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The Journey Continues, Continuation of "Continuum"
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 1 May 2020 - 08:10 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 1 May 2020 - 01:12 AM)
It's ironic, because a few years ago I was doing research on puppy mills for a school paper tongue.gif

So will the next chapter have a time-jump, so the puppies can already be out? Will there be a reference to them and where they've gone?

Am I asking too many questions? laugh.gif

No. I don't believe I reference the puppies anymore. But that's something to think about if I ever tinker with the story in the future!



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Posted: 1 May 2020 - 03:43 PM                                    
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Okay then laugh.gif



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uniquelyjas
Posted: 6 May 2020 - 10:27 AM                                    
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Chapter 48: Meeting MacGyver

Joanna felt like pond scum as she crawled into bed and pulled the covers up to her chin. She thought about MacGyver, lying in the hospital hurt and alone, and her stomach churned. Since finding the abandoned pups, she had felt the barriers around her heart begin to crumble and found herself falling in love with Mac all over again. Not that she had ever truly stopped loving him in the first place. Yet, when the doctor at the hospital had asked if he had someone to take care of him and Mac shot her an expectant, even playful look, a part of her panicked leaving him to be tended to by strangers in a place he hated. He most likely now hated her as well. He would never know that she had refused to leave until it was confirmed he was settled comfortably in his room and the nurses assured her he would be well taken care of. He would never know that she stood in the doorway of his room, needing to watch the steady rise and fall of his chest to assure herself that he had once again escaped a deadly encounter. All he would know was that she had left him when he had needed her.

The following afternoon, Jo hurried over to Challengers as soon as school was dismissed for the day. She had called Cynthia last night and explained what had happened and asked if she could step in for MacGyver while Joanna was at work even though Mac had originally given Cynthia the week off. Because of that, Jo wanted to relieve her as quickly as possible. Breezing past Rosie seated at the reception desk, she stopped short when she saw MacGyver sitting behind the desk in his office where she had expected to find Cynthia instead. Their eyes met uncomfortably as she stared at his pale face accentuated by the white gauze pad taped to his temple.

“What are you doing here?” she blurted out.

“Working.”

“But I thought the doctor wanted to keep you for at least twenty-four hours?”

“I was feeling better so I signed myself out. Sorry to disappoint you.” His tone was flat, but his words found their mark. Refusing to rise to the well-deserved bait, Joanna decided to change the subject.

“Where are the puppies?” she asked, noticing the large box was conspicuously missing.

MacGyver must have sensed her concern because his features softened slightly. “Animal control came and got ‘em. They’re ‘evidence’.” Jo frowned. “Don’t worry, they’ll be well taken care of and then put up for adoption,” he added for what she hoped was her benefit.

“Excuse me,” Rosie quietly interrupted from the doorway. “There are some people here to see Joanna.”

“Oh! The school volunteers! I completely forgot!” Jo exclaimed as she turned on her heel and headed to the small group of teens gathered by the reception desk. “The posters are over on that table,” she told them pointing them in the proper direction.

“What’s going on?” Mac asked from behind her.

“These are students from nearby schools. They’re picking up the anti-drug and anti-gang posters to take and display in their classrooms.”

Within minutes the task was complete and Joanna turned to head to her office when a bout of dizziness overtook her, causing her to stumble into MacGyver. Immediately two strong arms steadied her.

“Hey, you okay?” he asked with concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she replied. “I just must’ve moved too fast.” With every ounce of determination she possessed she pulled out of his grasp. To her dismay, he dogged her every step.

“Are you sure you’re okay? You look a little pale.”

“I’m fine,” Jo repeated. “I’m just kinda tired.”

She slumped into the chair behind her desk, glanced at her calendar, and moaned.

“What’s wrong?”

Joanna propped her elbows on the desk and began to massage her own temples which were beginning to ache. “Last week I scheduled a meeting for this Saturday to discuss Challengers’ participation in a river clean-up project next month. I totally forgot about it and have nothing prepared.”

“You’ve had a lot on your mind lately,” MacGyver soothed. “Anything I can do to help?”

Dare she ask a favor of the man she had been treating so poorly? “I’d appreciate it if you could attend,” she answered sheepishly. “A handful of community representatives from the planning committee will be here. I’ve also asked Cynthia to come.”

“No problem. I’ll be here,” Mac promised.

“Good.” She summoned a smile. “Now get outta here so I can start working on an agenda and make notes on a couple issues I want to discuss.”

XXXXX

By the time Joanna dismissed her final class on Friday all she wanted to do was crawl under her desk and go to sleep. She had been fighting a headache and nauseated stomach all day. She blamed it on lack of sleep, too much work, and generalized MacGyver-related anxiety. Unfortunately, rest was still not an option for her. She needed to go to Challengers and finalize the meeting notes for tomorrow. She had agreed to have the club participate in this annual project when she thought MacGyver was still safely tucked away in Los Angeles. His surprise return, and the surge of emotions that came with it, had totally knocked her off stride and now she was paying the price.

When Joanna arrived at the club she greeted Geena who was working the reception desk but didn’t stay to chat. Instead, she headed to the kitchen area and began to root through the refrigerator hoping to find some white soda to settle her stomach. Realizing her search was fruitless, she dug in her purse for some change and was about to raid the vending machine in the recreation room when MacGyver appeared in the doorway.

“I was hoping you could fill me in on this clean-up project before the meeting tomorrow,” he said.

Jo’s stomach suddenly rebelled and she tried to push him out of the way but he wasn’t fast enough and the remains of her lunch promptly landed on his shoes. With tunnel vision and a singular purpose, Joanna rushed passed him to the staff bathroom where she hit the floor in front of the toilet just in time to empty the remaining contents of her stomach. She sensed rather than saw MacGyver kneeling beside her. He reached out to keep wisps of her hair away from her face, but she slapped his hands away.

“No,” she muttered between clenched teeth before her stomach tightened and she began to gag again. She felt his large, comforting hand rubbing her back and she elbowed him away, even in the midst of dry heaves.

After several vomit-free minutes, Joanna flushed the toilet and sagged against the porcelain bowl, her body tired and drained. Slowly she became aware of her surroundings and saw Mac at the sink, working to dampen a wad of paper toweling.

“Here, let’s get you cleaned up,” he said softly as he crouched next to her and gently wiped her mouth and chin.

“I can do it,” she murmured, reaching for the toweling while keeping her eyes averted. MacGyver reluctantly released the wad of paper and stood. Jo felt her cheeks flame with embarrassment. To her, there was hardly a worse sight than watching someone throw up. It was the grossest, most vile bodily function in existence. She never even allowed her own mother in the bathroom when she was sick. And today she’d done it all right in front of MacGyver.

Feeling a bit stronger, she pushed herself up off the floor and leaned against the sink.

“I’m sorry about your shoes.”

“I never liked this pair anyway,” Mac replied with a crooked smile.

“I’m sorry I pushed you away.”

“It’s no big deal.”

No, she supposed it wasn’t a big deal, but for some reason it was important to Joanna that he understand why she did it.

“Touching me…” she paused to temper the bile that threatened to rise in her throat while taking deep breaths as she explained. “Touching me makes it worse. Always has. Since I was little.”

“Like I said, it’s no big deal,” MacGyver assured her. “How about you lie down for awhile. Can you make it upstairs?”

Jo nodded and they took a few steps before she reached back and grabbed a small plastic trash container. “Just in case,” she said with a small smile.

As they were approaching the stairs to the dormitory, Geena bustled toward them, impeding their progress.

“Oh my goodness! What happened?! Joanna, are you alright?!”

“I think she just went a few rounds with the stomach flu,” MacGyver answered for her. “I’m taking her upstairs to get some rest.”

“I’ll scrounge up some tea and dry toast,” Geena declared, but Jo shook her head as vigorously as she could while fighting back more nausea.

“Maybe later,” Mac suggested and Joanna breathed a sigh of relief. Under his tender guidance, she gingerly settled into one of the beds in the dorm room closest to the bathroom, her arms still wrapped around the waste basket. She curled up on her side as he tucked a blanket loosely around her.

“Do you want me to stay?” he asked.

Yes! Stay! Don’t ever leave me! “No, I’ll be okay. Go calm Geena down.”

MacGyver bent and kissed her ever so tenderly on the forehead. “Holler if you need anything. I’ll be back to check on you.”

Jo nodded and fell asleep before he even left the room.

When Joanna next opened her eyes it was to find MacGyver sitting on the bed across from her, staring at her as if she was some sort of science specimen.

“How you feelin’?” he asked.

Jo took a moment to do a quick internal evaluation. Her heart was beating fast and the palms of her hands were sweaty, but that had nothing to do with the flu and all about the man who had taken care of her. “My stomach’s better,” she confirmed truthfully.

“Good,” he smiled warmly. “Then maybe you can eat something.”

She followed his gaze to the small nightstand between them holding a can of white soda and a small bag of pretzels.

“How did you know?”

“I called your mom, but Geena still has tea and toast waiting for you downstairs.”

They both chuckled as Joanna sat up and Mac placed a pillow behind her back for extra support.

“When you feel up to it I’ll drive you home and I don’t want to see you back here until Monday.”

Joanna immediately protested, “But what about the meeting tomorrow?!”

“Cynthia and I can handle it,” he replied calmly. “You need to concentrate on getting well.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“What do you mean you don’t have the agenda?! The meeting starts in fifteen minutes!”

“Don’t take that tone with me, MacGyver. Joanna was still working on it the other day and apparently didn’t get a chance to print it out before she got sick,” Cynthia explained.

“Then she must have it stored in her computer, right?” Mac asked hopefully.

“I would assume so, but she probably protects her work with a password.”

“No problem,” MacGyver replied, cocking his head and shooting Cynthia a mischievous grin.

“You know her password?”

“Of course I do.” Well, not really, but he could make an educated guess. He sat down behind Joanna’s desk and fired up the machine. The prompt for the password appeared and he took a shot, making sure Cynthia couldn’t see the letters he typed in. He held his breath and soon was granted access. There were several files available with abbreviated or disjointed titles that probably only made sense to Jo.

“Which one do you think it is?” Cynthia asked, now looking over his shoulder. “Maybe we should call her and ask.”

Mac shook his head. “It’s early and she needs her rest. Let’s try this one.”

He clicked on the icon titled ‘Meeting MacGyver’. An essay-type document appeared on the screen, the first line quickly capturing his attention:

Her story begins on January 10, 1995. That was the day she first laid eyes on Angus MacGyver and lost her heart, not to mention her ever-lovin’ mind!

Mac swallowed a snort of amusement at her snide remark before fully realizing what he was looking at. Joanna kept a diary!

“Did you find it?”

Cynthia’s voice snapped MacGyver back to the present moment and his eyes away from something he instinctively knew he shouldn’t be reading.

“Um, no. Not yet. Give me a minute.” Mac swiftly closed the file and examined his options. He found and clicked on an icon titled ‘River Clean-Up’ and the sought after meeting agenda, along with Jo’s notes, appeared on the monitor. He printed enough copies for everyone and hurried back to his office where members of the planning committee huddled around his desk.

The meeting lasted for over an hour, but MacGyver would have been hard pressed to list the topics discussed, much less any details. His mind kept wandering back to the document he had opened on Joanna’s computer. Initially he assumed it was her private journal, but the fact that she kept referring to herself in the third person didn’t make sense. In his literary experience it read more like a novel. A novel about him...and her...them.

Mac pasted on a smile and impatiently offered friendly farewells as the committee members left the building with promises to stay in touch. He regretted not being able to give them his undivided attention...or any attention at all, but he was too caught up in the urge to read what Joanna had written about them. He knew he probably shouldn’t give in, but he apparently played a role in the story so he figured he had a right to read it, he rationalized.

“I’m going to head home if you don’t mind,” Cynthia announced, donning her coat and tucking a legal pad into her briefcase. “I’ll get my notes from today’s meeting together and share them with Joanna when she’s feeling better.”

After watching Cynthia leave and ignoring Geena’s suspicious glances, he settled himself behind Joanna’s desk, fired up the computer once more, and sat back to read ‘Meeting MacGyver’. With one hand on the mouse, Mac scrolled through page after page of the story. Every now and again, something would catch his eye and tug at his heart:

What a man as experienced and worldly as MacGyver would want with a girl like her she couldn’t comprehend. Surely Mac could have his pick of women, why was he wasting his time on her? She wanted so badly to believe MacGyver’s growing feelings for her were real, but he was here on a Phoenix assignment. As soon as his job was done he would go back to Los Angeles and forget she ever existed. She only wished she could say the same about him.

She stared at the diamond ring Mac had put on her finger. He really loved her! The most wonderful man in the world loved her and wanted to be with her forever!

Her mind kept replaying the dinner conversation with Nikki and Craig. They confirmed what she already knew: MacGyver was a very special man. Way too special for her. He was meant to do great things, not waste away in a Midwestern town with a naive, modest wife. That would be like Lois Lane marrying Superman. He would eventually resent her for clipping his wings, or cape, as the case may be.

Now her only question was how would their story end?

MacGyver leaned back in the chair and considered everything he had just read. Waves of despair rolled over him as he struggled to think of a way to quell Joanna’s uncertainty about his love for her. He closed his eyes and sighed, ready to go home for the day and deal with his emotions later when suddenly all of Jo’s words began to make sense, fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Mac knew why she was struggling to commit and he was fairly certain he had a way to fix it.

Mac rang the Fairfax’s front doorbell later that afternoon. Judy answered and invited him.

“We’re just getting ready to leave for church,” she told him. “Jo’s in the den resting. Go on back.”

He smiled and nodded before heading to the back of the house. There, Joanna sat in a recliner, legs raised and covered with a brightly colored afghan. Her attention was on the television, but when she saw him standing in the doorway she quickly grabbed the remote and turned it off.

“There is absolutely nothing good on TV on a Saturday afternoon,” she pouted.

Mac couldn’t help but chuckle. “I came by to see how you were doing but since you’re complaining I assume you’re feeling better.”

“I am,” she confirmed, her eyes softening in a way they hadn’t since he’d returned last week. “Wanna join me for dinner?”

She tipped her head toward the small table next to her where a glass of flat white soda and bag of pretzels sat. MacGyver sat in the matching recliner on the opposite side and grabbed a handful of the salty treats.

“So how did the meeting go this morning?” she asked eagerly.

Uh oh. “Fine,” he shrugged. Everyone had left with a smile so he figured that was fair conjecture. “Cynthia took copious notes as usual and said she’d go over everything with you once you’re better.”

“Good,” she replied, taking a sip of her drink before lowering the foot rest so she could turn to him. “Mac, I owe you an apology for everything I’ve put you through,” she confessed.

“You don’t need to apologize for getting sick,” MacGyver remarked. “And if you’re worried about my shoes--”

“No, I meant everything I’ve put you through these past weeks. You’ve proved your love and commitment to me over and over again and I was an idiot to question it. I know I told you we couldn’t pick up where we left off and I meant that. We can’t undo what happened while we were apart, but do you think we could just put it behind us and move forward?”

Mac’s heart thudded in his chest and his mouth went dry. He couldn’t believe he was finally hearing this. “Forward as in…?”

“Being a couple in love with a wedding to plan.”

“I’d like that a lot,” he confirmed. “There’s just one thing missing.” He watched her brow furrow in confusion as he dug in the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out his grandmother’s, and now Joanna’s, engagement ring. He reached for her hand and slid it on her finger.

“You’ve been carrying that around with you?” she asked, eyes wide.

“Yes ma’am. I like to be prepared for anything.” The smile she gave him was warm and genuine and he wanted this moment to last forever but there was something he had to know. “What made you change your mind about us?”

She turned away and bowed her head. “You’ll probably think it’s really silly, but I knew, really knew with all my being, that you loved me when I threw up on you.”

MacGyver worked his mouth but nothing came out. He was speechless and thankful when she continued.

“See, I think that is the absolute grossest thing in the world. I won’t even let my mom see me like that. But you didn’t let me push you away...literally. You stayed, filthy shoes and all, and took care of me.” By now her voice was thick with emotion and Mac didn’t much trust his own either.

“Aw baby,” he reached over and cupped her cheek with his hand, “I’d do it all over again and a whole lot more. I’d give my life for you.”

Jo’s eyes filled with tears that threatened to spill over onto her cheeks. “I know, and I’d do the same for you. I’m so, so sorry I kept questioning my feelings.”

“Hey, I thought we were putting that all behind us,” he said with a quirky grin as he wiped away an errant tear with his thumb. Joanna offered him a watery smile, her face full of hope and love, and he knew he had to come clean with her. He reached into his jacket and withdrew the manuscript he had printed off earlier and handed it to her. Confusion spread across her face.

“How did you find this?” she asked softly.

“I was looking for the agenda for this morning’s meeting when I opened it by mistake.”

“You know my password?” She shot an accusing look his way.

“Yeah,” he nodded.

“Well, why wouldn’t you?” she muttered. After all, there were only a few people in the world who knew his first name so she figured it was the safest password ever.

“You read it,” she surmised, her demeanor surprisingly calm.

“When I realized what it was, I thought it might help me understand you better,” Mac explained. “And it did.”

This piqued her curiosity. “Go on,” she prompted, raising one brow.

“Ever since we met, I was determined to keep my past in the past so it wouldn’t ruin my chance at a future with you, but it turns out it did exactly that anyway.” He stopped and jammed his splayed fingers through his already disheveled hair. “By not talking about my time at Phoenix and the DXS, you ended up hearing bits and pieces about what I did, but never the whole story. You made me into some kind of hero, someone you thought didn’t deserve you, but I am and always have been just a regular guy with a kinda weird job. I mean, I’ll admit that I’ve done and seen more than most people could even begin to imagine, and maybe I tend to approach problems from a different angle than most, but I also got stuck with a lot of dull, lonely work no one else wanted to do.”

“Like what?”

MacGyver thought for a minute. There was so much to choose from!

“Well, this one time I spent three weeks above the Arctic Circle monitoring whale migration. I came home with a frost-bit finger and found Jack building a plane in my living room.”

Joanna tried but failed to hide the grin that tugged at her lips.

“Then there was the time I spent four weeks crammed inside a stuffy space simulator testing lab…”

“Okay, I get it,” Jo conceded. “I went a little overboard romanticizing your adventures.”

“And that’s my fault,” Mac declared. “Instead of burying my past, I should’ve shared it with you and that’s what I plan to do from here on in. No more hiding, no more running. If you want to know something, just ask. I’m an open book!” He spread his arms wide and smiled as she laughed.

“There’s something else,” he added, his tone serious. “I don’t want you to ever think that you are not the absolute best thing in my life. I don’t regret my past...well, at least not most of it...but I’m ready for a different future. One where I have a wife, own a home, have a family and do a job I love that won’t get me killed and you are the only person I want to have that with. Are we clear?”

Jo nodded, her countenance a reflection of certainty and peace. Still, he had to know one more thing.

“Are you upset that I read your story?” he asked.

Joanna appeared thoughtful before shaking her head. “I probably should be if for no other reason than you invaded my privacy, but given the outcome, I’m glad you did.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah,” she confirmed with a playful grin as she pushed herself out of her chair and went to stand in front of him, taking his hands and urging him to his feet as well.

“What are you doing?” he asked, brows knitted in confusion.

“I was planning on kissing my fiancé senseless,” she smirked.

She reached out and wound her arms around his neck with a sly smile.

“Well, it’s about time!” he exclaimed as he lowered his lips to meet hers before she could say another word.


















Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 7 May 2020 - 01:45 AM                                    
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This just happened to be uploaded on my birthday laugh.gif

Did you edit in that part explaining the puppies' absense? Or was that there originally after all?

Hey, you know it's true love when they're willing to hold your hair back while you expel your stomach's contents laugh.gif

And apparently she thought the same thing laugh.gif

Uh, I'd be leery about kissing someone who's still sick tongue.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 7 May 2020 - 08:22 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 7 May 2020 - 01:45 AM)
This just happened to be uploaded on my birthday laugh.gif

Did you edit in that part explaining the puppies' absense? Or was that there originally after all?

Hey, you know it's true love when they're willing to hold your hair back while you expel your stomach's contents laugh.gif

And apparently she thought the same thing laugh.gif

Uh, I'd be leery about kissing someone who's still sick tongue.gif

Happy (belated) Birthday!! party.gif

No, that part about the puppies was originally there. I wrote this so long ago I forgot about it!!

Everything I wrote about throwing up is true for me. NOBODY can see or touch me! Even though it sounds gross, this was a real big step in Jo's and Mac's relationship!



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 7 May 2020 - 10:41 PM                                    
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Thanks biggrin.gif

Yeah, I can relate. Though my mother has seen me sick plenty if times laugh.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 14 May 2020 - 02:00 PM                                    
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Chapter 49: Collateral Damage

The following week was remarkable if for no other reason than nothing remarkable happened. MacGyver had spent Sunday morning at Challengers before spending the rest of the day with Joanna and her parents. She had quickly recovered from the twenty-four hour stomach bug and insisted on returning to work as usual on Monday. Though Mac was concerned about her overdoing it, he was equally happy to have her by his side once more, engagement ring firmly in place. Tonight he had made a special meal for them to celebrate his purchase of the duplex and they now sat on the couch, his arm draped around her shoulders as she snuggled against him with a glass of sparkling grape juice in hand while Frog snored contentedly in the corner.

“You really like that stuff, don’t you?” he teased as Jo reached for the bottle of effervescent juice on the coffee table.

“It’s actually really good,” she remarked, refilling her glass. “You want some more?”

“Naw, one of us needs to stay sober,” he teased. “So you’re really glad I bought this place?”

“I’m more than glad,” she assured him, her warm gaze melting into his. “I’ve lived in the same house my entire life, and never knew another place could feel this much like home. I also couldn’t imagine you living anywhere else. We belong here...together.”

“I’ll drink to that,” MacGyver said, gently clinking his wine glass against hers.

“Ya know, I’m actually glad you made us take some time apart from each other,” he confessed.

“Really?” Joanna looked at him questioningly. “Why?”

Mac put down his drink so he could wrap both arms around her. “Even though I never once doubted my feelings for you, I can see now that I took your feelings for me for granted. I also realized that while I was trying to protect you by not talking about my past I was actually hurting you by hiding the things that made me the guy I am today.”

Jo studied him thoughtfully. “When you said if I wanted to know something about your past I should just ask. Did you mean that?”

“Absolutely.”

“Then I have a question for you.”

“Fire away!”

“How did you and Pete meet?”

“Which version would you like?” Mac chuckled.

“You mean there’s more than one?” Joanna asked skeptically.

“Well...yeah. There’s the version we tell everyone and then there’s the truth.”

“Okay...tell me both.”

“In the official version, Pete was on assignment in Saudi Arabia for the DXS and I just happened to be there as well. I rescued him from some quicksand in the Nafud desert, and borrowed a camel to take us back to civilization.”

“I guess that sounds believable,” Jo remarked. “Now tell me how you really met.”

MacGyver settled back against the couch cushions. This story would take a bit longer. He related how Jack had been a cabbie in Los Angeles at the time but had gotten himself laid-up in the hospital. Mac, never being able to say no to a friend in need, agreed to drive the cab until Jack was on his feet again. One of his fares had been a woman who asked to be dropped off at an abandoned warehouse only to be followed by a stranger. That stranger turned out to be DXS operative Pete Thornton. Ever chivalrous, MacGyver tried to aid the lady but ended up having himself and Jack’s cab commandeered by Pete to chase after the ‘lady’, an adeptly disguised international assassin who would turn out to be Murdoc. Mac left nothing out, telling Joanna about the bazookas, exploding bed, and even Pete’s tacky toupee.

“Wow,” Jo remarked when he had finished speaking. “I can see why you go with the quicksand and camel story. It’s a lot simpler. But I have another question.”

“What is it?” MacGyver asked as she pulled away to look at him.

“Initially you were trying to help Murdoc. Why did he turn against you and make it his life’s mission to kill you?”

Mac shrugged. “Good question. Once Pete and I partnered up, Murdoc saw me as the enemy, too. Then it turned into sort of a game for him: Who could kill who first. He hated it that I was always able to outsmart him and I hated it that he never got caught.”

“What do you think things would be like today if Murdoc hadn’t died up at Harry’s cabin?” Jo asked.

The telephone rang before MacGyver could form a reply. He grabbed the cordless handset from the coffee table and clicked onto the call.

“Hello?”

“Hey Dad, what’s up?!”

Mac smiled and glanced at Jo. “Hi Sam, it’s been awhile.”

“Yeah, I know. Listen, I was thinking of driving up tomorrow and taking you out to dinner.”

“That’d be great, but Jo’s been sick so I don’t think--”

“You guys are back together?! That’s awesome!!”

“Wait a minute, you knew about that?” MacGyver glared at Joanna.

“Um, yeah. See, Jo told Becca and--”

“Becca told you. I get it.” His fiancé plucked the phone out of his hand before he could say anything else.

“Jo is right here and she’s feeling much better,” she told Sam. “What did you need?”

Mac watched as she listened intently, nodding as if his son could see her.

“We’d love to see both you and Becca,” she replied, shooting a menacing look at Mac. “But you have to let us treat you. We can pick up Chinese and relax here instead of going out. It’ll be the perfect Friday evening,” she smiled.

MacGyver reached to take the phone back but she pivoted away. “Listen Sam, do you happen to know if Becca still has the box I gave her?” Mac watched her nibbling her bottom lip and wondered about the turn in the conversation.

“Oh, good,” Jo let out a relieved sigh. “Can you guys bring it with you?”

Mac listened as the call concluded and Joanna put the phone back on the table. “What was all that about a box?” He thought Jo looked like a deer caught in the headlights as she struggled with her answer.

“I suppose I may as well tell you,” she replied defeatedly. “When Becca was in town doing research for her article on computer dating, I had already decided it wasn’t going to work between us and I gave her the wedding dress Connie bought for me and asked her to return it.”

The worried look in her eyes told him she feared his reaction and his heart squeezed as myriad emotions swept through him. In the end, he simply took her hand firmly in his and whispered, “I’m glad she didn’t listen to you.”

The following evening the two couples gathered around MacGyver’s kitchen table, passing around cartons of Chinese take-out. Mac and his son dug into their meal deftly using chopsticks while Joanna and Rebecca opted for conventional forks. When they were done eating, Sam leaned back in his chair and took Becca’s hand.

“I suppose you’re wondering why I wanted to come see you,” Sam said.

Mac glanced at Jo who simply shrugged.

“You mean it wasn’t to allow us to feed you?” MacGyver teased, but his son’s face remained serious.

“No, Dad,” he replied. “I just accepted an assignment in the Middle East.”

MacGyver felt the air rush out of his lungs. Not again. What was Sam thinking?

“Sam, what were you thinking?!” Joanna cried, once again reading Mac’s mind. “There’s a war going on over there!”

“There’s always a war going on over there, and that’s kinda the point,” Sam said. “My editor needs someone who has experience being imbedded with American troops to get a story. I have that experience. This could be my big break! If I do a good job the Tribune will probably hire me on permanently. I won’t be just a stringer anymore!”

“Provided you don’t get yourself killed!” Mac shot back.

“I’ve done it before, Dad! I know what I’m doing!”

MacGyver felt Joanna’s warm hand on his thigh, offering him silent comfort...and perhaps a warning to calm down. He clenched his jaw to keep from saying something he might regret.

“Sam, what can you tell us about this assignment?” Jo asked, her voice low and calm.

“I don’t know a lot. Apparently even I’m on a need-to-know-basis, but I should only be over there a couple of weeks at the most. Apparently military intelligence has had some kind of break through and I’m going to be joining up with a special ops team to get the scoop.

“So where are they sending you? Iraq? Afghanistan?” Mac asked.

Sam shrugged. “I don’t know yet. I fly into Germany the day after tomorrow and I’ll get more information then.”

“I don’t suppose I can talk you out of this.” It was a statement, not a question, because MacGyver knew the answer.

“Nope.”

“Then be safe,” Mac said, getting up from his chair and walking around the table to where is son now stood waiting to embrace him.

A few hours later, MacGyver stood staring out the patio door, waiting for Frog to finish his business. He saw Joanna’s reflection in the window as she approached to stand beside him.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” he said flatly, still looking out into the night.

“I know,” she sighed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sam arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany on Sunday where he received further identification papers and a plane ticket to Kabul. He wasn’t surprised at his destination. Afghanistan had always been a hotbed of military activity and lately the news had been reporting a surge in rebel fighting within the country. Glancing at his watch he realized he needed to hurry if he was to catch his flight.

Seven hours later Sam’s plane landed in Kabul. He stretched as best he could while waiting to disembark. He figured he had spent most of the last seventeen hours in the air cramped in economy class and his muscles were beginning to complain. He longed to collect his rucksack, secure a room at the closest hotel, and take a long hot shower. Unfortunately, that was not to be. A man dressed in civilian clothes but clearly an American held a sign with Sam’s name written in large, dark letters. This was his contact who would transport him to the unit he would be imbedded with. Well-versed in introductory procedure, Sam had his passport in hand as he approached.

“Hi, I’m Sam Malloy,” he stated, handing over his ID which the man studied for mere seconds before returning it.

“Nice to meet you,” he said, lowering the sign and shaking Sam’s hand. “I’m Private First Class Alex Dunbar. I’ll be your escort the rest of the way.”

Private Dunbar appeared close to Sam’s age and height with brown hair and matching eyes.

“What’s with the civvies?” Sam asked as they headed to baggage claim.

“My commanding officer thought it best if I tried to blend in. I’m not sure it’s working,” he chuckled as he plucked at the tropical print shirt he wore.

“You must be pretty hungry,” Alex remarked once Sam had been reunited with his rucksack and camera bag.

“You could say that,” Sam laughed as his stomach grumbled as if on cue. “Airline cuisine only goes so far!”

“If you can wait about an hour or so there’s this little place outside the city run by local villagers. They serve the best qormah...better than you’ll find in any restaurant, plus it’s cheap and the portions are huge.”

“Hey, you don’t have to convince me,” Sam assured him. “Lead the way!”

A while later, Private Dunbar guided their utilitarian Jeep off the smooth highway and onto a bumpy desert road, leaving the lights of Kabul behind.

“This your first tour?” Sam asked.

“Nope. Second.”

“Voluntary?”

“Aren’t they all? If you don’t volunteer, Uncle Sam’ll do it for you.”

Sam chuckled at the saying he had heard all too often years ago when he was first becoming acquainted with military operations. It wasn’t long until he saw lights glowing in the darkness that had surrounded them. Minutes later, Alex parked the Jeep near an oddly shaped stone and clay structure. A mixture of white and multicolored Christmas lights powered by a portable generator provided a woven canopy for the outdoor eating area.

“Have a seat,” Dunbar motioned.

Sam sat down at a rickety table for two while his escort entered the small building to procure their supper. Even though it was well past midnight, the place was crowded and alive as men, women and children chattered away in a foreign language. Enticing aromas wafted on the cool night air causing Sam’s mouth to water and he was grateful when Alex returned and set a large clay bowl in front of him.

“Bon Appetit!” he said, taking his own seat.

Sam greedily dug into the hearty helping of stew covered rice. He immediately recognized the flavors of onion and lotus root along with large, tender pieces of lamb served in perfect combination. Once the two men’s appetites had been sated, they climbed back into the Jeep.

“How far is the base camp?” Sam asked.

“We should get there by dawn,” Dunbar told him. “Just in time for you to meet up with the convoy and head out.”

“Great,” Sam replied, trying unsuccessfully to smother a yawn.

Alex chuckled. “Jet lag’ll get you every time. I know it’s a bumpy ride, but feel free to get some shut-eye while you can.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“What do you think, Mac?” Joanna asked.

“About what?” MacGyver asked, tearing himself away from his self-imposed reverie.

“You haven’t heard a word I’ve said,” Jo accused from where she sat on the opposite side of his desk.

“If you think it’s bad now, just wait until you’re married,” Cynthia replied with a wry grin. “Booker, bless his soul, was the best man a woman could ask for, but that man had the worst case of selective hearing I’ve ever seen. At least up until now.” She nodded toward Mac.

“Look, I’m sorry, but I have a lot on my mind,” he snapped.

“You mean you have Sam on your mind,” Jo observed, no censure in her voice, only understanding.

“Yeah,” Mac confessed, scrubbing his face with his hands before standing up to pace the small room that was his office. “I don’t know what it is, but since he told us about his new assignment I’ve just had this feeling.”

Ever since Sam’s announcement at dinner Friday night, MacGyver had been distracted, unable to give Challengers and even Joanna his undivided attention.

“Perhaps I should leave and we can continue this meeting at another time,” Cynthia offered politely.

“No,” Mac countered. “The river clean-up project is a week from Saturday. We need to get plans nailed down and the kids on board.”

For the next two hours MacGyver forced himself to focus on the job at hand. The meeting ended with Cynthia volunteering to create a participant sign-up sheet and talk to Geena and Rosie about getting the kids interested in the project. Once Cynthia had left, Mac got up and began pacing the room.

“It looks like it’s gonna be a pretty slow night,” Jo observed. “Why don’t you head on home?”

MacGyver turned to her. “Only if you come with me.” He really didn’t feel like being alone, and that in itself bothered him.

“Fine. But your gonna have to feed me.”

Mac chuckled. “What do you say I make you my famous whole wheat and banana pancakes?”

“Sounds like a plan,” she replied with a smile.

XXXXX

The couple had just finished eating when there was a knock on the front door. MacGyver opened it to find two men with sullen expressions standing on his stoop. One wore a dark suit and tie and held a large manila envelope while the other was in formal military uniform. A high-ranking official if the medals on his chest were any indication. Mac knew government protocol when he saw it, and this was it. His stomach turned to lead as he anticipated the reason for this visit.

“Mr. MacGyver?” the uniformed man asked.

“Yes sir.”

“Are you the father of Sean A. Malloy?” the other man inquired.

“Yes, I am.”

“May we come in?” This from Military Man again.

“Of course,” Mac replied, stepping back to allow the two gentlemen to enter while Jo quietly came to stand beside him. He felt her arm wrap around his waist and saw the question and concern in her eyes. “This is my fiancé, Joanna Fairfax,” he said.

The men nodded toward her in way of greeting before turning their attention back to MacGyver.

“Perhaps you’d like to sit down,” Dark Suit Guy suggested.

“I’m good,” Mac replied firmly. “Just say what you came here to say.”

The man in uniform cleared his throat before speaking. “I have been entrusted to express deep regret that your son, Sean, was killed on assignment in Afghanistan early this afternoon. The armored vehicle he was riding in struck a roadside bomb and all occupants perished. The military and United States Government extends its deepest sympathy to you and your family in your loss.”

MacGyver felt as if he had just been sucker-punched and had all the air knocked out of him. The world around him began to spin and his vision blurred. He barely heard Joanna gasp beside him or felt her bury her head in his chest.

“No. It can’t be. Not Sam,” he murmured, his voice sounding far away even to his own ears.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the man in the suit offered. Mac now realized he was a chaplain. “Your son was positively identified by the documents he had on his person at the time of the incident. Here are some of his personal effects.” The man held out the manila envelope, but placed it on the kitchen counter when MacGyver refused to take it. “We’ll be in touch tomorrow to assist you with final arrangements.”

The two men silently let themselves out and Joanna locked the door behind them. “He’s not dead,” MacGyver proclaimed, turning to find Jo peering into the large envelope.

“I know you don’t want it to be true, but these are his things,” she replied softly. “Sam’s gone.”

“No, he’s not!” Mac yelled as he grabbed the envelope from her and slammed it to the floor causing its contents to scatter on the carpet.

Joanna knelt down to gather Sam’s belongings. She picked up a wristwatch and held it out. “Mac, it’s the watch you gave him for his last birthday. The one you had engraved.”

MacGyver’s legs gave out and he sank to the floor next to her. “It can’t be,” he whispered, taking the time piece and turning it over in his hands, trying to deny the evidence he held.

“What’s this?” Jo asked.

Mac immediately recognized the locket that hung from a long chain. He didn’t realize Sam still wore it. He took it from her and, with trembling fingers, carefully opened it to find a picture of a much younger version of himself staring back.

“This is the locket Kate gave Sam before she was killed. This is how he knew who I was,” he explained, his voice thick with emotion. Tears welled in his eyes and he knew it was true. His son was dead.

He didn’t know who reached out first, but he found himself in Joanna’s arms, sobbing uncontrollably. Filled with anguish and rage, he clung to her like a drowning man would cling to a life preserver. Their tears mingled together until they were both too breathless, too exhausted to cry. Sitting back on their heels, they reached out and wiped the moisture from each other’s cheeks. It was then that Mac noticed Frog all but attacking the forgotten envelope lying on the floor.

“Knock it off,” he scolded, making a half-hearted attempt to push the dog away. But Frog would not be deterred and continued to paw at the brown paper until it was nothing but shreds. Apparently satisfied, the bull dog then returned to his nap under the coffee table. With a lump in his throat, MacGyver reached out to recover Sam’s passport and press ID which was now exposed. Gingerly picking up the documents, he braced himself to see his son’s face one more time, but when he looked down, it was to find a stranger’s face next to Sam’s signature.

“They were wrong. It wasn’t Sam,” Mac said huskily, afraid to believe yet knowing it was true.

“What?!” Jo exclaimed, crawling forward.

Forcing himself to remain calm and logical, MacGyver studied the ID’s more carefully before showing them to her.

“This is Sam’s information, but not his picture,” he declared as hope bubbled up inside him.

“Is it a fake?” Joanna asked.

“Let’s find out.” Mac stood up and dug in his pocket for his Swiss Army knife as the couple made their way to the kitchen table. Once seated, he selected the thinnest blade he could find and probed the edges of Sam’s laminated press pass until a corner gave way. With slow, cautious movements, MacGyver lifted the imposter’s picture to reveal Sam’s smiling countenance. “It’s authentic,” he confirmed, leaning back in his chair. “Someone just replaced Sam’s picture with their own and did a real good job.”

“Then this is Sam’s too, only with someone else’s picture?” Jo inquired, fingering the passport.

“Looks that way,” Mac remarked. “Which means it wasn’t Sam who was killed in that convoy.”

Joanna leaned in. “Then who is this guy and where’s Sam? He’d never willingly had over his personal information, especially in a foreign country.”

“I know,” MacGyver agreed, scrubbing his face with his hands.

“So, what do we do now?” Jo asked, clearly bewildered.

“We figure out what’s going on,” Mac declared as he reached for the phone.

“Who are you calling?”

“Craig Bannister. The government and military often work closely with the Phoenix Foundation and Bannister may still have some connections at the DSX as well,” he explained as he dialed. When his friend and former colleague answered, MacGyver quickly summarized the situation. Several minutes later he slammed down the receiver.

“What happened? What’d he say?”

Mac blew out a frustrated breath and jammed his fingers through his hair. “He said we need to go through proper channels, but that’ll take too long.” He pushed out of his chair and bounded up the spiral staircase with Joanna close behind. He pulled out his worn duffle from underneath the bed and began randomly stuffing it with clothes.

“What are you doing?” Jo demanded.

“What does it look like? I’m going after Sam.”

Joanna grabbed his arm and wrenched it harder than he thought possible. “Have you lost your mind?! You can’t just run off to Afghanistan!”

“I can and I am! I hafta find Sam!”

“Then go through proper channels like Craig suggested!”

MacGyver turned and grabbed her by the shoulders. “Look, best case scenario is that someone simply lifted Sam’s papers or forced him to hand them over. Worst case scenario? Sam could’ve been kidnapped or worse. I’m not gonna sit around and wait for the government to cut through diplomatic red tape when my son is missing!”

“Would you just stop and think about this for a minute?” Jo pleaded, pinning him with the look she reserved for her naughtiest students. “Afghanistan is a large and very dangerous country. Where would you even begin looking for him? And what if something happens to you? Then you’ll both need rescued. At least give the government a chance to do it their way.”

Mac sighed and dropped his arms to his side. “I’m sorry. You’re right. It’s just that--”

“Sam is your son,” she said firmly. “If anyone can get out of whatever situation he may be in, it’s him.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Is he dead, Mama?” The little girl’s heavily accented voice pierced through his fog-shrouded brain.

“No, my little one, he was badly injured and needs to sleep while his body heals,” a melodic female voice replied.

“He’s slept long enough,” a harsh voice grumbled. “Every day he is here he brings more danger.”

“But Father, it was you who brought him to our camp,” the elder female countered.

“What was I to do? Leave him in the desert to die? I am an old man and will soon meet Allah and be judged. I cannot have a man’s death on my conscience. However, it is time that he leaves. He does not belong here.”

Sam’s head throbbed. He reached up to rub his temple, only to find it covered with a gauze-like material. He peeled one eye open, the other was swollen shut. His lips were dry and cracked and his mouth was filled with the metallic taste of blood. Continuing his physical inventory, nothing seemed to be broken, except possibly his ankle which throbbed in rhythm to his pulse. He attempted to push himself up by his elbow, but quickly flopped back down with a groan. Better add a couple of busted ribs to the list.

“Mama! Mama! The man is awake!” the little girl cried.

“Hurry, Asal, get him some water,” the woman ordered as she sat beside Sam on the narrow cot. She gently lifted his head and pressed the cool, earthenware cup to his lips. “Slowly!” she scolded as he drank greedily.

“What happened? Where am I?” Sam croaked when the woman pulled the cup away.

“My father found you beaten and unconscious in the desert and brought you here, to our camp.”

With the woman’s help, Sam sat up and took in the canvas walls of the little family’s tent and the one large room dimly lit by kerosene lanterns. He also noticed that he was no longer wearing his khakis and t-shirt but baggy cotton pants and a long matching shirt. His right leg was splinted with two narrow boards tied with more gauzy cloth which confirmed his suspicions about his ankle.

“Do you remember who did this to you?” the woman asked, genuine concern in her voice. Yet Sam knew it wasn’t wise to trust friends, much less strangers, in this volatile country.

“No,” he shook his head and instantly regretted it as a stabbing pain shot through his brain. “The last thing I remember was falling asleep in the Jeep.” Technically, the last thing he remembered was a very interesting dream starring Becca, but the lady didn’t need to know that. “How long have I been here?”

“It is the end of the third day,” came the gruff reply from the only other man in the tent. “You truly do not remember who attacked you?”

“No,” Sam replied as his mind raced with possibilities. Had he and Private Dunbar been ambushed? “The man I was traveling with. Where is he? And the Jeep?”

The woman and her father exchanged troubled glances. “You were the only one there,” the man confirmed.

Sam wanted to ask more questions. He needed to figure out his exact predicament, but he was tiring quickly.

“What’s your name?” the girl asked from the foot of the makeshift bed. With long, black hair and wide, dark eyes, she was a miniature version of her mother.

“I’m Sam,” he answered with the friendliest smile he could muster.

“My name is Asal, and this is my mama, Moska, and my grandpapa, Soban.”

“It’s nice to meet you all,” he replied, looking at each family member in turn.

“You must be hungry,” Moska observed. “I will get you something to eat.” At her declaration, everyone headed toward the opposite end of the tent. Sam leaned back on his cot and waited for his food to arrive.

Sam felt the rays of the morning sun caressing his face as the flaps of the tent’s entrance were pulled back. When he opened his eyes it was to see a pair of obsidian ones staring back. Asal.

“I guess I fell asleep before supper last night, huh?” he smiled gently.

“Mama said you needed to rest and will eat when you are ready.”

“Food heals the soul as well as the body,” Moska said as she came to stand beside her daughter holding a tray.

“I am pretty hungry,” Sam confessed as he sat up and took the tray from Asal’s mother. From previous trips to the area, he quickly identified ‘nan’, an unleavened flat bread, on a plate as well as a bowl of ‘mast’, a yogurt-based soup. Last, but not least, was a steaming cup of aromatic tea. Unfortunately, the delicious food soon became bland under Soban’s steely gaze.

“Now that you are stronger, perhaps you can tell us what you are doing here in our country.”

Sam swallowed a spoonful of soup before answering. “I’m a United States journalist. I was on my way to a U.S. military camp I’m supposed to be imbedded with. If someone can bring me my clothes I can show you my identification.”

The words had barely left his mouth when Moska presented him with his freshly laundered and carefully folded shirt and pants. “They were caked with blood and sand when my father rescued you,” she explained, “But your pockets were empty.”

His chin dropped to his chest. “Terrific. I’m in a foreign, war-torn country with no way to prove who I am,” he mumbled before looking up at Soban. “How far is it to Kabul?”

“Not far. At most it is a two-day ride. I will saddle you a horse, or camel, if you prefer, but you must agree to take a guide from the camp to show you the way and make sure my animal is returned.”

“Father!” Moska exclaimed. “Our guest is not healed enough to make such a journey! You must let him stay!”

“He can stay until sun-up tomorrow. Then he must leave and forget he was ever here.” The old man turned and stomped out of the tent.

“You must forgive him,” Moska said, shaking her head sadly. “He has lived his entire life in this desert as his ancestors before him. We are a peaceful, nomadic tribe, but that doesn’t keep violence and bloodshed from our homes.”

“It’s understandable that he would want to protect his family,” Sam assured her. “I couldn’t help but notice your husband isn’t here.”

Moska’s eyes took on a glassy sheen. “Several years ago, rebel insurgents tried to recruit my husband to fight with them. Asal was just a baby. My husband refused as our people do not believe in war and for that he was killed. My husband and father were very close. That is the reason my father distrusts strangers.”

“I’m sorry about your husband. I didn’t mean to bring up difficult memories, but I am glad your father saw fit to not let me die.”

“Our religion demands we practice charity,” she explained. “I will leave you to rest now.”

Sam spent the day sitting just outside the tent on a small, stone bench watching the other families in the camp go about their normal routine. Their self-sufficiency amazed him, as did their acceptance of him amongst their ranks. Moska had given him a walking stick and he was pleasantly surprised to find that his ankle wasn’t as sore as he first thought. Perhaps he had only sustained a sprain. It hadn’t taken very long before Asal insisted on introducing her friends to him and he spent the next hours fielding a plethora of questions about life in America. When the children could think of nothing else to ask, they split up in small groups to play soccer or baseball, but Asal remained steadfastly at his side.

“How did you and your friends learn to speak such good English and play sports?” Sam asked.

The little girl shrugged. “Sometimes American soldiers stay not too far from our camp. They bring us gifts and teach us things.”

“That sounds pretty cool,” Sam remarked.

“They also tell the boys that if they get real good at playing ball they could move to America and make lots of money, but I think they’re just teasing. Getting paid to play a game is silly,” she giggled, and Sam couldn’t help but chuckle as well.

That evening, Sam joined the family at the supper table and was amazed at the delicious meal Moska had made from such basic ingredients. When everyone was done eating, Asal and her mother cleared the table and Soban leaned back in his chair.

“I have arranged for our neighbor’s son to take you to Kabul tomorrow. He will meet you outside at first light. I am loaning you one of my best stallions. I trust he will be returned unharmed.”

Pleased that the old man apparently trusted Sam more than he let on, and infinitely relieved to learn he would not be riding a camel, Sam simply nodded.

Early the next morning, Sam stepped from the tent. The eastern sky was just beginning to blush a light pink, promising another sunny day ahead. As expected, a boy in his early teens stood holding the halters of two finely bred horses. He was admiring the animals when Moska approached with Asal and Soban behind her. She handed him a pair of saddlebags and a canteen.

“I packed your clothes and enough food for a two-day ride,” she informed him.

“You shouldn’t have gone through so much trouble,” Sam said, shaking his head. “You all have done so much for me already, there’s no way I could ever thank you.”

Moska gently put her hand on his arm. “It has been our honor to assist you. You can thank us by safely returning to your homeland.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Sam agreed with a smile, before hoisting himself up on his large steed, taking care not to aggravate his injuries.

XXXXX

Twilight was falling on the second day of the journey when Sam’s guide reined in his horse, causing Sam to do the same. While the young man hadn’t been exactly friendly, he had been polite and accommodating.

“Why are we stopping?” Sam asked, his instincts going on alert. “Is something wrong?”

His escort graced him with a rare smile. “No. See those lights in the distance? That is Kabul and this is where we must part ways.”

“Looks like a pretty long walk,” Sam grimaced.

The teen chuckled. “It is only about a mile to a well-traveled road. Someone will stop and give you a ride.” Then he looked critically at Sam. “You might want to change into your Western clothes. Locals will be more likely to take pity on you.”

“Gee, thanks,” Sam grumbled as he dismounted and dug his clean but now-wrinkled clothes from the saddlebag Moska had provided. His guide reached for reins of the stallion Sam had been riding and turned both horses back towards the direction they had just come from.

“You’re not planning on riding back tonight, are you?” Sam asked, concerned for the boy’s safety.

“I have traveled this desert since I was a small boy. I will be fine. And if I fall asleep, the horses know the way home.” He flashed Sam a parting grin and spurred the horses into a gallop, sand flying in their wake.

Sam quickly changed clothes, wanting to reach civilization before total darkness encompassed the desert. By the time he reached the paved road, his ankle was screaming in protest. He had taken the splint off the night before to make sitting his horse easier but now wished he had it back. On the other hand, how was he to know his guide was going to dump him outside the city to fend for himself?

Surprisingly, it wasn’t long before a taxi cab pulled to a stop in front of him.

“Need a lift?” the cabbie asked.

“Yeah, but I’m afraid I don’t have any money on me at the moment.”

“You are American?”

“Yes sir,” Sam replied, imagining what the man must think of his ripped shirt and torn jeans, not to mention the slowly healing bruises on his face. He wouldn’t be at all surprised if the cabbie suddenly turned tail and ran.

“My shift is over. I’ll keep the meter off,” the driver said after some consideration. “Where can I take you?” he asked as Sam climbed in.

“The U.S. Embassy if possible.”

With no further conversation, the driver zigged and zagged his cab through the city before pulling up beside the large building. Sam thanked the cabbie for his kindness before the man sped off. Now his next task was to convince the government officials in the embassy of his identity with absolutely no proof.

Sam made his way wearily up the steps and stumbled through the main entrance before approaching the reception area. He was hungry, tired, dizzy and in pain from head to toe, but he knew he had to hold himself together if he was to secure a way home.

“May I help you?” a young, female secretary asked warily from behind a large desk. Sam took a deep breath and pasted on what he hoped was a charming yet non-threatening smile. It was now or never.

“I hope so,” he replied in a friendly tone. “I’m afraid all my identification was stolen, but my name is Sam Malloy and I’m a photojournalist here on assignment for the Chicago Tribune.” He was prepared to say more but stopped short when the woman turned so pale you would have thought she had seen a ghost and shot to her feet.

“Please have a seat,” she invited, gesturing to a row of chairs lined up against the opposite wall. “I’ll be right back.” She hurried away and Sam sighed, sure he would soon be in handcuffs and sitting under an interrogation spotlight. He sat down, allowed his head to fall into his hands and silently bemoaned his fate even as he wondered how his dad would handle a situation like this. He didn’t have long to think before a burly, middle-aged man in military uniform approached, followed by a lanky, balding man in a disheveled suit. Sam rose to meet his fate.

“Did you say your name is ‘Sam Malloy’?” the office asked without preamble. He stood a head taller than Sam and clenched his hands behind his back, causing his chest to puff out.

“Yes sir,” Sam confirmed.

“Is that your given name?”

Now it was Sam’s turn to become wary. “No sir. My full name is Sean Angus Malloy.”

“Well, I’ll be!” the man in the suit exclaimed. “MacGyver was right!”

Thoroughly confused at the mention of his dad’s name, Sam’s questioning gaze bounced between the two men.

“Welcome back from the dead, son,” the officer proclaimed as he shook Sam’s hand with a sturdy grip. “I’m General Rimmer and this is Special Agent Max Foster with the DXS,” he explained, nodding to the man beside him who also shook Sam’s hand.

“I’m sorry. I...I don’t understand.”

“Let’s go back to my office and get this all sorted out. Then we’ll get you to the hospital and have a doctor check you out.”

General Rimmer led the way to his cavernous, well-appointed office in the bowels of the embassy. When everyone was comfortably seated, the general’s assistant brought in a tray of tea, coffee, and light refreshments. Having not eaten since early that afternoon, Sam eagerly indulged himself.

“Now, why don’t you start from the beginning and explain how you came to be here tonight?” Rimmer prompted.

Sam set down his cup of coffee and leaned back in the buttery soft leather chair. He was hoping the general and agent would have offered the same information, but he couldn’t fault them for not showing their hand. Afterall, he was the beat-up guy with no ID. Sam settled in and explained how he had flown from O’Hare to Berlin then on to Kabul where he was met by Private Dunbar and the events that followed.

“Then I woke up in a tent in the desert,” he told them and chronicled the days spent with Asal, Moska, and Soban, as well as his two-day trek back to Kabul.

“But you don’t actually remember the attack itself?” General Rimmer asked, not for the first time.

Sam shook his head. “Like I told you, I must have dozed off in the Jeep and was knocked unconscious. I was kinda hopin’ you could tell me what happened and if Dunbar is okay.”

The two older men exchanged somber looks laden with emotions Sam couldn’t quite identify. Finally, Agent Foster got up and retrieved a file sitting front and center on the general’s desk. He took out an eight-by-ten photograph and handed it to Sam.

“Do you recognize this man?” the agent asked.

“Yes,” Sam replied immediately. “This is Private First Class Alex Dunbar, my military-appointed escort.”

Foster plucked the picture from Sam’s grasp. “I’m sorry, Sam, but ‘Alex Dunbar’ doesn’t exist. Did you ask for his identification when you first arrived?”

Sam lowered his head. “No. I’m sorry. I was tired and just assumed he was who he said he was. He said all the right things.”

“There’s no need to be sorry,” Agent Foster assured him, “But perhaps it’s a lesson learned for next time. At any rate, the man in this photo was an American sympathizer with the rebel insurgents in the region. He went by several aliases which made it that much harder for us to pin him down. From the information we already had, and now with your side of the story, we believe it was this imposter who attacked you in order to steal your identity. You see, you were cleared to be imbedded with a special ops team on a highly sensitive mission that ‘Dunbar’ planned to sabotage. It would have been way too difficult to pose as specialized military, so he targeted you, a reporter, instead.”

“But how could he have possibly known about me?”

“We’re still trying to figure that out,” General Rimmer replied, stroking his chin. “Your incident has opened a very large can of international worms, so to speak.”

Sam took a sip of his coffee which by now had turned cold before raising further questions for the two men. He looked toward Rimmer first. “When we met earlier, you welcomed me back from the dead.” He then turned to Foster. “And you said that my dad had been right. What was that all about?”

General Rimmer scrubbed his face with his hands. “The man you knew as ‘Dunbar’ successfully infiltrated the special ops unit you had been assigned to. Their convoy hit a roadside bomb. Everyone in the vehicle ‘Dunbar’ was riding in was killed, including ‘Dunbar’”. He was identified by his passport and press pass that of course had your information on it. Per military protocol, officers were dispatched to inform next of kin and hand over personal effects.”

“So my dad thinks I’m dead?!” Sam exclaimed as he realized for the first time that not only were his ID documents missing, but he also did not have his watch, locket, or Swiss Army knife.

“He tried to deny it but, yes. At least until he discovered the altered credentials.”

Agent Foster picked up the story from there. “And you know how your dad is, like a dog with a bone when he has a puzzle to solve. I heard he even thought about coming here to look for you himself but his fiancé managed to talk him out of it.”

“Yeah, Jo’s about the only person who could do that, too,” Sam said with a smile until he realized that Joanna also thought he was dead and he hated to think of her and his dad grieving when he was very much alive. And what about Becca?

“So anyway,” Foster continued, “Mac called Craig Bannister at Phoenix and, since we all used to work together at the DXS, Craig called me after warning MacGyver to mind his own business. I was over here already so I started pokin’ around, but to be honest, there was very little to go on. Chances are we never would have found you if you hadn’t walked through that door tonight.”

Sam took a few moments to let this all sink in before the general spoke again.

“You’re a very lucky young man,” he observed.

“You call being beat up and left for dead ‘lucky’?” Sam snorted.

“I do, considering if you had been where you were supposed to be, you’d most certainly be dead right now.”

Sam blew out a breath. “Yeah. I guess I hadn’t thought about that. General, do you mind if I use your phone for a minute?”

“Be my guest.”

“It’s long distance,” Sam warned.

“I think the U.S. government can afford it,” Rimmer replied with a wink.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Mac, I think we ought to head home and let Sam get some rest,” Joanna suggested.

Sam had returned to his Chicago apartment twenty-four hours earlier and for at least twenty of those hours, he had been hovered over by either MacGyver, Joanna, Rebecca, or all three.

“He seems to be in good hands,” she offered, nodding toward where Becca stood.

“Oh, don’t worry about a thing,” the younger woman assured them. “I’ll take real good care of him.”

Jo bit back a giggle when Sam rolled his eyes. Like his father, he didn’t care to be fussed over.

“It’s okay, Dad. I’ll be fine now that I’m home,” Sam confirmed.

“Besides,” Joanna added, “You need just as much rest as your son, if not more. You’ve hardly slept a wink since this whole thing started.”

Mac blew out a breath and jammed his splayed fingers through his hair. “I guess I am being a bit of a ‘father hen’,” he admitted sheepishly.

“Look, I really appreciate your concern, but you can see I’m fine now,” Sam said from where he lie on his couch. His ribs had been bound and his taped ankle rested on a pillow.

“Alright,” MacGyver acquiesced. “But call if you need anything.”

“Would you like me to drive?” Joanna asked once she and Mac reached the parking lot.

“Why?”

“Because you’ve been awake for hours on end.”

“Fine,” he groaned, tossing her the keys and climbing into the passenger side of the Nomad.

Jo slid behind the wheel and grimaced.

“What’s wrong?” Mac asked.

“I never realized how huge this car is. It’s like driving the Love Boat!”

“Changing your mind?” he teased.

“No,” she replied firmly. “You just sit there and relax. You might even fall asleep, which would be a good thing.”

Mac snorted. “Like that’s gonna happen!”

Joanna carefully backed out of the parking space, quickly getting a feel for the big car. She tuned the radio to her favorite country music station and spared a glance at MacGyver who was snoring softly before she even reached the interstate.



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 15 May 2020 - 02:42 AM                                    
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Interesting title...

I seriously thought Sam's news was going to be that he and becca were engaged tongue.gif

Sam can't be dead. I think he gave his stuff to the other guy.

I was close enough.

Mac crying 😢😢😢

Good chapter laugh.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

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"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 15 May 2020 - 09:10 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 15 May 2020 - 02:42 AM)
Interesting title...

I seriously thought Sam's news was going to be that he and becca were engaged tongue.gif

Sam can't be dead. I think he gave his stuff to the other guy.

I was close enough.

Mac crying 😢😢😢

Good chapter laugh.gif

I thought you would probably like this one!



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 20 May 2020 - 12:11 PM                                    
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Chapter 50: Return to New Hope

A/N: This is a continuation of Chapter 31.

Boston, MA
March 1864

Mister Patrick Malloy sat behind his large mahogany desk from which he ran his incredibly successful newspaper empire. Distribution and readership had been on a constant rise, yet today a fiery rage roared through him. He looked at the crinkled paper he held in one hand and then at the calendar before him. It would soon be a year since his dearest daughter, Kate, had been murdered in a stage coach robbery while on her way to join her husband on the frontier land he was in the process of settling. His attention returned to the letter he had received that day from his six-year-old grandson, Samuel. In careful printing, the young boy had done his best to chronicle the Valentine’s Day wedding of his father to his school teacher, Miss Anna. Anger with his rogue son-in-law threatened to overwhelm him.

“How dare you?” he mumbled to himself. “She hasn’t even been gone twelve months and you marry the first chit to catch your fancy while I sit here day in and day out and grieve for my only child. It’s not fair!” Malloy slammed his fist down on his desk and immediately knew what he must do.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

New Hope, Nebraska Territory
May 1864

MacGyver stood on his front porch and inhaled deeply, his face tipped toward the mid-morning sun as its rays smiled down upon him. Late spring had brought clear skies and warm temperatures to New Hope and his homestead was already beginning to thrive. It had been a brutal winter, but thankfully he had only lost two head of cattle and his horses remained hale and hearty. An early thaw had also allowed him to get a head start on plowing and planting his field. He smiled as the joyful laughter of a grown woman and young boy drifted from the kitchen window. He could hardly believe that only a year ago he had been practically living like a hermit, sequestering himself from everyone and everything in the name of grief, and today he had everything he could possibly dream of. He heard the front door creak open and soon felt his new wife by his side.

“Would you mind hitching up the buckboard? Sammy and I need to go into town and pick up some groceries.”

“I’d be happy to drive you,” he replied, looking down fondly on the brown-haired, brown-eyed school teacher he had married this past February, much to the delight of his son and her student.

She reached up and gently weaved her fingers through the dark blond hair at the nape of his neck causing a delightful tingle to trickle down his spine. “You could do with a visit to the barber,” she mused.

“Um...on second thought...I have some things to tend to here. I’ll get the wagon ready for you.” He grinned as her mirthful giggle followed him all the way to the barn.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The little bell above the door tinkled a greeting as Anna walked into the General Store, Sammy beside her.

“Good morning, Anna! What can I help you with today?” Peter Thornton, the storekeeper, asked.

“I’m just here to pick up my weekly grocery order,” she sighed, looking around and wishing she had more time to browse.

“Sure thing. I have it all ready in the storeroom.” As Mr. Thornton slipped into the curtained off area, Sammy tugged at her skirt.

“Ma, can I go to the post office?” he asked impatiently.

“You know there’s no mail delivery on Saturday,” she informed him.

“But it’s been a whole week,” he whined.

“Fine. But remember to watch where you’re walking so you don’t get run over.” Anna had barely finished speaking before the boy was out the door.

“Here we are,” Thornton said, placing the box on the counter before calculating the total and taking the money Anna offered. “Guess you’re keepin’ pretty busy what with teachin’ and bein’ a newlywed with a ready-made family and all.”

“You can say that again!” she chuckled.

“Well, it’s right generous of you to offer to stay on teachin’ ‘til the end of the term.”

“In all fairness, I only thought it proper since I wasn’t planning on getting married and having a family when I signed my contract. I just hope they can find a replacement by the time classes resume in the fall.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry none about that,” Thornton assured her. “This here town is growin’ by leaps and bounds. Surely the school board will have plenty of young ladies linin’ up to teach our young’uns!”

The bell above the door rang again and Anna turned to find Sammy walking into the store, head hung low, followed by a man in a black suit and white shirt with a stiffly starched collar.

“Still no letter from Grampa?” she asked, sympathy overflowing for the boy. How could his maternal grandfather be so cruel as to not acknowledge the son of his late daughter?

“No,” Sammy mumbled. “I was hopin’, after I told him all about your wedding, that he might send you and Pa a present.”

Anna put a comforting hand on the boy’s shoulder. How could one so young understand that, while the wedding may have been a happy occasion for him, the news may not sit well with others? Thankfully, Sammy’s sullen mood dispersed when he spied a display of pocketknives that had not been there the week before.

“Look, Ma! They're just like the one Pa uses! Can I have one?! Pleaaaase?”

“We’ve talked about this,” she replied sternly. “You can have one when you’re older. It’ll be your father’s special gift to you.”

“But I am older than the last time I asked!”

“He’s got ya there!” Mr. Thornton chortled. “Would ya like me to carry this out to the wagon for ya?” he asked, easily changing the subject as he lifted her box off the counter.

“That’s a mighty fine offer and I think I’ll take you up on it,” Anna told him cheerfully. “Since marrying MacGyver, I’ve discovered how nice it is to have a man around to help out!”

Anna rushed to hold open the door, but the man in the black suit stepped out from the shadows and cut her off.

“Allow me,” he said, opening the door for her to walk through followed by Sammy and Mr. Thornton before he, himself followed.

“Thank you, sir,” Anna offered.

“My pleasure Mrs.---”

“MacGyver. Mrs. MacGyver.” She grinned as the name still felt strange upon her lips. “But you can call me ‘Anna’. We’re quite informal here.”

“How very lovely, Anna. In that case, you must call me ‘Edward’, and allow me to say what a splendid time I am having in your little town.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” she smiled. “What brings you to New Hope?”

“Business, ma’am, always business.”

“What kinda work do ya do, mister?” Sammy asked

“That’s not polite, young man,” Anna admonished, but Edward smiled even though it didn’t reach his eyes.

“I work as a scout for the railroad,” the visitor explained. “My bosses want to know if I think they should build a spur from New Hope to hook up with the main line.”

“You mean the train might be comin’ through here?” Thornton asked.

“Indeed,” Edward replied. “Now, if you all will excuse me, I must return to the inn where my hostesses will be serving up the noon meal and I must be punctual lest I go hungry.”

“You could come eat with us,” Sammy offered eagerly. “Both Ma and Pa cook really good!”

This time Edward offered a genuine laugh. “I rather think your parents are not prepared for a guest. Perhaps some other time.”

Even though this was frontier country, Anna knew what manners dictated her to say next. “Tomorrow is Sunday. Please join us for our evening meal.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose,” Edward protested.

“It would be no imposition and perhaps my husband can give you some information about the town and land to take back to your boss.”

“Well, how can a man turn down an invitation like that?”

“Then it’s settled,” Anna stated. “Supper will be at six. Mr. Thornton can give you directions to our place.”

XXXXX

“I hope you don’t mind, but I invited a guest to supper tomorrow night,” Anna informed MacGyver as he gently deposited the box of groceries on the kitchen table.

“I don’t mind,” Mac shrugged. “Who is it?”

“His name is Edward and he works as a scout for the railroad. He says they’re thinking of building a spur off the main line to service New Hope. He’s been eating at the inn, but I thought it only neighborly to invite him since it sounds like he’ll be here a while.”

“Then maybe he’ll learn to talk like us,” Sammy interjected.

MacGyver quirked a brow. “What do mean, son?”

Sammy gave a one-shoulder shrug. “He talks funny.”

Anna paused from replenishing the cupboards. “Edward has a British accent,” she explained.

“I thought we fought a war to get rid of those guys,” Mac teased.

“That was almost a hundred years ago,” Anna informed her husband. “Besides, this country is made up of immigrants. If not for our ancestors, you and I wouldn’t be here. None of us would. Now go wash up. Lunch will be ready soon.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“He’s here! He’s here!” Sammy exclaimed as he bounded out the door and down the porch steps to where a man dressed all in black dismounted from an equally black steed. “Hi Edward!” he greeted the man.

“That’s ‘Mister Edward’ to you,” MacGyver scolded lightly as he came up behind his son.

“Mister Edward, this is my dad, MacGyver,” Sammy said.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Mac said, shaking his guest’s hand.

“Oh, I assure you, the pleasure is all mine,” Edward replied with a grin.

“We best get in the house,” MacGyver instructed. “Anna is putting supper on the table as we speak.”

The mealtime conversation gravitated toward politely generic topics such as the weather, the upcoming growing season, and, of course, the railroad. When the final bite of dessert had been consumed, Edward turned to address Anna.

“I daresay this is one of the most delicious meals I’ve had in a long time, but I do regret if I inconvenienced you.”

Mac watched Anna blush slightly at the compliment. “It was only chicken and dumplin’s. Besides, I enjoy cooking.”

“Do you wanna play a game of checkers, Mister Edward?” Sammy interrupted eagerly. “I’ll let ya win if ya want!”

“You need to start getting ready for bed, young man,” Anna informed him. “You have school in the morning.”

“So do you, but you ain’t goin’ to bed!” Sammy uncharacteristically shot back. MacGyver sent his son a quelling stare resulting in a mumbled, though not entirely sincere, apology.

“Perhaps this will make up for the checker game, eh?” Edward asked as he handed Sammy a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. The young boy wasted no time as he ripped into the wrapping and soon held up a brand new pocket knife for everyone to see. Anna gasped and Mac felt as if his heart was being pierced by each and every one of the blades the small tool held.

“Wow! Thanks Mister Edward! Pa, can I keep it?!”

MacGyver glanced up at their guest who was smiling like a cat that got the cream. “We’ll discuss it in the morning,” he murmured. “Right now, say good-night and go to your room. And leave the knife on the table.”

Everyone waited to speak until the boy left the room.

“I’m sorry if I offended you with my gift,” Edward apologized, breaking the heavy silence.

“It’s not a problem,” Mac ground out.

“Indeed, it was very thoughtful of you,” Anna added.

Edward made a show of looking at his fancy pocket watch. “Alas, I fear it is getting a bit late. I should head back to town before I’m locked out of the inn. My hostesses keep to a strict curfew.”

Good-bye’s and thank-you’s were exchanged before their guest rode off, blending in with the night.

Hours later, MacGyver lie in bed staring up at the ceiling, Anna beside him. The cadence of her breathing told him she was still awake as well. He felt her small, warm hand cover his beneath the blanket.

“I’m sorry about the pocketknife,” she whispered. “Edward must have overheard us talking in the store when Sammy noticed them on display and asked if he could have one. I know you wanted it to be a special gift from you to him.”

“It’s not your fault,” Mac whispered back. “But Sammy knows better than to fuss about it,” Mac grumbled. “What did you tell him?”

“I told him he needed to wait until he was older and he informed me he was older.”

“First he talks back to you at the dinner table and now you tell me it also happened in the store? It sounds like I need to have a talk with him.”

“He’s just testing me, Mac. We’ve only been married a few months and it’s gotta be tough havin’ a new ma who’s also his schoolteacher. I’m sure things will get better when school lets out for the summer in a few weeks.”

“I suppose you’re probably right,” MacGyver admitted, but he was still disappointed in his son’s behavior.

“What do you think of Edward?” Anna asked, obviously eager to change the topic of this late night conversation.

“What do you think?” he countered.

He felt her shrug. “He seems like a decent man, I suppose.”

“You don’t sound convinced,” Mac observed. When she didn’t respond, MacGyver decided to put his two cents in. “I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s something about the man that just doesn’t sit right with me.”

He heard his wife blow out a breath. “I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way,” she confessed.

Early the next morning MacGyver hitched up his team to the buckboard and pulled it around to the front of the small house just as Anna and Sammy walked through the door, headed for school.

“How about I give you a lift today,” he suggested. “I’m going into town and it’s right on the way.”

Mac took Anna’s hand and helped her climb up to sit on the seat beside him while their son scrambled into the wagon. Once everyone was settled, he slapped the reins and the horses began plodding forward.

“I didn’t know you had to go into town,” Anna remarked once they were underway.

“Found I was in need of a few things this morning while I was tending the herd.”

“This wouldn’t have anything to do with Edward, would it?” she asked, her voice only loud enough to be heard over the sound of the wagon wheels.

“Does it matter?”

His eyes danced as she shook her head in dismay. “Just behave yourself, okay?”

“You have my word,” he replied solemnly before leaning over to kiss her on the cheek.

After dropping off his wife and son at the small, one-room schoolhouse, MacGyver headed directly to the town’s saloon. If there was any news to be had, saloon-owner Jack Dalton would know of it. As Mac allowed his body to sway along with the rhythm of the wagon, he couldn’t help but chuckle at the unlikely friend he had made. Word had it that Jack was a gold prospector traveling through town on his way to California when his horse pulled up lame and he came down with influenza. Weak and penniless, he sold his claim and stayed on to run the saloon. MacGyver first met him the previous spring when a sudden thaw flooded his establishment and he lent Dalton a hand repairing the damage. An odd bond had formed between the two men and Mac often took it upon himself to get Jack out of the scrapes he sometimes found himself in. Arriving at his destination, MacGyver tethered his team to the hitching post out front, but knowing that Jack had probably just closed the saloon a few hours earlier, Mac headed to the back of the building and the owner’s living quarters.

“Go away,” Jack Dalton grumbled as Mac knocked on his door.

“It’s MacGyver! I need to talk to you!” He continued to pound on the door until it began to swing inward.

“I’m only opening this to make the noise stop,” Jack said, one hand on the doorknob, the other cradling his aching head. “C’mon in. Can I get you somethin’ to drink? On second thought, nevermind...I forgot who I was talkin’ to.” Turning away from his friend, he grabbed a bottle of amber colored liquid and tossed back a swallow. Mac frowned. If Jack kept that up, he’d drink all his profits.

“Now what’s so important that it can’t wait ‘til a decent hour...like this afternoon?”

“I was wondering if you knew anything about a visitor staying here in town who goes by the name ‘Edward’ and says he’s here on business for the railroad.”

Mac’s question was met with red-rimmed, unseeing eyes. Sighing, he continued, “He wears a black suit, rides a black horse, and has an English accent.”

Jack’s eyes immediately snapped into focus. “Oh, you mean Eddie.”

“Eddie?”

“Yeah, Eddie Murdoc. Comes in just about every night. Has a couple of drinks, cheats at a couple hands of poker and then disappears.”

“What do you know about him?”

“I just told you. He’s a quiet guy. Keeps to himself. Spends a lot of time at the inn, and is it any wonder? Those two ol’ biddies over there probably wait on him hand and foot. They think ‘he’s so handsome and charming’,” Jack replied, taking on a falsetto voice while clasping his hands to his chest and batting his eyelashes. “He comes in complainin’ about the attention, but I think he secretly likes it.” Jack yawned and Mac picked up on the not-so-subtle hint.

“Well, I’d best be gettin’ back to the ranch,” he declared before turning and heading back to his wagon. All the way home he kept replaying his conversation with Jack in his mind. “Murdoc. Why do I feel like I know that name?” he mumbled to his horses, but they had no answer.

Supper that evening was a quiet affair. MacGyver was still lost in his thoughts and Sammy, who usually provided a vivid retelling of the day’s events, remained uncharacteristically silent. Anna reached for his now-empty dessert plate, breaking his reverie.

“Sammy, help your mother wash the dishes while I finish the chores,” Mac directed, pushing his chair away from the table.

“She’s not my mother!” the boy exclaimed, rising so quickly his chair almost fell over.

“Sammy!” Mac growled.

“I hate her and I wish you’d never married her!” his son cried before running into his bedroom and slamming the door shut. MacGyver instinctively took a step to follow, but his wife’s words made him pause.

“Give him a moment,” she said calmly.

“I don’t get it! What has gotten into him lately?” Mac asked, hating the helplessness he knew was obvious in his voice.

Anna returned to her seat at the table, motioning for her husband to do the same. “This might have something to do with an incident at school today.”

“What happened?”

“Sammy accidentally called me ‘Ma’ during class. All the other students started teasing and laughing at him. They stopped as soon as I reprimanded them, but Sammy had already run and locked himself in the outhouse.”

“Why didn’t you tell me about this?” Mac asked, jamming his fingers through his hair in frustration.

“I was hoping he’d confide in you on his own.”

MacGyver blew out a breath. “Well, I guess I better go have a talk with him.”

When his son didn’t open the door after he tapped on it, he turned the knob, thankful it wasn’t locked. The sight of Sammy lying face down on his narrow bed, his body racked with sobs, nearly did Mac in. Sitting down on the edge of the thin mattress, he stroked his boy’s back hoping to bring him some comfort.

“I heard about what happened at school today,” he ventured softly.

“She shouldn’t have told you,” Sammy mumbled into his pillow.

“Yes, she should have,” Mac declared. “I’m your father and I need to know these things.”

The youngster rolled over and sat up, using the heel of his hands to scrub away his tears. “I wish you’d never married her. I wanna go back to Boston.”

MacGyver felt like he had just taken a hoof to his gut. He had no idea Sammy felt this way and he didn’t know where to begin. “We can’t go back to Boston, son. I made a promise to the government. This is our home now,” Mac tried to explain. “I also made a promise to your...to Anna. I thought you were happy that we got married.”

“I was,” Sammy confessed. “But ever since I told Grampa about it, he’s stopped writing letters to me.”

Mac sighed. It would be just like his former father-in-law to feel betrayed and take it out on his grandson. That was one reason Mac had been so eager to leave Boston. Kate’s father could be controlling and manipulative and he didn’t want his son near the man. But what could he say to Sammy?

“Maybe Grampa is just really busy with the newspaper,” MacGyver suggested. “Or maybe he and Gramma took a vacation.” Like that would ever happen!

“You really think so?” Sammy asked meekly, looking up to meet Mac’s gaze.

“It’s a possibility.”

“But you don’t really believe it.”

Wow, how could the little boy read him so well?

“I wanna go to sleep now.”

“Don’t ya think ya outta apologize to your ma first?” Mac asked.

“I ain’t sure I’m sorry,” Sammy stated before crawling under the covers and turning his back.

XXXXX

The coming days passed achingly slow for MacGyver who was watching his happy little family fall apart at the seams with no idea how to fix it. Sammy only spoke when spoken to...if then, while Anna put on a cheerful countenance yet he knew she cried herself to sleep more than once while trying to hide her tears from him. He was plodding through his Saturday morning chores when he looked up to see his wife running towards him.

“Angus! Angus!” she called frantically. The use of his Christian name caused his heart to beat double time. Something had to be terribly wrong.

“What is it? What happened?” he asked, meeting her half-way.

“I can’t find Sammy!” she huffed breathlessly. “I looked all over...his room, the outhouse, he’s nowhere!”

Mac’s stomach turned to lead, but he knew he had to be calm and think clearly. “Did you check the barn? I was there a few minutes ago, but he might have snuck in.”

She shook her head and they both raced to the structure. Together, they checked every stall, every corner, even the hayloft, calling his name, but the barn appeared empty.

“This is all my fault!” Anna cried. “He hates me and now he’s run away...or worse!”

“Now don’t panic,” MacGyver instructed, trying to take his own advice. “This is a big place. Maybe he just wandered off and lost track of time. I’ll saddle up and go look for him. You stay here in case he comes back.”

“No way! I’m comin’ with you,” Anna insisted. “And don’t you argue with me Angus MacGyver! Two people can cover twice as much territory.”

Knowing that time was of the essence, especially if Sammy was truly lost or possibly hurt, he bit his tongue and nodded his agreement. Once they had tacked up their horses they set out in opposite directions.

An hour later, Mac returned to the barn after having searched every inch of his and the surrounding land...twice. It was as if the boy had simply disappeared. He hoped Anna was having better luck in town. That was, until he spied her mare, still saddled, grazing nearby with his wife nowhere in sight. He was about to head to the house when a white piece of paper tied to the horse’s bridle caught his eye. Nudging his mount closer, he reached out and snagged the note. The words he read made his blood run cold:

Greetings MacGyver,

Looking for something? Or perhaps I should say ‘someone’? Your darling Anna assures me her horse will head straight home and deliver this to you. Won’t you please join us at the schoolhouse so you can bid a proper farewell to your beloved family?

M~

“‘M’. ‘M’ is for ‘Murdoc’,” Mac muttered under his breath causing his horse’s ears to twitch. Long-buried memories sprang to the forefront of his mind and he remembered exactly who, and what, Murdoc was. Without a second thought, he urged his horse into a gallop, ruing the fact that New Hope did not yet have a sheriff. He knew he was riding into a deadly trap, but what choice did he have?

Pulling his horse to a halt in the empty schoolyard, MacGyver quickly dismounted. “C’mon out, Murdoc!” he called, his attention fixed on the front door. However, the figure he sought did not appear. He glimpsed movement to his right and turned toward a copse of trees just as Murdoc emerged, flanked by Anna and Sammy who he grasped by their upper arms, their hands tied behind their backs.

“Ah, so glad you could join us, MacGyver,” Murdoc greeted him.

“Pa! Pa! I’m sorry! He said there was a package from Grampa waiting for me at the General Store and he was gonna take me to get it!” Sammy cried, trying to wrench free, but his captor only tightened his grip.

“It’s okay, son,” he replied calmly, the fear and guilt on the boy’s face nearly ripping him in two. His wife wore a look of despair, but when his eyes locked with hers, he recognized the fire of determination burning in their depths.

“Let ‘em go, Murdoc. We both know it’s me you want!”

“What do you mean?” Anna demanded, her gaze darting between the two men.

“Go ahead, MacGyver. Tell her.”

Mac sighed. He didn’t want to dredge up memories from a lifetime ago, but he apparently had no choice. “It was 1858. I was working at Patrick Malloy’s newspaper and got an anonymous tip that there was a plot to assassinate President Buchanan when he arrived in Boston to give a speech. I started asking questions and did a little investigating which helped lead to the capture of the would-be assassins. Murdoc was one of them. I assumed he was still imprisoned.”

“You assumed wrong, MacGyver, but that’s not why I’m here. You see, Malloy is a desperate old man. He paid handsomely to secure my release from prison on the condition that I return his only grandson to him and eliminate any loose ends.”

“You mean kill me and Mac,” Anna surmised.

“Exactly, my dear,” Murdoc replied. “Now let’s get on with it, shall we?” He shoved Anna toward MacGyver and pulled a pistol from his waistcoat.

“Noooo!” Sammy wailed, only to have Murdoc push him to the ground.

“Think about this, Murdoc,” Mac advised, Anna now secure in his arms. “You don’t really wanna kill two people in cold blood, do ya?”

Murdoc grinned knowingly. “You’re absolutely correct, MacGyver. I would much rather leave you to live and grieve the death of your lovely wife and the departure of your dearest son. To be honest, I suggested as much to Malloy, but the old man insisted that you be disposed of as well.”

“How do you plan to get away with this?” Mac challenged.

“Why must you ask so many questions? It’s becoming quite annoying,” Murdoc all but whined. “But if you must know, the teacher and her husband’s remains will be found in the rubble of the burned down school building.”

“Sounds like you planned this out well,” MacGyver remarked.

“Indeed. Thanks to you, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to reconsider how I go about my business. I find that I am much more effective when left to my own devices as opposed to relying on others. Now, it’s time for you both to die.”

“Don’t move, Murdoc,” Mac warned, staring at the man’s feet. “There’s a rattler right behind you.”

“Ah, trying to distract me, eh? How stupid do you think I am?!” With that Murdoc aimed his gun at Anna and took a step to widen his stance. Quicker than lightning, the rattlesnake sprang, sinking its poisonous fangs into the assassin’s leg.

“Arghhhh!” he cried, swinging the pistol downward, shooting wildly at the reptile until a bullet hit home and killed it. He staggered a few feet away before crumpling to the ground.

MacGyver rushed forward to the injured man now writhing in pain. He pulled out his pocket knife and quickly slit Murdoc’s pant leg and then removed his shoe and sock. He easily found the two puncture wounds which had begun to bleed. Already the sight was becoming red and slightly swollen.

“Anna! Sammy! Get over here!” he called. They both hurried toward him and he quickly freed their hands. Anna immediately took the length of rope that had bound her and knelt on the ground, ready to tie it around Murdoc’s leg to create a tourniquet.

“No!” Mac stopped her. “We need to let the blood flow.”

“But the venom. It’ll get in his bloodstream,” she replied.

“Help me prop him up against that tree over there,” MacGyver said.

Together they soon had Murdoc sitting against the trunk of the old oak. “We need to keep the wound below his heart,” Mac explained.

“How do you know all this?” Anna asked, now standing with hands propped on her hips.

“I did a little research before I moved out here. Never know when somethin’ will come in handy.”

“What now?” she asked.

“We need to immobilize his leg,” he told her. Then he looked up at Sammy who had turned pale, his mouth agape. “I need you to find me a couple twigs the length of Mister Edward’s leg. Can you do that for me?” The boy nodded solemnly before running toward a stand of trees.

“Mind if I borrow this?” MacGyver asked as he reached for the hem of Anna’s dress and began cutting it into strips. He had just finished when Sammy returned.

With Anna’s help, Mac placed the slim tree limbs on either side of Murdoc’s leg and used the cloth from Anna’s dress to tie them gently in place.

“Okay, now we have to get him back to town,” MacGyver declared.

“Do you think you can stand?” he asked Murdoc who had been eerily silent since getting bit. The man groaned as his body remained limp. Mac noticed sweat beginning to bead on his forehead and his breathing becoming labored.

Apologetically he looked at Anna. “You’re gonna have to help me get him up and on his horse.”

His wife nodded with determination and together they managed to haul Murdoc to his mount. Sammy held the reins, speaking to the horse in soothing tones to keep it calm as his parents struggled to get the weak man in the saddle. Task accomplished, Mac swung up behind Murdoc and Anna helped Sammy mount MacGyver’s horse before she, too, climbed into the saddle and side-by-side they headed into town.

XXXXX

Several hours later, MacGyver and Anna sat on the front porch swing with Sammy between them watching the sun slowly sink below the horizon.

“What’s gonna happen to Mister Edward, Pa?”

“Well, the doc said he should recover from the snakebite and in a couple days the sheriff from a neighboring town will come and take him into custody. Hopefully for good this time,” Mac replied, knowing he needed to be honest with his son if they were to live and thrive on frontier land.

“Why did you help Mister Edward even though he was gonna kill you and Ma?”

“Because it was the right thing to do,” MacGyver explained. “It’s not up to us to decide who lives and dies. Only God can make that decision.”

“And speaking of God,” Anna said, “Tomorrow is Sunday so you better get yourself ready for bed. I don’t want you complaining about being too tired to go to church in the morning.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Sammy mumbled before looking up at her with something akin to curiosity. “Ma, why did you bother to come looking for me after all the mean things I said to you?”

Anna put her arm around the boy’s shoulders and held him close. “Because I love you, sweetheart, and nothing you say or do will ever change that.”

Sammy turned and threw himself into her arms, sobbing, “I love you too, Ma, and I’m sorry for all the terrible things I’ve said. You’re the only ma I got now and I was so scared Mister Edward was gonna kill ya just because of me. I don’t wanna lose you, too!”

“Don’t worry, son,” Mac assured him. “You’re not gonna lose either of us as long as I have somethin’ to say about it.”

The following morning, MacGyver hitched his horses to the buckboard and drove his family into town for Sunday church services. The small, clapboard building was filled to capacity and abuzz with news of yesterday’s incident. After the final prayer was said and the blessing given, the congregation filed out of the pews and gathered in small groups in the churchyard with Mac and Anna being the center of attention for many curious folk. However, they soon became aware of an anxious murmur spreading through the crowd and hurried over to Pete Thornton who was in the midst of it.

“What’s going on?” MacGyver asked.

“You’re not gonna believe this,” Thornton replied. “Murdoc’s gone!”

“How can that be?” Anna asked. “The doctor said he wouldn’t be strong enough to get out of bed until tomorrow at the earliest.”

Thornton shrugged, “I dunno, but he’s not in his room at the inn and nobody can find him. It’s like he disappeared into thin air!”

“Pa, look what I found in our wagon,” Sammy said, squirming through the throng of townsfolk to hand Mac a white piece of paper.

MacGyver,
It was a pleasure to finally meet you in person, but I fear I have a schedule to keep and mustn’t dally around your town any longer. Until we meet again…
M~

“I’ll gather up all the able-bodied men and form a posse to go after him,” Thornton offered enthusiastically. “He couldn’t have gotten far in his condition.”

“Don’t bother, you won’t find him,” MacGyver stated flatly.

“How can you be so sure?” Thornton protested.

“I don’t know. I just am,” Mac replied before herding his wife and son to their wagon.

On the way home, MacGyver once more gave himself over to the gently swaying of the buckboard, his eyes drifting closed more than once. The last thing he remembered was giving Anna the reins before feeling her hand on his shoulder.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver heard Joanna’s voice in the distance and felt her shaking his shoulder.

“C’mon Mac, wake up. We’re home.”

His eyes fluttered open and he found himself staring through the windshield of the Nomad at his own garage.

“How long have I been out?” he asked, scrubbing his face with his hands.

“You were snoring before we hit the interstate,” Jo told him, the dim light from the streetlamp shining on her gentle smile. “Did you have a bad dream?”

“Huh?”

“You were mumbling in your sleep and seemed kinda agitated at times so I assumed you were dreaming,” she shrugged.

“It was nothing,” he assured her as he reached out and stroked her cheek before leaning in and meeting her lips with his, secure in the knowledge that, in the real world, Murdoc was dead and could never hurt anyone MacGyver loved ever again.











Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 22 May 2020 - 02:31 AM                                    
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I knew it was Murdoc right away. The name Edward helped, too laugh.gif

Unique chapter wink.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

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"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

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"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 22 May 2020 - 06:09 AM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 22 May 2020 - 02:31 AM)
I knew it was Murdoc right away. The name Edward helped, too laugh.gif

Unique chapter wink.gif

Thanks. Since I killed off Murdoc in Continuum, I have to find creative ways to bring him back. I have another New Hope chapter waiting in the wings, just not sure when I'll post it.



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 27 May 2020 - 02:23 PM                                    
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Chapter 51: The Plain Visitor

“That was the last box, Charlie,” MacGyver informed his now-former landlord as he slammed the metal door of the U-Haul trailer shut. “Sure that’s all you wanna take with you?”

“Aw, an ol’ coot like me doesn’t need much, Mac. Got my own pillow and my favorite easy chair...ya know, the important stuff! Besides, I don’t wanna be clutterin’ up my daughter’s new home with my old stuff. I hope ya don’t mind that I’m leavin’ so much behind.”

“Naw,” Mac waved off the comment with a smile. “This way I can advertise the apartment as ‘furnished’ and charge twice as much.”

Charlie Rainey chuckled, “Nice try, but you’re too honest a man to do somethin’ like that.” He paused before continuing in a more somber tone. “Have you really decided to rent it out?”

MacGyver sighed, “No. At least not yet. I was thinkin’ of keeping it available for when Sam comes to visit.” And Jack, and Penny, and any other wayward friends he added mentally.

“So, you’re not ready to remodel then?” the older man asked, a glint in his eyes.

“Not yet,” Mac grinned knowingly.

“Speaking of which, I expect an invite to your wedding unless I’m six feet under by then!”

“You can count on it,” MacGyver assured him. “Joanna’s sorry she couldn’t be here to help, but with summer break about a month away she didn’t want to take any time off.”

“No worries, just be sure to give that little gal of yours an extra squeeze from me.”

Mac grinned and shook his head as he watched Charlie climb into his old sedan.

“Are you sure I can’t drive you?” he asked.

“You’ve done more than enough already. You take care now, hear?”

“Yes sir,” MacGyver agreed, offering a mock salute as the car slowly rolled down the driveway before turning into the street.

With Charlie on his way, Mac locked up the townhouse before getting into his Jeep. Glancing at the gas gauge, he decided to stop and fill up before heading to Challengers.

He pulled into the nearest gas station and made quick work of refueling before going inside the small store to pay. At the counter, he found himself standing behind a girl who couldn’t be more than seventeen years old. Her shiny black hair was scraped into a tight bun at the base of her neck and she wore a rather shapeless navy dress and sensible black shoes. A tattered suitcase made from a material akin to cardboard sat at her feet and MacGyver immediately recognized her as a member of one of the Amish communities in the central or western part of the state.

“But that is all the money I have,” she said.

“I don’t care, it’s not enough,” the surly attendant growled.

Mac looked at the counter to find a map of the city, a pre-packaged sandwich, and a bottle of root beer. He pulled out a few bills from his pocket and offered them to the man. “Here, this should cover it.”

The girl immediately turned toward him and frowned. “I do not need your charity,” she informed him.

A bit taken aback he replied with a smile, “Consider it my good deed for the day.”

“Danki. I mean, ‘thank you’,” the girl replied, much meeker now as she gathered her purchases.

“No problem!” Mac called as she headed out the door. He then tossed more money on the counter to cover what he owed for gas before heading out as well.

Sliding behind the wheel of his Jeep, MacGyver noticed the girl sitting on the curb, the warm May breeze threatening to tug the open map from her hands. He knew he should just drive away. He had done what he could to help her. But leaving a penniless young woman in a strange town to fend for herself just wasn’t something he could do.

“Need a hand?” he asked, bending to sit next to her.

“I thought you already did your good deed for the day,” she observed.

Biting back a smile at her spunk he replied, “I guess I’m gettin’ a head start on tomorrow. Where you headed?”

“I was planning on staying with my cousin here in the city.”

Mac’s eyebrows shot up and she giggled. “My cousin left the Amish before she was baptized. ‘Jumped the fence’ so to speak and is no longer Plain.”

“Ah,” MacGyver nodded in understanding. “So you’re on Rumspringa?”

“My ‘running around time’? Ja, I suppose you could say that,” she replied.

But Mac didn’t believe her. He had once spent some time with an Amish family in Pennsylvania and became acquainted with many of their customs. Teens on Rumspringa did their best to quickly shed their modest lifestyle and dress and act like their non-Amish, or English, peers while discerning whether or not they would return to their family and community to be baptized into their faith. Given this girl’s dress and style of speech, she didn’t fit that mold.

“How did you get here?” he asked.

“I have been saving the money I earn from selling the quilts I make and bought a bus ticket.”

“It was more expensive than you thought, right?”

“Ja! How did you know?”

“Well, you seem like an independent, intelligent young woman. The kind that would plan her expenses and not run out of money so quickly. How do you plan to get to your cousin’s place?”

She shrugged, “I do not know, but I will think of something.”

“I can give you a lift if you want,” he offered.

“Nee!” she replied, shaking her head vigorously. “I do not think that would be a good idea. I do not know you.”

“Name’s MacGyver,” he told her. “People call me ‘Mac’. And you are…?”

“Esther. Esther Zook.”

“Nice to meet you, Esther,” Mac smiled, relieved when she smiled back. “I realize you have no reason to trust me, but…”

“I do trust you,” she replied quietly, cutting him off.

“You do?”

“Ja, you have been very kind and you have knowledge of my people. My heart tells me you are a good and honorable man. If you still want to give me a ride, could you take me to this address?” she asked hesitantly, handing him a slip of paper. “It is where my cousin lives.”

MacGyver studied the address and frowned. It was on the other side of town and not the best neighborhood, especially for an innocent Amish girl. However, Mac had a feeling that Esther would try to get there no matter what, and at least he could offer her some protection if necessary.

“Sure. C’mon.” They stood and he guided her to the Jeep.

Several minutes later, Mac parked the vehicle in front of a rundown apartment building with unsavory characters hovering nearby.

“You sure this is where she lives?” he asked

“Ja, it is the address she sent me.”

Together they got out of the car and headed to the main entrance. Esther walked with purpose, easily ignoring the curious looks shot her way. Mac, on the other hand, kept a lookout for any sign of trouble. At the front door, Esther studied the panel of buzzers looking for the one assigned to her cousin.

“I do not see her name here,” she told MacGyver.

“Maybe the manager knows something,” he suggested, pushing the button to the corresponding apartment.

In a matter of moments, they could hear locks being open and security chains being withdrawn from the door.

“What do ya want?” a short but fierce woman who had seen better days asked.

“Are you the manager?” Mac asked.

“Unfortunately,” the woman replied, bracing one arm against the door jam to block their entrance. “Who’s askin’?”

“I am looking for my cousin. She lives in apartment number four.”

The manager took her time studying Esther. Her expression a mixture of amusement and disgust. “Oh, that one. Had to evict her a week ago. Always had money for drugs but not for rent.”

“Do you know where she went?”

“Don’t know, don’t care.”

The Amish girl sent MacGyver a desperate look. Clearly her plan was not going as expected. Mac reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out one of the business cards Cynthia had insisted they have made up to hand out to people in need. He offered it to the manager.

“If you see or hear from her, could you please let her know she can contact her cousin here?”

The manager snatched the small white card from his hand, grunted, and slammed the door shut, throwing the bolts and chains back into place.

“What am I supposed to do now?” Esther asked, her eyes welling with tears, her spunkiness now replaced with despair.

“We move on to Plan B,” Mac told her.

“What is Plan B?”

“You’ll see,” he said with a reassuring grin.

Driving back to the other side of the city, MacGyver pulled into his usual parking place at Challengers.

“What is this place?” Esther asked.

“It’s kinda whatever someone needs it to be. In your case, it’s a safe place to stay until we can get things figured out.”

Esther relaxed in her seat but made no move to exit the Jeep.

“You didn’t know your cousin was doing drugs, did ya?” Mac asked somberly.

Esther shook her head. “Nee. I know some young people in our community experiment a bit while on Rumspringa, but never like that. I cannot believe she is using her rent money to buy drugs! Are they more important to her than a home?”

Mac sighed, “Unfortunately, yes.”

“I do not understand.”

“Neither do I, Esther. Neither do I,” MacGyver replied as they climbed from the Jeep.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Joanna trudged up the steps to Challengers late that afternoon. She would be so glad when school was out for the summer. Between temporarily teaching full time and still trying to help Mac with the club, she felt as if she wasn’t giving one hundred percent to either, and that just wasn’t her way.

“Hi, what’s up?” she asked as she greeted Rosie and Cynthia at the reception desk.

“The usual,” the elder woman replied. “MacGyver brought in another stray.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. A young Amish girl, about seventeen. He met her at the gas station earlier. He told me she had planned to stay with her cousin but it fell through so he brought her here.”

Just then Raul hurried up to Jo and his mother with Esther in tow.

“Ma, can I be Amish?” he asked, his tone and countenance completely serious.

“Why would you want to do that?” Rosie asked.

“Esther says Amish kids only go to school through the eighth grade. If I was Amish, I wouldn’t have to go to school!”

Esther giggled, “You did not listen to the rest of what I told you, Raul. Once we finish school we have to go to work. Girls help their Maemms with household chores and boys help their Daedds in the fields or their shops.”

“Then why are you here running around?” the teen boy asked.

“I already explained to you about Rumspringa,” Esther reminded him.

“So when are ya gonna go back to being Amish?”

A shadow fell across the girl’s face and she lowered her eyes. “I do not know. I may never return.”

For once, Raul was rendered speechless, allowing Esther to turn her attention to Joanna.

“Are you another friend of Mac’s?” she asked.

“I should hope so,” Jo replied with a warm smile, “I’m his fiance.”

“And my absolute best friend,” MacGyver added, walking up behind Esther. “Can I see you in my office, Jo?”

“What’s up?” she asked once the couple was alone.

“Esther needs a place to stay and since Charlie moved out this morning and left a furnished apartment I thought she could stay there. What do you think?”

“That’s a great idea,” Joanna confirmed. “She’ll be a lot more comfortable there than here in the dorm.”

“I was also thinking we could have dinner together. You can take her over, get her settled, maybe have a woman-to-woman chat while I pick up a pizza.”

Jo took a step back, planted her hands on her hips, and eyed him suspiciously. “You’ve been doin’ an awful lot of thinkin’ today,” she observed. “What’s goin’ on in that mind of yours?”

Mac blew out a breath. “There’s something about her. Something just feels ‘off’. I’m not sure she’s here for the reason she says.”

Joanna was about to make a pithy comment about being recruited as a field operative, but the concern and confusion in MacGyver’s eyes stopped her. “Sounds like a plan,” she confirmed.

“By the time we get you unpacked and freshen up, Mac should be here with supper,” Jo told Esther as she unlocked the front door to what just yesterday had been Charlie’s side of the townhouse.

“Oh my goodness!” Esther exclaimed as she followed Joanna into the apartment which was the mirror opposite of MacGyver’s. “It is so fancy!”

Jo glanced around at the clutter, trying to see it through Amish eyes, before leading the way up the spiral staircase to the bedroom.

“You can put your things in here,” she instructed, indicating the closet, and then took a seat on the bed as Esther carefully hung up three plain homemade dresses.

“After I get off work tomorrow we can go clothes shopping,” Joanna offered. “I imagine you’d like to wear what English girls your age are wearing.”

Esther shook her head vigorously. “Nee, that will not be necessary. I think I would feel quite uncomfortable in English clothes.”

This response surprised Jo. From what she had read, Amish kids on Rumspringa could hardly wait to ditch their ‘Plain’ clothes for blue jeans.

“How long are you planning on staying in the city?” she asked, herself now curious about the younger woman’s intentions.

“I do not know,” Esther shrugged.

“Well, what would you like to do while you’re here?”

“I was planning on taking care of my cousin’s place and cooking and baking for us, but now I do not know what I am going to do. Perhaps Mac will let me help at the Challengers Club?”

“I’m sure he’d appreciate your assistance,” Joanna replied with what she hoped was an encouraging smile.

“You and Mac love each other very much, ja?” Esther’s face lit up with enthusiasm and Jo chuckled.

“Yeah, we do,” she replied.

“What does it feel like to be in love?”

Joanna took a deep breath as she considered her answer. “I suppose it’s different for everybody and it’s kinda hard to explain. All I know is that I can’t picture my life without MacGyver in it. Is there a boy back home that you’re sweet on?”

The light in Esther’s eyes dimmed. “No. There is no one,” she answered.

“Is that the reason you came here? To find an English boy to date?”

“Oh, I could never do that!”

Joanna was now more confused than ever, but before she could pose another question, she heard the front door to the neighboring apartment slam shut. “Sounds like Mac is home,” she said, pasting on a cheerful grin. “Let’s go get some pizza.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver had stalled as long as he could to give Joanna time to hopefully discover some things about Esther...like her reason for coming to Milwaukee. He had taken a circuitous route to their favorite pizza parlor and had purposely changed his order twice, much to the staff’s chagrin, but upon leaving he left an overly generous tip to compensate for their time and trouble. He was taking plates out of the cupboard when the two women came through the front door.

“Oh! That smells gut!” Esther exclaimed, heading straight for the large square box situated in the middle of the small kitchen table. Mac immediately felt guilty realizing that she hadn’t had anything to eat since the pre-made sandwich and root beer at the gas station earlier that day.

The three of them ate in companionable silence, and when the last slice of pizza was consumed, Esther excused herself saying she was tired from the long day and insisted she could show herself out. As soon as the door closed behind her, MacGyver turned to Joanna.

“So? What did ya find out about our visitor?”

“There’s something definitely ‘off’ about this whole situation,” she remarked without preamble. “She came here planning to keep house for her cousin. She insists on wearing her Amish clothes and has absolutely no desire to go out on dates with non-Amish boys. It’s like she wants to be exactly who she is except live here in the city.”

“Did she talk about her family or her life back home?”

Jo shook her head. “She only assured me she didn’t leave a boyfriend behind.”

“I wish she would just open up and tell us what’s really goin’ on,” Mac said, scrubbing his face with his hands. “Until then we just have to work on earning her trust.”

XXXXX

“Hey, Cynthia!” MacGyver called as he and Esther entered Challengers early the next morning.

“Goodness, you don’t have to yell, I’m right here,” she scolded as she approached them. “Now, what do you need?”

“Miss Zook has decided to spend the day with us. Do you think you could find something to keep her busy?”

Cynthia smiled and put her arm around Esther. “There’s always something that needs doin’,” she smiled. “Speaking of which, there are some things on your desk that need to be taken care of, MacGyver. In case you’ve forgotten, the river clean-up project is this Saturday.”

Mac felt like he had taken a punch to the gut. He had forgotten. And if he didn’t get with it, both Cynthia and Jo would have his head. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied before heading into his office.

After lunch, MacGyver and Cynthia stood by the reception desk looking over some forms when a bear of a man strode through the front door. He wore black pants, a dark blue shirt, suspenders, and light brown hair poked out from underneath his straw hat.

“Can I help you?” Cynthia asked.

“I am here for my sister,” he announced.

“Caleb!” Esther cried from where she was mopping the floor. “What are you doing here?!”

The large Amish man approached his sister. “I have come to take you home, Estie.”

“How did you find me?” she demanded.

“Maemm found the letters from our cousin. I went to the address and the manager gave me this card saying I could find you here.” Caleb produced the small rectangular business card Mac had given their cousin’s landlady the previous day and winced as Esther pinned him with an accusatory glare as if he had done something wrong. “Now come, if we hurry we can be home before nightfall.”

“I am not going home with you,” Esther declared, defiantly tilting her chin. “I am on Rumspringa and have every right to do as I please.”

Caleb scoffed, “You are not ‘running around’, you are running away from your responsibility to your family, the Yoders, and our church community!”

“What about my responsibility to myself?!” she countered loudly.

“Excuse me!” MacGyver cut in, raising his voice just enough to be heard. “How about we all have a seat and calm down?”

Mac led the way to a corner where he perched on the edge of a worn chair while the siblings sat side by side on a threadbare couch.

“Esther, Joanna and I already figured out you’re not here on Rumspringa so would you mind telling me why you are here?”

The young woman lowered her gaze and MacGyver feared she might not answer.

“It is as my bruder said. I have run away from home.”

“But why?”

Esther looked up at him, her eyes full of sorrow. “My parents have promised me to Isaac Yoder. It has all been planned. I will turn eighteen and be baptized in September and we will wed in November.”

“An arranged marriage? I didn’t think the Amish believed in those.”

“Nee, as a general rule we do not, but there are always exceptions,” Caleb explained. “Isaac is our closest neighbor and a gut friend. His wife died in childbirth nearly a year ago and left him with several young kinder to raise. It is time he find a suitable helpmate and get remarried for the sake of his family.”

“So your parents offered him Esther?”

“Ja. The two of them have always gotten along well and the kinder enjoy spending time with her. Even the elders see it as a most sensible agreement.”

“But I do not love him!” Esther cried as she shot to her feet, her hands balled into fists at her side.

“You will grow to love him!” her brother insisted, rising to his feet to stand beside her.

“Would you two just knock it off?!” MacGyver demanded, standing as well.

With peace once more established, Mac turned his attention to Esther. “Look, I know you don’t wanna hear this, but I think your brother is right. You need to go home and work this out with your family.”

The young woman’s initial glare of contempt quickly turned to acquiescence. “I suppose you are right,” she capitulated. “I cannot keep running forever. Could you please take me back to your house so I can pack?”

“No problem,” Mac replied with a sympathetic smile.

“Estie, if you give me the rest of your travel money, I will go buy you a bus ticket. I already have mine,” Caleb offered.

Esther lowered her head. “I used all my money getting here. It was more expensive than I thought,” she muttered.

Caleb looked as if he were about to scold her again, but MacGyver sent him a quelling glance. “Then how do you plan on getting home?” he asked, his voice only slightly tinged with censure.

“I could drive you,” Mac offered.

“Nee,” Caleb objected. “It is over a three hour drive to Chilton. It would not be right for Estie to spend that much time alone in a car with a man.”

“I could drive you both and you could cash in your bus ticket and get your money back.”

For the first time that day the large Amish man smiled. “That sounds like a gut idea.”

XXXXX

MacGyver took his foot off the gas and allowed the Nomad to slowly roll through the small town that comprised the Amish community located west of the state capitol. The main street housed several businesses, mostly Amish-owned, including a feed-and-seed store, a small grocery store, a buggy shop and a cabinet maker. Following Esther’s directions, he turned onto a long, tree-lined road that led to a large but plain two-story white clapboard house with several outbuildings including a spacious barn.

“What does your family do for a living?” he asked, gazing at the unspoiled landscape before him.

“My father owns the largest dairy farm in the community,” Esther answered proudly. “Come, Maemm and Daedd will want to meet you!”

Once introductions were made and friendly greetings exchanged, Mrs. Zook insisted MacGyver stay for dinner. Not wanting to be rude and finding himself hungrier than he first thought he gladly accepted the invitation. After a delicious and hearty meal, Caleb and his father excused themselves to tend to the evening milking and invited Mac along. A large number of cows already stood side by side in the barn which had been converted to a somewhat modern milking parlour while the rest of the herd waited patiently in a nearby pasture. Caleb hurried to join a group of other young men who were preparing the equipment as Mr. Zook and Mac followed at a slower pace.

“Due to the size of my herd, I hire other young Amish men to help out. I have also received permission from our bishop to use a modern milking machine run by a gasoline generator,” Mr. Zook explained, answering MacGyver’s unasked questions. Suddenly the older man stopped and turned to his guest. “Thank you for bringing our Esther home.”

“No problem,” Mac replied flatly.

“The tone of your voice indicates you do not approve of our plans for our daughter, but we must consider our church community and not our own desires.”

“I get that, but doesn’t Esther have anything to say about this? After all, it is her life you’re talkin’ about.”

“The decision has been made,” Mr. Zook said firmly.

“Couldn’t you at least hear her out?”

“The matter is settled and no concern of yours, Mr. MacGyver.”

“Daedd!” Caleb called, running from the far end of the barn. “The milking machine is not working and there is no way we can milk the entire herd by hand!”

“Mind if I have a look at it?” Mac asked, his gaze bouncing between father and son.

They both shrugged. “I will show you where it is,” Caleb offered, “But I doubt you can fix it.”

“We’ll see about that,” MacGyver murmured as he followed the younger man to the back of the barn. He turned on the machine and examined it. “You don’t have any suction. The vacuum pump is shot,” Mac declared.

“I thought I told you to get that pump replaced last week,” Mr. Zook, who had made his way over, scolded his son.

“I bought one on Thursday but the man who installs them it is not available for several days. I was hoping this one would last until he could get here,” Caleb explained.

“Do you have the new pump?” Mac asked.

“Ja, I put it in the store room.”

“I’m pretty good with my hands. I could probably get it up and running,” MacGyver said.

Within minutes, Caleb produced the new vacuum pump and some rudimentary tools. MacGyver dug in his pants pocket and retrieved his Swiss Army knife and set to work carefully dismantling the old unit and then installing the new. After finally connecting the pulsator to the vacuum pump, he sat back on his heels and wiped his brow.

“Where did you learn to do that?” Caleb asked in awe.

Mac shrugged. “Nowhere, really. I kinda have a knack for this sorta stuff. I also just paid attention while I was taking it apart and then did the reverse to put it back together. I bet you could do it next time.”

“You saved us from many hours of hard work. How can we repay you, Mr. MacGyver?” Mr. Zook asked.

Mac rose and clasped the man’s shoulder. “Go talk to your daughter. And when you’re done talking, let her talk while you listen. Deal?”

Mr. Zook hesitated a long moment before taking in a deep breath. “Deal,” he agreed, shaking MacGyver’s hand.

XXXXX

It was nearly midnight when MacGyver pulled up to his townhouse. His heart did a funny little flip when he saw Joanna’s Chevy parked in his driveway and the warm glow of artificial light spilling from his windows. He entered to find her curled up in the corner of his couch with Frog spread out on the cushion beside her snoring contentedly. Not wanting to startle her, he leaned down and gently kissed her forehead, causing her eyes to flutter open.

“You didn’t have to wait up for me.”

“I thought you’d be home earlier,” she replied, trying to stretch out her muscles without disturbing the sleeping canine.

“Yeah, well, something came up.”

“It always does,” she acknowledged with a heartwarming grin as opposed to the disappointed scowl he was used to receiving at times like these. “Cynthia told me all about Esther and her brother. What happened after you took them home?”

MacGyver settled back in his arm chair and proceeded to tell Jo about meeting the Zooks, staying for supper, and fixing the milking machine, as well as the conversation Esther had with her parents.

“She promised them she’d go through with her baptism as planned, but that she wanted to marry for love, like they had. In the meantime, she agreed to work as a nanny and housekeeper for Isaac Yoder.”

“And her father was okay with that?”

“Yeah, he was. I think her running off like that really shook him up.”

Joanna agreed as she glanced at her watch and yawned. “I didn’t realize what time was. I need to get going.”

“Look, it’s late and we’re both tired, why don’t you just spend the night.”

“You’ve had a longer day than me and spent the last three hours on the road, I don’t wanna kick you out of your own bed.”

“You won’t,” he smirked.

“You’re relegating me to the couch?! What happened to my chivalrous fiancé?”

“Now that I own this whole place, your chivalrous fiancé is going to suggest you sleep next door.”

“At Charlie’s?”

“It isn’t Charlie’s anymore.”

“Have you decided what you’re gonna do with the extra space yet?”

“I’m workin’ on it,” he assured her before giving her a long, slow, toe-curling kiss goodnight.





























Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 28 May 2020 - 04:33 AM                                    
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I got a new laptop! Which means I can type my detailed reviews again happy_dance.gif

QUOTE

MacGyver sighed, “No. At least not yet. I was thinkin’ of keeping it available for when Sam comes to visit.” And Jack, and Penny, and any other wayward friends he added mentally.
He's not wrong XD

QUOTE

“Speaking of which, I expect an invite to your wedding unless I’m six feet under by then!”
Huh. I wonder how big the reception's gonna end up XD

I agree with Mac that she seems off...

I hate arranged marriages mad.gif

QUOTE

“She promised them she’d go through with her baptism as planned, but that she wanted to marry for love, like they had. In the meantime, she agreed to work as a nanny and housekeeper for Isaac Yoder.”
See? Literally that easy tongue.gif

QUOTE

“You’re relegating me to the couch?! What happened to my chivalrous fiancé?”
laugh.gif

Okay, not as much commentary as I used to, but... laugh.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 28 May 2020 - 07:57 AM                                    
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Congrats on the new laptop!! And, as always, thanks for the feedback!!



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Posted: 29 May 2020 - 01:18 AM                                    
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QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 28 May 2020 - 10:57 AM)
Congrats on the new laptop!! And, as always, thanks for the feedback!!

Thanks, and you're welcome wink.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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Posted: 3 June 2020 - 02:55 PM                                    
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Chapter 52: Operation River Clean-up

The second Saturday of May found Joanna sitting on a park bench near the shores of the Milwaukee River tugging on knee-high rubber boots over her thick wool socks. While the weather, itself, was mild, the ground was muddy, damp, and cold and the water in the river even colder. As she donned protective rubber gloves, her mind wandered back to the night she had spent at Charlie’s. She always slept better when MacGyver was near, and knowing that he was just on the other side of the wall gave her a sense of peace she had rarely known. Of course, she knew there was a very good chance he had conked out on the couch downstairs while watching an old Western on TV, but it didn’t matter. She glanced around and found Mac watching her, pinning her eyes with his as a slow, crooked grin formed on his lips warming her from head to toe. An invisible jolt of electricity sizzled between them. Did he know what she was thinking? Did he feel the same? Perhaps it was time to start some serious wedding planning.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver looked up from pulling on his rubber boots and caught Jo’s eye. He held her gaze and allowed a slow, lazy grin to tug at his lips. Something had shifted in him the other night when she stayed over at Charlie’s. He usually didn’t mind being alone, and he rarely considered himself lonely, until now. Having Joanna a few steps away gave him a feeling of completeness he didn’t know he was lacking. He had fallen into a blissful slumber on the couch and dreamed of the day she would forever be at his side.

“Hey Mac!” Geena called, breaking him out of his reverie.

“Huh?”

“Did I interrupt something?” the older woman asked with a sly wink punctuating her question.

“No. I was just thinking about the clean-up plan,” he replied.

“Mmmm, okay, we’ll go with that for now,” Geena conceded, “But I came here to tell you that some of your volunteers aren’t too happy with the location of our assigned clean-up site.”

MacGyver looked over to where a small group of older teen boys stood, arms crossed defiantly across their chests, muttering to one another.

“What seems to be the problem guys?” he asked.

The self-appointed leader of the group, a boy Mac recognized as Darius, stepped forward. “When you said we’d be cleanin’ up the river, we thought you meant we’d be goin’ out in boats and haulin’ in all sorts of cool stuff like tires and shoppin’ carts. One dude who did this last year said they even snagged a couple bicycles! Instead we get stuck cleanin’ up this creek!”

Mac cocked his head and squinted at the teen. “Have you ever heard the saying, ‘There are no small parts, only small actors’?”

“What’s this gotta do with actin’ man?!”

MacGyver sighed to himself. “It means that every job here is important no matter how insignificant it may seem. Look at it this way. The Menomonee River is one of three main tributaries of the Milwaukee River. That means that all the debris in and along this river will eventually find its way to the larger one. Think of what we’re doing as a preemptive strike.”

The boys frowned and shook their heads.

“Alright, how about this,” Mac continued in an authoritative tone. “You don’t have to participate in the clean-up project.” Suddenly the group perked up, hope shining in their eyes. “Instead, you can get in the van and Miss Geena will drive you back to Challengers where you can each write a one thousand word essay on the cause and effect of pollution in the ecosystem and the steps individuals can take to combat the issue.”

The leader of the group stepped forward once again. “Hey, man, we didn’t mean we weren’t gonna help!”

“Right,” MacGyver confirmed, staring the boy down. “Why don’t you get your boots and gloves on and get to work.”

The young men immediately set out to the staging area to gather their supplies which also included buckets, long-handled garbage pickers, and trash bags.

“Nice job,” Geena murmured under her breath as she passed by Mac who was unable to suppress a self-satisfied grin.

XXXXX

The Challengers team worked for two hours cleaning up the riverbank and produced several buckets and bagfuls of various thoughtlessly discarded items including plastic water bottles, cigarette butts, aluminum cans, and cellophane food wrappers. MacGyver watched as more experienced volunteers trolled the river in a small motor boat using a fishing net to snag larger items from the murky water. Suddenly, the voice of the project leader echoed from a bull horn instructing volunteers to gather the refuse they had collected and return to the staging area. Mac grinned as some of the teens gave a whoop of delight while others complained that there was still more work to be done. He was about to join Joanna and Geena in rounding up a few wayward volunteers when he heard someone call his name.

“Hey, MacGyver! You gotta come see this!” Raul yelled from upriver.

Mac headed in the boy’s direction as Jo and several others followed. With a quick glance it was obvious what Raul had found. The water in this part of the river was cloudy, the edges by the shore thinly coated with a slimy blue-green substance and several dead fish either floating in the water or lying on the riverbank.

“Ewww, gross!” someone remarked.

“I think I’m gonna puke!” another loudly announced as most of the others simply backed away.

“What is it?” Joanna asked, wrinkling her nose as she came to stand beside Mac.

“Looks like an algae bloom, or the start of one.”

“Algae like in an aquarium?” Raul asked.

“Yeah.”

“It kills fish?!”

“Not normally,” MacGyver began to explain to the teen. “But if there’s too much of it in one place, this is what can happen.”

“How did it get here?”

Mac admired Raul’s thirst for knowledge. “It was probably caused by fertilizer in storm water runoff or even waste from water animals.”

“You mean like fish poop?”

“Sorta,” MacGyver chuckled.

“Do you think the proper authorities are aware of this?” Joanna inquired, tilting her head to indicate the polluted river.

“They should be, but I’ll mention it to someone when we get back to the staging area.”

“What do they mean ‘their hands are tied’?!” Geena asked from the seat behind Jo as MacGyver drove the battered old van he had recently purchased and its occupants back to Challengers.

“It’s politics,” Mac muttered, his hand clenching the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white in order to contain his anger and frustration.

Joanna turned from where she sat in the passenger seat to face Geena. “They mean they don’t have proper government funding to clean up that mess,” she clarified for the indignant receptionist.

“Well, what’s gonna happen then?”

“The algae bloom will grow over time and eventually flow into the Milwaukee River making the underwater habitat unlivable.”

“You aren’t gonna let that happen, are you?” Geena demanded.

“Not if I can help it,” Mac replied.

XXXXX

“Thanks for the info, Willis,” MacGyver said as he scribbled a name and phone number on a notepad before disconnecting the call later that afternoon.

“Well, is he going to help?” Joanna asked from where she sat on the other side of Mac’s desk at Challengers.

“He gave me the contact information for the Director of Environmental Research and Development at Chicago’s Phoenix branch,” he told her as he picked up the phone and dialed the number Willis had given him.

“Hello?” a seemingly annoyed female voice answered.

“Hi,” Mac greeted, trying to sound cheerful, “I’d like to speak with Dr. Jordan Banks.”

“This is she,” the voice replied tightly. “May I ask to whom I’m speaking?”

“Name’s MacGyver.”

“Ah, yes. The infamous MacGyver.” Mac winced and could swear he felt his cheeks turn warm. He had never intended to become ‘infamous’ and to be honest he was quite uncomfortable with the legacy he had apparently left behind. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” Banks asked in a clipped tone.

Mac took a breath and proceeded to tell her about the river clean-up project and the discovery of the algae bloom.

“What do you want from me?” she asked, sounding not only annoyed but impatient as well.

MacGyver ground his teeth knowing he couldn’t let her attitude get under his skin. He needed to remain cordial if he had any chance of getting help from Phoenix and the good doctor.

“I was hoping you could come up and assess the bloom and help us get rid of it.”

Silence stretched for so long Mac feared they had been disconnected when Jordan finally spoke. “Fine. I’ll come take a look at it,” she agreed, much to MacGyver’s surprise.

XXXXX

There was a sharp knock on MacGyver’s front door at exactly eight o’clock Monday morning. He opened it to find a young, petite woman with long, riotous curls of red hair tamed into a ponytail and impossibly clear green eyes looking up at him.

“Mr. MacGyver, I presume?” she greeted him.

“Ms. Banks, thanks so much for agreeing to meet on such short notice. Would you like to come in?”

“I’m on a very tight schedule. Could you please just take me to where you found the bloom?”

“Sure. No problem,” Mac replied, grabbing his keys from the hook beside the door before escorting Jordan to the Jeep.

“So, how long have you been working at Phoenix?” he asked the curt female beside him as he drove toward the river.

“I don’t see how that’s relevant to my being here today.”

“It’s not. I was just trying to make small talk,” Mac explained.

Jordan turned toward him as much as her seatbelt would allow and speared him with her gaze. “I know you’re wondering how someone my age could be qualified for this position.” Well, okay, she kinda had him there. “I received my PhD. in environmental studies when I was twenty-three and was hired on as a researcher for the Phoenix Foundation two years later where I worked hard to get promoted to my current position.”

“Very impressive,” MacGyver acknowledged as he pulled the Jeep to a stop and killed the engine. “We’re gonna have to hike in from here,” he told her.

A few minutes later, Mac directed her to the slime-covered water Raul had discovered. She barely gave it a second glance before turning her attention back to him. “This is it?” she asked with a frown. “You took me away from my research and made me drive all the way up from Chicago for this?”

“Yeah,” MacGyver replied, a little perplexed and a lot annoyed at her dismissiveness. “I don’t have the proper equipment for a full analysis, but my guess is that this is a toxic blue-green algae bloom, or at least the beginning of one.”

“I would agree with that hypothesis,” Jordan sniffed. “What have your local water management authorities said?”

“They recognize the problem but don’t have the funds to deal with it right now.”

“So you come running to the Phoenix Foundation for assistance? This is quite a small bloom and will most likely die off once it’s nutrients are gone in a few months.”

“Or it could continue to grow and ultimately get into the city’s water supply,” Mac countered.

“Look, Mr. MacGyver,” Jordan huffed. “I have much more important projects to work on, like getting clean water to thousands of children in Third World countries. I don’t have time and money to waste on minor local issues. Now please, take me back to pick up my car.”

Mac couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he could tell that Ms. Banks was not in the mood to be persuaded. “Fine. But before you go, tell me how to clean this up.”

Jordan studied him from head to toe as if he were one of her specimens. “I’m sure you’ll figure out something. I hear you’re very good at that.”

XXXXX

MacGyver leaned back in his chair and squeezed his eyes shut tight. They were beginning to burn from hours of scouring the internet for viable solutions to the algae problem in the Menomonee River. A knock on his office door caused them to pop open again.

“How did it go this morning?” Joanna asked eagerly.

“Lousy,” Mac moaned, scrubbing one large hand down his face.

“What do you mean?” Jo’s brows were knit with concern and confusion as she took a seat across from him.

“I mean Jordan Banks doesn’t consider our problem worth her time and effort,” he sneered.

“So you mean ain’t nobody gonna do nothin’ about the slime we found?” Darius asked from the open doorway where he had obviously overheard their conversation.

“I didn’t say that,” MacGyver replied with more confidence than he felt if only for the boy’s sake.

“Is there anything we can do to clean up the algae bloom?” Jo asked.

Mac sighed. “I’ve been researching exactly that most of the day. We’d first need to evaluate the types of organisms in the river to determine which biological method would be most effective. Then, from what I found, our best bet would be to skim off as much of the bloom as possible before introducing herbivorous, surface-feeding fish like the South Asian catla to consume the algae.”

“That sounds good,” Darius, who was now sitting next to Joanna, remarked. “Let’s do that.”

MacGyver quirked a brow at the teen wondering exactly how much the boy had actually understood.

“It’s not that easy,” Mac informed him. “It’s a pretty expensive process and since we’re dealing with a public waterway we’d need to cut through a lot of bureaucratic red tape.”

“Red tape that Phoenix could easily get around if Jordan had agreed to help,” Jo concluded.

“Exactly,” MacGyver replied with a sigh.

“But y’all are still gonna do somethin’, right?” Darius insisted, scooting forward in his chair. “I mean, there’s gotta be somebody else who can help.”

Mac admired the young man’s eagerness and determination. And Darius was right...they couldn’t give up now.

“I have an idea,” MacGyver announced, reaching for the phone.

Mac had been put on hold for so long and transferred so many times that Joanna and Darius had long since disappeared by the time he finally completed his call. He stepped out of his office to go in search of them, only to find that they had been hovering near his door the entire time.

“How’d it go?” Jo asked eagerly.

“I got five Phoenix board members to agree to an emergency meeting day after tomorrow so I can argue my case in person,” he announced.

“Hey, I wanna talk to those dudes, too!” Darius interjected.

“Yeah! Me too!” Raul added. “After all, I was the one who found the gunk!”

A small group of teens began to gather around them, all nodding and murmuring their desire to be a part of the meeting. Mac caught Joanna’s eye and hoped she would hear his silent plea. When she began to chew on her bottom lip, he knew she was thinking of a plan.

“Well,” she began slowly, “The kids in biology class did just complete a unit on environmental pollution issues and the Challengers members in my class submitted their persuasive argument essays. I could speak with Mrs. Varga tomorrow and make a case that it would be an educational field trip for those that participated in those classes as well as the river clean-up as long as they get parental permission.”

The teens began to cheer and MacGyver wanted to kiss her soundly, but he settled for a satisfied grin. “Sounds like a plan,” he confirmed.

XXXXX

Wednesday morning Mac pulled the Challengers’ van into the high school parking lot where Darius, Raul, and a handful of other students quickly climbed aboard, permission slips in hand. MacGyver had chosen to wear a suit and tie and was glad to see the teens had upped their wardrobe game as well. They arrived in downtown Chicago by mid-morning and soon descended on the glass and steel building that housed the Phoenix Foundation. Their little group garnered some stares and whispers as they made their way to the designated conference room where an efficient office assistant seated them and offered them something to drink. Minutes later, the board members walked in and took their place at the head of the table, followed by Jordan Banks and her direct supervisor.

When directed, MacGyver rose and, for the official record this time, once again explained the Challengers river clean-up project, the discovery of the algae bloom, the inability of local authorities to eradicate it, and his call to Phoenix for assistance. He had barely taken his seat when Jordan stood and presented her side of the story, including the reasons why, according to her, Phoenix need not get involved as her superior smiled at her approvingly. With both sides having spoken, the board members adjourned to an adjoining room to make their decision. It didn’t take long before they returned, all keeping their eyes steadfastly away from MacGyver and the club members. The designated spokesperson for the board was just about to announce their decision when Darius interrupted.

“I got somethin’ I wanna say,” he said.

“Young man, this is most inappropriate. Mr. MacGyver has already spoken on your behalf,” the senior board member admonished him.

“He didn’t say everything,” the teen countered as the four others on the board looked to one another and Mac ran his index finger around the inside of his collar which suddenly seemed too tight.

“We don’t need to hear anything this hoodlum has to say!” Jordan’s supervisor blurted out. His moment of indiscretion cost him, though, as the spokesman skewered him with a steely gaze.

“Due to that unnecessary outburst, I would like to hear what the boy has to say.”

MacGyver saw beads of sweat begin to roll down the teen’s forehead as a hush fell over the room and all eyes turned to him.

“Go on, young man. What did you wish to say?” the spokesman prompted.

“Well...ya see...when we got to the river, some of us, including me, were disappointed because it was so small. We wanted to go out on a boat and snag us some really cool stuff like old tires and other trash we’d heard about.” Here Darius stopped, shifting his weight from one foot to another and looked to MacGyver who gave him an almost imperceptible nod, but it was enough to bolster his courage to continue. “But Mac here told us that even the little jobs, like picking up candy wrappers, were just as important. Now it seems that Ms. Banks is saying that only big problems are worth your time and money and that little problems, like our algae bloom, aren’t important. So who’s right?”

Mac could literally see the blood drain from the spokesman's face and watched as Jordan’s boss hung his head as if in shame. An ember of hope began to warm his stomach.

“Given this new, um, perspective,” the spokesman choked out, “I believe we need to take a few moments and reexamine our verdict.”

The five board members made quick work of huddling around the head table and murmuring amongst themselves. Heads would shake and then nod. Eyes would glance one way, then another. After what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, they returned to their assigned seats.

“Before I announce our decision,” the spokesman began, “I have a few words for you, Ms. Banks.” The smug expression she had been wearing throughout the morning began to fade. “The mission of the Phoenix Foundation is to provide aid to anyone who asks, be they rulers of foreign lands, starving children in war torn countries, our federal government, as well as our next door neighbor. No cause is too big...or too small. You are an extremely intelligent and talented researcher and could be a great asset to Phoenix. However, before that can happen, I must ask you to reevaluate your goals, both personal and professional, and decide if Phoenix is the best fit for you.”

Jordan responded with a stiff nod, her cheeks turning bright red as she sought support from her supervisor who refused to meet her eyes.

“Now, as for you and your friends, Mr. MacGyver. It is the decision of these Phoenix board representatives that your project be the recipient of any and all pertinent research and assistance to be determined upon meeting with the proper agencies in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”

“Does that mean they’re gonna help?” Darius asked, turning wide eyes on MacGyver.

“It sure does!” Mac laughed both relieved and satisfied.

“Yes!” Darius punched the air with his fist. “We did it!”

“No,” MacGyver sobered. “You did it! They were ready to side with Ms. Banks before your speech. They wouldn’t even look at us. This is your victory, Darius.” Unable to contain his excitement, the teen wrapped Mac in a bear hug before turning and joining the others in high fives and gleeful cheers of victory. As the celebration wound down and the group headed for the door, Mac heard the spokesman call his name.

“Mr. MacGyver, we have one last piece of business we’d like to discuss with you.”

Mac felt his heart drop to his shoes as he approached the board. The feeling of a teenager being called into the principal’s office washed over him. What now?

“Prior to this meeting, I made a point to research your Challengers Club and noticed that Phoenix provides a substantial amount of funding if certain criteria continue to be met at each six month review.”

“That’s correct,” MacGyver answered, his mouth dry.

“Given what I just witnessed here today, I am going to see to it that your next review is canceled.”

“Sir?” Mac tried to swallow but couldn’t. He could barely hear the spokesman over the sound of his own heartbeat. Was Phoenix pulling its funding? But why?

“The latest progress report states, in no uncertain terms, that Challengers members must participate in projects to better their community if the club is to receive further funding. Today’s meeting showed that your club members are willing to go above and beyond to do just that. Not only have they learned an important lesson, they’ve acted upon it and are to be commended. It is the opinion of this board that Challengers has met the criteria of the report and will now be placed on the normal yearly review cycle. Congratulations, Mr. MacGyver.”

Trying to process what he had just heard, Mac cordially shook hands and offered ‘thank-you’s’ before leaving the office and meeting the kids at the elevator.

“You okay, Mac?” Raul asked. “What happened back there?”

“I’ll tell you on the way home,” MacGyver replied, a smile spreading across his face. “In the meantime, what do say we go get some ice cream?!”

















Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Posted: 4 June 2020 - 03:16 AM                                    
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QUOTE
Chapter 52: Operation River Clean-up
Ah yes, the moment we've all been waiting for

QUOTE
Perhaps it was time to start some serious wedding planning.
Please. Do.

QUOTE
Having Joanna a few steps away gave him a feeling of completeness he didn’t know he was lacking. He had fallen into a blissful slumber on the couch and dreamed of the day she would forever be at his side.
Ah, yes. romantic telepathy.

QUOTE

Mac couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he could tell that Ms. Banks was not in the mood to be persuaded. “Fine. But before you go, tell me how to clean this up.”

Jordan studied him from head to toe as if he were one of her specimens. “I’m sure you’ll figure out something. I hear you’re very good at that.”
Wow. I really hate her.

QUOTE

Mac sighed. “I’ve been researching exactly that most of the day. We’d first need to evaluate the types of organisms in the river to determine which biological method would be most effective. Then, from what I found, our best bet would be to skim off as much of the bloom as possible before introducing herbivorous, surface-feeding fish like the South Asian catla to consume the algae.”

“That sounds good,” Darius, who was now sitting next to Joanna, remarked. “Let’s do that.”

MacGyver quirked a brow at the teen wondering exactly how much the boy had actually understood.
I found this funny laugh.gif

Well, that whole climax was a banger, and I love it biggrin.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 4 June 2020 - 03:11 PM                                    
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QUOTE (Dragondog @ 4 June 2020 - 03:16 AM)

QUOTE

Mac couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but he could tell that Ms. Banks was not in the mood to be persuaded. “Fine. But before you go, tell me how to clean this up.”

Jordan studied him from head to toe as if he were one of her specimens. “I’m sure you’ll figure out something. I hear you’re very good at that.”
Wow. I really hate her.


Well, that whole climax was a banger, and I love it biggrin.gif

Good! You were supposed to hate Jordan...but I admit it was kinda fun writing her! Glad you enjoyed the chapter!



Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Posted: 5 June 2020 - 01:40 AM                                    
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Good laugh.gif It's kinda refreshing to hate a character that's supposed to be hated, and then have her lose. As opposed to either being sympathetic towards the villain *coughMurdoccough* or have every other character be blind to her faults wink.gif



"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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uniquelyjas
Posted: 10 June 2020 - 01:31 PM                                    
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HI FRIENDS! This is the last chapter for awhile until I can write more, but never fear, Mac and Jo WILL RETURN!! Stay Tuned and enjoy this chapter in the mean time:))))


Chapter 53: Old Friends, Different Enemies

MacGyver had been on the telephone that afternoon when Joanna entered Challengers and went directly to her office, locking the door behind her. He now stood in front of said door, ready to knock but questioning the wisdom of that action. There were only two weeks left in the school year and, as her students would say, she was ‘stressed to the max’. Tempting fate, he tapped quickly on her door.

“Go away,” came the mumbled reply.

He took a deep breath and tapped again. This time, he heard her desk chair rolling then the lock turning. The door cracked open to reveal her scowling countenance.

“Hi. It’s just me,” he greeted her optimistically.

“Go. Away.” She attempted to slam the door shut in his face but he shot out a foot to keep it from closing. She had already turned and was walking back to her desk. When she turned and saw that he had followed, her scowl deepened. Not good.

“What part of ‘go away’ didn’t you understand?” she asked, losing some of her sass as she defeatedly dropped back into her chair. Frowning sympathetically, Mac came to stand behind her and began massaging her shoulders which were stiff as a board.

“You need to relax,” he instructed as he kneaded her taut muscles and smiled as she momentarily leaned into his ministrations.

“What I need is to get these final exams written,” she countered, pulling away.

“Why don’t we call it a day, go grab some take-out and unwind at my place,” he suggested undeterred.

Joanna swiveled around to look at him.

“But I never get anything accomplished when we spend the evening at your place,” she argued.

“I’d say we get a lot accomplished,” Mac replied with the sexy grin he reserved just for her. He leaned down and was anticipating the moment his lips would meet hers when a hand in the middle of his chest stopped him.

“That’s exactly what I mean,” she sighed. “I need time alone to get this stuff done.”

“Then I just might have a solution,” MacGyver stated, pulling up a chair.

“What are you talking about?”

“I just got off the phone with Connie. Seems Pete’s been really depressed lately.”

“Why?”

“She doesn’t quite know. That’s why she called me. She said it started after he got a call from an old colleague at the DXS but he refuses to tell her what it was about.”

“So you want to go to Chicago and spend some time with him,” Joanna surmised.

“Yeah. I was thinkin’ we could go camping.”

“What?!” Jo exclaimed. “You want to take a blind man camping?! Does Pete even like camping?”

“Whoa, take it easy,” he replied calmly. “I just thought that getting him out of his comfort zone might be a good idea. And maybe if it’s just the two of us he’ll tell me what’s buggin’ him.”

He could see Joanna struggle and then relent before building up a head of steam again. “You’re not seriously gonna have him hiking through the woods, are you?!”

“Don’t worry. I got it all covered.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Tuesday morning was sunny and unseasonably mild as MacGyver parked his Jeep in the Thornton’s driveway and headed inside.

“All ready, Pete?” he asked eagerly.

“Ask Connie,” his friend grumbled. “She won’t tell me where we’re going and she insisted on packing for me.”

“Here we are,” Pete’s wife declared as she entered the kitchen and handed MacGyver a backpack complete with sleeping bag.

“We’re goin’ campin’, Pete!”

“MacGyver,” the older man practically whined, “You know I hate camping!”

“No you don’t, Pete!” Mac corrected cheerfully.

“I don’t?” Pete asked skeptically.

“Naw! You did a great job the last time we went!”

“The last time we went camping was for my Phoenix field recertification and to conquer ‘MacGyverland’ if I wanted to keep my job status. I didn’t have much of a choice. And have you forgotten that we happened to stumble across drug smugglers and almost got ourselves killed?!”

“C’mon Pete. It’ll be fun!” MacGyver cajoled. “Besides, you never used to like skiing or fishing either until I made you go.”

“What kind of man takes his blind friend into the wilderness to sleep on the ground and forage for food just for ‘fun’?!”

“We’re not going into the wilderness,” Mac assured Pete, his voice now serious as he realized his friend’s concerns. “I reserved us a campsite at Bullfrog Lake. It’s totally civilized and only 20 minutes southwest of here.”

“That’s even worse,” Pete moaned.

“Why?” MacGyver asked, his patience quickly fading.

“It’s the week before Memorial Day. I bet the place’ll be packed. I don’t wanna be where there are a ton of kids running around.”

Mac had anticipated this excuse. “I already thought of that. When I called the park they said the place is deserted this week. Kids are still in school and the staff is working on final preparations for the holiday weekend. It’ll just be you, me, the lake, and hopefully some fish for dinner.”

Pete rolled his sightless eyes. “I’m not gonna get out of this, am I?” he asked.

“Nope! Now let’s hustle so we don’t waste the rest of the day!”

XXXXX

Thirty minutes later, Mac pulled his Jeep and a less-than-enthusiastic Pete into the parking lot of Camp Bullfrog Lake. An attendant greeted them and gave MacGyver a map of the area.

“Good news, Pete!” Mac announced. “Our campsite is right on the lake, but we’ll need to walk in from here.”

“Terrific,” his friend grumbled.

Mac sighed inwardly but remained determined. He helped Pete hoist on his backpack before he donned his own. His friend held onto his elbow for guidance with one hand and clutched his white and red-tipped cane with the other as the duo made their way down an unpaved path, MacGyver providing a running monologue describing the area including how many steps and in which direction the restroom facilities were located. Within minutes they arrived at the ten-foot by ten-foot mulch-covered and timber-edged tent pad complete with picnic table and fire ring with grate. The two men shrugged out of their backpacks before Mac guided Pete to sit at the table.

“Okay, now what?” Pete huffed.

“We pitch our tent,” Mac declared. He opened the main compartment of his backpack and pulled out the neatly folded nylon. “Feel around in there and grab me the mallet and metal stakes, will ya?” Pete groaned but did as he was told and MacGyver smiled.

A seasoned outdoorsman, Mac made quick work of setting up their tent, laying out their sleeping bags and cleaning up the fire pit. “What do you say we try and catch us some supper?” he asked, wiping his hands on the back of his jeans.

“You go ahead,” Pete replied. “I’m going to go use the facilities.”

“Want me to come with you?”

“I can manage, MacGyver,” Pete spat. “I’m not a child.”

“Never said you were,” Mac muttered under his breath as he watched his friend make his way up the path toward the restrooms.

An hour standing on the lakeshore with fishing pole in hand lifted Mac’s spirits, and he was especially pleased when he returned to camp with a stringer of fish.

“Tonight we’ll be dining on bluegill ala MacGyver,” he cheerfully announced to Pete who was once again sitting at the picnic table.

“What? No lobster?” Pete teased and Mac was relieved to see his old friend’s sense of humor returning. They chatted about Challengers and the river clean-up project as MacGyver cleaned and gutted the fish before frying them up over an open fire.

The sun was already setting in the western sky when the two men finished picking off the mild, white flesh from the delicate bones of their now-consumed meal. A gentle breeze wafted off the lake, chilling the air, so Mac stoked the fire and helped Pete take a seat on the ground nearby before doing the same.

“So,” MacGyver began, reaching out to warm his hands, “When are ya gonna tell me what’s eatin’ ya?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Pete replied a bit defensively as he mimicked the gesture he could not see.

Mac sighed. He was hoping his friend would willingly open up to him. But then again, Pete hated to burden anyone else with his problems. MacGyver understood the feeling.

“Is it your eyes? Were you turned down for another experimental procedure?”

“Ah, no,” Pete replied, his voice back to its usual tone. “It has nothing to do with that. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never see again and I’m okay with that. Most of the time, anyway.”

“I got a little present for you,” MacGyver announced, placing a palm-sized black box in his friend’s hand.

“What is it?” Pete asked, his curiosity obviously piqued.

“It’s a braille compass,” Mac told him before reaching over to show him how it worked. “You just slide the cover off like this,” he explained, taking Pete’s hands in his to demonstrate. “Then you read the braille dial.”

“Ha! That’s amazing!” Pete laughed. “How do you come up with all these gadgets?”

“I have my sources,” MacGyver smirked.

“I hope this doesn’t mean you plan on dropping me in the middle of nowhere to find my way back using this thing,” Pete joked before turning somber. “Of course, the way I’ve been acting I wouldn’t blame you.”

“You wanna talk about it?”

Pete sighed. “Did you ever wonder why I always believed your stories about Murdoc coming back from the dead?”

“You’re my best friend. That’s what best friends do. Besides, you didn’t always believe. Sometimes it took some convincing.”

“That was a show for the brass. I couldn’t have everyone thinking we were both crazy!”

“Gee, thanks Pete.”

“What I’m trying to say is that I had my own Murdoc. It was long before I met you. I had just started working at the DXS. He went by El Jefe.”

“The Chief,” Mac murmured.

“Biggest drug lord in South America at the time. His real name was Victor Prescott.”

“American?”

“As apple pie! He had this uncanny way of avoiding capture. Just when you thought you had him pinned down he’d disappear into thin air. Every agent dreamed of bringing him in, including me.”

“But you never did,” MacGyver surmised.

“After two long years of playing cat and mouse, I finally nailed him in the Colombian jungle. He was extradited to the United States and sentenced to life in a federal penitentiary.”

“That’s great, Pete!” Mac declared, enthusiastically slapping his friend’s back. “But why are you telling me this?”

“A couple weeks ago I got a call from one of my old partners at the DXS. He told me Prescott got paroled for good behavior. Can you believe it?!” Pete’s laugh was humorless.

“Aw, man. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, well, it just got me thinking about whether or not all those years spent working endless hours at the DXS and Phoenix were really worth it. It ruined my marriage and my relationship with my son and for what?”

“C’mon Pete, lighten up! You made a successful career of putting away the bad guys and saving innumerable lives in the process. You can’t let one man get to you like this after all these years.”

“Oh yeah? How would you feel if it was Murdoc?”

Silenced reigned as stars twinkled above. Finally, Pete spoke.

“It’s been a long day. I think I’m gonna hit the sack. You comin’?”

“In a minute,” Mac replied as he stared out over the lake now shrouded in darkness.

XXXXX

MacGyver awoke the following morning to find the sleeping bag next to his empty. He grinned and stretched lazily. Apparently Pete had slept well and was eager to start the day. Crawling out of the tent, he expected to see his friend nearby, but the campsite was vacant. Figuring Pete had gone to use the facilities, Mac rooted through his backpack for the granola bars that would be breakfast. When he had finished eating and the older man had still not returned, he began to worry and headed toward the building that housed the restrooms, but Pete wasn’t there. With concern for his friend beginning to gnaw at him, he spotted a park employee readying the grounds for the weekend.

“Excuse me!” he called, grabbing the man’s attention. “Did you happen to see my friend? He’s shorter than me, bald, a little on the heavy side?”

“I remember him,” the man replied. “The blind dude, right?”

“Right,” Mac responded flatly. He didn’t care for how the employee referred to Pete, but he was too worried to argue about it.

“He used the men’s room and when he came out your other friend was waiting for him and they headed off towards the woods. Figured they were going hiking.”

“Wait a minute!” MacGyver grabbed the man by the bicep. “What ‘other friend’? We came here alone!”

“Sorry, man. I just know what I saw.”

“But I thought this was a secure campground. Can you radio the gate attendant and ask when this guy came in?”

“Look buddy, we’re short handed and tryin’ to get ready for one of the busiest weekends of the year. The boss pulled the attendant for clean-up duty as soon as he came in. Besides, anybody can get to the camp if they hike through the woods.” With that the attendant turned his back and resumed his chores.

Mac looked in the direction the employee had indicated the two men took. It was the Willow Springs trailhead which led to the Palos Trail System. Some forty-two miles of rugged paths, rolling hills, and deep ravines. MacGyver made his way to the edge of the forest and bent to examine the ground, still a bit damp from dew. There were shoe imprints shuffled together. Did they belong to Pete and the man who, in Mac’s opinion, accosted him? Was this the sign of a struggle? Or was it simply a jumble of footprints from previous hikers? Most importantly, who had taken Pete? The only person Mac could think of was Victor Prescott. But how was that even possible? MacGyver forced himself to put worry aside and honed in on the environment. Ground-covering plants had been squashed. Twigs from bushes and small trees littered the ground. He picked up one of the thin branches and examined the end. It was a fresh break. Something had definitely happened here recently. Knowing he couldn’t rescue Pete if he was unprepared himself, MacGyver jogged back to camp to repack his backpack with some essential gear before heading back to the trailhead.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“Would you hurry it up?” Victor Prescott demanded. “I don’t have all day.”

“You’ve been in prison for years. A few more minutes isn’t going to make a difference!” Pete argued, keeping his hands out in front of him to avoid walking into something. Unfortunately, he had no way to protect himself from the rutted trail. His foot caught on a dead branch and he pitched forward, landing on his hands and knees.

“C’mon, get up!” Prescott growled, grabbing hold of the back of the other man’s jacket and pulling him to his feet.

Pete gingerly regained his footing and did a quick physical assessment. Nothing seemed to be damaged. He brushed off his pants and the front of his jacket which he knew must be dirty from the fall.

“So where, exactly, are we going?” he asked his long-time nemesis.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” Prescott replied before chuckling. “On second thought, I guess you won’t see!”

The wisecrack about his eyesight, or lack thereof, only caused Pete to become more determined to remain alive and unharmed. Surely by now MacGyver had discovered his absence and would come looking for him, but doubt slithered into his brain as he wondered how many trailheads were accessible by the campground. And how would Mac know to look in the woods and not assume he had been taken away by car? Details. Those were just details. MacGyver would figure it out. He always did. Mac would find him.

“Now get moving,” Prescott instructed as he poked Pete in the back with the tip of Pete’s cane which Prescott had confiscated outside the restroom. At least it wasn’t the muzzle of the gun which he had originally pressed into Pete’s ribs to make him comply.

“All right! All right! I’m going!” Pete replied, holding his hands up in the universal gesture of surrender. For whatever reason, probably because he was blind, Victor had chosen not to bind his wrists and Pete was desperately thinking of a way to make him pay for that error.

They walked in silence for what seemed like miles. Since losing his eyesight, Pete’s other senses had become highly tuned. Under normal circumstances, he would almost enjoy the earthy smell of the forest floor, the cheerful chirping of birds returning for the spring, squirrels and rabbits rustling dead leaves left over from last autumn as they scampered about, and a brook babbling merrily along. If he could just shake Prescott, he could follow the small river to civilization. That’s what his survivalist training as a Phoenix field agent had taught him. If you got lost in the woods, you followed the water. Unfortunately, Prescott was sticking to him like glue on duct tape. Pete couldn’t help but grin to himself at the analogy. He just had to stay alive until Mac arrived. Knowing that silence is never your friend when you’re a hostage, he needed to get Prescott talking again and remind him that Pete was a flesh-and-blood human being and not some object of prey.

“Look, we both know you’re gonna kill me so why don’t you just get it over with here and now?” Pete huffed, immediately regretting his opening line.

“You government agents are so impatient! How do you think I managed to evade you all those years. Your eagerness was my greatest ally. But to answer your question, killing you now would be too humane. You see, you left me to rot in a cage like a wild animal for more years than I care to count. Now it’s your turn to suffer until you wish you were dead!”

“How did you find me?” Pete asked, not wanting to hear more about what awaited him. “I could’ve been anywhere in the world!”

“After all you’ve seen, you still underestimate me? I was the general of the biggest drug cartel army in South America! My men gave me their undying loyalty in exchange for their lives! You may have captured me, Peter Thornton, but there have been many, many eyes on you since that dark day. I know more about you than you do yourself!”

“You’re not gonna get away with this, Victor!”

“Oh really? And who’s going to stop me? Your little boy scout friend back at the campsite?”

Pete’s breath caught. “You know about MacGyver?”

Victor let go an evil laugh. “Of course! Like I said, I know everything about you Thornton. I also know about MacGyver and won’t think twice about killing him, either.”

“Leave Mac out of this!” Pete demanded. “He means nothing to you!”

“Indeed. But he means something to you and that makes him quite valuable to me.”

Pete knew he couldn’t allow his best friend to be a victim of the vendetta meant for him so, with renewed determination, he began to think of a plan to take out Prescott before Prescott got his hands on Mac. Time. He needed time. And a ploy. Pete began to walk slower, adding a limp every now and again until allowing it to become more frequent.

“What’s wrong with you?!” Prescott growled. “Move faster!”

“I can’t,” Pete grimaced. “I think I really hurt my ankle back there when I fell. It’s probably bruised and feels swollen. Can you take a look at it?”

“I’m not a nursemaid, Thornton. Now shut up and be a man!”

Pete took a few more awkward steps before faltering. “I can’t make it.”

“Fine,” Prescott huffed, “I’ll take a look at it if that will make you stop whining.”

Pete stood favoring his left ankle as he heard and felt Victor come around to face him. “Mind if I put my hand on your shoulder to help me balance?” he asked.

Prescott grumbled incoherently as Pete reached out and laid his hand on the man’s shoulder. Now he could track his movements. He felt Prescott lower himself to a squat. When he was confident the positioning was accurate, he bent his leg and rammed his knee into his captor’s face with a sickening crunch. Yowling in pain, Prescott reached up and grabbed the front of Pete’s jacket, pulling the man down on top of him. Fists flailed as the two men rolled around on the ground, each seeking dominance. Suddenly, the earth around them gave way and they tumbled down a stony incline before landing on the gravelly shore of the river several feet below. Disoriented and shaken, Pete discovered blood oozing from his temple as his struggled to sit up with a groan. Prescott, who he assumed was beside him or at least nearby, was eerily silent.

“Victor?” Pete called cautiously in case the villain was using this opportunity to catch him off guard. When there was no answer or hint of movement Pete called again, louder, “Victor?!” No response.

Unsure of the new terrain, Pete began to crawl on his hands and knees, sharp stones biting his palms and poking through his jeans. Every few feet he stopped to feel around him as he tried to find Victor. He was about to give up when his hand bumped into a large, soft form. Feeling his way, he found his foe’s carotid artery but no pulse was evident. Pete sighed and sat back on his heels. “Aw man,” he whispered to himself. He felt an odd sorrow. He was glad Prescott would never be a danger to him again, but no man deserved to die before his time. He vaguely wondered if this was how MacGyver had felt when Murdoc died from a severe allergic reaction Mac had been unable to stop. A damp gust of wind chilled him to the bone and brought him out of his musings. He had to figure out where he was and mark the spot and then follow the gurgling stream to what he hoped would be civilization...or at least a remote campsite, preferably occupied with people willing to offer aid.

Continuing his tactile survey of the area, he smiled when he found a rock about the size of a basketball. He took off his belt and fastened it securely around the stone. Now his starting point was marked and it would also serve as a clue if MacGyver happened to come this way. As he stood debating which way to follow the river he remembered the braille compass he had tucked away in the back pocket of his jeans. He pulled out the device and slid it open, but his fingertips were scratched and bloodied from his fall and subsequent search of the ground and he could not feel the little dots on the dial. “Terrific,” he scowled. He carefully made his way to the river and bent down to feel the water to learn which direction it flowed and that would be the direction he would follow. He wiped his wet fingers on his pant leg, turned to his left, and began walking gingerly down stream.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

MacGyver returned to the trailhead after quickly raiding his Jeep and the camp for anything that might prove useful in his search and, hopefully, rescue. He had swiftly stashed the gear in his backpack which was now firmly strapped to him. With no idea what the trail looked like or where it headed, he wanted to be as prepared as possible. He shook his head as he remembered missions from his younger, perhaps cockier, days when he started out with an empty bag in preparation for the things he found along the way as he began his trek into the woods.

Although Mac’s instinct was to run as fast as he possibly could and call his friend’s name, he knew how foolish and dangerous that would be. He had to be quiet and take time to observe his immediate surroundings for any clues to confirm he was on the same trail Pete and his captor had taken. He hadn’t been walking all that long before he noticed a dead branch laying in the middle of the narrow path. He reached down to grab it, intending to toss it into the woods, when he saw footprints and hand marks on the ground as well as crushed weeds and a few disheveled wildflowers. Mac hunched down and looked closer. The footprints were too large to be anything but male, and there were definitely two different sets. But what about the handprints? He glanced back at the piece of dead wood. Someone tripped over it and fell. He hoped it had been Victor Prescott and not Pete.

The path cleared for a while making it easier for MacGyver to follow the trail the two men had left. Suddenly, he noticed a slight difference in the prints. While three were all about the same depth, one appeared to be more shallow indicating uneven weight distribution. One of them was limping. Mac continued to follow the imprints for several yards when suddenly they all came together, one on top of another. Loose dirt had scattered across the path and there were more broken twigs indicating a scuffle like the one back at the trailhead. Only this time, the signs led him to the edge of a deep ravine where a piece of earth had fallen away. Being extra cautious so as to keep more ground from falling as well as preparing himself for what he might see, Mac carefully approached the edge and looked over. Nothing. MacGyver let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. Expecting to find Pete’s twisted, broken body at the bottom of the cliff, the sight of emptiness flooded him with relief. He returned to the dirt pathway, but the trail of footprints had stopped. Where had Pete and Prescott gone? Could they have both survived the fall into the ravine with neither suffering injuries? Mac returned to where the ground had given way. He was studying the riverbank when a random ray of sunlight glinted off a rock and caught his eye. Eager to investigate in the hopes of finding a clue to his friend’s whereabouts, MacGyver threw off his backpack and half-crawled, half-slid down the incline on his backside, coming to an abrupt halt at the bottom. Gaining his footing, he headed straight for the rock and saw a belt wrapped around it, a shaft of sunlight piercing the buckle, and he immediately recognized it as one of Pete’s favorites. There were even the extra holes Mac had made with an ice pick one time when Pete had put on a few extra pounds, but MacGyver’s gaze fixated on the drying blood staining the gray stone. Certain that Pete was injured, and wondering how he had gotten away from whom he could only assume was Prescott to leave this clue, Mac started walking parallel to the river, following its flow and hoping that Pete’s field training had kicked in and he was doing the same since the pebble and rock laden shore did not allow for any footprints for Mac to follow.

MacGyver’s pulse bumped up a notch when he saw a portly figure in a red jacket just a few yards ahead of him. Pete! And he was alone. Where was Prescott? As Mac approached his friend, the older man stopped and stiffened, apparently hearing the footsteps behind him.

“Pete,” MacGyver said in a loud whisper. “It’s me!”

The older man turned around. “It’s about time you found me!” he chided with a laugh.

“Shhhh,” Mac admonished. “Where’s Prescott?”

“He’s dead.”

“What?!”

“Didn’t you find the clue I left you?” Pete asked, confused.

“Yeah, the belt around the rock.”

“Right. Prescott’s body was a few feet away.”

MacGyver shook his head in disbelief. “There was no one there, Pete. Just the rock.”

Mac watched as his friend’s face fell. “That can’t be. I checked his pulse myself. He’s dead!

“Pete, I’m tellin’ ya, there was no body!”

“But that’s impossible!” Pete argued.

“Well, possible or not, we need to get you back to safety and get cleaned up. C’mon, I ditched my backpack on the trail. It has a small first aid kit I can use to patch up the gash on your head and take care of your fingers.”

“No way!” Pete balked. “If Prescott somehow survived, he couldn’t have gotten far. We need to find him.”

“We need to keep you safe,” Mac countered, but by the time he finished his sentence, Pete was already walking away sans his pretend limp.

“Okay, fine,” MacGyver said, catching up with his friend. “But Prescott could be anywhere. This forest is huge.”

Pete shook his head. “No. He’s too determined to get even with me. He has to be nearby, waiting to make his move.”

“You’re absolutely correct, Thornton,” Victor called from the path above the ravine, a handgun with a silencer attached aimed at the two friends. “And now I get to kill two ex-agents for the price of one. How economical! Now get up here so we can get on with this.” Prescott tossed a length of rope over the incline and MacGyver grabbed it.

“C’mon Pete, you go first. I’ll be right behind in case you slip,” Mac assured him.

“You mean we’re actually going to do what he tells us to?”

“For the time being, yes.”

Pete grunted as he began pulling himself up by the rope. Mac followed closely, trying to think of options but coming up empty.

“So how’d you do it, Victor?” Pete huffed once he was back on the trail.

“Do what?”

“Make it seem like you were dead.”

Prescott’s laugh was low and evil. “Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of time to learn new skills. The prison had a wonderful library and I became oddly interested in the meditation practices of a recluse sect of Tibetan monks. It seems they are able to meditate so deeply that their heart rates slow and become virtually undetectable. With no pressing engagements, I thought this might come in handy so I spent many hours practicing and today I finally had the opportunity to display the fruits of my labor.”

“Why go through all that trouble? Why not just kill me when I was on the ground?”

“I already told you, Peter. I want you to suffer as I did. And now you get to watch your best friend suffer, too.”

“You wouldn’t happen to be related to a guy named Murdoc, would ya?” Mac quipped, earning him a steely-eyed glare and a gun pointed at the middle of his forehead.

“If you think you can joke your way out of this, Mr. MacGyver, you are terribly wrong.”

“Sorry,” Mac muttered.

“Now get moving!” Prescott demanded.

Mac offered his elbow to Pete to guide him down the narrow path, avoiding fallen branches and other debris. After they had been walking through the deserted forest for about thirty minutes, Prescott ordered them to stop in front of a small, wooden outbuilding with no windows and one very heavy door latched with a padlock. Gun in hand, he motioned for the two of them to enter before swinging the door shut behind them and throwing the lock into place.

“Where are we?” Pete asked.

“Some kind of storage shed I think,” Mac replied as his eyes tried to adjust to the total darkness inside.

“Good! You oughta be able to find something to help get us out of here.”

“Not likely,” MacGyver said after making a quick but thorough turn around the small enclosure. “This place is totally empty.”

“But you have a plan, right?”

“No, Pete, I don’t have a plan!” Mac blustered before regaining his composure. “The walls are solid and the door locks from the outside. Anything remotely useful is in my backpack which I left on the trail where you fell down into the ravine. We’re stuck here!”

“Well, there must be something we can do,” Pete offered softly after several seconds.

“There is. We can figure out what’s going on here.”

“You mean besides Prescott trying to kill us?” Pete asked sarcastically.

“Yeah. I mean, how did he find you and orchestrate all this in the first place?”

“He told me he’s had people spying on me.”

Mac shook his head even though his friend couldn’t see it. “There’s gotta be more to it than that. It’s just a few days ‘til the park opens for one of the busiest weekends of the year, right?”

“Right. What are you getting at?”

“Supposedly the gate attendant got pulled to help with clean-up, yet I’ve only actually seen one person working so far, and he’s the same guy who told me you went off with Prescott and even pointed me in the right direction.”

“You think he’s one of Victor’s men and set you up?”

“Yeah, and given the amount of tree limbs and trash on the trail, lack of footprints, and unstable land along the ravine, there’s no way anything’s been done to prepare for this weekend.”

“What do you think happened to everyone?”

“I don’t know, but I do know we have to get out of here and go to the authorities.”

“But I thought you said you didn’t have a plan.”

“I’m beginning to change my mind,” Mac replied wryly.

“But there’s nothing here, MacGyver! You said it yourself, the place is empty!”

“Then it’s time to start thinkin’ about the stuff we have rather than the stuff we don’t.”

“You mean besides a headache, sore fingers, stiff back, swollen feet…” Pete moaned.

“Yeah. Look, we both have our shoelaces, and I’ve still got my belt. It’s better than nothin’.”

MacGyver bent down and began unlacing Pete’s hiking boots before doing his own and then slid his belt free. Unsure of how much time they had before Prescott came back to check on them, he quickly tied the shoelaces together and grinned when he discovered they were long enough to double up.

“Here, hold this tight,” Mac instructed as he put one end of his shoelace ‘rope’ in Pete’s hand.

“What’s this for?”

“We’re gonna trip Prescott up, so to speak.”

At Pete’s blank expression, MacGyver explained his plan. “The door opens outward. I’ll sit on one side and you sit on the other. When Prescott walks in--”

“We trip him with the shoelaces!” Pete concluded.

“That’s the plan!”

“Do you think they’re strong enough?”

“We’ll find out,” Mac replied. “While Prescott’s on the ground, I’ll use them to tie his hands behind his back. Think you can manage to use my belt to secure his feet?”

“I’ll make sure I can!” Pete assured him.

MacGyver proceeded to settle Pete on one side of the doorway before he sat down on the other, leaving the shoelaces slack between them for now.

“What about his accomplice?” Pete asked as they waited.

“We’ll worry about him when the time comes,” Mac declared.

After what seemed to be an eternity, MacGyver finally heard Prescott fiddling with the latch on the door.

“Get ready, Pete,” he whispered as both men raised their ‘rope’ to mid-calf level and pulled it taut.

Victor Prescott pulled the door open, but when he stepped inside, his leg snagged on the shoelaces and he fell forward, landing flat on his stomach as the gun he held skidded across the plank flooring. Mac quickly gathered his make-shift rope and, with a knee in the villain’s back to keep him prone, pulled his arms behind him and looped the shoelaces around his wrists in a tight figure eight while Pete secured the man’s ankles with Mac’s belt. Once the surprise wore off, Prescott started to buck and yell. Pete pulled a handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and stuck it in Prescott’s mouth.

“That should keep him quiet for a while, don’t ya think?”

“Great job, Pete,” MacGyver smiled as he got to his feet and retrieved the gun, removing the clip and checking to make sure the chamber was empty before tucking it into the waistband of his jeans. “What d’ya say we get outta here?”

“Sounds like the best plan I’ve heard all day!” Pete happily agreed.

Once outside with his friend at his elbow, Mac stopped and surveyed their surroundings.

“What’s wrong? Why aren’t we walking?” Pete asked.

“I’m not sure we should take the same path back to the campground, just in case Victor’s lackey is hanging around somewhere,” MacGyver replied.

“Then what do you suggest we do?” Pete queried, his voice laden with frustration.

“Are you up for a real hike through the woods?”

“No!”

“Good!” Mac smiled. “Let’s get going!”

MacGyver carefully picked his way through the brush and around the trees in an attempt to make the trek easier for Pete. It was slow going and Mac kept his ears open for any sound that would indicate the presence of another human being...namely the fake park attendant. It was late afternoon by the time the duo emerged from the tree line just yards from the original trailhead. The campground appeared empty, but MacGyver still didn’t like the lack of cover between where they were and where their tent still stood.

“Wait here,” he instructed Pete.

He then bent low and hurried to their campsite but came to an abrupt halt when he spotted the lone attendant poking around in their firepit. Mac pulled Victor’s gun out from underneath his shirt, holding it by the barrel. He quietly approached the man from behind who was too preoccupied to be aware of MacGyver’s presence. Holding his breath, Mac took two more steps before bringing the butt of the weapon down hard on the back of the man’s neck. The attendant crumpled to the ground with a moan before drifting away into unconsciousness. MacGyver quickly broke down the tent and used the tethers to bind the man’s hands and feet before returning to the edge of the woods to get Pete. Together they headed to the park entrance and used the phone in the security shack to call the authorities and then waited in the Jeep for them to arrive.

XXXXX

“And once Prescott and his accomplice were taken back into custody the cops searched the campground and found the real staff and caretakers bound and gagged in the main storage building. Seems some thugs were hired to take care of them. Once they’re found, they’ll probably happily turn on Prescott to escape jail time,” MacGyver concluded as he sat at the Thornton’s kitchen table where Connie and Pete both nursed mugs of steaming hot coffee.

Connie shook her head. “I should probably be upset, but I’m just glad you both returned safely from your ordeal. However, I do wish you would have told me about this as soon as you received that phone call, Peter. I thought you were done shutting me out of your life.”

“I’m sorry,” Pete replied. “I just didn’t want you to worry. How was I to know Prescott would seek revenge after all these years?”

“Yeah, Pete. That information would’ve been kinda helpful to me, too,” Mac remarked.

“Alright!” Pete huffed, “I apologize to both of you!”

“Apology accepted,” MacGyver said, before glancing at his watch. “I hate to break up the party, but I need to head home.”

“Oh no, mister! You’re spending the night with us,” Connie insisted. “You need a nice long rest before you drive back.”

“Thanks Connie, I appreciate it,” he said with a smile knowing that arguing would get him nowhere.

“Speaking of going home, how much of this are you gonna tell Joanna?” Pete asked.

“I’m gonna tell her everything,” Mac shrugged. “We kinda have this agreement where if I come home in one piece and don’t try to hide anything from her she’s okay with my little adventures.”

“Sounds like you’ve made progress,” Pete observed. “But let me tell you this, MacGyver...the next time we go camping, I want you to take me as far away from civilization as we can get so absolutely no one can find us. You understand?”

“Next time?” Mac asked with a crooked smile. “Ha! I told you you’d like it!”
















Jody~

"I've found from past experiences that the tighter your plan, the more likely you are to run into something unpredictable" ~ MacGyver (The Heist)

 
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Dragondog
Posted: 14 June 2020 - 12:21 AM                                    
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I'm sorry it took so long before I finally got to this. I've been busy dealing with stress (namely, fallouts and subsequent makeups with friends, and people deciding to trespass into our yard directly outside my bedroom window to duke it out), but I finally can read this XD

QUOTE

“But I never get anything accomplished when we spend the evening at your place,” she argued.

“I’d say we get a lot accomplished,” Mac replied with the sexy grin he reserved just for her.
Oh, Mac laugh.gif

QUOTE


“Don’t worry. I got it all covered.”
Ah, yes, the famous words that never end well at all biggrin.gif

QUOTE

Pete sighed. “Did you ever wonder why I always believed your stories about Murdoc coming back from the dead?”

“You’re my best friend. That’s what best friends do. Besides, you didn’t always believe. Sometimes it took some convincing.”

“That was a show for the brass. I couldn’t have everyone thinking we were both crazy!”

“Gee, thanks Pete.”
laugh.gif

QUOTE

“What I’m trying to say is that I had my own Murdoc. It was long before I met you. I had just started working at the DXS. He went by El Jefe.”

“The Chief,” Mac murmured.
ohmy.gif hmm.bmp

QUOTE

“Look buddy, we’re short handed and tryin’ to get ready for one of the busiest weekends of the year. The boss pulled the attendant for clean-up duty as soon as he came in. Besides, anybody can get to the camp if they hike through the woods.” With that the attendant turned his back and resumed his chores.
Sometimes, Mac has to do what the ACTUAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS won't.

QUOTE

“You wouldn’t happen to be related to a guy named Murdoc, would ya?” Mac quipped, earning him a steely-eyed glare and a gun pointed at the middle of his forehead.

“If you think you can joke your way out of this, Mr. MacGyver, you are terribly wrong.”

“Sorry,” Mac muttered.
So does he know murdoc, or no? tongue.gif




"If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer" - Hank The Cowdog

"You have the heart of a chief, and the soul of a dragon"- How to Train Your Dragon 2

"[T]he more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each one of us will be" - Zootopia

"Love makes you do strange things." - Charlie Brown

"When something looks too perfect, it probably sucks" - Dreamworks Dragons Race to the Edge

 
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