to help with the moving in exchange for free room and board.” Jack scowled.

After exchanging more hugs, more congratulations, and good-byes with promises to get together soon, Mac guided the Nomad onto the highway which would take him, Joanna, and Evelyn back to Milwaukee. The trio rode in comfortable silence for several miles before Evelyn spoke up from the back seat.

“I’m so glad Pete and Connie finally worked things out and got back together. Just goes to show that anything can happen given enough time,” she declared.

Neither MacGyver nor Joanna responded as they stared out the windshield at the passing landscape, Evelyn’s words bringing small, hopeful smiles to their lips.















Posted by: Dragondog 28 December 2018 - 08:07 PM
I have a lot to say:

So much shipping! Everyone ships JoGyver. Or Macanna

QUOTE
“Do you know anything about the tunnels?”Mac saw Joanna’s head snap toward him. “Jack knows about the tunnels?”
Boy, she caught on fast laugh.gif

QUOTE
Is Jack planning on going ghost-hunting?”
“More like treasure hunting, but yeah.”
“Are going with him?” she asked with a grin.
“No! Absolutely not! No way, never! Well…maybe. Yeah, probably.”Joanna laughed out loud.
Mac and Jack's relationship in one paragraph laugh.gif

QUOTE
“No,” she grumbled. He cocked and eyebrow. “Turns out Evelyn snores like a chainsaw. There are some things you just don’t need to know about your friends.”
Ooh, that sounds familiar. I think Jack and Evelyn just may be a good match wink.gif tongue.gif

QUOTE
He couldn’t help noticing the tie he had been struggling with for the last ten minutes was the same lovely blue as her dress. The tie Connie had insisted he wear. Why hadn’t she just given him a sign to put on his back that said ‘I’m with her’?
Mac is clearly aware he is being shipped laugh.gif

QUOTE
Mac smiled back just now noticing Evelyn standing off to the side. The shorter woman wore a peach colored sheath that matched Jack’s tie
Foreshadowing?

QUOTE
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…” Mac’s mind drifted. He recalled the way Joanna had looked, standing in his hotel room doorway, her face glowing and eyes sparkling as if she hadn’t a care in the world. He remembered the soft touch of her hands as she deftly fixed his tie as if she had been doing it all her life. He wondered what it would feel like if it was Joanna he was standing next to in front of the judge, making forever promises to each other.
A forearm to his gut jerked him from his reverie.“Wha?”
“The ring,” Pete hissed.
Fully present now, MacGyver began patting his suitcoat in search of the small velvet pouch Pete had given him for safe-keeping until this exact moment. When he finally pulled the ring from an inside pocket, the room gave a collective sigh and the ceremony continued.
Oh Mac laugh.gif

QUOTE
Jack took advantage of the full bar and free liquor.
Of course he did

QUOTE
“What’s wrong?” Joanna leaned over and whispered in Mac’s ear, obviously seeing the confusion on his face.
“I didn’t know Pete could dance,” he replied as he watched the couple in awe.
Me neither tongue.gif

QUOTE
Next it was Jack who leaned over toward Evelyn.“Excuse us,” she offered politely as Jack led her toward the other dancers.
Joanna’s mouth fell open.
“What’s wrong?” Mac whispered in her ear.
“I didn’t know Evelyn could dance,” she replied.
Guess everyone's in for surprises, huh?

QUOTE
“First snoring, then dancing…this is turning out to be quite an enlightening trip,” Mac observed as Joanna giggled softly.
Yes. Yes it has XD

QUOTE
The lively tune turned into a slow, rhythmic ballad and Jack pulled Joanna close. That did it! MacGyver quickly got up from his chair and made his way across the dance floor. He tapped Jack on the shoulder.
“Get your own girl,” Jack mumbled as he attempted to bury his head in Joanna’s neck.MacGyver poked Jack in the shoulder. Hard.“All right, all right, she’s all yours,” Jack said, releasing Joanna and backing away a bit unsteadily.
JACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! surprise.gif mad.gif laugh.gif

QUOTE
The only thing worse than a snoring Jack was a snoring intoxicated Jack
I can imagine

QUOTE
“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked.
“No,” she said with a yawn. “I guess I’m still kinda wound up from this evening. And Evelyn’s snoring again. What about you?”
“Jack.”
“Ah.”
That's all she needed to hear XD

QUOTE
“I wasn’t alone,” Joanna assuaged her, heading to the bathroom.
“Oh? Ooooh!”
“It was just a walk, Evelyn,” Jo called over her shoulder.
“Whatever you say, dear!”
I swear, if this ship gets shipped any harder, it's going to get as big as the Titanic. Minus the iceberg XD

Posted by: Dragondog 28 December 2018 - 08:07 PM
Also, what's a Miracle Mile?

Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 December 2018 - 11:50 AM
Hi Dragondog!

Thank you *so* much for all your wonderful comments! You are a writer's dream!! Actually, as i reread this chapter before posting it I found it to be rather messy...it's basically a means to end...I wanted to get the Nomad back to Mac as well as have Pete and Connie remarry and move to Chicago. I threw Jack in for some comic relief and also because I wanted to start using some canon characters. Anyway...I'm glad you liked it!!

I'm afraid I made a mistake with the term "Miracle Mile" which is odd, since I do research my ideas. It's actually called the "Magnificent Mile". It's an area of Chicago around Michigan Avenue that has high-end shops, jewelers, restaurants, etc. I've never been there myself, so I thought I'd let Joanna go and have some fun!!

BTW...I *love* the term "JoGyver"! Funny no one else hasn't thought of it already!!

Thanks again for reading and commenting....I'll be adding another chapter shortly!

Posted by: Persona non grata 29 December 2018 - 01:36 PM
Jack: gee, Mac sure is taking his own sweet time getting to know this girl already.

Jack: hey, if I dance with her first, that'll make Mac jealous!

Jack: *grins*

Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 December 2018 - 05:41 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 29 December 2018 - 01:36 PM)
Jack: gee, Mac sure is taking his own sweet time getting to know this girl already.

Jack: hey, if I dance with her first, that'll make Mac jealous!

Jack: *grins*

LOL!! I love it!!

Posted by: Dragondog 29 December 2018 - 06:43 PM
QUOTE
Thank you *so* much for all your wonderful comments! You are a writer's dream!!

You're welcome smile.gif

QUOTE

I'm afraid I made a mistake with the term "Miracle Mile" which is odd, since I do research my ideas. It's actually called the "Magnificent Mile". It's an area of Chicago around Michigan Avenue that has high-end shops, jewelers, restaurants, etc. I've never been there myself, so I thought I'd let Joanna go and have some fun!!

Oh, that makes so much more sense now laugh.gif

QUOTE

Thanks again for reading and commenting....I'll be adding another chapter shortly!


I'll be here. Looking forward to it! wink.gif

Posted by: MacGyver85 29 December 2018 - 09:06 PM
So I read this chapter really fast last night cuz it was late and I was tired but I give it thumbsup.gif thumbup.gif biggrin.gif

Also Dragondog, you pretty much said most of what I was thinking lol

Posted by: Jen85 30 December 2018 - 03:56 AM
thumbsup.gif happy_dance.gif Loving it, really looking forward to what happens next. wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 31 December 2018 - 12:46 PM
Chapter 19: Jack’s Back


It was the last Saturday in June when MacGyver’s ringing telephone coaxed him awake. He peeled one eye open and looked at the clock, 6am! Mac groaned and debated letting the machine take the call. However, it was unusually early so it could be an emergency. The ringing continued as Mac crawled out of bed and padded to the kitchen. “I’m coming,” he murmured, as if the person on the other end could hear him.

“Hello?” he answered groggily.

“Buenos Dias, Kemosabe!” came an annoyingly cheerful reply.

“Jack,” MacGyver growled, “do you have any idea what time it is?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So I was trying to sleep!” Mac scolded.

“I must have the wrong number, then. The MacGyver I knew could go days without sleeping and still bring down a Colombian drug cartel single-handedly. You must be getting—“

“What do you want, Jack?” Mac interrupted, his patience wearing thin.

“Well, Pete and Connie are all unpacked and settled in. I’m probably gonna be taking off soon so I thought this would be a good weekend to go down to Prairie Point and—“

“I’m not going with you, Jack.”

“What do you mean, MacGyver? You always go with me.” Mac could hear the bewildered dejection in his friend’s voice and could picture the sad, puppy dog face that accompanied it.

“That’s just it. I always go with you. No matter how stupid, dangerous, or futile your scheme, I always go. Not this time, Jack. You’re on your own.”

“But Mac, I’ve been at the library doing more research. This could be it, my friend. One big glorious treasure trove hidden in the tunnels under St. Mary’s.”

MacGyver groaned.

“C’mon buddy, I know you’re curious.”

Mac knew he was going to regret this later. “Okay Jack. Let me do a little research of my own and I’ll meet you there in a couple of hours.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Later that morning, MacGyver and Jack stood outside a tall, wrought iron fence surrounding the neglected property. Knee-high weeds and grass swayed in the gentle summer breeze. A short distance away, two multi-story stone buildings flanked a gothic structure. Waves from Lake Michigan reached out to the sand and stone that had protected the school from the water for over a century.

“So, what did you find out about this place?” Jack asked as the two men leaned against the hood of the Nomad, Mac flipping through papers in a manila folder.

“The owner of record is the township of Prairie Point. Public workers come out and cut the grass a few times over the summer and that’s about it. The local historical society is currently trying to get St. Mary’s added to the National Register of Historic Places. Their efforts have kept the buildings from being torn down or repaired. Therefore, it just sits here until a final decision is made,” MacGyver explained.

“What about the hauntings? Anything about ghosts?”

“I thought you were looking for gold, Jack?”

“I am,” he replied. “I just want to make sure you and I are the only ones in there.”

MacGyver sighed. “Every year, right before Halloween, news crews from around the state run stories on the supposed hauntings of St. Mary’s. Of course, people are more than ready to share their supernatural experiences whether real or made up in order to get their fifteen minutes of fame.”

“And the tunnels?” Jack prodded.

“Not much is really known about them,” Mac replied. “But it wasn’t all that unusual for multi-structure sites to have tunnels between the buildings, mainly for easy access during inclement weather.”

MacGyver pointed to the ornate building in the center. “That’s the chapel. The building to the right is the school, and the building to the left is the convent and dormitories. There’s probably a tunnel that runs between each building and the chapel.” At this point he paused. “Legend has it that another tunnel runs from the chapel to the beach.”

“That would be the one they used to move the gold,” Jack whispered in awe.

“You ready to go in?” Mac asked.

“Lead the way!”

MacGyver grabbed a small bag from the trunk of his car and looped the strap over his shoulder.

“C’mon,” Mac grunted, heading toward a rusted gate. There was no lock. As MacGyver pushed it open enough for him and Jack to enter, it groaned in protest.

The two men walked carefully through the high grass and uneven terrain. They had almost reached their destination when MacGyver felt Jack grasp his arm.

“Did you see that?” Jack whispered urgently.

“See what?” Mac hissed as he pried his friend’s fingers loose from his bicep.

“I thought I saw something in that window?” Jack answered as he pointed to a third story room in the dormitory.

“Would you get a hold of yourself?” Mac demanded. “And stop whispering. There’s no one here but us.”

MacGyver walked up the crumbling stone steps of the chapel.

“Where’re you goin’?” Jack asked nervously.

“If the information about the tunnels is correct, they should all converge here, in the center of the building,” Mac explained, becoming impatient with his friend.

“Maybe we should walk around the outside first,” Jack suggested. “You know, scout out the place.”

“Yeah, that might be a good idea,” MacGyver agreed and smirked when he heard his friend sigh in relief. Apparently the fortune hunter was in no hurry to enter the old building.

As they inspected the exteriors of the decrepit buildings, MacGyver found nothing unusual until they reached the back of the chapel and saw old, wooden cellar doors firmly secured by a shiny silver padlock.

“I’d say that’s not an original fixture.” Mac lifted his arm to point out the lock to Jack.

“Oh, wow! Who do you think put it there?”

MacGyver shrugged. “Maybe a maintenance worker? It could be a storage area.”

“Or the entrance to a tunnel,” Jack added with renewed excitement.

Mac felt a surge of adrenaline as he approached the doors, digging in his hip pocket and pulling out his ever-present Swiss Army knife. With practiced movements he selected the proper tool and easily picked the simple lock. He and Jack pulled back the heavy doors to reveal a dark, steep staircase of rotting wood. MacGyver reached into his bag and removed two flashlights, handing one to Jack. With Mac in the lead, they cautiously made their way down the steps, breathing a sigh of relief that the rickety stairs had held when their feet touched solid ground.

Jack let out a long, low whistle as the two men surveyed their surroundings. Mac had expected to find a narrow walkway carved out of earth and sand. Instead, he found himself standing in a large, clean corridor. Plywood boards covered the floor and shored up the sides and top. He scanned the area with his flashlight. A generator stood in one corner. Mac looked up to see light bulbs strung the length of the tunnel. Moving forward into the darkness, the beam of his flashlight landed on a pile of pallets against the far wall loaded with packages of a white, powdery substance.

“Jack, take a look at this,” MacGyver directed as he strode to the pallets.

“Is that what I think it is?”

Mac took out his knife and cut into one of the packages, balancing a bit of the powder on the blade. He sniffed it and then ventured a taste.

“Cocaine,” Mac confirmed. “Here, take this,” he shoved his flashlight toward Jack and reached into his bag, pulled out a camera, and began shooting from various angles.

“What’re you doing?” Jack asked.

“Collecting evidence to take to the authorities.”

Once MacGyver was done taking pictures, he and Jack continued to inspect the packages and pallets.

“Hey, what’s this?” Jack asked, picking up a piece of ledger paper from underneath one of the pallets.

Mac stood next to his friend as they studied the rows of numbers listed neatly on the paper.

060295 0030
060995 0100
061695 0130
062395 0200
063095 0230

“Let’s figure this out later,” MacGyver said as he folded the paper and tucked it into his hip pocket. “In the meantime, let’s check out what’s behind door number two,” he suggested, pointing his flashlight beam to an old wooden door directly to his right.

The door was unlocked and swung open easily. A little too easily, which concerned Mac. He shown his flashlight into the darkness, discovering another tunnel. This one was damp and dank, carved out of mud and stone. They followed it to the end and another wooden staircase at the top of which was another door which again opened way too easily. Jack and MacGyver stepped into what must have been, at one time, a large classroom given the blackboards lining the walls and the desks pushed up against the walls. Everything was covered in a heavy layer of dust. Well, almost everything.

“Do ghosts leave footprints?” Jack asked, pointing to the floor.

“Not the last time I checked,” MacGyver replied, crouching down to examine the imprints further. “And I doubt they wear hiking boots.”

“Should we follow them?”

“No. If someone is hanging around, I don’t want to announce our presence. There should be another tunnel directly across from this one leading to the dorms. Let’s check that out.”

They retraced their steps until they once again stood in front of the pallets of cocaine. To their left was the same type of tunnel they had just come from. At the top of an old staircase another door opened into a still-furnished bedroom. Mac stopped on the top step and looked at the floor. The same footprints appeared. MacGyver turned around, motioning Jack to do the same.

“Let’s get out of here and figure out what’s going on,” Mac ordered as he and Jack descended the stairs, walked back through the main tunnel, and emerged from the cellar doors. MacGyver replaced the padlock before he and Jack headed back to the car.

“We need to figure out what these number sequences mean,” Mac said, pulling the piece of paper Jack had found from his pocket.

The two friends walked to a nearby diner for a bite to eat while they studied the numbers. By the time they had finished their dessert, MacGyver thought he had found the solution.

“I think I got it,” Mac announced. “The first set of numbers all end in ‘95’ which is the year. The first two numbers are all ‘06’ which could be the month. The numbers in between correspond to the dates of all the Sundays in June.”

“Makes sense,” Jack agreed, looking over Mac’s shoulder at the list. “What about the last four digits.”

“I think that’s military time, starting at 12:30am and getting later each week by thirty minutes. If that’s right, then the last number sequence is tomorrow morning at 2:30am. Could be some sort of shipping or delivery schedule,” Mac deduced.

“Looks that way,” Jack nodded, “but which one?”

“Since they appeared ready for shipping, I’d say whoever is doing this is smuggling the drugs out of Prairie Point, and the batch we saw is leaving tonight,” Mac explained. “I think it’s time we call the cops.”

“And tell them what?” Jack scoffed. “That we were searching for gold and happened upon a huge stash of drugs? I say we take care of the bad guys ourselves and then hand them over to the police all nice and tidy.”

“I don’t like it, Jack. We don’t know what we’re walking into. It’s too dangerous.”

“Well, you didn’t want to come here in the first place yet here you are.”

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It was 2:15am Sunday morning. MacGyver crouched in the overgrown grass and weeds, his back against the cold stone of the chapel. Jack took up the same position on the other side of the cellar doors.

MacGyver grew more uneasy as the minutes ticked by. He wished he had more intel. More backup. A plan. The most logical scenario was that a boat would come to pick up the drugs and transport them to their predetermined destination. But had the deal already taken place or would the money be exchanged tonight? There had to be quite a lot of money involved given the amount of coke he had seen. Was he naïve in thinking he and Jack could lock whoever was picking up the goods in the tunnel when they went to retrieve the pallets and then call in the authorities to handle the rest?

The drone of a boat engine caught MacGyver’s attention. He pulled out a pair of night-vision binoculars from the bag he had been carrying and looked out over the lake. There he saw a thirty-five foot stripped down cabin cruiser clipping toward their position, pulling a dinghy with an outboard motor behind it. The cruiser anchored several yards from shore as two men scrambled into the dinghy and headed toward the beach. It would take numerous trips in the small boat to carry away the bags of cocaine that were waiting. MacGyver frowned at the inefficiency of the operation. Yet, it had apparently been successful the previous weekends.

MacGyver watched as two burly men climbed out of the dinghy and pulled it ashore. They headed straight for the cellar doors. One stood look-out as the other unlocked and opened the doors. Mac and Jack sank further down in the grass. Once they heard the men’s boots pounding on the stairs, they threw the doors closed and secured the lock. And then the world exploded. The men in the cellar began shooting through the closed doors. MacGyver and Jack once again threw themselves into the relative safety of the tall grass. Automatic gunfire from the larger vessel erupted sending bullets into the sand and pinging off the stone façade of the chapel. Bright lights flooded the area. More boats arrived, men pouring out of them into the shallow water and onto the beach. MacGyver stood up to run, hoping Jack would do the same. He had only taken one step before the butt of a gun was brought down hard against the back of his head and he fell forward into silent darkness.

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MacGyver awoke slowly to a steady pounding in his head. Bright overhead lights assaulted his eyes when he tried to open them. He lifted his hand to massage his forehead and that’s when he heard the metallic clink and felt something bite into his wrist.

“What the--?” He raised his head only high enough to see the handcuffs that chained him to the hospital bed.

“Ah, sleeping beauty has arisen!”

“Jack…” MacGyver growled, turning to see his friend in the bed next to him, also handcuffed to the safety rails.

Just then the door to their room opened and in walked Pete, his hand on the elbow of a man Mac recognized as an agent from the Chicago field office.

“Hiya Pete!” MacGyver greeted him, trying to sound cheerful…and innocent. “I can explain.”

“You should know better than to go off and take the law into your own hands, Mac! You could have easily have been killed tonight!” Pete admonished him. “And don’t try to explain. I’ve heard several official reports about what happened tonight. According to them, you and Dalton were staking out a drug smuggling ring working between Milwaukee and Chicago. The FBI and Coast Guard just happened to set up a sting operation the same night you and Jack planned to ambush the smugglers. The agents mistook you for one of the smugglers and knocked you out. Once Jack explained what you were doing, you were both charged with trespassing, breaking and entering, tampering with evidence and impeding a federal investigation. Did I miss anything?”

MacGyver winced. “At this point, I think you know more than I do.”

“And then,” Pete continued as if Mac hadn’t spoken, “they find your Phoenix ID and I get a call in the middle of the night to come bail you out!”

“Don’t be so hard on him, Pete,” Jack said quietly. “It was all my fault. Mac just went along with it to try and keep me out of trouble like he always does.”

“Then I should have both your butts in a sling!” Pete blustered.

“Look, Pete,” MacGyver said contritely. “We made some bad decisions, it won’t happen again.”

“That’s what you said last time!” Pete paused to take a deep, calming breath. “You should both just be thankful that I still have enough pull to save your hides. I’ve convinced the authorities to clear you of all charges the minute the doctor releases you…and not a second sooner. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a weekend to get back to.”

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Several hours later, after being poked, prodded, and poked some more, Jack and MacGyver were released from the hospital…and from police custody. An officer drove them back to their cars that had been left behind at St. Mary’s.

“Hey man, I really am sorry,” Jack apologized as they approached their respective cars.

“Don’t worry about it,” Mac replied, clapping the other man on the shoulder.

“No, I mean it! You’re a good friend, MacGyver. I don’t deserve a buddy like you.”

“Well, you got me anyway,” Mac smiled warmly. “But promise me one thing.”

“Anything!”

“No more schemes, Jack. Get a job. Make an honest living for once in your life.”

“You got it, amigo!” Jack promised, quickly turning his head toward his car so Mac couldn’t see the twitch in his left eye.

Posted by: Persona non grata 31 December 2018 - 05:09 PM
I do love that Jack's reaction to Mac contentedly settling down in the Midwest is to go "doggone it, there's gotta be *something* wacky and foolhardy to do where he lives now. I'm gonna plow through this library until I find it!"

That there actually *is* valuable loot involved is a bonus. That the treasure hunt turns out to be genuinely dangerous and involves them getting arrested...

well, I bet he leaves real happy.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 31 December 2018 - 06:17 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 31 December 2018 - 05:09 PM)
I do love that Jack's reaction to Mac contentedly settling down in the Midwest is to go "doggone it, there's gotta be *something* wacky and foolhardy to do where he lives now. I'm gonna plow through this library until I find it!"

That there actually *is* valuable loot involved is a bonus. That the treasure hunt turns out to be genuinely dangerous and involves them getting arrested...

well, I bet he leaves real happy.

I truly believe Jack can find mischief wherever he goes...or it can find him!

Posted by: Dragondog 31 December 2018 - 06:28 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 31 December 2018 - 08:17 PM)
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 31 December 2018 - 05:09 PM)
I do love that Jack's reaction to Mac contentedly settling down in the Midwest is to go "doggone it, there's gotta be *something* wacky and foolhardy to do where he lives now. I'm gonna plow through this library until I find it!"

That there actually *is* valuable loot involved is a bonus. That the treasure hunt turns out to be genuinely dangerous and involves them getting arrested...

well, I bet he leaves real happy.

I truly believe Jack can find mischief wherever he goes...or it can find him!

...And if he can't, he'll make some himself laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 January 2019 - 07:44 AM
Chapter 20: Be There

The hot summer days melted together quickly and it was the end of July before Joanna knew it. Much had been accomplished at Challengers and she was finally able to let go of the concern and worry that had seemed to be her constant companions for the past several months. Evelyn had quickly approved Jo’s faculty recommendations and all positions had been filled except for a science teacher, but Joanna wasn’t concerned. Much. There was still plenty of time before the fall term began. Aside from occasionally enrolling a new student and preparing for teacher orientation in August, Joanna found herself with extra time on her hands. Time she found herself spending with MacGyver who had wheedled his way into her everyday life. Sharing meals, either at his place or with her parents, had become the norm to the point where Joanna was just as comfortable in his kitchen as her own. It was not unusual to find Mac helping her dad with yard work and outdoor projects as they bonded over their mutual love of duct tape or taking direction from her mom as he assisted with minor indoor projects as well. In addition, they had resumed their air hockey rivalry which resulted in several evenings spent playing, eating pizza, and watching movies. At times, it seemed Joanna couldn’t turn around without smacking into his solid form, and she discovered that wasn’t a bad thing. Sharing time and conversation with him was incredibly easy, as if she had been doing it all her life. Though their time together was dwindling, Joanna had vowed to herself that she would live in the present and appreciate every moment instead of worrying about whatever the future may hold.

MacGyver and his Phoenix volunteers had completed most of their tasks at Challengers as well. An internal communication system had been installed with each room now having a telephone that connected directly to the security booth and Officer Carl. Not only did this allow for two-way communication, but Carl would be alerted if the phone was simply taken off the hook in an emergency. Surveillance cameras had been mounted in the corridors and all common rooms to record and provide live feed of all activity much like the outdoor cameras. Another bank of monitors had been added to the security office to accommodate the extra video screens. Phoenix engineers were in the final stages of installing and refining a discreet metal detection system at the main entrance, and a new air conditioning unit was scheduled to be installed early next month. With so much accomplished ahead of schedule, MacGyver had extra time to spend at the Pettit Center. Every day the heat refused to relent brought a few more teens to the rink to enjoy the cool environment and take part in hockey drills and practices. The uniforms and equipment Phoenix had promised had arrived and if participation continued at this rate, Mac was confident he’d be able to field a strong team when school began. If he was still around. The more time he spent with the kids, Joanna, and her family, the less excited he became about returning to his life in L.A. and with the Foundation. But that was where he belonged. Wasn’t it?

MacGyver had just walked into his apartment and was putting his hockey gear away when his phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hello MacGyver, it’s Connie,” his friend’s sweet voice greeted him. “How are you?”

“Hi Connie. I’m good, thanks. How are you and Pete?”

Connie sighed dramatically before answering. “We’re doing alright. We finally have the house fixed up the way we want it. It took a little longer than planned, but you know how those things go. At least it gave Pete something to do.”

“Doesn’t he have some projects he’s working on at Phoenix?”

There was a long silence before she answered. “Unfortunately not. He’s only been in the office a couple times since we moved. They say there aren’t any suitable assignments for him right now. That’s the reason I’m calling you.”

“What do you want me to do, Connie? Get myself held prisoner in North Korea?” he teased.

“No, Mac,” she chuckled. “I was hoping you could come down and spend some time with him. Come for an afternoon and stay for dinner. You haven’t talked face-to-face since the wedding, and I’m not even going to discuss that debacle with Jack Dalton. And please bring Joanna. I really enjoyed meeting her, but we didn’t have nearly enough time to get to know one another.”

MacGyver couldn’t help but smile. “I’m sure she’d like to see you again, too.”

“Excellent! I’ll call you back soon with all the details.”

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The following Sunday afternoon found Joanna and MacGyver engaging in lively, light-hearted conversation with the Thornton’s in their new suburban Chicago home. It didn’t take long until the men became restless and loaded their fishing gear into Mac’s station wagon and headed for a nearby inland lake leaving Connie and Joanna to indulge in some girl-talk.

“Can I get you something to drink?” Connie asked. “I have fresh-squeezed lemonade.”

“That sounds fine. I’d love some,” Joanna replied politely.

“Come,” Connie motioned, “let’s sit out on the patio and enjoy this lovely day.”

With drinks in hand, the two women settled themselves in cushioned wicker chairs as Joanna willed herself to relax. As much as she liked Pete and Connie, she had only spent time with them once, and she was never able to get totally comfortable in someone else’s home. Except MacGyver’s. And that troubled her more than she cared to think.

“I must confess,” Connie began, breaking into Joanna’s private thoughts. “I had an ulterior motive for inviting you here today.”

“Oh?”

“Pete needs to tell MacGyver something that will probably upset him.”

“Is something wrong with Pete? Is he sick?” Joanna asked anxiously.

“No, dear, nothing like that,” Connie replied. “Pete is going to retire from Phoenix. Permanently. He wanted to tell Mac in person.”

“Is that why they went fishing?”

“No,” Connie sighed. “This is going to be as difficult for Pete to say as it will be for MacGyver to hear. Pete wants to wait until after supper before breaking the news. He’s worried about how Mac will react and wanted to spend some quality time with him before telling him.

Joanna frowned as a lump grew in her stomach. She had quickly learned of the special bond Pete and MacGyver shared that went far beyond boss and subordinate and knew this would be a big adjustment for both of them.

Jo struggled for words. “I don’t mean to sound rude or ungrateful, but why did you insist that I come, too?”

Connie reached out and took Joanna’s hand in hers. “From everything MacGyver has told us about you, and what I saw with my own eyes, it’s obvious there is something special between you two.”

“No! It’s not like that!” Jo insisted as she instinctively pulled her had free from Connie’s grip. “We’re just friends!”

“Close friends,” Connie agreed with a placating smile. “And Pete and I think MacGyver is going to need a friend like you now more than ever.”

“But what can I do? How can I help?”

“Just be there for him, honey. Be there when he wants to talk and, more importantly, when he doesn’t.”

Joanna’s inner questions must have shown on her face because, before she knew it, Connie had once again taken her hand.

“Let me explain something about MacGyver. When you strip away those good looks and daring exploits you will find a very gentle soul. One that loves easily, hurts deeply, and takes on far more guilt than it deserves. And when that happens, the only way Mac knows how to deal with it is to turn inward.”

Joanna’s confusion must have still been evident because Connie continued.

“Has MacGyver told you about Mike?”

“No, he’s never mentioned him.”

“Actually, ‘Mike’ is short for ‘Michelle’. She, Jack and MacGyver were best friends for the longest time. Several years ago her and Mac were rock climbing and she lost her grip. Before Mac could reach her, her harness broke and she…well, MacGyver took it really hard. Convinced himself he should have been able to save her. He went to an old cabin Pete had and shut himself off from the world for weeks. He wouldn’t see anybody. Even refused to answer the phone. Pete was sick with worry. Then last year, when Sam left, he locked himself in his apartment for days. Once again refusing any human contact. Please don’t let that happen again. Be there for him whether he wants you there or not. Show him that he’s needed. Loved. And most importantly, don’t give up on him.”

Joanna nodded, still trying to grasp everything Connie had told her when the other woman suddenly stood up.

“Well, the boys will be back shortly. I’d better get supper started. We’re having eggplant lasagna. It’s one of MacGyver’s favorites. Would you care to help me?”

“Sure,” Jo replied then smiled. “I’m always looking for new recipes!”

“Especially ones that don’t include tofu or bean curd I bet!” The two women laughed as they entered the kitchen.

The men returned shortly before dinnertime.

“I hope you caught enough to feed us all!” Connie teased. “Us womenfolk are counting on you and we’re hungry!”

“Sorry, dear,” Pete held out his empty hands. “They just weren’t biting today.”

“Then it’s lucky I had a back-up plan. Now both of you go and wash up while Jo and I get dinner on the table.”

The meal dragged on for Joanna. She looked around the table at her new friends. Connie was acting as if they had never had this afternoon’s conversation. Pete was laughing and joking with MacGyver who looked more at ease than ever before, and then there was her. Jo struggled to choke down bites of what she assumed was a perfectly delicious meal, but all she could think about was the news Mac was going to hear and the fact that she’d be the one left to pick up the pieces. That was if there were any pieces to pick up. Maybe the Thornton’s were overreacting. After all, Pete was retiring, not dying. Sure, MacGyver would initially be shocked by the news, but he would get over it. He and Pete would remain good friends and life would go on. With these new thoughts foremost in her mind, Joanna finished her meal with gusto and savored the chocolate gelato Connie served for dessert.

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MacGyver felt guilty leaving Joanna and Connie to clear away and wash the dishes, but the serious look on Pete’s face when the older man invited him into the study left him no choice.

“Pete, what’s going on?”

“Have a seat, MacGyver.” Pete motioned to a black leather sofa before feeling his way to a matching chair across from it. Mac still found it hard to believe his friend was blind.

“There’s something I need to tell you, Mac, and I don’t want you to get upset or somehow think you had any influence on my decision. I’m retiring from Phoenix. Permanently.”

Connie’s delicious supper suddenly felt like a rock in the pit of MacGyver’s stomach.

“Pete, you can’t!” Mac blurted out rising to his feet.

“I can and I am, MacGyver. I probably should have done it a long time ago.”

“No Pete, you’re still an important asset to the Foundation,” Mac protested.

“You mean an asset to you,” Pete countered then chuckled. “How many times have I had to pull you out of some pretty tight places?”

“And how many times have I done the same for you?! We’re a team, Pete. I became an agent for the DXS because of you. I followed you to Phoenix. You just can’t leave!”

“Mac, you heard Connie. They don’t have any assignments for me. Well, except for watching out for you. Science and technology are moving faster than ever. Too fast for an old guy like me to keep up with. The Board has made it clear that they want to take the Foundation in a different direction.”

“So they’re railroading you into retirement?!”

“No Mac,” Pete said firmly as he stood up and turned toward his friend’s voice. “You need to know that I made this decision completely on my own. Nobody forced me to do anything. Understand?”

“Yeah,” Mac answered grudgingly. “But what am I supposed to do now?” MacGyver winced at how selfish and petty he sounded.

“You’re gonna keep doing what you’re doing. You’re young! You have a lot of years and a lot of adventures ahead of you. Follow your path, just like I’m following mine.”

“I’m gonna miss you, Pete.”

“Hey, I’ll still be here. We just won’t be working together. Besides, you spent half your time on the other side of the world and I hardly saw you anyway. Now we can go fishing more often!”

“Sure thing, Pete,” Mac smiled sadly, hoping his voice didn’t convey the emptiness he felt inside.

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Joanna arrived later than usual for work the next morning. With all but one faculty member hired and her paperwork finally down to a manageable pile, her sense of urgency was lacking. The fact that she tossed and turned most of the night didn’t help. It had been a long ride back from Chicago. She had tried to make small talk with MacGyver. She talked about hockey, her need for a science teacher, the weather, more hockey, but her monologue landed on deaf ears, or at least a mute mouth. Connie had been right. Mac was upset and withdrawing from the world.

“Joanna? Is that you?” Evelyn called from her office.

“Yeah, sorry I’m late,” she said as she entered the small room and stifled a yawn.

“Oh, don’t go worrying about that. You know we have loose hours during the summer.”

Joanna nodded lazily.

“I wanted to tell you that MacGyver called in sick this morning.”

“You talked to him?!” Joanna didn’t bother to hide the excitement in her voice.

“No,” Evelyn replied, drawing out the one syllable word. “He left a message on my answering machine in the middle of the night.”

Jo sighed. Well, at least he had talked to…something.

“Is there something I should know about?” Evelyn asked.

Joanna knew she should say that everything was fine, or that it was MacGyver’s story to tell, but she was tired and done with diplomacy. She flopped down in one of the visitor’s chairs in front of her boss’s desk.

“Mac and I had dinner at the Thornton’s yesterday,” she began, choosing to ignore Evelyn’s raised eyebrows. “Pete told MacGyver he’s retiring and Mac took it pretty hard. He didn’t say one word the entire drive home. I was hoping he’d have come to terms with it overnight, but I guess he needs more time.”

“Well it’s a good thing we’re ahead of schedule, then,” Evelyn declared. “I’ll let him know to take all the time he needs.” She turned back to her computer and Joanna headed back to her own office.

By noon Joanna could stand it no longer. She picked up the phone and dialed MacGyver’s number. She got his machine. She hated talking to those things so she kept it simple.

“Mac, it’s Jo. I need to know you’re OK. Call me.”

She had no sooner hung up than the phone rang. How could he have dialed that quickly?

“Hello?” she answered anxiously.

“Hello Jo, it’s Connie.”

Joanna let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.

“Hi Connie.”

“How’s MacGyver doing?”

“He didn’t say a word after we left your place and he left a message saying he’s not coming into work today,” Jo reported.

“Oh, dear, we were afraid this would happen. Remember what I told you yesterday, Joanna. Be there for him. Don’t let him shut you out.”

“Don’t worry, Connie. Everything will be fine,” Jo promised before ending the call, silently thinking that her new friend leaned toward the melodramatic.

When it was finally time to go home, Joanna decided to stop by Mac’s place since he hadn’t called her back. She pulled up to the curb, parked in front of the Nomad, and looked up at his front window. The shade was pulled down tight. He never pulled the shade. Concern began to niggle at her. She went up to his apartment and knocked on the door. Nothing. She knocked harder and called his name. Still nothing. He was okay, wasn’t he? Not sure what to do, she decided to go home and hope that things would return to normal tomorrow.

Tuesday brought the same results. MacGyver had left a message that he wouldn’t be in, Joanna called him three times always getting his machine, and Connie called for an update and to tell Jo to ‘be there’ for him.

“Now is the time when he needs you most!” Connie insisted.

“But how can I be there for him when he is doing everything he can to keep me and everyone else away?”

“You’re a bright young woman. You’ll think of something.” Connie sounded so confident. Joanna had her doubts.

When Wednesday arrived with no word from MacGyver, Jo knew she needed to do something. Honestly, how long could a grown man pout?! Even groundhogs poked their head out once a year! She slipped out of work early and went home to throw some things in a duffel bag, or her ‘Mac Sack’ as she thought of it, told her mom she may be staying at his place for a day or two and not to worry, and then headed to his apartment. She parked in front of the Nomad which hadn’t appeared to have moved since Monday. The window shade remained drawn.

Joanna knocked on MacGyver’s door and called his name to no avail. Refusing to accept defeat, she sought out the custodian with the excuse that she had lost her key. Thankfully the man wasn’t too nosey and gave her an extra key without question. Deciding to give Mac one last chance, she knocked and called out to him one more time. Nothing.

“I have a key and I’m coming in,” she warned him. Still no response. She hesitated, unsure of how to deal with him now that she was here. Perhaps a bit of humor and sass would diffuse his self-induced pity party.

Jo opened the door to find Mac lying on his couch staring up at the ceiling.

“So the rumors are true. You are alive,” she quipped.

“Go home, Joanna,” he said in a gravelly voice that expected to be obeyed.

“And he speaks!” she gasped, sighing when he didn’t respond. She dropped her bag on the floor by the coffee table where she took a seat.

“You might as well give it up, Mac,” she announced. “I’m not leaving until you’re back among the living again.”

MacGyver rolled his head her way. His eyes were dull, his face drawn and expressionless.

Joanna cocked an eyebrow and he returned his gaze to the ceiling.

Sighing inwardly, Jo got up and began to peruse his video tape collection.

“Aha!” she exclaimed, pulling a tape off the shelf. “I’ve been wanting to see this since that tornado so rudely interrupted us!” She turned on the TV, put the tape in the player, and settled in a nearby chair to watch the 1980 U.S. hockey Olympic gold medal game. By the end of the contest, Joanna’s stomach grumbled and Mac still hadn’t spoken to her. She headed to the kitchen and made herself a peanut butter sandwich and grabbed a yogurt.

“Want anything to eat?” she called to MacGyver. Of course there was no answer. Okay. Time for her secret weapon. If this didn’t make him talk she didn’t know what would.

“Lucky for you,” she proclaimed as she returned to the living room, “I brought a tape of the best movie ever made…Dirty Dancing!” Mac swung his long legs off the couch and headed for the refrigerator. Progress! He snatched a yogurt and apple, turned around, and headed for his bedroom, closing his door with a bang.

Terrific!

“Don’t worry about me, Mac!” Joanna called. “I’ll be just fine out here on the couch!” She sighed, started the movie, and sank down on the piece of furniture MacGyver had just vacated. The cushions were still warm. She folded her legs underneath her, bit into her sandwich, and lost herself in the story playing out on the television.

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It was the wee hours of Thursday morning when MacGyver poked his head out of his bedroom door. It was a sad day when a grown man had to hide in his own room. Then again, he supposed he was a pretty sad man. He walked to the living room only to find Joanna curled up in the corner of his couch sound asleep. His heart melted at the sight as he went to the closet, retrieved a blanket, and gently draped it over her. She hadn’t deserved his surliness last night, or this past week for that matter. She had come to him because she was his friend. She had stayed with him because she cared. He went to the front window and quietly raised the shade before returning to his room and falling into a deep, dreamless slumber.

Hours later MacGyver headed for his kitchen only to find Joanna already up and making breakfast.

“Hope you’re hungry,” she said gaily. “I made pancakes. Well, at least I tried. You don’t have all the traditional ingredients,” she smiled good-naturedly.

How had he come to deserve this?

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, jamming his fingers through his hair.

“No problem. I managed to improvise.” The sassiness from last night replaced with genuine friendliness.

“I mean I’m sorry for everything. For how I’ve acted since I talked with Pete. For shutting you and everyone else out.”

Joanna shrugged. “You just needed some time and space to work things out in your head. I’m the same way.” Her smile was gentle and her eyes were soft.

“Thanks for that,” MacGyver replied. “And thanks for not giving up on me, even when I was a little stubborn.”

“A little?” Joanna laughed.

“Okay, a lot,” Mac amended, allowing a small smile to form on his lips.

She handed him a plate piled high with food.

“Here. I bet you haven’t had a decent meal in days.”

He had just taken a huge bite of pancakes when his phone rang. Joanna held up her hand to indicate she would answer it.

“MacGyver’s.”

“Yeah, it’s me. What’s up, Evelyn?” he heard Joanna ask.

“Did you call the police?” He stopped chewing and swallowed hard.

“We’ll be right there!”

“What’s wrong?” he asked as he followed Joanna out the door.

“When Evelyn got to work today she found the school had been vandalized.”

MacGyver and Joanna arrived at Challengers to find a number of police cruisers in the parking lot. Evelyn had just finished giving an officer her statement as they approached.

“What happened?” MacGyver demanded.

“See for yourself,” Evelyn said as she led them around to the side of the building. Black spray paint marred the old brick.

Joanna tilted her head as she studied the damage. “Doesn’t look like gang graffiti to me. Looks more like tagging.”

“I agree,” Mac concurred. “Appears to be artfully arranged, though wrongly placed, initials of some sort.”
“That’s what the police said,” Evelyn told him. “They’re looking for evidence now but doubt they’ll find anything.”

Joanna turned to MacGyver. “What about the surveillance cameras?”

“We don’t have any facing the building so it won’t show whoever did this in action,” MacGyver replied. “But we should be able to see them approaching and get a time stamp.”

“And how are we supposed to clean this up?” Evelyn asked crisply.

“Don’t worry,” Mac assured her. “I have a secret recipe that will take care of this.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver, Joanna, and two police officers gathered around a video monitor in the school’s small security office to watch surveillance footage of the night before. The small numbers in the corner of the screen indicated the incident took place at 4:12am. Two figures dressed in black with baseball caps pulled low approached the building. Due to the ball caps and angle of the camera it was impossible to make out their faces. They ran the tape at regular speed, slow motion, and frame-by-frame but were still unable to recognize the culprits before one of the officers confiscated the cassette as evidence.

Once the police officers finished processing the scene, they gave MacGyver the go-ahead to clean up the graffiti. He wanted to get it off as soon as possible to avoid unwanted attention. Armed with graffiti remover from a nearby hardware store and an old power washer he found in the school’s storage room, Mac was soon spraying away the ugly paint. Movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention.

“So that’s your secret recipe?” Joanna teased, pointing to the gallon jugs of chemicals. “I didn’t even know they made that stuff.”

Mac smiled and stepped back to inspect the results.

“It looks great!” Jo praised.

“It’s still wet. There may still be some paint residue that will show when it dries. I can take care of that tomorrow.”

Joanna stood shifting her weight from one foot to the other as if she was nervous. “Can I ask you a favor?”

“Sure, anything. You know that,” Mac replied gently, wondering what she had in mind.

“Could you drive me back to your place so I can get my stuff? We left in such a hurry I didn’t even grab my purse.”

“No problem. Let me put this stuff away and we’ll go.”

Upon arriving at his apartment, Joanna quickly gathered her things and prepared to leave, but Mac blocked the doorway.

“Listen,” he said, placing his hands on her shoulders and kneading them gently. “I meant what I said earlier. Thanks for sticking with me while I worked things out.”

“That’s what friends are for, right?” She looked up at him with her big brown innocent eyes that he could so easily get lost in.

“Right,” he replied huskily. “Let me walk you out,” he offered, not eager to part company quite yet. He expected her to protest or resist, but to his surprise she easily agreed.

They were walking through the small lobby as the mailman was making his deliveries.

“Hey MacGyver!” the uniformed man called. “Wanna come and empty your box?”

“Sorry Ernie,” Mac called back as he strode to the mailboxes. “I’ve been kinda tied up lately.”

“No problem, man. Just didn’t want you to miss out on any important junk mail!”

Mac gave Ernie a friendly pat on the shoulder and met Joanna at the door, glancing at the envelopes in his hand. Suddenly his jaw tightened and his heart fell as he saw a familiar envelope.

“Mac, what is it?” Joanna’s voice was laced with concern.

“Ah, nothing,” he replied. “I just realized I have a lot of stuff to catch up on. Drive safe and I’ll see ya tomorrow, OK?”

“Yeah, sure,” she replied and headed out the building to her car.

Back in his apartment MacGyver tore open the envelope with the Phoenix Foundation logo on the front. He knew it would come eventually. On the top of the letterhead, in bold print, were the words Six Month Review – Final Notice. There was no more putting it off. If he wanted to keep his job he had to get out to L.A. for his performance evaluation.





Posted by: Persona non grata 4 January 2019 - 03:09 PM
Connie's very good here. Sensible and emotionally astute, I wouldn't mind seeing more of her.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 January 2019 - 03:53 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 4 January 2019 - 03:09 PM)
Connie's very good here. Sensible and emotionally astute, I wouldn't mind seeing more of her.

Thanks! She will pop up once in a while. Like Sam, she's both easy and hard to write for the same reason: We never see much of her on the show and it didn't help that she was played by two different actresses!

Posted by: Dragondog 4 January 2019 - 04:31 PM
JoGyver love.jpg

Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 January 2019 - 11:54 AM
Chapter 21: The Fork in the Road

MacGyver’s plane landed in Los Angeles early Monday morning. He had just enough time to stop by his apartment and change clothes before his performance evaluation. These meetings had never bothered Mac since they were always conducted by Pete who always gave him a glowing report. However, today he’d be meeting with William Stern, the new director of operations at Phoenix, and he wanted to at least attempt to make a good first impression on the man who was ultimately his new boss. MacGyver still hadn’t quite wrapped his head around the fact that he would no longer be working with Pete.

After renting a car at the airport, Mac headed toward his apartment, anxious to see Mama Lorraine and his other neighbors. The street was eerily vacant and several homes and buildings appeared to be deserted. His finely honed senses went on high alert. Something was definitely wrong. This was not the same place he had left just six months ago. Stepping into his apartment he froze. Large cardboard boxes haphazardly packed with his belongings stood where his furniture used to be.

“Jaaaack!!” he bellowed. He had trusted his friend to take care of his place while he was on assignment. He should have known better.

“MacGyver, you’re home!”

“Don’t sound so surprised. I called and told you I was coming.” Mac stood in the center of his living room and turned in a complete circle surveying his home. “What’s going on with my stuff, Jack?” he asked menacingly.

“Well, um, it’s a funny story actually.”

“Oh, really?”

“Well, maybe not that funny. In fact, it’s not funny. Not funny at all,” Jack sputtered.

“Tell me,” MacGyver demanded.

“I’m putting your stuff in storage,” Jack responded lightly. “You’ve been evicted.”

“I’m what?” Mac’s voice was dangerously low and barely controlled.

“Not just you, Mac,” Jack hurried to explain. “The whole block. Some big time developer bought up all the buildings. Plans to revitalize the neighborhood.”

“And just when did you plan on telling me about this?”

“Soon!”

MacGyver jammed his fingers through his hair, looked at his watch and groaned.

“I’ll deal with you later,” he promised, pointing a finger at Jack. “Right now I’m gonna take a shower and get changed.”

“That might not be such a good idea,” Jack warned.

MacGyver turned on his heel. “And why not?”

“The utilities got turned off yesterday.”

“Terrific!” Mac slammed his fist on the kitchen counter and then winced in pain. “And just where am I supposed to stay?”

Jack shrugged his shoulders, his expression genuinely apologetic. “You can bunk with me,” he offered.

“And just where are you living these days? Obviously not here.”

“I’m crashing in the hangar. I’ve got an extra sleeping bag you can use.”

“I’ll think about it, Jack. But right now I have to get over to Phoenix.”

Outside in the summer sun, MacGyver looked up and down the now-lonely street and shook his head wondering how so much could have happened since he left.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver quietly walked up to the secretary’s desk located just outside Director Stern’s office. She had her back to him, busily typing away at her computer. He cleared his throat and she turned around.

“Ah, MacGyver!” Helen exclaimed, pleasantly surprised. “I didn’t know you were back in town!”

“I just got in this morning,” he replied as Pete’s former secretary wrapped him in a motherly hugged that always made him smile. She stepped back and held him at arm’s length, her gaze sweeping him from head to toe.

“I haven’t had a chance to shower,” MacGyver grinned ruefully.

She waved off his comment. “I swear you get more handsome every time I see you! If only I were twenty years younger…” she sighed.

“Nonsense, Helen. You can be my date anytime!”

“Mr. MacGyver. So nice of you to take time out of your busy schedule and join us,” a deep, sarcastic voice came from the doorway of Pete’s old office.

Mac turned to find a tall, well-built man of a similar age wearing a tailored suit and silk tie inspecting him as if he were a prize thoroughbred. MacGyver immediately decided he did not like this man and swallowed the urge to apologize for his faded jeans and wrinkled tropical print shirt.

“Mr. Stern, I presume?” MacGyver addressed the man with a slight nod of his head.

“You’re late,” the director stated and turned to walk into his office, clearly expecting Mac to follow.

MacGyver looked at the clock on the wall. One minute. He was one minute late.

Director Stern settled himself behind a large mahogany desk and invited MacGyver to have a seat in one of two buttery leather chairs. Stern opened a thick manila file and perused its contents before pinning Mac with his gaze.
“So you’re the infamous MacGyver,” Stern stated, as he leaned back in his chair. Unsure of how to answer, Mac simply nodded.

“It says here you worked at Phoenix for six years on a variety of highly sensitive projects and government assignments.”

MacGyver nodded again.

“From previous reports you have quite a knack for accomplishing your missions in, shall we say, unorthodox manners?”

“Let’s just say I improvise when necessary.”

Stern grunted. “Then three years ago you suddenly tendered your resignation. Why?”

“I had some family matters to tend to.”

“And then six months ago you asked to be reinstated but failed to pass concussion protocol.”

“Yeah, that didn’t go exactly as planned,” MacGyver replied, trying to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

“Since then, you’ve been assigned to oversee security operations at Challengers Academy in Milwaukee, during which time you had a company car stolen, sustained yet another head injury, and impeded a federal investigation. Tell me, Mr. MacGyver, what exactly is it you hope to do at Phoenix when your current assignment ends.”

“I plan on being cleared for active field operations and resuming my former role with the Foundation.”

“I don’t think so, Mr. MacGyver.”

“What do you mean you ‘don’t think so’?”

Just then Stern’s intercom buzzed. Holding up one finger to silence MacGyver he answered the call.

“Yes Helen?"

“Your next appointment is here, sir.”

“Thank you, I’ll be right out.” Turning back to MacGyver he said, “I’m sorry, but we’ve used up all our time for today. Please schedule an appointment with Helen to come back tomorrow so we can finish our discussion.”

“But—“

“I’m sorry, Mr. MacGyver,” the director stood. “We’ll continue this tomorrow.”

“Yes sir,” MacGyver replied in a clipped tone as Stern escorted him from the office.

As directed, MacGyver went to Helen to schedule an appointment for the following day.

“How’d it go?” she asked in a staged whisper.

“Don’t know. He talked. I listened. And apparently we get to do it all over again tomorrow.” Anger seethed just below the surface of his words and Helen gave him a compassionate smile.

Suddenly he heard a female voice call his name from across the room.

“Mac? Is that really you?”

“Maria--?!” was all he could say before the pretty, young blonde was in his arms, kissing him passionately. He resisted for a moment before instinctively tightening the embrace and deepening the kiss…if that was even possible.

“Ah, MacGyver, I see you have already met Ms. Romburg,” Stern observed from his office doorway, the couple quickly breaking contact at the sound of his voice.

“Yeah. We were…friends,” Mac explained.

“Close friends,” Maria added with a suggestive smile. “MacGyver reunited me with my grandfather whom I had not seen since I was a little girl in East Germany. Then his friends at Phoenix were nice enough to give me a job so I could stay in America.”

“What a charming story,” Stern sneered, “but we are late for a meeting, Ms. Romburg.”

“Of course, Mr. Stern. I am sorry,” Maria apologized before turning back to MacGyver. “Come to my place for dinner tonight?” she asked, slipping a piece of paper with her address into his shirt pocket.

“Sure,” MacGyver replied, glancing at Helen just long enough to see her give him a sly wink.

MacGyver secured a room at a nearby motel, dropped his duffle bag just inside the door, and flopped on the bed. This trip was not going as expected. Not that he had expected anything in particular except returning to his old apartment, catching up with friends and neighbors, and being welcomed back to Phoenix and the job he loved. Instead, he had returned to an eviction notice, empty neighborhood, surly new boss, and aggressive ex-lover. He sighed and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, reached for the phone on the nightstand and called Jack to tell him he wouldn’t be needing that extra sleeping bag. He then went to the bathroom and splashed some cold water over his face before pulling out the piece of paper tucked in his pocket. He looked at the address and grinned.

That evening MacGyver knocked softly on Maria’s door. She greeted him with a kiss on the cheek and invited him in. Her apartment was small but elegantly furnished and well-maintained. Near a window next to the kitchen sat a small round table draped in linen and set with china, a single glowing candle its centerpiece.

“Please, feel free to look around while I get our meal ready,” she encouraged him.

Mac strolled through the living room, taking in the feminine décor.

“Nice place you got here.”

“Thank you. It is not much, but it is home. Unfortunately Phoenix keeps me very busy so I do not spend as much time here as I would like.”

“I know how you feel,” he assured her. “So, what’s for dinner?”

“Hawaiian pizza with pineapple,” she announced. “It was one of our first meals together, remember?”

“Yeah, I remember,” Mac grinned as he sat down at the small table drinking in the sight of her as she served the food. She wore a light blue sundress that showed off her slender figure and cream-colored skin to perfection. Her long blonde hair cascaded down her back like a waterfall of sun beams and MacGyver itched to run his fingers through it.

“It is so good to see you again, MacGyver,” she sighed happily from across the table.

“You, too,” he smiled warmly.

“We had a lot of good times together, did we not?”

“Sure did,” he agreed.

“Perhaps, if I had not gone on assignment to Brazil we could have—“

“But you did,” Mac cut her off.

“I was a new agent. I had to,” she frowned. “But we are here together now. We can pick up where we left off,” she urged, her eyes hopeful, expectant.

MacGyver suddenly and inexplicably felt uneasy. “Ah, Maria, I don’t know about that. A lot has happened. A lot has changed.”

“Do not say you fell in love with one of those milk maids in Wisconsin,” she pouted playfully.

“She’s not…I mean, no!” Mac quickly corrected himself.

Anger flared in Maria’s eyes. “So there is someone!”

“Yes. No. I mean, it’s not like that, Maria. We work together, that’s all.” But was it really?

“I see,” she replied, getting up and leading him to her overstuffed couch before pulling him down next to her. “Then you will come back to L.A. when your assignment is over and forget all about her. It will be just like before! You and I going off on grand adventures!”

“Ah, I don’t think—“

“That’s your problem, MacGyver,” she purred seductively as she threaded her fingers through his hair. “You think too much. Why can you not just let yourself feel?”

“There’s a chance I won’t be cleared to go back in the field,” he confessed.

Maria’s face fell momentarily. “No matter,” she replied lightly, her smile now firmly back in place. “You will still be here and we can be together.”

Her soft, sweet lips were now inches from his, yet he hesitated. Five years ago he had been ready to commit to her, but before he could tell her, Phoenix sent her to Brazil. She had been so excited and he had no choice but to let her go. A lot of things had changed since then. He had changed. MacGyver grasped her upper arms and gently sat her away from him.

“I better go,” he told her. His voice husky yet firm. “I have an early meeting with Stern tomorrow.” He kissed her chastely on the forehead and showed himself to the door, leaving Maria alone on the couch, a deep frown marring her otherwise lovely face.

The next morning found MacGyver once again standing by Helen’s desk, chatting with the long-time employee.

“Oh, I almost forgot. Ms. Romburg left this for you.” Helen handed him a small envelope.

“Thanks,” he murmured as he tore it open and pulled out a notecard.

Dear MacGyver,

Late last night I received an assignment from Phoenix which will take me out of the country for quite some time. I must leave immediately. Now you may return to your precious milk maid.

Maria

MacGyver drew in a sharp breath and balled up the paper in his fist.

“That bad?” Helen asked.

“I think I’ve just been dumped.”

“Well, if you ask me, she was never the right girl for you anyway.”

“Oh really?” Mac’s curiosity was piqued.

“You need someone more grounded. Someone who won’t walk away at the drop of a hat. Someone to keep you in line. You need a woman with some sass!”

“Well, I did meet this one girl,” he ventured, curious to see Helen’s reaction. “She got upset with me and when I tried to apologize with tickets to a hockey game she tore them up and gave them back.”

Helen threw back her head and laughed out loud. “She sounds perfect for you!”

Mac’s eyebrows shot up in response just as Stern stepped out of his office.

“Mr. MacGyver, glad to see you made it on time this morning. Please, come in.”

Mac obeyed and seated himself in the same chair as yesterday.

“After thinking about our discussion yesterday and reviewing your file yet again, I have decided to assign you to the Western Division Secure Research Facility.”

MacGyver’s muscles tensed. Stern was going to lock him away in a lab? Though Mac was always willing to help the Phoenix scientists with new developments and special projects, he could not see himself working day in and day out in a secured, windowless, sterile environment.

“I assume this is a temporary placement until I am cleared for active field operations?” Mac asked hopefully.

“On the contrary,” Stern puffed out his chest in a show of authority. “This is your new, permanent assignment.”

Mac’s anger once again began to simmer. “With all due respect, sir. I believe my skills and experience would be better utilized elsewhere. I’m going to need some time to consider your offer.”

“You don’t understand, Mr. MacGyver. This is not an offer. It is an order. I will give you until the end of August to complete your current assignment. At that time, the lease on your apartment will be dissolved and you will report to your new position. If you believe my decision does not suit you, perhaps you should consider whether or not Phoenix is the best place for you and your ‘skills’.”

“I just might do that, sir,” MacGyver responded firmly before walking out of the office without a backward glance.

Back in his motel room, Mac sat on the edge of the bed scrubbing his face with his hands. After Sam had left for the Middle East, MacGyver was sure that going back to the Phoenix Foundation had been the right thing for him to do. The only thing for him to do. Now he wasn’t so sure. He needed to talk to someone. Someone who knew him better than he knew himself. He picked up the phone and dialed.

“Hi Pete, it’s MacGyver,” he greeted his friend.

“MacGyver!” Pete responded eagerly. “How are things going? Have you had your review yet?”

“That’s kinda what I wanted to talk to you about. I’m actually in L.A. right now.”

“Oh? Are you having problems?”

“Pete, how did you know it was time for you to retire?” MacGyver asked bluntly.

“Well, I guess you could say I just sort of knew.” With only silence on the other end Pete continued. “I wasn’t happy anymore, Mac. I realized how much I had given to my job and how much I lost because of it. When I started losing my eyesight and Connie came back into my life, the things that made me happy had changed. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah, I guess so,” MacGyver replied.

“Hey, you’re not thinking of leaving Phoenix again, are you?”

“I don’t know, Pete.” Mac sighed and hung up the phone.

Feeling even more conflicted after talking with Pete, MacGyver knew who he needed to call. He dialed the phone again, his heart beating hard against his chest. This next conversation could be the deciding factor.

“Challengers Academy, this is Joanna, how may I help you?”

“Joanna, it’s Mac.” His voice sounded strained, even to him.

“Mac? Are you still in L.A.? Is everything OK?”

“Do you mind if I ask you something?” He was in no mood for small talk.

“Of course not. What is it?” Her voice held genuine concern.

“What made you decide to quit the learning center?”

“Wow, Mac that was a long time ago. I thought I told you about it?”

“Tell me again.”

“It really wasn’t any one thing. After twelve years I was tired of working eleven hour days, not eating meals with my family, not having time for my friends. My job duties changed to where I was doing things I didn’t want to do. When the man who had owned the center from the beginning sold it, I just knew it was time to leave. Too much had changed. I just wasn’t happy there anymore.”

“Was it hard for you to leave after all the time you had spent there?”

“Actually, it was surprisingly easy. That’s how I knew I was doing the right thing. Does that help answer your question?”

“Yeah, it does. Thanks.”

“How’s the review going?”

“I’ll tell you all about it when I get back. Some things came up that I need to take care of so I may stay a few extra days. Hey, by the way, have you hired a new science teacher yet?”

“No, but I have a couple interviews scheduled. Why?”

“No reason. Just wondering. See you soon.”

MacGyver kicked off his shoes and reclined on the bed, replaying the conversations with Stern, Pete, and Jo in his head until he drifted off to sleep.

“Hey, Bud!”

MacGyver blinked his eyes open and raised his head. His grandfather stood at the foot of his bed.

“Harry?!” Mac’s face clouded with disbelief. “You can’t be here. You’re dead!”

“Just ‘cause I’m dead doesn’t mean I can’t check up on you once in a while,” came the lovingly gruff reply. “From what I see, it seems you have some decisions to make.”

MacGyver was now wide awake and sitting up on the bed. “I just don’t know what to do,” he replied.

“Why don’t you do what’ll make you happy?”

“Because I’m not sure I know what that is anymore.”

“Then I suggest you figure it out, Bud. And once you do, don’t look back.”

Mac suddenly awoke and bolted upright. “Harry?” He looked around the room. It was empty. It had only been a dream. But it had left him with one very real question.

MacGyver needed to think. Normally he would head for the Southern California hills, but he didn’t have the gear nor the time. Therefore, he pointed his rental car in the direction of the ocean. Standing in a secluded spot on a deserted rocky beach, Mac stared out at the waves churning in the Pacific. Watching the water reminded him of the hours he had spent with Joanna on the shores of Lake Delton, talking, consoling, contemplating and rejuvenating. It also reminded him of the moonlight shining on Lake Michigan the night they had shared their one and only kiss. A gentle, innocent kiss that had touched him more deeply than any of Maria’s passion-filled offerings. He shook his head as if to clear away the memories and headed to the one place that always put life in perspective. The ice rink.

Pausing momentarily at the skate rental booth, he decided to forego the borrowed equipment and instead took a place in the stands, close to the ice. He recalled the time Pete was on the verge of burn-out and had gamely played the role of goalie as MacGyver pummeled him with pucks insisting that the exercise was relaxing. Mac smiled to himself, wondering if Pete could still be a goalie in spite of his blindness. He doubted his friend could be much worse. No sooner had that thought crossed his mind than other memories crowded in. Memories spent on the ice with the troubled teens from Challengers back in Milwaukee. The drills, the practices, the fights and the lectures. The pride and satisfaction at watching a kid who could hardly stand up on skates his first time out circle the rink with speed and confidence to score a goal, albeit into an empty net.

MacGyver buried his face in his hands and sighed. Harry had asked what made him happy. Three years ago the answer had been easy: His work at Phoenix. The travel, freedom, adrenaline he always experienced on a mission. But then there were also the weeks-long assignments that kept him away from his home and friends. The calls in the middle of the night sending him to far-away places at a moment’s notice. Had he been unhappy? Quite the contrary, but would those same things bring him happiness once again? And if his time as a field operative had truly come to an end, what then? The people he cared most about and an assignment he had come to love were two thousand miles away. With a sudden clarity that had eluded him for the longest time, he now knew exactly what he had to do.

Entering the nearest library, Mac commandeered an empty computer console and sat down to write two letters that would forever change the course of his life. The first message was brief and to the point. He stuck it in an envelope and scribbled Director Stern’s name on the front. The other document took more time and precise wording. Glancing at his watch, MacGyver had just enough time to get the second letter to the post office for overnight delivery.

The following morning, Mac strode purposefully into the lobby of William Stern’s office. Helen was already busy at her post.

“Hi Helen, is Stern in yet?”

“MacGyver! So good to see you again!” she exclaimed. “I’m sorry, but he’s out for the day. He has some meetings in the field.”

Disappointment coursed through him. He had been looking forward to seeing the look on the pompous man’s face when he presented his letter of resignation.

“Could you please see that Stern gets this when he comes in?” MacGyver asked, holding out the white envelope.

“Of course.” A shadow crossed Helen’s face. “Is this what I think it is?”

Mac nodded and sighed. “I’m leaving Phoenix. Sorry, Helen.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about!” the spunky secretary exclaimed. “You know I care for you like a son, so trust me when I say you don’t belong here anymore. There are better things, and people, waiting for you elsewhere. Just promise me one thing.”

“Anything, Helen.”

“Let yourself be happy.”

“That’s the plan, Helen. That is definitely the plan!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Joanna, could you check for the mail?” Evelyn hollered from her office. With just the two of them in the building, communication had become much more casual.

“Sure. No problem,” Jo called back, glad to take a break from staring unseeingly at the papers in front of her. Three days. He had only been gone three days and she was already daydreaming of his return. What was she going to do when he left for good? Pushing that depressing thought to the back of her mind she went and emptied the mailbox. A business-sized envelope with her name on it captured her attention. Hopefully it was another resume. Her quest for a science teacher had stalled with only a few weeks left before school started for the fall. Back in her office she anxiously tore open the envelope and pulled out the resume. At the top, in bold black letters was the name: A. MacGyver.

“That man has lost his ever-lovin’ mind!” Joanna’s exclamation echoed through the corridors.

Evelyn closed her eyes and sighed, wondering what ‘that man’, Joanna’s vernacular for ‘MacGyver’, had done this time.



Posted by: Persona non grata 9 January 2019 - 06:50 PM
To do him justice, Jack probably *was* planning on telling Mac about the eviction soon, if only because he's got nowhere else to sleep now.

So Mac's finally been and gone and done it. Hope he doesn't regret leaving Phoenix...

Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 January 2019 - 07:03 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 9 January 2019 - 06:50 PM)


So Mac's finally been and gone and done it. Hope he doesn't regret leaving Phoenix...

Oh, there's plenty in store for Mac;)

Posted by: Dragondog 9 January 2019 - 09:15 PM
Stern came in, and his first line had me like mad.gif

Then Maria pushed herself onto Mac, and I was even more mad.gif (not that I had anything against her before, but in this story, I'm glad she's off on an assignment)

Then Mac asked about the science teacher position and I was like w00t.gif happy_dance.gif

Then Harry, and I was all surprise.gif

Then the ending love.jpg

Looking forward to the next chapter wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 January 2019 - 06:04 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 9 January 2019 - 09:15 PM)
Stern came in, and his first line had me like mad.gif

Then Maria pushed herself onto Mac, and I was even more mad.gif (not that I had anything against her before, but in this story, I'm glad she's off on an assignment)

Then Mac asked about the science teacher position and I was like w00t.gif happy_dance.gif

Then Harry, and I was all surprise.gif

Then the ending love.jpg

Looking forward to the next chapter wink.gif

Do I sense a bit of an emotional rollercoaster?? LOL!! Actually, that's kinda what I was going for. I never liked Maria...totally wrong girl for Mac, hence my depiction of her here! Yeah, I'm a bit passive-aggressive:)

Posted by: Dragondog 10 January 2019 - 07:07 PM
Passive-aggressiveness rolls with me laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 16 January 2019 - 06:56 AM
Chapter 22: Finally Home

Evelyn picked up her phone and dialed Joanna’s extension.

“In my office, now,” she commanded before Jo even had a chance to say hello.

The younger woman arrived thirty seconds later and Evelyn pointed her to a chair.

“What in tarnation is going on?!” she asked.

“It’s MacGyver! That man—“

“Hold on! Be quiet and take some deep breaths,” Evelyn instructed. Joanna quickly obeyed. After a few minutes Evelyn continued in a calmer tone. “Now, tell me what happened.”

“MacGyver just applied for the science teacher position,” Jo said disgustedly.

“Why, that’s wonderful!” Evelyn couldn’t keep the glee from her voice. “I was so hoping he would!”

“What?!” Joanna’s jaw literally dropped and the look of horror on her face made Evelyn want to laugh.

“You have to admit, dear, that Mac has extensive scientific knowledge that would greatly benefit our students, not to mention the fact that he has a great rapport with the teens. You told me so yourself.”

“But he’s not a certified teacher,” Jo protested.

“You know darn well that a piece of paper doesn’t make a person a good teacher.” At this Joanna nodded. “And if he’s willing to take courses to obtain his certification while he’s working here, I don’t see the problem.”

“How can you not see the problem?!” Jo retorted. “He doesn’t belong here! He belongs in Los Angeles, working at Phoenix, doing whatever he does there! He has no idea what being a real teacher is like. The time, dedication, lesson planning. It’s not just doing some cool experiments to impress high-schoolers.”

Evelyn leaned back in her chair. “Perhaps you do have a point,” she conceded. “This does seem to be a rather hasty decision on his part. Did his performance review not go well?”

“I don’t know,” Joanna sighed, her senses slowly returning. “He called me and told me he had some things to take care of.” She paused thoughtfully. “He also asked me why I decided to quit the learning center and if the science position had been filled. He must have resigned from the Foundation!”

“Now let’s not go jumping to conclusions,” Evelyn advised. “Perhaps he’s just playing a joke on you?”

Joanna shook her head. “No,” she replied adamantly. “He would never joke about this.”

“You sound sure.”

“I am. Mac thinks too much of Challengers to pull something like that.”

“Then I suggest you speak with him as soon as he returns and get this all straightened out.” Evelyn began organizing the stacks of paper on her desk, expecting Joanna to stalk back to her office, but she stayed rooted in her chair.

“Is there something else?” Evelyn inquired.

Joanna sat chewing on her bottom lip, a sure sign of her distress. “If Mac is really serious about working here, I can think of several ways we could use him. I just don’t think teaching science full-time is one of them.”

“Then talk with him. Work something out. I give you carte blanche to make any hiring decision regarding MacGyver.”

“All right,” Joanna agreed. “I’m sure if we sit down and talk about this logically we can—“

“No.”

“Huh?” Jo asked.

“You both need to forget about logic and listen to your hearts. If your assumptions are correct, Mac is looking at a major life change. It won’t be easy for him, and he needs to be sure this is what he truly wants to do. As for you,” she continued before Joanna could protest, “you’ll be committing to a long-term working relationship with him. You have to be sure about this as well.”

“I need to get back to work,” Joanna murmured as she got up and walked out the door leaving Evelyn to offer up a quick prayer for guidance.

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Joanna sat at her desk the following day, glancing at her watch for the third time in five minutes. MacGyver had returned to work in time to oversee the installation of the new air conditioning unit that had arrived a week ahead of schedule. They hadn’t had a chance to talk privately yet, but he was now back in his office and she knew it was time to speak with him.

Joanna tapped lightly on Mac’s door frame.

“Come in!” His handsome face brightened. “Have a seat,” he offered, his attention now fully centered on her. “I’m sorry I didn’t call, but it was late by the time I got in and—“

Joanna held up her hand to cut him off.

“It’s no problem. How did everything go?”

MacGyver’s dark eyes clouded over. “Not quite as expected, which I assume you probably figured out by now.”

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

Mac shook his head. “Not really, but I will.”

Joanna listened intently as MacGyver spent the next several minutes regaling her with the events that led up to his resignation. He judiciously chose not to mention his encounter with Maria. That could wait for another day…or lifetime.

“Wow, Stern sounds like a piece of work,” Joanna commented dryly. “I’m sorry you had to deal with that.”

“I’m not. It forced me to think about what I really want to do. Where I really belong at this point in my life.”

Joanna swallowed hard. “I got your resume.”

“And?”

“I’m not gonna hire you, Mac.”

“What?!” He stood up and turned away from her, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“I’m sorry. I just don’t think you understand the extent of the commitment you’d be making. You’d be locked into a regular schedule, work evenings and weekends creating lesson plans and correcting papers, the list goes on. I just don’t think you’d be happy. At least not for long.”

“And just what makes you think you know what will make me happy?” he rounded on her. “For twelve years I thought I was happy traveling around the world getting shot up, locked up, blown up…and all I have to show for it is a collection of concussions and empty roles of duct tape. I’m done with that.” His voice softened. “I want to put down roots, have a real job, build a normal life, and I want to do it here.”

“Slow down, Mac,” Joanna cautioned. “You’re making some really big decisions. You need to take some time—“

MacGyver crouched in front of her, putting his hands on her knees. “I know it seems sudden to you, but I’ve been thinking about this for the past several weeks,” he explained, a sense of urgency returning to his voice. “With Pete retiring and Sam setting his own course, it’s time for me to move on, too.”

His pleading gaze ripped at her heart and she remembered Evelyn’s words about letting go of logic. She reached out and covered his hands with hers to keep him close.

“I’ve been doing some thinking, too,” she told him gently. “I have no doubt you belong at Challengers, just not in the way you think.”

Joanna went on to explain how she saw Mac in a much more fluid and unorthodox position. One that would keep him both mentally and physically stimulated while carving out a new life for himself.

“So, let me see if I got this straight. You want me to continue on as security advisor, science assistance and tutor, hockey coach and mentor?”

“Yeah,” Jo smiled confidently. “And I’m sure we can find a way to fill any spare time you might have so you don’t get bored,” she teased. “So, what do you say?”

“Do you think Evelyn will go for it?” he asked, excitement growing in his voice.

Joanna nodded. “She gave me permission to hire you in any way I saw fit.”

MacGyver rose, pulling Joanna up with him. “In that case, I absolutely accept the job.” His soft gaze studied her face now only inches from his. “There’s one more thing,” he whispered.

“What?” she whispered back, barely breathing.

“I need to find a place to live by the end of August.”

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“No, Mother! Absolutely not!”

“Joanna, the house has been in foreclosure for months. The bank will probably agree to anything just to get it rid of it,” Judy Fairfax reasoned.

“But it’s right next door!” Joanna whined, not caring if she sounded childish.

“What’s right next door?” her dad asked as he passed through the kitchen, popping a couple grapes in his mouth.

“Mom thinks MacGyver should buy the Jenson’s house,” Jo explained with a huff.

“So?”

“Never mind,” Joanna replied, waiting for Joe Fairfax to leave the room so she could continue the argument with her mother.

“I think the house would be perfect for MacGyver. It needs a lot of work, both inside and out. He’d enjoy the challenge. Besides, it’d be nice to have a strong young man nearby to help your dad and me out.”

Joanna crossed her arms and stared at the floor.

Judy sighed. “What’s the matter? You and Mac work together eight hours a day and when you’re not at Challengers you’re either at his place or he’s here! I think having him right next door would be very convenient.

“That’s just it, Ma! Mac and I are together a lot. I need to be able to get away from him sometimes.”

“Is that the only reason?” Judy asked calmly.

“What, that’s not good enough?!” Jo spouted, then cringed under her mother’s knowing look.

“Would you just tell him about the house?” Judy asked. “Let him make up his own mind about where he wants to live…and who he wants for neighbors.”

“And if I don’t tell him, you will,” Joanna countered before conceding defeat as her mother smiled and went back to chopping carrots for the stew.

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MacGyver couldn’t believe his luck. Just a couple days ago he had mentioned having to find a new home, and here he was, touring a house that could be his in thirty days. The real estate agent explained that the bank was anxious to rid itself of the property, and the fact that MacGyver offered to pay cash ensured a quick transaction. As the agent guided Mac through the small rooms of the old house, Joanna and her mother followed. Judy chattered about the changes and upgrades he should consider making while the agent tried hard to point out the positive aspects of the run-down dwelling. Joanna remained silent.

After inspecting the living room, two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen that made up the main floor of the house, MacGyver was shown to the finished basement and attic that could be used for guests or extra storage. All the rooms needed a thorough scrubbing and fresh coat of paint. Unfortunately, the building’s exterior was in much worse shape. Roofing shingles, siding, and windows needed replaced, and the tall grass and knee-high weeds that comprised the yard needed to be tamed. Still, Mac was giddy at the thought of having an actual house for the first time since he left Minnesota in his late teens and immediately made a competitive offer.

That night Mac tossed and turned in his bed. He couldn’t believe he had just bought a house! Particularly a house and yard that needed a lot of work with fall and winter just around the corner. Was he biting off more than he could chew? He would need to get a lawn mower, snow blower, and the rest of his belongings that were still in a California storage unit…the list seemed endless. Add to that the fact he’d be working full time at Challengers and it was overwhelming. MacGyver’s chest grew tight and perspiration moistened his brow. He couldn’t do it. It was too much, too soon.

The following morning he called the real estate agent and rescinded his offer. Next, he called Joanna to tell her of his decision.

“I’m sorry, Jo, but I just don’t think it’s the right house for me.”

“It’s no problem,” Joanna assured him. “I’m sure you’ll find something better. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

“Well, now that you mention it, I saw some other houses for sale in the area and was wondering if you’d take a look at them with me. Give me your opinions.”

“Yeah, sure. Just let me know when. I love looking at other people’s houses,” she said eagerly.

Over the next two weeks, MacGyver dragged Joanna through six different houses, always finding fault with something. The lease on his current place was running out and he needed to find something fast, but he also didn’t want to make the wrong choice. Buying a house was a big decision. A big commitment. One he wasn’t sure he could make.

“You know, maybe you’re not meant to buy a house just yet,” Joanna observed. They were in his apartment with Jo sitting at the breakfast bar while he fixed them a quick dinner.

“But I was so sure that’s what I wanted,” Mac groaned.

“Maybe later, just not now,” Jo tried to reason. “You’ve been living in apartments for a long time. A house is a big adjustment and you’ve had a lot to deal with these past few weeks.”

“I miss my houseboat,” he mumbled under his breath.

“What’d you say?” Jo asked.

MacGyver sighed. “Back in L.A. I had this houseboat. I really liked it.”

“Tell me about,” she urged.

Mac went on to describe, in detail, the layout of the two story structure and its untimely demise in a fire.

“It sounds great,” Joanna agreed. “I would have liked to have seen it.”

“Yeah, well….”

Jo glanced her watch. “I have to go,” she said suddenly.

“Something wrong?”

“No, I just need to check on something. I’ll call you later!” she promised as she made a hasty retreat out the door.

Two hours later MacGyver’s telephone rang. It was Joanna.

“Hi Mac,” she greeted him happily. “I’m sorry I bolted on you, but I had an idea I wanted to look into right away. Meet me at 803 W. Elmhurst tomorrow morning at eight. It’s about half-way between your place and Challengers. I called Evelyn and she said we could come in late.”

“It’s not another house, is it?” MacGyver asked wearily.

“Not quite. Just meet me there tomorrow. Good night!”

Mac stared at the phone and shook his head before hanging up. Maybe he should just pitch a tent in a park and be done with it!

MacGyver arrived at the designated address to find Joanna already standing on the sidewalk in front of a modest, two-story, side-by-side duplex with a ‘For Lease’ sign stuck in the front yard.

“C’mon!” she insisted excitedly, already heading up the concrete walkway to a door on the left hand side of the house. Her knock was answered by a grey-haired man in his sixties.

“Mr. Rainey? I’m Joanna Fairfax. We spoke on the phone last night.” She shook his hand.

“Ah, yes, Ms. Fairfax. And this must be the friend you were talking about. Mr. MacGyver?”

‘Please, call me ‘Mac’,” he said, shaking the older man’s hand.

“Well, in that case you must both call me ‘Charlie’. I own this property. Come on and take a look at the place,” he said, leading them to the other side of the dwelling. “Please take all the time you need,” he encouraged as he unlocked the door. “Just let me know when you’re ready to leave.”

Joanna stepped aside to allow MacGyver to enter first. His jaw went slack with awe as he crossed the threshold. He could hardly believe what he was seeing! It was his houseboat reincarnated only a little larger. The entire main level was open, the kitchen separated from the rest of the room by a half wall and breakfast bar. He could already see his furniture in place. There was enough space for a small kitchen table as well as his computer desk. On the far wall were patio doors leading to a small, wooden deck. A fireplace was angled in the corner. His couch, coffee table and matching cushioned chair would fit nicely in the center. Wood paneled walls doubled as bookshelves and storage areas to hold his books, video tapes and sports equipment, but the sight that made him smile the most was the spiral staircase.

“Go ahead. Check it out!” Jo nudged him with her shoulder.

He climbed the winding stairs to a lofted bed and bathroom suite.

“Well,” Joanna called, eager to see his response.

“Well,” he echoed her as he made his way back downstairs, “It’s perfect! Absolutely perfect!” He grabbed her by the shoulders and gave her a sound kiss on the cheek. “How did you ever find this place?”

“When you were describing your houseboat, I remembered my mom showing me an article in a neighborhood newspaper about these new duplexes and this one was pictured.”

“You’re amazing, you know that?” Mac beamed.

They locked the door and went in search of Charlie. They found him weeding a small garden. He got to his feet when he saw them.

“How do you like it, Mac?” he asked.

“I love it! It’s just like a place I had out in L.A. I’m afraid there’s only one problem.”

“And what might that be?” Chuck looked concerned.

“I’m on a pretty tight deadline,” Mac explained. “I need to be out of my current place at the end of the month. I doubt that leaves enough time for us to come to a deal.”

“Nonsense,” Chuck waved his hand in dismissal. “I’ve been waiting for a renter since I bought this place. As soon as you can come up with first and last month’s rent we can sign the papers and get you moved in.”

“It’s a deal,” MacGyver declared, shaking the man’s hand one more time.

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The first day of the fall term arrived and Joanna pulled her Cavalier into the staff parking lot at Challengers, choosing a new space to occupy for the coming year. She grinned, wondering if MacGyver would still park next to her. She didn’t have to wait long for the answer as her colleague pulled up in his classic car and eased into the spot next to her.

Jo got out of her car, grabbed her purse and school bag and waited for Mac.

“New year, new spot. Is that it?” he quipped.

“Something like that,” she smiled back. “You’ve been a hard man to find. Are you all moved in to your new place.”

“Sure am,” he said.

“I could have helped, you know,” she replied.

“I know, but this was something I needed to do by myself,” he explained. “However, now that I’m all settled in I’d be more than happy to have some company.”

“Is that an invitation, sir?” Joanna queried as she playfully batted her eyelashes.

“You bet. And it’s a standing invitation as well,” he promised, draping his arm around her shoulders as they entered the building together.

They were immediately greeted by Officer Carl who held a pile of envelopes in his hand.

“Looks like someone forgot to check the mailbox on Friday,” he scolded with a grin. “There’s something here for you, MacGyver.”

Mac took the envelope addressed to him. “Thanks Carl.”

“Who would send you mail here?” Joanna asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied, as he cautiously tore off an end and extracted a letter. He scanned the brief note. “It’s from Sam. He probably sent it here so you could forward it to me if I was already gone.”

“What does it say?” She tried to peek over his shoulder, but he was too tall.

“It just has a phone number and says ‘call me’.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? Go call him,” she urged. “The students won’t be arriving for another hour.”

Fifteen minutes later MacGyver stood silently in her office doorway.

“Did you get to talk to him?” she asked anxiously. “What did he say?”

“He’s living in Germany waiting to rotate out. He’s coming home for Thanksgiving and says he has a surprise for me,” he grimaced.

“That’s great, isn’t it?” Joanna asked carefully, confused by Mac’s reaction.

“Yeah, of course. It’s just that I’ve got this problem with surprises.”

Posted by: Persona non grata 16 January 2019 - 01:35 PM
Well ain't that nice.

I'm pleased by the improbable-yet-delightful resurrection of everybody's favourite houseboat, at least. Loved that one.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 16 January 2019 - 02:32 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 16 January 2019 - 01:35 PM)
Well ain't that nice.

I'm pleased by the improbable-yet-delightful resurrection of everybody's favourite houseboat, at least. Loved that one.

I couldn't help it! I LOVED the houseboat and I just couldn't think of a place that would suit Mac better! That's why it's called "fiction", right!

Posted by: Dragondog 16 January 2019 - 07:28 PM
Ooooh, Sam, what are you up to? wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 23 January 2019 - 07:09 AM
Chapter 23: Happy Thanksgiving Grandpa Mac

It was the Friday before Thanksgiving break and the entire school seemed to buzz with the anticipation of an entire week off. The students vacated the premises immediately after the final bell and their teachers weren’t far behind. The new faculty had raised Challengers Academy to a higher level, but it came at a cost. Everyone deserved a week of rest and relaxation. MacGyver and Joanna took advantage of the empty building to play a few rounds of air hockey in the recreation room. The game had not fit in Mac’s new place, or the ‘houseboat’ as he referred to it, so he had graciously donated it to the school. Jo had just scored her second straight goal with MacGyver not even attempting to reject the puck. She stepped back from the table and crossed her arms in front of her.

“Earth to MacGyver,” she called.

“Huh?” he asked as if just coming out of a trance.

“I just scored twice on you,” Jo announced. “Your head’s obviously not in the game, so where is it?”

“Sorry,” he apologized, moving to lean against the side of the table. “I just talked to Sam this afternoon. His plane gets in Sunday morning. I offered to pick him up at the airport, but he said he already rented a car. Apparently this has something to do with the ‘surprise’ he has for me.” MacGyver frowned.

“Maybe it’s a really big souvenir,” she quipped, earning an irritated look from her hockey partner.

“Hey, you’re really upset,” Joanna observed, turning serious with concern. “You aren’t worried, are you?”

MacGyver raked his fingers through his hair. “I’m not worried,” he sighed. “It’s just…well, it’s been awhile. Almost a year. A lot can happen in a year. I’m proof of that.”

“Does Sam know everything’s that happened?”

“Yeah, I told him. I just have this feeling…”

By now Joanna was standing next to him, absently rubbing his back in what she hoped was a soothing gesture.

“What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?” she asked, trying to change the subject.

“We’re invited to the Thornton’s.”

“That should be nice. Evelyn told me Connie’s a great cook.”

Mac simply nodded.

“I’m sure you’re concerned about nothing, but let me know if there’s anything I can do,” she offered.

MacGyver turned towards her, his eyes brightening in a way that made her suddenly regret her words.

“Would you be there when he comes?”

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” she asked. “You’ll want time to talk and catch up.”

“Please?” he asked uncertainly.

Joann couldn’t recall ever seeing MacGyver this uncomfortable.

“What time did you say his plane gets in?” she hedged.

“If his flight is on time, traffic is light, and I’m worrying for nothing, you’ll make it home in plenty of time to see the Packer game,” he laughed, tapping her on the tip of her nose which made her scowl.

“Okay, what time do you want me there?” she sighed in resignation.

“How about nine?”

“Fine. See you then.”

Mac reached out and grabbed her hand as she started to walk away.

“I really appreciate this, Jo.”

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“Where have you been?” MacGyver snapped as he opened his front door to let Joanna in.

She glanced at her watch. “It’s nine o’clock on the dot. Will you relax?!”

“I’m sorry,” Mac apologized, rubbing his hand over his forehead. “Sam just called and he’s on his way.”

Joanna stowed her coat and purse in their usually spot and looked around the apartment. When she had first visited, she felt uncomfortable being surrounded by all of MacGyver’s belongings instead of the rented furnishings in his old place. Everywhere she looked it felt as if she was looking at a part of him. And in a way she was. He seemed to have sensed this and had gone out of his way to make her feel at ease. Now she felt as if this was her second home.

“I see you cleaned up,” she observed.

“You make it sound like I’m a slob,” Mac complained.

“I wouldn’t call you a slob, exactly—“

A knock at the door interrupted her. She saw MacGyver glance down at his collarless shirt and jeans. She rolled her eyes. This was his son! Granted, they hadn’t seen each other for almost a year but still…

Mac opened the door to reveal a young man a few inches shorter than him with neatly cut dark brown hair and slim physique. Joanna stayed silent as they embraced and patted each other on the back.

“You got a haircut,” MacGyver said as he stood back to take in his son.

“And you didn’t!” Sam laughed.

Mac pulled a face. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet,” he told Sam as he turned toward Jo. “This is Joanna Fairfax, my friend from Challengers.”

Sam displayed a dazzling smile as he reached out to shake her hand.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you in person. My dad has told me so much about you I feel like I already know you.”

‘”Oh really?” Joanna playfully cocked an eyebrow at Mac. “It’s good to meet you, too, Sam,” she continued. “And please call me ‘Jo’.”

“There’s, um, someone I’d like you to meet too,” Sam announced, turning back to his father and making his way to the door, gesturing for someone to come in.

A pretty young girl about Sam’s age and Joanna’s height stood on the threshold holding a baby carrier, her long auburn hair blowing in the autumn breeze. Joanna sucked in a breath and looked at MacGyver who stood tall and stiff as a board, his face expressionless.

“Dad, Jo, this is Julie Conner. And this,” he glanced toward the carrier where a blue-eyed, blond-haired baby boy not more than a few months old peeked out from a fleece blanket, “is Joshua. Your grandson.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Julie,” MacGyver smiled without offering to shake her hand. Turning to Sam he growled, “We need to talk. Now!”

As if on cue, Joshua began to wail.

“I’m afraid he needs changed,” Julie said apologetically.

“C’mon, I’ll show you upstairs,” Jo responded. As she climbed the steps she caught MacGyver’s gaze which held myriad emotions. She was definitely not going to get out of here in time for the Packer game.

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“Dad, just give me a chance to explain,” Sam implored.

“Oh, you’re gonna explain, all right,” MacGyver grabbed his son’s arm and steered him toward the couch. “Start from the beginning and don’t leave out a thing,” Mac commanded.

Sam leaned back on the couch and sighed as he began his story.

“I met Julie when I was in New York for a mandatory training before flying out. She’s a print journalist and had just been assigned to a U.S. base in Germany. We hit it off and went out a few times. We got...friendly.”

“Friendly,” Mac repeated, staring at his son.

“Very friendly?” Sam stared back.

“I get it. Go on.”

“We were only together once, but three months later I got a letter from her saying she was pregnant. She said it was mine.”

“But you hardly knew her! How can you be sure?”

“I introduce you to your grandson and that’s the first question you ask?”

“But you admit you were only with her once.”

“Once is all it takes, Dad!”

“I know that, Sam,” Mac shot back as Joshua wailed his protest from upstairs. Both men lowered their voices.

“Anyway,” Sam continued, “We stayed in touch and I arranged to get leave so I could be there for the birth.”

“That’s why you postponed your leave this past spring,” MacGyver stated.

Sam nodded. “The baby came early so I missed it anyway, but I got to Germany as fast as I could. Julie and I have both been on leave since then.”

Mac scrubbed his face with his hand. “Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?” he asked wearily.

“I kept meaning to, but it wasn’t something I wanted to say in a letter. I wanted to tell you face-to-face.”

“Well it looks like you got your wish,” MacGyver sneered.

“Dad, I’m sorry…”

“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?”

There was a sound by the stairs and both men turned. Joanna stood there with Julie hovering by her side, baby carrier hanging on her arm.

“Joshua’s fussy and tired from the trip,” Jo proclaimed. “Julie wants to go check into the motel and get him settled.” Sam nodded his consent.

“This isn’t over, Sam,” Mac declared. “We still have a lot to talk about.”

Polite good-byes were hastily exchanged and Joanna went to gather her things as MacGyver plopped down on the couch.

“What are you doing?” he asked, catching her off guard.

“Going home,” she stated. “I figured you’d want to be alone.”

“I do. It’s just…don’t leave,” he requested, his voice so raw and vulnerable Joanna had no choice but to stay. She sat down next to him as he grabbed the remote and turned on the football game.

They watched the game together in silence until Mac grabbed his jacket and went out on the back deck during the second quarter. At half time, Joanna grabbed her coat and joined him.

“I owe you an apology,” she began.

Mac gave her a questioning look.

“From now on, when you say something doesn’t feel right, I’ll believe you,” she smiled, hoping he would do the same. Instead, he simply returned his gaze to his backyard.

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The following morning, Sam tapped lightly on his father’s door before letting himself in.

“Have a seat.” MacGyver pointed the spatula he was holding at a stool behind the breakfast bar. “I’m making pancakes. Want some?”

“No thanks,” Sam declined. “When you called and asked me to come over I thought…well, I wasn’t expecting you to be in a very good mood.”

Mac turned off the griddle and faced Sam. “You took me by surprise yesterday, and I lashed out. I was hoping we could talk, privately.”

“No problem. Joshua had a rough night so he and Julie are sleeping in.”

“He’s okay, isn’t he?” MacGyver asked.

“Yeah, just jet lag and new surroundings. I’m used to it, but they’re not.”

“Look Sam, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and have some questions for you.” MacGyver now took a seat on the stool next to his son.

“I kind of expected that,” Sam replied. “Go ahead, ask whatever you want.”

MacGyver sighed, not knowing where to begin.

“What if Joshua isn’t really yours. What if his real father is out there somewhere?”

Sam shook his head. “Julie said he’s mine and I believe her.”

“But what if there’s a chance he’s not?”

“Then he needs a father anyway. Besides, you believed me when I said you were my father based only on an old picture in a locket.”

“It wasn’t just the picture, Sam,” MacGyver began to explain, his voice gaining urgency. “Your mom and I were together for a while. We knew each other well. Maybe too well. There’s no way she would have deceived me like that.”

“If you two were so close, how come she never told you about me?!”

“I don’t know,” MacGyver shot back, “but I’m sure she had her reasons! Besides, this isn’t about me and your mother, it’s about you and Julie!” Mac took a deep breath, struggling to regain his composure. “Alright, so you’ve agreed to raise Joshua. Now what? Are you going to get married? Where are you going to live? How are you going to support a family?”

“Would you stop with the third degree?!” Sam shouted.

“Look,” Mac said calmly, trying to diffuse the situation. “You’re making a big commitment here. There are things you need to consider.”

“At least I’m making a commitment. Something you never had the guts to do!”

Sam’s words hit MacGyver like a smack in the face and it hurt. Mainly because it was true.

“If I had known about you, I would have committed! I would have married your mom and settled down instead of dragging you across the world from one assignment to the next. But your mother never gave me that choice!”

“Then you’ll be happy to know that Julie and I have agreed to make sure Joshua has a stable, loving home to grow up in. The day after Thanksgiving we’re driving down to St. Louis. Julie has family there and her folks have agreed to raise Joshua until we figure out what we want to do.”

“What?!” MacGyver bellowed.

“That is unless you want him,” Sam sneered.

“A child deserves a mother and a father. Not some stand-ins to raise him until his parents decide what they want to be when they grow up!”

“Look, dad, I didn’t ask for this. I’m trying to do what’s best for everyone, including Joshua. Can’t you cut me some slack? You said you’d always be there for me, but apparently you lied!”

“I didn’t—“

“Forget it, Okay. We’ll pack up and leave tonight.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna was on her hands and knees scrubbing her bathroom floor when the phone rang. She groaned. Her parents had gone shopping and she was taking advantage of time alone to conquer household chores she had let go too long. She sat back on her heels, waiting for the machine to pick.

“Joanna, this is Pete Thornton. If you’re there, please pick up.”

Jo scrambled to her feet, the concern in Pete’s voice scaring her.

“I’m here,” she said breathlessly. “What’s wrong? Is everything okay?”

Pete chuckled, “Do you always ask that first thing?”

“Yeah. Ever since MacGyver came into my life.”

“I know the feeling,” Pete commiserated. “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure anything is wrong. Mac called Connie and told her they couldn’t make it for Thanksgiving. I tried to tell her he probably just wanted to spend the day alone with Sam.”

“Have you tried calling MacGyver?”

“Yes,” Pete sighed. “He’s not answering his phone. I thought you might have some insight.”

“Maybe him and Sam are out for the day,” she suggested.

“You’re probably right,” Pete agreed. “Sorry to bother you. Have a happy Thanksgiving.”

“Thanks, you too,” Joanna smiled and hung up.

Drat! Was MacGyver pouting again? Joanna knew it wasn’t any of her business, yet…

“MacGyver!” she yelled as she knocked on his front door. “I’m coming in!” The man really needed to learn to lock his doors.

Joanna found Mac lying on his couch, staring up at the ceiling. She walked to where he could see her and planted her hands on her hips.

“OK, spill it,” she commanded.

He swung his legs off the couch giving her room to sit, but she remained standing. He scrubbed his face with his hands and launched into his argument with Sam earlier that day.

“So what are you going to do about it?” she asked, looking down at him.

“I don’t know what I can do,” he replied, looking up at her with piercing, unsettled eyes.

Jo finally relented and sat down next to him taking a gentler approach.

“You could apologize.”

“For what?!” Now it was MacGyver’s turn to stand over her.

“Oh, I don’t know. How about for overreacting and being a jerk?”

“I tried that. It didn’t work.” He dropped down next to her.

“You need to work this out with Sam before they leave.”

Mac sighed, “I doubt he feels much like talking to me right about now.”

“Do you mind if I take a shot?” Jo asked.

MacGyver looked at her, surprise registering on his face. “You shouldn’t have to clean up the mess I made.”

“Cleaning was on my agenda for this week anyway. Where’s the phone number to the motel?”

In no time, Joanna had made arrangements for the two couples and the baby to meet at a casual restaurant for a late lunch. MacGyver and Jo got there first and she quickly requested a booth, insisting that Mac go in first, that way she could block any attempt he made to bail. Sam and Julie arrived shortly, Sam going in the booth first so Julie could take the baby out quickly if needed. She placed the infant carrier between them.

For the first several minutes, everyone studied their menu intently. After giving the server their orders, they fell into stilted small talk and awkward silences. Everyone was grateful when the meal was served and mouths could be filled with food instead of words. Several times Joshua became fussy and Sam was quick to calm him, but Julie always took over. When the child could no longer be easily comforted, Julie excused herself and Joanna followed in order to give Sam and Mac some time alone, hoping they would mind their manners in a public environment.

“Does he need changed?” Jo asked once they reached the restroom.

Julie lifted the small bundle into her arms. “No, I think he just needs a nap. His internal clock takes a while to adjust.”

“’Joshua’ is a nice name,” Joanna commented. “What made you and Sam choose it?”

Julie cast Jo a suspicious glance before answering. “I named him after his…grandfather,” she hesitated slightly.

“Oh,” Joanna nodded. “He has such lovely blue eyes. Do they run in your family?”

“Why don’t you just ask what you really want to know?!” Julie turned on her. The shy, quiet young lady façade gone.

“Fine,” Jo squared her shoulders. “Is Sam Joshua’s biological father?”

“Sam warned me you’d ask that,” Julie spat. “Why can’t you and MacGyver just accept the fact that Sam has a son?”

Julie stormed back to their table. “C’mon Sam, let’s get outta here,” she demanded.

Sam shot MacGyver a bewildered glance before following Julie out of the restaurant.

Mac looked at Jo as she resumed her seat next to him. “Sam and I were just starting to talk things out. What happened?”

“I don’t think Sam is Joshua’s real father.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver stared incredulously at Joanna as she intently studied the dessert menu. He could feel her leg against his jeans as it bounced up and down, a sign that she was upset.

“What?!” Mac exclaimed.

“You heard me,” she replied, head still buried in the menu.

MacGyver reached out and removed the laminated folder from her hands.

“Sam and I were talking. Really talking. He’s convinced that the baby is really his. What makes you think he’s not?”

Joanna turned to him. “Didn’t you notice how Julie was always swooping in to comfort Joshua, even when Sam was trying? And she’s always the one carrying him.”

Mac tipped his head in thought. “Maybe she’s just an overprotective mother.”

“Why would she feel the need to protect him from his own father?” Jo asked. “And when we were in the ladies room, I commented on the baby’s name and she said they named him after his grandfather.”

“So what’s the big deal about that?”

“It was the way she said it. She hesitated, like she almost said he was named after someone else but then caught herself.”

“You think he’s named after his real father?”

Joanna nodded vigorously.

“Don’t you think that’s kind of a stretch?” Even though MacGyver had doubts about Joshua’s biological father, this certainly wasn’t hard evidence.

“But that’s not all,” Joanna continued. “What about his coloring?”

Mac sighed. “Hair and eye coloring can change as a child gets older.”

“I know that!” Joanna rolled her eyes at him. “But when I asked if blue eyes run in her family she completely turned on me and got all upset for insinuating Sam isn’t his dad.”

“So that’s why she insisted they leave in such a hurry.”

“Afraid so,” Jo answered. “You’re the ex-spy science guy, how can we prove whether or not Sam is Joshua’s father?”

“The fastest and easiest way is a blood test. But it’s not fool-proof and we’d need their permission.”

“That’s what I thought,” Joanna crossed her arms and slouched down in the booth. “And they’re not likely to allow it.”

“Look, I convinced Sam to stay the night. Tomorrow morning I’ll go and talk with them. If Julie protests too much we’ll know something’s not right.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Just give me some time to pack the rest of our things and then we can hit the road,” Julie instructed as she, Sam, and Joshua entered their motel room.

“Wait a minute,” Sam said as he grabbed her gently by the arm. “I told my dad we wouldn’t leave until morning. It’d give us a little extra time to—“

“What? Work things out? It’s crystal clear what your dad thinks of us and now he’s got his girlfriend on his side too! Let’s just forget we were ever here and spend Thanksgiving with my family.”

“We’ll spend the holiday in St. Louis,” Sam promised, “but give me a chance to make things right with my dad before we leave. I at least owe him that much.”

“You owe him nothing!” Julie turned and headed into the bathroom, closing the door with a loud bang.

Sam sighed. Julie’s emotions had been all over the board these past couple of months. He had chalked it up to hormones and just having a baby, but maybe there was something more to it. He could admit, at least to himself, that he really didn’t know her well at all, and the more he saw of her, the less there was to like. But she was the mother of his child and he was determined to do right by her and Joshua.

There was a knock on the motel door Tuesday morning. Sam opened it to find MacGyver standing casually on the other side.

“Hope I didn’t wake you,” his dad said.

“No, Joshua took care of that a couple hours ago,” Sam replied with a wry grin. “Come on in.”

Sam stood back to allow MacGyver to enter the small room just as Julie emerged from the bathroom.

“What’s he doing here?” she hissed at Sam, refusing to look at Mac.

“I wanted to talk to the both of you about something,” MacGyver volunteered before his son could respond. “Maybe we should all sit down, first,” Mac suggested, glancing at the two double beds.

Sam plopped down on the foot of the bed while Julie stiffly lowered herself next to him

“What’s up, Dad?”

“There seems to be a whole lotta accusations and misunderstandings surrounding Joshua. I was wondering, hoping actually, that you would be willing to take a blood test to prove paternity.”

“Sure,” Sam agreed readily. “I know he’s mine, and I’ll do whatever it takes to prove that. And even if he’s not mine, I still plan on being his dad. It won’t change anything.”

“Sam, you can’t!” Julie cried, suddenly clinging to his arm.

“Look, Jules,” Sam offered calmly. “We have nothing to hide, right? So where’s the harm if it’ll make everyone happy?”

Sam felt Julie suddenly release his arm.

“Fine,” she replied icily. “Do what you have to do. I have to feed the baby now.”

“Actually, I was hoping we could all go out for breakfast. As a family,” MacGyver said.

“C’mon, Jules, what do you say?”

“I thought we were leaving this morning. And stop calling me ‘Jules’! You know I hate that!” she snapped.

Sam’s heart sank. His precious little family was fracturing right in front of him and he felt helpless.

“Then just how about us guys,” Mac suggested, slapping Sam on the back.

“We won’t be long,” Sam promised Julie before heading out the door with his father.

The two men walked to a small diner next to the motel and commandeered a booth. Sitting across from MacGyver, Sam sighed as he rubbed the back of his neck to relieve the tension that had settled there.

“I’m sorry about Julie, Dad.” Sam apologized. “I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m just glad you agreed to the paternity test. I’ll go ahead and make the arrangements.”

“It’s not going to change anything.” Sam’s resolve strengthened.

“But at least we’ll know the truth. That’s something everyone deserves.”

Father and son ordered light meals and chatted amicably as they had done before Sam had left on his assignment almost a year ago. As they were walking back to the motel Sam suddenly froze.

“What is it?” MacGyver asked, his own senses going on high alert.

“Our car. It’s gone!”

“Now don’t panic. Maybe Julie just had to run an errand.”

Sam saw a maid pushing her cart outside their room.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” Sam called. “Did you happen to see the woman from that room?”

“Sure did,” the woman replied. “She packed up the car and her kid and went squealing outta here like the devil himself was on her tail.”

Sam thanked the maid and quickly entered the room, MacGyver close behind. There was a hastily scrawled note on the dresser. Sam didn’t want to read it but he knew he had to, even though Julie’s actions had spoken louder than any words.

Sam,

I guess you have your answer now. Joshua isn’t yours. I’m sorry for using you, but believe me when I say I had my reasons. Please don’t try and find us. There’s been enough trouble already.

Julie

Sam crumpled the note and tossed it in the trash before turning to MacGyver.

“Seems you were right. Joshua’s not mine. They’re gone,” he said flatly.

Mac put a comforting hand on his son’s shoulder.

“Why don’t you pack up and come to my place,” he suggested quietly.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

It had been almost twelve hours since Sam dumped his duffle and satchel in MacGyver’s doorway and lay down on the couch to stare at the ceiling and MacGyver was going crazy. How could Sam just lie there? He hadn’t eaten or even spoken, and Mac doubted very much he had slept. Every couple hours Mac had encouraged him to do or say something, anything. But all that earned him was more silence. He had never seen anyone close themselves off to the world so completely. Had he been like this when Mike had died? Or when he learned of Pete’s retirement? It was a scary thought. Thankfully he had friends who refused to give up on him, just as he refused to give up on Sam, but he needed help. He automatically picked up the phone and dialed the now-familiar number.

“Hello?” Joanna answered.

“Not screening your calls?” Mac tried to tease.

“Telemarketers don’t call this late,” she explained. “What’s wrong? Did you talk with Sam today?”

“Yeah. It’s kind of a long story.” MacGyver went on to tell Joanna about how Julie had taken Joshua and about the note she left for Sam and his son’s subsequent behavior.

“Can you come over and help me?” he pleaded. Something he wasn’t used to doing since he was generally the one riding to the rescue.

“Honestly, Mac, I don’t know how I could help.”

“But you helped me when I withdrew after Pete retired.”

“All I did was be there for you. And that’s all you can do for Sam. Be there when he’s ready to do whatever he needs to do and don’t let him push you away no matter how hard he tries.”

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” MacGyver sighed, reluctant to end the call. Just the sound of Jo’s voice centered him.

“Give it time and don’t rush him,” Joanna instructed. “And if you need me tomorrow, give me a call,” she capitulated.

Early Wednesday morning MacGyver awoke to strange sounds coming from his kitchen. He bolted upright, preparing to take on an intruder before remembering that Sam had spent the night downstairs and was probably, hopefully, making something to eat. Not wanting to ruin any progress his son may have made, Mac took his time showering and dressing for the day before heading to the kitchen himself. Reaching the bottom step he looked around to find Sam now seated in a chair staring at a blank TV and eating a banana. Mac grabbed an apple and joined him.

“You’re gonna have to talk about it some time, you know,” MacGyver told his son gently.

“I just can’t believe it,” Sam responded. “Why would she do something like that?”

Mac shrugged. “I don’t know, Sam. She said she had her reasons so I guess you just have to trust her.”

“Trust her!” Sam spat. “She let me believe she had my baby! That I was a dad! How am I supposed to trust her?!”

MacGyver raked his hand through his hair. The pain in Sam’s eyes stabbed his own heart. He longed to take the pain away, but how?

“What can I do to help you through this?” he asked Sam.

The young man shrugged. “It probably sounds terrible, but I really don’t care what happens with Julie. I hardly knew her and now wish I had never met her. But it’s the baby. I need to know that Joshua’s okay.”

“Do you think she really has family in St. Louis?”

“Yeah, I guess. I don’t know.”

“I still have some connections at Phoenix. How about I have them do a little digging and see what we can find?” Mac offered.

Sam nodded silently before putting his feet up on the coffee table and reclining back in the chair to continue his study of the ceiling.

MacGyver contacted an intelligence agent at the Foundation whom he had worked with before. The agent wasn’t excited about being given a new project the day before Thanksgiving, but the information Mac wanted was simple enough so he promised to get on it and call back when he had something.

Hours later MacGyver was tinkering with a new science demonstration he planned to use at Challengers the following week when a knock on his door startled him. He looked up to see Joanna standing on the other side of the glass. He motioned for her to enter.

She stood beside him, observing Sam.

“I can’t believe it! There are two of you!”

“Do I really get that bad?” MacGyver winced at the thought.

The look on Joanna’s face told him he did.

“Not that I mind, but what brings you here?” he asked.

“You never called and I’ve been wondering how things are going.”

Before MacGyver could respond his phone rang. It was the Phoenix agent he had contacted earlier. On a small pad of paper he quickly wrote down the information he received, thanked the agent and hung up. Two pairs of expectant eyes watched him.

“That was my friend from Phoenix. Seems Julie was telling some truth, at least. Her parents are Joshua and Mary Conner. They currently reside in an upscale suburb of St. Louis.”

Sam’s shoulders dropped a bit in relief.

“There’s more,” Mac said, pain for Sam in his eyes.

“Go on,” Sam prompted huskily.

“My friend dug up Joshua’s birth certificate. The father’s name is listed as ‘unknown’.”

Sam sighed, pushed himself out of the soft chair and stood looking out the patio doors.

“So that’s it,” he said with resignation.

“Not quite,” MacGyver cleared his throat. “My friend got a phone number for her parents if…”

Uneasy silence hung in the air.

“I know all I need to know,” Sam stated several minutes later. “I’m gonna need a place to crash for a while until I get reassigned.”

“You can stay here as long as you need to,” MacGyver assured him.

“Thanks Dad, I was hoping you’d say that,” Sam smiled slightly and for the first time since the weekend MacGyver felt that everything might work out after all.

“And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry about Joshua. I know you really believed you were his dad.”

Sam shrugged, unshed tears glistening in his eyes. MacGyver’s heart broke and he wrapped his son in a strong embrace which was heartily returned.


Posted by: Dragondog 23 January 2019 - 01:26 PM
I figured Sam's surprise involved a girl, but then I read the title and surprise.gif

QUOTE
“You got a haircut,” MacGyver said as he stood back to take in his son.

“And you didn’t!” Sam laughed.
XD

QUOTE
“It’s nice to meet you, Julie,” MacGyver smiled without offering to shake her hand. Turning to Sam he growled, “We need to talk. Now!”
Ho boy whistle.gif

QUOTE
“Oh, you’re gonna explain, all right,” MacGyver grabbed his son’s arm and steered him toward the couch. “Start from the beginning and don’t leave out a thing,” Mac commanded.
Mac, I know it's a massive shock, but C'mon, Sam's an adult. He can make his own life choices.

QUOTE
“I met Julie when I was in New York for a mandatory training before flying out. She’s a print journalist and had just been assigned to a U.S. base in Germany. We hit it off and went out a few times. We got...friendly.”

“Friendly,” Mac repeated, staring at his son.

“Very friendly?” Sam stared back.
Lol, Sam's like a guilty child XD

QUOTE
“We were only together once, but three months later I got a letter from her saying she was pregnant. She said it was mine.”

“But you hardly knew her! How can you be sure?”

“I introduce you to your grandson and that’s the first question you ask?”

“But you admit you were only with her once.”

“Once is all it takes, Dad!”

“I know that, Sam,” Mac shot back as Joshua wailed his protest from upstairs. Both men lowered their voices.
Is it wrong that I read this and just started cackling? XD

QUOTE
“I kept meaning to, but it wasn’t something I wanted to say in a letter. I wanted to tell you face-to-face.”

“Well it looks like you got your wish,” MacGyver sneered.

“Dad, I’m sorry…”

“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?”
Oof. Give him a break, Mac!

QUOTE
“I figured you’d want to be alone.”

“I do. It’s just…don’t leave,”
Aww, Mac needs her wub.gif

QUOTE
She sat down next to him as he grabbed the remote and turned on the football game.
Well, at least she got to see the game laugh.gif



QUOTE
“It wasn’t just the picture, Sam,” MacGyver began to explain, his voice gaining urgency. “Your mom and I were together for a while. We knew each other well. Maybe too well. There’s no way she would have deceived me like that.”

“If you two were so close, how come she never told you about me?!”
Ouch. Old wound come to the surface sad.gif

QUOTE
“At least I’m making a commitment. Something you never had the guts to do!”
Sam is SAVAGE! blink.gif

QUOTE
“A child deserves a mother and a father. Not some stand-ins to raise him until his parents decide what they want to be when they grow up!”
Welp, I see where he gets his savageness from -_-

QUOTE
“Look, dad, I didn’t ask for this. I’m trying to do what’s best for everyone, including Joshua. Can’t you cut me some slack? You said you’d always be there for me, but apparently you lied!”
I'm not crying. It's just dusty in here D"X

QUOTE
“MacGyver!” she yelled as she knocked on his front door. “I’m coming in!” The man really needed to learn to lock his doors.
Yes Joanna, we've been saying that for a long time now tongue.gif

QUOTE
“You could apologize.”

“For what?!” Now it was MacGyver’s turn to stand over her.

“Oh, I don’t know. How about for overreacting and being a jerk?”
Gosh I love Joanna

QUOTE
“Oh,” Joanna nodded. “He has such lovely blue eyes. Do they run in your family?”

“Why don’t you just ask what you really want to know?!” Julie turned on her. The shy, quiet young lady façade gone.

“Fine,” Jo squared her shoulders. “Is Sam Joshua’s biological father?”

“Sam warned me you’d ask that,” Julie spat. “Why can’t you and MacGyver just accept the fact that Sam has a son?”
Everyone is so freaking savage this chapter (awesome!)

QUOTE
“I don’t think Sam is Joshua’s real father.”
Me neither dry.gif

As soon as Mac and Sam went out alone, I knew Julie and Joshua would be gone -_-

QUOTE
It had been almost twelve hours since Sam dumped his duffle and satchel in MacGyver’s doorway and lay down on the couch to stare at the ceiling and MacGyver was going crazy. How could Sam just lie there? He hadn’t eaten or even spoken, and Mac doubted very much he had slept. Every couple hours Mac had encouraged him to do or say something, anything. But all that earned him was more silence. He had never seen anyone close themselves off to the world so completely.
Wow. Gee, I wonder where he gets it from...

QUOTE
“Trust her!” Sam spat. “She let me believe she had my baby! That I was a dad! How am I supposed to trust her?!”
Sam, poor baby! 8"(

QUOTE
“I still have some connections at Phoenix. How about I have them do a little digging and see what we can find?” Mac offered.
Ooh, I'm interested w00t.gif XD

QUOTE
She stood beside him, observing Sam.“I can’t believe it! There are two of you!”“Do I really get that bad?” MacGyver winced at the thought.The look on Joanna’s face told him he did.
Did I mention how muchI love Joanna?

QUOTE
“That was my friend from Phoenix. Seems Julie was telling some truth, at least. Her parents are Joshua and Mary Conner. They currently reside in an upscale suburb of St. Louis.”
Well, at least the baby really was named after his grandfather. There's some truth wink.gif

QUOTE
“My friend dug up Joshua’s birth certificate. The father’s name is listed as ‘unknown’.”
Well, I'm disappointed -_-

QUOTE
Sam shrugged, unshed tears glistening in his eyes. MacGyver’s heart broke and he wrapped his son in a strong embrace which was heartily returned.
The FEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! D"X


Posted by: uniquelyjas 23 January 2019 - 01:45 PM
I *love* your reactions to this chapter, Dragondog!! Yeah, I kinda let the dark side show and I'm glad you're liking Joanna. I wrote it a long time ago, but if I remember correctly I really loved writing the "discussions" between Sam and Mac;) It was fun to have their characters get a little feisty!

Posted by: Dragondog 23 January 2019 - 04:31 PM
Happy to help smile.gif


I really want to join Mac in hugging Sam in the end, though sad.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 23 January 2019 - 04:56 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 23 January 2019 - 04:31 PM)



I really want to join Mac in hugging Sam in the end, though sad.gif

Awww, you're so sweet!

Posted by: Persona non grata 23 January 2019 - 06:12 PM
"Meet me in St Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair..."

I mean, obviously Julie is bad news, and yet I find myself holding out hope that they might meet up one of these days. I'd like to think that Sam's got some of Mac's good traits (or can learn them!) and one of his best is a capacity for whole-hearted, utterly unreasonable forgiveness.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 23 January 2019 - 06:59 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 23 January 2019 - 06:12 PM)
"Meet me in St Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair..."

I mean, obviously Julie is bad news, and yet I find myself holding out hope that they might meet up one of these days. I'd like to think that Sam's got some of Mac's good traits (or can learn them!) and one of his best is a capacity for whole-hearted, utterly unreasonable forgiveness.

*Spoiler Alert* Sam and Julie don't meet up again. BUT, you're going to see more and more of Sam and I think you'll like it!

Posted by: Dragondog 23 January 2019 - 07:31 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 23 January 2019 - 06:56 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 23 January 2019 - 04:31 PM)



I really want to join Mac in hugging Sam in the end, though sad.gif

Awww, you're so sweet!

For a young teenager who has no desire to ever raise kids, I can be strangely maternal at times laugh.gif

Posted by: Dragondog 23 January 2019 - 07:32 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 23 January 2019 - 08:59 PM)
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 23 January 2019 - 06:12 PM)
"Meet me in St Louis, Louis, meet me at the fair..."

I mean, obviously Julie is bad news, and yet I find myself holding out hope that they might meet up one of these days. I'd like to think that Sam's got some of Mac's good traits (or can learn them!) and one of his best is a capacity for whole-hearted, utterly unreasonable forgiveness.

*Spoiler Alert* Sam and Julie don't meet up again. BUT, you're going to see more and more of Sam and I think you'll like it!

Just wondering, will we ever see Jesse again? I know what we last saw of her wasn't pretty, but I still feel kinda bad for her sad.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 24 January 2019 - 06:13 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 23 January 2019 - 07:32 PM)
Just wondering, will we ever see Jesse again? I know what we last saw of her wasn't pretty, but I still feel kinda bad for her sad.gif

No, I'm sorry. At this point I was still pretty new to writing fan fic and wasn't even planning on posting it anywhere...just doing it because it was fun, so I didn't really have a "plan". I let a lot of characters fall by the wayside. That sorta stops toward the end of Continuum and I'm much more conscious about it in the sequel, The Journey Continues. Also, I felt I was creating too many original characters so the more I wrote, the more I scaled back and tried to keep it to canon characters and recurring original characters. OK, so that was a longer answer than you wanted!! LOL!!

Posted by: Persona non grata 24 January 2019 - 02:20 PM
(so you could theoretically bring them back, some time...I'll live in hope.)

story's good though

Posted by: uniquelyjas 24 January 2019 - 02:30 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 24 January 2019 - 02:20 PM)
(so you could theoretically bring them back, some time...I'll live in hope.)

story's good though

Theoretically, yes. And thanks!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 January 2019 - 12:45 PM
Chapter 24: Christmas Cupid


The month of December arrived with gray clouds and wintry drizzle, the temperatures mild enough to keep the snow away for now. Sam had decided to stay in town at least until the New Year and had taken up residence on MacGyver’s couch. Mac was glad to have the extra time with his son, but Sam’s presence seemed to have driven Joanna away. The only time MacGyver saw her lately was at Challengers or one of their hockey games. The team had yet to win, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves and that was the main objective.

Unfortunately, Sam soon became restless, especially with the wet weather keeping him indoors most days. MacGyver mentioned this one day at school and Joanna quickly suggested Sam volunteer in the learning center and rec room. She even arranged for him to do some presentations in the history class detailing his recent experiences in the Middle East along with displaying his photos. The students, particularly the young ladies, enjoyed Sam’s contributions to their classes. A few of the older boys were already talking about enlisting after graduation as a means of staying off the streets and earning some money.

One day, Joanna was walking by the rec room when she noticed a group of students gathered in a corner. Sam was talking to them and the teens appeared to be hanging on his every word. Jo entered the large room as unobtrusively as possible in order to hear what was holding the normally short attention spans of the students. As she got closer to the small gathering, she heard Sam talking about his recent experience with Julie and Baby Joshua, stressing the importance of responsible behavior and consequences of individual choices. The dismissal bell rang and the students quickly dispersed. It was then that Sam looked up, noticing Joanna for the first time.

“Hi, Jo,” he greeted her. “I hope you don’t mind, but we were playing pool and talking about stuff and one thing kinda led to another and…”

“I don’t mind at all,” Joanna smiled. “It sounded like you were making some really good points and the kids were actually listening. You’re a natural teacher, just like your dad.”

“Speaking of Dad, I was wondering if I could talk with you…privately.”

“Sure. C’mon in my office.” Jo indicated for Sam to follow her, curious and a bit worried about what he had to say. She had already purposely stayed away from MacGyver as much as possible so as not to infringe on his time with his son.

Sam took a seat in one of the visitors’ chairs while Joanna settled in behind her desk.

“What’s on your mind?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Did you break up with my dad?” he asked meekly, sounding like a five-year-old but not caring.

Joanna’s jaw dropped. “No! I mean, we’re just friends. Whatever gave you that idea?”

Sam shrugged, “In his letters, he always talked about you and the stuff you guys do together. Since I’ve been here we’ve hardly seen you.”

“First of all, I’ve been trying to let you guys have some time together. Alone. Secondly, this is a tough time of year for your dad,” she explained, glancing at the calendar on the wall. Soon it would be December 14th. The anniversary of the death of Mac’s dad and grandmother. And then there was Christmas, the day his mother died.

Sam nodded vigorously. “That’s exactly why he needs you!”

Before Joanna could voice the protest forming on her lips Sam continued.

“Come on over for dinner tomorrow night. I’m cooking so it won’t be anything weird.”

Jo chuckled. “Well, how can a girl say ‘no’ to that!”


The following evening found MacGyver and Joanna seated next to each other on his couch while Sam prepared dinner. Mac hadn’t spent any time outside of school with Jo since Thanksgiving and he felt uncharacteristically uncomfortable…a feeling he never had around her. Perhaps it had been the endless hours Sam had spent singing her praises or the way he had shooed them out of the kitchen when they offered to help with dinner. It smelled for all the world like a set-up, but Sam should know better. Mac had stressed from the beginning that Joanna was simply a co-worker who had become a good friend. The couple released a collective sigh when Sam finally beckoned them to the table to eat. However, the table was small and it was all but impossible to move without rubbing knees or bumping feet. Every now and again MacGyver would catch Joanna’s eye and roll his own toward Sam. Jo would smile surreptitiously, indicating that she smelled a rat as well.

“We need to get this place decorated for Christmas,” Sam abruptly proclaimed, causing his dad and Joanna to look at him as if he just suggested they all jump off a bridge together.

“I don’t do Christmas,” Mac replied softly but firmly before shoving a forkful of suddenly tasteless food into his mouth.

“What do you mean you don’t ‘do’ Christmas? Everyone does Christmas!” Sam insisted.

MacGyver, still chewing, gazed coldly at his son.

Unaffected, Sam continued, “You told me you always spent time at the Challengers Club in L.A. helping with the Christmas Program and stuff. You went to Phoenix’s holiday office parties and created that contraption to make non-alcoholic egg nog. Heck, you even decorated a church!”

“Returning a stolen statue hardly counts as ‘decorating’,” Mac murmured. “Besides, that stuff wasn’t in my house. I didn’t have to look at it day and night.”

“C’mon Dad,” Sam pleaded.

“You could at least put up a tree,” Joanna suggested, finally speaking up.

Great! It was two against one. “Oh, all right. But just a tree,” MacGyver agreed.

“Stores are already putting artificial trees on sale,” Jo informed them. “You could probably get a real good deal.”

“Oh, no,” MacGyver said, warming up to the idea. “If I have to get a tree we’ll do it the old-fashioned way…find a lot that lets you go out and cut one yourself.”

Joanna gaped at him and Sam wrinkled his nose as Mac chuckled and began to clear the table.

The following Saturday, MacGyver headed to his garage to grab a hand saw. Clad in old hiking boots and a blue parka, he was eager to spend some time with Mother Nature. As he was making his way back to the house he saw Joanna pull up and park at the curb. Like him, she wore an all-weather jacket and boots. Though they still lacked snow, there was plenty of mud. Mac opened the front door and yelled to Sam.

“C’mon kid, let’s hustle!”

Jo was now at his side. “I don’t know why Sam insisted I come along. This would be an ideal father-son bonding trip.”

“We’ve been sharing a one-bedroom apartment for almost a month. Believe me, we’ve bonded,” MacGyver assured her.

Mac opened the door, ready to call to Sam again only to find the young man standing there wearing a sweat suit and socks.

“Why aren’t you dressed? We need to get going.”

“Sorry, dad, but I don’t feel well.”

MacGyver narrowed his eyes, “You were fine at breakfast a couple hours ago.”

“Yeah, it hit pretty fast. Guess I’ll have to count on you and Jo to choose the right tree.”

“We could go some other time when you’re feeling better,” Joanna offered.

“No! I mean, all the good trees will be gone if we wait,” Sam insisted.

Mac and Jo exchanged knowing glances. “Well, in that case we better leave right now,” MacGyver said.

Joanna smiled at Sam as MacGyver led her to his car.

Wasn’t there some old adage about taking a woman to pick out a Christmas tree? If not, there should be, MacGyver thought as Joanna browsed row after row of evergreens pronouncing them too short, too tall, too full, or too sparse. The sun had slipped behind the clouds earlier and the temperature had tumbled. She’d get cold eventually and settle for the nearest tree around, Mac figured.

He figured wrong.

Thirty minutes later Joanna finally informed him that, though not perfect, she had found a more than adequate tree for him to cut down. She steadied the tree as Mac began sawing. Memories from his childhood flooded his mind. He saw himself as a young boy, excitedly darting around the tree farm looking for the most rag-tag evergreen he could find. He remembered having to convince his dad to buy it so it would have a home on Christmas Day. When they got home, Mom always had cookies still warm from the oven waiting for them.

“Mac, you okay?” Joanna interrupted his thoughts.

He noticed he had stopped sawing and light snow was beginning to fall. “Yeah, fine,” he replied before continuing to cut down the tree.

Joanna and MacGyver sipped hot chocolate from a nearby vendor as they waited for their tree to be wrapped in netting and secured on the roof of the Nomad.

“You’ve been making yourself pretty scarce lately,” Mac ventured, finishing his sweet drink.

“Like I said, you and Sam need time together.”

“Just because Sam is back in my life doesn’t mean you have to leave, you know. In fact, I’d say he’s trying to, um…”

“Yeah, I know,” Jo smiled good-naturedly.

Just then one of the lot attendants approached them. “You guys are good to go. Have a Merry Christmas.”

“Thanks,” they responded in unison.

“So, I don’t suppose you have any decorations?” Joanna asked as she gulped the last of her hot chocolate and tossed the paper cup in the trash.

“No,” MacGyver replied. “But I’m guessing after today I will.”

Mac parked in his driveway and, with Jo’s help, quickly unloaded the tree and got it in a bucket of water until they could get an appropriate stand.

“Let’s see if Sam feels up to some shopping,” MacGyver suggested.

They entered the duplex to find Sam playing air guitar along with a music video on TV. Mac cleared his throat loudly and Sam turned to face him, looking like a kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Feeling better, are we?” MacGyver asked.

“You know, it was the craziest thing,” Sam began.

Mac held up a hand to quiet his son. “Save it. Jo and I know what you’ve been trying to do, but it just isn’t going to happen.”

Sam frowned and glanced at Jo who nodded her confirmation.

“But don’t you guys see how great you are together? I just don’t want you to grow old and lonely, Dad.”

“Gee, thanks,” Mac replied sarcastically as Joanna tried to hide her smile. “And for the last time, Jo and I are just good friends and right now that’s enough.” But he didn’t know how long he would remain satisfied with just that.

“Well, in that case I guess you won’t be needing these.” Sam pointed to the ceiling where he had hung several bunches of greenery which MacGyver assumed was supposed to be mistletoe.

“Naw, that’s OK. They can stay,” Mac replied, causing Sam and Jo to raise their eyebrows and shrug.

MacGyver took Joanna’s arm and led her behind the spiral staircase.

“Whoa, are you anxious to try out the mistletoe?” Jo giggled.

“You’re not really on board with that, are you?” Mac asked.

“Well, I’d hate to mess with tradition,” she grinned, enjoying the way MacGyver always ran his fingers through his hair in response to her flirting.

“I was going to say that you don’t have to go shopping with us. We’ve wasted enough of your time with the tree.”

“You’re not wasting my time,” Jo insisted. She was starting to get frustrated with MacGyver. First he complained because she stayed away and now he was trying to force her out. “Come on, let’s go shopping,” she instructed.

Good grief, what had she been thinking? Well, she’d been thinking that she’d missed MacGyver and wanted to spend more time with him, but she hadn’t counted on two grown men acting like kids in a candy store arguing over Christmas tree decorations. It was obvious that neither of them had decorated a tree in quite a while and the options they faced were overwhelming. Joanna looked in the cart at the multicolored lights and rainbow of garlands and ornaments but kept her mouth shut. Unfortunately, she could not hide the dismay on her face.

“Don’t worry,” Sam said, draping an arm around her shoulders. “It’ll all look great once it’s on the tree.”

“Yeah,” Mac agreed with a quirky grin. “We can make this work.”

Joanna snorted and headed with them to the checkout lanes.

A few hours later, Jo leaned against the breakfast bar and gazed in amazement at the bedecked evergreen tucked in the corner by the patio doors. Somehow, Sam and Mac had made the odd assortment of colors come together in shiny Christmas harmony.

As father and son stood back to admire their handiwork MacGyver’s phone rang. He absently picked up the receiver and mumbled a greeting. Suddenly his jaw tensed and his eyes hardened.

“I’m sorry, sir, but I no longer work for the Phoenix Foundation.”

Sam and Joanna exchanged curious glances.

“No, that arrangement ended the day I handed you my resignation.”

Jo mouthed the name ‘Stern’ to Sam who nodded in understanding. She could hear the voice on the other end of the line. It was loud and urgent, but she could not understand the words.

“With all due respect, sir,” MacGyver began, visibly reining in his anger, “I have a job and responsibilities here. I understand that you are in a difficult position, but I’m sure you have more than one capable agent who can complete the mission.”

Everyone was silent as Mac listened to Stern’s response.

“My loyalties cannot be bought and at the moment they lie elsewhere. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” MacGyver hung up the phone and groaned.

Joanna hung back, giving Mac time to process the conversation, but Sam’s curiosity got the better of him and he pounced.

“What was that all about, Dad? Did Phoenix want you to go on another mission? Why did you turn them down?”

MacGyver rubbed his face with his hands before answering. “Stern wanted me to be part of a covert operation in North Africa. I turned him down because I no longer work for Phoenix.”

“But it must be something really important if Stern wants you,” Sam prodded.

“It is,” Mac acknowledged. “But if I took the assignment I’d be working for Stern, not Phoenix. He tried to bribe me, Sam. If I had any respect left for that man it’s gone now.”

“So you’re really okay with being done with field ops?” Sam asked.

Joanna held her breath in anticipation of Mac’s answer. Did he regret resigning from the Foundation? Was he bored at the school? Did he miss the travel and adventure?

“Yeah, I guess I am,” MacGyver replied confidently. Jo followed his eyes as he surveyed his apartment, taking in the cheerful tree, his favorite couch, his son, and finally her. “I have everything I need right here,” he smiled.






Posted by: Dragondog 30 January 2019 - 02:59 PM
QUOTE
The students, particularly the young ladies, enjoyed Sam’s contributions to their classes
Why wouldn't they laugh.gif

QUOTE
As she got closer to the small gathering, she heard Sam talking about his recent experience with Julie and Baby Joshua, stressing the importance of responsible behavior and consequences of individual choices
Sam's learned his lesson, I see smile.gif

QUOTE
“What’s on your mind?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

“Did you break up with my dad?” he asked meekly, sounding like a five-year-old but not caring.
Wow, he got right to the point blink.gif

QUOTE
“Come on over for dinner tomorrow night. I’m cooking so it won’t be anything weird.”

Jo chuckled. “Well, how can a girl say ‘no’ to that!”
Character development! I remember when she wouldn't even so much as leave her door open for Mac, now it's super easy to get her to come over XD

QUOTE
It smelled for all the world like a set-up, but Sam should know better. Mac had stressed from the beginning that Joanna was simply a co-worker who had become a good friend.
You're right, Mac. Sam does know better. He knows better than to believe she's just a really good friend XD

QUOTE
“We need to get this place decorated for Christmas,” Sam abruptly proclaimed, causing his dad and Joanna to look at him as if he just suggested they all jump off a bridge together.
Sorry, but when I read this, I started cracking up at the mental image of Sam very content and happy, saying, 'Let's all go jump off a bridge together!" roller.gif

QUOTE
“Sorry, dad, but I don’t feel well.”

MacGyver narrowed his eyes, “You were fine at breakfast a couple hours ago.”
Set-up. Mac's response only proves it.

QUOTE
He saw himself as a young boy, excitedly darting around the tree farm looking for the most rag-tag evergreen he could find. He remembered having to convince his dad to buy it so it would have a home on Christmas Day
Awwwwww wub.gif (he reminds me of me when I was little XD )

QUOTE
They entered the duplex to find Sam playing air guitar along with a music video on TV. Mac cleared his throat loudly and Sam turned to face him, looking like a kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar
roller.gif

QUOTE
“But don’t you guys see how great you are together? I just don’t want you to grow old and lonely, Dad.”

“Gee, thanks,” Mac replied sarcastically as Joanna tried to hide her smile.
Sam is both the biggest shipper-on-deck, and the most sarcastic rascal ever XD

QUOTE
“Well, in that case I guess you won’t be needing these.” Sam pointed to the ceiling where he had hung several bunches of greenery which MacGyver assumed was supposed to be mistletoe
My gosh, the effort he's putting into his ship! XD

QUOTE
“Naw, that’s OK. They can stay,” Mac replied, causing Sam and Jo to raise their eyebrows and shrug.
Why are you even trying to say she's "just a friend"? XD

QUOTE
Good grief, what had she been thinking? Well, she’d been thinking that she’d missed MacGyver and wanted to spend more time with him, but she hadn’t counted on two grown men acting like kids in a candy store arguing over Christmas tree decorations.
Boys laugh.gif

QUOTE
“My loyalties cannot be bought and at the moment they lie elsewhere. I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” MacGyver hung up the phone and groaned.
Yeah, I would've done the same thing dry.gif

QUOTE
“I have everything I need right here,” he smiled.
Yay! XD

Posted by: Persona non grata 30 January 2019 - 03:17 PM
I wonder what anyone would attempt to bribe MacGyver *with*, since money doesn't interest him all that much. Presumably something nice for a charity he's fond of? Or something more outre?

Also, Sam is hopelessly inept at matchmaking, but never mind, the thought's what counts.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 January 2019 - 04:30 PM
Love all the great feedback, Dragondog! I find it as entertaining as the story...I love it!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 January 2019 - 04:33 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 30 January 2019 - 03:17 PM)
I wonder what anyone would attempt to bribe MacGyver *with*, since money doesn't interest him all that much. Presumably something nice for a charity he's fond of? Or something more outre?

Also, Sam is hopelessly inept at matchmaking, but never mind, the thought's what counts.

Keep in mind that Stern doesn't really know Mac...he came on board after Mac left so money is still an option for him...or so he thinks!

As for Sam...I don't think 20-something guys are good matchmakers to begin with, and trying to do it with Mac? C'mon, you know Mac and relationships! Poor Sam's trying to mix oil and water!

Posted by: Persona non grata 30 January 2019 - 06:27 PM
...oh, well- do the RESEARCH, dude, you should at least have read his file and noted how many times he bypassed ordinary compensation in favour of treats for kids or whatever.

Sam's probably not really clear on Mac's general tentativeness with relationship's cos Mac's trying so very hard with him. Which is good, for Sam! But probably leads to misleading expectations.

Posted by: Dragondog 30 January 2019 - 07:39 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 January 2019 - 06:30 PM)
Love all the great feedback, Dragondog! I find it as entertaining as the story...I love it!

Thanks, I'm glad biggrin.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 7 February 2019 - 06:38 AM
Chapter 25: Holiday Vandals


The Monday before winter break MacGyver pulled into the Challengers parking lot to find a small group of people huddled against the building and a squad car parked nearby. He let out an audible groan. What now? As he approached, he recognized Evelyn, Joanna and Officer Carl talking animatedly to a young police officer. Some faculty members lingered on the edges of the activity.

Mac reached out, gently grabbed Evelyn’s arm, and separated her from the others.

“What’s going on and why wasn’t I called?” He demanded.

Evelyn sighed. “More graffiti.”

“Where?”

Evelyn led him to the side of the building. In large, block print letters were the words ‘GET OUT’. Anger burned in MacGyver’s gut. Not only had property once again been defaced, but the message could be considered a threat.

“Carl was the first one in and called the police. I figured you were already on your way,” Evelyn explained.

“Any witnesses or leads?” Mac asked.

“Only that it happened sometime over the weekend.”

“Have you checked the surveillance video yet?”

“No,” Evelyn responded. “We were just about to go in and do that when you arrived.”

Several minutes later, MacGyver, Joanna, Evelyn, Carl, and the young police officer were crammed in the small security booth looking at the video tape from the weekend. Mac fast forwarded the images until a dark shadow appeared on the screen. The perpetrator was clad all in black, including a black ski mask. Height and build suggested it was an adult male. The only recognizable feature was a shock of blonde hair sticking out the back of the face mask. The intruder moved stealthily and was missing from several frames of film indicating he knew where the cameras were placed and where the blind spots were.

“This guy is good,” Mac muttered, eyes glued to the monitor.

“Our records show you reported graffiti before,” the police officer stated.

“Yes,” Joanna turned and responded. “But this is different.”

“How so?”

“The first time there were two perpetrators and they were built more like teens. They didn’t bother trying to avoid the cameras and the letters were rounded, cursive, and indecipherable,” she explained.

“Um, thank you, ma’am,” the officer replied. “Your observations are very helpful.”

MacGyver smiled to himself and shook his head.

“I assume you’ll want the video tape for evidence?” Mac asked, trying to help out the poor guy.

“Yes, of course, thank you.” The uniformed man took the tape and started toward the door.

“When will I be able to clean that up?” MacGyver called.

“As soon as the crime scene techs leave,” the officer answered before hurrying out the door.

“Did you ever think of going into law enforcement?” Mac asked Jo, trying to suppress his amusement at the way she handled the rookie officer.

“If they keep sending out twelve-year-olds to take our statements I just might,” she grumbled.

“MacGyver, in my office…now!” Evelyn ordered.

Mac and Joanna exchanged questioning glances before he hurried after his boss.

“Do you have any suspects?” Evelyn asked as soon as she closed her door.

“Shouldn’t you be asking the police that?”

“Don’t get smart with me, honeypot,” Evelyn warned. “That snot-nosed kid with a badge will give which video game to play next more consideration than this case. I know you, MacGyver. Your brain is already working on this.”

Mac sighed. “You’re right, but quite frankly, it could be almost anyone in the community who doesn’t want us here. That message was loud and clear.”

“But what about the way they avoided the cameras?” she prodded.

“Anyone with decent observation skills could figure out a way to evade them,” Mac offered.

“Or anyone already familiar with the system.”

“Are you suggesting it was someone from Challengers?” Mac was shocked. They had vetted all new hires very carefully.

“I don’t know,” Evelyn sighed. “I just don’t believe it was random vandalism and I want some answers. Sooner rather than later.”

“I’ll keep my eyes and ears open,” MacGyver promised. “In the meantime, I’m gonna go get that wall cleaned off.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“So all I’m asking is that you let me or MacGyver know if you notice anything different about one of the staff or faculty members.”

“You don’t really think it’s an inside job?” Joanna asked Evelyn later that morning. “We did background checks on everyone ourselves!”

“I don’t know what to think,” the administrator confessed. “But I do know we need to be more vigilant. If this truly was a threat, it could be just the beginning.”

A few hours later Joanna stood in MacGyver’s office doorway and tapped lightly on the open door. Mac was staring unseeingly at his computer monitor much as she had been for most of the day.

“Got a minute?” she asked.

“Yeah, come on in.” MacGyver leaned back in his chair and pushed his fingers through his hair. “What’s up?” he asked casually.

When she failed to immediately respond he asked again, this time with more concern in his voice.

“I keep thinking about the surveillance video,” she began, her eyes looking at her hands she had folded in her lap. “Between seeming to know exactly where the cameras were and the hair sticking out of the ski mask, that could easily be…you!”

“Oh come on, Jo, you can’t honestly think I did that!”

“I didn’t say that!” she shot back, standing up defensively.

“You didn’t have to,” Mac responded quietly. “The funny thing is, I thought the same thing myself.”

Joanna’s brown eyes grew wide.

“You gotta admit I fit the profile.”

“What if the cops are thinking the same thing?” she asked, her concern growing.

“Don’t worry. At this point it’s a minor crime. They can’t do anything to anyone unless Evelyn decides to press charges.”

“And of course she’d never press charges against you. Maybe that’s what you’re counting on!” Joanna couldn’t believe the words coming out of her mouth, but she had no way to stop them.

MacGyver rounded his desk so they now stood face-to-face. “I swear to you, I have as much invested in Challengers as anyone. Why would I do anything to jeopardize that?”

“I’m sorry, Mac, I was way out of line—“

“Don’t worry about it. A few more days and we have a whole month off. By then this will just be a bad memory.”

He reached out his hand and gently cupped her cheek. A year ago, she would have instinctively recoiled from his touch, but today she leaned into the warmth and comfort he offered.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“You want to what?!” Joanna stared at the large group of teenagers that had gathered around her in the rec room.

“We want to have a New Year’s Eve party.” A tall girl reiterated.

“Here, in the gym.” A small, Asian boy added.

“We’ll do all the decorating and everything! Even bring food!” Yet another student spoke up.

Joanna took a calming breath and shook her head. The gym needed a thorough scrubbing and…well, let’s face it…a miracle! That was the one aspect of Challengers that had been ignored. Mainly because no one wanted to take on the project.

“But it’s only two days until winter break,” Joanna protested. “Whose idea was this, anyway?”

As if that was their cue, the entire group turned to look at MacGyver who was standing in the back watching the scene play out, amusement on his face. Joanna locked eyes with him but addressed the students.

“So, Mr. Mac gave you the idea,” she said accusingly. Suddenly, multiple voices erupted around her.

“He was telling us about the party the Challengers Club in L.A. had last year,” one voice said.

“They even have a yearly Christmas pageant!” voice number two spoke up. “But we figured it was a little late for that.”

Thank God for small favors, Joanna thought.

“It’ll be awesome!” a third voice echoed through the room. “We can have music and dancing and…” the voice was soon drown out by others joining in.

“Mr. Mac, could I please have a word with you?” Joanna called over the noise.

MacGyver joined Joanna in the hallway where the exuberant voices were now muffled.

“Why did you tell them they could have a New Year’s Eve party here?” she ground out.

Mac held up his hands in surrender. “Now hold on. I did not say they could have a party here. They were asking me questions about what the other Challengers was like and it sorta came up.”

Joanna remained silent.

MacGyver shrugged. “It’s not an impossible idea, you know. Besides, what better way to keep the kids off the streets and out of trouble on the biggest party night of the year?”

“But Mac, these things take time and planning and resources we just don’t have!”

“Don’t worry. I’ll handle everything,” Mac assured her. “We still have a couple days when the kids can work on the gym during their free periods, and next week I’ll come in with small groups to handle the finishing touches. The kids don’t want much. They just want a safe place to have some fun. You’ll see, it’ll all work out.”

“What about chaperones?” Joanna challenged him.

“I figured we’d be there.”

“Did it ever occur to you that I might have plans?”

“Well, do you?”

Joanna sighed in defeat. “Yes. I’ll be chaperoning a high school party. But we’ll need more adults than just the two of us.”

“Sam will volunteer, and I bet we could even get Evelyn to come in and help,” Mac replied.

Jo knew she didn’t stand a chance. The man had an answer for everything.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver had the teens working in shifts between classes and soon the gym was gleaming brighter than he ever thought possible. They even had time to start planning the event in more detail. The boys insisted that pizzas, soda and a boom box was all anyone needed, but the girls begged to differ.

“Mr. Mac,” a blonde girl whined, “we can’t have a party without balloons and streamers and confetti to toss at midnight.”

“And you can’t serve pizza! You have to have punch and those little finger food thingies,” a brunette chimed in.

“We can’t dance to music blasting from a boom box, we need a real DJ!” a red-head proclaimed.

Mac ran his hand down his face. What had he gotten himself into? Joanna had been right. Pulling off a party like this at the last minute was impossible. Maybe.

Joanna was sitting at her office desk when he tapped on the doorjamb and entered before she invited him in. He sat down across from her and took a deep breath.

“Before you say ‘I told you so’, I admit it. You were right. I bit off more than I can chew with this party.” She turned to face him, giving him her full attention.

“Go on,” she prompted with a grin.

“I need help,” he moaned and hung his head, not wanting to see her gloating smile.

“What can I do?” she asked. Her voice soft and genuine. He raised his head and met her compassionate gaze. He sighed and started telling her the list of student demands.

“OK, here’s what we’ll do,” Joanna instructed when he finished. “The day after Christmas, go out to a party supply store and get plates and decorations. Everything will be on sale. I have a friend who used to own a DJ business. He still has the equipment so I’ll convince him to help out.”

“How can you be sure he’ll agree? It is New Year’s Eve.”

“Don’t worry. He’ll do it,” she replied confidently.

“What about food?”

“We may have to do the pizza thing. But we can still have punch and put out some other junk food. I doubt the girls will mind,” she smiled.

“Thanks, I owe you one,” he promised before leaving her office, feeling back in control of the situation.

Christmas Day arrived quietly for MacGyver. He and Sam headed south to Chicago to spend the day with the Thornton’s to make up for skipping Thanksgiving. There was plenty of good cheer and Connie made sure no one went hungry, even wrapping up leftovers for Mac and Sam to take home.

“And what do you two young handsome men have planned for New Year’s?” Connie asked half way through the meal.

“Dad and Jo are throwing a party for all the kids at Challengers,” Sam offered.

“That sounds just like Mac,” Pete remarked. “Always doing something for others.”

MacGyver blushed slightly and shoveled a forkful of sweet potatoes into his mouth.

“That sounds like fun,” Connie replied gleefully. “And speaking of Joanna, how is she doing? I’ve been meaning to call but, well, you know how that goes.”

Before Mac could swallow Sam replied, “Jo’s great! She and Dad went out and chopped down a live Christmas tree and then we all went shopping for decorations and got it set up the same day.”

“Wait a minute,” Pete cut in. “Did I hear you correctly? MacGyver has a Christmas tree? In his house?”

Sam nodded vigorously.

“Well, I’ll be! Looks like she’s finally getting to you, Mac!” Pete teased good-naturedly.

“I did it for Sam,” MacGyver responded weakly.

Connie reached across the table and patted his hand. “Of course you did, dear,” she replied with a knowing smile.

“So, what are you two doing for New Year’s?” Mac asked, attempting to change the conversation.

“Funny you should ask,” Connie responded. “We’ll be passing through your neck of the woods. There’s a new Bed and Breakfast opening up in Door County and we’ll be spending a few days there. If it checks out I’ll add it to the travel agency brochure as a destination.”

“Still can’t convince her to fully retire, can you Pete?” MacGyver quipped.

“Not sure I want to. We get to go to all these great places for free!” the older man chuckled.

Once the dessert dishes had been cleared from the table and the conversation began to lag, MacGyver suggested he and Sam head home. The men exchanged hearty handshakes and Connie hugged them both with a promise to stop in and see them as she and Pete passed through Milwaukee the following week.

The next day Mac and Sam went to the party supply store as Joanna had suggested. True to her word, there was a huge sale in progress. There was also a huge crowd jostling each other to take advantage of the bargains.

“I think we’re a little out of our league,” Sam commented to his dad as they stood back and observed the controlled chaos.

“It’s not that bad,” Mac replied, trying to sound optimistic. “Take out the list so we can grab what we need and get outta here,” he instructed his son.

Thirty minutes later the frazzled pair emerged from the store carrying their supplies.

“Who knew picking out plates and napkins could be so difficult,” Sam complained.

“Who knew a little old lady would fight us for the last plastic punch bowl, and win!” MacGyver countered before they both started to laugh.

“Let’s swing by Challengers and drop this stuff off so it’s there tomorrow when the kids come to decorate,” Mac suggested and Sam readily agreed.

MacGyver unlocked the front door to the school and headed down the long corridor with Sam following behind. The floor outside the gym appeared shiny and wet, like a mirage in the desert. Mac slowed down, causing Sam to bump into him.

“Hey man, what’s the problem?” Sam asked, annoyed.

“Take a look.” MacGyver pointed down the long hallway.

“The floor looks wet,” Sam observed. “Are you guys doing maintenance this week?”

“Not to my knowledge,” Mac responded, his voice softer now. He set down the bags of party supplies and silently motioned Sam to follow him to the gym.

The main doors to the gymnasium were shut tight and locked, but water still managed to seep out from underneath. This wasn’t good. After unlocking the doors MacGyver handed his keys to Sam.

“Go to the custodians’ supply room and get mops, buckets, whatever you can find,” he instructed.

Sam wordlessly set out on his mission.

Mac stood in front of the gym doors, water already beginning to penetrate his shoes. Suspecting yet fearing what he would find on the other side, he pushed lightly on one of the doors. When he didn’t meet with resistance, he stood off to the side and thrust the door open, watching as a small deluge of water escaped into the corridor. MacGyver poked his head into the room. The only light came from the late December sun streaming through the high, glass block windows, but that was enough for Mac to see the entire floor covered with a couple inches of standing water. He gingerly stepped into the large, flooded room to begin the search for the cause of the mess.

Common sense told him that one of the old pipes in the locker room must have broken so he checked the boys’ room first. What he saw made his heart drop to his toes. The pipes were still intact, but all the sink and shower faucets were flowing steadily. This was a deliberate act.

“We’re gonna need more than a mop and bucket,” Sam called from the gym entrance just as his dad came sloshing angrily out of the locker room.

“All the faucets were turned on,” Mac growled. “We need to call the police.”

After calling the police and hoping they sent out a more seasoned officer than the one from last week, MacGyver quickly called Evelyn who promised to call Joanna and Officer Carl. Soon, the familiar little group was gathered around a veteran policeman contributing what each knew to the story. Everyone agreed that the entire building had been cleared and locked down for winter break and not even custodians were scheduled to return until after the first of the year.

“I don’t suppose you have indoor surveillance cameras,” the cop stated more than asked.

“Actually, we do,” MacGyver informed him, thankful that Joanna had agreed to let him install cameras in the corridor and common rooms, including the gym.

As Mac started the process of going through the video tapes, more officers arrived to inspect the building only to report that there was no sign of forced entry. This led to a discussion regarding who had keys to the building. The list was longer than MacGyver had imagined and he made a mental note to look into that at a later time. Suddenly, Mac stopped the tape as he noticed a dark figure on the screen.

“I think I got something,” he announced, and everyone gathered around the monitor as he reversed the tape and then played it forward in slow motion.

“It’s the same person from last week!” Evelyn gasped.

“Are you certain, ma’am?” the officer asked.

“Of course I am,” she responded, slightly offended.

“I agree,” Joanna added. “He’s the same size and build and is dressed the same. The only difference is this time he doesn’t try to avoid detection.”

“You know,” Evelyn pondered, “with that shaggy blond hair poking out of the ski mask, he could pass himself off as MacGyver!”

MacGyver saw Joanna’s chin drop to her chest as he pinched the bridge of his nose. They both had known it was only a matter of time before someone made the connection.

“Are you accusing Mr. MacGyver, ma’am?” the officer asked Evelyn.

“Of course not!” she exclaimed. “Our MacGyver would never do something like this!” Joanna, Sam and Carl joined in to protest.

“Mr. MacGyver, where were you at the time indicated on the tape?” the officer asked.

Mac glanced at the time stamp. “I was driving back from Chicago.”

“Was anyone with you?”

“My son, Sam.” He nodded toward the young man.

“Is there anyone else who can corroborate this?”

“No,” Mac answered softly.

“You’re not gonna consider him a suspect, are you?” Sam asked defiantly.

“Not yet,” the officer replied. “Let’s just say he’s a ‘person of interest’. As such, I would like to speak with Mr. MacGyver in private for a moment.” With that, the others solemnly began to file out of the small security booth.

A short while later, Mac and the police officer emerged from the small room, shook hands, and promised to be in touch.

Evelyn was promptly at his side. “I’m so sorry I made that stupid comment! Is everything OK?”

MacGyver smiled reassuringly. “Everything’s fine. Unfortunately, we’ll have to cancel the New Year’s party, though.”

“But why?” Sam protested.

“We need to get professionals in here to clean up this mess and notify the insurance company so they can send someone out to inspect the damage. Given that it’s the holiday season, I doubt that will happen quickly,” MacGyver explained.

“And once that’s done we’ll need to work on fixing or salvaging whatever we can,” Evelyn sighed.

“Guess that’s one way to get things done around here,” Joanna quipped, trying to lighten the dark mood that had descended.

“Well, I have to go to my office and make some phone calls,” Evelyn announced. “You all can go ahead and leave. I’ll lock up.”

“I need to get back to the family,” Carl said. “Sorry I can’t be of more help.”

MacGyver shook Carl’s had and slapped him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. You have yourself a good holiday.” Carl smiled sadly and headed toward the exit.

Sam looked at his dad. “I’ll go get the party supplies and put them in the car. I’ll wait for you there.” MacGyver nodded his acknowledgement.

That left Joanna. She was looking down at the floor, her face drawn. He gingerly reached out, putting two of his fingers under her chin and gently raising her head until he could see the sadness in her weary brown eyes.

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay. We’ll figure this out.”

“Do you think someone is really trying to impersonate you?” she asked.

Mac dropped his hand from her face. “It’s beginning to look that way,” he conceded.

“But why?”

“I don’t know, but I’m workin’ on it.”









Posted by: Persona non grata 7 February 2019 - 01:50 PM
...so, will Our Hero turn out to be suffering the effects of too much paperwork and not enough Exciting Field Shenanigans, and wake up one morning covered in incriminating spray paint stains?

I shall stay tuned for more!

(well, it *could* happen.)

Posted by: uniquelyjas 7 February 2019 - 02:33 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 7 February 2019 - 01:50 PM)
...so, will Our Hero turn out to be suffering the effects of too much paperwork and not enough Exciting Field Shenanigans, and wake up one morning covered in incriminating spray paint stains?

I shall stay tuned for more!

(well, it *could* happen.)

thumbsup.gif

Posted by: Dragondog 7 February 2019 - 06:30 PM
I was worried for a moment that Joanna and Mac were going to have some huge fight because she was going to accuse him :/

When she said, “And of course she’d never press charges against you. Maybe that’s what you’re counting on!” I thought, "Maybe someone else is counting on that. They're trying to frame him hmm.bmp "

QUOTE
“Who knew a little old lady would fight us for the last plastic punch bowl, and win!”
Oh my gosh roller.gif

QUOTE
“Let’s swing by Challengers and drop this stuff off so it’s there tomorrow when the kids come to decorate,”
My first thought was, "You'll leave it, then someone will steal it." Apparently it was worse than that >_<

QUOTE
“Hey man, what’s the problem?” Sam asked, annoyed.
Show your father some respect, Sam laugh.gif

QUOTE
“You know,” Evelyn pondered, “with that shaggy blond hair poking out of the ski mask, he could pass himself off as MacGyver!”
You're not helping, Evelyn dry.gif

QUOTE
“Is there anyone else who can corroborate this?”

“No,” Mac answered softly.
Uh... Pete and Connie?

QUOTE
MacGyver smiled reassuringly. “Everything’s fine. Unfortunately, we’ll have to cancel the New Year’s party, though.”

“But why?” Sam protested.

“We need to get professionals in here to clean up this mess and notify the insurance company so they can send someone out to inspect the damage. Given that it’s the holiday season, I doubt that will happen quickly,” MacGyver explained.
You could find someone else who has an idea of where else to host it. Maybe the Thorntons know?

Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 February 2019 - 08:11 AM
Chapter 26: Snowbound

The next morning MacGyver, Evelyn, and Joanna gathered solemnly around the large table in the teachers’ lounge to await the restoration crew and insurance agent. Every now and again one of them would voice a theory regarding the motive or identity of the vandal. So far, all they could determine was that it had to be someone with access to and familiarity with the building who wanted the Challengers program to end. No one mentioned that the perpetrator might be trying to frame MacGyver, but the notion niggled at all of them. After about an hour, Mac glanced at his watch and sighed heavily.

“The kids are gonna be here soon to start decorating for the party. I need to meet them and tell them the bad news.”

“I’ll come with you,” Joanna offered.

MacGyver was about to tell her he could handle it, but if he was honest with himself, he craved her company and moral support. They reached the main entrance as the first students arrived. Once the entire group had assembled, Mac explained what had happened to the gym and the need to cancel the New Year’s Eve party. This announcement was met with the expected groans of disappointment.

“We don’t have to have it in the gym,” one of the older boys spoke up. “Why can’t we use the rec room? That way we could play games and stuff. That might be even more fun!” Several teenage heads nodded and enthusiasm began to bloom.

MacGyver glanced at Joanna and saw the concern on her face.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Mac announced, causing another round of moans of teenage angst. “So far whoever is doing this has only targeted the property, but to be on the safe side, I want to keep everyone out of the building until this person is caught.”

The teens once again expressed their displeasure, but this time it was tempered with understanding and they quietly began to disperse. As MacGyver turned to head toward his office he caught sight of an unfamiliar beige sedan pulling into the parking lot. Joanna must have seen it, too, as she stood steadfastly by his side. Together they watched as the car stopped and a petite woman emerged from the driver’s side. The passenger door opened to reveal a heavy-set balding man climbing to his feet.

MacGyver burst through the door with Joanna on his heels.

“Pete! Connie!” he called. “What are you guys doing here?!”

“I told you we’d be passing through on our way up to Door County,” Connie explained as she hugged him. “We went to your place, but Sam said you were here, so here we are!”

“Well come on in,” MacGyver invited. “Evelyn’s here as well.”

“Wonderful!” Connie exclaimed. “Now we can all catch up!” She linked arms with Jo and they quickly headed into the school, Mac leading Pete at a slower pace.

“I thought everyone was on winter break. What are you all doing here?” Pete asked suspiciously.

MacGyver tried to keep his voice light. “There was an incident in the gym yesterday we needed to take care of.”

Pete stopped in his tracks causing Mac to do the same. “What kind of incident?” the older man asked.

“It’s nothing, Pete,” MacGyver began walking again. “A pipe in the locker room burst and flooded the place. We’re just here to make sure everything gets taken care of.” Mac didn’t like lying to his friend, but he didn’t want to upset the older man either.

Connie turned toward MacGyver as he and Pete entered the teachers’ lounge.

“Joanna just told me about the gym. What a shame you had to cancel the party. Those old pipes chose the worst time to burst!” She shook her head in dismay.

“You can say that again,” Mac agreed as he looked at Jo who shrugged one shoulder. He was relieved their white lies meshed, but he was also amazed at how attuned they were to each other, at least on this point.

“So I guess that leaves you without any New Year’s plans,” Connie remarked.

“Dear…” Pete drew out the one syllable word as a warning which his wife chose to ignore.

“Why don’t you all come up to the B&B and we can celebrate together?” she suggested eagerly.

“That sounds lovely!” Evelyn exclaimed before frowning. “Unfortunately, I’ve already promised to meet some friends for dinner and a movie that night. We haven’t all been together since I retired from the correctional facility and who knows when we’ll all be able to meet up like this again.”

“Well, perhaps some other time,” Connie reassured her friend and then turned to Mac and Joanna. “What about you two? You no longer have a party to chaperone.”

“Isn’t the place all booked up?” Jo asked skeptically.

“That’s the beauty of it!” Connie declared. “They haven’t opened to the public yet. We’ll have the place all to ourselves. Sort of a trial run for the new owners!”

MacGyver sensed Joanna’s conflict over the sudden invitation so he pulled her aside as unobtrusively as possible.

“I know this is unexpected,” he told her quietly, “but it might be good for us to get away from here for a while.”

“But what if something else happens?”

“I’m gonna talk to the police and have them increase patrols in the area. Besides, if someone is impersonating me, they can’t do it if I’m not here. How can I be in two places at once?”

MacGyver could still see the indecision in Joanna’s eyes. He gave her his most charming smile. The one they both knew she couldn’t resist.

“You don’t play fair, MacGyver,” Jo complained.

“You’re just saying that because I won,” he remarked smartly, earning himself a playful slap on the shoulder.

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On New Year’s Eve Day, Connie Thornton maneuvered her sedan into the empty parking lot of The Open Arms Bed and Breakfast. She had insisted they all ride together so Sam could use the Nomad while they were gone. MacGyver had readily agreed since he was not anxious to expose the classic vehicle to the unforgiving winter environment the Door County Peninsula could provide.

Climbing from the passenger seat, Joanna stood and stretched her back and leg muscles as she admired the historic three-story home in front of her. More like a traditional Southern mansion, the building was painted a sunny yellow with white gingerbread trim and winter greenery draped on the railing of the wraparound porch. The front door opened and a couple about her age hurried to greet them. They introduced themselves as Beth and Dean Richards, the owners of the establishment. Dean and MacGyver quickly unloaded the luggage from the trunk and soon the group stood in the large foyer divesting themselves of winter coats and snow boots.

Dean picked up the Thornton’s luggage and led them to their third floor suite while Beth led Joanna and MacGyver to their respective rooms on the second floor. Mac’s room was decorated in deep burgundies accented with pale yellow that exuded a welcoming warmth. He promptly deposited his duffle bag on the bed and began to unpack after assuring Beth that the room more than met his needs.

Joanna’s room was across the hall from MacGyver’s, and when Beth opened the door Jo was greeted with soothing cornflower blue and white décor. She was pleased to see that she had a private bathroom as well as a bay window with a bench seat…a perfect reading nook. The four poster bed was covered with a handmade Amish quilt in the wedding ring design. Across from the bed was a large stone fireplace. A heavy wooden dresser and padded rocking chair completed the furnishings.

“I trust these accommodations will be adequate?” Beth asked.

Joanna turned to the other woman and smiled. “Definitely more than adequate,” she assured her host. “This room, this entire house, is absolutely lovely. You and your husband have done a wonderful job with it.”

“Thank you,” Beth said. “We wanted each room to have its own ‘feel’, so to speak, so we varied the color schemes, but we made sure every room had a private bathroom and fireplace. Most of the furniture as well as all the quilts are Amish made.”

“I didn’t realize there were Amish communities nearby.”

“There aren’t. But a local store buys from Amish craftsmen throughout the state. If you have a chance you should check it out, but for now take your time getting settled. I’ll have a cold lunch buffet ready for everyone in the dining room.”

Joanna unpacked quickly, eager to join the others downstairs. However, she paused long enough to peer out the window and take in the surrounding landscape. Winter had come to the northern part of the state and a blanket of snow covered the ground. Except for some out buildings behind the B&B there were no other dwellings nearby and it had been a good ten minute drive from town, but no doubt the summer tourist season would see people flocking to the area in droves, triggering more construction.

After lunch, Beth gave her two female guests and MacGyver a tour of the main floor. A large sitting area with a wide screen television and huge fireplace occupied the front of the house. A big country kitchen with commercial appliances sat off the dining area, and in the back of the house was another sitting area similar to the one in front. Large wood doors across from the stairs separated the owner’s private quarters from the rest of the house.

The foursome returned to the living room where Pete and Dean were sitting in wingback chairs discussing the next day’s college bowl games and making friendly wagers. Mac joined in the discussion and Beth excused herself to clean up the buffet.

“Oh, here, let us help with that,” Connie volunteered herself and Joanna.

“No need,” Beth said with an easy smile. “I’m going to have to get used to this for when we open for real.”

Connie then turned to Jo. “Well, in that case, how about we go into town and do a little shopping.”

“Sounds great,” Joanna replied. “Beth told me about a store that carries a lot of Amish products. I’d really like to check it out.”

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

With Joanna and Connie gone for the afternoon and Dean assisting his wife with household chores, Pete and MacGyver relaxed in the front room, the TV turned to a news program. The reporter droned on about unrest in the Middle East and other areas around the globe and the attempts of the U.S. government to resolve the clashes as peacefully as possible.

“Do you miss it?” Pete suddenly asked MacGyver.

“Huh?” Mac had been staring out the window, paying little attention to the news program.

“I asked if you miss going out on missions,” Pete repeated.

“No, I really don’t,” MacGyver replied earnestly. “I actually enjoy knowing I’ll be sleeping in the same bed every night.”

“Well I’ll be!” Pete exclaimed. “I never thought I’d see the day when you settled down.”

“Maybe I never had a reason to until now,” Mac murmured.

“And what, or who, might that reason be?”

“I’d rather not say just yet,” MacGyver replied, becoming uncomfortable with this conversation.

“It’s Joanna, isn’t it?” Pete asked.

Mac remained silent.

“I knew it!” the older man exclaimed. “I knew there was something going on between you two the way Sam sang her praises at Christmas!”

“There’s nothing going on between us,” MacGyver said more forcefully than he had intended. “We’re friends, colleagues, that’s all.”

“Thou doth protest too much, my friend.”

Mac groaned. “Don’t go quoting Shakespeare on me. It’s not gonna work.”

Now it was Pete’s turn to be silent.

“OK, fine. Maybe I like Jo a little more than I let on.”

Pete turned toward his friend’s voice and cocked an eyebrow.

Mac sighed. “Maybe more than a little.”

“So what are you doing about it?”

“Nothing!” MacGyver exclaimed. “It’s not like that. She’s not like that!”

Pete shook his head in confusion. “You’re losing me, Mac.”

MacGyver jammed his fingers through his already mussed hair. “She’s not like any other woman I’ve been involved with, Pete. She’s sweet and innocent. Strong and tenacious. And she’s not looking for commitment.”

“It sounds like you finally met your match,” Pete chuckled.

“Maybe I have, Pete,” Mac responded quietly. “Maybe I have.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

A light snow was beginning to fall as Connie and Joanna emerged from a small shop that offered handmade jewelry and pottery and headed to the Amish store Beth had suggested they visit. The family-owned business sold mainly large, sturdy furniture, but it also carried homemade Amish candies and the quilts like Beth bought for the B&B.

While Connie admired the quality wood furnishings, Joanna’s attention was quickly snagged by a delicate quilt boasting pale hues of blue, green and pink that reminded her of a summer sunset. The price was a bit steep, but given the high quality of the product it seemed reasonable. Joanna quickly purchased it before she changed her mind. Connie approached as Jo was completing the transaction.

“It’s absolutely lovely!” Connie exclaimed.

“Thanks. It’s almost too pretty to use,” Jo remarked as she accepted her package and turned toward the door.

“The snow is coming down harder. I think we’d better head back,” Connie suggested and Joanna agreed.

They hadn’t been back on the road but a few minutes before Connie broke the amicable silence.

“How are you and MacGyver getting on these days?”

“We’re fine,” Joanna replied, her stomach beginning to roil in anticipation of the interrogation she knew was coming.

“Come on, Jo, it’s just us gals and a few snowflakes. How do you really feel about him? And don’t waste your breath trying to convince me you’re just friends.”

“But we are just friends. And that’s all we can ever be.”

“Now what makes you say that?” Connie asked, exasperated.

“I know we don’t know each other well, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say I’m not the kind of girl MacGyver would be interested in.”

“How so?”

Joanna looked out the passenger side window and sighed. “Mac is an intelligent, attractive, charming man who could have any woman he wanted, and probably has. He’s traveled all around the world and experienced things that I can’t even imagine. What in the world would he want with a shy, sheltered girl who’s lived in the same place, the same house, all her life?”

“Have you asked him?”

Joanna gasped, her eyes huge as saucers. “Of course not!”

“Don’t you think it’s about time you did?”

Jo sat in stunned silence at Connie’s suggestion.

By the time the two women returned to the B&B the snow was coming down harder and the wind had picked up already creating drifts and poor visibility.

“Thank goodness your back!” Pete exclaimed as they walked through the door. “The weather service just issued a winter storm warning for the area. Mac and Dean are out back chopping wood and Beth is gathering candles and flashlights in case the power goes out.”

“You don’t really think it will get that bad, do you?” Connie asked, a worried frown on her face.

“It depends on how the storm tracks,” Joanna explained. “There’s a good chance it will miss us.”

“She’s right,” MacGyver confirmed as he and Dean entered the room, stomping snow off their boots. “Either way there’s nothing we can do about it.”

That evening Beth prepared a delicious dinner in honor of the holiday and Connie insisted that both Beth and Dean join them in the dining room to share the meal. The winter wind whipped icy snow pellets against the house as the three couples savored the homemade food. Just as the dessert dishes were being cleared away the lights on the large chandelier above them flickered and went dark. Everyone held their breath as the seconds ticked by and the lights remained off.

“Looks like the power lines are down,” Dean declared as he and Beth went into action lighting candles and handing out flashlights while MacGyver stoked the fire. Soon the soft glow of the luminaries filled the living room and the little group settled into the comfortable chairs and sofas to await the New Year which was still a few hours away. At Connie’s urging, Beth and Dean recounted how they decided to take on the task of renovating and operating the B&B. Conversation flowed from there and time passed quickly. Suddenly the grandfather clock in the hallway began to peal. Everyone sat silently counting the number of chimes. Twelve.

“It’s midnight!” Connie exclaimed.

“Happy New Year, everyone,” Pete declared with a smile as the others joined in with similar wishes. Joanna watched as first Beth and Dean and then Connie and Pete welcomed in 1996 with a kiss. Then her gaze fell on MacGyver. He was standing nearby, hands shoved in the front pockets of his jeans, rocking back on his heels.

“What do you say?” he asked Jo with a lopsided grin.

“I hear it’s bad luck to break tradition.”

“Well, we can’t have that now, can we?” MacGyver took his hands out of his pockets and slowly approached Joanna who was now looking up at him. He placed his hands gently on her hips as he lowered his face and captured her lips in a soft, sweet kiss that ended way too soon.

“Happy New Year,” he whispered huskily resting his forehead against hers.

“Happy New Year,” she replied with a slow smile, her heart fluttering.

“I believe it’s time for us old folks to call it a year and go up to bed,” Connie announced.

“And us not-so-old folks as well,” Dean declared. “We’re gonna have a lot of snow to move around tomorrow if this storm keeps up.”

Everyone gathered their flashlights and said their good-nights while Dean and MacGyver made sure roaring fires were laid in the bedrooms along with extra wood.

Joanna donned her flannel pajamas and quickly crawled into the soft, warm bed. She put the new quilt she just bought over the one that was already there for extra warmth but sleep eluded her. She lay staring at the ceiling, listening to the howling wind and the crackling fire and thinking about the midnight kiss she had shared with MacGyver. It had been very much like the one they had shared in Chicago the evening of Pete and Connie’s wedding, but instead of the sweet happiness she had experienced then, she now felt sad and alone. Surely a man of MacGyver’s experience couldn’t remain satisfied with gentle, tender kisses. She had imagined that if Mac kissed her a second time it would be with more passion, more urgency. She sighed and turned on her side. Why was she making such a big deal about this? It was clearly just the obligatory New Year’s kiss with little if any emotion behind it. At least for him.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Hours later, as the snowstorm raged and the house slept, MacGyver sat wide awake on the living room floor in front of the fire. Leaning back against the coffee table, he plucked at the strings on the guitar Dean had loaned him earlier that day. He felt Joanna’s presence before he saw her standing in the shadows wrapped in a quilt.

“That’s a pretty song,” she commented quietly. “What’s it called.”

“Eau d’Leo”

“I’m sorry, but it doesn’t sound familiar,” Joanna frowned.

“It shouldn’t. It’s just a little tune I came up with a while back.”

Joanna’s jaw literally dropped and MacGyver had to work to suppress a laugh.

“I’d say it’s more than ‘just a little tune’,” she told him. “Have you written anything else?”

“Nope,” he answered succinctly before asking, “What brings you down here?”

“The fire in my room went out.”

“No problem, I’ll go start another,” he said as he began to get up.

“Don’t bother,” she stopped him. “If you don’t mind sharing this one I can stay down here. I hate to waste all that wood on just me. We might need it later.”

This time MacGyver did allow a small laugh to escape. “That’s the same reason I’m down here. Have a seat and stay a while.” He patted the floor next to him and she lowered herself to face the fire.

As they sat next to each other, staring at the flames consuming the logs all too quickly, Mac surreptitiously studied the woman next to him. Her skin was smooth and her cheeks flushed from the heat of the fire. Her brown eyes were warm and…sad. MacGyver longed to take her in his arms and make the sadness go away, but he forced himself to remain still. It had taken all the strength he had to keep their New Year’s kiss brief and chaste. Joanna was not the kind of girl one trifled with. She deserved his respect and patience. He noticed her eyelids getting heavy and suggested she move to the couch but she refused.

“It’s so nice and warm right here,” she murmured sleepily, pulling the quilt tighter around her shoulders as she stretched out on the floor in front of the fireplace. MacGyver grabbed a throw pillow from a chair to put under her head and one for himself as well as he lie down beside her, careful to leave space between them. His last memory before drifting off to sleep was the fruity smell of her hair and what it would feel like to run his fingers through it.

Cold. It was so cold. And the ground was hard. MacGyver shivered and slowly opened his eyes to get his bearings. Joanna lay next to him still snuggled in her quilt, but the fireplace was dark and bare. They must have slept for hours. He rolled over and attempted to rise, but his entire body protested. There was a time when he thought nothing of sleeping on the ground or even in his Jeep. A time when couches and beds were a luxury. Using the coffee table as leverage, he managed to stand on his second attempt. He stretched out the taut muscles in his neck and back as he made his way to the window and pulled back the heavy drapes he had drawn the night before to help keep the cold at bay. Bright rays of winter sunlight glistening on the freshly fallen snow greeted him. The storm was over. He heard a soft moan behind him and turned to find Joanna fighting with her quilt as she struggled to sit up.

“Need some help?” he asked with a smirk.

“I’m fine,” she replied indignantly as she worked to massage the small of her back.

MacGyver walked over to her and held out his hand. “Here, grab on.”

She looked at him as if he had just offered her a poisoned apple, but then with a sigh she latched on and allowed him to pull her to her feet.

“Floors aren’t as soft as they used to be,” he observed.

“You can say that again,” she groaned, rubbing her back with one hand and her head with the other.

“Why don’t you go upstairs and take a long, hot shower?” Mac suggested.

“How? The water pump runs on electricity.”

“Maybe it’s back on,” Mac said hopefully as he walked to the far wall and flipped the light switch. “Nothing,” he sighed.

“Lights won’t be on for at least two more days,” Dean informed them as he came down the stairs followed by his wife and the Thornton’s. “And we’ll be lucky if the snowplow gets here any sooner.”

“So we’re stranded?” Joanna asked, quickly wrapping herself in the quilt when she realized she was still in her pajamas.

“Don’t listen to Dean,” his wife scoffed. “He exaggerates. We’ve been through a lot worse. The plows will surely come through by tomorrow.” She turned to her husband. “Now let’s get the generator going so I can fix our guests a proper breakfast.”

The pair headed into the kitchen leaving Connie to stare at Mac and Jo before she hurriedly whispered into Pete’s ear whose grin grew wider the longer she talked.

“Um, if you’ll excuse us, Joanna and I were just heading upstairs to change,” Mac said.

“Now you hold on one minute, young man,” Connie instructed. “Did you two spend the night down here?”

“No!” Joanna quickly answered. “I came down when the fire in my bedroom died. Just a couple hours ago.”

Mac let go a strangled cough. “We decided to share the fire here instead of wasting wood on another one.” He winced as he felt Connie’s eyes bore into his very soul.

“What a wonderful idea!” she exclaimed. “I say we all sleep here tonight to conserve the wood that’s left. Now you two go upstairs and change. Breakfast will be ready in no time!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The rest of New Year’s Day was spent dealing with snow removal. Dean and MacGyver plowed the long driveway and parking lot. Beth and Joanna shoveled out the Thornton’s car and made a walkway to the front porch and cleaned off the steps. Connie and Pete monitored a battery operated transistor radio to stay aware of road and weather conditions in the area. All reports indicated that their area had been the bullseye for the strong winter storm and surrounding roads and communities where already cleaned up and passable. Just after supper a city snow plow came down and cleared the road in front of the B&B, and the group determined they would leave in the morning.

Since the power was still out, everyone slept in the living room that night, a fire roaring in the large fireplace. Beth and Dean pulled their mattress into the room for Pete and Connie while the younger couple crawled into sleeping bags on the floor. MacGyver and Joanna each took a couch. They all fell into a deep sleep and if someone snored, no one heard it.

Early the following morning everyone returned to their rooms to pack. Connie was carefully folding her clothes and placing them in the suitcase that lay open on the bed when she let out a long sigh.

“What’s the matter, dear?” Pete asked, gingerly feeling for and packing his own clothes.

“I’m worried about Mac and Jo.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Nothing’s happened. That’s the problem!” Connie sighed again and sat down on the edge of the bed.

“What do you mean?”

“I really think those two were made for each other, but they’re both holding back. I know for a fact Joanna has strong feelings for MacGyver, but she refuses to believe he could be interested in her as anything more than a friend.”

Pete chuckled. “I have it on good authority that Mac is pretty crazy about her as well, but she’s so different than the girls he normally meets he’s not quite sure what to do with her.”

“Well, I think it’s about time somebody—“

“Now hold it right there,” Pete ordered his wife. “This is something they need to work out for themselves. Promise me you won’t interfere.”

Connie was silent for several seconds before she grudgingly agreed.

“But before we go, could you do me a favor?” she asked her husband.

Now it was Pete’s turn to sigh. “You want me to talk to MacGyver.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver had just finished packing and was zipping up his duffel bag when someone knocked on his door.

“It’s open,” he called and looked up to see Pete hesitantly stepping across the threshold. MacGyver hurried over and led his friend to a chair.

“Are you all set to go?” Mac asked.

“Yeah. Connie’s just making sure we haven’t left anything behind.”

MacGyver nodded, but then remembered Pete couldn’t see the gesture. “Did you need something?” he asked.

The older man grimaced.

“Pete, what’s up?” Mac asked slowly.

“It’s about you and Joanna.”

“Aw man, we already talked about this!”

“Have you considered asking her out on a date?” Pete asked.

“Why? We already spend a lot of time together.”

“Sure, playing air hockey, eating pizza, and getting caught in tornadoes and blizzards. Why can’t you two go out on a real date like regular people?”

“Maybe we’re not like regular people,” Mac retorted.

“Or maybe you’re afraid she’ll turn you down?” Pete countered. “Look, I probably shouldn’t say this, but Connie told me that Joanna doesn’t think you could be interested in her.”

“What?! That’s ridiculous!” MacGyver exclaimed.

“Apparently not to her,” Pete said softly.

Mac jammed his fingers through his hair. “Fine. I’ll think about it,” he responded as he grabbed his bag and headed for the door.


Posted by: Dragondog 13 February 2019 - 02:09 PM
QUOTE
It was clearly just the obligatory New Year’s kiss with little if any emotion behind it. At least for him.
*deep inhale* BOI! laugh.gif

QUOTE
Joanna asked, quickly wrapping herself in the quilt when she realized she was still in her pajamas.
That didn't bother you before wink.gif

QUOTE
The pair headed into the kitchen leaving Connie to stare at Mac and Jo before she hurriedly whispered into Pete’s ear whose grin grew wider the longer she talked.
Yeah, you couldn't be any more subtle rolleyes.gif

QUOTE
“Um, if you’ll excuse us, Joanna and I were just heading upstairs to change,” Mac said.
blink.gif Well, that sounded a little more promiscuous than intended laugh.gif

QUOTE
“What a wonderful idea!” she exclaimed. “I say we all sleep here tonight to conserve the wood that’s left. Now you two go upstairs and change. Breakfast will be ready in no time!”
What? Uh, okay tongue.gif

QUOTE
“Sure, playing air hockey, eating pizza, and getting caught in tornadoes and blizzards. Why can’t you two go out on a real date like regular people?”

“Maybe we’re not like regular people,” Mac retorted.
Checkmate tongue.gif

Posted by: Persona non grata 13 February 2019 - 02:09 PM
...they oughta cart MacGyver off to Phoenix for psychic testing, after that shenanigan with the pipes

also find the notion of Mac unable to sleep on floors anyone oddly relatable and hilarious.

Is Jo asexual? Plenty of girls on the series would have thrown themselves at Mac by now, if they'd had half as much encouragement as Mac's given her.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 February 2019 - 02:30 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 13 February 2019 - 02:09 PM)


Is Jo asexual? Plenty of girls on the series would have thrown themselves at Mac by now, if they'd had half as much encouragement as Mac's given her.

Jo's fine...just keep reading whistle.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 20 February 2019 - 07:44 AM
Chapter 27: Like Normal People


MacGyver and Joanna returned to work the second week in January to prepare for the upcoming semester. Evelyn reported that there had been no new acts of vandalism and the police still did not have any leads. Of course, she also had to tease them about getting stuck in a blizzard and how they seemed to attract natural disasters.

Joanna was sitting at her computer catching up on some data entry when MacGyver tapped softly on her door. The serious look on his face and rigid posture immediately caused her concern.

“Is something wrong?” she asked anxiously.

“May I come in?”

“Of course.” Joanna was getting seriously worried. She and Mac had long gotten past the point of asking permission to enter one another’s office. Mac entered and seated himself across from her.

“What’s up?” she asked, fearing he was going to tell her he had found more vandalism.

“I was wondering if, um,” he paused to clear his throat. “Would you like to go out to dinner Friday night?” he said in a rush.

OK, that hadn’t been what she was expecting, but it was a welcomed idea since they hadn’t seen much of each other since New Year’s.

“Sure. We haven’t done pizza in a while. Is Sam coming too?”

MacGyver crossed then uncrossed his legs, shifting in the chair. She had never seen him so unsure of himself.

“Um, no. I thought it could just be the two of us.”

Joanna eyed him suspiciously. “Are you asking me out on a date?”

“No! I mean, I know you don’t date colleagues, I just thought—“ MacGyver stopped and Jo raised her eyebrows. He took a deep breath. “Yes, I’m asking you out on a date. I thought we could go to that Italian restaurant you like so much.”

Joanna sat back in her chair to consider his invitation.

“Look,” Mac said, sounding more like himself. “It’s been a while since we’ve been together, just the two of us. I thought it might be nice to—“

“I’d love to!” she cut him off.

“Great,” he smiled warmly. “Pick you up at six?”

“I’ll be ready.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“How do I look?”

Sam repositioned himself on the couch. “Don’t you think you’re a little overdressed?”

MacGyver looked down at his suit and tie. Yeah, maybe it was a bit much, especially for him. He bounded back up the spiral staircase, changed into a collarless shirt and ditched the coat and tie.

“What time are you picking her up?” Sam called.

“Six.”

“You better hustle!”

“Yes, dad,” Mac mumbled under his breath as he headed downstairs.

“How’s this?” he asked, standing in front of Sam.

“Better. But I don’t get what the big deal is. It’s just Jo.”

“Tonight’s….different,” MacGyver hedged.

Sam’s investigative instincts sprang to life. “Really? How so?”

“It just is,” Mac stated.

“Hey, I get it now,” Sam’s eyes sparkled with mirth. “You and Jo are going out on a date! A real date like normal people!”

“That’s what I’m planning,” MacGyver replied, running a finger between his neck and suddenly too-tight banded collar.

“But why are you so stressed out? You’ve been out on thousands of dates.”

Mac cocked his head and eyed his son. “I wouldn’t say ‘thousands’.”

“You know what I mean,” Sam scoffed.

“Let’s just say that this one is kinda…special.”

“You really like her, don’t you?” Sam asked, his voice serious for the first time that evening.

“Yeah, I do,” MacGyver confirmed. “She’s a good friend and I don’t want to mess things up.”

“Then why are you going out with her?”

Mac refused to tell his son he was doing this because Pete told him to so he decided to evade the question altogether.

“I gotta go,” he told Sam, and hurried out the door.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Hurry up, Joanna! MacGyver will be here any minute!” Judy Fairfax hollered upstairs to her daughter.

“I’m coming, Mother!” Jo called back.

Her hands shook as she attempted to apply a coat of mascara to her eyelashes. She lowered the wand and took a deep breath. What was the big deal? She and MacGyver were good friends and they spent a lot of time together. But neither one of them had ever considered their shared activities as a date. That was the big deal. At least to her.

“He’s here!” her mom announced.

Joanna threw the tube of makeup on her dresser. It wasn’t like he was going to be gazing longingly into her eyes. He didn’t do things like that with her. At least he never had before.

MacGyver was standing in the small foyer when Jo reached the bottom step. The sight of him made her pause. Sure, she had seen him in various dress clothes before, but that was always for a work-related function. Tonight it was for her.

“You look great,” he smiled, his voice low and confident.

She looked down self-consciously at the red turtle-neck sweater she had paired with a long black suede skirt and dress boots.

“Thanks, you do, too,” she replied, hoping she was the only one who noticed the quiver in her voice. She reached for her wool coat.

“Here, let me.” MacGyver grabbed the coat and held it out for her.

OK, this was weird. Nice, but weird.

Mac escorted her out the door and to the car, his hand never leaving the small of her back. He opened the passenger door and only closed it when she indicated she was settled in. They engaged in idle chit chat during the short drive and upon arriving at the restaurant, she waited politely as he hurried around the car to open the door and help her out. The hostess seated them immediately and the server took their order promptly. Then they were alone. Voices and laughter from other patrons surrounded them, yet they remained silent, not knowing quite what to say. MacGyver was the first to break the ice.

“Do you feel as awkward as I do?” he asked quietly.

Joanna felt her shoulders relax and relief flood her body. “Absolutely!” she replied.

“Promise you won’t get mad when I tell you this, but it was all Pete’s idea.”

“I figured it was something like that,” Joanna laughed softly. “And I’m not angry with you, but why did you go along with it?”

“It seemed like a good idea at the time?” Mac shrugged.

“And now?”

“Not so much.” They both laughed before Mac became serious again. He reached across the table and put his hand over hers. “I hope you know that I really do care about you even if I don’t get dressed up and take you to fancy places.” Then he chuckled and shook his head. “Can you believe I changed clothes twice and got the Nomad washed just for tonight?”

“Why?” Joanna chuckled along with him.

“I wanted to make a good impression.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little late for that?”

MacGyver met her gaze and squeezed her hand. “I didn’t want to mess things up between us. Are we still okay?”

“We’re perfect,” she assured him.

“Can I ask you one more thing?”

“Sure.”

“Why do you only have mascara on one eye?”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Late Monday morning, MacGyver was sitting at his desk reviewing the estimate for the repairs to the gym. Evelyn had asked him to look at the proposal to make sure they were getting a fair deal, but Mac couldn’t concentrate on the numbers. His mind kept reverting back to Friday night. Had he done the right thing bailing on the whole ‘date’ idea, or was he just running from his feelings again? Joanna had visibly relaxed once they had decided to share a meal as just friends and they did have a good time. Feeling too restless to spend the next four hours stuck behind his desk, MacGyver decided to go to the Pettit Center and skate off some energy. There would probably be some kids from Challengers there that he could work with as well. On his way out, he poked his head in Joanna’s office to let her know of his plans.

“Just wanted to let you know I’ll be at the hockey rink if you need me.”

“Sounds good,” she acknowledged, looking away from her computer screen.

MacGyver was ready to be on his way when she spoke again.

“Hey Mac, thanks for Friday night. I really had a good time.”

Mac took a couple steps into her office. “You’re welcome. I enjoyed it too. I’m just sorry I made us both uncomfortable by taking Pete’s advice and trying to turn it into a date.”

Joanna smiled at him softly. “I’m not. I really appreciate everything you did to try and make the night special, but…”

Oh great. Here it comes. The brush off. What would it be this time? ‘Let’s just be friends’, ‘I’m not your type,’ ‘It’s not you, it’s me’?

He almost didn’t hear Joanna continue, “…we’ve known each other for almost a year now. We’ve been through a lot together and we’ve learned a lot about each other. I think we’re kinda past the dating stage, don’t you?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Mac replied, a bit unsure about what he was agreeing with. “Well, I’m gonna grab the equipment and get outta here.”

“Have fun,” Joanna called after him as he made a hasty retreat.

MacGyver had been at the rink skating around imaginary defensemen and faking out invisible goalies for about an hour before a large number of his team from Challengers arrived.

“We heard you were here and thought we might do some extra practice,” Raul called as he entered the rink.

“Glad you came. I was getting bored playing by myself!” MacGyver smiled inwardly at the efficiency of the neighborhood grapevine as the teens took to the ice and began warming up.

Mac had just started leading the boys in some organized drills when he saw Joanna descending the stairs and heading for the home team bench. He skated over to greet her.

“Hey! Didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Things were kinda slow at work. I hope you don’t mind that I came?”

“Not at all. But you might want to go stand behind the glass. The guys are improving, but there are always some shots that get away from them.”

MacGyver made sure Jo was safely behind the clear barrier before he allowed the practice to continue. His heart warmed as Joanna yelled encouragement to the team and cheered when a play had been executed successfully. He was in the middle of giving the players a lesson on the finer points of a slap shot when he noticed Winston, one of the rink managers, motioning for him from the bench. Mac once again halted practice and skated over to the boards.

“Sorry to interrupt, Mr. MacGyver, but you have a phone call in the office. The man said it was urgent.”

“Thanks, I’ll be right there.”

“You guys keep practicing your shots. I’ll be right back,” he called to the players as he shook off his bulky gloves and put on his blade guards to protect his skates as he walked up to the managers’ offices.

“Make sure they don’t slack off while I’m gone,” he instructed Joanna light-heartedly as he passed her.

Winston directed MacGyver to the office which had a large window looking out over both rinks. Mac picked up the phone, keeping an eye on his team.

“Hello?”

Silence.

“Hello?

More silence.

“Who is this?” Mac demanded as he watched Damon’s shot get away from him, the puck hurtling through the air. The next few seconds went by in slow motion as MacGyver saw Joanna turn and crouch, covering her head with her arms at the same time the puck hit the clear barrier, exploding loudly in a flash of light and shattering the protective glass.

MacGyver dropped the receiver and barreled out of the office towards where Joanna and the rest of the team were now standing.

“Are you all right?” Mac asked breathlessly as he helped Jo remove the pellets of tempered glass from her coat and hair.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied, MacGyver checking her hands and face for cuts.

The boys were chatting excitedly about what had just occurred.

“Wow, did you see that flash?” one asked.

“It made so much noise!” another exclaimed.

Damon’s eyes were huge. “I didn’t think I hit it that hard.”

“You didn’t,” Mac stated as he retrieved the puck which was now in pieces with colored wires sticking out.

“Is that what I think it is?” Joanna asked in little more than a whisper.

MacGyver nodded. “It was wired to explode.”

“On impact?” she asked.

Mac examined the pieces in his hand. “No. Something like this would need a detonator.”

“What happened?!” Winston asked in a panic as he hurried over to the small group.

“You’d better call the police,” MacGyver instructed.

A short while later, the hockey rink was taped off and swarming with police officers and crime scene technicians. Joanna and Mac had been separated for questioning while the teens were giving their statements as a group.

MacGyver calmly explained everything that had happened leading up to and including the incident before the officer began peppering him with questions.

“Who has access to the equipment?”

“Myself and the custodians,” Mac replied. “We keep it locked in a storage closet at the school.”

“Were you here when it happened?”

“No. I was in the office on the phone.” MacGyver pointed to the room with the large window.

“Who were you on the phone with?”

“No one. I was told I had an urgent call, but when I picked it up there was no one on the line.”

The officer continued to ask questions and scribble down the answers he received.

“You said the puck had been tampered with and then detonated. How would you know something like this?”

“I did a lot of bomb diffusing and disposal in Vietnam and the Middle East.”

Just then one of the crime scene techs approached the officer, handed him a small box and whispered in his ear before returning to continue investigating. The officer held out the small box to Mac.

“What does this look like to you?”

“A detonator,” MacGyver replied flatly.

“It was found in a nearby trash can wiped clean of prints just outside the managers’ office. I’m afraid I’m going to have to take you in for further questioning, Mr. MacGyver.”

“What?!” Mac exclaimed. “You think I’m a suspect?!”

“You had the means and opportunity,” the officer responded plainly.

“But I didn’t do it! Someone is trying to set me up!”

“Is that so?” the officer almost sneered. “Now, you can either cooperate and come to the station or I can arrest you right here and take you out in cuffs.”

Mac glanced over at Joanna who was being kept away from him by another officer. The look on her face was a mixture of fear and confusion, but mostly of anger.

“I’ll cooperate,” MacGyver conceded.

As two officers escorted him past Joanna he asked her to let Sam know what was happening.

“But don’t call Pete,” he instructed. “Do you hear me? Do not call Pete!

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna’s head was spinning and her heart was beating double-time. Once MacGyver had left the building the officer who had taken her statement gave her permission to leave as well.

“What about the boys?” she asked, watching the little group huddled together on the opposite side of the rink.

“We’ll take care of them, ma’am. You go on home and be sure to call us if you remember anything else to add to your statement.”

Joanna nodded and headed for the parking lot. She had to get to MacGyver, but first she had to talk to Sam.

“Are they crazy?! Dad wouldn’t do anything like that!”

“I know,” Joanna tried to reassure Sam.

“We have to do something!” he insisted. Joanna agreed, but she had no clue how to deal with something like this. Suddenly she had an idea and grabbed MacGyver’s phone.

“Evelyn, it’s Jo. Mac’s in trouble,” she said when her boss answered her call.
“I thought you might still have some connections in law enforcement who could help him,” Joanna concluded after summarizing the events of the previous couple hours.

“I do know a lawyer who owes me a favor. I’ll have him meet you at the station.”

“Thanks,” Jo replied before abruptly disconnecting the call.

Sam and Jo hurried through the doors of the police precinct only to be greeted by a very large African-American man dressed in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase.

“Sam Malloy and Joanna Fairfax?” he asked. His voice deep and calm.

They nodded in unison and then the man introduced himself.

“Name’s Leroy Jackson. I’m a lawyer and friend of Evelyn Quinn.”

“Thank you so much for coming down on such short notice,” Joanna said as they shook hands.

“No problem. I owed Evelyn a favor. A big one.”

“Where’s my dad? What’s happening?” Sam demanded.

Leroy put a large hand on the young man’s shoulder which Sam quickly shoved off.

“Now calm down, Sam. I just saw your dad. They have him in an interrogation room for now. He’ll be fine as long as he keeps his mouth shut. Right now, I need to speak with both of you.”

Leroy led Sam and Jo to a small conference room and closed the door tightly. “Tell me everything you know.”

Joanna told the lawyer about the graffiti, the flooded gym, and the figure on the surveillance tape before launching into the incident at the ice rink. When she finished Leroy headed back to the interrogation room to plead Mac’s case.

For the next two hours Joanna and Sam took turns pacing the small room while waiting for some news. Every now and again a secretary would come in and offer them water or coffee.

“What’s taking so long?” Sam grumbled, running his fingers through his hair just like his father.

“I don’t know,” Jo responded. “Right now we just have to trust Mr. Jackson.”

No sooner had the words left her mouth than the door opened and Leroy entered the room followed by MacGyver. He motioned for everyone to have a seat.

“Are you okay, Mac?” Joanna asked quietly.

“I’ve been through worse,” he responded as he slouched in his chair.

Leroy loudly cleared his throat and waited until all eyes were on him. He then leaned forward and began talking.

“The good news is that no one is pressing charges against MacGyver…yet. The evidence is mainly circumstantial and, though they could try and prove means and opportunity, there is no motive. They’re biding their time until they can make a stronger case.”

“Are they going to investigate the angle that my dad is being framed?” Sam asked anxiously.

Leroy sighed. “Unfortunately they think that idea is a bit far-fetched. Fortunately, I don’t. I’m going to make some phone calls and get my people on the case.” He turned toward MacGyver. “Don’t worry, man, we’ll get you out of this. In the meantime, it would really help if you could come up with a list of people who might be behind this.” The lawyer rose and gave each of them his business card before hastily leaving.

“C’mon, Dad,” Sam prodded. “You must know someone with a grudge against you.”

MacGyver shook his head and laughed humorlessly. “That’s just it. There are a lot of someone’s who would like to take me down.”

The somber trio left the precinct and headed toward Joanna’s car. The sun was almost below the horizon and no one noticed the black compact car parked across the street, but the driver took careful notice of them.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“What do you mean they let him go?!” a voice bellowed, causing the man in the black car to hold the cellular phone away from his ear.

“They hired some lawyer dude and all walked out of the police station together.”

“What about the girl? You think she’ll turn on him?”

“No way. She’s sticking to him like glue. Saw them getting pretty cozy at a restaurant last week.”

The voice let loose with a string of curses. “This is all your fault! How could you mess up like this?!”

“I did everything according to plan,” the man in the car yelled back. “I wore that stupid disguise, planted the bomb, then made that prank call and detonated the puck just like you told me!”

“I have one more job for you. If you fail, I’ll see to it that both you and MacGyver permanently disappear!”



Posted by: Dragondog 20 February 2019 - 07:35 PM
QUOTE
“I’d love to!” she cut him off.
They've come so far! wub.gif

QUOTE
Sam repositioned himself on the couch. “Don’t you think you’re a little overdressed?”
That is not the Mac we know blink.gif

QUOTE
MacGyver looked down at his suit and tie. Yeah, maybe it was a bit much, especially for him. He bounded back up the spiral staircase, changed into a collarless shirt and ditched the coat and tie.
Now there's the Mac we know biggrin.gif

QUOTE
“Yes, dad,” Mac mumbled under his breath as he headed downstairs.
I choked XD

QUOTE
I do,” MacGyver confirmed. “She’s a good friend and I don’t want to mess things up.”

“Then why are you going out with her?”
Was that supposed to be an insult? Because that was the sickest burn ever w00t.gif biggrin.gif nasty.gif tongue.gif

Joanna is me. Or how I would be if someone asked me out

QUOTE
“Can I ask you one more thing?”

“Sure.”

“Why do you only have mascara on one eye?”
I choked harder roller.gif

It's Murdoc, isn't it?

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 February 2019 - 06:07 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 20 February 2019 - 07:35 PM)
It's Murdoc, isn't it?

Hmmmm...I guess you'll just have to wait and see... hmm.bmp

Posted by: Persona non grata 21 February 2019 - 05:39 PM
In which Mac manages not to cut off a budding romance at the knees, by wearing one of his dreadful ties on a date. The man should not have been allowed to choose his own formalwear, he's rubbish at it.

Anyway it ought to be obvious that Mac would never wire a hockey puck to explode; he's figure that was sacrilegious.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 22 February 2019 - 06:06 AM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 21 February 2019 - 05:39 PM)
Anyway it ought to be obvious that Mac would never wire a hockey puck to explode; he's figure that was sacrilegious.

Indeed. That's why in the story it says he had the means and opportunity but NOT a motive.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 27 February 2019 - 03:41 PM
Chapter 28: The Heart Knows

It had been three days since the episode at the hockey rink. Three uneventful, normal days, yet MacGyver kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. Heavy January clouds promised more snow as he, Joanna, and Leroy Jackson gathered around Evelyn’s small kitchen table to go over the facts of the vandalism and sabotage one more time.

“OK, what do we know so far?” Evelyn asked, pen and paper at the ready. They had had this conversation so frequently that Mac could recite it by heart, but until they could figure out who was behind the crimes, this conversation would keep happening.

“Whoever is doing this has access to the school and is familiar with the layout and security system,” Joanna began recounting the information that was burned into all of their brains. “He has something against Challengers since he vandalized the building twice and then put the hockey team at risk. He also wants the police to think he’s MacGyver based on the disguise he wore and the set-up at the ice rink.”

“You know what I don’t get?” MacGyver asked, leaning forward. “The first two ‘incidents’ were simple, harmless, and straight forward. Some spray paint and a flooded gym. Not a huge deal. Then he ups the ante with the whole bomb-in-a-hockey-puck stunt. Why?”

“If he’s trying to scare us off, he could have gotten frustrated when we didn’t take the first two attempts more seriously,” Evelyn offered and everyone nodded their agreement.

“That’s certainly plausibly,” Leroy concurred. “I think we need to break down this last attempt at the ice rink. It’s by far the most sophisticated and complex. Unfortunately, we don’t have any surveillance tape of it.”

“So where do we start?” MacGyver was eager to have new ideas to roll around in his brain.

“The puck,” Leroy stated. “When did it get put into the equipment bag?”

“It had to be at the school,” MacGyver replied. “I make sure I keep it within arm’s reach whenever I’m at the rink.”

“What a minute,” Joanna declared. “I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before the bomb could be placed, it had to be made, right?”

“You’re right,” Mac told Jo before addressing the others as well. “Can we assume that someone who uses spray paint and turns on faucets to frighten people has the skill to make a hockey puck into a bomb?”

“If not, he must have gotten help from somebody. We could be looking at a team, here,” Leroy suggested.

“Let’s stay focused,” Evelyn instructed. “So someone puts the tampered puck in the equipment bag while it’s still at the school. He waits until Mac takes it and then follows him to the hockey rink.”

Joanna quickly picked up on Evelyn’s train of thought. “Then he calls the office and asks for MacGyver to separate him from the others so he doesn’t have an alibi and then detonates the puck!”

“Hold on,” Leroy held up a hand as a signal to stop. “According to the police report, the crime techs determined that the detonator was very short range, meaning whoever blew up the puck had to be nearby. How could the perp do that if he was on the phone somewhere?”

“There are pay phones in the lobby,” Mac recalled. “He could have placed the call, dropped the receiver, and returned to the rink with plenty of time to get in range.”

“But he could not have known a shot would go high at just the right moment,” Evelyn countered.

“That was just dumb luck on his part and he took advantage of the opportunity,” MacGyver explained. “He would have detonated it at some point regardless of where it was and the consequences could have been a lot worse.”
“But how could he have known it was the puck?” Joanna asked thoughtfully. “You use a bunch of them in practice at the same time. More dumb luck?”

“For now I’m afraid that’s the theory we’ll have to go with,” Leroy concluded.

“I still don’t get why it has to look like Mac is the one doing all of this? Anyone who knows him knows how dedicated he is to Challengers. He resigned from Phoenix so he could work here.”

“And that, young lady, is the million dollar question,” Leroy proclaimed. He glanced at his watch. “Unfortunately, we’re not going to answer it tonight. I have an early meeting in the morning, but I’ll let you know if I receive any new information.”

MacGyver slept restlessly that night as his mind recalled images of the events discussed earlier that evening. The graffiti, the gym, the hockey rink. Then he was back in Los Angeles, in Pete’s old office. Stern was there. His expression angry and lips moving but Mac couldn’t hear what he was saying.

“Dad! Dad!” Sam whispered loudly, shaking MacGyver’s shoulder.

Mac shot up, his body covered in sweat. “What the--?”

“You were having a bad dream, Dad,” Sam explained. “You were tossing around and murmuring something.”

MacGyver tried but could not remember the dream. “What was I saying?” he asked Sam.

“I don’t know. I couldn’t make it out. It was all garbled.”

Mac scrubbed his face with his hands then looked at the clock.

“Aw man, I’m gonna be late for work!”

MacGyver arrived at Challengers and parked his car next to Jo’s as usual. He was on his way to his office when he noticed Evelyn sitting in Joanna’s office, the two women speaking in hushed tones. Mac tapped lightly on the door.

“Can I come in or is this a private meeting?” he asked teasingly. Two serious faces set with frowns turned toward him.

“Please join us,” Evelyn requested. “This concerns you as well.”

That got his attention. He entered the room and sat down in the chair next to his boss.

“Has something else happened?” he asked urgently.

“I was just telling Joanna that I’ve been obligated to report our series of unfortunate events to the Phoenix Foundation. The anonymous donor who’s been financing our school is very concerned and threatening to cut off our funding to use elsewhere.”

Mac’s chest tightened. “Have you spoken to the board members? They’ll back us.”

Evelyn shook her head. “We’ve been on shaky ground with the board from the beginning. Pete was always able to smooth things over with them, but since he retired, the new director seems to be working against us.”

Images from MacGyver’s dream flared to life. His stomach burned. “Stern,” he said almost inaudibly.

Until now Joanna had been staring vacantly off into space, but Mac’s declaration caught her attention.

“You think Stern is behind all this?” she asked.

“In a twisted way it makes sense,” MacGyver answered. “He was none too happy when I resigned from Phoenix to work here, and he was even less happy when I refused to accept a bribe to go on a mission. That would give him a grudge against Challengers and me.”

“But how can he be doing this?” Evelyn queried. “He’s still in L.A., right?”

“A man like Stern knows how to make things happen without getting his own hands dirty,” Mac replied.

“So he’s paying off someone working here to cause these ‘incidents’,” Joanna concluded.

“It looks that way. Unfortunately, we can’t prove it,” MacGyver sighed.

“We need to go to the police with this. They can investigate and get hard evidence,” Evelyn insisted.

Mac shook his head. “If Stern is orchestrating this and already paying someone off, who’s to say there aren’t other locals on his payroll? There are still a couple people I trust at the Chicago office. I’ll drive down tomorrow and see if I can dig anything up.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna’s office phone rang late the next afternoon.

“Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me.” She immediately recognized MacGyver’s voice.

“How’d it go?” she asked.

Mac sighed, “Not well. I hit a dead end. Either nobody really doesn’t know anything or they’re too scared to talk.”

“Which one do you think it is?”

“I think they don’t know anything and that Stern is working on his own agenda with no one being the wiser.”

“Are you coming home now?”

“Yeah. That’s part of the reason I called. It’s starting to snow down here and the traffic is already jammed up. I’m gonna take some back roads to hopefully make better time. How about we grab a bite to eat when I get back?”

“Sounds good. Pick me up at the house.”

“Will do. See you in a bit.”

Three hours later Joanna stood staring out the living room window watching the snow fall.

“I’m sure he’s just caught in traffic,” Judy Fairfax said softly, trying to reassure her daughter. “You know how bad it gets and this weather is sure to make it ten times worse.”

“Yeah. I know.” But her gut was telling her something different.

An hour later Joanna sat on her parent’s couch absently watching the basketball game her dad had on the TV. Her stomach was upset and her temple was beginning to pound. Something was definitely wrong. Even on the worst of days it shouldn’t take four hours to drive from Chicago to Milwaukee. The shrill ring of the telephone jarred Jo out of her reverie. She lunged for the receiver and answered immediately.

“Jo? This is Sam. Can you come over? Dad’s been in an accident.”

Joanna felt as if someone had just punched all the air out of her lungs. “I’m on my way!”

A sheriff’s department car was parked in front of the duplex when she pulled up. When she entered the apartment, the deputy quickly rose from where he was sitting on the couch to greet her.

“What happened? How is he?” she asked the man urgently.

“Mr. MacGyver apparently lost control and slid off the road into a ravine. He was unconscious when the fire department extricated him from the vehicle. He’s been taken to County General.”

“Ma’am?” The deputy continued, “Where would you like his car towed?”

Joanna stood stunned, trying to process the information she had just received.

“Huh? Oh, I’m sorry. Could you please take it to Lou’s Auto Repair?”

“Sure thing. And try not to worry. Accidents like these often look worse than they are.”

Joanna closed the door behind the deputy, noticing Sam for the first time since arriving. His cheeks were flushed and his were shining with unshed tears. She opened her arms towards him and he walked into them, holding her tight as he sobbed on her shoulder.

“I can’t lose him, too, Jo! I just can’t!”

“We’re not gonna lose him, Sam,” Joanna promised as she pulled away to look him in the eye. “Your dad is too stubborn to let a little car accident slow him down.” She gave him a soft smile. “Now go grab your coat and we’ll go to the hospital. Your dad is probably already wondering why you’re not there!”

Joanna and Sam rushed through the doors of the emergency room at County General and quickly approached the reception desk.

“I’m looking for MacGyver,” Sam said anxiously.

“And you are?” the middle-aged nurse asked.

“I’m his son.”

The nurse glanced at Joanna, but before she could speak Sam cut in.

“She’s his wife.”

Joanna’s jaw went slack and she glared at Sam who glared back just as intently.

“Could I please see some ID?” the nurse asked.

Jo and Sam both pulled out their driver’s licenses. The nurse studied Joanna’s and raised a questioning eyebrow.

“Says here your name is Fairfax.”

“I, um, we just got married a few weeks ago. I haven’t gotten around to changing all my documents.”

The nurse nodded, glancing at Joanna’s ring finger. Thank goodness she hadn’t taken off her sapphire after work like she usually did. Satisfied, the nurse instructed them to have a seat in the empty waiting room.

“Why did you have to tell him I was your dad’s wife?” Joanna scolded Sam, mainly for something to do while they waited. “You could have said I was his sister or something!”

“I’m sorry. It slipped out. It just seemed…right.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Jo sighed. “Just hope your dad catches on and plays along when we see him.”

Thirty excruciating minutes later, a tall lanky doctor approached them. The embroidered name on his lab coat read Dr. Kennedy.

“You must be here for Mr. MacGyver.” He offered his hand and they both shook it.

“I’m his son, Sam, and this is his wife, Joanna.”

“Nice to meet you both. Please, have a seat.”

“How is he, doctor?” Jo asked bluntly as she sat back down next to Sam.

“Lucky. Very lucky,” the doctor replied with a smile. “He has a concussion, some facial lacerations, and a few cracked ribs, but other than that he’s fine. It could have been much, much worse.”

“When can we see him?” Sam asked eagerly.

“We’re moving him to a private room now. I’ll send someone to get you when he’s ready for visitors, though I must warn you, he’s quite groggy. You also need to know that he’s experiencing some temporary memory loss.”

“That happened once before,” Joanna offered. “He had trouble remembering the details of a hockey accident.”

The doctor sighed heavily. “I’m afraid it’s different this time. He doesn’t remember the accident, but he also doesn’t remember his own name. It’s only temporary, but he may not know who you are either. Everyone’s situation is different. I’d like to ask that, when you see him, don’t call each other by name. The more he recalls on his own the better.”

Jo and Sam exchanged concerned glances as Dr. Kennedy excused himself to see to other patients.

“Did the deputy say where the accident happened?” Joanna asked Sam, breaking the heavy silence that had fallen.

Sam described the place the deputy had given and Jo frowned.

“I used to drive that road all the time. I never considered it dangerous, even in winter.”

Sam shook his head. “Dad used to drive race cars. I can’t believe he would wipe out on a straight rural road, even in the snow.”

Just then, a pretty young nurse appeared and took them up to Mac’s room. They stood in the doorway as another nurse adjusted an IV and Dr. Kennedy checked his bandages.

“Ah, it looks like you have company, Mr. MacGyver,” the doctor said when he looked up and saw Jo and Sam. He motioned them to approach the bed. “Your wife and son are here.”

“I have a family?” Mac croaked, looking up at Dr. Kennedy.

Joanna studied the man lying on the bed and her heart clenched. He looked so pale and vulnerable. His hair was still matted with some blood and splayed across his pillow, except for some rebellious bangs that hung in his eyes. There was a white gauze pad taped to his left temple and butterfly bandages holding several other small cuts together. She hung back, allowing Sam to go to his father first.

“Hi Dad, remember me?”

Mac turned his head and looked vacantly at the young man. “You’re so…old.”

Everyone in the room laughed.

“Are you okay?” Sam asked.

“Yeah. At least that’s what they tell me,” Mac replied, his voice still gravely. He glanced at the cup of water on the bedside table and Sam quickly retrieved it and held it while his dad drank.

Sam slowly backed away, indicating that it was Joanna’s turn. Her stomach was queasy. It was bad enough to see this strong, handsome man lying flat in a hospital bed, but now she had the added burden of pretending to be his wife, and people were watching! She slowly approached the bed and reached out to take Mac’s hand. She felt his gaze lazily inspect her from head to toe, an action that made her extremely uncomfortable.

“You’re my wife?” he asked incredulously.

Joanna’s stomach turned over and she wished the floor would just swallow her now. She knew she wasn’t particularly pretty, but always felt as if she matched up to the average female. Obviously she disappointed MacGyver. Had the memory loss loosened his inhibitions? Was he finally saying what he really thought of her?

“That’s what they tell me,” she tried to tease as she held back tears.

“How did I get so lucky?” he mumbled, struggling to keep his eyelids open yet holding her hand tight.

Joanna was shocked by his response and didn’t know how to respond so she stayed silent.

He raised his head to look down at his left hand. “Why don’t I have a wedding ring?”

“You didn’t want one,” Jo responded as her mind scrambled for an explanation. “You work with your hands a lot and didn’t want to lose it.”

“Oh.” He let his head drop back to the pillow thankfully satisfied with her answer.

“How do you really feel?” Joanna asked.

“Like I got hit by a truck.”

“That’s to be expected,” Dr. Kennedy broke in. “Those ribs will take a while to heal. It’s lucky you have such a lovely wife to take care of you.”

“Yeah,” MacGyver mumbled, a sad look on his face.

“What’s wrong?” Jo asked.

“I wish I could remember you. You look like a stranger to me.”

“Just relax. It’ll all come back to you,” Jo said softly, leaning down as her free hand brushed the hair out of his eyes. Suddenly, the hand that she had been holding released its grip only to grab on to her upper arm and pull her closer until their faces were inches apart. She caught her breath as MacGyver raised his head slightly to brush a tender caress against her lips. Only this time it didn’t stop there. Joanna began to feel him deepen the kiss and she instinctively pulled back until she remembered that people were watching. People who needed to believe they were husband and wife. Allowing her defenses to fall, she succumbed to Mac’s urgent, probing kiss and suddenly it seemed as if they were the only two people in the room. After several seconds, MacGyver broke the connection, only to nuzzle his face gently against her neck.

“My brain may not remember you,” he whispered huskily in her ear, “but my heart does.”

Dr. Kennedy cleared his throat loudly, causing Joanna to jerk upright.

“I’m sorry to break this up, but visiting hours are over. Mr. MacGyver needs his beauty sleep,” he declared with a wink towards his patient.

Joanna was about to step away from the bed when Mac snagged her by the wrist.

“You’ll come back tomorrow?” he asked.

“I’ll be here,” She promised.

Standing next to Sam in the elevator, Joanna let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding.

“Wow, Dad really laid one on you!” Sam said happily, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “And it looked like you enjoyed it.”

“Sam!” Joanna exclaimed, pinning him with a look she generally saved for her most disruptive students.

“What can I say?” Sam shrugged his shoulders. “Good kissers run in the family.”

“I guess I’ll just have to take your word for that,” Joanna replied tartly. “Besides, your dad doesn’t know who I really am. Heck, he doesn’t even know who he is. That kiss meant nothing.”

“You can’t believe that, Jo! He thinks you’re his wife and is obviously quite pleased about it. Besides, you’d think he’d kiss a stranger like that?” Sam shook his head. “Nope, there is definitely a connection between you two.”

By the time the time they reached the lobby, Sam was frowning again.

“Do you mind if we go check out the accident site?” he asked Joanna.

“It’s awful late,” she protested. “Besides, I’m sure the car has already been towed.”

“I know, but I need to see it.”

Jo sighed and soon she was parked next to the ravine where Mac had slid off the road. As she suspected, the car was gone leaving only the marks in the snow to indicate where it had come to rest. She grabbed a flashlight from her glove compartment and hopped out of the car to join Sam who was already crouched down, looking at something in the snow.

“Did you find something?” she asked, as the young man rubbed two fingers in the snow and cautiously raised them to his nose.

“Yeah. Brake fluid.”

“How can you tell?” Jo asked.

Sam grabbed her flashlight and aimed it at the slushy snow. “See the brownish-yellow color? It also has a very distinctive smell.”

“A result of the accident?”

He shook his head. “If the accident ruptured the line the fluid would all be in the ditch.”

Sam then got up and walked into the road, studying the pavement.

“Look,” he motioned Jo to his side. “More brake fluid. And no skid marks.”

“He never hit the brakes,” Joanna concluded.

“Or he didn’t have breaks to hit. We need to get a look at his car.”

“I’ll pick you up first thing in the morning and we’ll go to the garage,” Jo promised. “But now we need to go home and get some sleep.”

Sam glanced at his watch. “It’s really late. Why don’t you crash at our place?”

Joanna was about to decline when she realized this might be Sam’s way of saying he didn’t want to be alone tonight.

“I’ll even let you have the bed,” he offered.

“Well, how can I say ‘no’ to that?!” Jo smiled at him as they climbed back into the car.

The eastern sky was turning a lighter shade of gray as Joanna lay in bed wide awake. She hadn’t slept a wink all night. Since she had still been in her work clothes, Sam instructed her to find something of his dad’s to wear to bed. She found a pair of too-long sweatpants and an oversized hockey jersey that would have to do. And here she was, lying in MacGyver’s bed, wearing his clothes. It would have been romantic if the man himself wasn’t in the hospital with cracked ribs and amnesia. Instead, it was simply awkward.

After a quick breakfast, she and Sam drove to the garage. They met Lou as he was opening up for the day. When they asked to see the car, the mechanic just shook his head.

“She took quite a beating. There’s not much worth looking at,” he said sadly.

“We just want to check something out,” Sam pleaded.

Lou guided them around the back of the building where the Nomad sat at an odd angle, a mass of crumpled metal.

“I can’t believe Mac survived that,” Joanna said in a hushed tone.

Sam slowly circled the wreck, inspecting it closely until he found the brake lines he was looking for. He examined them carefully then looked at Jo.

“They were tampered with,” he told her flatly.

“Are you sure?”

“I know my way around cars. Yeah, I’m sure.”

Joanna massaged the back of her neck. Had the person wreaking all the havoc at Challengers gone from trying to frame Mac to attempting to kill him? It was just too surreal to believe.

“I’m gonna drop you off at your place,” Joanna told Sam. “Call the police and Leroy and tell them everything. I’ll be at the hospital with your dad. Hopefully he’ll remember something today.”

When Joanna arrived at the hospital, MacGyver was resting peacefully, the head of his bed raised slightly. Not wanting to disturb him, she quietly pulled a straight-backed chair next to the bed planning to rest her head on the edge of the mattress for a few minutes. Within seconds she was fast asleep.

Joanna awoke an hour later to something stroking her cheek. She opened her eyes to find MacGyver watching her, his finger caressing her face. He smiled crookedly as she raised her head.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he apologized.

“No problem. I just didn’t get much sleep last night,” she explained.

“You came back.”

“I promised I would,” Jo replied.

“I know,” Mac said. “I just have this feeling that I’ve lost a lot of people I loved. I don’t want to lose you, too.”

“But you were in an accident and don’t even remember my name. I could be a perfect stranger for all you know.”

“I may not remember your name, but I can feel that you’re someone special to me.”

Joanna couldn’t take it anymore. She had been brave and strong for too long and she was ashamed of lying to Mac. Tears she had been holding back suddenly broke free, tumbling down her cheeks.

“Aw, come here, baby.” MacGyver opened his arms and she gently laid her head on his chest, mindful of his injuries. He closed his arms around her and she relished his embrace as silent tears continue to fall. When all her tears had been shed, she slowly raised her head and captured his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said weakly. “I’m not normally one to cry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

Mac took her face in his hands, his gaze never wavering. “You have nothing to be sorry for and I am not scared of a crying woman.”

Joanna attempted a watery smile, but MacGyver’s face was already upon hers. He kissed her forehead and each tear-stained cheek before settling his lips on hers. Again the kiss started out gentle, as if asking her permission. When she leaned in, he deepened the kiss. Unlike last night, he took his time, tasting, exploring, comforting, and she was helpless to stop him. A part of her knew she should pull away, that this wasn’t real and she was taking advantage of his muddled mind, but a bigger part of her encouraged her to take what she could while she was still able. All too soon the kiss ended, but Mac continued to cradle her head, staring into her eyes as if he could see all the way to her soul.

“Thanks for hanging in there with me, Joanna,” MacGyver whispered huskily.

“You’re wel— You remember my name?!” Joanna’s eyes grew wide as she grabbed MacGyver’s hands and released herself from his touch.

“Yeah, I do,” he smiled mischievously.

“When did you remember?”

Mac’s smile turned tender. “When I was holding you while you cried. Everything started clicking into place.”

“You mean you remembered who you were, who I was, before you, before we—“

“Kissed? Yeah, I knew exactly who we were, who we are.” His smile fading, he reached out and cupped her cheek in his palm and began stroking it with his thumb. “And I’m not gonna apologize for it, either.”

Joanna shook her head. “I don’t want you to,” she declared, putting her hand over his, amazed at what had just happened between them.

A knock on the door startled them and Joanna turned to watch Dr. Kennedy enter the room.

“Sorry to interrupt, folks, but I need to borrow Mr. MacGyver for a few minutes. He has a date with a CT scan.”

“Doctor, he remembered me!”

“That’s wonderful! Do you remember anything about your accident?” the doctor asked hopefully.

“I was driving home from Chicago,” Mac began hesitantly. “I had just called Jo and it was snowing. I was almost home when…” He closed his eyes tight, struggling to remember.

“That’s good, Mr. MacGyver. Don’t force yourself,” the doctor warned.

“No, I need to remember,” Mac insisted. “I remember being so close to home when I saw something in the road. A deer. I pumped the brakes but nothing happened. I drove off the road so I wouldn’t hit it. Then everything went black.”

Joanna’s heart swelled at his selfless act. What kind of man risked personal injury, maybe even his life, to save a wild animal?

“Do you remember anything from the time you wrecked your car to just now?” Dr. Kennedy asked.

“No,” MacGyver frowned. “Will I get those memories back?”

The doctor sighed. “It’s hard to say. There’s so much we still don’t understand about the human brain, and different people respond differently to memory loss. I’d say you’re off to an excellent start, though. Now say goodbye to your wife so we can get you to radiology.”

MacGyver raised a questioning eyebrow and Joanna leaned down as if to kiss his cheek.

“Sounds like I missed a lot,” he whispered, his breath tickling her ear.

“It was Sam’s idea…to make sure they’d let me see you.”

Mac smiled widely. “I knew I had a smart son.”

Joanna followed through on the kiss for the doctor’s sake. “I have to get to work, but I’ll call Sam and let him know you’re back with us. We’ll both see you later.”

She squared her shoulders and walked confidently from the room, feeling MacGyver’s eyes on her as she left. Alone in the elevator, she allowed her posture to relax and leaned against the wall. The first time Joanna laid eyes on MacGyver she knew he was no ordinary man. Little did she know that within a year he would turn her life, and her heart, upside down.









Posted by: Persona non grata 27 February 2019 - 07:00 PM
....bad Sam. Bad.


Posted by: Dragondog 27 February 2019 - 08:36 PM
QUOTE
Joanna closed the door behind the deputy, noticing Sam for the first time since arriving. His cheeks were flushed and his were shining with unshed tears. She opened her arms towards him and he walked into them, holding her tight as he sobbed on her shoulder.“I can’t lose him, too, Jo! I just can’t!”
Don't worry, I'm just fine. It's not like I needed my heart anyway DX

QUOTE
The nurse glanced at Joanna, but before she could speak Sam cut in.“She’s his wife.”Joanna’s jaw went slack and she glared at Sam who glared back just as intently.
Oh, Sam, you sly dog! roller.gif

QUOTE
“Why did you have to tell him I was your dad’s wife?” Joanna scolded Sam, mainly for something to do while they waited. “You could have said I was his sister or something!”

“I’m sorry. It slipped out. It just seemed…right.”
Glad to know Sam's still in there, grieving or not laugh.gif

QUOTE
“I’m afraid it’s different this time. He doesn’t remember the accident, but he also doesn’t remember his own name.
Of course he doesn't. It's his trademark wink.gif

QUOTE
“I used to drive that road all the time. I never considered it dangerous, even in winter.”
That totally wasn't an accident

QUOTE
“Your wife and son are here.”

“I have a family?” Mac croaked, looking up at Dr. Kennedy.
Okay, I know he's undergoing memory loss, but that's just so... emotional to read, considering he really did lose all of his family before Sam and then Jo came into his life (Yes, I think it's safe to consider Jo family).

QUOTE
“Hi Dad, remember me?”

Mac turned his head and looked vacantly at the young man. “You’re so…old.”
PFFT roller.gif

QUOTE
“How did I get so lucky?” he mumbled, struggling to keep his eyelids open yet holding her hand tight.
Aww! <3

QUOTE
“My brain may not remember you,” he whispered huskily in her ear, “but my heart does.”
AWWWWWW! w00t.gif wub.gif

QUOTE
“Wow, Dad really laid one on you!” Sam said happily, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. “And it looked like you enjoyed it.”
Sam, you little- XD

QUOTE
“Sam!” Joanna exclaimed, pinning him with a look she generally saved for her most disruptive students.
Why do I feel like Sam would be one of her most disruptive students? Probably one of the most loved too XD

QUOTE
“What can I say?” Sam shrugged his shoulders. “Good kissers run in the family.”
So modest... lol

QUOTE
Joanna was about to decline when she realized this might be Sam’s way of saying he didn’t want to be alone tonight.
Congratulations, Jas, thanks to this chapter, I am adding Sam onto my list of fictional characters I have adopted as my children (poor baby XD )

QUOTE
Since she had still been in her work clothes, Sam instructed her to find something of his dad’s to wear to bed. She found a pair of too-long sweatpants and an oversized hockey jersey that would have to do. And here she was, lying in MacGyver’s bed, wearing his clothes. It would have been romantic if the man himself wasn’t in the hospital with cracked ribs and amnesia. Instead, it was simply awkward.
Lol XD

QUOTE
“I know,” Mac said. “I just have this feeling that I’ve lost a lot of people I loved. I don’t want to lose you, too.”
That earns both a <3 and a </3 at the same time

QUOTE
“I may not remember your name, but I can feel that you’re someone special to me.”
This chapter is all feels <3

QUOTE
“Kissed? Yeah, I knew exactly who we were, who we are.” His smile fading, he reached out and cupped her cheek in his palm and began stroking it with his thumb. “And I’m not gonna apologize for it, either.”
Mac, you son of a- surprise.gif laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 28 February 2019 - 06:22 AM
LOL Dragondog! Love your comments as usual! I probably haven't read this chapter since I posted it on another on-line fan fic site. As I was proofreading it, I totally fell in love with it! I think it might be one of my favorites! I'm really trying to build Sam into a solid character. The series didn't leave me a whole lot to work with;) But never fear, you will see more of your (our) adopted son!!

Posted by: Dragondog 28 February 2019 - 07:32 PM
It's actually kinda nice that the series didn't give us much of Sam, because now we fanfic writers can basically do whatever we want with him laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 1 March 2019 - 06:06 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 28 February 2019 - 07:32 PM)
It's actually kinda nice that the series didn't give us much of Sam, because now we fanfic writers can basically do whatever we want with him laugh.gif

This is true!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 March 2019 - 02:56 PM
Chapter 29: Moving Forward

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” Evelyn drawled sarcastically, leaning against the door to Joanna’s office.

“Sorry I’m late, but MacGyver was in an accident last night and…Oh! I forgot to call you!!”

“Yes, you did. But you had more important things on your mind.” Evelyn’s voice lost its edge. “Leroy called to tell me about it this morning. How is Mac doing?”

Joanna sighed, unlocked her office door and sank into her chair before answering. “He’s okay. He has some cracked ribs and cuts. He lost his memory for a few hours, but it’s pretty much back to normal now.”

“Well, that’s a relief. What exactly happened?”

Joanna relayed what Mac had just told her as well as Sam’s discovery about the brakes.

“Do you think it’s the same person who’s trying to shut down Challengers? That Stern fellow?”

“I guess…I don’t know,” Joanna yawned. “I don’t know who else it could be, but he sure upped the ante this time.”

“Why don’t you go home and get some rest,” Evelyn urged. “There’s nothing you can do today that can’t wait until tomorrow. Classes don’t resume until Monday and I assume you’ll want to spend some time with MacGyver.”

Joanna was about to protest on all counts until she looked down at the rumpled clothes she still wore from yesterday and remembered that she promised to pick up Sam and head back to the hospital in a few hours.

“Yeah, I think I’ll do that,” she agreed wearily.

Joanna grabbed her coat and locked her office before heading out of the building, completely unaware of the tall, quiet man lurking in the main corridor.

Approaching her car, Joanna dug in her pocket for her car keys. Keys that were not there. She had forgotten that she had tossed them on her desk earlier. She was making her way back to her office when she noticed a light shining from the open doorway of the maintenance room. That was odd since no teachers or staff members were expected back for a few more days. She quietly approached the room in time to hear a one-sided telephone conversation.

“Yeah, I’m sure. She said he’s gonna be fine and he remembered everything,” a male voice said shakily.

“I did everything you told me to,” the voice insisted. “I cut his brakes, put that fake deer in the road, everything!”

Joanna couldn’t believe what she was hearing! Unfortunately, she had no witnesses. Not wanting to get caught eavesdropping, she slowly turned to head toward her office when a door slammed behind her, causing her to stop and turn.

“Sorry if I startled you, Ms. Jo,” a man in beige coveralls apologized.

Joanna immediately recognized him as one of the school’s custodians. She glanced at the name embroidered on his breast pocket.

“No problem, Elliott,” she replied, making an effort to keep her voice steady. “I just wasn’t expecting anyone back until Monday.”

Elliott nervously shifted his weight from one foot to another but remained silent.

“Well, I was just coming to get something from my office,” Jo explained. “Enjoy the rest of the break.” She forced herself to smile at the man before hurrying to her office to make some important phone calls.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver slumped on his couch. His ribs ached and his head spun as Joanna, Sam, Leroy, Evelyn, and a police detective crowded into his living room to discuss the events of the past twenty-four hours. His mind scrambled to keep up with the conversation. Perhaps he should have taken the doctor’s advice and spent one more night in the hospital, but at the time he didn’t see the need. Now he was beginning to wonder if he had made a mistake.

“Wait a minute,” Mac spoke up. “You’re saying a custodian at Challengers was working for Stern to shut down the school and get me out of the picture?”

“Yes sir,” the detective replied. “Once Ms. Fairfax identified the phone Elliott Simms had used, the redial went directly to William Stern’s private line at the Phoenix Foundation in Los Angeles. He has since been taken into custody.”

“What about Simms?” MacGyver asked.

“He was apprehended at his apartment. He’s scared to death of Stern and wants him locked up so he turned state’s evidence and is providing detailed information even as we speak.”

“So none of us will have to testify?” Joanna asked.

“Doesn’t look that way. However, Mr. MacGyver may have to answer some questions regarding his time at Phoenix while under Stern’s command.”

“Terrific,” Mac rolled his eyes and winced as pain shot through his temple.

“I still don’t understand how Simms knew Dad was going to be on that road at that time?”

“I can answer this one, detective,” MacGyver offered with a grunt, turning to Sam and the others. “I got the cell phones we’ve been using from Phoenix. They each have a prototype tracking device in them. The only way to activate and use it is with special equipment the Foundation developed. Stern was apparently using it and feeding the information to Simms.”

“But how did Simms get hooked up with Stern in the first place?” Joanna asked. “We did thorough background checks on everyone we hired and there were no red flags.”

“From what we can tell, Simms was having financial problems recently and needed money fast. Stern took advantage of that,” the detective explained.

“What happens next?” Evelyn asked the detective.

“Nothing as far as you all are concerned. It’s a police matter now. I have everyone’s contact information if questions arise, but I doubt that will happen. Feel free to go on with your lives and let us take it from here.”

Sam showed the detective to the door and the group let out a collective sigh of relief.

“I’ll keep tabs on the case and keep you posted,” Leroy promised. “I’m sure you’ll be interested in the outcome.”

“Thanks Mr. Jackson,” Joanna responded. “I think we’d all appreciate that.”

“You’re quite welcome, Joanna. Evelyn, can I give you a ride home?”

“That would be lovely,” Evelyn said. “And MacGyver, I don’t want to see you at Challengers until Monday, do you hear me?”

“Yes ma’am,” Mac answered dutifully, watching his room slowly clear out. The front door clicked shut leaving only himself, Sam, and Joanna.

“I should get going, too,” Joanna declared. “It’s been a long day.”

“Are you sure you can’t stay for a while?” MacGyver asked, catching her gaze.

“No,” she replied, her eyes unreadable. “You need your rest, too.” And with that she walked out the door.

Once everyone had left, exhaustion soon overtook MacGyver. He slowly climbed the stairs and gingerly settled into bed, mindful of his injuries. As his head hit the pillow, he briefly caught the sweet scent of coconut. Of Joanna. Of course, that was impossible, but it didn’t keep him from dreaming about the soulful kiss they had shared or how it would feel if she truly laid next to him, her head resting peacefully beside his.

The next few days MacGyver gave in to his doctor’s instructions and took it easy so he would be able to return to work when the new term started on Monday. He called Lou and arranged to rent space to work on reviving the Nomad. In the meantime, the mechanic gave him a deal on a Jeep much like the one he drove before leaving L.A. with Sam. Mac had also called Jo a number of times, trying to come up with excuses to see her, but she always rebuffed him. By Sunday evening he was as surly as a bear.

“What’s with you, anyway?” Sam asked as Mac lay on the couch watching on old Western for the third time that week.

“Nothin’,” MacGyver grumbled.

“Aw, c’mon Dad, you don’t expect me to believe that. You’ve been moping around here for days. You wanna talk about it?”

Mac swung his legs off the couch and sat up, pinning Sam with his gaze. “No. I do not want to talk about it,” he replied firmly.

“So there is something bothering you,” Sam grinned triumphantly.

MacGyver leaned forward and scrubbed his hands over his face. “It’s just something a guy doesn’t talk to his kid about.”

Sam sobered and sat down next to his dad. “I’m hardly a kid, ya know?”

Mac turned his head, assessing his son’s concerned face for several minutes before releasing a heavy sigh. “It’s Joanna. I think I scared her off.”

“What did you do now?” Sam asked, sounding more like an exasperated parent than MacGyver’s son.

“In the hospital. I kissed her. Like, really kissed her.”

“Yeah, tell me about it!” Sam exclaimed.

“She told you!” Mac rounded on his son.

“She didn’t have to,” Sam responded, confusion marring his features. “I was there. The doc and nurses too. We all saw it.”

MacGyver shook his head. “You couldn’t have. We were alone.”

“Wait. You’re talking about last night, right? When you thought she was your wife.”

“No. I’m talking about this morning after my memory came back. You mean I kissed her like that twice?!”

“Way to go, Dad!” Sam held up his hand for a high-five, but MacGyver left him hanging.

“No wonder she’s avoiding me,” Mac groaned.

“You say it like kissing her was a bad thing. From where I was standing, it looked like you both enjoyed it quite a bit.”

“She probably thinks I took advantage of the situation,” MacGyver continued as if he hadn’t heard a word Sam said.

“Dad,” Sam’s voice was serious now. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe you just both finally let your defenses down at the same time and showed each other how you really feel?”

MacGyver thought back to his time with Joanna in the hospital. Make that the time he remembered with her. She had been a willing participant. He wondered what would have happened if the doctor hadn’t walked in when he did.

“So what are you going to do about it?” Sam asked, breaking into Mac’s thoughts.

“Huh?”

Sam rolled his eyes, his impatience growing. “What are you going to do about you, Jo, the kiss? If you ask me, it’s time to take it to the next level.”

Mac shot a look of astonishment at his son. “’The next level’? I’m not even sure what that is?”

“Geez, Dad, if I gotta tell you you’re in worse shape than I thought!”

MacGyver lunged to his feet as his ribs protested. “It’s not like that with Jo,” he snapped at his son. “She’s different. Special. The kind of woman a man commits to.”

“And that’s the one thing you can’t do, isn’t it Dad?”

Mac remained silent.

“What’s wrong? Are you afraid you’ll get bored and want someone else?” Sam sneered.

“I could’ve had someone else,” Mac barked. “I chose not to!”

Sam’s jaw went slack as his eyes widened. MacGyver lowered his voice.

“When I went back to L.A. I ran into an old…friend. We were going to talk about commitment, but Phoenix sent her off on an assignment before we had the chance. I hadn’t seen her since. She wanted to pick up where we left off. I didn’t.”

“Why not? What changed?”

Mac quirked an eyebrow at Sam. “You’re a smart kid. Figure it out.”

MacGyver parked his Jeep next to Joanna’s Chevy Monday morning and made his way into the school. At some point during the long night he decided it was time to put away his fears and misgivings for good and tell Jo how he felt about her. They had been dancing around each other long enough. Just when he thought she felt as he did she pulled back. Something, or someone, had to give.

He tapped lightly on her open office door.

Startled, she quickly looked up, but as soon as their eyes met, she lowered hers to stare at his chin. Seriously? Were they back to that?!

“Hey, what happened this weekend? I thought we’d spend some time together.” MacGyver tried, but failed, to hide his annoyance.

“I wasn’t feeling well,” she murmured, looking down at some papers on her desk.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Stepping further into her office he noticed she did look a bit tired and pale. A pang of concern hit him.

Her gaze snapped up and caught his, fire in her eyes.

“I suppose you want a note from my doctor, too!” she retorted.

“And what would it have said?” MacGyver countered. “That you were trying to avoid me? That you were trying to run from what happened between us at the hospital?!”

“Nothing ‘happened’,” she spat, rising so quickly her chair rolled backward of its own accord.

“Not from where I was sitting!” Mac all but yelled, his patience stretched to the limit.

Joanna spun and stared silently out the window. Had he gone too far this time? He approached her from behind and put a calming hand on her shoulder which she immediately shrugged off.

MacGyver groaned and jammed his fingers through his hair.

“Look,” he continued, more subdued. “I’ve been here a year, now. I haven’t made it a secret that I care about you. I was hoping the feeling was mutual, but I guess that was dumb on my part. Or maybe it is, but you’re just too scared to admit it.”

She slowly turned to face him. Her voice was eerily calm and sure. “That’s ironic, coming from someone with self-professed commitment issues.”

“Is that what this is about?” he roared.

“Isn’t it?!” she yelled back.

A steady pounding registered with MacGyver. He turned to find Evelyn rapping her fist loudly against the door.

“Both of you, in my office, now!”

“I’m not even going to ask what all that ruckus was about. We have a more pressing issue to attend to,” Evelyn stated.

MacGyver chanced a peek at Joanna who was glancing sideways at him, her eyes full of concern.

“What is it?” Joanna asked, her voice barely audible.

“We’ve lost our funding,” Evelyn stated succinctly. “After the debacle with Stern, Phoenix refuses to assist us and our benefactor has already reallocated his or her donation for the summer term elsewhere.”

“There has to be something we can do,” MacGyver insisted. “Apply for grants, solicit donations…”

“That takes time and manpower, Mac. Two things we don’t have,” Joanna explained, her voice stronger now.

“She’s right, MacGyver,” Evelyn concurred. “And even if we did get some funds, they could never match what we need. You saw for yourself how much it’s going to cost just to repair the gym.”

“So we just give up?” Mac’s frustration was mounting.

“No,” Evelyn replied. “We move forward and make this the best semester these kids ever had. Their success will be our legacy.”

“Then what?” he pushed.

“Then we keep moving forward to wherever life takes us.”

MacGyver gave Joanna a wide berth the rest of the day. She hadn’t appeared as surprised or upset as he thought she would, but he figured it was only a matter of time before the situation hit her full force. He planned to catch up with her after school, but he got delayed cleaning up the remnants of an experiment he had demonstrated in the science lab and by the time he returned to his office she was gone.

He found her sitting on a park bench, looking out over the frozen lagoon. The same lagoon, the same bench where he had told her about Sam and Kate months earlier. He sat down next to her, not bothering to ask for an invitation in case she would send him away.

“How are you doing?” Mac asked gently.

Joanna shrugged her shoulders, still gazing over the water.

“Everything’s gonna work out, ya know,” he tried to assure her. This time she nodded and met his eyes.

“This is probably going to sound terrible, but I’m actually relieved,” she confessed, and MacGyver could see a peacefulness in her eyes that hadn’t been there before.

“I’m starting to burn out,” she continued. “I dread going to work and yet I give it everything I have. Lately I feel like I’ve been running on empty.”

“What’ll you do when the school closes?”

“Look for another job,” she grinned slightly at the obvious answer. “Hopefully something I enjoy. I’ll be okay. I learned that nothing is guaranteed when you work for a non-profit so I’ve been preparing for this.”

MacGyver was impressed with her calmness and foresight.

“What about you?” she asked him. “Will you move back to L.A.?”

“Nope,” he answered without hesitation. “My home is here, now. I might do a little traveling, maybe spend some time with Pete to keep him out of Connie’s hair.”

“What about work?”

“I’ll fall into something eventually.”

“I hope you mean that figuratively and not literally,” Jo responded, a full smile now on her face.

“I hope so, too,” he replied with the quirky grin he reserved just for her.

She laughed and his heart warmed. He shifted on the bench so he was facing her.

“I owe you an apology for this morning. I didn’t mean to come down on you like that,” he said solemnly.

Joanna slowly shook her head. “I need to apologize, too. I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I got upset because you were right. I do care about you and that scares me. Even after what happened in the hospital, I refused to let myself believe you could feel anything more than friendship for me.”

“Why?” Mac whispered softly.

“Because that’s the way it’s always been for me. I’m always just the friend. Never anything more.”

Her eyes turned glassy with unshed tears, ripping up MacGyver’s heart. He draped his arm across the back of the bench, his thumb caressing her cheek and ready to catch her tears if they should fall.

“It doesn’t have to be like that between us,” he urged gently. “I guess neither of us has a great track record when it comes to relationships, but I’d like to try and change that.”

“And how do you plan to do that?” she asked.

“By taking Evelyn’s advice and moving forward in life…with you.”

Mac couldn’t hold himself back any longer. He lifted his hand from her face and moved it to cup the back of her head before brushing her lips with his. When he didn’t meet with any resistance, he pulled her closer and let his kiss express the feelings he couldn’t put into words. When Joanna snaked her arms around his neck, he deepened the kiss and reveled in the connection they shared. When they were mutually satisfied, he relinquished her lips, but kept her close, resting his forehead against hers.

“I promise not to run away if you don’t,” he pledged breathlessly.

“Now that’s an offer I can’t refuse,” Joanna agreed. He felt her fingers playing with the hair that brushed the nape of his neck causing a shiver to run down his spine and lowered his head to kiss her one more time.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

With the school closing its doors in a few months, Joanna felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She had a lot less administrative work to wade through and spent more time with the students in the learning center or recreation room. In addition, the assurance that MacGyver was willing to try and build a relationship with her buoyed her spirits. After they had given voice to their feelings for one another, Joanna was secretly concerned that the dynamics of their relationship would change. She soon learned the only thing that had changed was her fear of MacGyver rejecting her. He had made it clear that he would never simply walk out on her and she believed him, knowing him to be a man of his word. For the first time in a long time, Joanna felt hopeful and, dare she say, happy. There was more to her life now than work. A different reason to get up in the morning. She was on her way back to her office for lunch when MacGyver caught up with her.

“Got a sec?” he asked.

“Yeah, come on in. What’s up?”

“Sam pointed out that Valentine’s Day is next week. He wants to take us out to dinner this weekend to celebrate.”

Before Joanna could respond, Mac held up his hand to stop her.

“I already explained to Sam that you and I are taking things slow, so I don’t think it’s as much about the holiday as it is about him.”

“What do you mean?”

MacGyver sighed. “I think he wants to tell us he’s leaving.”

“How do you feel about that?” Jo asked softly.

“I knew it would happen sooner or later. At least I’m more prepared for it this time,” he smiled ruefully.

Saturday evening Joanna met MacGyver and Sam at an upscale restaurant in downtown Milwaukee. Both men were dressed in suits and collarless shirts and Jo could have sworn that Mac’s hair looked shorter…his bangs no longer meeting his eyebrows and the back of his hair only slightly brushing the collar of his coat. He looked good. But, then again, when didn’t he? It still awed her that a man as kind and attractive as Mac would choose to be with her and her alone. Once they had been seated and the server took their order, MacGyver leaned back in his chair and addressed his son.

“Okay, to what do we owe the pleasure of this expensive meal? And don’t tell me it’s for Valentine’s Day.”

“You think you know me so well?” Sam scoffed playfully.

MacGyver quirked a brow and Sam flushed.

“Okay, you’re right. That was just an excuse. I asked you both here because I have something to tell you and I want to do it right this time.”

Mac and Jo exchanged knowing glances as Sam continued.

“I’ve been hired by a British news agency. I’ll be based in England but will still do a lot of extensive travelling. I would have told you sooner, but I just found out for sure a few days ago.”

“Congratulations, Sam. I’m really proud of you,” MacGyver praised his son. “And your mom would be proud of you too.”

“Congratulations,” Joanna echoed. “You must be really excited.”

“I am,” Sam agreed enthusiastically. “And I’m glad I got to see you guys wake up and get together before I have to leave.”

“When do you have to go?” Mac asked.

“They didn’t give me much notice, Dad. I have to be there the first week of March, but this could really be a big break for my career.”

“I know that, Sam, and I understand. Just make sure you do a better job of keeping in touch this time!”

“I promise,” Sam laughed.

The next hour passed quickly, filled with happy conversation and playful teasing. Joanna had been afraid of feeling like a third wheel, but Sam and Mac made her feel as if she belonged. And maybe she did.

After the trio finished dessert, Sam dug in his coat pocket and produced a small box wrapped in silver paper tied with a light blue ribbon.

“I have a present for you,” Sam announced, pushing the gift so it sat between his dad and Joanna. “Actually, it’s for all three of us, but I want you to open it.”

MacGyver indicated that Joanna should do the honors, so she carefully unwrapped and opened the box. Inside lay a gold engraved coin cut into three distinct pieces, each with a bale so it could be worn on a chain. Joanna turned the package towards Mac so he could see it as she read the inscription.

“’The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another’”.

“That’s the Mizpah. From the Book of Genesis in the Bible,” Mac explained.

“I know,” Jo responded, a look of confusion on her face as she turned to Sam. “This is usually only cut in half for two people to exchange to signify a bond between them. You and your dad should share this.”

“No,” Sam shook his head adamantly. “I had it specially made because you’re the closest thing to family Dad and I have. Besides, since neither one of you is in a hurry to make it official, I figured this was the next best thing.”

“Oh Sam, that was so thoughtful. I’ll wear it every day,” Joanna promised, her heart swelling with affection for the young man and his father who had encouraged her to open her heart to them as they all moved forward in their lives.

*****Keep an eye out for the next chapter which features a very special guest!!!

















Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 March 2019 - 02:57 PM
Gosh! I love going back to these old chapters!! I started proofreading it at work but then got busy and could hardly wait to get home to find out what happened! I remembered bits and pieces, but honestly forgot some stuff!!

Posted by: Dragondog 6 March 2019 - 07:35 PM
Nooo Challengers is closing? sad.gif Oh well, it'll be interesting to see where this goes happy.gif

QUOTE
As his head hit the pillow, he briefly caught the sweet scent of coconut. Of Joanna. Of course, that was impossible
Is that from when Joanna slept in his bed?

Okay, I gotta get this of my chest. It says that MacGyver spent "the next few days" taking it easy, but then he talks to Sam like it's the same day he got out of the hospital? huh.gif

QUOTE
"What did you do now?” Sam asked, sounding more like an exasperated parent than MacGyver’s son.
I half-expected Mac to turn and be like, "I don't make a habit of messing up my relationships you know!" roller.gif

QUOTE
“Way to go, Dad!” Sam held up his hand for a high-five, but MacGyver left him hanging.
The only thing more entertaining than watching JoGyver is watching Sam watch JoGyver laugh.gif

QUOTE
“So what are you going to do about it?” Sam asked, breaking into Mac’s thoughts.
Sorry, but being a How to Train Your Dragon fan, I cannot read that without hearing it is Astrid's voice XD

QUOTE
The kind of woman a man commits to.”“And that’s the one thing you can’t do, isn’t it Dad?”
Ow blink.gif

QUOTE
“What’s wrong? Are you afraid you’ll get bored and want someone else?” Sam sneered.
I feel like Sam still has that pain hidden underneath his surface, and it may never go away completely sad.gif

QUOTE
They had been dancing around each other long enough. Just when he thought she felt as he did she pulled back. Something, or someone, had to give.
No kidding!

QUOTE
“That’s ironic, coming from someone with self-professed commitment issues.”
Alternate name for this chapter: "In Which Everyone Slams Mac For His Commitment Issues".

QUOTE
A steady pounding registered with MacGyver. He turned to find Evelyn rapping her fist loudly against the door.“Both of you, in my office, now!”
Oh, hi Evelyn. That got awkward fast... unsure.gif

QUOTE
“Because that’s the way it’s always been for me. I’m always just the friend. Never anything more.”Her eyes turned glassy with unshed tears, ripping up MacGyver’s heart. He draped his arm across the back of the bench, his thumb caressing her cheek and ready to catch her tears if they should fall.
Welp, there goes my heart again...

QUOTE
When Joanna snaked her arms around his neck,
My dumb self misread that as "smacked" and I was gonna say, "That went south fast" XD

QUOTE
“And I’m glad I got to see you guys wake up and get together before I have to leave.”
This is comical, but I can't help but wonder if that's a big part of the reason Sam was shipping them so aggressively hmm.bmp

QUOTE
Inside lay a gold engraved coin cut into three distinct pieces
Aw, I can tell where this is going w00t.gif

QUOTE
I had it specially made because you’re the closest thing to family Dad and I have.
*tears of joy*

Posted by: uniquelyjas 7 March 2019 - 06:28 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 6 March 2019 - 07:35 PM)

QUOTE
As his head hit the pillow, he briefly caught the sweet scent of coconut. Of Joanna. Of course, that was impossible
Is that from when Joanna slept in his bed?

Okay, I gotta get this of my chest. It says that MacGyver spent "the next few days" taking it easy, but then he talks to Sam like it's the same day he got out of the hospital? huh.gif


Aha...You're right! No matter how many times I proofread these chapters I find typos/continuity errors:( I think there might be one in the next chapter too:( If I ever decide to stop writing new chapters I hope I will still be motivated to come back and really clean up the whole thing!!

Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 March 2019 - 08:02 AM
Chapter 30: Into the Past

MacGyver glanced at the calendar hanging on his office wall as he prepared to leave for the day. He couldn’t believe Sam had been gone for a month already and that Challengers Academy would be closing its doors for good in another sixty days. As promised, Joanna wore her third of the Mizpah coin on a dainty gold chain every day. Mac had put his on a long, thin leather cord and wore it tucked into his shirt. He rarely removed it as well. On his way out, he peeked into Jo’s empty office. Ironically, since they had decided to give a more-than-just-friends relationship between them a try they had seen less and less of each other. At least now he could take comfort in the fact that Joanna wasn’t purposely avoiding him, she was just busy, as was he. With the closing of the school imminent, they both wanted to spend as much time with the students as possible. In the evenings, Mac still coached the hockey team. Even though it would dissolve at the end of the school year, the kids had asked that he keep working with them. He figured this kept them off the streets and out of trouble. Joanna had stopped by a few times to watch from the stands, but there was no chance for any quality time with her in front of several pairs of curious, teenage eyes.

Mac was unlocking the door to his duplex when he saw Charlie, his landlord and neighbor, heading toward him.

“Hey Charlie, how’s it goin’?” MacGyver greeted him with a friendly smile.

“Oh, I can’t complain, son. Can’t complain,” Charlie replied in his usual jovial tone. “A registered letter came for you in the mail today. Hope you don’t mind, but I signed for it. Figured it had to be pretty important.”

“Thanks, Charlie,” Mac said as he opened his door and took the letter from his landlord. The front of the envelope was scribbled with crossed out addresses and forwarding requests. He saw it had originally been sent to the marina in L.A. where he had kept his houseboat. That had been ages ago.

MacGyver tossed his keys on the kitchen counter, tore into the envelope, and quickly scanned the neatly typed missive. It was a note regarding his late grandpa’s will. There had been an unforeseen development that required Mac’s attention. His brow furrowed as he wondered what it could be. Harry had died several years ago and MacGyver assumed everything had been settled.

Shrugging out of his leather bomber jacket, Mac grabbed the phone and punched in the numbers for Wilton Newberry, attorney at law. The receptionist informed him that Mr. Newberry was gone for the day but had left explicit instructions to schedule a meeting with MacGyver. The following week was spring break so Mac could make the trip home and not miss any work. He set a day and time to meet with the lawyer and clicked off the call. He hadn’t planned on going anywhere over spring break, hoping instead to spend some one-on-one time with Joanna. Just as his disappointment started to build he got an idea.

The next morning MacGyver got to work extra early and was already at his computer when he heard Joanna arrive. He gave her a few minutes to get settled before he went and tapped on her office door.

“Hi Mac,” she greeted him with a happy, unguarded smile. She shuffled through papers on her desk as he sat in a chair across from her.

“I was wondering if you had any plans for next week.”

“Nope,” she replied without missing a beat. “Not unless you count sleeping as ‘plans.’”

“Oh,” MacGyver responded, unable to hide his disappointment.

“Why?”

“I need to go back to my home town next week to take care of something and I thought you might like to come along.” What he didn’t say was that he had been living in Joanna’s world for over a year now and really wanted her to see what had once been his world, his friends, his hangouts. Would she feel as comfortable there as he felt in Milwaukee, or would she be out of place in the northern Minnesota town? It really didn’t matter since he never planned to return there permanently, but it was suddenly important for him to share this part of his life with her.

Mac could practically see the wheels in her head spin as she weighed the pros and cons of his invitation before making a decision.

“I’d love to go,” she finally answered with conviction. “I wanna see where you grew up.” She smiled slyly and MacGyver already had visions of her huddled with his long-time friends as they spun stories about the past…and him. Perhaps he should have thought this through a bit more, but there was no going back now.

It was mid-afternoon on Monday when MacGyver guided his Jeep through the clean, tree-lined streets of Mission City, Minnesota and parked in front of the converted home that served as the law offices of Wilton Newberry. He was reminded of five years ago or so when he came to the same building to receive the codicil to his grandfather’s will that bequeathed him the Nomad. He felt a pang of guilt that he had not had the time to begin restoring the classic car, but that could wait until school let out.

MacGyver looked over at Joanna. It had been a long drive and she had eventually dozed off. He gently shook her shoulder to rouse her.

“Are we there?” she asked, a bit disoriented from sleep.

“Yep,” Mac replied. “And just in time for my appointment with the lawyer.”

Together they entered the building and were shown into Mr. Newberry’s office. The dark-haired, bow-tie-wearing man was shorter than MacGyver and appeared slightly nervous. His office was neat and well-kept. After exchanging greetings they all took a seat.

“Am I to assume we have a Mrs. MacGyver here?” Newberry asked, folding his hands on top of his desk.

“Um, no. She’s just a friend,” Mac responded, hating to down-play their relationship yet not knowing quite how to explain it.

“And do we have a first name for you yet?”

“Nope. Still just ‘MacGyver’,” he said with a crooked smile.
“Well, then. Let’s get down to business, shall we?” Mr. Newberry opened a file, skimming its contents as Joanna and MacGyver exchanged curiously amused glances.

“You may or may not be aware,” the attorney began, “that Harry Jackson, you’re grandfather, owned a small cabin up on Bell Lake that he willed to his friend Stanley Hubbard.”

MacGyver had forgotten about that cabin but nodded his head in response.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Hubbard passed away a few months back. According to Harry’s will, the cabin and property now revert back to you, Mr. MacGyver.”

Newberry then pulled out several legal documents and began instructing Mac where to sign and date each form. MacGyver complied though he was still processing the fact that he was now a landowner…no matter how small the piece of land. As he signed his name here, and put the current date there, Mac began to remember images of the cabin from when he was young and soon became eager to get out and explore the old place. Once the paperwork was satisfactorily completed, Mr. Newberry held out a key to MacGyver.

“Here you are, Mr. MacGyver. You are now the official owner to do with the land and property as you see fit.”

“Thank you,” Mac nodded with a smile as he took the key. “Do you mind me asking how Stanley Hubbard died?”

Mr. Newberry leaned back in his chair with a sigh. “It was a sad thing, really. It appears he went out in a snowstorm to gather more logs for the fireplace when he had a heart attack and collapsed. By the time he was found, the authorities could not determine whether he died from the attack or frost bite.”

“I’m sorry,” Mac offered, not knowing what else to say.

“Yes, well,” Mr. Newberry glanced at the clock. “I do not wish to be inhospitable, but it is two minutes past closing time. You’re Grandpa Harry valued punctuality and he would not want me keeping you from getting settled in, so if you don’t have any questions I’ll let you be on your way.”

“Mr. Newberry is quite an interesting fella,” Joanna observed when the couple returned to the Jeep. “I’m guessing your grandfather was, too.”

“You could say that,” Mac replied as fond memories of Harry surfaced in his mind’s eye. He glanced at the sky and then at his watch. “It’s getting late. How about we grab a bite to eat and then check into the motel?”

“Aren’t you anxious to see the cabin?” Jo asked, unable to mask the eagerness in her own voice. “We could stay there instead of waste money on two motel rooms,” she suggested.

MacGyver’s eyebrows shot up at her proposal. “I have to warn you, the cabin is a lot more rustic than what you’re used to.”

“How rustic is it?” she asked warily.

“If I remember correctly it has indoor plumbing and electricity, but that’s about the extent of its luxuries.”

“Sounds good to me,” she smiled back at him as if issuing a dare.

After supper at a local café, MacGyver drove north to the cabin. He turned off the paved highway onto a narrow, rutted dirt road that had turned to mud with the spring thaw. A couple miles later he pulled up to a dilapidated log home and turned off the engine.

“Here we are,” he announced, as Jo stared out the windshield studying the structure.

“There’s still time to go back,” he told her.

“No.” She set her chin and climbed out of the vehicle. Mac shrugged and followed after her.

“The place is probably pretty dirty,” he warned as he slid the key into the lock. The door swung inward and Mac felt along the wall until he found the light switch connected to a dim bulb. MacGyver’s jaw dropped and he felt Joanna push past him to get a better view.

“This is your idea of dirty?” she asked him.

The pair stood and took in the large room that made up Harry’s cabin. Though the furnishings were decades old, tattered and worn, there was not a speck of dust or hint of cobweb to be found.

“I guess someone’s been looking after the place,” MacGyver muttered as he made his way around the room, turning on lights. Long-forgotten memories slammed to the forefront of his mind as he took in the space. Next to the door was a small kitchen area with a table, sink, refrigerator, and electric stove top. In the middle of the room sat a pair of threadbare recliners, a crooked coffee table and an old television behind which was an old stone fireplace. The far wall was occupied with a well-worn wood desk with a double bed on one side and a narrow cot on the other. A door at the foot of the cot led to the bathroom.

“Are you sure you want to stay here?” Mac asked Jo one last time. He was trying to give her an out.

“Would you stay here if you had come alone?” she caught and held his gaze.

“Yeah, sure,” he admitted. “But—“

“’But’ nothing! If it’s good enough for you it’s good enough for me. I’m not some prissy city girl who’s afraid of breaking a nail you know?”

“I never said that,” MacGyver defended himself.

“You didn’t have to.”

“I don’t suppose you brought any hiking boots with you?”

Joanna looked down at her feet with a frown. Mac’s heart twisted. She was doing her best to fit into his world and he had pushed too far. He crossed the room, tucked a finger under her chin and raised her head so he could once again see her eyes.

“No problem,” he assured her. “We’ll go into town tomorrow and pick up supplies,” he promised.

That night, MacGyver insisted that Joanna take the bed and he would sleep on the cot. He offered to rig up a line and hang a blanket over for some privacy, but he had already decided to sleep in his clothes and Joanna contended that flannel lounge pants and an oversized sweatshirt were less attractive than jeans and a t-shirt so there was no need for him to bother with a ‘wall’. How could she still not realize that it was her he found attractive? That she could entice him wearing a burlap sack! Mac watched as she crawled under the covers and curled into a ball. He groaned and rolled on his side to face the wall vowing that tomorrow the blanket would go up.

They drove into town early the next morning to grab a bite to eat before heading to the sporting goods store that was owned by Chuck, MacGyver’s childhood friend. As luck would have it, his other long-time friend and police sergeant Neil Ryder was also there. The men embraced upon seeing each other before Mac introduced them to Joanna. They all shook hands and exchanged pleasant greetings.

“I never thought I’d see the day when MacGyver settled down,” Chuck quipped.

“So, what brings you to town?” Neil asked, saving Mac from having to respond to Chuck.

“My Grandpa Harry, actually. I sorta just inherited his old cabin up on the lake. We’re staying up there for a few days and need some supplies.”

“That place must be a mess,” Neil said. “Can’t believe you guys are actually staying there.”

“Actually it was surprising clean,” Mac replied. “Any idea who might be looking after it?”

Both men shook their heads and let the subject drop.

Chuck helped Joanna pick out a pair of hiking boots, a couple flannel shirts and an all-weather jacket. Once Mac was satisfied she had everything she needed they headed to the grocery store and stocked up on convenient foods that could be easily prepared in the cabin’s basic kitchen.

“Do you mind if we drive around a little before we head back?” MacGyver asked.

“Of course not!” she exclaimed. “That’s what I came for. Give me the grand tour of Mission City!”

The first place Mac showed her was his old neighborhood and the house he grew up in. For the first time, he noticed how similar it was to the area of Milwaukee where he now lived: The middle-class homes, neat lawns, and tree-lined streets. No wonder he chose to move there instead of returning to Los Angeles. They proceeded to drive by the large high school he had attended, the ice rink where he had played hockey, and several other places that held fond memories for him before returning to the downtown street that housed Chuck’s store as well as many others.

“Well, what do you think of my hometown?”

“I’m impressed,” she told him. “The way you always talk about it I was expecting something a lot smaller and backward. This is a nice little city. I can see why you liked growing up here.”

“Thanks,” Mac said, delighted by her response. “What do you say we head back and try out those new hiking boots of yours?”

MacGyver unlocked the cabin door, crossed the threshold and tossed his keys on the kitchen table. It was then that he saw a blank white envelope next to where his keys had landed. He stopped so abruptly that Joanna bumped into his back.

“Mac…” she began to whine until her gaze followed his.

“Please tell me you put that there,” he said quietly.

“I’d love to, but I didn’t,” she responded softly. “Was it there when we left this morning?”

“Nope,” Mac answered as he slowly approached the table.

“That means someone broke in here after we left?” she asked, a couple paces behind him.

“Yep,” He responded.

MacGyver reached for the envelope and opened it carefully. His pulse kicked into overdrive as he read the short, handwritten note.

Welcome Home, MacGyver

I knew you couldn’t stay away. I do hope you are enjoying your late grandfather’s cabin. I fixed it up especially for you and your lovely guest. Please don’t plan on leaving anytime soon…if ever.

M~

The blood drained from MacGyver’s face. Murdoc.

“Mac, what is it? What does it say?” Joanna asked anxiously. “You look as if you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“I think I have,” he replied ominously.

Joanna. He had to keep her safe and away from this madman.

“Stand against the wall and don’t move until I tell you,” he commanded. She arched an eyebrow in displeasure at being told what to do but quietly obeyed.

MacGyver spent the next several minutes combing the cabin for any sign of a booby trap, bomb, or some other device Murdoc may have cooked up. He found nothing.

“Okay, it’s all clear,” he announced, breathing a sigh of relief.

“Do you mind telling me what’s going on?” Joanna asked indignantly.

Mac motioned for her to have a seat at the kitchen table as he sat down across from her, stabbing his fingers through his hair before beginning the story he had hoped to never tell again.

“There’s this guy named Murdoc. He’s tried to kill me on several occasions. Sometimes as an assignment, sometimes for revenge. He always makes some sort of game out of it, and he uses people I care about to get to me. I can’t believe he’s back.” At this point MacGyver looked into Joanna’s eyes, willing her to understand the danger he had unwittingly put her in.

“And no one’s ever caught him?” she asked.

“No. What’s worse is that he should have died several times over, but he somehow always survives even the most horrific events. He’s like a cat with nine lives.”

“So how many lives has he used up?”

“At last count I think it was five, but I could be wrong,” Mac replied.

“This is crazy, Mac. I think you’re jumping to conclusions. How do you know for sure it was Murdoc who wrote that note?”

“It was him,” MacGyver growled, his jaw clenched.

“But you’re two thousand miles from Los Angeles! How on earth did he find you? Do you think he tracked your cell phone like Stern?”

Mac shook his head. “No. That would be too easy. Murdoc likes a challenge.”

“Well, if he is here, what do we do next?” Joanna asked.

“We don’t do anything. You are going home and I’ll stay and deal with Murdoc.”

“No way,” Jo rebutted. “I’m not leaving you alone out here. We can at least go tell Neil what’s going on and let the police handle this.”

“No! This is between me and Murdoc. I don’t want anyone else getting involved,” MacGyver insisted gruffly.

“You’re being irrational,” Joanna huffed.

Mac reached across the table and took her hand in his. “Maybe I am, that’s all the more reason for you to leave. Now. Please at least go back to town. I’ll meet you there as soon as I can.”

After what seemed like an eternity, Joanna finally relented.

“Fine. I’ll go back to town.” She squeezed his hand before releasing it and heading for the door. Mac tossed her the car keys and followed her outside.

“Just stay on the dirt road until you run into the highway and then head south. And don’t stop for anyone or anything, do you hear me? Do. Not. Stop.”

“I hear you,” she mumbled as she got into the Jeep and reached out to put the key in the ignition.

“Don’t move!” Mac suddenly commanded.

“Why?”

“Didn’t you hear that ‘click’ when you sat down?”

Jo shook her head. “What’s going on Mac? You’re scaring me!”

“It’s about time,” he muttered, as he lowered himself to the ground and cautiously looked under the driver’s seat. Just what he thought. A bomb. Murdoc had rigged the Jeep while they were inside. His nemesis had been yards away, but Mac had been too distracted by Joanna to notice. All the more reason she had to leave once he kept them from getting blown to smithereens.

“Mac, what’s going on?” Joanna moved and the seat wiggled.

“Don’t move,” he said again, trying to stay calm. “There’s a bomb under your seat. Your body weight activated it. If you move or get up it’ll blow. Just sit still.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Diffuse it.” What choice did he have?

MacGyver pulled out his Swiss army knife and moved closer for a better look. The bomb was simple. All he had to do was snip a couple of wires and they were home free. Or were they? Was the bomb only meant to look simple, forcing him to cut the wrong wires? Did Murdoc plan on him overthinking this? Or not thinking enough?

“How’s it goin’ down there,” Joanna called. He admired her bravado, but he also heard the crack in her voice.

“Fine. Just stay put.” Perspiration beaded on his forehead. He had to make a decision. Trust his gut. Ever so slowly he reached out and snipped one wire and then another. He waited for a deafening explosion that didn’t come. Instead, the little red light that indicated the bomb had been activated went dark. He let go of the breath he’d been holding and stood up.

“You can get out now,” he offered his hand to Jo and she grasped it as she tumbled out of the Jeep and into his waiting arms. He hugged her tightly and kissed the top of her head, never wanting to let her go. Suddenly he was aware of pressure on his chest as Joanna pushed away from him.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“You’re squishing me!”

Mac’s lips turned up in half a smile as he released his hold on her.

“You gonna be okay?” he asked, not trying to hide the concern.

“Yeah, I’m good,” Jo replied, though her voice shook a bit.

“Go in the cabin and relax while I take care of this,” Mac replied, gesturing toward the Jeep with his chin.

Once Joanna had gone inside, MacGyver went about removing the bomb from the seat of the car before dismantling it and destroying its components. When he entered he cabin, he found Joanna sitting at the kitchen table, a glass of water in front of her. He sat down across from her once more.

“Will you please pack some things and stay at a motel in town tonight?”

Joanna nodded wearily and got up to gather some necessities.

The sun was setting as MacGyver slid the key into the lock that opened the door of the motel room he had rented for Joanna. He ushered her into the room and did a quick walk-through to be on the safe side.

“I wish you’d stay in town, too.”

Mac sighed. “I’m not gonna run from Murdoc.”

“What do you plan to do?”

“I don’t know yet, but I’ll think of something. I always do,” he grinned. After kissing her forehead and making her promise to stay locked in the room and not open the door for anyone but him, he drove back to the cabin.

Darkness had fallen as MacGyver pulled out various pots and pans from the kitchen cabinets and tied them to lengths of fishing line. He then went outside and strung the lines between the trees surrounding the cabin, covering the pots with twigs and brush. It was probably the world’s oldest burglar alarm, but it could still be effective. Once he secured the perimeter, he went inside, plopped down in one of the old recliners, turned on the TV, keeping the volume low, and waited.

Mac awoke with a start. He instinctively listened for the clatter of his booby trap but heard nothing. It took him a minute to notice that the TV was blank and the room dark. The power had gone out…or someone had cut it. After giving his eyes time to adjust to the blackness that surrounded him, Mac did a slow visual survey of the room to ensure he was alone. Once convinced there was no one else in the cabin, he felt his way to the kitchen drawer and grabbed a flashlight but did not turn it on. Not yet. He stepped outside and made his way around the cabin, keeping his back against the roughhewn logs. After finding nothing suspicious, he inspected his ‘burglar alarms’ which appeared to be undisturbed. Perhaps he had just blown a fuse and the sudden silence from the TV had woken him. Feeling more confident, he flicked on the flashlight to check his Jeep, just to be sure. His stomach dropped to his boots when he saw a plain white envelope tucked under one of the windshield wipers. MacGyver gingerly removed and opened the envelope. There was no note this time. Only a small, gold charm. The middle third of a Mizpah coin. Joanna’s!

MacGyver forced himself to take slow, calming breaths. He needed to stay rational. Think this through. Otherwise he could get both of them killed. He hurried back into the cabin and put the charm on the kitchen table as he tugged his own piece from around his neck. He laid them side-by-side. They didn’t fit. Mac sighed with relief. He remembered Sam saying he had the charms specially made. There was no way Murdoc could exactly replicate the zig-zag cut. Nevertheless, he had to get to Jo and see with his own eyes that she was safe. He grabbed his keys and approached the Jeep only to find that all four tires had been slashed. Terrific. Back inside the cabin he pulled out his cell phone and called Joanna’s motel room. The phone rang several times, his heart rate increasing with each one, before he heard a clang, a thud, and finally a mild curse.

“Hello?” Joanna muttered, clearly annoyed.

“It’s me. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“By calling in the middle of the night and scaring me half to death?”

“Sorry,” he apologized.

“Mac, did something happen?”

If he told her the truth she would only worry and possibly try to come to him. He had to keep her calm and safe.

“No. Everything’s fine. I just…missed you,” he pinched the bridge his noise as he offered the lame excuse.

“You could have waited and told me that in the morning.”

“Yeah. I didn’t mean to scare you. Go back to sleep and I’ll see you soon.” He clicked off the call and returned to the old recliner, but sleep was no longer an option.

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Joanna awoke to bright sunlight seeping in around the window shade. She had been unable to go back to sleep after MacGyver’s phone call, but she must have dozed off before sunrise. She pushed back the bedcovers and started toward the bathroom when she noticed an envelope that must have been slipped under her door during the night. Her entire body tingled with fear as she gingerly picked up and opened the envelope. She was unprepared to catch the gold charm that fell out and landed silently on the carpet at her feet. She searched the envelope for a note but found none before picking up the charm. She knew what it was even before she looked at it. MacGyver’s piece of the Mizpah. This had to have come from Murdoc. He had Mac!

As Joanna’s panic rose, she unwittingly grasped the charm that hung around her neck. She had to stay calm if she was going to be of any help to MacGyver. She had to let go of the fear, take a step back, and think like Mac. With shaking hands she unclasped the gold chain and laid her pendant on the nightstand, placing the one from the envelope next to it. Her pent up breath came out in a rush when she realized the pieces did not fit. She reached for the phone and punched in the numbers she had memorized long ago. Her heart fell when a recording stated that the cellular customer was out of range. Not knowing what else to do, she disobeyed Mac’s instructions and dialed 911. When the operated answered, Joanna asked to be connected with Sgt. Ryder. He agreed to meet her at the motel in twenty minutes.

Neil Ryder knocked on her motel room door just as she finished tying the laces on her new hiking boots. She peeked around the window shade to see his squad car parked nearby and checked the peep hole to make sure it was, indeed, Mac’s old friend before she opened the door and invited him to have a seat at a small, round table.

“I know how insane this sounds,” Joanna assured the sergeant after she told him everything she knew about MacGyver and Murdoc. “But I wouldn’t have called if I didn’t believe it was true.”

Ryder studied his hands before responding. “Mac always did have a way of finding trouble. Or should I say trouble had a way of finding him? I’ll take a couple officers up to the cabin and check things out.” He rose and headed for the door.

“I’m coming with you,” Joanna announced determinedly.

“I wouldn’t expect anything less from a friend of Mac’s,” Neil smiled as they exited the motel room.

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This was going to end, and it was going to end today. Murdoc was on MacGyver’s turf now. The tables had turned. Mac had the advantage and he needed to put it to use. As soon as the sun had cleared the horizon, MacGyver set out on a systematic search. If Murdoc was hiding in the woods that surrounded the cabin, Mac would find him. Ground still wet from the melting snow made it easy for MacGyver to pick up and follow boot tracks that were not his own. Tracks that had stepped over the fishing lines he had rigged. Every now and then he stopped to examine the bent or broken twigs of bushes and trees. He listened carefully to the forest life around him. Silence. That was a bad sign. No whistling birds or chattering squirrels meant something, or someone, had disturbed their habitat.

As MacGyver went further into the woods, he found an area of depressed weeds and grass along with a stone ring and burnt logs indicating a recent campfire. Careful to avoid the poison ivy that grew in the area, Mac searched carefully for further evidence and soon found tire tracks that looked as if they belonged to an ATV. He followed those tracks and soon found a pile of dead tree limbs and shrubs covering the vehicle. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Murdoc. MacGyver began to carefully retrace his steps back to the cabin when he felt a tingle crawl up his spine. No sooner had he stopped to look for an intruder than he heard the cock of a gun hammer behind him.

“Good morning, MacGyver,” a menacing voice greeted him. “I see you are out enjoying the day.”

Mac slowly raised his hands in surrender before turning to look down the barrel of the handgun Murdoc had pointed at his chest.

“Finally, after all these years, you are going to die today.”

“Aw, c’mon Murdoc, this isn’t your style. Shooting an unarmed man in cold blood? Where’s the challenge in that? Have you lost your edge?”

After a moment’s consideration, Murdoc reached behind his back and pulled a second handgun from his waistband and tossed it at MacGyver’s feet.

“There you go. Now we’re even.”

Mac stared down at the weapon.

“Go ahead, pick it up MacGyver,” Murdoc teased.

“You know that’s not my way,” Mac said evenly as he kicked the gun under a bush.

“In that case, any last words?”

“Yeah. How did you find me?”

“I didn’t find you, MacGyver. You found me,” Murdoc explained slowly as if speaking to a child. “You see, I know how much you value family and knew you would come back to your grandfather’s cabin if given the chance. It didn’t take much to lure old Stanley outside. Poor fellow had a weak heart. I’m afraid I gave him a bit of a scare and well, the rest is history as they say. I just had to wait for you to walk into my trap. I must admit I wasn’t counting on you bringing a friend, but no matter. It’s you I want. Not her.”

Relief washed over MacGyver knowing that Joanna would be safe from this mad man. If nothing else, Murdoc was a man of his word.

“Now, are you ready to die, MacGyver? Just think, I will be the last person you ever see!” Murdoc let go with an evil laugh and began to slowly squeeze the trigger when he suddenly began wheezing and gasping for breath. Murdoc dropped the gun, causing it to discharge a bullet harmlessly into a nearby tree as he grasped his throat, struggling for air. His face, which had been flushed, turned a deathly shade of pale as he dropped to his knees, his eyes wide with fear.

MacGyver rushed over to the man who had now toppled to the ground. Mac felt for a pulse, finding it weak and rapid. Murdoc’s arms were covered with welts.

“Help,” Murdoc rasped. “Allergic.”

Mac knelt close to his would-be foe. “Stay with me, Murdoc,” he commanded as he loosened the buttons of the man’s shirt. “What are you allergic to?”

“Ivy.” Murdoc’s whisper was barely audible.

“You’re allergic to poison ivy? Do you have an Epi-pen?”

The distressed man slowly turned his head from side to side. “No ivy in L.A.”

“Stay calm. I’m calling for help. You’re gonna be okay.” Mac pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911 giving them directions to their position the best he could.

“The paramedics are on their way. Stay with me,” he told Murdoc as he watched the life slip from the man who had escaped the most unimaginable, life-threatening situations time and again but was now felled by something as mundane as a wild plant.


Joanna, Neil and two of his officers were examining Mac’s Jeep when they heard the echo of a gunshot in the woods behind them. The men took off running with Joanna close on their heels. MacGyver never used a gun. That had to be Murdoc! The group slowed up when they neared the area where the shot had sounded. Sergeant Ryder silently motioned for his men to spread out and for Joanna to stay hidden behind a tree. The officers finally came upon a clearing and found MacGyver kneeling next to a prone figure, his head bowed.

“Mac!” Neil called to him.

MacGyver turned his head toward the voice and locked eyes with Joanna.

“He’s dead,” Mac said flatly, turning back to body.

“I’ll radio for help,” Neil said.

“I already called. They’re on the way,” MacGyver said as lifeless as the man that lay on the ground.

“What happened?” Neil asked, bending down on one knee next to Mac.

“He’s been camping out here and got into some poison ivy. He’s allergic and went into anaphylactic shock. He didn’t have an Epi-pen. I couldn’t save him.” His voice was monotone. He was grieving because he had failed to save the life of a man who had lived to take his.

Soon the quiet area swarmed with paramedics and more police officers. Evidence was collected and Murdoc was pronounced dead at the scene after life-saving treatment failed. Back at the cabin, his body, now in a black bag, was hoisted into the back of an ambulance. After Mac patiently described the events of the last twelve hours and answered numerous questions from a police officer, Neil ushered him and Jo into his vehicle and headed toward town.

“My Jeep,” Mac said weakly.

“I’ve already called for a tow,” Ryder told him. “Should be able to drive it back by the time we’re done at the station.”

Once at the precinct, Joanna and MacGyver were led to separate interrogation rooms to retell their stories and sign off on their statements. After the paperwork had been taken care of, they were reunited in the lobby.

“You guys on your way out?” Neil asked, slapping Mac on the back.

They both nodded before MacGyver turned to his friend.

“Could I ask you for a favor?”

“Sure thing. What do you need?”

“I need to see Murdoc one last time.”

“C’mon Mac,” Neil scolded. “Don’t do this to yourself.”

MacGyver stared at the sergeant until he gave in. Joanna followed them to the morgue where the coroner was in the process of examining the corpse. Neil and Jo stood in the doorway as Mac entered and approached the doctor who glanced up at him in surprise.

“Sorry,” Mac offered. “I just had to see for myself that he is really dead.”

“Oh, he’s dead all right. X-rays look like this guy’s been through a trash compactor more than once. Hard to believe someone could survive these injuries and then die of an allergic reaction to a weed.”

“Yeah,” MacGyver mumbled.

“Did he have a family?”

Mac shook his head. “Just a sister in Los Angeles. But she died in an avalanche several years ago.”

“You tell the cops?”

“Yeah. I gave them all the information I had.”

“Well, I guess that’s it. Unless you want to hang around and help me load him into the cooler.”

“Thanks for your time, doc,” Mac said as he turned to leave the room.

Joanna and MacGyver left the building to find Mac’s Jeep waiting for him with four brand new tires.

“Want me to drive?” Jo asked, taking in MacGyver’s pale face and weary eyes.

“I’m good,” Mac replied. He started the Jeep and put it in gear, but he took one last look at the building that housed Murdoc’s dead body before pulling away from the curb.

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The following morning found MacGyver sitting on the hood of his Jeep, watching the sunrise through the budding trees. Upon returning to the cabin yesterday, he found the electric company had already repaired the cut lines. Joanna fixed a light meal for them while he collected the booby traps he had set so no animal or unsuspecting hiker would get caught in them. They both went to bed soon after, neither one feeling much like making conversation or watching some insipid television program. Mac slept well and awoke early. Hearing the soft snores of a still-sleeping Joanna coming from the other side of the blanket barrier, he took care to sneak out of the cabin and not wake her. He now heard the squeak of the door opening and her soft footsteps heading in his direction. She scooted unto the hood of the Jeep and sat next to him, staring out at the brand new day.

“You wanna talk about it?” she asked gently.

“I still can’t believe he’s dead. That it’s all over,” Mac replied around a lump in his throat.

“How does it feel?”

“I’m not sure. I can’t remember a time when a part of me wasn’t looking over my shoulder, waiting for Murdoc to show up. I guess I feel relieved. Like a weight has been lifted off of me.”

“But?”

Mac stayed silent for several minutes before answering. “No matter how sadistic or evil Murdoc was, he also had a very human side.” He finally turned to look at Jo. “I didn’t see it a lot, but it was there.”

“And you’re grieving for that part of him.”

MacGyver nodded. “I guess I am. No matter how much we hated each other…no matter how many times we tried to kill each other, there was always a level of respect, maybe even admiration, between us. Don’t get me wrong. I despise the despicable things he’s done and I’m glad to be free of him. I guess it’ll just take some getting used to.”

He felt Joanna put her hand on his knee and give it a gentle squeeze that made him smile.

“Why don’t you get your things together so we can get outta here,” he suggested.

“What are you going to do about the cabin?”

Mac sighed and wiped his face with his hands. “Keep it, I guess. It’s the only link to family I have.”

“You should bring Sam up here sometime,” Jo suggested.

“Yeah. Sounds like a plan,” MacGyver agreed.

He took Joanna’s hand from his knee and wrapped it in his own before they both slid off the hood of the Jeep and headed back to the cabin to pack, still hand-in-hand.

Posted by: Dragondog 13 March 2019 - 02:52 PM
QUOTE
She smiled slyly and MacGyver already had visions of her huddled with his long-time friends as they spun stories about the past…and him. Perhaps he should have thought this through a bit more, but there was no going back now.
Lol, this sounds like me laugh.gif

QUOTE
“Am I to assume we have a Mrs. MacGyver here?” Newberry asked, folding his hands on top of his desk.
Literally. Everyone. XD

QUOTE
“Um, no. She’s just a friend,” Mac responded,
dry.gif Maaaacccccc...

QUOTE
hating to down-play their relationship yet not knowing quite how to explain it.
Oh, I guess that's okay then...

QUOTE
“Thank you,” Mac nodded with a smile as he took the key. “Do you mind me asking how Stanley Hubbard died?”

Mr. Newberry leaned back in his chair with a sigh. “It was a sad thing, really. It appears he went out in a snowstorm to gather more logs for the fireplace when he had a heart attack and collapsed. By the time he was found, the authorities could not determine whether he died from the attack or frost bite.”
Yeah, that totally wasn't an accident

QUOTE
“I guess someone’s been looking after the place,” MacGyver muttered as he made his way around the room, turning on lights.
Because that's totally not creepy at all

QUOTE
He stopped so abruptly that Joanna bumped into his back.“Mac…” she began to whine until her gaze followed his
I am Joanna, and Mac is my mom roller.gif

QUOTE
“You look as if you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“I think I have,” he replied ominously.
Oh yeah, because Murdoc is totally dead, right? rolleyes.gif

QUOTE
She arched an eyebrow in displeasure at being told what to do but quietly obeyed.
Joanna is my spirit animal

QUOTE
“At last count I think it was five, but I could be wrong,” Mac replied.
Seven, Mac, it was seven

QUOTE
Mac tossed her the car keys and followed her outside.
And you're totally not going to check the jeep for bombs or traps, are you?

QUOTE
“Didn’t you hear that ‘click’ when you sat down?”
Called it

QUOTE
Jo shook her head. “What’s going on Mac? You’re scaring me!”

“It’s about time,” he muttered,
Ooh, burn laugh.gif

QUOTE
Suddenly he was aware of pressure on his chest as Joanna pushed away from him.“What’s wrong?” he asked.“You’re squishing me!”
Aw tongue.gif

QUOTE
“You gonna be okay?” he asked, not trying to hide the concern.“Yeah, I’m good,” Jo replied, though her voice shook a bit.
That girl is a trooper

QUOTE
“Go in the cabin and relax while I take care of this,” Mac replied, gesturing toward the Jeep with his chin.
Again, this sounds like a bad idea. Why is everyone making stupid decisions today? XD

QUOTE
“I wish you’d stay in town, too.”Mac sighed. “I’m not gonna run from Murdoc.”
So leave her alone. Great idea XD

QUOTE
Back inside the cabin he pulled out his cell phone and called Joanna’s motel room.
I feel like Murdoc is going to trace this somehow and find her

QUOTE

“Now, are you ready to die, MacGyver? Just think, I will be the last person you ever see!”
I read ahead, so I know that it's actually the other way around, Murdoc. Ironic, huh?

QUOTE
I must admit I wasn’t counting on you bringing a friend, but no matter.
I feel like this is the first time someone hasn't instantly shipped them upon seeing them together XD

QUOTE
It’s you I want. Not her.”

Relief washed over MacGyver knowing that Joanna would be safe from this mad man. If nothing else, Murdoc was a man of his word.
That's actually really nice, for Murdoc smile.gif XD

QUOTE
His face, which had been flushed, turned a deathly shade of pale as he dropped to his knees, his eyes wide with fear.
Poor guy sad.gif

QUOTE
Mac knelt close to his would-be foe. “Stay with me, Murdoc,” he commanded as he loosened the buttons of the man’s shirt. “What are you allergic to?”
I love how Mac's immediate response is to try to help him love.jpg

QUOTE
The distressed man slowly turned his head from side to side. “No ivy in L.A.”
Yeah, you didn't think this all the way through, did you?

QUOTE
“Stay calm. I’m calling for help. You’re gonna be okay.” Mac pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911 giving them directions to their position the best he could
There's something really sweet about Mac's comforting words as his murderous enemy slowly dies.

Okay, that sounded way more morbid than I intended XD

QUOTE
“The paramedics are on their way. Stay with me,”
I repeat...

QUOTE
he watched the life slip from the man who had escaped the most unimaginable, life-threatening situations time and again but was now felled by something as mundane as a wild plant.
This is definitely ironic. I kinda headcanon that at some point before he died, Murdoc was lying there thinking, "This is so humiliating" XD

QUOTE
He was grieving because he had failed to save the life of a man who had lived to take his.
This is why we love Mac love.jpg

QUOTE
Evidence was collected and Murdoc was pronounced dead at the scene after life-saving treatment failed. Back at the cabin, his body, now in a black bag, was hoisted into the back of an ambulance
If Murdoc somehow comes back later, I'm leaving XD

QUOTE
Mac stayed silent for several minutes before answering. “No matter how sadistic or evil Murdoc was, he also had a very human side.” He finally turned to look at Jo. “I didn’t see it a lot, but it was there.”

“And you’re grieving for that part of him.”
This. This is the fandom. At least the Murdoc stans

QUOTE
Mac sighed and wiped his face with his hands. “Keep it, I guess. It’s the only link to family I have.”
Joanna: "I. Am. Right. Here." XD

QUOTE
He took Joanna’s hand from his knee and wrapped it in his own before they both slid off the hood of the Jeep and headed back to the cabin to pack, still hand-in-hand.
And that's the story of how Murdoc once again accidentally made something go right XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 13 March 2019 - 06:03 PM
I love all your responses, Dragondog! I look forward to reading them every time I post! It's so cool that you relate to Joanna because she's basically me so I guess you and I have a lot in common...when it comes to Mac, anyway!

Posted by: Dragondog 13 March 2019 - 06:14 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 13 March 2019 - 08:03 PM)
I love all your responses, Dragondog! I look forward to reading them every time I post! It's so cool that you relate to Joanna because she's basically me so I guess you and I have a lot in common...when it comes to Mac, anyway!

Thank you. And you're welcome XD

Plot twist: we're the same person... unsure.gif laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 14 March 2019 - 05:23 AM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 13 March 2019 - 06:14 PM)
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 13 March 2019 - 08:03 PM)
I love all your responses, Dragondog!  I look forward to reading them every time I post!  It's so cool that you relate to Joanna because she's basically me so I guess you and I have a lot in common...when it comes to Mac, anyway!

Thank you. And you're welcome XD

Plot twist: we're the same person... unsure.gif laugh.gif

LOL...could be!!!

Posted by: Persona non grata 14 March 2019 - 12:56 PM
"“I promise not to run away if you don’t..."

okay, that *is* Mac.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 20 March 2019 - 05:57 AM
Chapter 31: A Night to Remember

MacGyver turned the corner and headed down the long corridor of Challengers Academy one late April afternoon. He had heard a ruckus in the cafeteria and decided to check it out himself although his thoughts were miles away. He still had trouble wrapping his head around the fact that Murdoc was finally, truly dead and would never return to terrorize him or those he cared about. Joanna had been extremely intuitive over the last few weeks, knowing exactly when he needed time and space to himself yet always there for him when he needed to talk or just be with her. He slowed as he approached the cafeteria and took in the scene. There, in the middle of the room, stood Joanna surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls whining and pleading their case. A few of their male counterparts stood on the periphery. His mind snapped back to the present as he casually leaned against the doorjamb, crossed his arms, and watched the scene play out before him.

“Please Ms. Jo! We’ll do all the work ourselves. You won’t have to do a thing. We promise,” a high-pitched female voice insisted as others joined in, making the same pledge.

Mac caught the attention of one of the boys and motioned him over.

“What’s going on?”

The teen grimaced. “Since the school is closing for good, the girls wanted to do something special. Ya know, kinda go out with a bang. They’re trying to convince Ms. Jo to let them have an all-school prom.”

MacGyver smirked. This ought to be interesting. He repositioned himself so he could see Joanna better. Unlike a few months ago when some students had approached her about a New Year’s Eve party, there was a partial grin on her lips and a playful twinkle in her eyes.

“Okay, okay, calm down,” Jo’s voice rose above the crowd. “I have to get Ms. Evelyn’s permission first. But if she agrees, we’ll see what we can do.”
A round of cheers went up before the teens scattered, chattering about the upcoming dance. Mac was wearing an amused grin when Jo met him in the doorway.

“What?!” she asked defensively.

“Nothing. I’m just surprised you agreed so easily.”

“I’ve actually been wanting to do something special for the kids,” Jo confessed. “I was thinking along the lines of a formal graduation, but their idea is better since it includes all the students, regardless of grade level.”

“You think Evelyn will go for it?” MacGyver asked as they walked down the hall together.

“There’s only one way to find out.”

“It’ll take a lot of work and money,” Evelyn pointed out to Mac and Jo who sat across the desk from her.

“I’m aware of that,” Joanna responded quickly. “I plan to approach the faculty for assistance. I’m sure they’d be willing to help out with things like decorating and chaperoning.”

“And since we scrapped plans to fix the gym now that the school is closing, we can tap into those funds to cover some of the cost,” Mac added.

“Well, don’t let me stand in your way,” Evelyn proclaimed.

“Really?!” Jo asked excitedly.

“Really. What’s the worst that could happen? They already closed us down!”

“Don’t worry about a thing,” Mac instructed his boss. “Jo and I will make sure the kids have a night to remember.”



“That’s it!” Joanna exclaimed causing MacGyver to almost fall out of his chair.

“What’s ‘it’? What’d I say?”

“’A Night to Remember.’ That can be our theme!” Mac had never seen Jo this excited over anything so he promised himself he would do whatever it took to give her a night to remember as well.

Two weeks later, Joanna sat on a stool at MacGyver’s breakfast bar carefully studying the to-do list she had created to make sure the dance went off without a hitch. She had been spending more and more time at his place, and he was amazed at how “right” it felt to have her there and how much he missed her when she went home.

“I think we have all the major stuff covered,” Jo announced as Mac finished washing the supper dishes. “I talked with the pastor of my church and he agreed to rent us the basement hall for a modest fee and a caterer I’ve done business with in the past has agreed to provide hors de oeuvre and desserts at half price. Some of the teachers got together and are working on the decorations, and I gave all the girls a list of thrift and resale shops where they can find nice, affordable dresses. How are you doing with the boys?”

“We’re good,” Mac replied. “I’ve talked to some tuxedo rental places and cut some deals with a couple of them. The kids are a different story. Most of the older boys are happy to have something nice to wear to impress the girls, if only for a night, but some of the younger ones think putting on a suit is the equivalent of going to the dentist, but they still want to come to the dance.”

“Well, I did tell everyone they didn’t have to dress up if they didn’t want to mainly because I know some can’t afford it, even with some help. Tell them they can wear whatever they feel most comfortable in, but it has to be decent. Like school clothes,” Joanna instructed him.

“Will do. What about chaperones?”

“What about them?” She looked confused.

“Is formal dress required?”

“Of course! You don’t think I’d pass up a chance to see you in a tux, do you?!”

“That’s what I thought,” Mac muttered in pretend disappointment. Granted, he wasn’t looking forward to spending the evening trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey, but if he had done it for Pete at various Phoenix fundraisers, he would definitely do it for Joanna.

“Have I forgotten anything?” Jo asked as MacGyver took a seat on the stool next to her.

“What about music?”

“Already covered. I just have to ask my friend, Chris, to do it. He used to have a DJ business.”

“How can you be so sure he’ll agree?”

Joanna caught and held Mac’s gaze. “If I asked something of you that was totally within your ability to provide, would you deny me?”

“Of course not!”

“Then neither will he!” Joanna hopped down from the stool and began to collect her things before heading out.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

When prom night arrived, Joanna was both nervous and excited. She had asked Mac to pick her up at 6pm, an hour before the students would begin to arrive, so she could make sure everything was in place. She had chosen to wear a classically styled maroon sheath dress with a black lace overlay. Her accessories included black jet jewelry, strappy black heels, and a black shawl. She was aiming for a dressy yet understated look and believed she had achieved it.

The doorbell rang and she let out a sigh of relief. MacGyver was right on time. She opened the door and caught her breath. For the past two weeks she had been imagining what he would look like in a tuxedo, but reality far outweighed her expectations.

“Wow!” she whispered hoarsely.

“Ditto,” he replied as she watched him study her from head to toe.

“Too much?” she frowned, suddenly unsure of herself.

“Perfect,” he assured her, his appreciative gaze warming her entire body.

“Aren’t you going to invite him in?” Judy Fairfax called from across the living room.

“We need to get going, Mom,” Joanna replied.

“But I wanted a picture of the two of you,” her mother said.

“We’re just chaperones, Ma,” Jo tried to explain.

Just then, Joe Fairfax lowered the footrest of his recliner with a clunk. “The sooner you quit arguing and let her take the picture the sooner you can leave.”

“I’m sorry about this,” Joanna muttered to MacGyver as she led him into the room to stand in front of the fireplace.

“I think it’s sweet,” he murmured in her ear before putting an arm around her waist and pulling her close to his side.

Relishing the feel of his body against hers, Jo hoped the camera didn’t capture the flush which was surely evident on her cheeks. Much too soon MacGyver released his grasp on her and escorted her out the door and into his Jeep.

Upon arriving at the church, Joanna quickly made her way downstairs to the hall. MacGyver caught up with her just as she was about to open the door to the large room.

“Whoa, hold on a minute,” he said, walking up behind her and putting his hands over her eyes.

“What are you doing?” Jo complained, turning her head to try and get loose.

“I’m under strict instructions from the decorating committee to make sure your eyes stay closed until you’re inside.”

Joanna huffed in mock frustration to hide her excitement as she allowed MacGyver to guide her into the room. When Mac uncovered her eyes and took a step back, Jo’s mouth fell open as she took in the scene. Black and silver crepe paper had been wrapped around the support pillars, matching streamers and glittering silver stars made out of cardboard hung from the ceiling, while balloon bouquets were scattered about. Long tables were already laden with food and punch while smaller tables, littered with confetti for the party-goers, had been set up on the perimeter of what had been designated as the dance floor. Chris was already setting up on the stage, mirrored balls and multi-colored lights aglow as music pulsed from large speakers.

“It looks amazing!” Joanna declared.

“I couldn’t agree more!” a jovial voice from behind her concurred. She turned to find her pastor admiring the decorations.

“Father Mike! Thank you so much for allowing us to rent the hall. We really appreciate it,” Joanna said gratefully.

“I’m glad for the opportunity to put it to good use,” the pastor replied. “I may just have to crash this party,” he laughed.

“Oh, please feel welcome to stay,” Jo invited, embarrassed that she hadn’t said something sooner.

“I might just do that,” Father Mike replied with a smile.

Behind her, MacGyver cleared his throat. Goodness, where had her manners gone!

“Father Mike, I’d like you to meet my colleague, MacGyver.”

“Pleased to meet you Mr. MacGyver,” the priest said as they shook hands.

“Same here, and it’s ‘Mac.’”

After Father Mike excused himself, Joanna introduced Mac to her DJ friend.

“We really appreciate you doing this on such short notice,” MacGyver thanked Chris.

“No problem. I’d do anything for Jo. She’s family.” Chris pinned Mac with a steely gaze.

“I’d do anything for her as well,” MacGyver countered, meeting the DJ’s eyes for several moments as they exchanged assessing glares.

“Okay boys,” Joanna interrupted their silent battle. “That’s enough testosterone for one night.” She grabbed Mac’s arm to keep him near and at the same time she gave Chris a pointed look that sent him back to the stage.

“Is there something I need to know about him?” Mac asked, tilting his head toward Chris.

Joanna sighed. “I already told you, we’re just good friends. He’s like a big brother to me.”

“An overprotective big brother,” MacGyver mumbled, allowing Jo to lead him away just as the Challengers students began pouring into the hall.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Most of the older teens had come as couples while the majority of the underclassmen had come in groups of the same gender. All of the students had dressed up for the event and after the obligatory oooh’s and aaah’s over the décor they all headed directly to the food tables. Before long, many of the kids took to the dance floor as contemporary pop music blared. However, when a slow song came on, the couples moved closer together while the younger students quickly became wallflowers. MacGyver noticed the frown on Joanna’s face as she surveyed the room.

“Let’s show ‘em how it’s done,” Mac said to Jo as he held out his hand to her. She took it without hesitation.

Once on the dance floor, MacGyver held her modestly as together they swayed rhythmically to the music. Unfortunately, instead of more students joining in, they had become the center of attention.

“This isn’t working,” Joanna pointed out, hissing in his ear.

“I got an idea.”

Mac reluctantly released Jo and approached a shy girl he remembered from science lab. Encouraged by her friends, she cautiously put her small hand in Mac’s and followed his simple steps in time with the music. He glanced up to find that Joanna had already caught onto his plan and was encouraging a young boy to dance with her. MacGyver had hoped that this would incite the others to pair off, but by the end of the song he found himself surrounded by teenage girls begging for a turn with him, teenage boys glowering at him, and Joanna nowhere to be found.

Mac caught the eye of the grinning DJ and sent him a pleading gaze. Moments later an upbeat track started and guys who had previously been super-glued to the floor quickly singled out partners. MacGyver nodded a thank you to Chris who gave him a thumbs-up. After a quick but thorough search for Joanna, a fellow chaperone informed Mac that she had seen Jo go outside.

MacGyver sprinted up the stairs and out the door. Dusk had fallen, making it difficult to see. Finding the parking lot empty, Mac headed to the front of the church building. As he got closer, he heard the low murmur of female voices. He slowed his steps and peeked around the corner. Joanna sat on the concrete steps in front of the church wrapped in her shawl to keep the chill of the spring air at bay. She was talking with a blonde girl, her voice calm and sure.

“But I do understand how you feel,” Joanna insisted. “When I was your age, my neighbor’s nephew came to stay with them for the summer. He was in college and working nearby. I had such a huge crush on him! I spent a lot of time trying to get him to notice me. Sometimes his friends would come over to play basketball and I was always outside watching.”

“So what happened?” the girl asked. “Did he notice you?”

“Oh yeah,” Joanna replied drily. “He was very nice to me, as was one of his friends. And me, being sixteen, totally misinterpreted his friendliness for something more. In the process, I ignored his friend’s overtures. I was left brokenhearted when he returned to school in the fall and completely forgot about me. When I finally got over him, I started to wonder what would have happened if I wouldn’t have been so narrow-minded and been nicer to his friend. I might have missed out on something more special than I thought.”

“So you’re saying that instead of spending all my time waiting for Tom I should spend time with other guys too?”

“I’m saying you should keep yourself open to other possibilities.”

“Thanks Ms. Jo! You’re the best!” The girl hugged Joanna before scurrying back to the hall, unaware of MacGyver lurking in the shadows. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, but when Jo had started talking about a piece from her past he found it impossible to leave. He began to walk toward her, pretending to cough so he wouldn’t startle her.

“Nice story. Is it true?” he asked, sitting next to her on the step.

“Thanks. And yes it is,” she replied, looking out into the night instead of at him.

“But there’s more,” he prompted.

Joanna nodded.

“I’m a good listener.”

Jo was silent for so long that MacGyver debated whether or not to just leave her alone with her thoughts.

“It felt so real at the time, you know?” she finally said, raising sad eyes to his. “I really thought I had fallen in love and that he was my future. Looking back now it seems completely ridiculous considering we only exchanged neighborly greetings and generic conversations.” Joanna shook her head as MacGyver willed himself to stay quiet and allow her to continue her story. “I was so foolish! I could say he led me on, but he had no idea how I felt. I lost control of my emotions and my good senses. That was the worst part and it really scared me. I promised myself that I would never lose control like that again. That I would never be that vulnerable, that weak, again.”

“And did you keep that promise?”

“Yeah, I did,” she replied certainly.

“Are you still keeping that promise?”

Jo’s eyes turned hard.

“I knew it!” Mac exclaimed. “Every time we’re together, every time we get close, you always hold a part of yourself back. Don’t you think it’s time to break that promise?”

Joanna’s gaze dropped to the ground at her feet, but MacGyver wasn’t going to back down this time. Not when all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit.

“I can’t lose control like that again,” she spat.

“Then don’t!” Mac countered. “Take control, but don’t do it by running away!”

Jo flinched and he gentled his tone. “Answer me this. Do I scare you? Do I make you feel weak?”

Joanna shook her head and looked up. “I like how I feel when I’m with you,” she confessed softly. “You make me feel strong, worthy, happy.”

“So what’s the problem?” Mac asked, tamping down his frustration. He felt like they were talking in circles.

“I’m afraid it’s not real. That one day I’ll realize it was just my imagination.”

“Trust me when I say this is very real.” MacGyver’s voice had grown husky and his hands moved to touch her face of their own accord. “And I really want to kiss you right now.”

Joanna’s eyes glimmered with unshed tears. “So what’s stopping you?”

“Maybe I need some reassurance, too,” he replied. “Maybe I need to know that you want to be with me. That you want to kiss me, too.”

MacGyver sensed her confidence and determination blossom at his words. He forced himself to be still as Jo slowly moved her face closer to his. She leaned in. Her lips touched his with the softness of a feather. He longed to kiss her back and hold her tight, but he knew she had to do this herself. She had to be the one to take control. Just as he felt her kiss become more sure and her body strain to close the gap between them a high-pitched voice rent the air. They jumped apart like two kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar as a girl he recognized called to them.

“Ms. Jo! Mr. Mac! Come quick!”

Joanna recovered first. “Candice, what’s wrong?!”

“Father Mike is gonna teach us all how to do a dance called the bunny hop and he said he needs your help! Come on!” With that the girl hurried back to the hall.

MacGyver and Joanna exchanged stunned looks.

“What do you want to do?” Mac asked her.

Joanna shrugged. “What can we do? A higher power beckons. We go do the bunny hop!”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Once Father Mike had schooled the students in the finer points of the bunny hop, conga line, and the twist, he fixed a plate of food for himself and joined MacGyver and Joanna at a small table away from the dance floor.

“That’s a great group of kids you got there,” he proclaimed.

“Thanks, Father,” Mac replied. “And thank you for your hospitality. We really appreciate it.”

“Think nothing of it,” the priest replied, patting MacGyver on the shoulder. “I’m glad I could help. Now, if you both will excuse me, I’ll head back to the rectory.”

Father Mike picked up his plate and handed Joanna a set of keys before heading off.

“See you tomorrow,” Joanna said as they parted.

“You lockin’ up tonight?” Mac asked Jo, nodding toward the keys.

“Yeah,” she answered. “And I’m coming back in the morning to tear down the decorations.”

“I’ll give you a lift if you want since I’m coming back too.”

Joanna raised her eyebrows in question.

“Somewhere between the conga and twist I promised Father that I’d look at the church’s air conditioning unit and see if I could fix it.”

Joanna rolled her eyes. “Mac, the Good Lord Himself couldn’t fix that dinosaur! What makes you think you can?”

“I’m not Him,” MacGyver shrugged innocently.

The music stopped before Joanna could reply and the DJ picked up the microphone to remind the teens they only had thirty more minutes to cast their vote for prom king and queen.

“I can’t wait to see the crowns you bought,” Mac spoke in her ear as the music began to blare once again.

“I forgot all about this tradition!” Jo exclaimed. “I didn’t buy any crowns!”

The couple split up and questioned the adults in the room. All of them denied obtaining any royal headwear.

“Any luck?” Joanna asked Mac hopefully when they reunited.

“Nope. You?”

“No,” she moaned. “What are we gonna do?”

“What’s through that door,” MacGyver asked.

“The kitchen. Why?”

“C’mon, I got an idea.” Mac grabbed her by the hand and pulled her into the kitchen. He looked around and found some cardboard delivery boxes.

“Perfect,” he muttered as he pulled out his Swiss army knife from the inside pocket of his tuxedo jacket.

Joanna pulled a face. “Do you carry that thing everywhere?” she asked.

“Of course, doesn’t everyone?” he grinned. “Could you find some tin foil?” he asked her as he began to saw through the boxes.

“Sure,” Jo replied, understanding what he meant to do. She rummaged through drawers and cabinets until she found a roll of the shiny silver foil.

“What’d you think?” Mac asked as they stepped back to admire the shimmering cardboard crowns.

“They look great,” Jo assured him.

“No,” MacGyver shook his head. “They’re too plain.”

“They’re better than nothing,” Joanna rationalized.

“Can we get into the school from here?”

“Yeah, there’s a tunnel that connects the buildings. Why?”

“I need to get to the art room.”

“But all the doors are locked,” Jo protested. “Let me get Father Mike.”

MacGyver glanced at his watch. “No time. Besides, a locked door has never stopped me before.”

Together they hurried down the short underground hallway that brought them to the heavy wood and glass doors separating the school from the church. Mac took out his knife and began to work at the lock. Jo quirked her eyebrow but stayed quiet. In less than a minute, MacGyver was leading her through the doorway and up the stairs to a long corridor.

“Where to now?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Joanna moaned. “It’s been ages since I’ve been in here. So much has changed.”

Mac grabbed her arm and led her down the hallway, stopping at each door until he found the kindergarten classroom. “We should be able to find something in here,” he told her as he easily picked the lock and they went in search of anything that glittered or shined.

They found a box full of baubles and quickly set to gluing the ornaments on the tin foil, blowing on them to hurry the drying process as they rushed back to the dance. They arrived just as Chris stuck his hand in the box to draw the name of the prom king.

Two hours later the large group of tired but happy teenagers began to leave. The last student had barely cleared the threshold before Mac reached up to undo his bow tie and loosen the top two buttons of his shirt. Joanna and the rest of the chaperones were tossing paper plates, cups, and other trash into large containers while Chris started to break down his equipment. After a couple words with the DJ and a brief announcement to the clean-up crew, MacGyver had cleared the hall of people save for Joanna.

“What’d you do that for?” Jo looked up at him, confused and slightly irritated. “Where’s Chris?”

“Doing me a favor,” Mac replied evasively as he pushed a button on the CD console and hopped off the stage. A slow, old-time song began to play as he approached Joanna, his hand outstretched.

“I believe we have a dance to finish,” he said softly.

Joanna smiled as he led her onto the dance floor and put her hands on his shoulders as he held her at arm’s length, hands on her hips. His heart skittered as she slid her arms around his neck. That was all the encouragement he needed to encircle her waist and pull her close as they swayed to the music. When she looked up at him, her brown eyes warm and trusting, he lowered his mouth to hers and gently grazed her lips. She moaned softly when he pulled away.

“Was tonight everything you hoped it would be?” he asked.

“No,” she replied dreamily. “It was more than I could have ever hoped for.” Her hands urged his head lower to meet hers and they kissed deeply, still swaying to the song that had ended long ago.















Posted by: Dragondog 20 March 2019 - 08:08 PM
QUOTE
What’s the worst that could happen?
Stop jinxing stuff Evelyn!

QUOTE
She had been spending more and more time at his place, and he was amazed at how “right” it felt to have her there and how much he missed her when she went home.
Just get married already tongue.gif

QUOTE
“Of course! You don’t think I’d pass up a chance to see you in a tux, do you?!”
Smooth, Joanna tongue.gif

QUOTE
“Aren’t you going to invite him in?” Judy Fairfax called from across the living room.
Look, Jo shares my social skills XD

QUOTE
“But I wanted a picture of the two of you,” her mother said.
Sure she's not my mom? laugh.gif

QUOTE
Just then, Joe Fairfax lowered the footrest of his recliner with a clunk. “The sooner you quit arguing and let her take the picture the sooner you can leave.”
I like Joe... Jo's dad... Jo's dad Joe... You know what I mean roller.gif

QUOTE
“Oh, please feel welcome to stay,” Jo invited, embarrassed that she hadn’t said something sooner.
Yep, definitely my social skills XD

QUOTE
Behind her, MacGyver cleared his throat. Goodness, where had her manners gone!
They're with mine XD

QUOTE
“No problem. I’d do anything for Jo. She’s family.” Chris pinned Mac with a steely gaze.
Ooh, protective!

QUOTE
“I’d do anything for her as well,” MacGyver countered, meeting the DJ’s eyes for several moments as they exchanged assessing glares.
Ooh, defensive!

QUOTE
“Okay boys,” Joanna interrupted their silent battle. “That’s enough testosterone for one night.”
Hey, that's my line, Jo! XD

QUOTE
“An overprotective big brother,” MacGyver mumbled, allowing Jo to lead him away just as the Challengers students began pouring into the hall.
This kinda makes me feel like they're gonna have another confrontation at some point...

QUOTE
after the obligatory oooh’s and aaah’s over the décor they all headed directly to the food tables.
Now that's my kind of party laugh.gif

QUOTE
Unfortunately, instead of more students joining in, they had become the center of attention.“This isn’t working,” Joanna pointed out, hissing in his ear.
I'd say it's working just fine wink.gif

QUOTE
Mac reluctantly released Jo and approached a shy girl he remembered from science lab. Encouraged by her friends, she cautiously put her small hand in Mac’s and followed his simple steps in time with the music.
Why does this never happen to me? I've sat out on so many dances, and NO ONE offers to help me out dry.gif

QUOTE
MacGyver had hoped that this would incite the others to pair off, but by the end of the song he found himself surrounded by teenage girls begging for a turn with him, teenage boys glowering at him, and Joanna nowhere to be found.
roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif

QUOTE
Mac caught the eye of the grinning DJ and sent him a pleading gaze. Moments later an upbeat track started and guys who had previously been super-glued to the floor quickly singled out partners. MacGyver nodded a thank you to Chris who gave him a thumbs-up.
They seem to be getting along better now :]

QUOTE
“Nice story. Is it true?” he asked, sitting next to her on the step.

“Thanks. And yes it is,” she replied, looking out into the night instead of at him.
I remember when he could barely talk to her without her shutting him out, but she seems so reasonably comfortable with him asking her such personal questions <3

QUOTE
They jumped apart like two kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar as a girl he recognized called to them.
WHYYYYY? :'(

QUOTE
Joanna shrugged. “What can we do? A higher power beckons. We go do the bunny hop!”
Of all the ways they could've gotten interrupted, that was not what I would've expected XD

QUOTE
“I forgot all about this tradition!” Jo exclaimed. “I didn’t buy any crowns!”

The couple split up and questioned the adults in the room. All of them denied obtaining any royal headwear.
Hey Mac, time to do your thing

QUOTE
“Doing me a favor,” Mac replied evasively as he pushed a button on the CD console and hopped off the stage. A slow, old-time song began to play as he approached Joanna, his hand outstretched.
I think Chris trusts Mac with Jo now XD

QUOTE
“I believe we have a dance to finish,” he said softly.
While you're at it, finish the kiss, too XD

QUOTE
Her hands urged his head lower to meet hers and they kissed deeply, still swaying to the song that had ended long ago.
Good XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 March 2019 - 05:37 AM
Thanks again for the great comments, Dragondog! I know this was kinda a fluff piece, but I wanted a chance to delve into Joanna's character a bit more to show that she, too, has some relationship baggage to overcome. As for her folks, they are TOTALLY based on mine...I didn't even bother to change their first names because how generic can you get (nothing against my family!). And there is also a Chris in my life who would probably act just the same way!

Posted by: Dragondog 21 March 2019 - 02:30 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 21 March 2019 - 08:37 AM)
Thanks again for the great comments, Dragondog! I know this was kinda a fluff piece, but I wanted a chance to delve into Joanna's character a bit more to show that she, too, has some relationship baggage to overcome. As for her folks, they are TOTALLY based on mine...I didn't even bother to change their first names because how generic can you get (nothing against my family!). And there is also a Chris in my life who would probably act just the same way!

Self-insertion, I like it wink.gif laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 27 March 2019 - 12:10 PM
Chapter 32: Independence Day

MacGyver didn’t have to peek out from under the hood of the Nomad to know that Joanna was glaring at his back, a mix of frustration and annoyance in her eyes. If looks could kill, he’d probably be dead ten times over by now.

It had been close to a month since Challengers Academy closed its doors, and Joanna’s anxiety and discomfiture rose with each passing day of unemployment. She had sent out numerous resumes and applications for teaching positions, yet heard nothing back, even though the summer was still young. The question was, why was she taking it out on him?

“Could you give me that socket wrench?” Mac asked, reaching out without looking up. The solid metal tool struck his hand with more force than necessary. Ow! This was getting ridiculous!

“What is wrong with you?!” he rounded on Joanna.

“Me?! I should be asking you the same thing!”

MacGyver’s eyes widened in astonishment. “What?!”

Joanna took a deep breath and Mac braced himself for the tirade to come.

“I’ve spent the last three weeks turning over every stone I can find looking for a job, quite unsuccessfully I might add, while you’ve spent all your waking hours putting your precious little car back together! That takes money, Mac! A lot of it! And you’re just as unemployed as I am!”

“This is about how I’m spending my money?! The last time I checked that was my business!”

His harsh tone took some of the wind out of Joanna’s sails, but he wasn’t going to back down. Not this time. He’d hardly seen her since the last day of school, and when he did, he played the role of supportive friend and confidant as Jo struggled to find her way now that she was no longer tethered to Challengers, but he had finally had enough.

“I’m sorry. You’re right,” Jo replied, surprisingly calmer now.

Mac put his greasy hands on her shoulders and bent his head to look in her eyes.

“Wanna tell me what’s really been bothering you?” he asked softly.

“I don’t want to do this,” she mumbled, eyes falling to the cement floor of the garage.

“Do what?” Mac asked around the lump forming in his throat. What didn’t she want to do? Be with him? He thought their relationship was finally on firm, if not well-defined, footing. Had he been fooled yet again?

“Teach,” she whispered.

“But I thought you loved teaching?” Mac was bewildered. “At Challengers, you always seemed happiest when you were working with the kids.”

“I mean be a regular classroom teacher,” Jo clarified, glancing at him. “If you would have read my dossier you would have seen that before I worked at the correctional facility where I met Evelyn, I spent many years at a private tutoring agency. I’ve always had a sort of flexibility in my jobs allowing me to work one-on-one or with small groups of students. That’s what I’m good at.”

“Then why are you applying for jobs you don’t want?”

“Because the type of position I want doesn’t exist anymore. Times have changed. What else am I supposed to do?” she asked plaintively.

“Look, you said yourself that you were starting to burn out at Challengers. Why don’t you take a break from the job search and relax for a while? Explore other options.” Joanna’s muscles, which had initially tensed at his touch, now loosened. “Besides, I’ve kinda missed having you around.”

Jo let out a little laugh. “Don’t go gettin’ all mushy on me, Mac,” she teased sarcastically.

“Me? Never!” he exclaimed before dropping a quick kiss on the tip of her nose and turning back to his car.

“Hey, you know the Fourth of July is coming up,” MacGyver called as Joanna turned to leave. “How about we invite Pete and Connie to come up and have a cookout at my place?”

“That’d be great,” Joanna agreed. “We should also invite Evelyn. They haven’t seen each other since the wedding last year. What about Charlie?”

“What about him?” MacGyver mumbled, once again beneath the hood of the old car.

“Shouldn’t we invite him, too? After all, he is your landlord and he shares your duplex.”

“Charlie’s out of town visiting his grandkids until Labor Day. Took almost a year for him to trust me to keep an eye on his place while he’s gone,” Mac snorted. “I’ve been in charge of top secret government projects, yet Charlie doesn’t trust me to water his plants.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Independence Day was sunny and warm as Joanna parked her Chevy in front of Mac’s place. She had matched navy shorts with a red and white striped top in the spirit of the holiday. However, since Wisconsin weather could turn on a dime, she had also thrown a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt in the trunk. It was from a box in that trunk that she now hefted a large bowl of her mother’s potato salad and another bowl of fresh fruit salad into her arms. She expected MacGyver to be waiting at the front door to help her, but he was nowhere to be found. Frustrated, she banged on the bottom of the door with the toe of her shoe.

“It’s open, c’mon in!” Mac called from the living room.

“I can’t!”

“What’s the problem?” he moaned, heading to the door.

Joanna saw the moment the situation dawned in his eyes. “Sorry. Didn’t realize you had your hands full,” he apologized as he turned the knob to let her in.

Jo stopped short, taking in his khaki pants and tropical print shirt with a frown.

“What?” he asked, looking down at his outfit.

“You could have at least tried to dress for the occasion,” Jo scolded.

Mac plucked at the offending material. “I’m sure there’s red, white and blue in here somewhere.”

Joanna huffed and ducked past him just as he leaned in to kiss her.

“Hey! Don’t I get a kiss hello?”

“Not until you get the grocery bag and veggie tray from my car. And close the trunk.”

“If you’re gonna be like that, we might as well be married!” Mac complained to her retreating back.

Jo suppressed her laughter until she was sure MacGyver was out of earshot. She readily admitted she enjoyed giving him a hard time. And she knew he secretly liked it. There weren’t many people she allowed herself to be this playful with and it felt good.

It wasn’t long before Joanna heard familiar voices coming from the front yard. She hurried outside to meet their guests and was immediately embraced by Connie and then Pete. Evelyn stood at the edge of the small group, a large, African-American man by her side.

“Everyone, you all remember Leroy Jackson,” the shorter woman said by way of introduction. To Joanna she whispered, “I hope you don’t mind that I invited him.”

“Is there something I should know?” Jo whispered back, but her question went unanswered.

“It’s good to see you again, Leroy,” Mac greeted the lawyer and shook his meaty hand. “How’s the case going?”

Leroy let out a hefty sigh. “It’s bogged down in the court system. Should have been over and done with by now, but with the vandalism committed here and ordered by Stern in Los Angeles it’s taking a while for the states to cut through the red tape. By the way, did your friend from Phoenix ever contact you?”

Joanna threw a surprised look at MacGyver. No one had mentioned the Foundation since that whole debacle over winter break.

“Um, yeah,” Mac replied quickly, refusing to meet Jo’s gaze. “It’s all good.”

Stunned, Jo’s mind raced about what Mac and Leroy could possibly be alluding to. The conversation quickly shifted and she had no choice but to follow it. However, she was going to have a talk with MacGyver before the day was over.

“So, rumor has it you’ve been resurrecting the Nomad,” Pete said in the general direction of MacGyver.

“Yeah,” he replied, his eyes twinkling like a kid at Christmas. “I’ve gotten pretty far. C’mon, she’s in the garage. Pete, wait ‘til you feel her! Smooth as a baby’s bottom!”

As the men headed to check out the car, Joanna led the women into the duplex.

“Can I get you ladies something to drink before we go out on the patio?” Joanna asked politely.

“What do you have to offer?” Evelyn asked as she browsed through MacGyver’s home.

Joanna stuck her head in the refrigerator. “We’ve got orange juice, carrot juice, apple juice, milk, and lemonade.”

“Lemonade!” her two friends replied in unison.

Jo chuckled and poured three glass of lemonade before they made their way out back and settled into patio chairs surrounding an outdoor table. The afternoon passed quickly as the small group engaged in light-hearted conversation. It wasn’t long until hamburgers, bratwursts, and Mac’s veggie-burgers were grilled and consumed along with a pineapple refrigerator torte that had become Joanna’s specialty. She and MacGyver were clearing the table when Leroy followed them inside, closing the patio door behind him. The couple looked at him questioningly as he motioned them to have a seat on the sofa as he sat across from them in a matching chair.

“What’s goin’ on, Leroy?” Mac asked, cutting right to the chase as Joanna shot a worried glance at her unattended guests still outside.

“Don’t worry, Joanna, they know what this is about,” Leroy answered her before she had a chance to voice her concern.

“Because of the case involving Challengers, I’ve been following the events at the school quite closely, with the help of Evelyn, of course,” Leroy went on to explain. “I was very sorry to hear that the Academy was forced to close and cause you two to lose your jobs.”

“Thanks, but we’ll be fine,” Mac assured the lawyer, refusing to accept anything sounding remotely like pity.

“I’m sure you will,” Leroy agreed. “You are both young, intelligent, hardworking professionals. That is why I would like to extend a job offer to each of you to come work with my firm.”

MacGyver turned to look at Joanna who met his eyes, raised an eyebrow and shrugged before they both turned back to the lawyer.

“What, exactly, did you have in mind?” Mac was now leaning forward, elbows resting on his knees.

Leroy smiled and settled back in his chair. “You each have very interesting and versatile skill sets so we can talk about the details during business hours. Basically, I was hoping that you, MacGyver, would assist with field investigations, witness protection, and other security details. Joanna, I would like you to come aboard as a sort of paralegal and research assistant. I’d like to take advantage of your strong analytical and writing skills. You two make a great team and I can see you working well together on cases, but please understand that these are individual offers. If either one of you is interested, call my office and we’ll schedule a time to talk about this more in depth.”

Joanna felt as if she had the air knocked out of her, but in a good way. How often did a job simply fall in one’s lap? Of course there were things to consider. Did she want to forfeit any chance of teaching? And what about working with, or without, MacGyver? However, in her heart of hearts she knew she would take the position. Gainful employment was too hard to come by these days. She glanced at Mac, but his face was unreadable.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“What do you mean you’re not gonna stay for the fireworks? The night’s still young!” MacGyver scolded his guests as they prepared to leave.

“Unfortunately we are not,” Connie chided as she embraced him in a motherly hug. “Now you kids go have fun.”

“Don’t argue with her Mac,” Pete advised. “You’ll never win!” The two men chuckled and said their good-byes.

“Are you sure you can’t stay?” Joanna asked Evelyn as they walked out the door arm in arm.

“I’m sure, dear,” the red-headed woman replied. “You and MacGyver have been wonderful hosts, but you need some time to yourselves as well.”

Mac put his arm around Joanna’s shoulders as the two couples got in the car and drove off with a wave.

“I hope you’re not going to bail on me, too,” MacGyver leaned down and whispered, purposely allowing his breath to tickle Jo’s ear.

“Of course not! I haven’t watched fireworks in years.”

“Why so long?” He turned and guided her back inside.

“It’s no fun to watch them alone. At least that’s what I’ve always thought,” she replied, a hint of sadness in her voice.

“Well you don’t have to worry about that tonight,” he promised. Or any other night if he had anything to say about it.

The July sun was sinking below the horizon in a fiery glow as MacGyver guided his Jeep along the narrow, two-lane country road.

“Where are we going again?” Joanna asked, breaking the silence that had accompanied them.

“Charlie showed me this hill. There’s not a tree in sight and he said you can see fireworks from almost everywhere in the city.”

“A place like that should be pretty crowded tonight,” Jo observed.

“Not according to Charlie.”

Mac finally slowed the Jeep and parked on the gravel shoulder of the deserted road, not a soul around.

“Are you sure this is the place?” Jo asked skeptically.

“I’m sure,” MacGyver replied confidently as he stepped out of the Jeep and grabbed a blanket from the backseat.

He snatched Joanna’s hand and led her to the spot his landlord had shown him before bending down to spread out the blanket. A gentle breeze ruffled his hair as he sat down.

“You gonna stand there all night?” he asked Jo who stood with her back to him.

“No,” she replied, gingerly lowering herself beside him. “I was just admiring the view.”

“Me too,” he replied as he watched her, his voice huskier than he would have liked. Was that a blush or one last ray of sunlight kissing her cheek? He had forgotten the power a certain look or simple word held when shared with the right person.

“Mac, can I ask you something?”

“You know you can ask me anything.”

She finally turned her gaze toward him and he saw a mixture of curiosity and fear in her eyes.

“What was Leroy talking about when he asked if you’d been contacted by Phoenix?”

MacGyver sighed and jammed his fingers through his hair. He knew it was only a matter of time before she questioned him about this.

“It was after we got back from Harry’s cabin,” he began. “The board wanted to ‘make up’ for all the trouble Stern had caused.”

“How?”

“They offered me a job. Any job I wanted,” he replied flatly.

“Wow,” Joanna exhaled beside him. “And you turned them down? Even knowing you were going to be unemployed?”

“Of course!” Mac whipped his head around to look at her. “I cut ties with Phoenix long ago and for a lot of reasons. I belong here, now.” With you. But he didn’t say that last part out loud.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“To be honest, I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time. We had just gotten done dealing with Murdoc and I wanted to get on with my life.”

“But?”

“When I turned down the job offer, they still insisted on making restitution. They wired me a rather large sum of money and made sure I couldn’t return it. Hush money, basically. Can’t have me giving Phoenix a bad name,” Mac sneered.

“The Nomad,” Jo proclaimed with dawning clarity.

“I decided to use the money to restore the car. Harry would have wanted that.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this when I went off on you the other day?”

Mac scrubbed his face with his hands. “I guess I was ashamed. I really didn’t want the money, but I still took it.”

“You said yourself they gave you no choice. Besides, you deserve a whole lot more considering everything that happened.”

“Then you’re not mad at me?”

“No, not anymore,” Jo assured him.

“And you hate that you can’t stay mad at me, don’t you?” he teased.

“More than you know,” she replied with a mock frown.

Just then a single firework exploded above them signaling the start of the show. Mac reclined on the ground, pulling Jo down with him and together they watched the night sky come alive with color and sound.

“So, you gonna take the job?” MacGyver glanced sideways at Joanna as he guided the Jeep back home after the fireworks display.

“I don’t know yet,” she responded.

“C’mon, how can you turn down an offer like that?”

“What about you?” she countered. “Are you gonna take the job?”

Mac shrugged. “Maybe.”

Joanna snorted and turned to look out the passenger side window. They drove in silence for several minutes.

“You still wanna teach. Is that it?” Mac asked.

“Actually, I’ve always kinda thought legal work would be interesting. I like gathering information and watching it all fall into place. Sort of like a puzzle, ya know?”

“Yeah. I know.” MacGyver smiled because he knew the feeling all too well. “So, what’s holding you back?”

Joanna was quiet for so long Mac feared she wasn’t going to answer his question.

“You. Us.” Her voice was soft and unsure. “I know Leroy isn’t hiring us as a package deal, but he did say we could be working together.”

“So? We did it before and it didn’t turn out too badly.”

“I know. But things are different now.”

“Afraid you’ll get tired of me?” Mac teased, trying to lighten the tension that had formed between them.

“Like that’ll ever happen,” Joanna mumbled, causing MacGyver to grin.

“Then I think you just made your decision,” he declared.

“What about you?”

“We’re a good team. If something works, I don’t mess with it,” he responded as he parked the Jeep in his driveway.

Joanna glanced toward her car, but MacGyver wasn’t ready for the evening to end.

“Wanna come in?” Mac nodded toward his side of the house. “And don’t say ‘no’ because I know you do.”

Jo laughed and fell into step behind him as he headed to the front door. MacGyver turned the key in the lock, but he didn’t hear the familiar click of the deadbolt sliding open. A tingle went up his spine as he remembered securing it earlier. He turned the knob and the door slowly inched open. Something was very wrong.

Mac turned to Joanna and pressed a different key into her hand.

“Go to Charlie’s. Lock the door behind you and call the police. Do not move until I come for you,” he commanded and, to his relief, Jo obeyed without question.

He proceeded to silently cross the threshold of his own apartment. He stood just inside the doorway and allowed his eyes to adjust to the darkness. Reaching out for the nearest weapon, he wrapped his hand around his favorite hockey stick. Man, he hoped it didn’t end up broken. He took a few cautious steps forward and stopped when he heard a noise coming from the lofted bedroom. It sounded oddly familiar. A few seconds later it came again. Someone had sneezed. Mac knew that sneeze!

“Frank Colton, is that you?!” MacGyver called out.

“Oh, uh, hiya Mac!”

“What the heck are you doing here?” MacGyver asked as he replaced the hockey stick and switched on the lights to find the dapper, African-American man looking down at him over the railing.

“I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d—“ Frank sneezed again, unable to finish his reply.

Just then, Mac caught site of a hefty, white and tan, bowlegged bull dog lumbering down the spiral staircase.

“Frog!” he exclaimed, bending down to greet his canine friend with a hearty ear rub. “How’ve you been, baby? I’ve missed you!”

After being satisfactorily welcomed, Frog grunted and trundled off into the living room leaving Frank and MacGyver staring at each other. Sirens pealed in the distance. Oh no…Mac turned on his heel and ran next door to get Joanna. Just as he was leading her back to his side of the duplex, two squads skidded to a stop on the quiet street.

“Terrific,” he muttered under his breath. He waited for the officers to approach him, Jo still at his side.

“Good evening, sir,” the older officer said. “We received a call about a break in?”

“Um, yeah,” Mac shoved his hands in the front pocket of his khakis. “I have to apologize for that. It was all a mistake.”

“Friend of yours?” the younger policeman asked, looking over MacGyver’s shoulder.

Frank was now standing in the doorway, Frog at his feet. “Yeah,” Mac sighed. “He just got into town and wanted to surprise me. It worked,” he added drily.

“You’re sure there’s no problem here?” It was the elder officer again.

“I’m sure. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

The policemen nodded and headed back to their patrol car. MacGyver pinned Frank with a steely gaze.

“You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, Colton.”

Just then Joanna let out a gasp. “He’s adorable!” she exclaimed.

Frank puffed out his chest and straightened his tie. MacGyver’s jaw dropped in disbelief.

“And who do we have here?” Frank crooned, reaching out to Joanna, who deftly side-stepped him before falling to her knees and taking Frog’s face in her hands. She was immediately rewarded with slobbery doggie kisses.

Colton’s face fell and MacGyver smirked as he watched Jo make fast friends with the pup.

“Joanna, meet Frog. And his human, Frank Colton.”

After giving the dog one final pat, Joanna stood up and greeted Frank.

“How about we take this inside,” Mac suggested as he herded his friends back into his apartment.

“How did you find me, Colton?” MacGyver demanded, closing the door firmly behind him.

“I’m a bounty hunter and a private investigator. It’s what I do.”

“And what about breaking and entering? You do that, too?” Mac challenged.

“If the situation warrants,” his friend replied with a shrug.

“What are ya doin’ here, Frank?” MacGyver asked as he leaned against the kitchen counter, defeat in his voice.

“I have some business to take care of in Chi-Town and thought I’d drop by.”

“Oh, really?” Mac asked suspiciously. “I don’t suppose you need my help with this ‘business’ of yours?”

“Of course not!” Frank replied, obviously offended by the suggestion. “But I do have a favor to ask of you.”

“What do you need?”

“It’s about Frog,” Frank whispered.

“What about Frog?” Mac whispered back, unsure of why they had lowered their voices.

“Why are you guys whispering?” Joanna broke in as if reading his thoughts.

Frank sighed. “Frog is a very sensitive dog. I don’t want him to hear this.”

“Hear what?” MacGyver asked, keeping his voice low but no longer whispering.

“He’s getting old, Mac. He can’t keep up with us on cases and Mama’s gettin’ frustrated with him under foot all the time. I was thinking, now that you’ve settled down, you could—“

“No way, Frank. I’m not taking Frog!”

“C’mon Mac! He likes you and I know you like him. I don’t want to hand him off to some stranger.”

“But I’ll be starting a new job that’ll keep me away all day. It wouldn’t be fair to Frog.”

“What about Charlie?” Joanna asked MacGyver. “Couldn’t he look after Frog if you get tied up at work? And I’d love to help, too. He’s such a sweetheart! How can you say no?”

Mac looked into her liquid brown eyes, his resolve wavering. Then Frog came waddling into the kitchen and plopped down next to his foot, drool pooling on his shoe. It was all over.

“All right,” MacGyver sighed. “Frog can live with me.”











Posted by: Dragondog 27 March 2019 - 06:00 PM
QUOTE
“I’ve spent the last three weeks turning over every stone I can find looking for a job, quite unsuccessfully I might add, while you’ve spent all your waking hours putting your precious little car back together! That takes money, Mac! A lot of it! And you’re just as unemployed as I am!”
This sounds like a future talk my mom may be giving me, considering I've been out of school and unemployed for almost a year laugh.gif

QUOTE
“Besides, I’ve kinda missed having you around.”
Flirt XD

QUOTE
“Me? Never!” he exclaimed before dropping a quick kiss on the tip of her nose and turning back to his car.
Just get married already!

QUOTE
However, since Wisconsin weather could turn on a dime
*looks at your profile under "location"* Ahh, I see what you did there tongue.gif

QUOTE
Joanna saw the moment the situation dawned in his eyes. “Sorry. Didn’t realize you had your hands full,” he apologized as he turned the knob to let her in.
Men XD

QUOTE
Mac plucked at the offending material. “I’m sure there’s red, white and blue in here somewhere.”
Mac shares my fashion sense, who knew? XD

QUOTE
“If you’re gonna be like that, we might as well be married!” Mac complained to her retreating back.
Well you know, it's not too late XD

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Stunned, Jo’s mind raced about what Mac and Leroy could possibly be alluding to.
I know we'll be coming back to this wink.gif

QUOTE
“What do you mean you’re not gonna stay for the fireworks? The night’s still young!” MacGyver scolded his guests as they prepared to leave.
Yeah, come on, guys! XD

QUOTE
“I’m sure, dear,” the red-headed woman replied. “You and MacGyver have been wonderful hosts, but you need some time to yourselves as well.”
Oh, that's why everyone's leaving XD

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“I hope you’re not going to bail on me, too,” MacGyver leaned down and whispered, purposely allowing his breath to tickle Jo’s ear.
Flirt XD

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“Me too,” he replied as he watched her, his voice huskier than he would have liked
My gosh, Mac's such a flirt today, isn't he? XD

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“I cut ties with Phoenix long ago and for a lot of reasons. I belong here, now.” With you. But he didn’t say that last part out loud.
Dangit Mac! It's not like that would've been any bolder than anything else you've said today XD

QUOTE
“And you hate that you can’t stay mad at me, don’t you?” he teased.
GET MARRIED ALREADY! laugh.gif

QUOTE
Just then a single firework exploded above them signaling the start of the show.
...And it was shaped like a heart XD

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“I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d—“ Frank sneezed again, unable to finish his reply.
...Scare the crap out of you and your girlfriend.

QUOTE
Just then, Mac caught site of a hefty, white and tan, bowlegged bull dog lumbering down the spiral staircase.

“Frog!” he exclaimed, bending down to greet his canine friend with a hearty ear rub. “How’ve you been, baby? I’ve missed you!”
So have I love.jpg

QUOTE
Sirens pealed in the distance. Oh no…
I was gonna say...

QUOTE
“He just got into town and wanted to surprise me. It worked,” he added drily.
laugh.gif You could say that...

QUOTE
Just then Joanna let out a gasp. “He’s adorable!” she exclaimed.

Frank puffed out his chest and straightened his tie. MacGyver’s jaw dropped in disbelief.
Yeah, I really don't think she's talking about Frank here roller.gif roller.gif roller.gif

QUOTE
“He’s getting old, Mac. He can’t keep up with us on cases and Mama’s gettin’ frustrated with him under foot all the time. I was thinking, now that you’ve settled down, you could—“
TBH, I have a hard time picturing Mama getting too frustrated with Frog. Also, why do I feel like Joanna's going to accept before Mac can get a word in edgewise? XD

QUOTE
“What about Charlie?” Joanna asked MacGyver. “Couldn’t he look after Frog if you get tied up at work? And I’d love to help, too. He’s such a sweetheart! How can you say no?
Called it. Sort of tongue.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 28 March 2019 - 05:22 AM
Thanks for the great and entertaining comments, Dragondog! I just *had* to bring Frog back...I love him so much, as you can tell by my avatar!! He's almost as cute as Mac!! So, I take it you're not opposed to Jo and Mac getting married? LOL!!

Posted by: Dragondog 28 March 2019 - 02:28 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 28 March 2019 - 08:22 AM)
Thanks for the great and entertaining comments, Dragondog! I just *had* to bring Frog back...I love him so much, as you can tell by my avatar!! He's almost as cute as Mac!! So, I take it you're not opposed to Jo and Mac getting married? LOL!!

Frog is the best! love.jpg

And if they get married, I certainly will not complain XD

Posted by: Dragondog 29 March 2019 - 06:30 PM
I don't know if it shows in my comments, but I've been watching a lot of CinemaSins lately laugh.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 3 April 2019 - 05:29 AM
Chapter 33: First Assignment

MacGyver stood in his living room, hands on hips, shaking his head in dismay. It had been two weeks since Frog had come to live with him. There was now a plush dog bed in a corner, various fur-covered and vinyl squeaky toys strewn about the apartment, and a doggie doorbell Mac had installed next to the patio doors and taught Frog to push with his paw when he needed to go out and do his business. The perpetrator of these changes was currently tethered to a long lead MacGyver had rigged up in the back yard napping in the late afternoon sun.

“Do you wanna eat in here or out there?” Joanna called from the kitchen, interrupting MacGyver’s thoughts.

“In there is good,” he replied, walking over to the breakfast bar where Jo was placing a plate full of Chinese take-out in front of him.

It was Friday and the couple had decided to celebrate their first week of work at the law firm with dinner and a movie at home. The corners of Mac’s mouth turned upward as he remembered Joanna entering her new office for the first time. Her jaw had literally dropped upon seeing the spacious, well-appointed work space with a large window overlooking the park across the street. MacGyver’s office was once again next door to hers, but the walls were much thicker than at Challengers providing them both with more privacy.

“What are you smiling about?” Jo asked as she dug in to her chicken Lo Mein.

“Just remembering the look on your face when you first saw your new office.”

Jo swallowed quickly and laughed. “Hey, I’m just excited to have file drawers that open on the first try!”

Mac chuckled before taking a bite of his food. It had been a long, busy week. Leroy did his best to make Jo and MacGyver feel at home and provided as much assistance as they needed to settle into their new jobs and surroundings. Unfortunately, the demands of the workplace had already taken their toll on spending time with each other. Mac planned on rectifying that this weekend, beginning with tonight.

After the remains of their meal had been cleared away, MacGyver let Frog in the house who immediately crawled under the coffee table to continue his nap. Joanna curled up in an overstuffed chair while Mac loaded a classic Western movie into the VCR before sprawling on the couch. It didn’t take long before Joanna became restless and started shifting positions in her chair. Then the questions started.

“How can they tell they’re shooting at the bad guys and not each other? They all look the same. Why does it only take one bullet to kill a bad guy yet the good guys just get grazed? How come none of the horses ever get shot by accident?”

“Are you getting bored?” Mac asked, already knowing the answer. Joanna just shrugged. He knew from the start she didn’t care for Westerns, but he admired the fact that she would watch one to make him happy.

MacGyver swung his legs off the couch and sat up, patting the cushion beside him.

“Come over here and let me see if I can fix that,” he invited her.

Joanna rolled her eyes playfully but obeyed. As soon as she was seated, Mac grabbed her legs and pulled them unto his lap before leaning in to steal a kiss.

“What about your movie?” she asked.

“You’ve seen one gun fight, you’ve seen ‘em all,” he replied and was pleased when Jo leaned forward and met his lips half way. He knew her fear of rejection prevented her from initiating most physical contact, but he took this as a sign that her heart was learning to trust him. To trust that he would never reject her.

After several minutes of exchanging kisses that ranged from languid to passionate, Mac moved his attention to her neck. Blood roared in his ears from the thrilling sensation and he almost didn’t hear her whispered question.

“Mac, are you happy?” she asked, pressing her hand against his chest to create separation.

“Mmmm, I guarantee you I am very happy,” he murmured contentedly. He took her face in his hands and was about to kiss her again when he saw the fear and sadness in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, concern washing over him.

“The way you’re looking at me. Like you want, need, something more.”

MacGyver sighed and pulled away from her to rest his back on the couch.

“I thought we already had this conversation?”

“We did. I just need to be sure.” Joanna lowered her eyes and Mac’s heart softened.

“Look,” he said calmly as he stroked her cheek, “we both agreed to go slow and wait on certain things. I understand your feelings about love and marriage and I respect them.”

“But I don’t want you doing it just for me. Eventually you’ll get bored or resentful,” Jo protested.

“Then you need to understand that I’m also doing it for me,” he continued. “When I was working on your church’s air conditioner, Father Mike and I got to talking. I realized that some of my past relationships may have failed because I assumed intimacy would bring about commitment, but now I’m beginning to understand that it might be the other way around. That commitment leads to intimacy. Does that make sense?”

Joanna nodded and Mac cradled the back of her head in his hands, eager to pick up where they had left off when both the shrill ring of the phone and the ding of the doorbell startled them apart.

“I’ll get the phone. You get the dog,” MacGyver groaned, reluctantly pushing Jo’s legs off his lap. He watched her attach the outdoor lead to Frog’s collar, drinking in the easy, loving way she had with the pooch before clicking on the call.

“Hello?

“Hi Mac.” It was Leroy Jackson. “Sorry to call you late on a Friday, but I have an assignment for you. Could you meet me at the office first thing in the morning?”

“Yeah, sure,” MacGyver responded. “See you then.” There went the weekend.

XXXXX

“You’re defending a drug dealer?” Mac looked up from the file he had been given to read and stared accusingly at his new boss. Next to guns, drugs was the next worst thing MacGyver could think of.

“I’m not defending him, I’m merely representing him,” Leroy explained.

“What’s the difference?” Mac asked gruffly, not satisfied with the response.

“If I were defending him, I would be pushing for a jury trial and not guilty verdict. However, I know he’s guilty and I don’t make a practice of putting dealers back on the street. I am, however, acting as his representative when he goes to court to agree to the plea deal the judge and I arranged. He’ll get a lighter sentence in exchange for testifying against his supplier whom we’ve been trying to get behind bars for years.”

“So where do I come in?”

“Jorge is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning, but he’s getting nervous. Worried they might come after him. He’s refused protective custody but has agreed to a safe house.”

“Let me guess. You want me to babysit Jorge for the weekend and make sure he gets to his hearing.”

Leroy nodded. “My firm rents a motel room for these situations. It’s small, quiet, and out-of-the-way.”

“What about security?”

“I’m looking at it,” Leroy replied with a grin.

Terrific. “With all due respect, it doesn’t sound as if you’re taking Jorge’s fears very seriously.”

The lawyer sighed. “This happens more often than not. It’s usually a sign that they’re gonna run.”

“So what you really want me to do is make sure he doesn’t jump bail.”

“Basically. And of course be prepared to neutralize any security issues that may actually arise. Now, if you don’t have any further questions, go home and pack a bag. I want you checked into the motel by 1pm. I’ll arrange to have Jorge arrive a couple hours later and I’ll see you both at the courthouse on Monday.”

After receiving his assignment, MacGyver stopped home just long enough to throw some clothes in his duffel bag and call Joanna to let her know what was going on and have her look in on Frog. He arrived at the motel earlier than planned so he could scout out the area. The nineteen unit, one-story structure was located on the outskirts of town next to a truck stop. The land was flat and barren, the population transient. Only a handful of rooms appeared to be occupied.

Mac stopped at the office to pick up his key and proceeded to the room Leroy had reserved. Upon entering, he did a quick security survey. One large room with a plate glass picture window, two double beds, a dresser and TV. The bathroom was small with only a ceiling fan for ventilation. One way in. One way out. Good to keep the bad guys at bay, bad if they needed an alternative exit. The place wasn’t ideal and, though MacGyver liked Leroy, he was having trouble respecting the man’s judgement, or lack thereof, at the present time. They hadn’t even set up a communication system. Mac pulled the heavy drapes across the front window and parked his Jeep a few doors away. No need to advertise which room they were in.

A couple hours later there was a knock on the door. MacGyver looked through the peep hole at a man in a suit standing next to a lanky teenage boy. Recognizing the man from Leroy’s office, Mac opened the door and invited them in.

“You must be Jorge,” Mac said in greeting, putting out his hand. “Name’s MacGyver.”

“Whatever,” the dark-haired boy mumbled as he slunk past, dropped his backpack on the floor, and tossed himself on one of the beds.

“Not much of a talker, hey?” Mac asked the man in the suit.

“Nope. Didn’t say two words the whole drive over. Good luck with this one.” He patted MacGyver on the shoulder and headed out the door, no doubt relieved to be free of his young charge.

“Just so you know, this wasn’t my idea,” Jorge blurted out as soon as they were alone. “I don’t need no babysitter.”

“Ah,” Mac replied simply, choosing to pretend he didn’t know what the boy had told Leroy. He took a seat on the bed across from the young man.

“So, how old are you? Fifteen? Sixteen?”

“What’s it to you?!”

“Nothin’,” Mac shrugged. “Got any brothers or sisters? Any family?”

“They hire you to give me the third degree or somethin’?” Jorge shot off the bed and into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him for good measure. MacGyver glanced at his watch. This was going to be a long forty-two hours and eight minutes.

Later that evening, Mac and Jorge walked over to the truck stop for a quick supper. The boy scarfed down his meal before inhaling a piece of pie for dessert making MacGyver wonder if he was the boy’s bodyguard or meal ticket.

When they returned to their room, Jorge pulled out a Walkman and pair of head phones from his backpack, laid back down on the bed, closed his eyes and shut out the world. MacGyver clicked on the TV, leaned back against the headboard of his own bed, and dozed off watching reruns of that year’s Stanley Cup finals.

Sunday morning MacGyver awoke to the sound of rain pounding on the roof and thunder rumbling in the distance. He glanced at the empty bed next to him and then to the closed bathroom door. Mac got up and tapped on the doorframe.

“Everything okay in there?” he asked.

“Geez, can’t a guy do his business in private?” came the aggravated reply.

“Sorry,” Mac muttered as he turned away and headed back toward his bed.

When Jorge emerged from the bathroom several minutes later, MacGyver tossed him an apple. “Breakfast,” he explained. Jorge grunted.

“Wanna tell me about the guys that are after you?”

“Nope,” Jorge replied curtly, tossing the apple core in the waste basket before reaching for his Walkman and resuming his position from the day before.

MacGyver spent his time channel surfing and pacing the room, stopping occasionally to peek out the front window to ensure they were still alone. By mid-afternoon, Jorge was complaining that he as hungry and MacGyver was glad for the opportunity to get out of the claustrophobic room. Since it was still raining, they drove the Jeep the short distance to the truck stop restaurant where they indulged in a hearty, homemade meal. On the way back to their room, Mac stopped at the motel office to pick up a newspaper to help pass the time.

“Did you meet up with your friends okay?” the clerk asked as MacGyver paid for the paper.

“Friends?”

“Yeah, two guys. Said they knew you and the kid so I gave them your room number.”

“Thanks,” MacGyver said as he tucked the newspaper inside his jacket and hurried out the door.

“What are we doing?” Jorge asked as Mac slowly guided the Jeep behind the long, low motel building.

“Just checking something out,” MacGyver replied, coming to a stop.

A dark, late-model sedan was parked outside their room.

“Looks like we got company,” Mac observed.

“That’s them!” Jorge exclaimed. “That’s the guys who are tryin’ to kill me!”

MacGyver put the Jeep in gear and made a quick turn out of the parking lot. Unfortunately, the driver of the sedan must have heard the squealing tires and was now behind them and closing fast. MacGyver pushed the accelerator as far as he dared just as a head popped out the passenger side window of the sedan.

“Get down!” Mac yelled, reaching over to push Jorge’s head down to his knees just as the sound of bullets exploded behind them. MacGyver swerved to avoid the deadly projectiles and sped out of the parking lot and onto the interstate.

“They’re still behind us!” Jorge cried, his cool veneer crumbling into panic.

“Hang on and stay down,” Mac instructed the teen as he expertly guided the Jeep in between lanes of traffic in hopes of losing, or at least delaying, their pursuers.

“Where are we going?”

“There’s a state park not far from here. You like camping?” MacGyver chuckled at Jorge’s stare which had now turned from panic to disgust.

With each passing mile, Mac put more distance and traffic between them and the sedan. When he saw the sign for the state park, he veered onto the rain-slicked off-ramp a little too fast causing the Jeep to slip onto the muddy shoulder of the narrow road before once again gaining control. Confident they were no longer being followed, MacGyver followed the signs to the state park and soon pulled up to the entrance.

“Whatcha doin’ man?” Jorge asked, calmer now. “We can’t just walk in the front door!”

“Sometimes the best way to hide is in plain sight,” Mac responded confidently.

After registering and paying for a campsite at the property office, MacGyver drove into a wooded area and parked the Jeep in their assigned spot.

“We gonna sit here all night?” Jorge asked, defiant once again.

“No way! We can go hiking, catch some fish, whatever we want. There are over four thousand acres out there just waiting for us to explore.”

MacGyver chuckled as Jorge crossed his arms over his chest and slouched down in his seat as if sitting in the Jeep for the next twelve hours wasn’t that bad after all.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The driver of the sedan slammed his hand against the wheel. “We lost ‘em!” he shouted.

“Take it easy man,” his partner tried to calm him down. “They can’t disappear into thin air. Take the next off ramp.”

“Why?” the driver shot back.

“The boss said this MacGyver is a real nature lover. There’s a sign for a state park. Probably thinks he and that punk can hide out in there.”

The driver suddenly slowed the car. “Look. Tire tracks in the mud. Could be him.”

Determined and gaining confidence, the driver headed toward the entrance to the park and stopped at the registration booth.

“Afternoon, gentleman. What can I help you with today?” the park ranger asked.

“We’re looking for a friend of ours,” the driver replied with a friendly smile. “Should have come through in a Jeep a short while ago. Had a teenager with him. Name’s MacGyver. Could you tell us which site he’s at?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the ranger responded. “I’m not authorized to give out that information.”

“No problem. We understand,” the driver replied. “But before we go any further, I think one of my tires is going flat. Mind if we get out and have a look?”

“Sure, go right ahead.” The ranger returned to the booth, his back to the men.

The driver quietly got out of the car, reached into his waistband to grab his pistol, and hit the ranger on the back of his head with the butt of the gun, knocking the uniformed man unconscious. He then located the registration log and found MacGyver’s name.

“They’re at campsite 31,” he told his partner.

“What about him?” the passenger asked. “He can ID us.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll go in, off the kid and MacGyver, take the Jeep and find us another way outta here.” The driver resumed his place behind the wheel and drove slowly down the narrow, winding road. “Keep your eyes peeled,” he instructed the man next to him.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna awoke from a fitful slumber Monday morning. Disturbing dreams had haunted her sleep the night before, but she couldn’t recall any details. She quickly performed her morning routine before going over to Mac’s to let Frog out to do his business before she went to work. Upon arriving at the townhouse, she heard the dog whining through the closed door. She made quick work of letting herself in and found the chubby canine looking mournfully up the winding staircase.

“Aw sweetie,” she bent down to pet the bull dog. “I know you’ve missed him, but he’ll be back today. Now let’s go do your business.” Jo hurried to open the patio door, but Frog refused to move.

“C’mon baby,” she urged. Frog glanced between her and the stairs before slowly waddling out into the back yard. Joanna clamped his lead onto his collar and waited for him to get done. After watering a small bush and snuffling the grass, he lumbered towards her. But instead of returning to the house, he went over to the garage, whining and scratching at the utility door.

“You know he’s not in there,” Jo said sternly, tugging at the leash. “You’ve been so good all weekend, now get inside before I’m late for work.”

Frog worried the door for a couple more minutes before following Joanna into the apartment. He stayed at her feet, almost tripping her up more than once while she prepared fresh food and water bowls for him.

“Honestly, what has gotten into you?” she asked, wishing that he could answer. But all he did was whine and gaze at her with pleading eyes. It was all she could do to tear herself away from the sad pup. She crouched down, kissed his snout, and promised to check back during lunch.

Joanna was out of breath by the time she reached the suite of offices belonging to Leroy Jackson’s firm. “Sorry I’m late,” she greeted the receptionist.

“Mr. Jackson wants to see you in his office immediately.”

Jo glanced at her watch. Granted it was just her second week of work, but she was only five minutes late. She squared her shoulders and knocked on her boss’s door. Leroy called for her to enter, and as she crossed the threshold she saw him sitting at his desk, a worried expression on his face.

“I’m sorry I’m late,” she began to explain, “but Frog was being exceptionally difficult—“

The lawyer held up a hand, effectively cutting her off. “That’s not why I called you in here,” he told her soberly.

Joanna instinctively knew this was about MacGyver, and it wasn’t good. Suddenly, her restlessness and Frog’s odd behavior began to make sense. “Tell me,” she demanded.

Leroy sighed and rubbed his forehead before beginning. “Late last night I received a call that there had been an incident in the parking lot of the motel where MacGyver and Jorge are staying. The desk clerk said that two guys were looking for them. MacGyver sped away followed by a sedan. A man in the car was shooting at them. A few hours later a ranger at the state park was found unconscious in the registration booth and MacGyver’s name was listed as a new arrival. Authorities have been searching the park since dawn, but there are literally thousands of acres to cover.”

“So Jorge was right. Someone is after him.”

“I’m afraid so,” Leroy shook his head in dismay. “This is all my fault. I didn’t believe Jorge and now I put him and MacGyver in danger.”

“Mac is in his element. If anyone can get them out of this, it’s him,” Joanna said, not certain if she was trying to reassure Leroy or herself.

“Why don’t you go home,” the lawyer suggested. “Everyone is doing everything they can to bring Mac and Jorge home safely. I promise to call you immediately with any news.”

“What about the hearing? Jorge was supposed to be in court this morning?”

“I’ve already requested a continuance. Now just go home and try not to worry.”

“Fine,” Joanna relented. “I’ll be at Mac’s if you need me.”

She numbly retraced her steps and drove to the apartment as if on autopilot. She opened the door to find Frog once again lying at the foot of the stairs. He looked up at her beseechingly.

“I’m sorry,” she patted his head. “You knew Mac was in trouble and I ignored you.”

The pudgy dog stood up and licked her hand as if in forgiveness before turning his attention back to the stairs.

“Okay,” she sighed. “I’m sure Mac won’t mind if you use his bed just this once.” She followed Frog up the spiral stairs, her hands patting his butt encouragingly as he struggled to the top. Joanna awkwardly lifted the heavy dog up onto the bed. After sniffing every inch of the comforter, he finally settled himself on a pillow with a huff and closed his eyes. Soon he drifted off to sleep, snoring lightly.

Joanna felt a chill run up her spine as exhaustion settled around her shoulders. It was still morning, but the news from earlier and lack of sleep was already taking its toll. Slipping off her heels, she climbed onto the bed beside Frog, curled into a ball, and let her tears fall silently as she waited for sleep to overtake her.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver and Jorge lay flat on the forest floor as the summer sun continued its ascent above the horizon. It had been hours since the two goons had flushed them from their campsite. Either Frick and Frack were smarter than Mac had given them credit for or someone was feeding them information. All had been quiet for a while now so Mac sat up, leaning his back against a tree trunk. He had to think of a way to get out of here. His surroundings offered a plethora of opportunities, but he daren’t take a chance on setting any kind of trap. Tourist season was in full swing and curious hikers and campers were everywhere. The way he saw it they had two choices: Circle back to the campsite or draw the thugs deeper into the wilderness and take them on alone. MacGyver’s sense of self-preservation voted for the former, but his overriding concern of hurting innocent people voted for the latter.

“Jorge,” Mac called in a loud whisper, “ready to move?”

“You got a plan?”

“No. But I’m workin’ on it. Come on!”

The two took off deeper into the woods. MacGyver began breaking tree branches and shuffling his feet to scatter the brush.

“Whatcha doin’?” Jorge asked.

“Making an easy trail for our friends to follow.”

“What?!” the teen shrieked.

“Sometimes, in order to survive, the hunted need to become the hunters,” Mac explained.

Jorge frowned but followed MacGyver, helping to mark the trail as well. They had hiked for a couple miles before Mac heard a cry behind him. He turned to find the teen sitting on the ground by a rotten log holding his ankle.

“What happened?”

“I wasn’t paying attention and tripped on that log,” Jorge replied disgustedly.

“Can you walk?”

“Sure man, no problem.”

But when the boy went to put weight on his ankle, his leg buckled and he fell into MacGyver who lowered the injured teen to the ground.

“Wait here, I’ll be right back,” MacGyver promised.

Within minutes, Mac returned with a handful of twigs and one long, thick tree branch. He got out his Swiss Army knife and cut the twigs to the same length. He then took a roll of flattened duct tape from his back pocket.

“I’m gonna splint that ankle,” Mac explained upon seeing the questioning look in Jorge’s eyes. “And you’re gonna use that branch as a crutch.”

Soon the two were on the move again, albeit a bit slower to compensate for Jorge’s injury. It wasn’t long until the trees gave way to open land by the bank of a small river. An idea clicked into place. It wasn’t much, but with any luck it would give Mac and Jorge the element of surprise.

“Stay back and watch me,” MacGyver instructed. The shoreline was muddy from last night’s rain. Mac stepped into the wet dirt, putting one foot firmly in front of the other until he reached the edge of the water. He then walked backwards, matching his steps to the imprints he had made.

“Okay, your turn,” he told Jorge. “This way it will look like we crossed the river.”

Once that task was completed, MacGyver went about collecting baseball sized rocks and heavy, solid tree branches which he shared with Jorge.

“Ammunition,” Mac stated as they each stepped behind a large tree for cover. And then they waited.

MacGyver was beginning to think the thugs had given up tracking them when he heard a rustling in the forest behind him. He listened intently. There were two voices. One was stern and commanding, the other hesitant and unsure.

“You go that way, I’ll go over there,” the stern voice instructed.

Good. They were splitting up. Maybe this plan would work after all.

Mac watched as an average looking man in a suit emerged from the woods and spotted the footprints in the mud.
“Over here!” the man called to his partner just as MacGyver hurled a heavy rock at the back of the man’s head. The projectile found its mark and the man fell over head-first into the muddy riverside.

Mac leapt from his hiding spot and ran towards the unconscious man, pulling his arms behind his back and wrapping his wrists and ankles together with duct tape. One down, one to go.

“Mac, look out!” Jorge yelled.

MacGyver turned around and found himself looking down the barrel of a small but potentially deadly hand gun held by thug number two. As Mac quickly processed the situation, Jorge tossed a rock towards the threatening man, hitting him in the shoulder. It wasn’t a hard blow, but enough to be a distraction. MacGyver grabbed the tree branch, planted his feet and swung, knocking the gun from the man’s hand. The man quickly recovered and lunged toward Mac who swung again, this time hitting the man square in the stomach. He grunted but did not go down. Apparently he was stronger than he looked. MacGyver went to swing the branch again, but this time the man was ready for him and grabbed the end of the make-shift weapon and wrenched it from Mac’s grip. Adrenaline flowing in full force now, MacGyver deftly ducked and avoided several of the man’s attempted swings at him until his foot slipped on the mud. The man landed a sound blow to Mac’s ribs and he went down writhing in pain. The man stood over him, raised the heavy branch and prepared to deliver one last blow just as MacGyver tossed a handful of mud in the thug’s face and rolled away. But the fight was not over.

The thug dropped the branch to wipe the mud from his eyes before lowering his head and barreling into Mac’s mid-section which sent both men to the ground before righting themselves and exchanging a volley of hits to the face and kicks to the gut. After several rounds, both men were on all fours, exhausted, bleeding, and breathing heavily. MacGyver wondered how much more he could take, but he didn’t have a choice. He had to keep fighting. He had to protect Jorge. Just then he caught movement from the corner of his eye. Jorge was limping quickly toward the thug, heavy tree branch in hand. The boy slammed the branch down hard on the man’s back, knocking the wind out of him. Mac quickly crawled onto the man’s back, pinning him to the ground as he once again secured hands and feet with duct tape.

“Thanks for the help, kid,” Mac said to Jorge just as a pair of park rangers emerged from the tree line.

“Looks like we missed the fun,” the elder ranger quipped. He headed straight to MacGyver to assess his injuries while his partner did the same for the incapacitated thugs. More rescue personnel arrived and soon the small, battered group was headed back to the campsite where they would be questioned, examined, and some taken into custody.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The ringing of the telephone startled Joanna awake. She glanced at the clock, surprised to see it was already late afternoon. Frog groaned his displeasure at the offending noise before tumbling off the bed and following Jo downstairs.

“Hello?” Jo knew this had to be about Mac, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the news.

“Hey, it’s me,” a masculine voice she had grown to love replied.

“Mac! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, just a few bumps and bruises. The usual.”

“Where are you? What happened?”

“That is a really long story. I’ll tell you about it when I get home. I just wanted to let you know everything’s okay. See ya soon.”

Joanna paced the apartment anxiously, waiting for MacGyver to arrive while Frog chowed down on kibble, much calmer now that he sensed his beloved master was safe. After what seemed like an eternity, a police cruiser pulled into the driveway and Mac stepped out from the passenger side. Jo flew out the front door to greet him.

“What’s going on?” she asked, frowning at the car.

“He’s just dropping me off. I need to pick up my Jeep in the morning.”

Joanna had a ton of questions all wanting immediate answers until she saw the bright white gauze pad taped to Mac’s temple. She also noticed how gingerly he was walking beside her.

“You’re hurt,” she stated.

“Just a scratch,” he smiled crookedly at her, but this time her concern made her immune to his charm.

Once they got inside, Mac seated himself carefully at the breakfast bar.

“You must be starving,” Joanna observed. “Can I make something for you?”

“I’m not that hungry. Don’t worry about it.”

“I’ll decide what I worry about, MacGyver. How about scrambled eggs and toast?”

“That sounds good,” Mac agreed. “Make enough for yourself, too. Leroy told me you spent the day here.”

“Well somebody had to take care of that dog of yours.” Jo hoped she could mask her concern with annoyance.

As if he knew they were talking about him, Frog raised his head from his dish and ambled over to MacGyver, pawing his leg. Mac bent over to greet the dog, but winced in pain which did not go unnoticed by Joanna.

“Hurt your ribs again?” she asked, trying to sound nonchalant as she poured them each a glass of milk.

“Just a bruise,” he answered, slowly straightening.

In the bright light of the kitchen, Jo could see the fatigue in his eyes and the strain on his face even though he tried to pretend he was fine.

Over the next couple of hours, MacGyver explained, in detail, the events that had taken place since he had last spoken to Joanna on Saturday, taking time to answer her questions and reassure her as needed.

“So as of a few hours ago, everyone is in custody. Jorge’s hearing has been rescheduled and his ankle will be fine in a few weeks,” Mac concluded.

Joanna was sitting on the couch next to him, still trying to mentally digest everything he had told her. Mac had spoken as if this was just an ordinary assignment, and she supposed that to him it was, given his previous adventures at the DXS and Phoenix. Now she could understand how difficult it must have been for the women in his life. But what she couldn’t understand was why they all left. How could they not want to be there for him? To welcome him home and take care of him? Granted, she had been a nervous wreck when she had learned of his situation, but being with him now was worth all the worry in the world, and the fact that she could have lost him today made this time together that much more special.

“Hey, you okay?” Mac broke into her thoughts. He put his hand on her knee and squeezed it gently.

“Yeah, I was just thinking.”

“About whether or not you want to hang around and risk going through this again?” MacGyver asked soberly. “’Cause I can’t promise you it won’t happen.”

“I know that,” she replied softly, turning so she could look into his eyes and cup his cheek in her hand. “But quite honestly, I can’t see myself anywhere else but here. With you. I can’t be scared off that easily.”

To prove her point, she leaned in gingerly and grazed his lips with hers.

“Stay here tonight,” Mac whispered huskily.

Jo glanced at the couch they were sitting on. Well, she had slept on it before and if Mac wanted—

“Not on the couch,” he amended. “In my bed. With me.”

Joanna’s heart fell to the floor and she wanted to cry. “But Mac, we agreed—“

“I don’t mean like that. I’m not going to break our agreement. I just want you near me.” He reached to brush the bangs out of her eyes. “After an assignment, I always came home to an empty house, and I was fine with that. But having you here tonight to make me dinner and listen to me talk about…well, it just felt good. I’m not ready for you to leave yet.”

And Joanna wasn’t ready to go. She clearly saw the pain and loneliness in MacGyver’s eyes and longed to comfort him in any way she could. Jo knew he seldom, if ever, reached out for help. Now that he was asking, how could she turn her back?

Jo emerged from the bathroom, the hem of the Calgary Flames jersey brushing the middle of her thigh. She tugged at it self-consciously. Facing away from her, Mac had already changed into sweatpants and was pulling a white tank top over his head as he turned toward her. She gasped when she saw his torso covered in black, blue, and purple bruises. His eyes followed hers and he quickly covered himself with the shirt.

“It looks worse than it is.”

“Really?”

“Really. Now let’s get some sleep.”

MacGyver turned out the light and crawled into bed a bit more carefully than usual due to his injuries. Joanna was also mindful of them as she gingerly curled up on the other side of the bed. She felt incredibly awkward at first, but as she tuned into Mac’s strong, solid presence beside her she felt her muscles relax and her heart warm with a sense of rightness. She was relishing this feeling when she heard a thunk and a snuffle coming from the foot of the bed. Jo turned her head and met Mac’s gaze.

“There’s no way,” Mac whispered.

Jo slipped out from under the comforter to investigate. There on the floor at the end of the bed sat Frog looking wistfully up at the mattress. Without asking MacGyver’s permission, she hefted the dog onto the bed while threatening to put him on a diet.

“You’re spoiling him,” Mac complained as she slipped back under the covers.

“He’s had a hard day,” she said in the dog’s defense. “If he goes, I go.”

“Alright, he can stay,” MacGyver replied sleepily.

That was all the encouragement Frog needed to wiggle his way between his two humans and grace them with slobbery doggie kisses before lying down and falling fast asleep.









Posted by: Dragondog 3 April 2019 - 08:21 PM
QUOTE
and a doggie doorbell Mac had installed next to the patio doors and taught Frog to push with his paw when he needed to go out and do his business.
So is this some kind of doorbell Mac bought and installed specifically for pets, or did he make it himself?

QUOTE
It was Friday and the couple had decided to celebrate their first week of work at the law firm with dinner and a movie at home.
I notice you called them a couple wink.gif

QUOTE
After the remains of their meal had been cleared away, MacGyver let Frog in the house who immediately crawled under the coffee table to continue his nap.
Frog is me laugh.gif

QUOTE
“How can they tell they’re shooting at the bad guys and not each other? They all look the same. Why does it only take one bullet to kill a bad guy yet the good guys just get grazed? How come none of the horses ever get shot by accident?”
Joanna is me watching literally anything. Even shows I love laugh.gif

QUOTE
“Come over here and let me see if I can fix that,” he invited her.
Flirty Mac XD

QUOTE
“I’ll get the phone. You get the dog,”
For a moment I forgot it was Frog's doorbell. Nice job, Frog laugh.gif

QUOTE
“Nope. Didn’t say two words the whole drive over. Good luck with this one.” He patted MacGyver on the shoulder and headed out the door, no doubt relieved to be free of his young charge.
Idk, having someone not speak at all sounds pretty easy to deal with to me tongue.gif

QUOTE
When Jorge emerged from the bathroom several minutes later, MacGyver tossed him an apple. “Breakfast,” he explained. Jorge grunted.“Wanna tell me about the guys that are after you?”

“Nope,” Jorge replied curtly, tossing the apple core in the waste basket before reaching for his Walkman and resuming his position from the day before.
Wow, he ate that apple fast XD

QUOTE
“Yeah, two guys. Said they knew you and the kid so I gave them your room number.”
Well, I wouldn't mark that as good professional behavior dry.gif

QUOTE
“That’s them!” Jorge exclaimed. “That’s the guys who are tryin’ to kill me!”
No kidding Sherlock

QUOTE
“They’re still behind us!” Jorge cried, his cool veneer crumbling into panic.
I can't help but feel a bit bad for him at this point

QUOTE
“There’s a state park not far from here. You like camping?” MacGyver chuckled at Jorge’s stare which had now turned from panic to disgust.
Teenagers tongue.gif (I say this even though I am one)

QUOTE
“No way! We can go hiking, catch some fish, whatever we want. There are over four thousand acres out there just waiting for us to explore.”
Or lose your charge

QUOTE
“The boss said this MacGyver is a real nature lover. There’s a sign for a state park. Probably thinks he and that punk can hide out in there.”
Hmph, that didn't last long. Who's the boss?

Also, I can't help but wonder why Mac didn't just call for help. I mean, he still could've run off into some camp site until help arrived.

At least the park ranger is smart enough to keep Mac's location confidential.

QUOTE
Joanna awoke from a fitful slumber Monday morning. Disturbing dreams had haunted her sleep the night before, but she couldn’t recall any details.
What a coincidence XD

QUOTE
Suddenly, her restlessness and Frog’s odd behavior began to make sense.
Yeah, you're totally meant to be together. Psychic connections and all that tongue.gif

QUOTE
“I’m afraid so,” Leroy shook his head in dismay. “This is all my fault. I didn’t believe Jorge and now I put him and MacGyver in danger.”
Yes Leroy, it is your fault. You're terrible at your job and a son of a-

QUOTE
“Why don’t you go home,” the lawyer suggested. “Everyone is doing everything they can to bring Mac and Jorge home safely. I promise to call you immediately with any news.”
Wow, you brought her into your office to tell her terrible news, and then sent her straight back home. Productive tongue.gif

QUOTE
Either Frick and Frack were smarter than Mac had given them credit for or someone was feeding them information.
Sorry, but calling them Frick and Frack amuses me way more than it should tongue.gif

QUOTE
After several rounds, both men were on all fours, exhausted, bleeding, and breathing heavily.
Jorge, what happened to you?!

QUOTE
“Thanks for the help, kid,” Mac said to Jorge just as a pair of park rangers emerged from the tree line.
Yeah, 'bout time you showed up XD

QUOTE
But what she couldn’t understand was why they all left. How could they not want to be there for him? To welcome him home and take care of him? Granted, she had been a nervous wreck when she had learned of his situation, but being with him now was worth all the worry in the world, and the fact that she could have lost him today made this time together that much more special.
Soulmates XD

QUOTE
“Stay here tonight,” Mac whispered huskily.
Oof, Mac XD

QUOTE
“Not on the couch,” he amended. “In my bed. With me.”
MAC! 8O

QUOTE
She was relishing this feeling when she heard a thunk and a snuffle coming from the foot of the bed. Jo turned her head and met Mac’s gaze.
I know where this is going XD

QUOTE
“He’s had a hard day,” she said in the dog’s defense. “If he goes, I go.”
Oh Joanna XD

QUOTE
That was all the encouragement Frog needed to wiggle his way between his two humans and grace them with slobbery doggie kisses before lying down and falling fast asleep.
I feel like Frog is being a watch dog of sorts, making sure they don't "go too far" if you get my drift XD

Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 April 2019 - 05:00 AM
Thanks for the comments Dragondog....Yeah, Frog is the best chaperone ever!!!!

Posted by: Dragondog 4 April 2019 - 05:58 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 4 April 2019 - 08:00 AM)
Thanks for the comments Dragondog....Yeah, Frog is the best chaperone ever!!!!

Chaperone, THAT'S the word I was looking for laugh.gif

Posted by: Persona non grata 5 April 2019 - 01:40 PM
...Mac's got a son.

I mean.

He's old enough to not need a chaperon, and so's Jo for that matter.

(doggie doorbell, on the other hand, is way Mac)

Posted by: Dragondog 5 April 2019 - 02:12 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 5 April 2019 - 04:40 PM)
...Mac's got a son.

I mean.

He's old enough to not need a chaperon, and so's Jo for that matter.

(doggie doorbell, on the other hand, is way Mac)

Yeah, well, tell that to Frog wink.gif

Posted by: Dragondog 5 April 2019 - 07:16 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 5 April 2019 - 05:12 PM)
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 5 April 2019 - 04:40 PM)
...Mac's got a son.

I mean.

He's old enough to not need a chaperon, and so's Jo for that matter.

(doggie doorbell, on the other hand, is way Mac)

Yeah, well, tell that to Frog wink.gif

Also, not everyone does that kind of thing, Jo apparently made a pledge with Mac, so... wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 5 April 2019 - 07:23 PM
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 5 April 2019 - 07:16 PM)
QUOTE (Dragondog @ 5 April 2019 - 05:12 PM)
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 5 April 2019 - 04:40 PM)
...Mac's got a son.

I mean.

He's old enough to not need a chaperon, and so's Jo for that matter.

(doggie doorbell, on the other hand, is way Mac)

Yeah, well, tell that to Frog wink.gif

Also, not everyone does that kind of thing, Jo apparently made a pledge with Mac, so... wink.gif

Thanks Dragondog! Yeah, poor Frog just wants to be with his humans...and it's a good way to keep Mac and Jo "honest". I also don't right about that kinda stuff...also exploring how this relationship is different than all of Mac's others. I know some readers won't buy into this but that's how I roll!

Posted by: Persona non grata 5 April 2019 - 08:17 PM
...ooh, I musta missed that. What pledge?

Posted by: Dragondog 5 April 2019 - 08:52 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 5 April 2019 - 11:17 PM)
...ooh, I musta missed that. What pledge?

When Mac tells Joanna he wants her in his bed, she immediately says, "Mac, I thought we agreed". SO it's kind of an implied pledge wink.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 April 2019 - 11:41 AM
OK Dragondog and Persona non grata...Here is the part in the beginning of the chapter about the "agreement". Since I wrote this and the previous chapters about 2 years ago, I believe the agreement (which is not to have sex before marriage) was made "off-screen" and I'm mentioning it now basically to let readers know what is or isn't gonna happen. People never watched MacGyver for the love scenes (there were none!) and when a possible love interest was brought in, they got tons of fan mail demanding Mac stay out of a relationship. However, we do Mac had intimate relationships but all dissolved one way or another and he could not commit. Not only do I not want their relationship to take center stage, but I also want Mac to grow and realize that intimacy comes in many forms and if his relationship with Jo is gonna last, he needs to approach it differently (ie. not put sex first) than he has with his previous ones. Also, it's pretty much a fact that on TV, once a couple has sex and/or gets married, a lot of the anticipation the viewers had is gone and it's pretty much the beginning of the end of the show. However, I do still try to keep things "interesting" between them!







After several minutes of exchanging kisses that ranged from languid to passionate, Mac moved his attention to her neck. Blood roared in his ears from the thrilling sensation and he almost didn’t hear her whispered question.

“Mac, are you happy?” she asked, pressing her hand against his chest to create separation.

“Mmmm, I guarantee you I am very happy,” he murmured contentedly. He took her face in his hands and was about to kiss her again when he saw the fear and sadness in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, concern washing over him.

“The way you’re looking at me. Like you want, need, something more.”

MacGyver sighed and pulled away from her to rest his back on the couch.

“I thought we already had this conversation?”

“We did. I just need to be sure.” Joanna lowered her eyes and Mac’s heart softened.

“Look,” he said calmly as he stroked her cheek, “we both agreed to go slow and wait on certain things. I understand your feelings about love and marriage and I respect them.”

“But I don’t want you doing it just for me. Eventually you’ll get bored or resentful,” Jo protested.

“Then you need to understand that I’m also doing it for me,” he continued. “When I was working on your church’s air conditioner, Father Mike and I got to talking. I realized that some of my past relationships may have failed because I assumed intimacy would bring about commitment, but now I’m beginning to understand that it might be the other way around. That commitment leads to intimacy. Does that make sense?”

Posted by: Persona non grata 6 April 2019 - 02:34 PM
....oh so Mac's Midwestern Catholic?

that.

*cough*

makes more sense than it doesn't

Posted by: uniquelyjas 6 April 2019 - 02:49 PM
QUOTE (Persona non grata @ 6 April 2019 - 02:34 PM)
....oh so Mac's Midwestern Catholic?

that.

*cough*

makes more sense than it doesn't

Mac's religious affiliation, if any, was never established on the show, though most scenes that featured church/religion were heavily Catholic. However, I am not giving Mac a specific denomination as he seemed to accept any on the show so I am staying true to cannon, but Jo is definitely Midwestern Catholic.

Posted by: Dragondog 6 April 2019 - 06:51 PM
I can't help but think it'd be perfect if Sam suddenly came home (unannounced), and just opened the door that next morning and found Mac and Jo and was just like






user posted image

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 April 2019 - 05:57 AM
Chapter 34: Mac’s Instant Family

MacGyver stood shirtless in front of the full length mirror studying his bruises. Had they faded in the past twenty-four hours? It had been eight days since the thugs had beaten him up. Eight days since Joanna had shared his bed. He remembered waking up early the next morning to find Frog gone and Joanna cuddled against his side, her soft, sleepy breath warm on his bare arm. He marveled at how something so innocent could be so intense and satisfying. He reluctantly forced his thoughts back to the present. After communicating with Leroy on a daily basis, his boss had finally given him clearance to return to work.

Upon arriving at the law offices, the receptionist immediately directed Mac to a small conference room where Leroy was waiting for him. Joanna was there as well, and she smiled brightly at him as he entered the room. Since the incident with Jorge, it seemed as if their remaining defenses had crumbled, allowing them to fall into a safe, comfortable place together. Leroy motioned for him to have a seat next to Jo before sitting across the oblong table from them.

“I have a special assignment for you two,” Leroy stated without preamble. “You may or may not be aware that our firm has been representing the wife of a wealthy local businessman in a very high profile and messy divorce battle. They have two children and the custody hearing begins later this week.”

“What does that have to do with us?” Mac asked.

“The one thing the two parties can agree on,” Leroy continued, “is that the children be kept out of the public eye until a settlement is reached. Normally they would go live with a relative, but their parents are quite paranoid and do not want them unduly influenced by other family members. They’ve gone so far as to take out several restraining orders against the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other relations.”

At this point, Leroy slid a thick manila folder across the table. MacGyver began to page through its contents and let out a long, low whistle.

“Man, I’ve been in countries with a smaller population than this.”

“In addition, the children are home-schooled year round by their nanny and their parents do not want their schedule interrupted. That’s why I’ve had papers drawn up giving you two emergency temporary custody. Joanna, with your education background, you can continue their lessons. Mac, I’m counting on you for security. Make sure the restraining orders are not broken and that other issues do not arise.”

“You mean kidnapping,” MacGyver replied matter-of-factly as Joanna whipped her head around to stare at him. “Cases like this are prime opportunities for disgruntled relatives, friends, or colleagues to earn a little ransom money,” he explained to her.

“Will the children remain in their own home?” Joanna asked Leroy.

“No,” her boss sighed. “You will all be staying in the firm’s safe house in a nearby subdivision.”

MacGyver’s eyebrows rose beneath his shaggy bangs. “You mean you have an honest-to-goodness safe house?” he asked.

Leroy lowered his gaze. “Yes,” he replied softly. “And I apologize for not sending you and Jorge there. From now on I will be taking any threats, real or perceived, seriously.” He cleared his throat and slid one key towards Mac and another towards Jo. “These are the only two keys to the house. I’ll give you the next two days to pack and get settled. The children will arrive the day after tomorrow. Here is a company credit card for food, entertainment, and any other incidentals.”

“What about Frog?” Joanna asked.

“Frog is more than welcome to join you. I’m sure he will be a nice diversion for the children,” Leroy responded with a smile before turning somber once more. “There is one stipulation, however.”

“What kind of stipulation?” MacGyver asked warily.

“The mother demanded that if a couple was granted custody they needed to be married. To set a good example for the kids. So, by the power invested in me by no one in particular, I now pronounce you man and wife.” With that, he unceremoniously dropped two rings on the table and made a hasty departure leaving a stunned Mac and Jo staring at the gold bands.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Twenty-four hours later, MacGyver pulled his Jeep into the driveway of a modest ranch home in the middle of a quiet, suburban neighborhood. Grabbing his well-worn duffle bag from the back seat, he made his way to the front door, Frog at his heels.

“Now mind your manners,” he told the dog as he slid his key into the lock.

The door swung inward and Mac walked inside. He was greeted by a large, comfortable-looking living room with an overstuffed sofa, matching chairs, and a large TV. Behind the living room was a spacious, eat-in kitchen with updated appliances. A hallway led to the mas