Printable Version of Topic
Click here to view this topic in its original format
MacGyver Online Forums > Library > Point Of View


Posted by: bluegirl 25 October 2021 - 01:19 PM
Hello everybody!

It´s been a while... but I am glad to announce... the story I´ve been working on for more than one year now... is almost ready for posting!

It started out with two ideas I chose to combine... took a life of its own... and got a lot bigger than I anticpated. Thanks a lot to uniquelyjas for 'accompanying', inspiring and helping me while I wrote this. I am in the last stages of control-reading, error-hunting and refining. It should take only a few more days to complete this process for at least the first few chapters. But consider yourselves warned: This is going to be quite a read. Kind of like a novel. 21 chapters. 112.000+ words at the moment (might still grow during revising)...

It is going to 'air' on three 'channels' simultaneously: the RDA forum, the MacGyveronline library and fanfiction.net

I intend to post a new chapter twice a week, and hope I can manage to stick to that schedule.

But now for the ideas I was playing with in the beginning:

The first one was a prompt by uniquelyjas: 'Write something with a connection to Austria. I want to learn more about your home." - That one had me thinking real hard. But I found something within the series I could connect to.
The second one was my own: Explain Nikki´s disappearance - why is she gone so abruptly and never mentioned again from season 4 on? I mean, we all know about the behind the scences reason for that - but it was never explained within the series. After finding not even a single fanfiction dealing with this, I chose to give it a shot...

So, this story is set between seasons 3 and 4... and it is my first try at something like this. And I won´t be giving away more of what it is about for now!

Stay tuned! First chapter will be coming soon!

Take care, everyone!

Bluegirl

sakopen.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 31 October 2021 - 08:09 AM
It is Halloween! I made it on time! Here we go!

All mistakes are mine - and let me know what you think!

Part 1:

Point of View

By Bluegirl



Silence.

The hotel suite was completely quiet when MacGyver´s eyes drifted open in the very early morning. The sunlight that filtered through the window had reached his bed and awakened him. A quick glance at his watch told him that it was only around 6 o´clock in the morning. He let his arm relax down to the mattress again, stretched a bit in his bed, and let his gaze wander back outside the window. The morning sky was beautifully blue as far as he could see.

Normally, when he was on vacation, he wasn´t forced to get up that early but he felt rested and his view promised a gorgeous day. Thinking about that fact MacGyver spontaneously decided to change his plans for today. Instead of visiting the historic inner city of Vienna, he chose to go for a hike.

The Alps reached right to the outskirts of the city, but those were only the foothills of the mountain range. When flying in per airplane a few days ago, he had seen some higher mountains quite close to Vienna. From his research in advance to this journey he knew that it was only a one and a half-hour drive due south to them. The weather hadn´t been good enough so far, but the forecast for today had said something about up to 85°F, mostly sunny with the possibility of electrical storms in the evening.

Perfect conditions, he thought as he got up, got dressed, and packed his backpack. After leaving his key at the reception desk, so he wouldn´t risk losing it, and grabbing an orange juice and an apple at the breakfast buffet, Mac headed for his rental car in the hotel garage. Due to the heavy morning traffic on the city highway and the freeway leading south, it took a little longer than expected for MacGyver to reach his destination.

He parked next to a secluded bed and breakfast which also housed a restaurant at the end of a valley at the very foot of the mountain. A cog railway led up to the high plateau from the other side of the mountain, but Mac had chosen to reach the peak on foot. He longed for some physical activity. His way up followed the easy, more common route, and as it wasn´t a weekend, fortunately there weren´t too many other tourists or hikers around. Standing at the summit a few hours later, MacGyver enjoyed the view to all directions, even reaching back to Vienna on the northern horizon. He took his time while taking in the quietness on top of the highest peak close to the capital city of Austria. And he mused about the name of this mountain after reaching its highest point.

Schneeberg.

That translated to ‘snow-mountain’, Mac remembered. Yet, so far he hadn´t seen the slightest bit of snow anywhere. As it was the end of June all of it had melted away. But at more than 6800ft elevation above sea level, Mac was sure that there would be quite some snow up here at least during half of the year. On his way back over the high plateau MacGyver took a break at a large mountain shelter that also was an inn. He used the chance to practice his German-speaking skills while ordering a light lunch and was fascinated while watching the birds from the large patio in front of the house.

The flying maneuvers of the alpine choughs were breathtaking, especially for someone with a severe fear of heights. They soared, seemed to play with the wind, to defy gravity, seemed to have real fun while practicing their airs and loops over the plateau and the rocky cliffs of the mountain. And some, no, most of them were bold and sassy enough to beg for food or even try to steal some of Mac´s meal. At first, he wanted to fend them off, but soon he gave in to the charm of the black, raven-like, yet smaller birds with the red legs and yellow beak and tossed them some bits and pieces.

But the inn had also been occupied by some school classes and their teachers. With all the kids hustling and bustling around and over the place, MacGyver took his leave quite soon, seeking some solitude on his way down the mountain and back to his rental car. He was grateful for the week off that Pete had granted him. He´d been in desperate need to get away and refuel his batteries. Mac had opted for another route downwards and had to cross a huge talus field before he would reach the woods. Walking over the scree had held his concentration, but wandering down on the trails through the forest after that on his own had also allowed his mind to wander off.

He had shied away from the kids at the mountain shelter primarily because they had been noisy, but now he admitted to himself he had left early because of the thoughts and memories they had aroused. Some of the things that had happened in the past weeks and months were still very present in the back of his head.

The kids had reminded him of what Jack Jr. might be in a few years. Both, Jack and himself had been kind of shocked when they had found that little guy in Jack´s airplane with a letter, letting them believe that he was Jack´s son. Within less than a day Jack had given in and accepted the idea, had been willing to settle down and live a decent life for the sake of the wellbeing of the kid. MacGyver had been quite surprised by this swift change in his friend. He remembered their conversation very well. He knew what he had told Jack about having kids himself.

“It´s been in the back of my head, but I´ve always just kind of backed away from it.”

And he also remembered his next question to Jack, while they had been watching the sleeping kid.

“Do you think that is what it takes to be happy?”

MacGyver knew that for a couple of moments he had felt just like that. And it had sent a sting to his heart. He, who´d been alone for all these years, without a family apart from his grandfather, had found himself longing for a family of his own again. He´d felt lonely despite all the good friends he had. Having a family was something different. Something he would have to commit to. Something he was by now probably willing to commit to.

But he also knew it had to start with the right woman entering his life. Someone who he would be willing to surrender his heart to; who he would be able to open up to.

Maybe, MacGyver thought, I wouldn´t have felt that lonely without what had happened some weeks before we´d found little Jack.

There had been a woman. Deborah. She had done her research on him. She had pushed all the right buttons. And he had fallen for her deceit. Real quickly. He had longed for it to be true. He had trusted her entirely. Like he always tended to trust people. Like he always assumed the best of other people´s intentions. He had let his guard down and opened his heart for her. Completely. MacGyver had actually believed this time it could be real. For once and for all. What had he told her, when he´d just been out of the hospital, blinded temporarily, not knowing yet that it had been her bomb?

“I´m at your mercy.”

He had lowered his defenses, all the time. And what had it earned him? Deborah had tried to kill him. Twice.

It had been pure luck that that bomb on the boat hadn´t finished him off. He still saw the blinding flash of the explosion in some of his nightmares. He hadn´t even had time to be afraid then.

He still heard the distinctive click of her switchblade knife on that rainy evening in the middle of nowhere. He had barely managed to survive that second attempt. At the risk of his eyesight, when he´d taken off those bandages way too early for his doctor´s likings. It hadn´t been all too easy to reach out to Pete afterward and to help him and Nikki find out where Deborah had taken him. It had been quite a mess to sort out. At least Deborah had been willing to testify against Knapp.

And it had left MacGyver with a torn and broken heart. Once again.

He sighed deeply, as all these thoughts went through his mind while he was walking down the mountain. The lower he got the hotter and more humid the air got. Some of his sweat, trickling down from his brows got into his eyes and burned slightly. It reminded him abruptly of the hot burning pain he had felt in his eyes for quite some time after the explosion. Fortunately, his eyes and his burns had healed well and quickly, with no scars remaining. Physically.

MacGyver had to stop for a moment, blinked the sweat out of his eyes, and rubbed his face with his hands. Mentally and emotionally, he admitted to himself, he was far from being healed. To the outside, he coped with it like he always did. He kept up his easy-going, smiling façade. Mac kept his feelings to himself, locked them up, and nonchalantly made everybody believe that he was fine.

As he was now standing on a small clearing, he felt the heat of the sunrays on his skin, which as well brought back the memory of the blast on the boat. MacGyver ran his hands through his hair and puffed out a deep breath, striving to get the disturbing pictures out of his head. Why, he asked himself, is it always like this? When the book of my life turns to pages that deal with love, there never seems to be a happy ending.

He took off his backpack, kneeled down, and retrieved his map and compass from the top pocket. Trying to focus back on his trip and his vacation feeling Mac checked his current position with the help of the map. Satisfied that he had made good progress on his way back, he stuffed both items back and took a long sip of water out of his bottle.

But suddenly he froze as he heard a well-known rumble from above that instantly broke him out of his melancholy. Mac looked up to the sky while he put his bottle down. Huge clouds had towered up. He had noticed the sky getting covered partly with clouds while he had crossed the talus field, but they hadn´t looked perilous then. He pulled his rain jacket out of his backpack.

“Aw, man…” he grumbled upwards. “The forecast said something about thunderstorms in the evening… It´s only mid-afternoon!”

Mac stood up while shrugging into his jacket and putting his backpack on. Then he resumed his way downwards, quickening his pace. He knew very well that trying to argue with an approaching electrical storm was no use. He also knew very well about the danger he´d have to face if he got caught in the midst of heavy rain and lightning on a mountain. He had to get off that mountain. Fast.

On his planned route he still had quite a few miles ahead of him until he´d be back at his car. But there was no time for that now. He had to take shortcuts where possible. MacGyver hurried along the trail through the forest, while he again heard thunder rolling above. Louder. Much closer. The wind was suddenly picking up speed.

For a moment Mac thought about taking a direct route downwards, crossing through the trees off the trail. He stopped for a moment and looked into the woods, but abandoned his idea as quickly as he had picked up on it. This forest was too dense, the ground too rough and unpredictable. He´d be slower than on the trail. Mac continued to rush down the trail fast while the growling thunder became more frequent and louder.

He flinched as the flash of lightning brightened his surroundings, closely followed by a roaring noise. He had automatically started counting the seconds between flash and thunder in an attempt to estimate the distance of the lightning. He had only gotten until three or four the last times. That storm was catching up with him way too fast for Mac´s liking. He started running as he felt the first drops of rain falling.

Some minutes later MacGyver slowed down instinctively as the trees parted for a grassy slope. He found himself faced with the upper end of a ski lift, which was of course out of business in summer. The mast and the cables were big, sturdy, and naturally made out of steel. Definitely not the safest place to be close to in an electrical storm.

Mac´s mind hit overdrive as he looked around for another quick way down the mountain. The rain was pouring down heavily by now and the sky was frequently ablaze with lightning bolts. Mac felt the wind pulling on the trees and on him and the cracks of thunder vibrating through him. He had no time to spare. There was one ski-slope in front of him where the lift came up, but to his right, the grassy swath in the forest continued. Quickly he tried to remember the details of the map. That had to be the steeper and narrower ski slope, he´d noticed earlier when he´d planned his route back during his lunch.

Without thinking too long about it, MacGyver ran off to his right, away from this steel mast. Not a moment too early. He had just passed around a bend when once again everything was alight and he heard the sharp bang of thunder almost immediately from behind. Slipping on the wet grass Mac pressed on fast as he had to get out of the forest, away from the huge, old trees. The lower he got the safer he would be. He had to admit, that his situation was a little scary by now.

Only minutes later he was forced to slow down when he reached the steep part of the slope. The trees to both sides were old, had grown tall and the rocky ground showed between them. A small creek was running down over the grass on the slope, obviously caused by the heavy rain. Mac quickly chose his path and continued downwards, even more cautious and alert, but nevertheless slipping and sliding on the wet surface. He had to shake his head regularly to get the rainwater out of his eyes and clear his sight. It seemed as if he could sense the electrical potential in the midst of the storm. He felt a prickling on his skin while he tried hard to keep a secure footing on the uneven slope.

But then everything happened within the same split second.

The was a blinding flash of light only a few feet to his right, in the corner of his eye, hitting a huge tree, accompanied by a deafening noise that sounded like an explosion. Mac heard wood and rock breaking when the shockwave hit him and threw him sideways through the air until he slammed against the trunk of a tree on the other side of the slope. Parts of wood and small rocks rained down on him as he dropped to the ground dazed. Mac rolled and slid down the steep, wet ground for a few yards barely conscious until another tree stopped his movement.

For several moments he lay on his front motionless, overwhelmed by the dizziness and the ringing in his head and his ears. Slowly he realized that he was still alive, that he hadn´t been struck directly by the lightning bolt. While he was fighting to regain full consciousness, the hurt in his left arm and shoulder made itself known. He´d also hit his head but his shoulder and upper arm had taken most of the impact. Still lying on the ground Mac tried to assess the damage, cautiously tried to move his arm. Moaning because of the sharp pain it caused, he sensed that at least he could use it. It didn´t feel like anything was broken or dislocated, only badly bruised.

MacGyver forced his eyes to open, blinked the rain away, and focused again on his primary task. He still had to get off that mountain. He drew in a sharp breath as he pushed himself up off the ground while trying not to put too much of his weight on his left side. Mac managed to repress the pain a little and unsteadily got to his feet. He held his left arm close to his body and stabilized it with his right one as he continued his way downwards.

Fortunately, the vertigo, as well as the hurting, diminished to a bearable level over the next minutes. Soon he reached a wider, smoother and less steep part of the ski slope, where he was able to quicken his pace again. By now Mac was almost completely soaked to the bone, yet still chased by lightning and thunder. When he came around the last patch of forest he could already see the restaurant and its parking lot, where he had left his rental car this morning. Only a few hundred wet and muddy yards to go.

When he reached a trail crossing that final meadow, MacGyver started running again, although he was panting with exhaustion by now and struggling with ignoring the pain it caused to his shoulder. He saw a small open garage next to the parking lot and headed for it. He wasn´t about to be picky in his situation. If only its roof had no leaks and would provide him with a dry place where he could take a closer look at the injury to his shoulder and change into partly dry clothes before he would drive back to the city.

He puffed out a deep sigh as he reached his shelter and stopped running. Mac took a few moments to catch his breath until he carefully took off his backpack and set it down on the ground. Then he straightened himself and let some of the rainwater rinse off before he cautiously opened the zipper of his jacket and shrugged out of it. The legs of his jeans were soaked completely and he didn´t have a dry spare with him. He hadn´t expected severe weather conditions like this. His jacket and shirt were torn from the impact on the tree´s bark but his skin only showed small cuts. He also took off his partly wet shirt and dug into his backpack for the dry spare while making a mental note to get himself a new and sturdier rain jacket as soon as possible.

MacGyver gingerly tested moving his injured arm and shoulder and assessed with relief that the ache had diminished even further. But he was also sure that the intense bruises would show soon. Mac picked up his torn shirt and used its dry parts to rub his wet hair in an attempt to get a little more comfortable. Then he cautiously put on the new one. Looking outside to his car Mac realized that the intensity of the rain had lessened a bit. But he also noticed himself getting cold and freezing because of the remaining wet jeans and shoes and the still lingering shock.

The car´s heating will have some work to do, he thought to himself.

With another skeptical look to the dark clouds and a defeated small sigh, Mac picked up his belongings and then quickly headed for his car. After unlocking it he threw his pack to the passenger seat and slid inside, hurriedly closing the door behind himself.

What a day… tomorrow I´ll be staying in Vienna and visit some museum. It´s unlikely that I will get hurt there, he mused as he fired up the engine, turned the heater on, and adjusted it to blow mostly on his legs and feet. Slightly shivering he then set out for his way back to his hotel.

*****

The receptionist eyed his disheveled appearance critically when he picked up the key to his room. MacGyver gave her his best apologetic smile and hurried off. By the time he had reached the hotel, he was really looking forward to a soothing hot shower, dry clothes and shoes, and some rest. As soon as he had closed the door of his suite, he took off his clammy hiking boots, unpacked his backpack and hung his wet shirt and rain jacket over some chairs to dry. Then he grabbed fresh, dry clothes from his duffle bag and headed for the bathroom.

The hot water caused a burning ache to his cuts and bruises, but it also drove most of the cold and stiffness out of his muscles. MacGyver used the water flowing over him to relax and get rid of the remains of the shock. During his drive back to the city he´d reflected on everything and realized and admitted that almost having been struck by a lightning bolt was a frightening experience. He took his time in the shower until he felt the tension not only leave his body but his mind as well.

After cautiously drying up his body and getting into fresh socks, underwear and khaki pants, Mac inspected the damage to his arm and shoulder a little closer in the mirror. Some cuts, some abrasions, and bruises and hematomas were already starting to show under his skin.

All in all, he thought, I´ve been lucky again. It will ache for some days, but it could easily have ended a lot worse.

MacGyver grabbed a dry towel and started to rub his wet hair as he left the bathroom, still with no shoes on and a bare upper body. He was just pondering about how he might spend the evening and where he might go for dinner when he heard someone knocking on his door. Taken aback, Mac froze in his tracks for a moment, before he draped the towel around his shoulders, turned around and went to open the door. Whom he saw standing outside on the corridor had him stunned silent for seconds before he opened the door.

“Hi, Pete!” he greeted his friend and boss after overcoming his sudden surprise. “Come on in.”

“Hello, MacGyver.” Pete's face was serious as he returned the greeting, and he eyed him puzzled while he walked past Mac. As he looked around the suite, he saw the torn shirt and rain jacket hanging over the chairs. A small concern rose within him.

MacGyver closed the door and ran one of his hands through his unruly hair in an attempt to straighten it a little.

“Are you all right?” Pete asked over his shoulder, as Mac followed him and grabbed a fresh shirt.

“Yeah, fine.” Mac answered. “I only just got out of the shower… But what about you? What on earth are you doing here?”

MacGyver pulled the damp towel off his shoulders and turned to toss it into the bathroom. His movement gave Pete a short, but clear glimpse at Mac´s injury before he shrugged into his shirt. Pete drew in a sharp breath.

“Fine? … Mac, what happened to your shoulder?” he gasped. “What have you done?”

Mac let out a sigh.

“It looks worse than it is.” he tried to calm Pete. “Only a bad bruise.”

Pete stared at him quietly, but with obvious concern. MacGyver started buttoning up his shirt, yet after a few seconds of silence, he knew that Pete wasn´t satisfied with that answer.

“All right… I went on a hiking tour today. On my way back I got into an electrical storm.” he gave in and explained to Pete. “When I tried to take a shortcut down that mountain, a lightning bolt struck a tree only a few feet to my right. The shockwave threw me against another tree. That impact tore the jacket and my shoulder.”

Pete was instantly alarmed by his story.

“We´ll better get you checked through in a hospital.” he stated and turned to reach for the phone.

“Pete!” Mac called out pleading. “Stop it, please. It´s okay, really… I´ll live.”

Pete shot him a doubtful look, but put down the receiver.

“But you haven´t answered my question yet.” Mac demanded with a sigh. “What brings you here? I guess this is not a social call…”

“Unfortunately you´re right.” Pete admitted while his expression turned somber. “I received a request for help about one and a half days ago. I tried to call, but couldn´t reach you… But we need to act quickly, so I came to look for you.”

MacGyver nodded, thinking about yesterday, when he´d been exploring some riparian forests along the Danube, just east of Vienna.

“Well, I´ve been kind of out of touch…” he shrugged apologetically. “But you granted me at least a week with no new assignment.”

“I know, I did, and I am sorry to interrupt your vacation, but this is important.” Pete held up his hands in defense, anticipating Mac´s resistance.

“Oh, come on, they´re all important.” MacGyver countered, rolling his eyes. “Why do you have to come to me? There´s a lot of other operatives on Phoenix´s payroll.”

“Because he asked especially for you. Personally.” Pete sighed. “And you happen to be almost in the right place.”

“The right place?” Mac raised his eyebrows puzzled as he echoed Pete´s words slowly. “Pete, who asked for me?”

Now Pete looked up directly at him.

“Do you remember Anton Dubcek?”

“Of course.” Mac nodded.

A flash of memories whirled through MacGyver´s head. He mentally passed through the complicated story of the Czechoslovakian dissident that had been taken captive by rogue GRU agents, been freed by Mac and Diana Rogers, only to be obligated to also free his wife, who had, as soon as they had reached the USA, turned out to be GRU as well and had tried to kill Anton. Mac ran his hands nervously through his damp hair, while his expression turned serious. That had been a little more than a year ago. He had also passed through Austria with Diana at that time.

“What´s wrong?” he asked worriedly. “Why did he call for help? Don´t tell me he has returned to – “

“No.” Pete held up one hand to cut Mac off. “He is safe and Phoenix is still supporting him… That´s why he came to me. His group called ‘Humanity’ is still active and from what we got to know, they were able to get hold of some documents and notes, that prove that the action those agents took last year was not approved by the GRU.”

“But we already know, that Yevgeni Zorkin and Emil Baranov had gone rogue last year.” Mac objected.

“True, but with this intelligence, we could prove it.” Pete added. “And point out some serious holes in their command chain. We could stop those two once and for all.”

“So, you want me to retrieve that information.” Mac sighed.

“There´s more to it.” Pete continued. “We also need to get the man that got hold of the documents out of there safe. That´s why Anton Dubcek asked for you.”

MacGyver held Pete´s look silent, but also expectant.

“That man is Anton´s brother, Pavel Dubcek.” Pete told him with a sigh. “And the same people that put up the money last year are willing to pay again for the freedom of his brother.”

MacGyver drew in a sharp breath.

“You know, I don´t care about the money.” he countered. “Any more good news? Next thing, you´re telling me that Diana is also back…”

“No, she´s unavailable.” Pete shook his head. “She´s away on some other mission…”

Mac eyed his friend probing. He felt that Pete was still holding something back about this assignment. Something he probably wouldn´t like.

“Pete…? There´s something else… What aren´t you telling me?”

Mac saw Pete hesitate, then suddenly pull back and smile broadly.

“Listen, I´m sorry that I kind of caught you off guard and without previous announcement.” Pete said while he retreated to the door. “It looks like you´ve had a rough day. Why don´t you get some rest and meet me in about one hour in the hotel restaurant? … That is, if you´re willing to help… we can go over the details after dinner…”

Mac turned, but before he could react or ask again, Pete had left the room and closed the door, leaving back a baffled Mac. No question about it, he was willing to help Anton Dubcek and his brother, yet something about Pete kept him puzzled. His gut told him, that something else was going on with this mission. Something Pete was keeping from him. At least for the moment. Would he have to return to this hospital for the third time?

MacGyver took a glance at his watch. In about one hour he would find out. Until then he might as well follow Pete´s suggestion to get some rest and take a nap.

*****

MacGyver had set an alarm to make sure he wouldn´t be late. He wasn´t too happy about Pete interrupting his vacation, but the way Pete had left him with only part of the information had increased his curiosity. Mac was aware that it was probably part of Pete´s strategy of baiting him. Pete knew him long and well enough to know, that Mac couldn´t leave a puzzle presented to him alone.

It was 7.30 p.m. straight as MacGyver entered the high-class restaurant of the hotel. He had changed his shirt to one that was more suitable to the surroundings, yet the khaki pants had stayed and his unruly hair was now dry and sort of tamed. His eyes searched the large room for a few moments before he spotted Pete at a table in one of the corners. Someone else was with him, talking to him, but Mac couldn´t make out who it was because of the high-backed chairs.

Curious, and now also getting a little suspicious, Mac approached the table. Pete had stated that Diana was unavailable… was he making use of old contacts out of his DXS time in Europe? Was it someone that supported Dubcek´s group from Austria? Or had he brought another operative along to accompany him on this mission? All these possibilities flashed through Mac´s mind while he crossed the room. Pete saw him coming when he was still a few yards away from the table and rose out of his chair.

“MacGyver!” he greeted. “Good to see you again. I´m glad you made it.”

“Wasn´t too difficult keeping this appointment.” he answered smiling, but at the same time pulling a little grimace while he walked up to the table and shook hands with Pete.

“What about your guest?” he continued then. “Don´t you want to introduce…” Mac broke off in mid-sentence as he turned around and saw who was sitting there.

Nikki Carpenter.

“Hello, MacGyver.” she greeted him with a broad and friendly, yet slightly amused smile.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 1 November 2021 - 07:02 AM
Hi Bluegirl!! Thanks for a new "classic" Mac fan fic! From your past stories, I know I'll end up saying this a lot, but you did a really great job with description in this chapter! Mac is definitely in his element, but leave it to him to have trouble find him on a lovely hike! Darn weathermen!! His downward trek during the storm really got my heart pumping!

I love how you use some of his quiet time to reflect on past events (episodes) so we can get a good sense of the timeframe your story takes place in in terms of the actual series itself. I also like that you get into his head (I know that's always a mission of yours!) and show that he doesn't dismiss his "experiences" as quickly and easily as the TV show led us to believe. And yes, Deborah really got to him. You also do a good job briefly summarizing and reminding us about Anton. It looks like Mac isn't going to get his relaxing vacation afterall! Especially since Nikki just popped into the picture!! LOL!! Reminds me of GX-1!! This ought to be interesting:))

Posted by: bluegirl 3 November 2021 - 11:49 PM
Thanks so much for your encoouraging words!

Here we go with

Part 2

Mac froze with surprise for a second. He and Nikki hadn´t been obliged to work together by Pete on an assignment since the GX-1 issue. He didn´t have all the best memories concerning Nikki and that mission. Sure, they had solved some cases together and their friendship had evolved since then, but still… she wasn´t quite his favored partner.

“Nikki…” he stammered, overcoming his sudden paralysis. “Hey! Nice to see you…”

Then Mac took a seat next to her and turned back to Pete.

“Pete kind of forgot to tell me, that you came along with him…”

Now he knew what Pete had been keeping from him. He pinned Pete with an accusing stare.

“You only asked me about Diana.” Pete shrugged with an apologetic smile, while Mac´s look stayed reproachful. “Mac, I know, you prefer to work alone, but we have to get you across the border and back fast and without arising suspicion.”

MacGyver pulled an annoyed grimace.

“Pete, really?” he whined. “The married couple story again?”

Before Pete could react, Nikki broke in.

“It´s the easiest and fastest way to cross the border undetected.” she declared. “We´ve done it before.”

Mac felt kind of trapped. He frowned.

“I know.” He shot back at Nikki. “But that was different. We weren´t supposed to…”

“Supposed to what?” Nikki cut him off sharply. “Work together? … I saved your life on this one!”

“How can I forget?” Mac nodded but rolled his eyes. “You keep reminding me.” he answered sarcastically.

“Now stop it, both of you!” Pete silenced them harshly. He took a small break, drew in a deep breath, and looked at both of them.

“That East-German assignment was almost a year ago.” he continued calmer, but still very firm. “I know that the two of you hardly ever agree on your approach to an assignment, but I also know that you make a great team when the occasion calls for it. I need you both on this one. MacGyver, you´re in on this because Anton asked for you personally, and you already know the agents to look out for. Nikki, you´re with him because those agents don´t know you yet. You may be a necessary backup… and we need the ‘married couple’ cover story to get you both in.”

Mac and Nikki remained silent, looked at Pete, then at each other, and back at their boss.

“What do you say?” Pete asked Mac, well knowing that he was freelance and had the right to refuse any job presented to him. He could see that Mac still wasn´t thrilled with the idea of working together with Nikki.

Finally, MacGyver let out a deep sigh and nodded.

“Fine.” he agreed with a sideways glance at Nikki.

Pete reached into the pocket of his suit jacket and dug out the golden rings, Mac had come to know well by now. They had been a must last year, when he´d traveled to Czechoslovakia with Diana but now… once again the memory of his time with Deborah flashed into his mind. He took the bigger one out of Pete´s hand and slipped it on the ring finger of his left hand, not really paying attention to Nikki doing the same with the smaller one and a little triumphant smile. She was satisfied with Pete overruling MacGyver that quickly. Only a couple of seconds later she noticed that his expression had turned from annoyed to dark and sober and that he kept staring at the ring. Pete also saw it.

“Mac, what´s the matter?” he asked. “Are you all right?”

“Nothing.” Mac answered in a low voice, still lost in his thoughts. “I´m okay.”

Nikki´s concern for her friend and colleague took over. She reached out and laid a hand on his arm.

“There´s something wrong… Tell us what´s bothering…”

“There´s nothing wrong!” MacGyver suddenly cut her off a little too loud and looked up at both of them. Then he sat back and pulled back his arm, so it was out of Nikki´s reach.

“I´m fine.” He forced a little smile on his face and his voice went soft again.

Both Pete and Nikki knew better than to press him any further, nevertheless Mac felt a sudden relief as the waiter arrived only a moment later to take their orders.

*****

They spent their time during the meal with light conversation, all three aware that none of the information they still had to share was to be overheard by anyone. For that reason they gathered in Pete´s hotel room afterward.

Pete handed Mac and Nikki the fake papers, they would need to cross the border. They also looked through the dossiers the Phoenix Foundation had put together on Yevgeni Zorkin and Emil Baranov, the GRU agents that Mac had been up against last year. MacGyver remembered their faces quite well, and he remembered the threats one of them uttered while Mac had been `wrapping him up´ with his duct tape after he and Diana had outsmarted them to free Anton´s wife. After the zoo incident, both had been arrested and later been deported out of the USA. Mac was sure they would remember his face as well.

“Do we know if Zorkin and Baranov are already aware that Dubcek has the documents?” he asked Pete.

“Not as far as Anton knew.” Pete answered. “But that could have changed in the last 36 hours. You need to be careful about those two.”

Mac only nodded silently and reached for the file containing all the information on Pavel Dubcek. He took a couple of moments to study all the facts and take in the face on the photos.

“Anton told us, that his brother keeps the documents hidden.” Pete continued. “They probably might be watching him, hoping that he will lead them to that hiding space. They need to get hold of those papers before they can arrest him.”

“They also need to be very cautious.” Mac stated. “The GRU isn´t known to be indulgent with agents that go rouge twice. They certainly had to face some punishment for that mission going wrong last year.”

He handed the file over to Nikki, but his focus stayed on his boss.

“I´m just glad that I don´t have to go back to that hospital for the third time.” Mac continued after a small break. “How do I get in touch with Pavel Dubcek?”

Pete reached into his briefcase for a large envelope and passed it on to MacGyver.

“I´ve made reservations for you in a hotel in Znojmo. That´s the city closest to the Austrian border. It´s only about 10 miles into Czechoslovakia.” Pete told him. “He will contact you, once you´ve arrived. I´ve also arranged for a different rental car waiting for both of you in the hotel garage. It´s registered according to your papers. After all, you´ll be traveling as an American tourist couple. It´s only a one-and-a-half-hour drive or so from here to Znojmo. I also added detailed maps of the city and the region between the border and the city. We told Pavel Dubcek that you´ll be there tomorrow around midday.”

MacGyver nodded slowly while he let all the information sink into his head. His mind already started considering possible scenarios for meeting that man and retrieving the information.

“Have we got all the documents that allow Dubcek to cross the border with us?”

“They´re also in that envelope.” Pete assured him. “We put together a fake identity, which makes him a family member of Nikki.”

A small smile crossed Mac´s face as Nikki suddenly looked up at Pete.

“But I don´t speak even the slightest bit of Czech.” she opposed.

“You don´t need to.” Pete explained. “Dubcek´s English is fluent and nearly without an accent. He should pass as some distant relative without problems.”

Nikki´s look at Pete and then Mac stayed doubtful. Mac smiled at her.

“We´ll have at least one and a half hours tomorrow in that car to sort out the details.” He suggested. “The rest is up to Dubcek, as he will be contacting us.”

Nikki´s look showed that she wasn´t too happy with the idea.

“An assignment just the way you like it, Mr. Improvise.” Nikki snorted.

MacGyver´s smile stayed on, but now gave his amusement about Nikki´s uncomfortable feelings away.

“It wasn´t my choice.” he countered. “I didn´t set this up.”

Pete sighed deeply, looking somberly at Mac and Nikki.

“There wasn´t much time to prepare for this mission.” he stopped their upcoming argument. “Yet I am confident that the two of you will be able to work something out with the little I can give you.”

Both nodded silent, remembering that their goal was more important than their different opinions on how to proceed.

“All right.” Nikki sighed after a few seconds. “I´ll better get some sleep now. I need to fight the jet lag I´m feeling.”

She stood up and Mac also rose from his chair.

“Good idea.” he agreed. “I´ve had a long day. I´ll go over the maps in my room.”

Both wished Pete a good night and left his room for the elevator. MacGyver raised a surprised eyebrow when Nikki entered it together with him.

“I thought you wanted to go to sleep?” he asked as he pushed the button for his floor and Nikki didn´t choose another one.

“My room is next to yours.” Nikki stated. “We´re supposed to be a married couple, remember?”

MacGyver looked down to his left hand with the ring.

“Right.” he sighed with a low voice.

A few silent moments later the elevator doors opened and they walked down the corridor to their rooms.

“Sleep well.” Mac wished Nikki. “I´ll see you tomorrow morning. We should leave the hotel around 9.30 or 10 a.m.”

“I´ll be there.” Nikki answered, now smiling at him. “Have a good night.”

Mac waited until Nikki had closed and locked the door behind herself before he went into his own suite. He dropped the envelope on the large bed, sat down, and took off his shoes. He perched himself on the bed, fingered the maps out of the envelope, and tried to memorize and get a feel for the terrain and the city layout. But he found it hard to concentrate on his task.

He knew that familiarizing himself with the city of about 37000 residents and the medieval inner city core could be crucial to the success of his assignment. It wasn´t the first time that Pete had sent him off on very short notice with almost no time for preparation. Usually, Mac didn´t mind, but somehow, tonight he felt caught off guard and distracted. Staring at those maps MacGyver allowed his thoughts to wander off, striving to find out why he felt that much off-center.

The day had started off promisingly beautiful, yet his trip had taken his mind back to the previous weeks and unsettling memories. Was he still that emotionally vulnerable after his encounter with Deborah? Or was it the moment of fright caused by almost being hit by a lightning bolt? He still sensed the twinge in his injured shoulder clearly, and he was certain that he would feel it for a couple of days to come.

Or had Nikki´s presence something to do with it? They knew each other for about one year by now; they had been through a lot together in that year and still… most of the time they were like fire and ice. They had a very different approach to doing their job, a recurring reason for their quarrels. Mac would never admit that to Nikki, but over the last months, he had sometimes even enjoyed their bantering and provoked her on purpose.

Yet he really cared about Nikki´s well-being, and he knew that Nikki cared about him from the way she had been there for him after Mike´s death and Deborah´s betrayal. He remembered, how Starkoss had told him, he would grow to love her, and how Mac had laughed at him at that time. Their relationship had grown beyond their profession and beyond being colleagues; they had become close friends. But love…?

Once again, the golden ring on his hand caught his eye and made him remember how being with Deborah had felt… before that rainy evening. But it also made him remember that Nikki had lost her husband to a car bomb. With a deep sigh, Mac put the maps back into the envelope and got up. A glance at his watch told him, that it was high time to get some rest. Slowly he got ready for bed and then went to the bathroom.

This won´t be easy for both of us, he realized while staring at his reflection in the mirror after he had finished his evening routine. But we´ll have enough time to get in tune with this assignment while driving north.

He turned off the lights, slipped under the sheets and tried to focus on his upcoming task while he drifted off to sleep.

*****

MacGyver hadn´t set an alarm for the morning and woke up a little late, after having a restless night. His sleep had been disturbed by some nightmares that had made him relive Deborah trying to stab him, that bomb going off on the boat, and to top it off the flash of the explosion had mixed with the flash of the lightning bolt.

Looking out the window, seeing another beautiful blue sky like yesterday, Mac pushed the lingering pictures to the back of his head and concentrated on his assignment. He got out of bed and stretched the kinks out of his body. While doing that he noticed the after-effects of his mishap from the day before clearly. His arm and shoulder ached from having gotten slammed into that tree, and he still felt a bit groggy.

But he was determined not to let himself be slowed down by that. There would be enough time to nurse his injuries after he had completed his job. After all, the scenario Pete had drawn up sounded simple. Cross the border with Nikki, meet Pavel Dubcek, pick up the documents, keep an eye up if Zorkin and Baranov were already watching, and then return to Austria.

Not complicated at all, right? I should be back here and continuing my vacation tomorrow at the latest, MacGyver thought. And one of the first things I need to do afterward is get myself a new rain jacket.

MacGyver sighed to himself at the sight of the ruined one hanging over the chair. Then he turned to his duffle bag, grabbed fresh clothes, went into the bathroom and got ready for the day.

*****

Pete and Nikki were already there when MacGyver arrived at the breakfast buffet. Having overcome his surprise and the feeling of getting caught off guard since yesterday evening, Mac now felt the well-known trickle of an upcoming adventure inside. He remembered that this inner tension, that the adrenaline pumping was part of why he loved his job so much. All the people he got to meet and help, all the friends he´d made over the years were another important part of it.

Two of his closest friends were sitting there, already consuming their breakfast. The sight made MacGyver focus on their mission and cheered up his mood.

“Good morning!”

Mac greeted them heartily, as he approached the table. He bent down and placed a soft kiss on Nikki´s cheek before he chose a chair next to her. Nikki looked at him frozen with surprise, and even Pete´s smile was baffled while he watched Mac sit down.

“Morning! … Mac, are you all right?” he probed cautiously.

MacGyver still smiled cheerfully at both of them.

“Just fine.” he assured with an air of innocence. “Why?”

“Well, you just gave me a kiss, which is kind of unusual for you…” Nikki stated after a moment of silence.

Mac´s grin got boyish and a little mischievous.

“We´re supposed to be a couple, remember?” he quoted Nikki´s words from the elevator with a sweet voice. “I´m just getting in tune with our deception, my dear.”

Nikki was rendered speechless at his cheeky remark, and Pete had to chuckle. He had been worried about his friend last evening, seeing him injured and emotionally off-center, but now he seemed to be back to his own self.

“Obviously a good night´s sleep has served you well.” Pete said.

“It certainly did.” Mac grinned at him. “I´m going to check out the buffet.” he added after a look around the table and got up again.

No need to tell Pete about my restless sleep, the nightmares and the grogginess, he thought while he got himself some yogurt with fresh fruits and an orange juice. It would only make him worry more than he already does.

*****

They all finished their meal mostly silent before Mac and Nikki returned to their rooms to get their bags. After all, they probably had to make some border guards believe that they were actually tourists. Pete met them again down in the hotel garage.

While Mac stored the baggage in the trunk of the high-class sedan Pete had rented for them, he noticed Pete looking nervously at his watch. Mac straightened himself, closed the trunk and let out a small sigh.

“Pete, relax.” he suggested, while he strode to the driver´s side. “We´re comfortably within schedule. If everything runs smooth, we should be back tonight or at the latest, tomorrow. Depends on when Dubcek will contact us.”

Pete looked up at him tensely and nodded.

“I´ll be in my hotel room expecting you.” he replied. “You can reach me right there if anything goes wrong.”

“I´ve memorized the telephone number.” Nikki assured while she shook hands with Pete and then walked around to the passenger side and got into the car.

“Good luck to both of you!” Pete added. He also shook hands with MacGyver, but held on to his hand a moment longer than necessary. “And Mac, please, be careful.”

MacGyver gave him his best reassuring smile and squeezed Pete´s hand a little.

“You know, that I usually am.”

Then he slipped into the driver´s seat, fired up the engine and drove off.

*****

Their route took them northwest out of the city, before Mac turned on to a road leading north through Lower Austria and towards the Czechoslovakian border. As soon as they had left the direct vicinity of Vienna behind the landscape turned to low, soft hills and evenly soft and wide valleys. The country was mostly open with agricultural use and only small patches of forest in between. Almost from where the city had ended, up to the border, there were also a lot of vineyards to be seen. The street passed through and nearby several small villages and towns on their way.

The day was as beautiful and sunny, just as the last one had started out, and Mac truly enjoyed driving north himself on this occasion. He was relieved that they didn´t have to rely on someone like Krug this time. He observed the countryside and could very well understand why some of the oldest human settlements of Central Europe had been discovered around here. Even 40.000 years ago the region with its pleasant climate must have been inviting to ancient human societies.

MacGyver and Nikki had sorted out their cover story real soon, and now she was studying the maps Mac had gone over last evening. They had agreed on impersonating a newlywed couple, with Nikki´s ancestors having emigrated to the U.S.A. during WW2. But some members of her family had stayed in Czechoslovakia and now, after their wedding, they had chosen to explore her origin and history. They planned on making everyone believe that they intended to meet Nikki´s distant relatives. That story should also allow them to return to Austria together with one of those ‘distant relatives’, as all the papers for Pavel Dubcek had been prepared to support this deception.

*****

The checkpoint at the border and the Czechoslovakian guards were the first test to their disguise. Traveling as Mrs. and Mr. Carpenter, their forged passports easily deceived the border guards, although they scrutinized them closely. Thanks to his many years of experience in the ‘cloak and dagger’ business the documents, Pete had provided them with, were a fraud Mac and Nikki could rely on. Crossing the border without arising any suspicion proved to be no problem.

Thanks to all the provided information and the maps they also had no difficulties finding their hotel close to the medieval core of Znojmo once they had reached the city. Znojmo was only about 10 miles away from the border – a fact that Mac found quite reassuring. Should anything go wrong… they would be able to reach safe Austrian soil real fast.

MacGyver parked their rental car in a side street a block away from the hotel, hoping that it would keep the connection from being too obvious. Mac and Nikki retrieved their bags from the trunk and carried them over the short distance. Checking into the hotel was not difficult either with a mixture of English and the bits and pieces of German Mac was still fluent with.

Pete´s reservation was for a large suite. Nikki frowned as she realized that there was only one king-size bed when they entered the room. She was about to start protesting, when Mac dropped his bag on the couch and flashed her a disarming smile.

“I´ll take the couch.” he declared.

Nikki was silent for a moment and then nodded.

“Thank you.”

For a short while, she stared at her bag after she had lifted it onto the bed, unsure what to do next, lost in her thoughts.

“So far Dubcek has left no message for us.” she stated then. “We can´t be sure if we´re going to spend the night here anyway, right?”

“We´ll see.”

Mac nodded, while his eyes scanned the room. He´d been concentrating on their route taking them into an unknown country, yet now, after arriving at the hotel, he realized that his morning grogginess hadn´t subsided. In fact, Mac noticed the beginnings of a headache and was feeling a little chilly, but warm again only moments later. His injured shoulder also made itself known – more than Mac would have preferred to. With an inward sigh, he opened his bag and started searching for the aspirin he had packed into it this morning.

Perfect timing, he thought while he shook one of the pills into his hand. Has getting thoroughly soaked in that thunderstorm yesterday earned me a cold on top of the bruises? I really can´t afford to get sick now…

Nikki had taken a look at the bathroom, and MacGyver entered it right after she´d left it, filled up a glass with water and scrutinized himself in the mirror.

Yes, you do look a little tired, he assessed.

Then he reluctantly swallowed the aspirin with a few sips of water, hoping it would keep the cold at bay – at least long enough so they could complete their assignment. Normally he refused to take any medicines, tried to let any not too serious illness take its natural course, and trusted his body to heal itself. But right now, there was no time for that. He needed to stay alert and at the best of his abilities, physically and mentally. Mac took a deep breath, drank the rest of the water and left the bathroom.

When he returned to the couch and flopped himself onto it, leaning back and resting his head on its backrest, Mac suddenly noticed Nikki stopping to rummage in her bag. She looked at him with a mixture of confusion and concern.

“MacGyver, are you all right?” she asked probing.

“I´m fine.” he said while he glanced at his watch. No need to tell her at the moment. It would only make her worry and take her concentration off the assignment, he added inwardly. “It´s around midday.” he continued aloud. “Why don´t we use the time we´ve got, take a walk through the city center and get ourselves some lunch?”

“Good idea.” Nikki looked at him still probing, but nodded. “It´ll give us a feeling for the city and the people.”

She picked up her purse and checked her wallet for the local money Pete had provided them with. In the corner of her eye, she saw how MacGyver got up again, gingerly shrugged into his brown leather jacket and pulled his black Calgary Flames cap out of his bag. He stretched a little and then wanted to walk past her to the door. But Nikki stopped him by grabbing his left upper arm and holding on to it, causing Mac to wince with the pain it brought about and draw a small grimace.

“MacGyver, what´s wrong with you?” she demanded firmly, while she looked up at him with serious concern and then let go of his arm. “I´ve never seen you take any pills out of free will, and you´re obviously in pain. What´s the matter?”

Mac took a deep breath and cautiously straightened himself again.

“It was just an aspirin.” he sighed and gave in. “I was on a mountain hike yesterday and got into an electrical storm. I got slammed against a tree when a lightning bolt just barely missed me. It´s only a bruised shoulder and a bit of a headache… I´m okay.”

Nikki was considering silent for a moment. Her serious expression didn´t change.

“So you took it as a precaution?” she asked then. “You are physically up to our mission?”

MacGyver nodded and smiled at her.

“Just use a little caution with that left arm.” he assured her. “Didn´t Pete tell you? He saw the injury when he met me in my room yesterday.” Hopefully, this will keep her from asking further questions, he thought.

Nikki´s face softened a bit as she shook her head.

“No, he didn´t… Mac, are you…”

“I´m all right, Nikki.” Mac cut her off and reached out to her with his left hand. “I´ve been through worse.”

Nikki´s look stayed doubtful while she took his hand a little hesitant. Mac´s smile broadened, as he reached for the keys, opened the door and lead her out of the room. After locking the door he turned to her and much to her surprise placed a soft kiss on her dark hair.

“Now, how about a little walk and some lunch, my dear?” he asked with a sweet voice, in an instant switching back to his loving husband role.

*****

With their hotel being in close proximity just south of the medieval city center MacGyver and Nikki had only a short walk ahead until they agreed on a small restaurant in a side street of the main square. They both opted for a quick, light lunch so they wouldn´t be stuck too long in one place. When they left the restaurant, MacGyver felt much more like himself again. Getting a little rest, replenishing his energy reservoirs with the meal, and the aspirin doing its job at keeping the symptoms of his cold in check, made him look forward to the assignment again.

He put on his black cap to shield his eyes from the sun when he and Nikki stepped outside. He reached out for Nikki´s hand again, and together they walked on towards the main square of Znojmo. As they still had no idea when or how Pavel Dubcek would contact them, they had agreed on doing some sort of reconnaissance before returning to the hotel. Couldn´t hurt to see some of all they had seen on the maps in reality as well.

The main square was large and rectangular with parking lots in the middle and surrounded by houses that were mostly several hundred years old. As they strolled around it hand in hand, trying to mimic other tourists, looking at the storefronts, Mac´s and Nikki´s eyes also scanned the people around them. MacGyver´s mind was already in high gear, observing the details of the city layout and already working on possible scenarios for his meeting with Dubcek and a safe way back to the hotel together with him.

Nikki´s tension rose instantly as Mac´s grip on her hand suddenly tightened. MacGyver quickly pulled her into the shade of a narrow side road, wrapped her into an embrace, bowed down and kissed her. Out of reflex Nikki´s body stiffened, and she tried to push MacGyver back and away.

“MacGyver! What…” she protested.

“Shh!” Mac hissed under his breath in the next blink of an eye, effectively cutting her off while he barely broke the kiss. “Play along!”

After her initial resistance, Nikki was quick to catch on. Her slender body softened against his, one of her arms went around Mac´s back, the other one up to his neck, and she gave in to the kiss. Feeling her reaction MacGyver hugged her even closer, one of his hands traveled up to the nape of her neck, where his long fingers caressed her dark hair, and he deepened the kiss. After a couple of seconds, Mac opened his eyes and glanced across the square still keeping his face concealed by Nikki´s head and his cap. In his narrowed angle of vision, he observed two well-known GRU agents walking along the other side of the square until they were out of sight. All this time his lips and body kept up the intense interaction with Nikki.

When the two men were gone Mac closed his eyes again and directed his concentration back to his sensual kiss for a moment before he broke the contact. Mac raised his head up only a few inches and smiled at Nikki apologetically. She looked up at him with an unreadable expression while her body was still snuggled up against his.

“Zorkin and Baranov?” she asked with a low voice while catching her breath.

Mac nodded, also breathing a little heavier and once more glancing across the square over her head.

“They´re gone now.” Then he smiled down at her shyly, his arms still holding her tight with one wrapped around her waist and the other one at the nape of her neck. “I had to make sure, they wouldn´t see and recognize me.” he explained. He felt her body tense up a little and saw her face growing serious.

“Well, if they´re gone now, you might as well let go of me.” she remarked low, but resolute.

MacGyver instantly released his hold around her and held his hands up with the same shy smile.

“I´m sorry.” he apologized, licking his lips nervously. “No harm meant. I didn´t want to…”

Nikki took a step back and grinned at him sarcastically.

“Save it, Mac.” she replied after a moment of teasing him. “I´ve been through worse.”

“Oh.”

Mac nodded as he slowly lowered his hands and relaxed. His smile widened with relief that Nikki wasn´t too upset about his sudden intrusion. He forced his gaze to return to the square while he still sensed the electrifying echo of the intimate touch and the softness of Nikki´s lips and body against his own inside. He could still smell her, taste her. With a deep sigh, he pushed back the feelings and physical sensation welling up and tried to concentrate back on the assignment. When he flexed his fingers nervously, he once more noticed the wedding ring on his left hand. And it once more reminded him of the emotional roller coaster ride he had been going through in the last months.

Come on, MacGyver, stay focused, he chided himself inwardly. You´ve got a job to do.

Nikki had turned around to look over the main square as well in the meantime.

“If Zorkin and Baranov are here, we can assume they know about the documents and are already watching Pavel Dubcek.” she stated.

She kept her eyes off MacGyver to keep the feelings his touch and kiss had provoked under control. She was surprised by her own reaction. It left her body tingling. She suddenly remembered kissing him for the first time, in a similar situation, trying to cover their break-in at the consulate, only moments after they had accidentally met. She had initiated the kiss then, quickly noticing his handsome appearance, especially in the grey suit he had worn on that day. That had been about a year ago, but she´d never allowed herself to consider that he might be more than a colleague or a friend. Her body grew more rigid, annoyed with herself that he had caught her off guard, as Mac stepped up to her side and scanned the square once more with his eyes for the GRU agents.

“We´d better get back to our hotel.” MacGyver suggested. “We need to stay out of sight until Dubcek makes contact. They mustn´t see me.”

A moment later he spotted Zorkin and Baranov at the far end of the square, just now crossing from the opposite side to the one where Mac and Nikki were hiding.

“Over there.” he added with a small gesture. “See them?”

Nikki followed his gaze and nodded.

“They´re coming right our way. I guess, that leaves the side streets for us?”

MacGyver had already made up a route back to their hotel on his mental map of the city. He slowly stepped back from the corner and with a quick look over his shoulder checked for any trouble that might be coming up from behind. No one was there.

“You bet.” he told Nikki and reached out for her. “Let´s go.”


Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 November 2021 - 09:34 AM
Very entertaining chapter! I love the interplay and bickering between Mac and Nikki...very accurate and true to character. And poor Pete...he must feel like a father with arguing children!!

Ha! Mac thinks this assignment is going to be "not complicated"!! When has he ever had a "not complicated" assignment???

I like how you use their free time in the city as "tourists" to provide more description and information about the location...good strategy.

I'm worried about Mac getting sick...does he always catch a cold around Nikki? (I'm thinking of Blow out)!

Wow, that was some kiss whistle.gif It affected both of them! Nikki is probably really mad at herself for it, too!! But now we know the bad guys are there and probably up to no-good! I hate to tell Mac, but I think things are already getting complicated..in more ways than one tongue.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 4 November 2021 - 11:30 AM
Complicated? In more ways than one?

Just how can you think of something like this? With MacGyver involved? No way! roller.gif

Posted by: Karenskatz 7 November 2021 - 01:13 AM
Off to a promising start! Better not be late with any of the instalments, or you will hear much grumbling from your devoted fans!

So,... we have a bruised and scraped shoulder and arm, and he also wakes up with a slight headache. It has me wondering; is it REALY the beginnings of a cold? Or perhaps a head injury starting to develop? You did mention that he'd also hit his head, but not as badly as the shoulder. Could this be a plot development, hmmm? Also, Mac keeps saying that this will be a short, simple, assignment. That can only mean that there will be lots of things that can and will go wrong, starting with getting back to the hotel with the Deadly Duo on their tail. Will they have to split up to get back? Will Mac send Nicki back to warn Pete while he leads their pursuers away from her? You say there are 21 chapters, and we're only at number two. A lot can happen, and I'm sure will. Your English might be a little awkward in spots, but you excel at plot development! I'm looking forward to this one!

Posted by: bluegirl 7 November 2021 - 01:19 AM
Please bear with me concerning my 'awkward english'... I´m not a native speaker.

But glad you like it so far... next part will be online soon... a little later today... whistle.gif

Posted by: Karenskatz 7 November 2021 - 02:50 AM
OH GOOD!!! happy_dance.gif w00t.gif Can't wait!

Also, I would like to offer my services if you ever decide to have someone proofread your stories for American grammar before you post them.

Posted by: bluegirl 7 November 2021 - 08:04 AM
Alright, here we go with more 'plot development' and maybe even some more 'complications'...

Part 3

MacGyver and Nikki both stayed highly alert on their whole way back. Only when they had returned to their room and closed the door behind themselves, both allowed themselves to relax. Mac was quite sure that they hadn´t been spotted and their cover was still intact. But with the two GRU agents already around they had to use a lot more caution. The receptionist hadn´t had any message for them yet, so all they could do for now was wait.

As it was only mid-afternoon and not knowing how long the evening – or the night – would be, MacGyver chose to take a nap on the couch. Nikki had eyed him probing and with obvious skepticism again when he´d asked her to stay awake and alert for any message, but in the light of what he´d told her about yesterday, she agreed soon. Once more she was amazed how quickly Mac could switch between being fully aware and mentally in high gear and relaxing and calm only a few moments later, with all the tension of the assignment seemingly gone. While Nikki grabbed the maps of Znojmo and the surrounding area to study them another time, she watched with a small concern inside how Mac perched himself on the couch and fell asleep within a minute.

*****

MacGyver was startled awake by the ringing of a phone. A little disoriented at first, not knowing how long he´d been asleep, he needed a couple of seconds to remember where he was and what his situation was. Nikki´s voice as she answered the call made him open his eyes and then in a flash everything came back to him.

“Yes, of course.” He heard Nikki say. “I will tell my husband. He´ll be downstairs in a few minutes… Thank you very much.”

Then she hung up the phone and turned to MacGyver, who had just sat up on the couch and was running his hands through his unruly hair. He raised his eyebrows with an unspoken question.

“That was the receptionist.” Nikki told him after she had shot him a measuring look. “There´s a young man down with her, who claims he has a message that he´s only allowed to deliver personally… to Mr. Carpenter.”

MacGyver nodded, the rest of his sleepiness gone within the second, and his mind and senses back to high alert in the same. A glance at his watch told him it was already late afternoon, while he got up and strode to the window. Upon their arrival he had noticed, that this window went out to the front street, the same where the entrance of the hotel was located. Without pushing the curtains aside he let his eyes scan the street to the left and the right for any well-known but not welcome faces. When he found all he could overlook empty, he puffed out a breath and stepped back.

“Well, then I´ll better go downstairs and see what he´s got for me.” Mac answered. “I don´t see anyone tailing him.”

Nikki nodded, her face still somber. When Mac started walking to the door, she turned around, picked up her purse and followed him. Mac noticed it instantly, stopped just as he´d reached the door and looked at her over his shoulder.

“You said, that message was for me personally.” Mac stated. “Where are you going?”

“Downstairs… with you.” Nikki replied curtly. “We don´t know who is waiting for you.”

“We can assume that Dubcek sent this messenger.” MacGyver shot back. “He asked for me, not for us… we can´t risk scaring him off by appearing together.”

“What if he didn´t?” Nikki snorted. “What if those agents did see us on the square?”

MacGyver sighed and hung his head. No, he wasn´t in the mood for arguing with Nikki. He felt tolerably rested after sleeping through half of the afternoon, but he also felt some of his headache returning.

“We are on the second floor, and this place has no elevator.” Nikki pressed on. “The only way up and down is the staircase… at least let me watch your back.”

MacGyver took a deep breath. Well, she had a point there. But at the same time, he was relieved that there was no way Nikki could have brought the revolver along that she so regularly carried with her at home in the U.S.. Only a moment later an idea for keeping Dubcek safe when he met him rose in his mind. He reached out for his Calgary Flames cap on the nearby table and turned to face Nikki.

“All right.” he agreed. “But stay back and stay out of sight. I don´t want anyone to notice you´re there.”

Nikki seemed a little annoyed at his comment, but kept whatever remark she had in mind to herself and just nodded silently. MacGyver turned back to the door, puffed out a breath and slowly opened the door. He checked with a quick glance to the left and the right if the corridor was empty before he stepped outside and put on his cap.

“I´ll get the keys.” He heard Nikki say with a low voice from behind.

“Yep.” Mac confirmed, but his focus was already narrowing to the staircase as he approached it.

All his senses were highly observant, while he walked down the stairs, the whole time listening for Nikki a couple of feet behind himself. A few steps before he would reach the lobby Mac stopped for a brief moment, signaled Nikki with a raised hand and a warning look over his shoulder to stay put, and took a deep breath.

Then he took the last steps downwards and around the corner to find out who was waiting for him. Friend or foe? MacGyver gave the receptionist a beaming smile when he entered the lobby.

“My name´s Carpenter. My wife has told me, someone is waiting for me?” he asked as he approached her.

“Over there, sir.”

The middle-aged woman returned his smile and nodded towards a young man in the far corner of the room. He was looking out of the window, observing the street and obviously uptight. MacGyver walked across the room, trying to seem as casual and relaxed as possible.

“Hi, name´s Carpenter.” he addressed the younger man. “I was notified that you´ve got a message for me?”

The young man turned real quickly at his words and looked up at him nervously. He eyed MacGyver all over with obvious distrust.

“You are the one sent for help by our mutual friend?” he asked probing.

MacGyver nodded. The man was testing him. It wasn´t surprising that he had no faith in Mac and his words yet.

“I´m honored to hear that Anton calls me a friend.” he answered calmly. “I certainly do consider him that.”

The man eyed MacGyver again for a couple of seconds, judging him and his words. He can be only 18 or 20 years old at maximum, Mac assessed silently and a little impressed. Brave, if he is engaged in an organization like this at that young age. All the more reason to support them.

“We didn´t get much of a description of you.” the young man then told him and reached out his hand to Mac. “That´s why I was so cautious. My name is Lukas. I am a part of ‘Humanity’.”

“You´re definitely right to use caution.” MacGyver nodded, took his hand and shook it.

“I´m the one to make contact with you. And I´d like to thank you, because if everything turns out well, I won´t meet you again.” Lukas continued. Then he reached into his pocket and handed Mac a small, folded piece of paper. “This will tell you when and where to meet Pavel.”

MacGyver took it, opened it and scanned the information. The name and address of some café in the inner city were written on it along with a time. 8 p.m. He and Nikki had walked past that café today already. Nice coincidence, Mac thought. I won´t have any trouble finding it.

“Thanks.” he replied as he stuffed the paper into the pocket of his jeans. “I´ll be there… can you get a message back to Pavel?”

“Of course.” Lukas nodded with a little surprise. “What do you want me to tell him?”

MacGyver took a deep breath and cleared his throat.

“Tell him to keep the documents hidden. He must not bring them along.”

Lukas nodded again, now with a bit of alarm.

“The agents that took his brother Anton last year are already in town.” Mac carried on as his idea flashed back into his mind. “I saw them this afternoon… And please ask him to wear some hat or a cap like mine and a jacket. Something that´s recognizable, but won´t stand out too much… if possible.”

“I will.” Lukas assured with a puzzled look. “But what do you need the cap and the jacket for?”

“It´s just an idea for keeping Pavel safe…The less you know, the safer for you.” Mac smiled back apologetically. “Anything else I should know?”

“My task was only to set up the meeting.” Lukas shook his head. “We were told, that you will manage whatever happens from now on.”

MacGyver´s smile turned from apologetic to reassuring.

“I´ll do my best. But you´d better leave now.” He reached out his hand to the younger man. “Thank you for your help. Take care.”

Lukas took his hand and held on to it.

“We have to thank you for your support.” he replied. “Good luck.”

They parted, and MacGyver stayed still and close to the window while he watched Lukas open the door and leave the hotel. He observed the street as the young man was walking away. Mac saw no one emerging out of the shadows of any side street and following him. It seems as if Lukas is safe for the moment. It seems as if our cover and our stay here hasn´t been compromised yet, Mac assessed with relief. Now he somehow had to get Nikki to agree and play along with the plan that had formed in his head.

MacGyver puffed out a breath, turned back to the stairs and strode across the lobby toward them. Nikki had come around the last corner and was waiting for him at the bottom of the staircase. Her expression was serious as she looked up at her approaching colleague.

“So?” she asked expectantly as they climbed the stairs upwards to their room. “Everything set up?”

Mac only nodded silently; he was not willing to share any details before they had reached the relative safety of their suite. His mind was already in high gear and considering different scenarios. After he had closed the door, he turned to Nikki with his well-known focused expression.

“Yes, time and location are set.” he told Nikki. “And I think I´ve got a good idea on how to go through with it.”

Nikki sighed deeply and rolled her eyes.

“Of course you do.”

*****

It was about 7 p.m. when MacGyver got ready to leave. It had taken some intense persuading to get Nikki to agree with his plan. She still wasn´t happy about him leaving and going alone on this meet. She remembered how tense he had been yesterday evening; she remembered the aspirin he had taken around midday – she was worried about MacGyver although he had assured her that he was fine. Her confidence in Mac´s abilities was unwavering. Nikki was sure, he could handle any upcoming situation or problem on his own if he was at his best – but was he really okay?

His kind of sketchy plan asked of her to stay put, right here in this hotel room and wait. MacGyver would meet Pavel Dubcek, try to lose the GRU agents – if they followed Dubcek – then retrieve the documents and return to the hotel. He had told her that he wanted their room to stay a safe operation base – should anything go wrong – and that he needed her right here as his backup for the same reason.

As always, his plan had included several ‘if’s’ and ‘when’s’, but Nikki had gotten used to that over the past year. She didn´t like it tough; she still preferred a well-organized and set-up plan to Mac´s way of improvising through any given mission. Nevertheless, Nikki admitted to herself, whatever they had been through during this last year, it had worked out fine in the end.

She watched him closely while he shrugged into his leather jacket and put on his black cap.

“I still don´t like the idea of you facing those agents alone.” Nikki said with a little concern. “Are you really sure about this?”

MacGyver sighed and hung his head for a moment. The mere thought of discussing his plan once again with Nikki made him feel tired. Despite the few hours of rest and sleep that he had gotten in the afternoon, he still felt some symptoms of an upcoming cold. The aspirin kept them at bay for the moment, but for how long would that work? Mac truly hoped that he would be able to complete this mission fast and without any unexpected trouble. He wanted to drive back to Vienna tonight, together with Nikki, Pavel Dubcek and the documents.

“Nikki, we´ve been through that.” he answered while he slipped his fake passport into the inner pocket of his jacket. Then he stuffed some local money into another pocket of his brown jacket, checked for his Swiss Army knife and the duct tape and turned to her. With one of his best disarming smiles, he added: “Believe me, I´d like to get back to continuing my vacation as soon as possible.”

Nikki still pinned him with a doubtful look as she was standing close to the bed, hands on her hips.

“What about your…” she started to ask, but was cut off by Mac raising one hand and stepping closer to her.

“I´m all right.” he assured, even now grinning broadly. Pete´s way of constantly worrying about me is starting to rub off on her, Mac thought. “And I need you worried about our assignment, not about me.” he added aloud.

Nikki frowned at him, but nodded.

“I am.” she replied, while he turned back to the door and reached for the handle. “But MacGyver… be careful, will you?”

Mac shot her a boyish grin over his shoulder, but turned serious the moment he saw the tense expression on her face.

“Yes, ma’am.” he said low and confident, hoping it would calm her down.

Then he tore his gaze off Nikki and left the room. Her worried eyes bothered him, more than they should have, and it took some effort, but as soon as he had reached the lobby, his concentration was back to what lay ahead of him. MacGyver asked the receptionist for a second key to his room, telling her some story about him and his wife having separate plans for the evening. To himself he thought, if things go sideways, it wouldn´t hurt to have another key. Just in case…

*****

As he had expected, MacGyver didn´t have any difficulties finding the side street next to the main square, where the café was located. He arrived way too early, as he had intended to, and took his planned look around the area before meeting Dubcek inside. He wanted to make sure that Zorkin and Baranov weren´t already here. He knew, if those two were at the location in advance, then someone out of Dubcek´s organization had spilled their plans to them. Then the whole operation was endangered.

But the surroundings of the café were clean, so at the moment nothing lead Mac to the suspicion that they had been compromised yet. Now it just had to stay that way.

MacGyver entered the café a few minutes early, before 8 p.m., and chose a table in one of the more secluded and dimly lighted back corners. He ordered an orange juice and waited; all his senses were on high alert, quickly trying to get a feel for the employees and the other customers. Now he felt the familiar thrill of an upcoming adventure and the mission that lay ahead of him. Nonetheless, he did his best to look casual and relaxed on the outside. You´re just an American tourist, he reminded himself inwardly.

He had just taken a long sip of his orange juice when he saw Dubcek come into the café. Mac remembered the face from the file he´d seen and was relieved that the other facts he had read were correct as well. Unlike his brother Anton, Pavel was a tall man, about the same height as Mac. He wasn´t as well trained tough, but the blouson he was wearing covered that fact quite well. MacGyver noticed that Pavel had followed his instructions. Pavel´s jacket and cap were blue, not too bright, not too dark. Distinctive, but not too flashy. So far, so good, Mac sighed to himself while he eyed the man all over.

Pavel was looking around the room while he walked slowly into it, and when his eyes reached the table in the corner, MacGyver raised his glass a little bit and gave him a small nod. When he saw Pavel´s gaze lock on to him, MacGyver leaned back in his chair and focused on observing the main entrance again. With the sun nearing the horizon, the side street in front of the café had gotten darker and shady. It got more difficult to spot the GRU agents. MacGyver didn´t know if Pavel Dubcek knew their faces, and he had to be alert for the possibility that one of them might enter the café as well. Mac was sure those two would remember his own face very well.

But no one followed Pavel Dubcek inside.

MacGyver kept his eyes on the door and the windows until Pavel had crossed the room and sat down opposite to him. Then he focused on the obviously nervous man and shot him a reassuring smile.

“You´re the one, that saved my brother last year?” Pavel asked a little cautious.

“Yep.” Mac only nodded. “Name´s MacGyver.”

“And you´re willing to take the risk and help us again?”

“Yeah, I am.” Mac replied. “And I can see, that it´s working out. Lukas has forwarded the information, as I´d asked him to.”

“He did.” Pavel´s expression was still tense as he agreed with a small nod. “I wasn´t aware of those agents yet. I´m not familiar with their faces. Must have been easy for them to tail me… To them, I´m a terrorist with dangerous ideas… but from our point of view, we´re only fighting for freedom.”

“I was concerned about you not knowing them.” Mac admitted. “That´s why I asked you to keep those documents hidden. They need you to lead them to those papers before they can take you.”

MacGyver´s words did nothing to ease up Pavel´s tension. Mac smiled at him again.

“For the moment we´re safe. I´ve seen none of them so far.”

He could see how the man opposite to him slowly let out a deep breath.

“Where are the documents hidden?” Mac continued, sensing how Pavel relaxed a bit. “How long will it take to pick them up?”

Now Pavel´s face turned from nervous to focused.

“About 45 minutes from here and back again.” he told Mac. “We can go there anytime. Are you familiar with the city and its surroundings?”

“More or less.” Mac replied. “I´ve had time to study some maps.”

In the next moment, his gaze got caught by someone outside the café. His brown eyes focused on the face, but the darkening shadows made it difficult for Mac to recognize it. Pavel quickly noticed his change of concentration.

“What´s the matter?” he asked.

“I´m afraid, we´re not all safe here anymore.” MacGyver kept observing the street on the other side of the glass. “I think, I saw Zorkin just a moment ago.”

Pavel drew in a sharp breath.

“Will they remember you?”

“Yeah.” Mac said hurriedly, his mind switching into high gear in an instant. “They would have failed their job if they didn´t. They must not see us together or recognize me. If they do, they´ll know that we´re up to something, and that´ll make them act.”

Pavel stared at him silently for a moment, and the nervousness was back in his face.

“But Anton let me know, you´d have fake papers for me, and that we could cross the border without problems.” he objected.

“That´s true.” Mac assured him, while his eyes were still glued to the street. “These papers are with my partner in our hotel room. But those two agents must not notice my presence. It´ll alert them.”

Now he saw both agents on the other side of the street, talking to each other and then retreating to a shady corner where he could barely see them. He had to get them off their tail, especially off Pavel´s tail, or he´d never be able to retrieve the documents. MacGyver remembered a scenario that had flashed through his mind while he had talked to Lukas. He had hoped, he wouldn´t be forced to go through with it, but right now, it seemed to be his best option.

“Will I be able to retrieve the documents on my own?” he asked.

“Yes.” Pavel answered quickly. “They are on a 35mm positive film. In a common plastic film can. There´s…”

MacGyver cut him off with a small raise of his hand and a brief warning look.

“Both Zorkin and Baranov are waiting for you outside.” he explained as he switched his eyes back to the street. “I don´t think they noticed me so far. If I can make them believe that I am you, they´ll follow me when I leave.”

Now confusion added to the nervous expression on Pavel´s face.

“You want them to follow you?” he asked baffled. “But how…? And from what I know, they are dangerous, aren´t they?”

“They are.” Mac nodded. “But I´ve got an idea on how to keep you safe while I retrieve the film, and then we´ll cross the border together without getting into trouble.”

His eyes lit up with excitement while he took another long sip of his orange juice. Now he felt the adrenaline pumping; now all his distracting thoughts of the last days were gone. Now he totally focused on his plan. Pavel´s expression was full of doubt. He remained silent.

“Okay, here´s what I want you to do…” Mac continued while a small smile flashed across his face. “Go to the restrooms… I´ll come after you in a minute or two.”

The question mark on Pavel´s face was all too obvious, but he kept quiet and followed Mac´s instruction.

“Relax.” MacGyver softly told him as he walked past Mac stiff and tense again.

When the waitress passed his table Mac hurried to pay for his orange juice, emptied his glass and observed Zorkin and Baranov for a few more moments. They had stayed at their hiding place at the corner. From there, they could see both the main entrance and, at a small distance, the side entrance of the café. Perfect, Mac thought while he took a deep breath. Now I just have to draw your attention to me and keep you two hooked on my tail. Then he got up and went after Dubcek.

*****

MacGyver found Pavel Dubcek in the men´s restroom, holding on to one of the hand basins, staring into the mirror. Mac was relieved to see that they were alone and the only window was small, very high up, and made of frosted glass. No one would be able to observe what they were about to do in here. Pavel turned his eyes and looked at MacGyver through his reflection in the mirror.

“How?” he asked. “How are you going to make them believe that you are me? … We´re about the same height, but…?”

Once again Mac smiled at him with his usual nonchalance.

“We´re going to fake it.” he said while he shrugged out of his jacket and emptied its pockets. “Give me your cap and your jacket.”

MacGyver stuffed the money and his fake passport into the back pocket of his jeans and held out his black Calgary Flames cap and the brown leather jacket to Pavel. The other man turned to him still a little bewildered and surprised, but quickly obeyed Mac´s instructions. He watched how Mac, with the help of the mirror, hid his unruly hair to the best of his abilities under the blue cap and then tucked up the collar of the blue blouson to hide the long hair at the back of his neck.

“You really think this will be enough to fool them?” Pavel asked while he shrugged into Mac´s jacket.

“I sure hope so.” Mac answered after a last probing look at himself in the mirror. It has to, or we´ll be getting into trouble real fast, he thought to himself. “The sun is setting, the streets are getting darker.” he added aloud to reassure the other man. “They won´t be able to make out much detail. They will follow me… Now tell me where and how I can pick up the film.”

He took a look at Pavel Dubcek, and was satisfied with what he saw, although seeing the man in his favorite jacket and cap felt awkward. I´ve gone to plan b already, but it doesn´t matter now, he mused. If everything runs according to that plan, I´ll get those clothes back real soon.

“There´s a small chapel near the highest point of the hill north of the river reservoir. Overlooking the dam.” Pavel told him. “There´s a tree with a quite distinctive split trunk close to it. I hid the film can inside an opening close to its roots.”

MacGyver nodded to Dubcek, fished the hotel key out of his jeans´ pocket, and handed it to him.

“This is the key to my hotel room.” he explained. “My colleague´s waiting there. I want you to go there after I´ve drawn those GRU agents away. Nikki will be a little surprised, but she´ll take care of you. Tell Nikki that I sent you and that I want her to leave the hotel with you. Tell her to wait for me at the bridge that we crossed when we drove into the city today. If I´m not there in two hours, I want you both to take the car and return to Austria without me. If I get hung up, I´ll find another way to cross the border.”

He took a quick glance at his watch and then looked up at Pavel again. The other man still seemed a little overwhelmed by the situation.

“Now... I will return to our table first and take your place.” Mac continued. “I want you to come after me and sit on my chair in a couple of moments.”

MacGyver shot him another reassuring smile, saw him nod his agreement and then left the restroom. His eyes scanned the street through the windows on his way back to the table. He was instantly relieved to see Zorkin and Baranov waiting at the same corner as before and puffed out a breath as he sat down. Now for the tricky part, he thought while his mind was already considering how he would accomplish the rest of his mission. He didn´t have to wait long until Pavel took the seat opposite to him.

“There are two men in dark suits at the corner across the street.” Mac told him. “See them?”

Dubcek´s eyes left him and concentrated outside.

“Those are the GRU agents?” Pavel asked back when he had noticed them.

“Right.” MacGyver´s face was focused and serious now. “I´m going to leave through the side entrance. At best, they´ll both come after me. I want you to wait until we´re well out of sight and then head for the hotel. Hurry, but be careful.”

With that, he got up and wanted to leave, but Pavel reached out and held out his hand to Mac.

“Thank you, Mr. MacGyver.” he said. “You´re taking a big risk. I hope, everything will work out.”

Mac took the offered hand and shook it.

“I´m sure gonna try my best… I´ll see you in two hours.” he replied confidently before he left the man.

Mac took a deep breath while he went toward the side entrance. Come on, Mac, he encouraged himself mentally, not quite feeling the confidence he had just shown a moment ago. You can do this. You´ve been through situations like this before. Then he reached for the door´s handle, pulled it open and stepped outside. With a quick, barely noticeable sideways glance MacGyver assured himself that Zorkin and Baranov had seen him leave the café and then walked off to the main square. There, he thought, it will be easy for them to stay on my tail. I can lose them in time before I reach that chapel and pick up the film.

*****

Posted by: uniquelyjas 8 November 2021 - 10:27 AM
And the adventure begins!! I love how MacGyverisms can be as simple as switching clothes! I'm sure Nikki's not happy about being left behind, but she is showing her trust in Mac...even if she doesn't agree with his "plans".

So...if he doesn't make it back in 2 hours, will Nikki REALLY leave without him? I'd say it's a 50/50 chance, depending on how mad she is!!

Nice little cliffhanger...the adventure is underway!!!

Posted by: bluegirl 8 November 2021 - 11:38 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 7 November 2021 - 11:50 AM)
Also, I would like to offer my services if you ever decide to have someone proofread your stories for American grammar before you post them.

Thanks for the kind offer, but I already have someone supporting me in this 'department'. She´s a studied English teacher...

Posted by: bluegirl 11 November 2021 - 06:47 AM
Hi there, here we go with the next part... Mac still thinks, this is going to be a 'simple' assignment... let´s see...

Part 4

Pavel Dubcek watched with a mixture of amazement and worry how MacGyver headed away, and how the GRU agents, Mac had pointed out to him, were immediately tense and after only a moment picked up the pursuit. They concentrated fully on the man with the blue cap and jacket, none of the two thought about checking the inside of the café as Pavel noticed with relief. He felt for the hotel key in the pocket of the leather jacket. Znojmo wasn´t his hometown, but he knew his way around the city. Reaching the hotel shouldn´t take more than 15 or 20 minutes if he hurried up.

Dubcek took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and left the café. He checked the street to both sides; just to be sure that MacGyver and the agents were gone before he strode off. He pulled the black cap a little lower into his face while he rushed through the darkening streets, every once and a while glancing over his shoulder.

By the time, he arrived at the hotel, Pavel had relaxed a bit. He hadn´t seen anyone following him and felt a little safer. Now he was about to meet MacGyver´s colleague, what had he called her, Nikki?

Pavel sighed as he entered the hotel and crossed the lobby toward the stairs. He was getting closer to leaving his country, but also to not living in danger and constant fear anymore, and to being reunited with his brother. Leaving his home and friends behind made part of him feel sad, but he clung on to the thought that change was possible. He and his brother would continue their fight for human rights and freedom, together, from the U.S.A. After one year of being separated, Pavel was truly looking forward to meeting his brother Anton again.

The receptionist shot him a friendly but questioning smile as she greeted him. Pavel stopped for a moment, returned the greeting, and told her, he was about to meet a friend and that he already knew the room number. He was relieved when she nodded her agreement and returned to her work. Obviously, she had bought his little white lie.

Dubcek turned back to the stairs and climbed them while he retrieved the key, MacGyver had given him, from his pocket. When he had reached the second floor, he quickly spotted the matching door but found it locked. After a sideways glance to make sure that he was alone, Pavel used the key to open the door, took a step into the room, and hurriedly closed the door behind himself. He saw a woman with wavy, dark brown hair sitting on the couch with his back to him, who put down a file she had just been reading.

“Back that soon, MacGyver?” she asked while she got up and turned around. “Another change of plans…”

Nikki had in the corner of her eye only noticed a tall man with a brown leather jacket and a black cap and assumed that Mac had returned as she´d started talking, but as she got a good look at him, she instantly fell silent. Her body stiffened, instinctively preparing to fight any intruder, but after overcoming her first few seconds of alarm and surprise, her mind matched the man standing just inside her room with the pictures she had seen yesterday in the files. Dubcek sensed her tension and raised his hands defensively, but before he could say anything, Nikki addressed him again.

“Mr. Dubcek?” she wanted to know, just to be sure. “Mr. Pavel Dubcek?”

“Yes.” Pavel nodded. “And you must be Mr. MacGyver´s colleague? … Nikki?”

“Yes, I´m Nicole Carpenter.” Nikki confirmed with a little smile. But the smile was gone in the next moment, when the fact that Pavel was alone and wore Mac´s jacket and cap registered in her mind. Her face darkened.

“But where´s MacGyver?” she continued quickly. “And why have you got his clothes?”

Pavel relaxed a bit and took a few steps towards Nikki.

“The GRU agents had followed me to the café. He chose to draw them away, pretending to be me, so I could safely come here. He´s now on the way to pick up the documents, I had hidden.” he gave a short summary of their meeting. “He asked me to tell you, that we should leave the hotel and meet him at the bridge over the Thaya that you crossed when driving into the city.” He took a quick look at his watch. “But if he´s not there until ten minutes past 10 p.m., we should leave and head to Austria without him. He said, if that happens, he´ll find another way to cross the border.”

Nikki sighed deeply. That was more or less the scenario she´d been worried about. MacGyver was out there on his own, and she had no way to get into contact with him. Or to support him. She could only hope that he would make it to their meeting point in time. But at least she now had an objective to focus on. She had to protect the man standing in front of her and make everyone believe that he was a family member of hers.

“Mr. MacGyver said, you have documents that will allow me to come with you to Austria? … And then to the U.S.A.?”

Pavel´s question after a couple of silent seconds broke Nikki out of her thoughts. She looked up at Dubcek.

“I do.” she answered after her concentration was back on the task at hand. “With those forged documents we´ll have to pretend that the two of us are related. That´ll make it easy to deceive the guards at the border. Once we´re in Austria, we´ll be going directly to Vienna, where our boss is waiting. From there we´ll be going to Los Angeles via airplane… Do you have your real passport with you?”

“No.” Pavel shook his head with sudden concern. “I just now realized, that I left it in the jacket I gave to Mr. MacGyver.”

“That´s no problem.” Nikki told him. “In fact, it´s good. It´s one item less to hide when we get to the border.”

She went to the bed and searched her bag for the envelope, Pete had handed them yesterday. She fingered out Pavel´s fake passport and papers and gave them to him.

“There you go. You´d better familiarize yourself with it, while I gather all our baggage.” she advised.

Pavel only nodded silently as he opened the passport and had a first look at the name he would be using for the next hours or maybe days. Nikki quickly turned back to the couch, collected the files she´d been reading, and concentrated on what she needed to prepare to leave the hotel as soon as possible without arising suspicion. MacGyver´s duffle bag was sitting next to the files, still closed and readily packed. Her own bag was also almost good to go. She only had to gather her belongings, return the keys to the room, and tell the receptionist a story about some emergency that forced her to leave early. Then she saw the keys for the rental car lying on the bedside table. Of course, Mac had been thoughtful enough to leave them with her. And instantly her mind was back with him.

I´m just hoping, you´re all right Mac, she thought. Don´t get yourself into trouble. Please, turn up in time.

*****

MacGyver took his time as he walked along the main square, every now and then stopping on purpose in front of some storefront window. With short, careful glances he assured himself that Zorkin and Baranov were still on his tail. He had to give Pavel Dubcek enough time to get to the hotel before he could lose those two. Until then he had to make sure the agents wouldn´t notice who he really was.

When he arrived at the smaller streets on the other end of the square, Mac quickened his pace slightly. Referring to his mental map of the city he knew that those side streets were his chance to get rid of his tail before he would reach the path through the forest that would lead him up the hill north of the river reservoir. But after a few hundred feet Mac realized with alarm that the two agents had already picked up his faster tempo and grew closer. A lot closer. Way too close to lose them in the streets he now approached.

MacGyver quickly decided to change his path and turned right at the next corner. He remembered a church with a maze of small alleys around it nearby. While he felt his insides getting tense, Mac forced himself to remain casual and relaxed on the outside, knowing very well that these agents mustn´t notice that he knew they were there and that he was up to something.

He strode to the church and entered it through its side entrance. Relieved he saw that there was only little light inside, as he had hoped. Mac quickly scanned the church with his eyes and noticed a group of tourists close to the main entrance.

If I can manage to blend in with them…

Keeping close to the walls, once in a while using one of the stone columns for cover MacGyver worked his way over to the group of people. When he dared to take a short look over his shoulder, he saw that Zorkin and Baranov had come inside a few moments after him and were searching for him, but hadn´t discovered him yet. He had no time to spare.

MacGyver passed the last couple of feet a little faster and slid behind the tourists. Some of the men in this group were about his height, and Mac hoped they would distract the agents long enough for him to get to the door. He hid his face, lowering his head while he mimicked the group and went along with their flow to the door, but always kept the GRU agents in the corner of his eye. When, just for a moment, they both looked the other way, Mac quickly took the opportunity and hurried outside and around the corner to his right. Hastily he crossed the small square around the church towards the nearest narrow street leading to the wooded vicinity of this part of the city.

MacGyver quickly turned to check that he wasn´t being followed anymore before he rushed along the alley. He didn´t see that just as he took the step around the corner, Yevgeni Zorkin left the church and spotted him, right at the moment when he disappeared into the street. Zorkin waved at his partner to come closer.

“He must have noticed us.” he said as Baranov came to his side. “We´ve got to be more careful or he´ll never lead us to those documents. Dubcek went down that street. We´d better split up and follow him separately.”

“I´ll cover the street to his right.” Baranov nodded his agreement.

Then they both went off to pursue the man they believed to be Pavel Dubcek.

*****

MacGyver took a glance at his watch while he hurried down the small alley. His quick mental calculation confirmed that Dubcek should have reached the hotel by now. Meaning, he was safe and Nikki would make sure that it stayed that way. Mac puffed out a relieved breath.

So, I only have to retrieve that film and make it back to the bridge in time. Piece of cake, now that I´ve lost my tail…

Mac mused for a moment about getting rid of his disguise but quickly abandoned the idea. Since the sun had set behind the horizon in the meantime after a hot and sunny day, the temperatures were dropping rapidly. He was grateful for the extra protection Pavel´s jacket provided because by now the symptoms of his impending cold were clearly back. Mac felt the headache again, as well as cold chills alternating with heat rushing up and down his spine. Inwardly he chided himself for not having swallowed another aspirin before he had left the hotel. The effects of the one he had taken around midday were wearing off.

MacGyver pulled the zipper up a little, flipped up the collar around his neck once more, and tucked his hands into the pockets while he headed out from between the buildings and into the forest. He was surprised when one of his hands touched something flat and rectangular. Mac pulled it out and recognized it within a moment as a Czechoslovakian passport.

That must be Pavel Dubcek´s real passport, he realized. He won´t need it to cross the border. I´d better hide it or probably even get rid of it before we reach the crossing. But first things first…

He stuffed the passport back into the pocket and hurried on along the small path through the trees. He had now reached the slope leading up the hill and could spot the dam of the river reservoir to his left side in the slowly darkening sunset. The path led up the hill in serpentines with very few trees as cover.

A couple of minutes later MacGyver had arrived at the top of the hill and reoriented himself. Some buildings ahead of him, a patch of forest to his right, more trees to his left – the small chapel had to be behind these trees, overlooking the reservoir. MacGyver took a glance at his watch while he continued his way in the dim light.

Close to 9 p.m. Good. Now simply find that ‘special tree’, pick up the film and head back. For once it seems as if everything is gonna work out as planned…

From up here, MacGyver could see the sky and the clouds to the west glowing red and orange with the remains of the sunset. When he reached the open space around the chapel, Mac allowed himself a moment to take in the view over the reservoir and the slopes reaching down to it. There was a path right in front of him, leading down a steep slope, directly to the dam. That would be his way back to the city and toward the bridge.

MacGyver nodded to himself and then turned and quickly scanned the trees around the chapel with his eyes. Distinctive split trunk… Pavel´s words echoed in his head as he made his way around the tiny chapel. Soon he spotted a huge old oak tree with a crack along the whole length of its trunk. Looks like it has been hit by lightning a long time ago, Mac mused and suddenly shuddered with the memory of the day before flashing into his mind.

He closed in on that tree and ran his hands over the bark, forcing himself to concentrate back on his task and searching for the opening Dubcek had told him about. Quickly he found a hole at the side of the crack, just a few inches above the roots of the tree, and reached into it. MacGyver´s long fingers felt a small plastic can and pulled it out. He opened it, took out a strip of 35mm film and held it up, looking at it against the remaining light. The positives showed several documents, and Mac puffed out a relieved breath, even if he couldn´t make out any details in the dim light. He rolled up the film, stuffed it back into the can and safely replaced the lid.

He slowly got up but had to close his eyes for a moment and hold on to the tree as his headache suddenly spiked. He took a few deep breaths and pushed back the pain before he straightened himself and turned to the path leading downwards.

Better get going fast…

He had taken only a couple of steps when he heard something rustle at some distance below him on the slope and froze again. The hair at the back of his neck stood on end at once, a sudden shiver ran down his spine, but in the first seconds, he couldn´t distinguish if it was caused by his upcoming cold or his survival instinct kicking in. Not until he saw someone in the growing darkness, slowly making his way up in his direction and dressed in a dark suit. Instantly all his senses were on alert.

Baranov. Obviously, I haven´t gotten rid of them successfully. But he is alone… Where is his partner?

MacGyver´s mind hit overdrive while he retreated back to the edge of the trees and tried to blend in with the shadows. Only two paths headed up from the city to the chapel. The one along which he had come up here, and the one on which he had intended to leave. Out of reflex Mac stuffed the film can into the pocket of his jeans and turned back to the other path. He took a few quick, yet quiet steps along the tree line, then passed the clearing to the walls of the small chapel and, stepping backward, slid around its corner.

Only a second later MacGyver froze once more as he felt something small but hard press against his back.

“Stop! … Nehýbejte se, Dubcek!” he heard Zorkin growl only a moment later.

Mac chided himself inwardly for not being careful enough.

Aw man, that´s where his partner is… Now what? … Think, MacGyver. He still hasn´t recognized you…

Mac didn´t speak any Czech but the first word and the muzzle of the handgun pressed against his spine were understandable in several languages. He held up his hands a little to signalize his surrender, but kept his head straight and lowered it a bit to keep his face hidden from the man behind him. The seconds seemed to spread into eternity as he felt the adrenaline rush into his veins. He didn´t have a lot of time to spare until Baranov would have managed to climb the slope. He would recognize MacGyver as soon as he came up in front of him.

MacGyver´s thoughts ran wild while he desperately searched for a way out. From past experience, he knew that those two agents wouldn´t hesitate to shoot to kill.

What the heck happened to simple? I just wanted to continue my vacation as soon as possible… Now, how can I create some diversion? … Quickly?

While MacGyver´s eyes frenetically scanned his surroundings for anything useful, he suddenly heard a crushing and sliding noise on the slope down below, almost instantly accompanied by words whose angry tone gave away some meaning, even if Mac didn´t understand them either. But the pressure of the muzzle against his back abruptly lessened with Zorkin being distracted by the swearing of his stumbling partner.

Now or never!

MacGyver quickly whirled around, with the same motion knocked the arm holding the gun to the side, held on to that arm with his left hand, and followed that up with a right-hand punch to Zorkin´s jaw. He caught the agent off guard, who stumbled backward while Mac managed to take the gun from him and hit him again with full force. Zorkin dropped to the ground out cold as Mac stood over him, holding the revolver with his left while he shook his hurting right hand.

Only a second later he remembered that Baranov was closing in on his position and that the other way down the hill provided almost no cover. He quickly made up his decision, threw the gun into some shadowy thicket at a little distance, and ran off into the forest along the crest of the hill, away from the city. Mac didn´t notice that Dubcek´s passport had fallen out of his jacket´s pocket at the moment he had rushed through the bushes at the edge of the trees. He just knew he had to get away. Fast.

*****

Baranov hadn´t noticed what had happened to his partner until he reached the top of the hill. MacGyver hadn´t given Zorkin enough time to alert him with a shout before he had knocked him out. Emil Baranov only found Zorkin on the ground in the dim light and hurried to him at once. He grabbed Zorkin by one shoulder and shook him, but the other agent was already coming out of it.

“What happened?” Baranov asked quickly. “How did Dubcek…”

“It wasn´t Dubcek.” Zorkin cut him off while he slowly rose up and rubbed his aching jaw. “Do you remember the man that crossed our plans last year? ... It was MacGyver!”

“But how?” Baranov asked confused. “We followed him the whole day… never left him out of our sight…”

“I don´t care!” Zorkin shot back angrily. “He had Dubcek´s jacket and cap to disguise himself… But he has the film. We have to go after him.”

“I didn´t see to which direction he left.” Baranov answered. “I´ll check the other path to the city.”

With that, he hurried off around the chapel to where he would have a good view of the slope leading back to the city. Zorkin stood still for a moment while he was fighting back some dizziness and looked around himself. He noticed something dark and rectangular a few feet away on the ground just hidden under some thicket and slowly went to pick it up. In the twilight, he examined it closer and recognized it as Pavel Dubcek´s passport. Looking into the forest he then saw some broken branches at a little distance. His partner returned only a moment later.

“No sign of him there.” Baranov told him quickly.

“I just found that one.” Zorkin showed him the passport and nodded towards the trees. “He must have lost it as he ran off… This way, I think.”

Baranov took a couple of steps roughly into the indicated direction, noticed the broken branches, and bent down to pick up something else from the ground.

“I think you´re right.” he told his partner as he handed him his revolver. “Let´s get him.”

Then they both took up the chase.

*****

MacGyver ran through the trees as fast as he could without making too much noise and risk attracting attention, but fast enough to get some distance between himself and the two agents. He had only covered a few hundred yards when the patch of forest ended abruptly and he slid to a stop facing a grain field. Behind it, he saw a cornfield that had grown a bit higher in the half-light, and only beyond that one, he spotted trees that would be high enough to hide his escape route.

He scanned the open space hurriedly with his eyes and then ran off along the border of the grain field. Dashing through it would have caused too much noise, he decided quickly. MacGyver shot the reservoir lake a sideways glance while he ran and the thought of swimming to its opposite side crossed his mind. But he dismissed the idea only seconds later. No cover, no way to hide for quite some time, and it would take him way too long. He wouldn´t be able to reach the meeting point with Nikki at the bridge in good time.

It was rather high time to come up with plan c. And trust Nikki that she would take care of taking Pavel Dubcek safely to Austria, to Vienna. They had agreed on a secondary meeting point and time in a small village on ‘secure’ Austrian soil, early tomorrow morning; just in case… should they get separated… should things really go sideways.

Seems as if I´ll need to use that one, MacGyver mused as he reached the cornfield and hurried on along it. The slope next to his left side got steeper, and Mac had to pay way more attention to not losing his footing. Nevertheless, he was surprised when at the end of the cornfield the ground declined abruptly in front of him. MacGyver just so managed to slow down in time to avoid stumbling and falling.

Ahead of him lay a small valley with a creek at its bottom, the forest starting again on the opposite side. He stopped, looked behind himself for his pursuers, and abruptly the idea of swimming flashed back into his mind. He´d be out of sight for a couple of moments at the edge of the creek. Maybe, just maybe he could distract the two agents and lure them away from his trail, if only for a few minutes.

After another look back he carefully and quietly made his way to the bottom of the small valley while he shrugged out of the blue jacket Pavel had given him. MacGyver had appreciated the extra warmth it had provided him with in the now falling temperatures of the growing darkness after the sunset. He couldn´t suppress a sudden shiver running down his back as the cool wind hit his skin with only the little protection of his dark shirt. It reminded him that his physical condition wasn´t as good and stable as he was used to it.

MacGyver forced himself to focus on the task at hand as he reached the bank where the creek flowed into the reservoir lake. He dropped Pavel´s jacket well visible on the bank of the lake, took off the cap, and threw it out onto the water´s surface. Satisfied with seeing it float several yards away from the water´s edge, Mac quickly turned and stepped into the creek. The ice-cold water reached up to his knees, but he swiftly crossed it.

On the opposite edge, right where the first trees were growing, Mac found a rounded stone – large and heavy enough to cause an appropriate splash. He picked it up with a little effort, ignored his protesting left shoulder, and listened hard for a few moments. When his ears told him that Zorkin and Baranov were hurrying along the grain field, he threw the stone in the direction of the floating cap with all the strength he had.

With the noise of the water splashing when that stone hit the surface, MacGyver quickly turned and ran off into the forest along the reservoir lake once more. With a little luck, the GRU agents would buy his deception and believe that he jumped into the water and was trying to escape swimming. If they didn´t, it might at least buy him some time and distance.

*****

Zorkin and Baranov stopped instantly when they heard the water splash. They were about halfway along the cornfield when their focus was directed out to the water.

“He´s trying to cross the lake!” Zorkin exclaimed. “Quickly! We can get him while he´s swimming.”

Both of them rushed away from the field, down the slope to the reservoir´s bank, and scanned the water´s surface. Baranov was the first to notice the floating cap.

“There! He must be underwater, diving.” he called out and pointed to it. He hurried along the water´s edge to get closer and saw the jacket lying on the ground. Zorkin followed him, picked up the jacket, and examined it.

“The film is not there.” he stated and then stared out to the lake with his partner. Both of them stood tense at the bank of the river reservoir. With their weapons drawn and pointed to the water, they watched the waves, searching for any clue where MacGyver would break through the surface. They stared with anticipation, knowing very well that he wouldn´t be able to stay underwater infinitely.

The moments seemed to stretch as Zorkin and Baranov kept their eyes scanning the reservoir in the dim light, but nothing happened. After a minute or two Zorkin turned his gaze up- and downwards the bank of the river. There was almost no cover along the water´s edge, yet he saw no sign of MacGyver there as well.

“This is useless. He´s not out there.” he growled afterward and took a step back. “He would have drowned by now. He´s trying to trick us.”

“But where is he?” Baranov asked as he looked at him puzzled. “We would have heard him coming if he had turned back toward the city.”

Zorkin nodded. Then he noticed the faint imprint of a shoe on the opposite, shadowy side of the small creek to their right, and pointed to it with his revolver.

“There.” he stated. “He´s trying to flee through the woods to the border. We have to keep him running and drive him toward the fence and the border patrols. He can´t know the terrain and all the security measures in detail. He will be cornered with no way out real soon.”

Baranov agreed with a smug grin. Then they both shot the small, icy creek a disgusted look, but nevertheless crossed it quickly one after another and continued their chase.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 11 November 2021 - 10:33 AM
Aw man! (as Mac would say). Things just got complicated!! And I keep forgetting he's sick and his shoulder is hurt! Well, at least Pavel is safe with Nikki. And Nikki does seem concerned about Mac. Hmmm. Is it just professional?? Doesn't look like Mac will meet them in time...but with him you never know, right?!?!

I like his deception with the coat and throwing the hat in the water. Too bad the agents caught on. Hopefully it bought him some time, at least.

I LOVE the two very classic Mac gestures you included: Shaking his hand after hitting the agent and tossing the gun aside.

Overall a very exciting and well-written chapter. Loads of awesome description make it seem as if I'm actually "watching" it! And I like that you change point of view to include Pavel and the bad guys. Very well done!

Posted by: bluegirl 12 November 2021 - 01:06 AM
What did we say about complications lately?? whistle.gif There might be some more to come... Since we´ve only reached chapter 4! (of 21)

And if you already feel like 'watching' an episode, then I´ve reached one of my goals already! Woohoo! Thanks!

Posted by: bluegirl 14 November 2021 - 05:07 AM
Hello there! A beautiful Sunday to every one!

We mentioned complications before... there might be some still to come... Quite some history research went into this one... here we go with:

Part 5


Gathering the baggage, returning the keys, and leaving the hotel fast but without obvious haste hadn´t been much of a challenge for Nikki. Pavel had carried Mac´s duffle bag, still wearing his jacket and cap, and had kept himself in the background, just as Nikki had instructed him to do. Thankfully he hadn´t aroused any suspicion with the receptionist on duty. They had quickly made their way to the rental car that Mac had parked at a little distance to the hotel.

Nikki had taken up driving to the bridge over the Thaya herself, but had relied on Pavel´s knowledge of the city in finding a place where they could wait for MacGyver. He had helped her park the sedan at a spot where they could overlook both ends of the bridge and remain sitting in the car without drawing attention.

Darkness had fallen over the town while they´d been waiting for MacGyver, which made Nikki concentrate and look even harder for any sign of him. Pavel had given her a brief description of his blue jacket and cap, although they had no way of knowing if Mac still wore it.

Nikki got more and more tensed up the longer she sat in the driver´s seat. She looked at her watch for what felt like the hundredth time. 5 minutes past 10 p.m. Only 5 minutes left. She knew Mac well enough to expect him to turn up at the last possible second, but the seconds until then seemed to be passing dreadfully slowly. And somehow, somewhere inside she felt that something had gone wrong.

Nikki chided herself silently and instantly for that thought. Mac was the one to go with his gut. She preferred well-organized plans over instinct. There was no way of being sure that he wouldn´t nonchalantly walk around any corner in the next moment. Nevertheless, her inward instinct screamed at her that MacGyver was in trouble, that whatever plan he had had in mind, it had gone sideways. She wanted nothing more than to run off, find MacGyver, and help him out of his squeeze.

Now, after almost one hour of waiting for him, Nikki couldn´t bear with being holed up in the sedan anymore. She turned to Pavel Dubcek.

“I want you to stay in the car… I´ll be right back.” she said and got out without waiting for his answer.

Nikki drew in a deep breath of the mild evening air and took a couple of steps toward the bridge. Maybe she had overlooked him; maybe he was already there and waiting at the other end of the bridge. Her eyes scanned her whole surroundings for Mac´s well-known silhouette in the darkness but found nothing. By now she was worried, really worried. Nikki had grown the more silent the more her tension and worries had risen. Pavel had picked up on her mood and had also gone quiet the longer they had had to wait.

After several minutes of standing frozen and staring at the bridge, Nikki flinched as Pavel suddenly addressed her from behind.

“Shouldn´t we be leaving?” he asked quietly.

Nikki glanced at her watch and suppressed the urge to snap at him for getting out of the car. 15 minutes past 10 p.m… Where the heck are you, MacGyver, she thought. It isn´t like you not to arrive in time… Slowly she turned to Dubcek.

“Yes, we´d better get going.” She reluctantly agreed with a low voice.

Nikki forced herself to focus back on her task as she looked at Dubcek. She had to keep him safe, make sure that they would reach Austria, and take him to Vienna, where Pete would take over. The longer they remained here, the more dangerous it would get for both of them. MacGyver was able to look after himself, she urged to assure herself. Together Nikki and Pavel went back to the car and got inside.

“You are worried about him? Because he hasn´t arrived?” Dubcek asked when Nikki took another look around before she reached for the keys in the ignition lock.

“Yes… I am.” she admitted with a brief sideways glance. “But he´s the best. He will manage.” Then she fired up the engine.

Dubcek nodded and looked at her with a probing and sympathetic expression.

“You are more than colleagues, right?” he continued. “Friends?”

Nikki froze and met his look again.

“Close friends.” she said, her voice dropping low once more. “We´ve been through a lot together during the last year.”

Then she drove off toward the border, fervently hoping that whatever trouble Mac had gotten into, he would be able to get out of it as well, and that it hadn´t led to closed border crossings so far.

But with MacGyver anything is possible, she mused. He´ll probably be back in Vienna before we are…

*****

MacGyver´s mind was working on overdrive while he kept running through the forest, upstream along the river. As soon as the fact that he wouldn´t reach his meeting point with Nikki and Pavel in time had registered, his mind had switched to forming plan c. Referring to his memory of the maps he had studied the evening before, he knew, he was heading for a quite secluded area of the bordering region between Czechoslovakia and Austria. Mac had kept a little more distance to the Thaya´s reservoir, and managed to stay at the crest of the hills beside it.

He had been forced to cross another creek on his way; this one having been a little wider and measurably deeper than the last one. Mac had remembered the film can in his jeans in time, and had dug the plastic canister and his duct tape out of his pocket. He had wrapped some duct tape around the can and especially its cap in an effort to seal it off against the entry of water. He was well aware that water couldn´t destroy the film roll, but Mac wasn´t willing to just risk scratching or damaging the positives should they get wet. Then he had torn off a long strip of the adhesive, opened his shirt, and taped the can directly to his left side, just below his rib cage. The duct tape sticking to his skin hadn´t felt all too comfortable while he´d fastened up the buttons of his shirt again and then had stepped into the water.

But it is still the safest place for the film to be, Mac thought while he now hurried on through the woods. He had unfortunately been obliged to quit running due to his worsening physical condition. MacGyver tried to press on, but soon after he had crossed the second creek and climbed to the crest of the hill once more, he had to stop. He hadn´t kept track of how long his escape had lasted by now, but his headache had intensified, his wet jeans and shoes had him shivering, and he couldn´t breathe as freely as he was used to it.

MacGyver dropped to his knees exhausted next to a large tree and allowed himself to lean against it. He couldn´t suppress coughing when he tried to take a deep breath and relax a little. His throat and bronchial tubes felt sore, and he had to close his eyes for a moment as the pain in his head suddenly spiked. Then he felt an abrupt dry wave of heat rush up his back and to his face that made him shudder in the nightly air. He couldn´t deny that he was getting sick anymore.

“Aw, man.” he growled as soon as he had regained control over his breath. “Sometimes I hate being right.” I shouldn´t have gone hiking yesterday, he added silently while he tried to calm down his breathing even further. Just wonderful. On the run with still a few miles to the border and my fever is rising…

Slowly he opened his eyes and looked around. The forest grew kind of open up here, with almost no thicket or undergrowth. Only the moon provided some light that allowed him to look ahead, while mentally planning his route to the border. In his condition, he couldn´t afford to take any detours. MacGyver wanted to go as straight as possible to the most secluded part of the border to avoid running into any border patrols. And considering how he felt by now, he had no time to spare.

MacGyver puffed out a deep breath, pushed himself off the tree, and rose to his feet. He prepared himself to walk on, yet out of instinct he took a quick glance to where he had come from. Instantly he felt the adrenaline rush back into his veins with what he saw. In the valley below, at some distance, Mac spotted two lights scanning the ground.

“What the…” he started to ask, but fell silent again.

Those had to be Zorkin and Baranov, equipped with flashlights and searching for him. Mac chided himself for allowing himself the short break of one or two minutes because he had believed that the GRU agents had lost his trail. Obviously, he had been wrong.

MacGyver´s body tensed with the unpleasant discovery and he quickly hurried off along the hill´s crest. Orienting himself with the help of the moon´s position he changed his direction more to the west and kept a little more distance to the river. According to his mental map, the Thaya would turn south at the next major bend and west several miles upstream, but he would have to head south-west, away from the river, in order to reach the region where the Thaya came in from the west and marked the border between Czechoslovakia and Austria.

While he rushed through the forest as silent and at the same time as fast as possible without leaving too many traces, MacGyver tried to remember everything he knew about the area he was approaching. The Iron Curtain separated Europe since soon after WW2 and referring to his knowledge of European history, the border between Czechoslovakia and Austria had been a region with some of the tightest and most dangerous security measures. Heavily armed patrols that didn´t hesitate to shoot, electrified fences and in some regions even minefields had killed hundreds of people over the last decades. He didn´t know if there were any records about how many had ‘only’ been injured during the attempt to illegally cross the border.

Much to MacGyver´s relief, the minefields had been removed as well as the electrified fences had been replaced by barbed wire in the late '60s. The Thaya marked the true boundary line, but the border fence was located hundreds of yards away from it to the Czechoslovakian side. Most possibly, Mac would also be up against watchtowers, probably motion-triggered floodlights and a strip that was cleared of all vegetation along the barbed wire fence. Not to forget the GRU agents coming up from behind and trying to corner him against the border security.

Piece of cake, right? Mac thought sarcastically as he worked his way deeper into the woods after he´d passed the bend of the river.

*****

By the time Nikki and Pavel Dubcek arrived at the border crossing her thoughts were back with her assignment. The border guards on duty had changed since midday when she and Mac had passed through. Nikki noticed that fact with relief although she trusted the forged passports Pete had provided them with. But driving into the country with one man and leaving it only a few hours later with another – it might have caused some serious questions if anyone would have remembered her. She also observed that no one seemed to be especially attentive and that the crossing was still open. Whatever trouble MacGyver had gotten into, the information about it hadn´t reached these guards yet.

As it was late evening and there was next to no traffic they were searched thoroughly though. Dubcek followed the instructions she had given him earlier to the point through the whole check-up and soon they were on the Austrian side, heading for Vienna fast. As much as Nikki wanted to drive to the secondary meeting point, she and Mac had agreed on earlier, right now, she also remembered that she had reluctantly agreed on taking care of Pavel Dubcek – should they get separated. MacGyver had urged her to take him to Vienna and to Pete first, should anything go wrong. Getting the people safe is always more important than getting any documents safe, he had insisted.

They had agreed on her coming back and picking him up in a nearby small village, should it be necessary, but only after she had reached the hotel in Vienna and Pete had met with Dubcek and would keep him safe. All the time, while she drove back to the city, she chided MacGyver inwardly for persuading her into giving in to that part of his plan. Finding the correct route wasn´t much of a problem and their journey to the hotel in Vienna was swift, but very silent. Pavel Dubcek still respected her concerned mood, although he must have had a lot of questions on his mind.

It was about midnight when they finally arrived at the hotel. Nikki parked the car at the same spot from where she and Mac had left from this morning, left the baggage in the trunk, and took Dubcek straight to her room. The night-duty receptionist shot her a probing look when she picked up her key but didn´t question her. As soon as they had reached the room, Nikki picked up the phone and called Pete. It took several moments until she got an answer.

“Hello?” Pete´s voice sounded sleepy.

“Pete, it´s Nikki. We need to see you.”

Nikki´s curt reply made Pete awaken suddenly.

“Nikki! Good to hear from you.” he greeted her. “Are you three back already? Everything went well?”

Nikki paused for a moment.

“Almost. We´re back, but not all three of us.” she sighed. “Pete, we need to talk. In person.”

Pete was on alert within the second because of her answer.

“Of course.” he said. “Meet me in my room in five minutes.”

*****

When Pete opened the door to his room for her and Pavel Dubcek, Nikki could instantly tell that he´d been asleep before. And she could tell that he was worried, not knowing yet what had gone wrong. He invited them both inside, introduced himself to Pavel Dubcek, and welcomed him especially. Then, without losing any time, he asked about what had happened and why MacGyver had not returned with them. Both Nikki and Pavel took a couple of minutes to relate their side of what they knew.

“I need to go back and look for him.” Nikki stated after a moment of silence when they were both done with telling their stories. “Mac and I agreed on a secondary meeting point in Austria. I should be there as soon as possible…”

“Didn´t you set up a time as well?” Pete wanted to know.

Nikki could see that Pete was deeply concerned about MacGyver, but he concealed it better than she did. I guess, he´s got a lot more practice in worrying about Mac than I do, she thought.

“Well, yes.” Nikki admitted. “But I´ve got a feeling, that I should be back earlier.”

“A feeling? … Nikki, you just sounded like MacGyver…” Pete looked at her surprised with raised eyebrows.

Nikki lowered her eyes, just now realizing what kind of wording she had used.

“I know… yet somehow I know he´s in trouble… That he needs help.”

“Then go. Bring him back.” Pete nodded to her firmly. “Pavel is safe with me. Our flight to the U.S. is planned for midday. Until then I´ll stay here so you might reach me.”

Nikki instantly got to her feet, now focused on leaving quickly, but Pavel Dubcek rose up simultaneously, shrugged out of Mac´s leather jacket, and took off the black cap. He held the clothes and his hand out to Nikki.

“Thank you so much.” he addressed her. “And let Mr. MacGyver also know how grateful I am.”

Nikki shook his hand quickly.

“I will.” she replied curtly, left the room at once, and then headed back to the car with MacGyver´s jacket and cap in her arm.

*****

Since he had turned away from the river, MacGyver had only been able to move forward in a mixture of running, ducking, hiding and listening in order to avoid being spotted by Zorkin and Baranov. It had cost him quite some time, but thanks to their flashlights Mac had had a good idea of where they had been – most of the time. Yet he had also sensed that he was getting close to the border fence, so he had to be alert for trouble and danger on both sides.

Not quite an easy task, considering how weakened by his cold he felt by now. MacGyver was able to suppress the urge to cough mostly; nevertheless, the cold and hot shivers running through his body exhausted him. Staying concentrated took more and more effort from him.

After another couple of yards, MacGyver saw a clearing close to his position. He stopped hiding next to a huge tree and strained his eyes to see as much as possible of what lay ahead of him. All vegetation had been cut down to the ground several yards wide and at some distance to the trees even further away on the opposite side of the clearing, he could make out the barbed wire fence in the darkness. It was reaching along the cleared strip and momentarily halting his progress toward the true border.

The fence posts were about 4 yards high, looked like huge capital T´s, and were made out of concrete. Mac saw many rows of wire, and they were mounted way too close together to be able to slip through between them without risking serious injuries. Mac sighed and licked his lips nervously. He had no way of cutting these wires, no time and means of digging through under the fence, so his only option was climbing over the fence. No easy task thanks to the t-shaped posts. He was almost sure the fence was also equipped with wires that would signal any attempt to climb it to the nearest border patrol.

Instantly MacGyver´s mind started considering what he had at hand. Looking around the forest, he edged closer toward and sideways along the cleared strip, hoping to discover some fallen tree. He was abruptly broken out of his thoughts when one of his ankles got caught by something thin, but sturdy that snapped in the very next moment.

In the same split second adrenaline rushed into his veins and everything he had ever learned about mines since his days as a bomb disposal technician in Vietnam flashed into his mind. Mac only had time to drop to the ground and wrap his arms around his head when he already heard a sharp bang close by.

However in the next moment, he wasn´t painfully torn apart by the explosion of an anti-personnel mine as he had expected it, but heard a hissing sound and then another, but a softer bang. Then his surroundings were suddenly bathed in bright light. MacGyver saw the light shine between his arms and seconds later realized that he had unintentionally set off a signaling mine that gave away his location. Mac was truly relieved that he hadn´t been killed, but he knew he had to act real fast now. That signal had surely alerted Zorkin and Baranov as well as the border patrols.

MacGyver remained perfectly motionless as long as the chemical light flooded the area, but the second it had burned out, he got to his feet, retreated a little from the clearing, and ran sideways to his right. He quickly reached a bend in the fence from where on it led roughly westward. Once more referring to his mental map Mac rushed on for a couple of minutes and then came to a stop. He crouched down between the trees, thankful for a little more undergrowth in this part of the forest. Striving to calm down his labored and raspy breathing and fighting back some dizziness and shivering caused by his fever he listened intensely.

Have I gotten away fast enough? Or have I been spotted? Now that I´ve given away my presence, I´ve got no time to waste…

The current and most pressing problem at hand was still getting over that fence. MacGyver eyed the fence a little closer and tried to judge its dimensions more precisely. The concrete posts were about 11 or 12 feet high and the horizontal bar that formed the top of the ‘T’ was roughly 4 feet wide. He needed some kind of ladder to get on top of one of those T-posts; getting off it on the other side wouldn´t be that difficult, it would only take some guts and a little caution. MacGyver´s mind went to high speed as he looked around.

Now, where to get or how to fake a ladder within a few minutes?

Soon an idea formed in his head. Slowly he got up.

If I can find a suitable piece of wood… big and sturdy enough to take my weight, long enough to reach up to that horizontal beam, small enough for me to be able to move it…

Now his eyes scanned the surroundings for fallen trees. Careful not to set off any other signaling mines Mac searched around his current position and quickly found what he needed. A tree that had fallen not too long ago, its wood not rotten yet, the trunk about the same diameter as his forearm. The solid trunk was about 12 feet long and then parted into two strong branches, forming kind of a ‘Y’. Perfect.

Mac quickly kneeled down and tore off all the smaller branches close to the trunk. He found a stone with a sharp edge to it and used it to chop off the remaining roots at the bottom of the trunk. Then he turned to the two branches, measured them roughly, and cut them off with the help of the stone as well. When he put down the stone panting a little with the physical exertion, he let his gaze wander over the wood.

Not quite a ladder, but it will have to do…

He now had an oversized wooden ‘Y’, solid and about 16 or 17 feet long. Mac puffed out a breath. It wouldn´t feel like climbing a ladder, much more like a tightrope walk. Cautiously he checked his corridor to the fence for any tripwires but found none. He knew that as soon as he was out on the clearing, he would have to act fast and there wouldn´t be a way back anymore. The signaling mine a couple of minutes ago had to have alerted some border patrols. They couldn´t be too far away, and they would notice his attempt for sure.

MacGyver took a deep breath as another feverish wave of heat raced through his body and made him shudder in the cool nightly air. After it had passed, he bent down, picked up the huge wooden ‘Y’, and rushed into the clearing. Once again, his bruised shoulder protested wildly, but he managed to ignore it. Quickly he aligned the trunk with one of the posts, heaved up the forked end, and leaned the branches against the barbed wires to the left and right of the edge of the horizontal bar on top of it. With a little relief, he noticed that the barbed wire dug into the bark on both sides when he pulled down on the trunk to test if it would hold his weight, further securing his makeshift tree trunk ladder.

He eyed the angle it kept to the T-post briefly once more, and as soon as he trusted it to be safe and steady, MacGyver set out for climbing the tree up to the top of the concrete beam. Awkwardly moving up on his hands and feet, he felt kind of ape-like on the narrow wood. He was thankful for the rough bark that kept his sneakers from slipping off the rounded surface.

His hands had just reached the horizontal part of the concrete post when he heard a car in the distance. With alarm he noticed that it was closing in fast. MacGyver quickened his effort and, as soon as he had both hands and one foot secure on top of the T-post, he kicked the ladder away from the fence. He hurried to reach the other side of the beam and had just carefully grabbed the wire between the barbs with his right hand when the small 4x4 and its headlights came in sight.

A spotlight on top of the car caught him almost immediately crouching on top of the fence. Mac´s pulse and adrenaline level shot up another notch instantly. Without thinking another second about it, he half jumped, half swung off the post and to the other side of the fence while holding on to the post with his left hand. A sudden sting raced through his left shoulder and arm with the strain of hanging from it. He was still trying to stop his swing, when the patrol car slid to a halt, one of the guards jumped out, and shouted at him in a language, he didn´t understand. Mac did get the commanding tone though.

But as MacGyver didn´t react to him, or answer him right away, the border guard swiftly aimed his rifle at him. Mac saw it with alarm, yet there was little he could do about it. He posed a perfect target while he was dangling from the fence in mid-air. Hastily Mac tried to change his grip with his left hand to the wire, in order to be able to stop his swinging and to be able to let himself drop to the ground.

He heard the gunshot in almost the same blink of an eye that he felt it. A searing pain shot across his ribs at his right side, effectively setting his whole chest on fire and causing him to momentarily lose all strength and his grip with his right hand. The left one strove to hold on to the wire to prevent him from going down, but it touched something pointed and sharp that tore into his palm. Mac automatically flinched away from the sudden hurt and sensed himself falling uncontrolled as a result.

His feet reached the bottom first, and he stumbled and slipped on the rocky ground. Mac wanted to reach for his burning chest, took a staggering step backward, and without warning lost his footing because the ground abruptly declined behind his feet. Half sliding, half falling he went down the rocky slope that hadn´t been visible to him before in the darkness. The drop felt endless, but the impact on the ground came suddenly and drove the air out of MacGyver´s sore lungs.

Mac lay motionless and dazed for a moment before the throbbing ache in his right side revived him and reminded him of his desperate situation. He was still on Czechoslovakian soil; he still had to cross the river that marked the true border to make sure that the film and himself were safe. Then he could permit himself a break before he would head on to his secondary meeting point with Nikki. MacGyver fervently hoped that at least on her part of their mission everything had gone smooth.

His thoughts had lasted only seconds until he was forced back to the present by shouts from above. Mac still didn´t understand the words, but he got the urgency. Moaning he rolled over to his side and pushed himself up to his knees while he first felt for the film can and then the bullet wound. With a little relief, he noticed that the bullet had only grazed him, but left a deep bleeding gash. His left hand was also hurting and sticky with blood, and Mac wasn´t sorry that he couldn´t see the damage all too clearly in the darkness. He shook his head to clear the dizziness away and rose to his feet with the help of a tree.

Following the beeline, the Thaya couldn´t be more than a few hundred yards away. But he´d have to cross another hill to get to it. He had to get there before those border guards managed to reach his side of the fence and catch up with him. MacGyver took a quick look around to reorient himself and then hurried off southwards. He pushed back the pain and dizziness and ran through the forest with its huge rocks and undergrowth. The Thaya had carved its way through granite and slate throughout millions of years and went meandering between the hills; he just had to find it.

After a couple of minutes of running upward, Mac arrived at a slope that steeply reached down to the river. He could hear the water gurgling below more than he saw it. Though he was exhausted and hurting, that sound refueled his energies with sudden relief. On the opposite side of it was Austria. Safety. His pursuers were out of sight at the moment, so his chances of surviving this mission had increased.

MacGyver took a short break to calm his breath a little and then started his descent. He slid and stumbled over the rocky ground, more feeling than seeing his way down. Soon he reached the bank of the river and came to a halt again. The opposite slope was steep and rough terrain as well; the water in front of him rushed fast through the deep and rocky riverbed. Mac dropped to his knees next to the water´s edge, took a deep breath, and sighed.

Cold water… Once more… Aw man, do I really have to?

Another coughing fit sent his body shaking and waves of agony through his wounded chest, but he forced himself to get up again. MacGyver froze when he heard something rustling in the distance behind himself. He turned to see lights at the crest of the hill. They were still on his tail. Within the second all his senses and instincts were back on full alert. He shot the river another unwilling look, but quickly stepped into it. After three steps he had to switch to swimming, which wasn´t all too easy given the strong current of the river, the shock the icy coldness of the water had caused, and the pain in his chest.

His mind and body went into automated swimming and survival mode after a couple of strokes and pushed back his conscious mind. He fought his way through the waves although he was close to the limit of his physical strength. It felt endless until his hands touched the rocks on the opposite river bank. With some effort, he pulled himself up and out of the water, rolled over to his back, and lay still and panting for a few moments. He mechanically felt for the film roll still sticking to his skin and then for his bleeding wound. The cold water had numbed some of his pain, yet also drained a lot of his energy.

After a couple of deep breaths, MacGyver realized that he was still in a clearly visible location, but wasn´t willing to test if Zorkin and Baranov were either bold enough to shoot him right here or follow if they spotted him. He heard distant voices over the murmuring of the river. Gathering his last ounces of will, MacGyver pushed himself up, bit back a groan, and got to his feet. A little unsteady he set out to climb the shadowy and rocky slope leading up and away from the river. The minutes seemed to stretch until he reached the top and descended into the neighboring valley.

At least, I´m out of sight for now.

The forest grew more open on this side of the river, with old oak trees, huge granite rocks between them and only little undergrowth. More of the moonlight filtered through the trees and reached the ground, giving Mac a better impression of the area. High-grown, coarse grass covered the ground together with dried-up oak leaves. The leaves rustled as MacGyver moved forward, but he had not enough energy left to care about it. By now he was freezing due to his wet clothes, totally worn out, and desperately longed for some rest.

He glanced at his watch and noticed it was way past midnight. With this realization, his adrenaline level took a nosedive and his exhaustion, fever, pain and tiredness all caught up with him at once. Mac had to stop and steady himself with the help of a tree. His eyes scanned his surroundings for a possible hiding place that would allow him to take a break. His vision blurred momentarily, but he spotted a rock face close by and stumbled toward it. MacGyver headed for a thicket growing close to the rocks and collapsed to his knees as soon as he had reached his hideout.

Fighting against the shivering and the darkness creeping up inside him, he crawled into the space between thicket and rock face on his hands and knees before he allowed himself to stop and lie down. Somehow he knew that for now, he would be safe there. His secondary meeting point with Nikki was only a few miles away, and he had several hours left until he had to be there.

Enough time to take a short rest, MacGyver thought as he tried to pull himself a little closer to his cover. But the attempt sent a sharp, stabbing pain through his chest, caused him to drop to the ground gasping and coughing, and in the next moment the darkness inside took over. One arm still stretched out with his effort, his unconscious body went limp and motionless in the shadow of the rocks.


Posted by: Karenskatz 14 November 2021 - 08:45 AM
Hmmmm... Why do I get the feeling that his cold is going to turn into pneumonia before long? Also, having crossed them before, his two persuers will likely not let the fact that he's now outside their jurisdiction stop them going after Mac. He won't be entirely safe in Austria. And, they followed him to America once before; nothing to stop them following him home again, aside from having been deported, of course. Mac took an important prisoner away from them once already and I'm sure they realize by now that he's done it to them again.

Posted by: bluegirl 14 November 2021 - 10:54 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 14 November 2021 - 05:45 PM)
Hmmmm...  Why do I get the feeling that his cold is going to turn into pneumonia before long?  Also, having crossed them before, his two persuers will likely not let the fact that he's now outside their jurisdiction stop them going after Mac. He won't be entirely safe in Austria.  And, they followed him to America once before; nothing to stop them following him home again, aside from having been deported, of course.  Mac took an important prisoner away from them once already and I'm sure they realize by now that he's done it to them again.

Well, the border between pneumonia and serious cold is a bit fluid...

And if I would already comment on what Zorkin and Baranov are up to or capable of - I would spoil a lot of the reading experience still to come. There are 16 parts waiting to be posted... whistle.gif

But yes, safety is also something quite 'relative' to Mac... wink.gif and subject to quick changes hmm.bmp

Posted by: uniquelyjas 15 November 2021 - 12:20 PM
Excellent chapter, and indeed quite a bit of research, historical and otherwise. I think you are the geography queen!!
Oh, Mac is starting to rub off on Nikki as she's now listening to and beginning to follow her instincts. But she isn't wrong!!
Great action and description in this chapter. At lease Pavel and Pete are safe...at least for now! Poor Mac is really beat up and, of course, unconscious. I hope he wakes up in time to meet Nikki...I know he said he has several hours, but I'm still worried! I'd say at least the worst is behind him, meaning the agents, but there are too many chapters left!! LOL!!

Posted by: bluegirl 16 November 2021 - 12:15 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 15 November 2021 - 09:20 PM)
Excellent chapter, and indeed quite a bit of research, historical and otherwise. I think you are the geography queen!!
Oh, Mac is starting to rub off on Nikki as she's now listening to and beginning to follow her instincts. But she isn't wrong!!
Great action and description in this chapter. At lease Pavel and Pete are safe...at least for now! Poor Mac is really beat up and, of course, unconscious. I hope he wakes up in time to meet Nikki...I know he said he has several hours, but I'm still worried! I'd say at least the worst is behind him, meaning the agents, but there are too many chapters left!! LOL!!

The geographical research went well thanks to google earth even showing old satellite pictures from the late 80´s... the historical research thanks to my partner... he´s been serving in the Austrian army quite some time and helped me with details concerning signaling mines, weapons used by the Czech at the time and that kind of stuff...

But is the worst really behind him???

Posted by: Karenskatz 17 November 2021 - 02:07 AM
When you're living with a treasure trove of information like that, It would be a shame not to make use of it! happy.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 18 November 2021 - 12:15 AM
Thanks for all the positive and encouraging feedback!

user posted image

Just to give you an idea of how the area, where Mac 'got lost', looks like...

But I said something about safety being relative... and expect someone unexpected to provide some help...

So here we go:

Part 6


Nikki had driven back north as fast as she could afford without drawing attention. Fortunately, away from the city, there was only little traffic in the middle of the night. She had reached the small village, which she and Mac had agreed on as a backup meeting point in good time. A glance at her watch told her that it was just past 2 a.m. and she suddenly realized how tired she was. Until now she hadn´t fully noticed how long and exhausting her day had been. But her inner tension kept her going.

As she slowly drove through the dark town, looking out for any sign of MacGyver and searching for their meeting point, she felt very alone. No people on the streets, the houses dark, and many of the small back roads weren´t even equipped with street lights. This part of the Austrian countryside felt a lot different than the one they had passed through in the morning. It seemed old, kind of otherworldly, as if special energies were at work here. And it felt secluded, almost isolated, although it was only a couple of miles away from the inviting, beautiful landscapes she had seen during their first drive due north.

The eerie feeling this village gave her only intensified, the longer she let the sedan roll through the town on her search for MacGyver. Soon she had driven along every single road of the town twice and found no trace of him. Nikki was truly worried by now. She tried to convince herself that she didn´t need to be as their meeting was scheduled for the early morning, and that Mac had probably just found a comfortable and suitable hiding place to spend the night until then, but she wasn´t all too successful in calming herself. Something had gone wrong; in some way, she knew it.

Nikki found a shadowy spot on a side road to park the rental car, turned off engine and lights, and readied herself mentally for waiting, again. She had a good view of their meeting point, but her being there was hidden well by the darkness. By now, the padded leather seats of the high-end sedan didn´t feel too comfortable anymore. But Nikki kept scanning the lonely street with her eyes, striving to stay alert and awake.

After a couple of minutes, she held her breath as she suddenly saw someone nearing their meeting place. At first, she didn´t recognize the man in the dimness of the few street lights, but she froze when she noticed that he wasn´t alone. Instinctively she slid down in her seat to conceal her presence even further. Moments later, when the two men paused next to the opposite corner, she got a good look at their faces.

Zorkin and Baranov.

Nikki´s pulse shot up. How could those two be here already, most probably looking for MacGyver, if he wasn´t anywhere in sight? Glancing cautiously over the dashboard she observed the GRU agents talking about something she couldn´t hear from her hideout. Then they walked off to a parked car and drove away.

Nikki slowly straightened herself in the seat and took a deep breath. Now what? She still had the advantage of knowing them, whereas those two agents weren´t familiar with her face. But how could she put that fact to use? How would she be able to warn MacGyver about them? How could she possibly get to him first, when she had no clue to where he was?

Nikki sat still, staring at the now empty crossroad and into the darkness beyond it, and desperately tried to come up with a solution for minutes, when suddenly someone knocked softly on the car´s window right next to her. She had been so focused on the street in front of her that she hadn´t noticed the man walking up from behind. It almost made her jump out of her skin, but when she turned to see who was there, she froze with surprise. Like in slow motion she relaxed and then turned to open the door of the car, still staring bewildered at the man in front of her.

“Starkoss?” she asked. “How on earth…”

The rotund, grey-haired Russian smiled at her kindly, just as she remembered it from her mission to East Germany almost a year ago. Nikki didn´t finish her question, because she didn´t know what to ask first. Too many questions popped up in her head.

“How I came here is a long story.” he told her. “But we don´t have time for it now. First, we´ve got to help our friend.”

Nikki was speechless for seconds, but then swallowed and took a deep breath. Why was he here? How could he possibly know about all her being here? Or their assignment? There had been no connection whatsoever from the GRU agents to him… Or was he back in the Russian intelligence service? Could he be trusted anyway?

“What are you talking about?” Nikki asked cautiously, trying not to give away anything. She´d been astonished by his abilities last year and still didn´t know what to make of him.

“MacGyver won´t turn up here.” Starkoss stated with a now serious face. “He can´t. We need to help him.”

Nikki gaped at him in surprise and worry after those words.

“What happened to him?” she demanded. “Do you know where Mac is?”

“I couldn´t see all the details.” Starkoss replied with an apologetic shrug. “But I can help you find him.”

Nikki nodded, partly beginning to trust his words.

“Get inside.” she offered and gestured to the passenger door. Starkoss straightened himself, took a step back, but didn´t move around the sedan.

“No.” he said. “We need to leave this car behind. It´s way too noticeable for the neighborhood. We won´t get far before we´d stand out.”

Nikki considered his words for a moment and eyed him probing. It seemed as if he knew his way around here. She might have to rely on him. Right now, he was the only lead she had to MacGyver…

“All right.” she agreed with a frown. “But how do we get to him?”

“We´ll take your bags with us and take my car.” Starkoss advised. “It´s more suitable for the surroundings and the terrain.” He stepped aside to allow Nikki enough room.

Nikki took the keys from the ignition lock after a short moment of hesitation and got out of the car. In the meantime, Starkoss went to the trunk, opened it, retrieved Mac´s duffle from it, and handed Nikki´s bag to her. Nikki took a second to lock up the sedan and then turned to Starkoss with a questioning look.

“Where to?”

Starkoss gestured for her to come with him, then turned to the dark side street and walked off without another word. Nikki had no choice but to follow him. Starkoss led her away from the main street, around two corners into one of the unlit back roads. He approached an old battered VW minibus and opened the sliding side door. When he placed MacGyver´s bag behind the front seats, Nikki noticed that the bus had no seats except for the front row, more like a transporter. She put her bag next to Mac´s and looked at Starkoss expectantly.

“We need to hurry. Get inside.” the older man told her, while he closed the side door and went over to the driver´s side.

Thousands of questions were flashing through Nikki´s head but she knew that now was not the time to ask them. She quickly got into the passenger seat and observed how Starkoss started the engine and drove off. Her concern for MacGyver was back on top and her tiredness was gone due to the adrenaline rush that Starkoss´s sudden appearance has caused. Soon she found herself staring out to dark, unfamiliar roads and realized that she had no idea where Starkoss was taking her. She could only hope and trust that his motives were earnest.

“Starkoss, where are we going?” she abruptly asked the most pressing questions on her mind. “And what do you know about all this?”

She turned to look at him probing and noticed that his concentration wasn´t completely on the street. He seemed to be following some inner feel. Starkoss needed a moment until he responded.

“I know that our friend is in trouble… I know that those GRU agents chose to look for him in the villages after they had lost his trail soon after he had crossed the border fence… I know they are willing to kill for what he carries…” he sighed. “Hopefully we can get to him before they start searching the region closer to the border.”

They had left the town minutes ago and now Starkoss turned off the paved street to a forest road. He had to slow down because of the potholes and the unevenness of the road, but kept a steady pace. Nikki observed silently how he never hesitated on which direction was to take when the road forked or at crossings. Something told her not to disturb his concentration once more, while he drove roughly due north, deeper into the forest.

But how on earth, why on earth did he know about Zorkin and Baranov? How could he know about the intel Mac hopefully had been able to retrieve? What did he know about Mac being in trouble?

Another couple of minutes later Nikki was torn out of her thoughts as she saw the road ending in front of them in the headlights of the minibus. Starkoss let the VW come to stop, bent down and picked up a flashlight from behind the seats. He held it out to Nikki. When she took it from him with a questioning look, he gestured outwards to where the trees began in front of the bus.

“Follow the rock face along the small valley upwards.” he instructed her. “You´ll have to go past the slope. There you will find MacGyver.”

Nikki eyed him questioning, still a little unsure if accompanying him had been a good idea.

“Now go! Quick!” he urged her on, when Nikki didn´t react at once. “I will stay with the bus and make sure that we can leave as soon as you return with him.”

Nikki shot the direction Starkoss had pointed to another hesitant look and then got out of the minibus. The dark forest in front of her reminded her that it was the middle of the night and that she hadn´t slept for a very long time, but with the tension, she now felt inside, there was no room for sleepiness. Grateful that she had chosen casual clothing this morning, with jeans, jogging shoes, and a sweat jacket, to better match Mac´s usual outfit, Nikki turned on the flashlight and walked off towards the rock face Starkoss had told her to follow.

Her thoughts went back to last year while she carefully made her way through the trees. Some secluded forest, darkness in the middle of the night, and she´d been separated from MacGyver. There were certain similarities. Last year she had given in quickly to believing that Starkoss had ‘special abilities’, whereas Mac had chided her for it and remained skeptical. Last year all had worked out fine thanks to Mac´s crazy idea of building a hot-air balloon. But what had happened to Starkoss since he had left them as soon as they had crossed the border? How could he turn up here, out of the blue?

Her concentration was forced back to the ground ahead of her as she reached a rocky slope along the cliff she´d been following a couple of moments later. Waving the beam of the flashlight in front of her she hurriedly climbed upward between the huge rocks and the old trees. She stopped for a moment at the top of the slope and reoriented herself.

The moon cast long shadows on the ground of the open forest she faced. She scanned around herself with the light beam as she slowly stepped forward. Starkoss had told her, she´d find MacGyver after she´d passed some slope, and all her senses were on high alert. It was perfectly quiet up here. The only thing to hear were her own steps rustling through the high-grown grass and the dried-up leaves on the ground.

Nikki sighed as the realization of how strange her situation was hit home. Alone in some unfamiliar dark forest, following the information a Russian psychic had provided her with.

Drawing a deep breath and straightening herself, she fought back her worries and focused on her search. If MacGyver had been in trouble, as Starkoss had put it, he had probably gone hiding up here… But where?

Nikki turned to all sides, kept the flashlight in front of her and tried to imagine what Mac might have chosen as a shelter. When she waved the light over some bushes close to the rock face, she noticed something tiny blinking through the coarse grass. Intrigued, but not knowing if it had anything to do with Mac, unable to see any detail yet, Nikki stepped closer to that little blinking thing.

She was still several feet away when she recognized it as a golden ring on a limp and bloodstained hand. Her stomach turned into a tight knot, she drew in a sharp breath and rushed forward.

“MacGyver!” she called out as the flashlight caught on part of his tousled, golden-brown hair. “Mac!”

Alarmed Nikki saw that he didn´t react to her shout, didn´t move even a bit. With the help of the light she was able to make out his whole lying form, quickly crawled between the thicket and Mac and crouched down next to him. MacGyver was lying half on his right side, half on his front, his right arm folded under himself while his left arm was stretched out, preventing Nikki from seeing his face. Luckily, the light had reflected off the fake wedding ring on his left hand and had caught her eye.

She got a quick overview of his motionless body with the flashlight and then cautiously touched him at the shoulder. She felt him breathing shallow and shivering. His clothes were damp and cold.

“MacGyver?” she tried again, but still got no response. Nikki shook him softly. “Mac?”

Nothing.

Her pulse and concern shot up. A sudden icy cold spread through her. Nikki laid the flashlight aside directed at Mac, so it would still allow her to see, but she would be able to use both of her hands. Then she cautiously pulled back Mac´s left arm to get a look at his face. What she found was pale and covered with sweat. She realized, she would have to turn him around to be able to better assess his condition. Nikki took a deep breath to steel herself for whatever she might be about to see. The bloodstains on his hands made her anxious. Then she slowly pulled and pushed his shoulder up and back to gain access to his front side.

*****

MacGyver´s mind was confused at first. In the silence that surrounded him when he regained consciousness, he had no clue to how long he´d been out. But in the next moment, as he remembered the dire situation he´d been in, he felt someone hold on to his bruised left shoulder and push at it, trying to turn him around. The alarm about not knowing who was next to him hit him in the same second as the pain from all his injuries returned and flooded his senses.

Mac groaned in agony, his body stiffened and turned away from the hands holding him. Instinctively he tried to get up and raised his arms to fend off whoever was there before he hadn´t even opened his eyes. The hands left his shoulder but quickly caught his wrists. At the same time, he heard a familiar female voice call out to him.

“Mac, stop it! … It´s me! It´s Nikki… Look at me!”

With his body still tense and ready to fight, Mac forced his eyes open and squinted at the unexpected brightness of the flashlight pointing at him. Slowly Nikki´s face came into focus.

“Nikki?” he breathed hoarsely and unbelieving.

“Yes, Mac. It´s okay.” she reassured him. “I´m here to help you.”

MacGyver puffed out the breath he´d been holding and allowed his body to relax and drop back to the ground. When Nikki released his wrists, his arms also fell down weak. He tried to calm down his labored breathing, but instantly went into a coughing fit that made him curl up on his side with the burning ache it caused to his chest and his side. Nikki´s hands were back fast; one at the back of his shoulder, the other one on the top of his head, trying to comfort him.

When he had settled down, Nikki encouraged him to roll over to his back with gentle force. MacGyver raised his right hand to cover his eyes as shivers ran up and down his body. His breathing was still ragged. He felt Nikki turn around his left hand and spread out his fingers. Mac winced as the tears in his palm were painfully pulled apart. He heard Nikki draw in a sharp breath and then apologize to him.

“I´m sorry.”

Mac nodded silently and ran his right hand through his hair. He looked up to watch Nikki how she rested his hand on her lap and reached for her scarf. She rolled it up lengthwise, wrapped it around Mac´s palm, pulled it tight and tied a knot around his wrist. MacGyver bit back a moan and winced again.

“Sorry.” Nikki said once more. “But that´s still bleeding. We need to stop that.”

When she examined him further, Nikki quickly noticed the tear in his shirt, cautiously pulled the fabric away and felt that it was wet and sticky with blood. She froze for a moment when her eyes caught on the deep gash across his ribs. Then she looked up at Mac and saw the pained grimace on his face. He bit his lower lip to keep another moan from escaping.

“Bullet graze?” she asked.

MacGyver turned his head a little and his dark and exhausted eyes found Nikki´s.

“Yeah.” he answered hoarsely. “Crossing the border fence was kind of a tight matter.”

A faint smile played around his lips for a moment. Nikki returned the smile but it stayed concerned.

“There´s also still blood seeping out of it.” she told him worried. “But I don´t have anything with me to cover that wound.”

MacGyver waited out another round of shivers and struggled to keep his focus on Nikki.

“Should have stopped by now.” he replied through painfully clenched teeth. “Probably caused by the aspirin.”

Nikki raised her eyebrows questioning as she reached up, brushed back his sweat-matted hair and then laid the hand on his forehead. She had seen him trembling, but only now noticed how high his temperature was.

“You´re running a high fever.” she opposed. “The effects of the aspirin have obviously worn off.”

MacGyver weakly shook his head.

“Only the short time ones…” he automatically explained with a breaking voice. “Aspirin slows down blood coagulation for several days…”

Mac had to close his eyes and went coughing again. Nikki watched him, while she stroked over his unruly hair and then gently cupped his cheek in her hand in an attempt to help stabilize Mac´s head. Suddenly an important thought crossed MacGyver´s mind and he forced his eyes open and concentrated on her.

“Nikki, where´s Pavel Dubcek?” he asked tensely.

“Safe with Pete in Vienna.” Nikki assured him. “We crossed the border according to your instructions and after I had taken him to Pete, I came back to look for you.”

Mac nodded weakly. He took a moment to gather a little energy, then opened a few buttons of his shirt, slid his right hand inside and tore the film can off his skin. Nikki quickly grabbed his shaking hand into both of hers and wanted to take the film from him, but Mac didn´t let go of it yet.

“This film… shows all the documents.” he told her between shivers, still with a croaking voice. “That´s the other part… of what we came for… you must take this to Pete as well… it´s important.”

His eyes were pleading and demanding at the same time, and Nikki´s face grew serious.

“I will, MacGyver.” she responded with an earnest expression. “I promise.”

Nikki felt his grip loosen as he now allowed her to take the film can from his hand. Mac watched closely how she stuffed the duct tape-wrapped film can into the inner pocket of her jacket and only then let go of his tension.

His hand dropped down, and his eyes closed again while he was striving to calm down his labored breathing. Nikki´s slender hand returned to his forehead, then to his cheek. It felt pleasantly cool on his heated skin. Somehow it helped him keep his focus on surviving in his feverish, dizzy, and agonized condition. It eased his headache a bit and he leaned a little into her touch.

“Mac?” he heard her address him. “We need to get you out of here.”

MacGyver blinked his eyes open and found her concerned face.

“Can you get up?” Nikki continued when she felt she had his attention. “Can you walk?”

MacGyver needed a moment to assess himself after her question.

“Don´t know.” he answered with a weak and apologetic smile.

Nikki returned the smile but sighed.

“That wasn´t really meant to be a question.” she said. “You know, I can´t carry you.”

“Oh.” Mac raised his eyebrows in understanding and nodded with a weak grin. “Too bad.”

“We don´t have to go very far.” Nikki added with a glance to the direction she had come from, encouraging him. “Down that slope and a few minutes through the forest to the car.”

MacGyver nodded again and took a deep breath to brace himself for that task. It would be painful and he wasn´t sure if he still had enough energy left. Just to remain lying here seemed so much easier. But he knew, he had to. He badly needed medical help. Fast.

Nikki leaned over him and wrapped his right arm around her shoulders and neck.

“Hold on.” she advised while she slid one hand under his shoulder and grabbed onto his right wrist with the other one. “Ready?”

MacGyver drew in another deep breath, held it, and nodded once more.

“Yeah… you know me… always prepared.” he joked feebly at the tense situation.

Nikki couldn´t help but smile for a moment.

In the next, the simple movement of pushing himself off the ground, of sitting up sent a sharp flash of agony through MacGyver´s right side, and caused his body to stiffen instantly. He groaned, tightened his hold on Nikki and buried his face at her shoulder as soon as he was sitting upright. Nikki gave him a few seconds to recover before she grabbed onto his belt and urged him to get on his feet.

Mac had to lean on her when he was standing, but managed to concentrate on the direction that she had indicated earlier. He hadn´t noticed when she had pocketed the flashlight, however now she let go of his wrist, pulled it out and pointed the light beam in front of them.

“Let´s go.” she almost ordered him while her left hand kept a firm grip on his belt around his back.

Mac had no choice but to follow her movement. He tried hard to distract himself by keeping his eyes and his concentration on the way ahead; nevertheless, every step jarred his right side and his wound where it was pressed against Nikki´s body. By the time they had reached the bottom of the slope, Mac was worn out. When they passed a large boulder, he held on to it with his left hand and stopped.

“Nikki...” he breathed. “Wait… I need to take a break.”

When Nikki stopped with him, he leaned against the rock with his back and let go of his hold on her. Mac instantly covered the gash on his side with his hand and bent over a little. Nikki observed him closely, while he took one deep breath after another, but couldn´t stop himself from coughing in between. She laid a comforting hand on his shoulder and could feel him trembling with the strain.

“Would it be easier if you held on to me with your left arm?” she asked with concern.

“I don´t think, I could with the bruised shoulder and the torn hand.” he replied with a low voice while he shook his head, still concentrated on his inside. After a couple of moments, he was able to push back the exhaustion and the throbbing in his chest a bit. When he slowly, gingerly straightened himself and looked at Nikki standing in front of him in the dark forest, a sudden thought popped into his mind.

If the car is parked that close… how did she know where to go looking for me? Myself, I only had a rough idea of where I was when I collapsed up there…

“Nikki, how did you know where to find me?”

Nikki took a deep breath. Now, how could she explain that?

“With a little help from a friend.” she admitted.

“You´ve got a friend around here?” Mac raised his eyebrows surprised.

“No… we have.” Nikki shook her head with a little smile.

Now confusion added to Mac´s surprised expression.

“What? … I don´t know…”

“You´ll see in a few minutes.” Nikki cut him off. She chose to let the situation explain itself. As soon as he´ll see Starkoss, he´ll understand, she thought to herself. “Now, come on.” she continued aloud. “We´d better get going again.”

She reached out to offer her help. MacGyver sighed, hesitated for a moment, but then gave in and wrapped his arm around her shoulders once more. Noticing how willingly he relied on her support made Nikki worry even more about MacGyver´s condition. She had seen him sick and wounded before, but never that bad. She could feel the feverish heat radiating from his body as they walked on. She could feel his usually strong body being unsteady and shaking because of fever, pain, and exhaustion. She could feel him getting weaker with every step. She had to get him medical help – the sooner, the better.

With gentle force, she urged him on toward the end of the forest road, where she had left Starkoss. Soon she got a glimpse at the VW minibus through the trees. Starkoss had already turned it around to be able to take off at once and was waiting next to it. When he heard them making their way through the woods, he turned and quickly came towards Mac and Nikki. MacGyver had slowed down a little as he´d seen the minibus instead of their rental sedan and stopped abruptly in the second he recognized the man hurrying closer.

“How on earth…?” he muttered more to himself.

“He came up to me and offered his help when I was searching the village for you.” Nikki explained to MacGyver.

Mac stared at the older man baffled as Starkoss walked up to his left side and took hold of Mac´s left forearm. MacGyver hadn´t counted on seeing him ever again after they had said goodbye almost one year ago. But here he was… How? Why?

“That´s a long story, my friend.” Starkoss answered the questions on Mac´s mind with a kind smile. “I´ll tell you once you´ve recovered, but for now, just let me help you.”

MacGyver only nodded silently. With Starkoss now steadying him on his left side, Mac could loosen his hold on Nikki´s shoulders, which lessened the pressure on his chest wound a lot. Yet the dizziness he had felt since Nikki had awakened him had turned into a full-blown vertigo by now. The trees and the ground seemed to be moving around him while they approached the old VW. Focusing his eyes got more and more difficult.

“I think, you´d better lie down behind the seats.” Starkoss suggested while he opened the sliding side door.

He grabbed a blanket, quickly spread it out on the floor of the minibus and then motioned for MacGyver to get inside. With Nikki´s assistance, Mac climbed into the vehicle and, with a relieved sigh, lay down on his back. When Nikki turned to Starkoss, he was already standing beside her with the first aid kit in his hands.

MacGyver closed his eyes, while Nikki opened up his shirt to be able to take care of his bullet wound. He barely reacted as she cleaned it up a little, covered it securely with a dressing, and also switched the scarf around his hand for a suitable bandage. He was too occupied with trying to breathe regularly, dealing with his exhaustion, and fighting back the vertigo. He knew that his injuries weren´t all too serious, but combined with the fever probably caused by the cold and the strain of having to flee and run through the woods for hours, it left him feeling really lousy. He was wasted. He desperately longed for some rest, for some sleep.

Moments after Nikki was done, Mac´s concentration was caught by a large hand placed firmly on his forehead. Only seconds later he felt a bit of a pleasant coolness spreading through his body and sensed his pain lessen a little. MacGyver relaxed his tense body thanks to that feeling, but was also intrigued by how it could be possible. He forced his eyes open, and his questioning look was met by Starkoss´s concerned smile.

“Better?” the older man asked.

MacGyver nodded weakly but kept up his puzzled gaze silently.

“I can´t take away all of the pain.” Starkoss added with an apologetic shrug. “But I can make it a little easier for you.”

Mac nodded again. Suddenly it didn´t seem too important anymore how Starkoss had managed to do it. He just appreciated how much more comfortable he felt.

“Thanks.” Mac said with a feeble smile.

In the meantime, Nikki had retrieved a bottle of water from her bag and returned to Mac´s side.

“Thirsty?” she wanted to know.

Starkoss slowly and carefully pulled back his hand and moved aside to allow Nikki more room. MacGyver´s eyes switched first to Nikki´s face and then caught on the bottle in her hand.

“Yeah.” he replied, lifted his head a little, and started to push himself up.

Nikki quickly moved closer to his side and assisted him by wrapping one arm around his shoulders. She steadied him when she felt him sway a little as soon as he was sitting upright.

MacGyver took the offered bottle from her and instantly opened it. Due to the chase that had lasted hours and the high fever he felt parched. He swallowed the water in large gulps, savoring the feel of the cool liquid running down his sore throat.

“Careful, Mac.” He heard Nikki from behind. “Mind your weakened circulation.”

MacGyver put down the half-emptied bottle out of breath. Only a moment later the cool water in his stomach made him shudder. He felt Nikki take the bottle from his hands, grab on onto his shoulders and cautiously pull him back a little until he was leaning against her. Suddenly everything seemed to be moving around him again. Mac´s breath quickened, and he had to close his eyes.

“We´d better get going.” He heard Nikki say.

“Keep him warm.” Starkoss replied and then the sliding door was closed.

Abruptly Mac felt trapped in the unfamiliar bus. Out of survival instinct, without thinking about it, he tried to rise and get up.

“Don´t, Mac!” Nikki called out to him and tightened her hold on him. “It´s okay… Calm down!”

Nikki´s voice drew him out of his sudden feverish fright; his dark eyes darted around the minibus and finally found Nikki´s worried face. He hesitated when Nikki tried to lower him.

“It´s all right.” Nikki continued. “You´re safe… I´m just trying to make you comfortable.”

Slowly MacGyver relaxed and nodded. He sank back against Nikki and felt her wrap one arm around him while the other one reached out for a blanket and covered him with it. Cautiously she adjusted her position until Mac´s upper body was lying on her lap and his head resting against her arm. He knew the closeness of her body should have helped him getting warmer but he couldn´t stop the shivers running over him.

MacGyver fought to calm down his labored breathing and keep his focus on Nikki, but bit by bit felt exhaustion and dizziness take over. Then Starkoss started the engine and took off. The movement of the minibus on the uneven road jarred the wound on his side over and over again, and Mac bit back a moan with almost every pothole. After a few minutes, he allowed his eyes to close and instantly felt Nikki´s free hand touch his forehead and stroke back his sweat-matted hair.

“Is it bearable?”

Mac could hear how much it troubled her to watch him like this.

“Are you all right?”

Mac managed to blink his eyes open with quite an effort and looked up at her.

“No… but I´ll live.” he replied with a breaking voice between shivers. “I just need to rest, Nikki.”

He tried to reassure her with a faint smile but instantly knew that his attempt hadn´t convinced her. Heck, it hasn´t even convinced me…, he thought wearily.

MacGyver strove to keep his eyes locked on her face but with the next hole, an intense sting shot across his chest. His body stiffened abruptly, he drew in a sharp breath and couldn´t suppress a short, painful groan. He felt Nikki tighten her hold on him but it was the last thing he noticed. His strength was spent, darkness and vertigo took over and he passed out only a moment later.

Nikki´s worries spiked when she saw Mac´s eyes close and felt his body go limp. Nevertheless, she suppressed the urge to try and wake him again, knowing very well that as long as he was unconscious he wouldn´t feel the pain. While she observed Mac´s pale, sweat-covered face, she fervently hoped that the hospital, Starkoss was driving to, wasn´t too far away.

Minutes later the minibus reached the paved road, much to Nikki´s relief. She sensed how Starkoss increased their speed, yet soon afterward, before they had even reached the village, he turned onto another dirt road. Nikki was instantly alarmed.

“Starkoss, what are you doing?” she called out to the older man. “Mac needs a doctor as fast as possible.”

“I know.” Starkoss replied calmly.

“Well, I don´t believe that the closest hospital is somewhere in the middle of a forest!” Nikki shot back.

“I´m not taking you to a hospital.” Starkoss answered firm.

“What?” Nikki couldn´t believe what she had heard. “But I trusted you! MacGyver needs help quickly. He went unconscious again!”

“He will get help.” Starkoss assured her. “But taking you to a hospital would be like telling those GRU agents about where to find you both. They´re still after him, remember?”

“Of course.” Nikki argued. “But by now, I´ve got the information he carried. They don´t know about me.”

“So they also don´t know that he doesn´t have it anymore.” Starkoss sighed. “Are you willing to leave him behind again? … Alone in any given hospital? … Because of the information you carry now? … When you know that those agents are close?”

Nikki was rendered speechless for a moment. She looked down on MacGyver´s unconscious form in her arms. He had a point.

“No.” she admitted. “I wouldn´t leave him behind once more.”

Silently she confessed to herself that at the moment she cared more about Mac´s well-being and survival than about taking the documents he had handed her to Pete and thereby completing their mission objective. Even if she had known for sure that someone else would take good care of MacGyver, she felt she had to stay at his side.

“I know a place where to hide you both until he has recovered.” Starkoss´s words drew her concentration back to him. “A good friend of mine is a doctor. He will take care of MacGyver… trust me, he´ll be all right.”

Nikki´s gaze was still fixed on MacGyver. I sure hope, I can trust him, she thought. You´re relying on me… Your life is at stake…

From where she was sitting on the floor of the VW, she couldn´t see much of the landscape Starkoss was driving through. The only thing she noticed in the dark were trees, huge, old, and a lot of them. After several, long minutes she felt the minibus stop. She straightened herself a little as she felt Starkoss get out of the car.

“I´ll be right back.” he told her quickly.

Nikki assessed MacGyver´s condition once more, felt for his pulse on his neck, and was relieved to find it fast, but strong and steady.

A few minutes later Starkoss returned and opened the side door. Nikki got a first good look at their surroundings.

They were on a clearing enclosed by old trees and close to a house that also seemed to be very old. Its walls were sturdy and thick; the windows relatively small. The single-story house seemed to duck onto a slope right at the edge of the forest. Starkoss had obviously been inside and turned on some lights. He noticed Nikki´s probing gaze at the house.

“This is where I live.” he explained. “Long ago it used to be a farmhouse.”

Nikki nodded and returned her focus to MacGyver.

“What now?” she asked.

“I just called my friend. He is already on his way.” the older man told her. “In the meantime, we should take him inside and make him comfortable.”

Posted by: uniquelyjas 18 November 2021 - 10:37 AM
First of all, thanks so much for posting that picture!! It certainly is a lovely area...if you're not sick with a cold, a bum shoulder and a bullet wound!!

Yay!! Starkoss!! Major GX-1 flashbacks!!! Very neat idea to bring him in to help Nikki...and for Nikki to trust him. Seems as though Nikki's feelings for Mac a growing a bit...first she trusts Starkoss and then she realizes she would stay with Mac at a hospital (or wherever) rather than get the documents to safety. Oh my!! Is there something in the wind or is it just the extreme stress she's under and seeing Mac in such bad physical shape?? Hmmmm. Oh well, at least they have "relative" safety...sorry, not sure if I trust Starkoss's home. I trust HIM, but those GRU agents keep turning up!! Oh, and your descriptions of Mac's injuries now have ME wincing!! LOL!! Very nice chapter! I hope Mac has a speedy and uneventful recovery!!

Posted by: bluegirl 20 November 2021 - 05:43 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 18 November 2021 - 07:37 PM)
First of all, thanks so much for posting that picture!!  It certainly is a lovely area...if you're not sick with a cold, a bum shoulder and a bullet wound!!

Seems as though Nikki's feelings for Mac a growing a bit...first she trusts Starkoss and then she realizes she would stay with Mac at a hospital (or wherever) rather than get the documents to safety.  Oh my!!  Is there something in the wind or is it just the extreme stress she's under and seeing Mac in such bad physical shape??  Hmmmm.

I hope Mac has a speedy and uneventful recovery!!

Well, the area known as 'Waldviertel' was and still is a sleepy and otherworldly one in Austria. Full of special places and people. Suits Starkoss very well and is one of the regions in Austria where you could 'get lost' at the time... and probably still can.

Nikki´s feelings for Mac growing? Something in the wind? Let me just say that he IS in bad shape... and that she cares about him isn´t all too new... (see 'The Widowmaker'?)

Uneventful recovery??? roller.gif This is MacGyver we´re talking about! roller.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 21 November 2021 - 04:47 AM
All right... Sunday again! Time to post a new chapter!

Part 7


Silence.

Then a dry wave of heat hit him like a desert wind. But somehow that dry heat seemed to come from inside his body. The next thing MacGyver noticed through his woozy mind was a cool, damp cloth touching his forehead, his cheeks, his lips, and his neck. He felt the moisture on his chapped lips, realized how dried out his mouth was, and automatically licked his lips.

Those few, precious drops of water made him try to breathe deeper and to swallow, but that instantly sent him coughing. The coughing fit left his body shaking, and a sharp pain crossed his chest. His sore throat and lungs were throbbing with the strain it caused. He moaned and sensed a cool and slender hand touch his forehead, then cup his cheek in an attempt to steady his head.

“Shh, MacGyver… easy… take it slow…” a familiar female voice addressed him.

It took some effort from him to regain control over his breath and still it felt restricted. Slowly he turned his head a little towards that voice and noticed that he was lying on his back on something soft, probably a bed, and was covered with a warm blanket. His injuries had been cared for and were bandaged.

But the memories in his foggy mind were jumbled and blurred; he couldn´t really remember what had happened and how he´d gotten here. Wherever here was…

A bright lightning bolt accompanied by instant thunder roaring flashed before his still closed eyes and the thunder was followed up by the sharp bang of a gunshot in the darkness. His labored breathing quickened with those pictures and in the next moment, he winced as the damp cloth was suddenly back on his forehead.

“Calm down, Mac.” the voice said softly. “It´s okay… you´re safe.”

MacGyver tried to concentrate on that voice and cling to the feeling of the hands on his face. He leaned a little into the touch on his cheek and blinked his eyes open. It took a couple of moments to get his eyes to focus and even then, he saw Nikki´s face only through a haze. She smiled at him, took the cloth away, yet held the contact to his cheek.

“Hey, MacGyver.” she greeted him. “Good to see your eyes again.”

“Nikki… hey.” Mac answered hoarsely.

A lot of questions whirled through his confused and feverish mind. His eyes left Nikki´s face and darted around the dimly lighted, unfamiliar room. His body stiffened, and he tried to sit up with the realization that he didn´t recognize his surroundings.

“Where…” he started to ask, but was cut off by Nikki.

“Shh. Stay still, Mac.”

Her second hand was quickly back and easily held him down at his shoulder.

“You´re safe here.” she repeated. “This is Starkoss´ house.”

A wave of dizziness washed over Mac, and he realized, he was too weak to sit up and relaxed into Nikki´s hold. His head sank back onto the pillow and his eyes locked on to Nikki again. Staying concentrated on her drained a lot of his energy.

“But what…” he tried to ask but was silenced by Nikki once more.

“Shh. Not now.” she said gently. “You´re still running a high fever. You need to rest.”

MacGyver nodded weakly. In his woozy mind, he couldn´t hold on to a clear thought anyway at the moment.

“Thirsty?” Nikki wanted to know.

MacGyver´s unsteady gaze cleared up a little. That was one thing he was sure about.

“Yeah.” he croaked and nodded again.

Nikki´s hand left his cheek and stroked back his tousled and damp hair.

“I´ll get you something.”

Mac´s eyes followed her as she got up from the chair at his bedside and took a few steps to a table close by. She poured some warm liquid from a pot into a mug and then returned to him. Mac lifted his head off the pillow again and had just started to push himself up, when Nikki´s arm was already there around his shoulders to help and to hold him.

Mac took the mug with his right hand, but Nikki didn´t let go of it completely. Her hand stayed there to steady him and to help him drink. Somehow the smell and the taste of the herbal tea seemed distantly familiar to him as if he had tasted it earlier. The warm liquid soothed his sore throat and made him relax almost instantly.

“That´s bitter.” he complained feebly after he had emptied the mug and laid down again.

“You´ve told me that before.” Nikki answered with a smile and set down the mug on the nightstand.

“Before?” Mac echoed hoarsely and raised his eyebrows questioning.

“It´s been about a whole day since we´ve brought you here.” Nikki explained while her face went serious. “You´ve been in and out of consciousness and at times delirious because of the fever. I figured, that you wouldn´t remember much of it.”

MacGyver was stunned silent with surprise by that answer and tried to search and sort the chaotic and fuzzy pictures in his mind when he suddenly felt himself getting tired. But he instantly knew that it happened way too rapidly to be triggered only by his weakness and exhaustion. Something else was causing that. He was alarmed by the feeling of losing control over his senses. His body tensed, he tried to keep his focus on Nikki and wanted to get up and reach out to her.

“Nikki, what´s happening to me?” he asked, desperately fighting against the darkness creeping up. “What did you give me? What was in that tea?”

Nikki quickly caught his wrists and held him down.

“Calm down, Mac. Don´t fight it!” she ordered firm and then her voice went soft again. “It´ll help you rest… It´ll help you heal… It won´t harm you. It´s just a herbal mix.”

MacGyver still was uncomfortable with the feeling of getting sedated, but he settled down a bit with Nikki´s words and chose to allow it to happen.

“It´s okay… don´t fight it… I´ll be here to watch over you.” He heard Nikki repeat with a now soothing tone in her voice as his eyes slowly closed and the darkness took over his senses.

“It´ll help you heal.”

Then everything went quiet and black again.

Nikki watched MacGyver closely while he drifted off to sleep and cautiously let go of his arms as his body relaxed. Until now he had never been aware enough to notice that it had been some of the herbs in the tea that had sent him sleeping. His alarmed reaction worried her, but somehow she had known that he wouldn´t agree with it; that he wouldn´t like that decision to be taken out of his hands. She sighed, while she observed how his breath got regular and calm once more.

Yet, all in all, it is a good sign, she thought. He is getting more attentive. He is getting a little better.

*****

The cool morning ocean breeze was comfortable on Mac´s warm skin and his face. He had just taken off from the marina, was looking forward to his day of research on the beach, and was really looking forward to a beautiful and cozy evening with Deborah afterward. It was his turn to cook and he planned something special for today.

But in the next moment, a deafening explosion hit his ears, and everything was bathed in bright fire and burning heat. And to make it even worse, this explosion unexpectedly mixed with rain, lightning, and the distinctive click of a switchblade knife. But before he could do anything about that knife, he heard, saw, and felt another blast that threw him fiercely against a tree. Still overwhelmed with the intense pictures that whirled in his mind, he heard a familiar voice cut through them.

“MacGyver! … Wake up!”

Someone held on to his right shoulder.

“MacGyver! ... Come back to me!”

Mac´s body tensed with the sudden touch and the confusing pictures and sounds. He flinched back and abruptly opened his eyes, only to find Nikki´s concerned face. He needed several seconds to reorient himself before he realized that it had been a dream.

A bad dream.

His heart was pounding as he stared at Nikki bewildered. He saw the unfamiliar room, they were in, and a faint memory of being awake here earlier resurfaced in his mind. He still felt the uncomfortable, burning heat inside. Somehow he had ended lying on his left side this time. His bruised shoulder and arm ached a little. With his left hand being next to his face on the pillow, he automatically wanted to rub it over his face to ease up his inner tension, but Nikki hindered him by quickly holding on to his wrist.

“Careful with that hand!” she chided him.

Just then MacGyver felt a twinge in his palm, got a glimpse at the bandage, and remembered how the barbed wire had torn into that palm. The next things he noticed were his still sore throat and bronchial tubes when he tried to take a deep breath. He had to swallow hard to suppress the urge to cough. Nikki gently pushed back some strands of damp hair from his forehead.

“How are you feeling?” she asked with a soft voice now.

MacGyver needed a few seconds to completely return to the present, to assess his condition, and to lock his eyes with Nikki´s.

“A little better, I guess.” he answered hoarsely. “Apart from the nightmare…”

“Well, you´re still feverish.” Nikki told him, smiling down at him with a mixture of sympathy and sorrow. “It´s mostly caused by the serious cold… but also by the exhaustion and the blood loss… Your mind´s probably quite messed up.”

“That bad?” Mac asked worriedly.

“No, not every single issue… but they all add up.” Nikki explained while she felt for his temperature first on his forehead and then with the back of her fingers on his cheek.

MacGyver closed his eyes while he savored the cool touch of her hand and adjusted himself to lie more on his back. A stinging pain in his side made him pull a small grimace and bite back a moan. Nikki´s hand softly cupped his cheek in a comforting gesture.

“The bullet wound? … Does it still hurt?”

Mac opened his eyes again and looked up at her.

“Only when I try to move or breathe deeply.” he replied with a weak and lopsided grin.

“I think, that´s why the doctor asked me to make sure that you´d lie still.” Nikki returned the grin, but Mac was confused.

“What doctor?”

“He´s a friend of Starkoss.” Nikki explained. “A local. He took care of you right after we had brought you here. He sutured your wounds, provided you with appropriate medication, and checked back on you yesterday evening and earlier today.”

MacGyver nodded, but another question popped up in his head.

“Why didn´t you take me to a hospital?”

Nikki´s smile died.

“After I had taken Dubcek to Vienna, I returned to our secondary meeting point… even if I arrived way too early, I had the feeling I had to look for you.” she sighed. “I saw that Zorkin and Baranov had already crossed the border and were searching for you. Fortunately, they didn´t notice me, but taking you to a hospital would have been like highlighting your location to them. Starkoss offered to hide us here.”

MacGyver needed a moment to absorb all the information, yet one detail was missing.

“But, Nikki… what about the film?” he demanded with a suddenly tense and alarmed expression. “You promised to take those documents to Pete.”

“I know.” Nikki said a little defensive. “The film is safe here just as we are.”

She took a small pause and looked down on Mac a little embarrassed.

“Mac, I wasn´t willing to leave you behind once more. I had to make sure you´d be all right… still do.” she admitted while her hand was softly stroking over his damp hair.

MacGyver held her gaze with a bit of surprise. He knew that Nikki cared about his well-being, yet her behavior toward him felt different than it ever had as long as he had known her. But he could be mistaking due to his confused and weakened condition.

“I appreciate that.” he replied with a low voice. “Thanks for caring. Thanks for getting me out of that forest.”

Nikki stayed silent for a long moment and then managed a sheepish smile.

“Do you need anything?” she asked abruptly. “I guess, you gotta be thirsty…”

The memory of being forced to fall asleep by the tea flashed back into MacGyver´s head.

“Yeah.” he nodded with a frown. “But don´t expect me to drink that tea again. I´d like to sleep on my own accord.”

“I figured as much as that.” Nikki´s smile turned apologetic. “I also told that to the doctor. We agreed to change the recipe and left out the herbs with the sedating effects. But it´ll still help your body heal.”

Mac watched her with some doubt as she got up, filled up a mug, and returned to sit at his bedside. Her supporting arm around his shoulders was there as soon as he started to push himself up. MacGyver smelled a little hesitant at the steaming liquid as she offered it to him.

“Mac, you know I wouldn´t harm you.” Nikki chided with a soft, but slightly disappointed voice. “Now drink!”

Mac sighed a bit theatrically, but obeyed.

“Still bitter.”

His feeble complaint only earned him an annoyed snort from Nikki.

“Thanks.” he added.

Again, he instantly felt the soothing effect in his throat, and soon after he´d emptied the mug and laid down he felt all the pain in his body diminish. He allowed his eyes to close with a sigh, relaxed into the pleasant feeling, and took several deep breaths. He had to cough because of that and sensed his exhaustion catch up with him at once.

Moments later Nikki´s hands were back together with the cool, damp cloth. Gently she took the sweat off Mac´s face and neck, rinsed the cloth with fresh, cool water, and laid it on his forehead. MacGyver calmed down even further with her comforting touch. He half-opened his eyes to look up at her, grateful for her care. Nikki noticed his tired eyes and how worn out he was when she took the cloth away.

“You look like you´d better get some rest.” she suggested with a protective tone.

“I guess, you´re right…” Mac agreed feebly. His voice trailed off. He had barely enough energy left to keep his eyes open and to keep his focus on Nikki.

“Get some sleep.” Nikki continued, smiling down at him. “You don´t need to fight to stay awake. We´re safe here. I won´t leave you alone.”

Mac only nodded. He gave in to his tiredness while his eyelids grew heavy and closed. The last things he noticed before everything went dark and silent were one of Nikki´s hands stroking over his hair and cheek and her lips placing a very soft and very gentle kiss on his forehead.

*****

By the next time, MacGyver woke up, he instantly and instinctively knew that his fever had broken. The dry heat was gone. The fog that had clouded his mind and senses for so long was gone. It had made room for a feeling of clarity and freshness. But the longer he enjoyed that clarity, it also made him realize how clearly he now felt every bruise, every injury, and how worn out he was after the whole ordeal. Every muscle, every joint seemed to ache due to the high fever he had been through.

He felt weak, almost unable to move when he adjusted his body to a more comfortable position on the bed and moaned a little with the pain it caused. With his eyes still closed, Mac tried to take a deep breath and noticed relieved that he could without having to cough instantly. His throat and lungs were still sore, yet the congestion seemed mostly gone. The next thing he got aware of in his weariness was that he was parched. When he automatically licked his lips, he sensed how dried out and chapped their skin was.

Just then he realized that everything around him was perfectly silent, and that no one had reacted to his movements up until now.

“Nikki?” he croaked low and hoarsely while he blinked his eyes open.

The name came out barely understandable. Mac swallowed hard and cleared his throat.

“Nikki?” he tried again a little louder.

There… that was better… but where is she? he thought when he got no response.

His eyes wandered around the room. For the first time, he was able to get a good impression of his surroundings. He saw a dark wooden ceiling, built out of sturdy beams and relatively low. The windows were smaller than MacGyver was used to it and also gave him an idea of really thick walls. Mac couldn´t see it due to the plaster, but the walls seemed to be made of stone. The house felt old, real old.

Apart from the bed, he was lying in and the nightstand and wooden chair next to it, there wasn´t much furniture in the dimly lit room. He saw a table with another chair next to the side wall, with his travel bag sitting on it, and a small couch with cushions and a crumpled blanket opposite to the table along the other side wall.

Nikki had probably been resting on that one…

The sturdy, wooden door was closed and located in the far wall. No light filtered in through the windows, so it had to be late evening or night. MacGyver hadn´t seen any clock on the wall, and he just now noticed that the watch on his left wrist was gone; perhaps to make enough room for the bandage that was protecting his hand.

Slowly, carefully Mac pushed himself up on his elbows and looked around for a second time. Yes, he was alone. Nobody was in sight and the door was firmly closed.

Although he had risen slowly, MacGyver felt the dizziness return and an uncomfortable sting in his right side. Now that his mind and senses weren´t hazy anymore, he felt the stitches pull on his skin. The twinge reminded him of his thirst. Mac´s head turned. His eyes searched the nightstand next to his bed and the table. But there was nothing. No water, no teapot, no mug, no glass… nothing.

MacGyver sighed deeply and ran his right hand through his hair and over his face.

Great. Waking up thirsty in an unfamiliar house, as it seems in the middle of the night, with no one in sight or hearing range. Totally worn out after two or three days of high fever, judging by the length of the stubble on my face. Just great…

After a moment of consideration, MacGyver took a deep breath and gingerly rose until he was sitting upright. The dizziness worsened momentarily; Mac had to stabilize himself with his arms. The blanket that had covered him slipped downwards, and he noticed that he was wearing a more or less fresh t-shirt and sweatpants. Obviously, Nikki had used the contents of his duffle bag to keep him comfortable. After the vertigo had lessened to a bearable level, Mac pushed the blanket aside and slowly swung his long legs out of the bed. Again, he had to hold on to the bed for a couple of moments and closed his eyes briefly.

When he opened them, Mac noticed his sneakers standing below the table. Really cautious he rose to his feet and took the few steps to the table. He puffed out a relieved breath when he had reached it and sat down on the chair next to it. He retrieved fresh socks from his bag and then bent down to slip on the socks and his shoes. After he was done, Mac straightened himself on the chair and concentrated on the door. The few steps he had taken so far, had shown him how weakened he still was.

I just hope, this house isn´t very big and I won´t have to look for Nikki all too long, he thought as he pushed himself up from the chair and made his way to the door. Don´t know, how much strength I´ve got left.

When he had opened the door, MacGyver faced a corridor. It also had thick walls, a dark wooden ceiling, three doors on one side, three windows on the other one, and one half-open door at its end. And very little light. The room at the other end of the corridor seemed to be lit brightly, judging by the amount of light Mac could see filtering through the crack of the half-open door. And he could hear muffled voices.

So this was where he would be heading first.

His stiff and aching joints were loosening up a little the further he moved, but the dizziness all of a sudden spiked when he had only passed the second side door. MacGyver had to quickly hold on to the wall to stabilize himself. He lowered his head, pressed his eyes shut, and tried to breathe deep. But it was no use. Within seconds, without being able to do anything about it, he felt his legs weaken and his knees give way. Mac dropped to the ground. His head and back hit the wooden floor hard.

Fighting back the darkness that threatened to take over his senses, he desperately tried to regain control over his body. Through the ringing in his head, he noticed that the voices, he had heard before, went silent after he had fallen. The next things he became aware of were hurried steps, someone shouting his name, and then running towards him. With his eyes still closed, MacGyver winced as he felt slender hands grab onto his shoulders.

“MacGyver!” He heard Nikki call out to him.

Moaning, Mac turned his head towards her voice and forced his eyes to open. He needed a few moments to focus on her worried face. One of her hands left his shoulder and went to his forehead, feeling for his temperature. Her face relaxed a little when she didn´t sense fever anymore.

“What on earth are you doing out of bed?” she asked sharply after Mac´s gaze on her had somewhat steadied.

MacGyver took a deep breath and cleared his throat.

“Was looking for you…” he answered hoarsely and with a weak apologetic smile forming on his face. He pulled a grimace as another wave of dizziness washed over him and felt Nikki´s hand brush back his hair.

“Well, after two days in bed with a high fever and a few injuries, how far did you think you´d get?” Nikki scolded him, but when Mac managed to focus his eyes on her again, he saw a concerned smile.

“Didn´t really know…” he admitted with the same feeble smile as before. “Didn´t get far enough, I guess.”

Slowly the ringing in his head and the vertigo subsided. Nikki sighed deeply, while she observed him closely. Suddenly both of them heard steps hurrying closer. Within seconds, Starkoss came into view at Nikki´s side.

“Is he all right?” he wanted to know quickly.

“I think so.” Nikki said with a glance over her shoulder. “It´s just his usual… he wasn´t respecting his limits.”

MacGyver rolled his eyes at her remark, but kept quiet.

“Lying on the ground won´t do you any good.” Starkoss turned to MacGyver. “Can you get up again?”

“Yeah.” Mac nodded. “I should, with a little help.”

Nikki came over to his right side and held on to his arm while Starkoss was doing the same on his left. Carefully they assisted him in first sitting up and then getting to his feet. MacGyver swayed a little and had to lean on to his friends.

“I´ll get him back to his bed.” Mac heard Starkoss address Nikki, while he was still concentrating on steadying himself. “Can you bring the tea?”

“Of course.” Nikki replied and loosened her grip on Mac with a probing look at him.

MacGyver tried to ignore the twinge in his bruised left shoulder when Starkoss tightened his hold on him and took a deep breath to push back the renewed dizziness. He willingly followed Starkoss´s support, as the older man turned him around and escorted him back to his bed. The Russian helped MacGyver lie down again, covered him with the blanket, and then sat down at his bedside.

Mac had rolled onto his back with his eyes closed and tried to breathe slow and deep, when he felt one of Starkoss´s hands on his forehead and the other one on the middle of his chest. Within seconds, the pain and the dizziness lessened, and the tension left his muscles and joints. The pleasant and comforting sensation intensified and spread through his body in the matter of a couple of moments.

Mac couldn´t help but sigh deeply with the feeling and then remembered, that he´d experienced something similar before. In the small bus. Intrigued he opened his eyes and found Starkoss looking down at him with a concentrated, but kind smile.

“What…?” Mac asked puzzled and barely audible. “How…?”

Starkoss´s smile widened while he slowly pulled back the hand from MacGyver´s forehead and straightened himself. After a few seconds, he also lifted the hand from Mac´s chest and rested it on his arm.

“It is hard to explain.” he answered Mac´s surprised question. “Let me just say that since I live here in Austria, I learned about other ways to put my gift, as you called it, to use.”

It wasn´t much of an explanation to MacGyver, but he nodded. With Starkoss, he knew, he wouldn´t easily get one that his scientific and skeptic mind could work with.

“I appreciate it.” he told the older man.

Starkoss gently squeezed his arm and got up when he heard Nikki enter the room.

“You´ll be all right.” he assured MacGyver, still smiling, and then turned and left them alone.

Nikki filled up a mug and set the teapot down on the table.

“I suppose, you´re thirsty?” she asked as she approached the bed.

Mac needed a moment to focus on her after the thorough relaxation he had felt thanks to Starkoss´s doing.

“Yeah.” he nodded, as he remembered why he had felt the urge to get up in the first place, and gingerly pushed himself up to his elbows.

The ache was still there when he moved, but after whatever Starkoss had done it was more like a distant echo, MacGyver noticed with relief. Nikki steadied him with her arm around his shoulders while he drank and then gently helped him lie down again. The sharp edge, Mac had noticed on her in the corridor, was gone now.

“Sorry, if I scared you back there.” Mac apologized with a sheepish smile. “I really thought, I would…”

“Save it, Mac.” Nikki cut him off. “It´s okay… I know that you don´t have a lot of memories of what you´ve been through during the last two days… I should have foreseen that you might come looking for us… After all, you´re still weak. Even if your fever broke, you need to take it slow. You need to rest.”

She pulled the blanket up to Mac´s shoulders, and MacGyver felt the warmth of the bed and the warmth of the tea in his stomach mingle and spread through his body. Together with the relief, Starkoss had somehow caused, and with his exhaustion, he felt himself getting tired.

“I´m working on it.” he sighed with a feeble grin and allowed his eyes to close.

Nikki watched him closely while MacGyver drifted off to sleep, saw how his pale face slowly relaxed, and how his breath got calm and regular. Gently she stroked back some strands of his unruly hair from his forehead and also sighed.

Seems, as if he´s passed the worst of it, she thought. But how on earth am I going to make sure that he doesn´t rush his recovery from now on?


Posted by: uniquelyjas 22 November 2021 - 10:36 AM
Mac is really in bad shape!! Again your descriptive writing really makes it feel "real". I also like how you use Mac's point of view to describe the house instead of just telling the reader about it. Whoa! Major flashback to Deborah! Poor Mac, she really messed him up! And also including the lightening and tree...disconnected ideas like real dreams! I think one of my favorite parts of this chapter is the interaction between him and Nikki when he falls in the hallway. Like Nikki said at the end, it seems he's on the mend, but now he'll want to push himself too hard. Ah, looking out for Mac is a tough job, but I think Nikki's up to the task!!

Posted by: bluegirl 22 November 2021 - 12:11 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 22 November 2021 - 07:36 PM)
Whoa!  Major flashback to Deborah!  Poor Mac, she really messed him up! And also including the lightening and tree...disconnected ideas like real dreams! 

I think one of my favorite parts of this chapter is the interaction between him and Nikki when he falls in the hallway.  Like Nikki said at the end, it seems he's on the mend, but now he'll want to push himself too hard.  Ah, looking out for Mac is a tough job, but I think Nikki's up to the task!!

As for Deborah... Remember the last look MacGyver shoots her right at the very end of 'The Negotiator' - You can see how deeply he´s affected in those few seconds! (IMHO)

And Nikki looking out for him... who else could be up to that task right now?? wink.gif

Posted by: Karenskatz 23 November 2021 - 07:03 AM
Something else I noticed; I don't think he's eaten anything since he and Niki had lunch while they were out exploring the town. A glass of orange juice while he waited to make contact was the only thing after that. He's in high gear, battle ready (adrenaline junkie; you sure got that right), then later he's being chased cross country, across two creeks and a river, and injured. He's burning a lot of calories and he finally just "runs out of gas" and face-plants. Then he's mostly unconscious for two days. They keep giving him herbal tea, which I gather is medicinal, but his only comment about the taste is "bitter". If he complained it was overly sweet or mentioned tasting honey in it, I could see where he's getting some calories. So far, he seems to be running on nothing but his body's reserve, and he has a very lean build with little, if any, fat to burn for energy. His body needs energy to heal as well. No wonder he can't get down the hallway without collapsing! Next time you give him more tea, Nicky, get some soup into him as well!
Some of you might be thinking, "But Starkoss is 'passing him energy'." I might be wrong, but the way I see it is that he is using his mind and nervous system to convince Mac's mind and body to relax completely so he can rest. That would seem to me to be more in line with his mental powers, using his mind to influence another's at a basic, physical level. If that's so, I wonder if he couldn't gently steer Mac's mind out of another hightmare if Starkoss noticed Mac having one?

Other than that, great story, with great attention to character and details!!! Want MORE!!! thumbsup.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 23 November 2021 - 11:58 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 23 November 2021 - 04:03 PM)
Then he's mostly unconscious for two days.  They keep giving him herbal tea, which I gather is medicinal, but his only comment about the taste is "bitter".  If he complained it was overly sweet or mentioned tasting honey in it, I could see where he's getting some calories.  So far, he seems to be running on nothing but  his body's reserve, and he has a very lean build with little, if any, fat to burn for energy.  His body needs energy to heal as well.  No wonder he can't get down the hallway without collapsing!  Next time you give him more tea, Nicky, get some soup into him as well!

Some of you might be thinking, "But Starkoss is 'passing him energy'."  I might be wrong, but the way I see it is that he is using his mind and nervous system to convince Mac's mind and body to relax completely so he can rest.  That would seem to me to be more in line with his mental powers, using his mind to influence another's at a basic, physical level.  If that's so, I wonder if he couldn't gently steer Mac's mind out of another hightmare if Starkoss noticed Mac having one?

When he wakes up for the first time, he´s there 'about a whole day'...

Since I unfortunately do have some experience in that department... there are herbal teas you can sweeten with whatever you like - they still are bitter. That Mac doesn´t mention honey doesn´t mean it isn´t there... the bitterness is just the one thing he does notice as 'the uncomfortable part'.

When he tries to make it through the corridor, he´s there about two days... of course he´s running on fumes by then. But the point is - he still tries to find Nikki. 'He is pushing his limits' - as always. Hey, this is MacGyver we´re talking about.

As for Starkoss 'passing him energy' - We see Starkoss not only using telepathy but also telekinetic powers in GX-1 (the video Pete shows to Mac and Nikki). My assumption is that he has expanded his abilities. The area where they are now is full of 'special' people with 'special' abilities. Have you ever heard of reiki or hands-on healing? I´ve got a friend who´s learned to pass on reiki. Those 'holistic' and energy-based ways of helping people affect the whole body, but I never got to know anyone who could interact so specifically to be able to influence dreams or just the nervous system... It is more of an energy exchange... at least that´s my experience.

But thanks for your feedback, and that you still want more!

Posted by: Karenskatz 24 November 2021 - 08:29 AM
Okay... every now and then, you read something and go :Hey, wait a moment..." I admit I don't know much about healing touch and so on. The nice thing about this forum is I can post a note and question something or mention how I see something heading, and the author can answer and explain what they meant and where they were going and I learn something new, or gain an insight I missed. It makes the story a bit more interesting. I just have to remember to not be too much of a pest, questioning everything. huh.gif I do love some of the phrasing you come up with, especially in the dialogue.We all know how Pete and Nikki feel about trying to restrain Mac when he's bored or curious about something and not willing to sit still. You hit the nail on the head when you wrote Nikki saying, "Just the usual... He's not respecting his limits." That describes it so perfectly!

Hurry up with more chapters! It's so hard for me to wait. I'm used to having MacGyver fan-fiction that was posted years ago, and I can read the whole story in one go. I usually skim through the story to see what's happening and how it ends, then go back and read it slowly several times to get all the little nuances. This waiting for chapters is driving me crazy! ohmy.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 24 November 2021 - 09:38 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 24 November 2021 - 05:29 PM)
Hurry up with more chapters!  It's so hard for me to wait.  I'm used to having MacGyver fan-fiction that was posted years ago, and I can read the whole story in one go.  I usually skim through the story to see what's happening and how it ends, then go back and read it slowly several times to get all the little nuances.  This waiting for chapters is driving me crazy! ohmy.gif

A-ha, someone impatient... wink.gif

Think of the waiting period as if it was the 'commercial break' we´re all used to when watching TV... whistle.gif I know, commercial breaks usually aren´t a few days long... but there´ll be a new part every Thursday and Sunday - until we´re through with 21 chapters... So, watch out for tomorrow morning - I just finished the last corrections of part 8 a minute ago.

Posted by: bluegirl 25 November 2021 - 12:27 AM
Commercial break is over... let´s go with a new chapter!

But consider yourselves warned! I´m going to add another important layer to this story...

Part 8


The doctor returned for another check-up on Mac´s condition only a few hours later, on the morning of day three, and was also pleased with his improvement. He told MacGyver that with his fever now gone and no infections present to his wounds anymore, he was over the hill, but still needed to take it slow and be patient. The doctor ordered Mac to stay at least for a week of recovery before he should even think about driving back to Vienna or even flying back to the U.S.A.

Much to Nikki´s surprise, MacGyver was willing to obey these orders. But she mused that a reason for it might be that she´d had told him that she´d reached Pete Thornton over the phone back in L.A. last night. He and Pavel Dubcek had boarded their plane as planned once Nikki had informed him that she´d found Mac, and that he was safe and under medical care since soon after they had arrived at Starkoss´ house.

Since his first phone call with Nikki Pete had pulled several strings to get his local contacts from former DXS days to have an eye out for Zorkin and Baranov. This night he had told her that the GRU agents must have left the area already as his old friends had found no more trace of them. Pete had also been relieved to hear that Mac was recovering well and the documents were still safe with them.

Pavel´s immigration formalities had been no problem, and he was already happily united with his brother Anton. As they had no idea on the whereabouts of the GRU agents, Pete kept both of them under security surveillance by Phoenix operatives, just to be sure, and had warned Nikki to still be very cautious. They had agreed to stay in touch, so Pete could get them flights back home as soon as MacGyver´s condition was stable enough to get on the long flight.

Mac had been relieved to hear the news. As the doc had allowed him to get up – even if only for short periods – and as he had started to get hungry around midday, Mac had headed for the kitchen at the other end of the corridor once more. Under Nikki´s watchful eyes and with a little support, Mac had successfully reached it this time and settled down at the table. Starkoss had prepared a light lunch for him, and Mac had felt at the same time refreshed by the food and exhausted by the physical activity after he´d finished the meal. Starkoss had roughly related his story about how he had found his way to this northern part of Austria and decided to live here.

After resting in his bed during the afternoon, Mac had returned to the kitchen in the evening. Nikki had also taken the opportunity to get some much-needed sleep on the couch, and MacGyver had been very careful not to disturb her when he had gotten up again. Even though she had done her best to hide her tiredness and exhaustion from him, Mac had noticed it. He felt, he owed her any chance to rest after how she had taken care of him during the last days.

MacGyver had used his time in the kitchen with Starkoss to ask some questions about the region, Starkoss had answered them to the best of his knowledge, and had given him a short tour of the old farmhouse and told him a bit about its history. They had just settled on a wooden bench outside the house in the evening sun, when Nikki found them and pinned MacGyver with a reproachful stare.

“You´re supposed to take it easy!” she scolded.

Mac looked up at her with a sheepish grin.

“I am.” he countered. “Sitting in the evening sun isn´t all too exhausting.”

“You could have told me.” Nikki snorted. “I woke up and you were gone.”

“I´m sorry.” Mac´s smile switched to apologetic when he realized his mistake. “I didn´t want to wake you. I´m sure you missed out on a lot of sleep over the last days.”

Nikki´s annoyed face softened. Of course, she thought. I should have known that he would be worried about me as soon as he would be capable of.

“Starkoss kept an eye on me.” Mac continued to reassure Nikki that he had been careful.

Now Starkoss straightened himself on the bench.

“We´ve only been talking.” he backed MacGyver up and rose from his seat. “And I was just about to return inside and ready dinner for us.”

Nikki eyed them both doubtful and silent for several moments and then nodded.

“All right.” she said with a much friendlier tone than before. “I´ll help you… Are you also coming inside, Mac?”

MacGyver leaned back on the bench and looked up to the setting sun.

“Not yet.” he replied with a relaxed smile. “I´d like to get a little more fresh air and natural light after being holed up inside for three days.”

A short sideways glance at Nikki´s face told him that she wasn´t too happy with his answer but would accept his decision. After all, they were safe here.

“Fine… I´ll get you when we´re ready.”

“Thanks.”

MacGyver leaned his head back against the wall of the house and closed his eyes. He listened to his friends entering the house and closing the door, and how everything fell silent afterward. He heard only a few occasional birdcalls and a soft wind rustling through the trees. That same wind played with his unruly hair while Mac sensed the warmth of the evening sun´s rays on his skin. He felt comfortingly alive again, but the pleasant warmth also reminded him of how easily he was still tiring.

In the silence, his thoughts wandered back to his last evening in Vienna. The scenario, Pete had drawn up, had sounded simple.

Mac slowly opened his eyes and watched the clouds that towered up on a faraway part of the sky he could see above the trees around the clearing. They reminded him of the cloud formations during his hike that had all too quickly turned into an electrical storm. And it reminded him that he should have known how quickly any ‘simple’ assignment or any plan could go sideways.

MacGyver sighed deeply and calmed down with the reassuring thought that once more, he had been lucky enough to survive. He owed part of it to his resourcefulness in tight situations, but this time he acknowledged he owed a big part of his survival to Nikki. She had saved him by finding him in those woods. And he also owed a huge part of the success of their mission to her. She had followed his instructions – which had meant leaving him behind without knowing if he was safe and sound. She had blindly relied on his judgment, but she had returned earlier than she would have had to – acting on a hunch. Which was unusual for her.

As unusual as her behavior toward him during the last few days. The distance at which she had kept him over the last year seemed to be gone. Her sharp, sometimes icy, and snappy edge seemed to be gone. Mac knew that she cared about him, but it had felt different for those last days. He wasn´t yet sure what to make of it. He wasn´t sure how to interpret her signals. He wasn´t even sure how to interpret his own feelings toward her at the moment. Something had probably changed, but what?

Subconsciously he felt for the golden ring that was still on his left hand. Almost a year ago he had laughed at Starkoss´s remark about growing to love her. He had never told Nikki about that little conversation in the balloon. Right now, even with the comforting safety that surrounded him, he didn´t feel too much like laughing at the thought at all. And could it be just a wild coincidence that Starkoss had so unexpectedly reappeared in their lives? Mac also wasn´t sure yet what to make of him, but for now, had chosen to trust him. With another quiet sigh, Mac let go of his thoughts, gave in to the silence and his tiredness, and allowed his eyes to close.

*****

It took a while until Nikki returned outside.

“Mac?”

The constant concern for MacGyver that had accompanied her for the past days intensified when he didn´t react to her call and she found him sleeping. Nikki forced herself not to rush it, but to slowly sit down next to him and observe him for a moment. She saw him breathing slow and regular, yet his face was pale and gave away what he´d been through.

“MacGyver?” she addressed him once more and with a gentle gesture felt for the temperature on his forehead.

Mac flinched at her touch, his eyes snapped open, and he stared at her tense for a second before his face relaxed into a smile. Inwardly, he managed to push the pictures of the explosion on the boat, he had just dreamed about, to the back of his mind.

“Hey… you all right?” Nikki asked while she lowered her hand to his shoulder. Much to her relief, she had sensed no fever.

MacGyver took a deep breath and cleared his throat before he answered.

“Yeah… fine… only a little tired.”

Gingerly he straightened himself on the bench and held his breath for a moment as the movement sent a sting across the wound on his chest. Nikki eyed him probing but she didn´t mention it.

“Dinner´s ready.” she said after a couple of seconds, got up from the bench, and offered her hands to help him do the same. “You coming now?”

MacGyver looked up at her, nodded, and accepted her assistance.

“Yep. Let´s get something to eat.” he agreed with a boyish grin.

*****

They sat at the large kitchen table for quite a while after they were done with their meal. The wooden fire in the cast-iron stove provided cozy warmth that spread through the whole room. MacGyver´s appetite had not yet returned to normal, but his eagerness to learn more about their surroundings had. He had started asking questions again while Starkoss stowed away the remains of their meal and cleaned the dishes.

Starkoss had answered them to the best of his knowledge of the region and the people, but some of his explanations had been kind of vague. Especially the ones concerning how and from whom he´d learned about the new ways to use his gift. Mac´s curious and scientific mind wasn´t really satisfied with his answers. After today´s visit of the doctor in the morning, Mac was quite sure that man had to have some connection to it, but it had done nothing to help him understand the whole thing. It just added to the odd and outlandish feeling that the house and its surroundings gave him since he´d woken up here and been attentive enough to notice. Thinking back he realized he´d also felt something similar out in the forest before he´d collapsed, but had credited it to his fever then.

But the longer they sat and talked the more critically Nikki watched MacGyver. She saw him getting tired and strained while he was too engrossed in and too distracted by his conversation with Starkoss to notice it by himself. At some point, she interrupted them by laying a hand on Mac´s arm.

“MacGyver, you look exhausted.” she said with a soft and protective tone. “How about continuing this tomorrow? For your own good?”

Mac looked at her stunned silent for a moment, wanted to object on the first impulse, but in the next second noticed that she was right. He had been too caught up in his wish to learn and to understand to feel the slow return of his headache and his weariness. He nodded with a small sigh and then shot Starkoss a quick, apologetic smile.

“I´d better get back to bed.” he agreed with Nikki´s suggestion. “Thanks for the dinner. Have a good night.”

He cautiously got up, left the kitchen, and returned to his room at the other end of the corridor. Nikki didn´t follow him instantly. She came to the room with the teapot and mug in her hands when MacGyver was already sitting on his bed, had taken off his sneakers, and lowered his head, with his right hand covering his eyes.

“Overdone it a little?” she asked as she set down the pot and the mug on the table. Her voice had a bit of a chiding edge, but mostly gave away how much she was concerned about him.

“Probably.” Mac muttered without raising his head.

He heard Nikki close in on him, felt her pull the blanket out of the way, and then lay her hand on his forehead.

“At least your fever isn´t back.” Nikki stated after a few seconds.

“Well, the headache and a bit of dizziness are…” Mac admitted as he looked up at her with a lopsided grin and then turned to lie down. He rolled onto his back and let his head and his left hand drop onto the pillow. MacGyver moved slow and careful, nevertheless felt a sudden sting race across his chest. He drew in a sharp breath and closed his eyes. After a moment he sensed how Nikki covered him with the blanket and sat down on his bedside.

Nikki smiled down sympathetically on him when Mac blinked his eyes open again. He was still breathing heavy, striving to push back the pain and vertigo, and at the same time braced himself for some caustic remark from her. But it didn´t come. Neither did any know-it-all comment about staying up for too long. She looked down on him with a softness that he wasn´t used to from her, that surprised him. He couldn´t interpret her expression as anything else but worried, caring, warm… loving.

That last word, the thought, the feeling abruptly popped into his mind and caught him unprepared mentally and truly surprised, although he had mused about it only a few hours ago. Well, thinking about it was one thing, but seeing it, experiencing it was something entirely different, he noticed suddenly. Time seemed to slow down as he realized that what he saw was way beyond friendship. And that it was real. It hadn´t been some feverish hallucination of him.

MacGyver felt a sudden wave of warmth spread through his body when the fact hit home that he was relieved by what he felt from her. That he felt comfortable with it. That he probably felt the same for her. At that second he was caught totally off guard by his own feelings. Mac held his breath for a moment. All these thoughts and emotions had whirled through his head in the blink of an eye. Despite his exhaustion and tiredness, his mind stayed in high gear but also relaxed as he decided to give in to that feeling. Love…?

The single word echoed in his head as he gazed up at Nikki´s face. Still taken aback, his eyes were glued on her, his body somewhat frozen when she reached out with one hand, brushed back some strands of his hair, and once more laid that hand on his forehead. All of a sudden he was electrified by that touch. He was much more aware of her slender fingers, of the softness of her skin, of her gentleness than he had ever been.

“Now get some rest.” Nikki suggested with the protective tone that he´d heard before during the last days. Of course, she was oblivious to the thoughts running wild within Mac´s head.

Her words pulled MacGyver away from his thoughts, but at the same second, he realized that neither of them had mentioned anything about what was going on under the surface so far. Careful, MacGyver, he warned himself. Don´t rush anything. Don´t ruin it. Don´t say anything. Not now. Not tonight. Not yet.

“Yes, ma’am.” he replied with a small sigh, while Nikki´s hand slid down to cup his cheek. “I will.”

Mac allowed his eyes to close as he leaned a little into her touch and secretly savored the sensation. His breath got slow and regular. A few moments later MacGyver first felt Nikki bend forward, and then her lips touched his forehead with a kiss that from his point of view not only equaled but exceeded the softness and gentleness of her hand. It practically snapped a spark within him thanks to all the musings still swirling in his head.

He couldn´t help but half-open his eyes and look up at her when he sensed her rise up again. MacGyver tried his best to let his dark eyes tell her about the emotions that he didn´t dare to put into words yet. But he instantly noticed that something was wrong. Nikki´s expression turned rapidly from soft and warm to caught off guard when she saw him looking at her.

Following the feel that he had to reassure her that it was okay with him, that she hadn´t crossed any unspoken border, MacGyver swiftly covered her hand on his face with his left one. He turned his head a little towards that hand, closed his eyes again, and placed a soft and tender kiss on the palm of Nikki´s hand. But in spite of his best intentions, it didn´t have the desired effect.

In fact, it backfired.

Nikki´s hand stiffened, and when he broke the kiss to look up at her, he felt her pull it back a bit. Mac instinctively held on to it, even as he felt the stitches on his palm tug painfully in his skin.

“Nikki…? What´s wrong?” he asked with a husky voice, but fell silent when he saw her face.

Her expression switched from caught in the act to unreadable and then froze in the blink of an eye. Mac hadn´t even had the time to think about it when she suddenly and very resolutely twisted and pulled her hand out of his hold. In the same movement, she stood up and stepped back from the bed, still staring at him. MacGyver flinched and gasped with the hurt it caused to his hand, but quickly forced himself to concentrate back on Nikki. He had no clue to what had caused this intense reaction, what he had done wrong, what he had done to blow the moment.

“Please… talk to me!” he urged through painfully clenched teeth.

But Nikki didn´t answer. She only took another step back from the bed, then turned and rushed out of the room.

“Nikki!” MacGyver called after her and pushed himself up from his lying position at the same time.

He had to follow her. Quickly. He had seen something in her eyes, in the last split second before she had turned around, that truly had him worried. His stomach had tightened into a knot; he had felt a stab to his heart at the very moment he had seen it. Fear. He had been prepared to get scolded, to earn any annoyed remark, but… fear? What on earth had he done that made her afraid of him?

MacGyver tried to ignore his weakness, the headache, and the vertigo he felt, while he slipped on his sneakers and urged himself on his feet afterward. He hurried after her although his body protested wildly, and had only just reached the corridor when his legs gave up on him. He fell to his knees with a groan and had to steady himself with his hands against the floor and the wall as an intense wave of dizziness rolled over him. Mac needed several moments to regain a little control over his body and to avoid passing out.

MacGyver felt himself trembling with the strain of staying upright, and at the same time, he heard someone come closer. Heavy steps and big hands on his shoulders only a moment later told him it was Starkoss crouching opposite to him, before he was able to raise his head and look up at the Russian. Starkoss held him patiently, while Mac slowly calmed down his ragged breathing, and silently held Mac´s gaze with a kind, somehow fatherly protective and knowing expression. He didn´t let Mac get up on his first impulse though.

“Shh. Take your time.” he said quietly. “She ran outside, but she won´t run away. She isn´t afraid of you…”

“What?” MacGyver stared at him confused. “Have you two been talking about me while I was sick?” he asked a little upset.

Starkoss shook his head with a little smile.

“We didn´t. You do know she´s very guarded about confessing her inner feelings… She didn´t open up her defenses to me.” he assured Mac slowly. “But she will to you… You still do remember what I told you last year?”

Mac was stunned silent and nodded.

Of course, I do, he admitted inwardly.

The memory flashed into his mind and right now, after what had happened minutes ago, he didn´t feel a bit like laughing at Starkoss anymore. His eyes were still fixed on Starkoss´s face, still trying to urge him to explain further, when Starkoss let go of his shoulders a minute later.

“It´ll be all right.” he added and held out his hands for Mac to grab on.

Carefully he helped Mac to get up on his feet and let go of him only when he sensed that Mac had steadied. MacGyver´s look was still questioning, still unsure what to make of the older man and his words.

“Just follow your intentions and your instinct.” Starkoss added. “Talk to her… You´ll be fine… both.”

With that he turned away and went to his kitchen, leaving back a baffled MacGyver that just now realized that his headache was gone, and he wasn´t shaking from exhaustion and dizziness anymore.

What the…, he thought for a second but quickly pushed the thought aside. Figuring out how Starkoss does whatever he does is not my priority now. I´ve got something much more important on my hands…

MacGyver drew in a deep breath and swallowed hard as he remembered the fearful look he had seen on Nikki´s face. Then he determinedly followed Starkoss´s advice and went outside to look for her.

*****

MacGyver´s eyes needed several moments to adjust to the darkness outside. The moon cast long shadows over the clearing and only very little light filtered out through the windows of the house. He had to scan his surroundings with his gaze for at least a minute before Mac spotted Nikki standing at some distance to the house. She stood stiff and motionless, her arms crossed in front of her, her head tilted a little upwards, probably looking up to the sky.

The sight of her seemingly so lonely and lost sent another sting to Mac´s heart as he watched her for a couple of seconds. The nightly coolness of the air on Mac´s skin only added to the tense and eerie atmosphere he sensed on the clearing. Starkoss´s encouraging words echoed within his head, but they couldn´t ease up his deeply worried mood. Slow and careful not to spook her, MacGyver took a few steps closer to Nikki, while he nervously licked his lips.

“Nikki?” he addressed her with a low voice, as calm as he could manage.

She didn´t react until he was only three or four yards behind her.

“You ought to be in bed.” Nikki said flat and emotionless. “You´re supposed to rest.”

MacGyver froze on the spot. He didn´t want to put her under pressure by being too close to her. Especially since he still had no idea what had triggered her fear.

“I can´t.” he replied quietly, but resolute. “Not before you´ve told me what´s wrong…”

Mac´s words trailed off when he saw her lower her head and take a deep breath.

“There´s nothing wrong.” she shot back with an icy edge.

MacGyver sighed. Nikki´s defensive walls he was used to, but had been gone for the last few days, were back up.

“Please…” he tried again, with a soft voice. “Talk to me… What just happened that…?”

“Nothing… I´m fine.” she cut him off annoyed. “Just get back inside.”

“No.” Mac countered instantly. “No way. You´re not okay… Listen, I´m sorry… please, tell me what I did wrong that frightens you.”

Nikki remained silent for a few seconds. Her gaze dropped to the ground.

“Stop it, Mac.” she whispered then. “Please, leave me alone.”

“Nikki, this is my fault.” Mac insisted and went a step closer to her. “At least give me a chance to…”

“It is not your fault.” Nikki cut him off, her words now sharp again. “You did nothing wrong.” Her voice went soft and a little sad to the end.

Now confusion added to MacGyver´s worries about her.

“But … I don´t understand… The moment felt so genuine… And then I blew it.”

A tense silence hung between them before Nikki slowly raised her head to stare up into the sky once more.

“No, you didn´t.” she replied slowly with a trembling voice. “I did.”

“What?” MacGyver couldn´t believe and understand what he heard. His confusion grew.

“This is my fault… I let you get too close.” Nikki continued. “After all this time… but I´m sorry… I can´t…”

MacGyver was stunned silent. Even after a few moments, he couldn´t comprehend what she had told him. Too close? All this time?

“Nikki… I don´t get it…” His words trailed off as she abruptly turned around to face him, and he saw her eyes glistening with unshed tears when she looked up at him.

“Let go of it, Mac.” she pleaded. “Please, let me be.”

Suddenly all of the pieces fell into place in his head. He remembered the confrontation they´d had on his houseboat a few months ago. Right after those terrorists had tried to kill her. A lump formed in his throat and Mac´s heart skipped a beat as the realization hit home and at the fear, he noticed back in her eyes.

“Wait a minute…” he said slow and hoarse. “Are you telling me… that all our bickering and squabbling… You did that on purpose? … To keep me at a distance? … So you wouldn´t risk feeling attracted to me? … So you wouldn´t have to be afraid of losing me? … Like you lost your husband?”

MacGyver saw Nikki flinch at his last words. He could almost physically feel her pain when her gaze dropped to the ground again. Nikki wanted to step back and turn away from him, but Mac caught her at her upper arm. She tried to pull free, but despite the hurt her abrupt struggle caused to the wound on his chest, Mac´s grip with his right hand held tight.

“So it is true? … I really didn´t imagine it?”

Nikki still didn´t answer him, however, the way she looked up at him told him what he hadn´t been sure about.

“Since when do you know?” Mac probed further.

“Does that matter?” Nikki asked back with a breaking voice.

“Yes… No...” Mac sighed indecisively. “Not at the moment.”

Slowly he let go of Nikki´s arm and watched her turn away from him.

“I almost couldn´t cope with the grief when Adam died.” she told him with a low voice. “I can´t go through that anguish for a second time… Can´t you understand that?”

Mac bowed his head for a moment.

“You know very well, that I do know the feeling.” he reminded her softly. “You´ve been there for me after Mike´s death.” He stepped up to her from behind and gently laid his hands on her shoulders, trying to comfort her. “But I don´t believe that you´re jinxed. You won´t lose me.”

MacGyver felt a shiver running through her with his last sentence. Nikki whirled around and pinned him with an accusing stare.

“How can you say that?... After what you´ve just been through? You could just as well have died out there!”

Now some tears were trailing down her face. It hurt Mac to see her distraught like this. He had to clear his throat before he could speak again.

“But you did everything you could and saved me. I am grateful for it, Nikki.”

He raised one hand and wanted to wipe the tears off her face, but she pulled back and stepped out of his reach.

“Let go of it, Mac.” she asked once more. “You´ve got an answer to your questions; now leave me alone, please.”

“I can´t.” Mac replied huskily while he managed to smile reassuringly. He took a deep breath to fight his inner turmoil. He didn´t dare to use the word ‘love’ yet. Not in this tense situation. It would have increased the pressure on both of them even more. “You mean so much to me.”

He watched how Nikki´s conflicting feelings fought for the upper hand inside of her with the surprise about his admission. “Are you too afraid to give it a try?” he continued after a few seconds, his words now choking with his own emotions. “Are you really too anxious to even allow us a chance?”

MacGyver reached out again, and this time, she stood still as he gently dried the tears off her face, ran his long fingers down to her neck and her shoulders, and then stepped closer and softly wrapped his arms around her in a comforting embrace. After a moment of hesitation, she held on to him, mindful of his injuries, and buried her face at his chest, sobbing softly.

A wave of relief washed through Mac, when he felt her body relax into his arms, and her trembling slowly cease. With a sigh, he closed his eyes, placed a soft kiss on Nikki´s dark, wavy hair, and then leaned his cheek gently against her head. Both of them needed several minutes to calm down due to the intensity of their feelings. Then Nikki eased herself away from MacGyver, just enough so she could comfortably look up at him. Her tears had dried up.

“Now what?” she asked a bit uncertain.

“Don´t know.” Mac shrugged with an emotion-filled, yet serious smile. His right hand traveled up to her head and his long fingers caressed her face and her hair. “Our friendship should be a solid foundation to build on… I wasn´t counting on anything like this happening a few days ago. I guess, we´ll just have to see where it takes us…”

MacGyver stroked back some of Nikki´s hair and took a few seconds to look at her face in the moonlight. His soft, warm smile slowly turned into a boyish grin. He bent down, closed his eyes, found her lips, and kissed her. Mac started soft and gentle at first, probing, feeling for her, smelling her, tasting her, but when he sensed her respond and her body snuggle up to him, he allowed the hunger for reassurance and the power of his emotions to deepen the kiss.

Both of them ended up out of breath when their lips parted several very long and passionate moments later. Mac smiled with relief as he saw that some of the light he was used to had returned to Nikki´s eyes.

“Sorry for the stubble and the chapped skin on my lips.” he apologized grinning.

Nikki shot him a measuring look, but then returned the smile.

“Well, I think, maybe I could agree to that kind of foundation…” she teased him.

MacGyver´s smile broadened, he brushed another tender kiss on her forehead, and then loosened up his embrace around her. Even though the emotionally charged-up kiss had left him electrified inside, with the tension and the worries about Nikki now gone, his tiredness and exhaustion caught up with him all of a sudden. Nikki also noticed how Mac´s body grew unsteady and weaker. She reached up and felt the skin on his face cool but covered with a little sweat.

“You still belong in bed, MacGyver.” she stated protectively as the concern returned to her face and she pulled back from him. The tired smile she saw on his face turned into a more serious expression.

“Yes, ma’am.”


Posted by: uniquelyjas 27 November 2021 - 11:20 AM
First of all, it's good to know that everything, mission-wise, is going well. Very nice summary at the beginning...thank you for that! Of course the GRU agents are still out there and I'm pretty sure we haven't seen the last of them, but at least we get a break!! Hmmm...Mac, stay put for a week??? Good luck with that! Unless he has something to distract him which brings me to my next point:

Is Mac REALLY in love with Nikki??? And she with him??? They certainly do have a firm foundation to build on, but there are so many extenuating circumstances: They are both exhausted, fearful, relieved and a ton of other emotions from what they've both been through: Mac being so sick, Nikki fearing for his life even as just a friend/colleague. And they are in this "special" place where reality seems to be suspended a bit. Along with the fact that Starkoss keeps reminding Mac that he and Nikki would come to love each other. Finally, despite the horrible experience he had with her, Mac could still be on the rebound from Deborah. I do really like the way you write Nikki in this chapter. Her mood changes, the walls going up. Very true to her character. And of course the fear. Makes perfect sense. So right now they are giving into their feelings? What's going to happen when they have more time to think and get back to the "real" world?

Posted by: bluegirl 28 November 2021 - 09:42 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 27 November 2021 - 08:20 PM)
Is Mac REALLY in love with Nikki???  And she with him???  They certainly do have a firm foundation to build on, but there are so many extenuating circumstances:  They are both exhausted, fearful, relieved and a ton of other emotions from what they've both been through:  Mac being so sick, Nikki fearing for his life even as just a friend/colleague.  And they are in this "special" place where reality seems to be suspended a bit.  Along with the fact that Starkoss keeps reminding Mac that he and Nikki would come to love each other.  Finally, despite the horrible experience he had with her, Mac could still be on the rebound from Deborah.  I do really like the way you write Nikki in this chapter.  Her mood changes, the walls going up.  Very true to her character.  And of course the fear.  Makes perfect sense.  So right now they are giving into their feelings?  What's going to happen when they have more time to think and get back to the "real" world?

Well, maybe those 'circumstances' are bringing out what´s been there under the surface, but they´ve both been denying so far?

Maybe it´s high time for both to realize and give in to those feelings? Sometimes 'special places and circumstances' kind of catalyze the spark that makes the difference between 'close friendship love' and 'romantic love'...

As for Starkoss 'keeps reminding him' - he reminded Mac just once. After Nikki ran outside... whistle.gif

And concerning the 'real world' - wait for the next chapters...

I´m glad you like it!

Posted by: bluegirl 28 November 2021 - 10:40 AM
Let me first thank you for all your comments and feedback!! I really look forward to reading it! It´s so interesting and gives me an insight of what you as readers think about what took me more than a year to finish.

So, it seems the relationship between Mac and Nikki has changed... But with MacGyver involved... Is it really going to be that easy? Aren´t we better off expecting some complications? hmm.bmp

Another Sunday evening - here´s for you:

Part 9


MacGyver slowly woke in complete silence on the next morning. He took a few moments to internally assess his condition while his eyes were still closed and noticed he felt rested, with his headache gone again. Only a twinge in his side disturbed his relaxed and calm mood. When he blinked his eyes open, he realized it had to be early morning, judging by the light filtering in through the windows. It came in at a low angle; its color was reddish. Carefully MacGyver pushed himself up on his elbows and looked around the room. Waking up with no one by his side didn´t trouble him anymore as it had one and a half days ago.

His gaze soon found Nikki, snuggled up into the blankets on the couch and soundly asleep. The memories of the past days came back to the forefront of his mind at her sight, and MacGyver sensed a wave of comfortable warmth flooding through his body. A lot had happened in those last days. Especially on the last evening.

But only a moment later a sudden pang of guilt and doubt clenched his heart. He had pushed her quite far in his stubborn need for an answer yesterday. He had done that before. On his houseboat, right after the murderous attack on her life, right after he had dug into her past and her private life without her permission. She had been mad at him then, had tried to get away from him, but he had held her back and forced her to admit her lie about being divorced. He had accused her of being afraid of losing anyone who got too close to her. She had ended up crying in his arms on that evening.

And yesterday? He had once more forced her back to the painful memory of losing her husband. And she had been crying again.

MacGyver sat up, swung his long legs out of the bed, and tore his gaze off Nikki´s sleeping form. Suddenly he didn´t feel all too comfortable with how he had acted yesterday anymore. With a sigh, Mac slipped on his shoes, reached for his sweatshirt, and left the room. He needed some time to think. Alone. He needed to figure out if he had made a terrible mistake last evening.

The sun had just risen over the trees when he stepped outside. The morning light felt comfortably warm on his skin and the clearing was absolutely still. MacGyver slowly walked away from the house, toward the other end of the clearing, toward the rising sun. The quietness of his natural surroundings let his thoughts wander back to yesterday.

Why had he, once again, believed he had the right to tear down Nikki´s defenses? What had given him the right to push her beyond her borders? A few months ago he had justified it with the imminent threat to her life, but yesterday? It had only been his selfish and egoistic need for clarity, for the truth. But how true had it really been?

She hadn´t directly answered any of his questions about her feelings toward him. And how sure could he be of his own emotions?

He had told her, he hadn´t counted on anything like this happening, and his emotional situation was, truth to be told, special at the moment. Deborah´s betrayal continued to hurt him deep inside, and Nikki had saved his life and taken care of him over the past days. Was it possible that he was mistaking his gratitude toward her for love because he was still emotionally vulnerable? Was he that susceptible and off-center inside that he couldn´t trust his own feelings anymore? That he wasn´t able to tell the difference between one emotion and another?

MacGyver looked up to the morning sun, ran his hands through his unruly hair and over his face, and sighed deeply. Now what? He was known to be able to fix almost everything, but how could he fix that? How could he fix a friendship that he had set at risk? The last thought, this last question made his stomach turn into a tight knot. A lump formed in his throat. Mac lowered his head.

Well, If it isn´t love that I´m feeling, why does the mere thought of losing Nikki, the mere thought that I might have blown our close friendship scare me that much?

“You still focus on your guilt and your worries.”

Starkoss´s words from behind made Mac whirl around startled. Although the clearing was still quiet, he hadn´t heard the older man coming closer. MacGyver stared at him bewildered and nervously licked his lips.

“You don´t need to.” Starkoss continued. “And you shouldn´t doubt yourself and your actions.”

Mac had to swallow hard before he could answer.

“But…” he tried to argue. “The last months were…” He broke off as he saw Starkoss´s kind and knowing smile.

“Hard… and trying.” Starkoss finished his sentence. “You´re still hurting inside because of that other woman, but you´ll be all right… both of you.” he assured Mac. “Just have a little faith in what happens.”

His smile widened as he saw MacGyver´s perplexed look. Then he turned and walked back into the house. Mac gazed after him frozen in place, once more puzzled by the older man and his ‘abilities’. Some part of Mac´s logical and scientific mind was still trying to figure out an explanation for what he did, for how he did it. He was still not sure what to make of him. As MacGyver stood in the middle of the clearing, looking at the old house in the morning sun, it occurred to him that Starkoss and his gift seemed to fit perfectly into the outlandish feeling of this place.

*****

Nikki felt comfortably at ease when she stepped outside into the morning sun. She felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted off her shoulders and especially her heart after last evening. Starkoss had told her, that MacGyver had gotten up and gone outside real early, and she looked forward to seeing him again, rested and after a good night´s sleep. She needed a moment to spot him in the distance, halfway across the clearing. She saw him sitting at the roots and leaning against a high-grown, old tree, staring into the woods. Her heartbeat quickened a little at the sight of his boyish appearance, she felt butterflies dancing in her stomach, and she instantly chided herself inwardly for behaving like a teenager.

“There you are!” she called out to him, while she approached him across the clearing. “Good morning!”

But MacGyver barely moved his eyes to briefly look at her and then continued to stare at something far away. A small concern rose in Nikki and she went a bit faster toward him.

“Breakfast´s ready.” she tried again with a cheerful voice when she was only a few yards away. “Aren´t you hungry?”

But she froze on the spot in the next moment, when he turned his head and looked up at her. Mac´s face was somber and pensive, and his dark brown eyes showed unease and sadness. Nikki´s lighthearted smile died. Her heart skipped a beat as a sudden chill ran down her spine. She was caught totally off guard by his expression. How could he look at her like that after last evening? Why?

“MacGyver? … What´s the matter?” she asked cautiously, standing still a few feet away from him.

Mac´s eyes left her and drifted off to the distance once more.

“How long have you been keeping me at a distance?” he asked with a low voice after a seemingly endless moment of silence. “When did you notice that there´s more to it?”

Nikki drew in a deep breath with his question. She had evaded answering that one last night.

“Well, I did notice that you´re a handsome and attractive man when I saw you in that grey suit in the consulate… right after we´d bumped into each other for the first time… right after I had gotten a good look at you.” she admitted slowly. “But more than two years after Adam had died I had already established a habit of snapping at every man I might truly be interested in. I didn´t allow any guy close then. I didn´t even consider giving you a chance… I guess, I first noticed a change when I tried to draw you back to the living after Mike´s death and you ended up saving me from Murdoc… and you urged yourself even closer after those terrorists had tried to kill me… when you just happened to be there in the right moment to save my life.”

Mac nodded barely noticeable, but remained silent with his eyes still glued to something far away. Nikki slowly closed in on Mac and knelt down opposite to him.

“MacGyver, please… tell me, what´s eating at you…” she asked softly.

MacGyver drew in a deep breath and then sighed.

“I´m sorry.” he said with a husky and apologetic voice. “I pushed you too hard… I went too far yesterday.”

Nikki suddenly felt like choking. Her heart seemed to stop. She couldn´t feel the sun´s warmth anymore. Was he about to end something precious that had only just begun?

“What?” she breathed shocked. Then she was speechless for moments.

“Do you regret what happened yesterday?” she managed to ask after she had cleared her throat. Her voice was breaking.

“Yes… No.” Mac replied hastily and focused on her. The troubled expression on his face grew even worse as he saw shock, some fear, and a lot of worry on her face.

“I don´t know…” he added hesitant and a little helpless.

Nikki´s sudden shock eased up a little.

“Do you doubt what happened yesterday?” she continued to probe.

MacGyver stared at her silently for several seconds. His dark eyes showed a mixture of shyness, sadness, and pain.

“How can I be sure? … So soon after my last misjudgment almost got me killed…” he stated low and tonelessly. His gaze dropped to the ground. “How can I trust my feelings after I didn´t sense such a betrayal…? How can I be sure that it´s not just gratitude after you saved my life…?”

Now Nikki understood at once. Deborah. She had broken his heart and he was still hurting and full of doubt about his own reactions inside. Nikki softly, but reassuringly laid a hand on his thigh.

“Deborah is a professional.” she reminded him. “Do you really allow her to shake your self-confidence? What you felt for her was real, as far as I could tell…”

MacGyver kept staring at his hands and didn´t react to her words.

“And how you acted yesterday evening felt true to me as well.” Nikki continued. “You cared about me. I am thankful that you didn´t allow me to hide my feelings from myself and you any longer. You didn´t leave me alone with those feelings.”

But Mac was still absorbed in his conflicting thoughts and emotions.

“Now at least look at me!” Nikki urged him impatient after another couple of silent moments.

Like in slow motion MacGyver turned his head and raised his gaze to her face. His inside was even now a troubled mess, but he felt a little certainty when he looked into her dark eyes.

“I hurt you, Nikki… in my selfish need for the truth…although I never wanted to and still don´t.” he sighed bitterly, disappointed with himself. “As I said, you do mean a lot to me.”

A relieved and warm smile widened on Nikki´s face with his answer.

“You didn´t hurt me.” she reassured him. “Your demand for the truth lead me through my fear and enabled me to acknowledge the feelings for you I pushed back for so long. I am grateful for it… Mac, do you really regret asking me to give us a chance?”

Her words were now choking with her being afraid of what he might answer. She was fighting back some tears that welled up with the intensity of her emotions. MacGyver saw it. It touched him deep inside. Her words loosened up the vise clenched around his heart. He instantly reached out for her hand on his thigh and invited her into an embrace.

“Come here.”

Nikki didn´t hesitate this time, but slid closer, and cuddled up to him, careful about all his injuries. Mac softly wrapped her into a hug, while she rested her head on the front of his shoulder. She felt MacGyver brushing a tender kiss on her hair, while she listened to his heartbeat and sensed the tension leave him.

MacGyver drew in a deep breath, slowly let it out in a long sigh, and pulled her a little tighter into his hold. He leaned his cheek against her head and lowered his eyes. When Nikki looked up at him after a couple of moments, the tears in her eyes were gone.

“Sorry.” he said. “I didn´t mean to scare you.”

Mac smiled at her for the first time today, bent down, and let his mouth find hers. He kissed her, soft, sensual, and let all the bottled-up emotions flow into it. Their kiss wasn´t as hungry and passionate as the one last evening, but rather gentle, caring, and intense, both sensing the need to reassure their opposite of the true nature of their feelings.

Nikki buried her face at MacGyver´s neck when their lips parted after several long moments and held on to him.

“Better?” Mac asked softly and leaned his head against hers again.

“Yes.” she sighed.

MacGyver felt her warm breath trickle on his skin. He was suddenly very aware of her presence. The smell of her hair and her skin… the softness of her slender body snuggled up against his own. It felt good. It felt right.

“How about yourself?” she added after a moment. “Still doubting it?”

MacGyver puffed out a deep relieved breath and squeezed his arms even closer around her.

“Nope.” he whispered, just loud enough that he was sure she would hear him.

*****

Starkoss hadn´t mentioned anything when they had returned into the house quite a while later. He had only smiled at them. In fact, he hadn´t said anything about it to MacGyver over the following days either.

MacGyver´s health had improved slowly, but steadily during those next days. He had taken daily walks through the woods as soon as he had felt up to it, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by Nikki. They had spent a lot of time patiently exploring their newly discovered feelings for each other, and also allowed themselves the time to get used to them.

After ten days at Starkoss´ house, the doctor had been satisfied with Mac´s progress, agreed to remove the stitches from his hand and chest, and allowed him to travel home. But of course, he had asked him to still take it easy for some time.

MacGyver had called Pete late at night and told him that he was cleared to come home to Los Angeles. Pete had been truly relieved to hear the good news that Mac´s health was mostly restored. He had asked Mac and Nikki to drive back to the hotel in Vienna and spend one night there; he would have arranged flights home for them by the next day and have the tickets waiting for them at the hotel´s reception.

But he had warned Mac to still watch out for Zorkin and Baranov as none of his intelligence contacts knew anything about their location or their intentions. They seemed to have vanished into thin air.

On the morning of the following day, both Nikki and MacGyver packed their stuff into their bags right after they had finished their breakfast. Starkoss was already waiting for them in the sun next to his VW minibus, when they left the house with their baggage in their hands. He would drive them to their rental car that was still parked in the village. After they had placed their bags behind the front seats, and Nikki had thanked Starkoss, Mac helped her onto the passenger seat.

“I´ll take the back floor again.” he grinned at her. “I´m kinda used to it… and I can stay out of sight.”

Nikki only rolled her eyes at his remark but kept silent.

Then MacGyver turned to Starkoss.

“We´ll have to leave quickly once we´re back with our car, so… I wanted to thank you for everything you´ve done.” he told the older man with an earnest expression. “I really appreciate it.” He reached out and shook the Russian´s hand.

“Consider it a down-payment for your help last year.” Starkoss answered evenly sincere. “I´m glad I was able to be at the right place at the right time.”

“So am I.” Mac nodded. He looked probing at the Russian for a moment and then continued. “I was going to ask you if you wanna come with us this time… but it seems, you´ve found ‘your’ right place.”

Starkoss shot him one of his kind and knowing smiles.

“For now, yes. … I have.”

Then he walked around the bus and got into the driver´s seat. He waited for MacGyver to close the sliding door and get seated in the back, and then headed off to the village close by. Nikki stayed alert for any signs of the GRU agents during the several minutes it took to reach their rental car. Mac on the other hand kept his head down and out of sight until Starkoss parked his minibus behind their sedan. Then he quickly moved their baggage into the sedan while checking their surroundings for the whole time with his eyes.

As they had voiced their thanks earlier, MacGyver and Nikki only said a quick, yet heartfelt goodbye to Starkoss before they took off toward Vienna. Nikki was driving this time as Mac´s left hand was still protected by a bandage, and the only recently healed tears ached with too much use and strain.

MacGyver settled down comfortably in the passenger´s seat and used the time to watch the countryside passing by and observe Nikki in the driver´s seat. Nikki shot him a sheepish smile every time he looked at her longer than a few moments. She wasn´t fully used to admitting her feelings for MacGyver yet.

They traveled mostly silent and reached their inner-city hotel in good time. It was only around midday when they had checked in, returned their rental car, picked up the already waiting plane tickets, and were back in their neighboring rooms. Pete had, before his departure with Pavel, made sure those would stay reserved for MacGyver and Nikki.

Mac found his hiking backpack, his left-behind clothes, and his torn rain jacket untouched and waiting for him. It took his thoughts back almost two weeks, to where his adventure had started off. A mountain hike, recurring thoughts about a love gone wrong, an electrical storm, and the vow to himself to take it easy on the following day.

Then Pete had turned up on his doorstep and everything had turned upside down.

His bruised left shoulder and arm had recovered quite well in the meantime, Mac assessed internally while he stood silently picking at the tears of his raincoat. So had his lungs. Yet the gash across his ribs and his left palm still hurt when he moved them too much. And he still tired easily. But he had survived, thanks to Nikki.

He even now couldn´t wrap his head around what had happened between them. How their relationship had grown beyond friendship… Nikki, of all people…

As little as thinking about her made him smile to himself and a comfortable warmth settled in his stomach. Knowing that she was in the room next door. Mac caught himself subconsciously feeling for the fake wedding ring he still wore. And Nikki still wore hers… They were keeping up this part of their cover story until they would be safely back in the U.S. and heading home. Their flight was due tomorrow morning; they had half of today ahead of them.

MacGyver raised his head and looked out of the window. Once more it was a warm and sunny day. A boyish grin grew on his face as he remembered the plans he had had two weeks ago. He picked up the brown leather jacket, Pavel had returned to him through Nikki, and turned back to the door.

I can gather all my belongings later in the evening, he thought. I could spend the afternoon with at least part of that plan. Right now, I might even have someone to share it with…

He purposefully strode out to the corridor, locked his room, and knocked on Nikki´s door. Mac had left her only a couple of minutes ago, but when she answered the door a moment later, he felt the comfortable warmth from his stomach spread and travel up his back. His grin widened.

“MacGyver?” Nikki asked surprised. “I thought, you might want to rest. What´s wrong?”

“Nothing. I´m fine.” he assured her. “I just remembered the idea I had for my next day in Vienna… before you and Pete interrupted my vacation.”

“Well, I didn´t come up with this assignment.” Nikki shot back annoyed. “I was summoned on short notice by Pete just as you…” She broke off as soon as she saw Mac smiling at her. “Sorry…” she added sheepishly in a much softer tone. “Some habit, I´ve got, hm?”

“I´m kinda used to it…” Mac shrugged with a teasing grin and then reached out one hand for her. “I wanted to take a walk and visit some of the historic inner city of Vienna… wanna accompany me?”

Nikki eyed him surprised for a second but then nodded with a smile.

“Sure. Just let me get my purse.”

She was back after a few moments and locked her door. MacGyver was waiting for her leaning against the corridor´s wall. She looked up critically at him when she turned to face him and saw the hallway empty. His face turned serious in an instant.

“What?”

“I suppose, you´ve hidden the film safely, as we´ll be leaving the hotel for the afternoon?” Nikki inquired with a low voice.

Mac´s beaming, boyish grin was back on within a second.

“Who says, I´m leaving it behind?” he asked back with an air of innocence, knowing very well that the film can was in the inner pocket of his jacket. Then he pushed himself off the wall, took one of her hands with his right one, and lifted it up to kiss the back of her hand.

“I prefer to keep important things real close to me.”

He saw Nikki blush a little bit with his words. She managed to smile up at him and entwined her fingers with his while he slowly lowered her hand.

“I like that approach.” she answered huskily, following along with his double meaning.

MacGyver gently pulled her closer to him, brushed a soft kiss on her forehead, and took a deep breath, once more taking in the smell of her hair. Then he straightened himself.

“Then let´s go. We oughta go to sleep early tonight. We´ve got a plane to catch in the morning.”

*****

It was already early evening when MacGyver and Nikki got off their plane at the Los Angeles airport on the next day. Despite the fact that Mac had managed to sleep several hours, it had been two long, tiring flights. Even though Pete had been able to get them comfortable business class seats with plenty of room for Mac´s long legs, Mac felt worn out. The jet lag only added to it. He still sensed the after-effects of his cold and his injuries clearly.

Nikki´s head had been resting against his shoulder when he had woken up about one hour prior to their landing in L.A. She had been soundly asleep, and he had spent some time just watching her. It had taken his thoughts back to the day before. They had spent a light-hearted afternoon strolling through Vienna's inner city, taking in the historic sights and buildings that dated back several hundreds of years, and enjoying the parks that brought a lot of green to the city´s core. The memory had made him smile to himself.

After almost one year of bickering with her, it had felt comfortably natural to have her close. To share time like this with her.

After several minutes of looking at her, Mac had tried to adjust his position a little, to take some pressure off his wounded chest without disturbing Nikki, but he hadn´t been successful. She had stirred, blinked her eyes open, and when she had noticed that she was leaning on Mac, she had quickly sat up and straightened herself in her seat.

“I´m sorry.” she had told him with a sleepy and apologetic smile. “I didn´t want to…”

“Don´t worry.” Mac had cut her off, smiling back and taking a deep breath. “I´m fine.”

*****

Part of his thoughts still circled around yesterday and their flights when MacGyver and Nikki were waiting at the baggage conveyor belt for their bags. Pete would pick them up outside together with a driver and the other part of Mac´s thoughts dealt with him. MacGyver looked forward to seeing his closest friend again, to being able to finally complete his mission objective by handing the film over to Pete, and to returning home. Although he had been able to doze during the flights, Mac really longed for some rest and relaxation at home, on his houseboat.

He and Nikki had just retrieved their bags and turned to the exits when Nikki suddenly grabbed Mac´s arm and stopped him in his stride. MacGyver winced with the sting the unexpected break caused and turned to her surprised.

“What?” he asked a little impatient. “I´d really like to get home.”

“So do I.” Nikki countered reflexively, but only a second later she seemed hesitant and unsure.

“So?” Mac pressed on.

“MacGyver… have you told Pete?” she wanted to know.

“Told him what?” Mac, still focused mainly on returning home, didn´t get what she was talking about.

“Well, you know… about us…” Nikki added while she slowly let go of his arm and looked up at him with an almost shy smile.

MacGyver´s impatience evaporated. He drew in a deep breath and raised his eyebrows in understanding.

“Oh, you mean that you and I…”

His words trailed off to a moment of silence. He raised his still bandaged left hand to gently caress her cheek with his long fingers.

“Not yet.” he continued. “Haven´t you? You´ve talked to him right before we got on the first flight.”

Nikki shook her head.

“You and Pete are as close as family.” she explained. “I felt, you should be the one to…”

Mac silenced her with a tender kiss on her forehead.

“Thanks.” he said softly. “I will.” Then he grinned at her. “I´ll just have to find the right moment to confront him with a surprise like that…” he added with a chuckle. “But now, let´s get out of here.”

It took only a moment to spot Pete Thornton once they had left the airport building. He was waiting next to one of the pool cars Phoenix kept. A relieved smile widened on his face as soon as he saw MacGyver and Nikki coming towards him. He shook hands with Nikki and hugged Mac while the driver loaded their bags into the trunk. Nikki chose the passenger seat to allow Mac and Pete to both sit in the back seats of the car.

“Boy, am I glad to see both of you.” Pete said with a sigh when they had closed the doors and their driver had taken off from the parking lot. “Especially after all I´ve heard so far.”

He pinned MacGyver with a probing stare, but Mac only smiled back innocently at him.

“Retrieving the documents was a bit tricky…” he admitted. “But it all worked out, thanks to some help.”

He shot Nikki a quick smile and reached into the inner pocket of his jacket. He handed the plastic film can and its important contents over to Pete. Pete´s face turned serious in an instant while he took it from him. He opened the film can, pulled out the 35mm roll, and quickly checked the positives against the light falling in through the car´s window. Then he turned back to MacGyver and rolled up the film to place it back into the can.

“I´ll immediately have prints made from these.” he stated. “Together with all that Dubcek has told us, we should be able to put some pressure on the GRU now. They certainly won´t be happy with this.”

“Nice to hear that our work is appreciated.” Mac smiled at him and leaned back relaxed.

“We still have no lead on Zorkin and Baranov, so we´re keeping the Dubcek brothers under protection.” Pete added. “You should also be careful… Their next move could be on you, MacGyver.”

“Yes, Pete.” Mac nodded. “I will.” He briefly closed his eyes. He was used to those well-meaning, protective words of advice from Pete very well. But right now, he was just glad to be heading home.

“I am truly curious about hearing all the details…” Pete continued after a silent moment. “But I suppose you´re both tired. How about I´ll just take you home, and we´ll meet tomorrow morning in my office for a debriefing? Is 10 a.m. all right with you?”

MacGyver and Nikki were both relieved by his offer and silently nodded their agreement.

They reached the marina first and Mac shot Nikki a boyish grin when she turned around in her seat to face him.

“Shall I call you later?” she asked when he prepared to open the door of the sedan. “Just to check if you´re all right?”

“If you like…” Mac answered, still smiling.

Pete watched their exchange with a little surprise but didn´t say a word. It was obvious to him that Nikki was concerned about Mac´s wellbeing, nothing to wonder about after how she had been worried about him and had taken care of him over nearly the last two weeks. Pete was only bewildered by how they got along so easily. The tension between them that he was used to seemed to have lessened a lot.

“I´ll see you tomorrow.” MacGyver added to Pete and got out of the car. He took his bags from the driver who already had retrieved them from the trunk, and after a small wave of his hand to Pete and Nikki, Mac walked off toward his houseboat.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 November 2021 - 04:16 PM
Mac thinks too much! Now he gets all worried about the reality of his feelings when Nikki is finally accepting and happy about them! I am impressed that Mac managed to actually relax for 10 whole days and it's sweet that he and Nikki agreed to use that time, as well as their day in Vienna, to explore their growing feelings. I do like how Nikki can still fall back in her pattern of snapping at him, though! That's so much a part of her character. It was bittersweet leaving Starkoss behind, but now that they're back in L.A. it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops...or doesn't. But it sounds like we probably haven't seen the last of the GRU agents. Poor Pete, LOL! He should be HAPPY Mac and Nikki aren't bickering anymore!! I wonder if he'll catch on before Mac gets a chance to explain??

Posted by: bluegirl 30 November 2021 - 03:20 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 November 2021 - 01:16 AM)
It was bittersweet leaving Starkoss behind, but now that they're back in L.A. it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops...or doesn't.    Poor Pete, LOL!  He should be HAPPY Mac and Nikki aren't bickering anymore!!  I wonder if he'll catch on before Mac gets a chance to explain??

How their relationship develops ... or doesn´t? - I wouldn´t have started this off, if I hadn´t thought it could develop ... to something... over the next chapters... and who said Mac and Nikki won´t be bickering anymore?? whistle.gif laugh.gif

Posted by: Karenskatz 30 November 2021 - 06:59 AM
It suprised me that they didn't run into the GRU agents at the cabin. The agents are probably assuming that Mac is mobile, so they would be re-checking areas for any sign of him. The cabin is away from the village, surounded by woods. They would have ample cover in the woods to watch the cabin if they thought he was there. What gets me is that Mac knows he's still in "enemy territory" yet he goes outdoors in the daylight, sits in the sun for a while without constantly watching for danger, and later goes for walks through the woods! Where is his common sense? Nikki is unknown to them, and so far they haven't gotten a good look at her and Mac togeather, so she could go out, but Mac should stay holed up inside. Nikki would have gotten things like this in her agent training, and Mac would have been taught this by the DXS if he didn't already learn it else where. They are being very lax with the security precautions, and I'm suprised they weren't discovered. Or are the the agents waiting for Mac at his houseboat (which is rediculously easy to break into)?

Posted by: bluegirl 30 November 2021 - 08:56 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 30 November 2021 - 03:59 PM)
It suprised me that they didn't run into the GRU agents at the cabin.  The agents are probably assuming that Mac is mobile, so they would be re-checking areas for any sign of him.  The cabin is away from the village, surounded by woods.  They would have ample cover in the woods to watch the cabin if they thought he was there.  What gets me is that Mac knows he's still in "enemy territory" yet he goes outdoors in the daylight, sits in the sun for a while without constantly watching for danger, and later goes for walks through the woods!

Austria isn´t exactly 'enemy territory' - it´s been a sovereign, neutral state since WW2, so it oughta be 'safe soil' for a western agent. See 'The Thief of Budapest', for example... GRU agents couldn´t just search every house as they would probably have liked to.

Yes, Zorkin and Baranov think he is mobile - but more mobile than he actually is. As they find no sign of him for a day or so, they assume to have lost his trail and that he left the area quicker than they could have found him. They don´t know he is in such a bad shape, or even how badly he is wounded.

The only ones chasing him from the fence on were the Czech border guards. Mac only suspected that would he have stayed close to the Thaya the border guards would have alarmed the GRU agents and these would possibly have shot him. He wasn´t keen on waiting for them.

And to suspect him to be at the farmhouse, they would have needed to know that the house is in fact there and that he got picked up and brought there. So they would have needed to know about Nikki...

The area (the 'Waldviertel') where all this takes place has been and still is a truly quiet and secluded region of Austria. There are a few small villages and towns, rather remote and sleepy at the time. You could drive through it without seeing people for quite a while. The region is a undulating mix of old woods, meadows and a bit of farmland. It is common for the region to have solitary houses (it is more than a 'cabin') especially where no one would expect a house to be, hidden perfectly in some old forest. Don´t you think Starkoss would choose a place like this to live in?

user posted image

I imagined something like this... really way off the villages... the 'Waldviertel' is still an area in Austria where you can easily 'get lost', but it is hard to explain to someone who hasn´t eperienced it. So, since Starkoss has told him about the region and as Pete tells them the agents seem to have left the area - where´s the harm in taking a walk in the woods? Or sitting in the sun? When you know, that nobody is going to 'drive by' because you´re way off everything? Alone in the middle of nowhere?

user posted image

Posted by: uniquelyjas 30 November 2021 - 06:50 PM
Lovely pics, bluegirl!! I'd sure like to spend some time there!

Posted by: bluegirl 2 December 2021 - 12:37 AM
Good morning! At least on my end of the globe, for now... time for a new chapter! This one took quite a bit of work to get it right. This one is also a little 'different'... Hope you´ll enjoy reading as much as I did writing it!

So, let´s recall... they got back home, without complications, are safe, exploring their newly found feelings for each other... haven´t told Pete yet...

Wait a minute! Without complications? Safe? This is MacGyver we´re talking about!

Part 10


MacGyver dropped his bags next to the spiral staircase after he had closed the main door behind himself and flipped on the lights. He let out a deep sigh as he soaked up the comfortable silence that surrounded him in his familiar home. According to the plans he had had when he had left for a week of vacation he should have returned several days ago.

He slowly shrugged out of his jacket and placed it on one of the coat hangers next to the door. MacGyver shot the answering machine on his desk a quick glance and noticed the flashing red light that indicated a couple of messages waiting for him. He sighed again.

Later, he thought. I´d rather get settled first. Whoever has left a message, it will have to wait a little longer.

He turned to the kitchen, filled up a glass with water, and took a few large gulps. Mac really looked forward to doing nothing but relax until he had to meet Pete Thornton tomorrow. He had had a lot of rest and doing nothing in particular during his recovery at Starkoss´s house, but now… here… it was different. He was back home. At his own house. He´d probably watch some old western movie, wait for Nikki´s phone call and then go to bed early. The long flights had exhausted him.

MacGyver allowed his gaze to wander around the houseboat, emptied the glass, and then set it down. Until tomorrow he also had to figure out a way to gently break the news about the change in the relationship between himself and Nikki with Pete. The Phoenix Foundation had no anti-fraternization rules, and Mac was freelance after all, so it shouldn´t cause any problems, but… well, Mac was sure Pete would be a little more than surprised.

Maybe I should be there earlier tomorrow and talk to him before the three of us meet at 10 a.m., Mac thought. Then he shot his bags an unwilling look. I´ll better get those unpacked right now, he mused. If I´ll sit down on the couch first, I won´t get anything done any time soon.

MacGyver took a deep breath while he walked over, bent down to pick up his bags, and took them upstairs. He made quick work of emptying them as most of his clothes went directly to his dirty laundry basket, save for the torn rain jacket.

Getting a new one is still on my to-do list, he thought while he eyed it critically once more. Then he retrieved a fresh sweatshirt, t-shirt, underwear, and sweatpants from the closet, took a quick shower, wrapped a fresh bandage around his left hand and changed into the much more comfortable outfit before he went back downstairs.

Mac strolled to the kitchen and took a look into the refrigerator. To his surprise, all his favorite basics were there, so Pete must have done some grocery shopping for him in advance. With a little smile and grateful for having a friend like him, MacGyver grabbed the orange juice and filled up the glass he had used earlier. Thanks to the meal he´d gotten on the plane, he wasn´t all too hungry. He took the glass with him as he went to the couch and set it down on the coffee table.

His eyes scanned the row of VHS cassettes in the shelf for a moment before he picked one of his favorite black and white westerns and loaded it into the VCR. He picked up the remote control and took a few large gulps of the orange juice before he flopped himself on the sofa. This should keep me awake until Nikki will call, MacGyver thought, while he adjusted himself to a more comfortable lying position on the couch and turned on the TV and the VCR. His eyes were glued to the screen when the movie started.

*****

Nikki Carpenter was truly worried when she let her sedan roll onto the parking lot of the marina. Her eyes found MacGyver´s jeep; she pulled up her car next to it and cut the engine. After Pete Thornton had dropped her off at her apartment, she had unpacked her baggage, grabbed a quick dinner, and then phoned MacGyver as she had promised to. But her call had gone directly to the answering machine.

Nikki had told herself, that he was probably taking a shower, done the same, and tried again half an hour later. A small concern had risen in her when she, once more, hadn´t gotten through to him. She had tried to convince herself that with MacGyver, there could be a couple of perfectly logical reasons for that, but her worries had grown when even several tries later she hadn´t been able to reach him.

At some point in the late evening, she had chosen to drive over to him and check personally that everything was okay. She had come here late and unannounced before, after those terrorists had tried to get rid of her, but this time was different. Right now, she had to make sure that MacGyver was all right.

Nikki shot the jeep a sideways glance when she got out of her car and then turned to the houseboat. She saw lights turned on inside the houseboat through its windows as she hurriedly walked toward it. Nikki knocked on the main door, saw no sign of Mac through the glass, and tried the handle when she didn´t get an answer. She found the door unlocked and entered the houseboat cautiously.

“MacGyver?” she asked into the silence that greeted her.

Nothing. Nikki felt the knot that had formed in her stomach some time ago tighten. She stepped further into the room and looked around. The red blinking light of the answering machine caught her eye, and when she had walked around the spiral staircase, she spotted the white noise showing on the TV and the half-empty glass of orange juice on the coffee table.

Nikki closed in on the couch and puffed out the breath she hadn´t realized she had been holding when she found MacGyver sprawled out there, soundly asleep. Mac lay sunken into the pillows, breathing slow and calm, yet his face seemed a little pale to her. Nikki bent down, reached for the remote control, and turned off the TV. Then she crouched down next to the sofa and observed Mac closely and probingly for a few moments.

She had seen Mac sleeping a lot of times during the past two weeks and was still tuned into watching out for any signs of illness. But what she saw allowed her stomach to relax a little. MacGyver´s chest rose and fell regularly and there was nothing to wonder about the fact that he was tired and exhausted after the ordeal he´d been through.

Somehow out of habit, Nikki reached up with one hand and cautiously felt for his temperature first on his forehead and then with the back of her fingers on his cheek. She sensed no fever, however, after a couple of seconds, MacGyver stirred because of her touch. Confused by his weariness, but remembering that he was home and should be safe, Mac turned his head a bit towards the touch.

“What? … Who?” he asked dazed as his body tensed a bit and he half-opened his eyes, blinking against the light.

“Shh… It´s all right.” Nikki quickly answered him and gently held the contact to his cheek. “It´s just me, Nikki.”

MacGyver´s sleepy eyes found her face and his body relaxed again.

“Nikki?” he mumbled bewildered and still only half awake. “Why…”

“You didn´t answer the phone.” Nikki cut him off again. “I came over to check if you´re okay.”

A faint apologetic smile grew on Mac´s drowsy face while he nodded.

“Sorry… I´m fine… must have dozed off.” he murmured.

“I didn´t mean to wake you.” Nikki returned the smile. “I am sorry… just go back to sleep, MacGyver.”

She smoothed back some of his tousled hair and brushed very soft kisses first on his forehead and then on his lips. MacGyver slowly closed his eyes when he felt Nikki´s tender lips on his skin. He was still too dazed to adequately react to her kisses and sensed himself being carried away into the comfortable darkness again with her soothing words and her gentle touch. With a contented smile on his face and a small sigh, Mac gave in to that feeling.

Nikki watched relieved how MacGyver drifted off to sleep once more. She would have been happier if he had chosen to fall asleep in his bed rather than on his couch, but most of her worries evaporated. As he is fully clothed, he probably hasn´t planned on nodding off, she told herself.

She took a deep breath while she slowly pulled back her hand and got up. For a moment she was unsure what to do. Thanks to her dinner, the quick shower, and her jet lag she didn´t feel tired at all. For now. She looked around in the houseboat, took in the familiar surroundings, but tonight it felt different than on all the other occasions she had been here before.

She noticed details that she hadn´t paid any attention to earlier. The MacGyver coat of arms on the wall, the strung longbow that stood in the corner next to the fireplace, the photos and mementos between the lots of books in the shelves. Nikki slowly walked around the sofa and along the shelves on the wall behind it to take a closer look at some of the items.

MacGyver had seemed comfortable with her being here a couple of minutes ago, so she didn´t feel she had to leave at once. Probably he would be pleased with having her around when he woke up in maybe one or two hours. Nikki sat down on the stuffed chair next to the couch when she was through with the shelf and allowed her thoughts to wander while she observed MacGyver sleeping. She´d spent a lot of time like that lately.

Since that particular evening in Starkoss´s house, or rather on the clearing next to it, thinking about him, being close to him felt a lot less complicated to her. Maybe Mac would really be able to break the jinx sticking to her since Adam´s death. Only now she realized how deep inside he´d touched her right from the beginning. She had denied it so far.

Together they had caught the murderer of her brother, but she had almost instantly categorized him as a smart-aleck after they had first met, handsome and attractive, but annoying. She hadn´t allowed him even the slightest chance. Dating Matt Webber a few months ago hadn´t been more than a simple and convenient distraction, she understood now. She had never truly considered him a possible partner. Nevertheless, she had defended him and hadn´t believed MacGyver when he had accused him of being responsible for the sabotage that had driven Pete out of the Phoenix Foundation. Out of the habit of disagreeing with Mac… But once again he had been right, and once again he had been there to save her life.

Nikki sighed quietly while she watched him. Even if they had spent a lot of time arguing, disagreeing, and quarreling, she felt lucky to have met him. His warm and compassionate personality, the way he always put the well-being and interests of people he cared about before his own, his unique approach to doing things and viewing the world made him a truly special person. He had become a very special friend during the last year. And now…?

Nikki pulled up her legs onto the chair, wrapped her arms around her knees, and cuddled comfortably into the armchair. She looked at MacGyver with a relieved smile on her face. She was truly glad about the new turn their relationship had taken. By now she chided herself a little inwardly for denying it so long. And even if the feelings were still new and unfamiliar to her after those few days, she cherished them.

*****

She´d been sitting next to the sofa for quite a while before Nikki looked up and noticed with a glance at the clock how late it had gotten. Past 11 p.m. She hadn´t kept track of time while she´d been lost in her thoughts and also just now realized how tired she had gotten. She stifled a yawn while she straightened herself and slowly got up. After a long, probing look at MacGyver´s sleeping form, she reached for the blanket lying over the backrest of the couch and unfolded it.

It´s going to take longer for him to wake up than I expected, she thought while she cautiously covered him with the blanket. Better keep him warm.

Mac didn´t react to her touch this time and she stood a little indecisive afterward. Suddenly Nikki felt too tired to be able to safely drive home. Would he mind if she stayed and slept in his bed? She had already done that once, a few months ago, after the murderous attack on her life. He´d slept on the couch then as well… and had acted like a gentleman the whole time.

No, he wouldn´t mind, Nikki convinced herself internally. He´d rather ask me to stay if he would sense how tired I am, and would be unsure if I could still drive.

She shot MacGyver another long look and then strode off toward the main door. Nikki locked it, turned off the lights in the houseboat, and went upstairs.

*****

MacGyver noticed a sting on the right side of his chest when he slowly woke up. He moaned lightly with his eyes still closed and tried to straighten himself a little. Inwardly he scolded himself for crashing on his couch once again.

Bad habit, he thought drowsily. The bed would have been a better choice.

Then he remembered that Nikki had promised to call and he truly hadn´t planned on falling asleep. A sudden pang of guilt clenched his throat at the idea that he´d possibly missed that call, until he realized that he couldn´t sense any light through his still closed eyelids. Confusion added to his half-awake thoughts when in the next moment he felt the warm blanket he was wrapped into. His body tensed up with alarm.

Wait a minute, I didn´t turn off the lights and I didn´t…

MacGyver quickly opened his eyes, rose to his elbows, and looked around. Much to his relief, he saw that he was still safe in his now dark houseboat. In the next second, a faint memory surfaced in his mind.

Nikki. She´d been here. Right next to him. Checking on him. Because he had missed her calls. He´d been too dazed by his exhaustion to react appropriately.

Aw man, he thought. I´ve got to apologize to her before we meet with Pete in the morning.

A glance at the clock on the TV told him that it was well past midnight.

Nikki must have turned off the TV as well as the lights, Mac mused.

Slowly he pushed back the blanket and sat up, swinging his long legs off the couch. He saw the glass half-filled with orange juice on the coffee table and, without thinking too much about it, he picked it up and emptied it. MacGyver took a deep breath and stretched a little, but instantly covered his right side, where the bullet had grazed him, with his hand. It ached again, thanks to his curled-up position on the sofa.

I´d better continue the night upstairs, Mac sighed inwardly. The bed will be much more comfortable.

Gingerly he got up, took his now empty glass to the sink, and checked the door. To his surprise, he found it locked.

I didn´t lock the door… and I haven´t given Nikki a spare key… only Pete has got one… but would he hand it over? … Has she been able to persuade him while he has taken her home? ... Because she wanted to check on me? MacGyver shook his head confused. More things to sort out as soon as I meet them in the morning…

He pushed the thoughts aside, turned and climbed the spiral staircase toward his bedroom, determined to get more sleep. This time in his bed. But as soon as he came around the corner to his bedroom he stopped dead in his tracks, surprised by what he found. In the dim moonlight that filtered in through the windows, he saw someone lying in his bed, cuddled under the sheets. The next thing he noticed were clothes on one of his cupboards and sneakers next to it when he took a cautious step closer. MacGyver´s eyes had already adjusted to the twilight when he got a good look at the sleeping person.

Nikki.

He recognized the neatly folded clothes as her jeans, her blouse, and her jacket as he went closer and saw that the blanket had slipped off her shoulder, giving away that she had commandeered one of his hockey shirts to sleep in. Had she chosen to watch over him because he´d been that exhausted and out of it? Had she been too tired to drive home at some point? Obviously, she hadn´t planned on staying…

MacGyver´s sudden surprise changed into gratitude and contented warmth that spread in his stomach. His first impulse was to return downstairs, to his sofa, but a twinge in his side reminded him why he had come upstairs. To rest comfortably in his bed. He eyed the bed and Nikki uncertain for a few moments.

She was lying on her side, on the left side of his bed, facing the edge. There was plenty of room behind her back. Could he…? After all, they had shared a sleeping bag with a lot less room last year. But at least he had to make sure if it was okay with her. He wasn´t about to force physical closeness onto her she wasn´t ready for.

MacGyver took off his sneakers, cautiously closed in on the bed on his socks, and crouched down next to the bed, in front of her. The moonlight cast long, soft shadows on Nikki´s face and her dark hair. Mac couldn´t help but raise one of his hands and gently caress the silky waves of her hair and the smooth skin of her face with his long fingers. It took only a couple of seconds until Nikki stirred because of his slight touch. She rolled a little more onto her back, turned her head toward the touch, and blinked her eyes open with a bit of alarm.

“Shh…” Mac addressed her softly, but quickly when he felt her body tense up. “It´s me, it´s Mac.”

An apologetic smile widened on Nikki´s drowsy face as her body relaxed.

“I was too tired to drive home.” she answered sleepily. “I thought, it would be okay if…”

“Shh.” Mac cut her off. “It´s all right.” He smiled back at her. “It´s just that I´d like to sleep in my bed as well…”

Nikki tried to push herself up instantly with a guilty look on her face.

“I can take the couch.” she offered, still only half-awake, but MacGyver gently held her down at her shoulder.

“You´ll stay right where you are and sleep on.” he ordered softly. “There´s plenty of room for me on the other side of the bed.” he continued after a quiet moment. “A lot more than we had in the sleeping bag… if it is okay with you…” His words trailed off as he felt Nikki relax in his hold, but look up at him probing and silent.

“I just wanna sleep.” Mac added reassuringly. “Nothing else… I promise.”

His hand returned to caressing her hair but she reached for it and placed a gentle kiss on the back of his fingers. A tired smile grew on her face as she let go of his hand and nodded.

“I wouldn´t have expected anything else from you.” she replied slowly as she rolled back to her side. “I know, you can act like a perfect gentleman.”

MacGyver pulled the blanket up over her shoulders with a slightly amused smile at her comment while Nikki cuddled herself back into the pillow and closed her eyes again. He brushed a tender kiss on her cheek.

“Thanks.” he whispered barely audible close to her ear before he gingerly rose to his feet.

MacGyver walked around the bed and took off his sweater and his socks before he sat down on his side of the bed. He slid under the blanket and lay down on his back, cautious not to get too close to Nikki and at the same time trying to find a comfortable position for his aching chest. He pulled the blanket up to his shoulders and lay silently staring at the ceiling for several moments.

Although he was tired and worn out by the long flights, he could clearly sense Nikki´s presence that near. He heard her calm breath, felt her slender body rest on the mattress close to him without having to touch her. MacGyver sighed deeply and allowed his eyes to close. He treasured moments like this. A growing relationship. Being with and close to someone special. Like Nikki had come to be. A contented smile played around his lips with the pleasant feeling of warmth and peace that flooded his body, heart, and soul while he slowly drifted off into a quiet sleep.

*****

The soothing quietness of his home surrounded by the well-known sounds of the marina welcomed MacGyver when he slowly woke up. He sensed the morning light through his closed eyelids, and felt comfortably warm and rested while lying on his back. No pain in his side anymore… The next thing he noticed was a soft, yet strong female body snuggled up to his own, with one arm lying across his chest and his arms.

Out of the blue, a memory surfaced in his still sleep-dazed mind – the last woman he had woken up together with up here. It sent a sting to his heart. Deborah…

In the next second, he saw the burning fire of the explosion on the boat flash before his mental eye. MacGyver drew in a sharp breath, but felt that breath catch in his throat. The arm lying across his chest at once seemed to bind both of his arms, thus effectively immobilizing him. His body stiffened instantly with the frightening realization that he couldn´t move and escape the threat of being blinded again. MacGyver´s eyes flew open in sudden panic and darted around the room. He was wide awake at once.

After only a few seconds of reorientation, his eyes recognized Nikki lying next to himself. MacGyver held his breath.

Nikki…, he reminded himself inwardly. Not Deborah… Nikki… She must have turned around and cuddled up to me while we were sleeping…

He pressed his eyes shut for a moment, then forced himself to take a deep breath and stared up at the ceiling. The panic attack ebbed away, he calmed down his pounding heart and urged his body to relax, while he fervently hoped, that Nikki was still soundly asleep and hadn´t noticed anything. After all, he had barely moved… But only a few seconds later MacGyver sensed her hand travel from his arm up to his shoulder and her head turn a little.

“MacGyver?” she asked slowly and sleepily. “What´s the matter? You okay?”

Mac closed his eyes and sighed deeply. That was one of the problems of being with a smart woman. It was truly hard to hide anything from her. He cleared his throat.

“It´s nothing… I´m fine.” he answered, trying to sound firm and keeping his eyes on the ceiling again. He didn´t have to look at Nikki to know that she was now staring at him.

“Nothing?” she echoed after a brief pause. “You´re fine?”

“Yeah, sure.” Mac told her once more.

Only a moment later he sensed Nikki push herself up to one elbow and her hand slide to the middle of his chest, close to his heart. He still avoided her gaze. That was another problem when being with a smart woman. It was really hard to deceive her.

“Don´t do that, Mac… please.” Nikki demanded after she had eyed him probing for some time. “Don´t lie to me.”

MacGyver closed his eyes with the sting her words caused to his heart. He had intended to protect her from this very dark corner in his mind and heart, but never wanted to hurt her by giving her the feeling of lying to her.

“I´m sorry.” he sighed with a low voice. “I didn´t mean to lie to you. I just…”

He broke off and opened his eyes once more but still kept his gaze directed to the ceiling. MacGyver felt Nikki take a deep breath and her slender hand travel up to his cheek. With gentle force, she urged him to turn his head and look at her. Their eyes locked and Nikki noticed the remains of sudden fright and pain in Mac´s dark brown eyes.

“Talk to me…” she asked soft and worried.

A lump formed in MacGyver´s throat. He hated telling Nikki about his memory of Deborah. She didn´t deserve to share that pain. He still hesitated and searched for the right words, when Nikki addressed him again.

“It´s her, right? … Deborah?”

MacGyver instantly felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end with Nikki mentioning her name. He wanted to turn away from Nikki, but she wouldn´t let him. Her hand stayed firmly on his cheek. MacGyver saw the sorrow she felt for him in her eyes.

“You woke up with her up here as well?” Nikki continued to probe.

MacGyver felt himself blush guiltily and caught. There was no point in denying it to her. He nodded and took a deep breath.

“About two hours before the bomb on the boat went off.” he admitted with a hoarse voice. “The memory flashed into my head when I woke up. I´m sorry… I didn´t want to…”

Nikki silenced him with a soft kiss.

“You´ve got nothing to be sorry for.” she said with deep sympathy and kissed him again. Then she looked down on him with a teasing smile. “But you do know, that I won´t try to kill you, do you?”

MacGyver couldn´t help but return a lopsided grin. He nodded.

“Yeah… I do.”

The tense atmosphere between them eased up a little. MacGyver raised his right hand and gently caressed her hair while he looked up at her and took in the caring expression on her face silently for a few moments. Nikki´s hand slid down to his neck and she squared her shoulders a little.

“I love you.” she told him huskily with an earnest and warm smile. “I don´t want to lose you.”

MacGyver knew he should have sensed gratitude for her words and her openness, but he instantly froze. An icy chill ran down his spine and his body stiffened. Once again, he felt his breath catch in his throat and bit his lower lip to fight the abrupt returning terror. The mixture of confusion and shock he saw on Nikki´s face only worsened things. Nikki pushed herself a little up and away from Mac when she felt a shiver running through him. She pulled her hand back until it was lying on his chest right next to her. His reaction caught her totally unprepared.

“MacGyver?” she asked worriedly. “What on earth…?”

Nikki broke off when she saw him close his eyes and take a deep breath. Nikki addressing him had drawn MacGyver back to the present at once. He slowly let out the deep breath, forced himself to look at Nikki´s concerned face, and pushed back the memory that had burst back into his mind.

“Sorry.” He swallowed hard and slowly ran his hand over her wavy hair. “I´m grateful for what you told me… really… But Deborah said the exact same words to me before I took off with the boat.” he continued with a low voice after another deep breath. “And then she blew it…”

Nikki´s face fell with his explanation. She held her breath briefly before she sighed with deep sympathy.

“Oh, dear… MacGyver, I had no idea…” she started to apologize, but MacGyver cut her off by laying one finger across her lips.

“It is not your fault.” he said softly. A small smile grew on his face. “I´m all right… but it may take some time to get that memory out of my head.” MacGyver soothingly stroked her cheek with his long fingers and threaded his left arm through the gap between Nikki´s upper body and her arm, where she had pushed herself up to her elbow. “Must have also been hard for you to pretend being married.” he continued after a few silent seconds. “For the second time…”

Nikki´s face was still somber when she nodded, but a bit of a smile played around her lips a moment later.

“It got easier a little more than one week ago…” she admitted.

“We´ve both got some haunting memories concerning relationships.” MacGyver stated. “Being together won´t be easy…”

A warm wave of relief washed through him when he wrapped his left arm around her back and felt the tension leave her body. Nikki bent down to place a soft and comforting kiss on his cheek and then cuddled herself close to him, her head buried at his shoulder, holding on to him with one arm around his chest. MacGyver turned a little towards Nikki, pulled her even tighter into an embrace, and placed a tender kiss on her forehead.

“Until we manage to focus on the here and now…” Mac continued low with a sigh.

He felt Nikki nod next to his shoulder and his own body relax, finally.

“We´ll be okay.” he whispered reassuringly while he squeezed her closer to himself, shut his eyes, and leaned his head against hers.

They held on to each other for minutes; until they had both calmed down, felt comfortable again after their unsettling awakening, and had pushed back the disturbing memories. They kept up their embrace, as both were savoring the comforting physical closeness of the other. MacGyver took in the smell of Nikki´s hair and skin, sensed the softness of her slender body snuggled up against his own, and felt her breathe. He felt her warmth through the fabrics of the shirts that separated them, and her bare legs resting close to his own that were clad in the sweatpants.

Despite his best intentions in the middle of the night, and even now when he was rested after several hours of sleep, Mac suddenly felt his body react strongly to her presence. MacGyver tried to shift his position without acting too obvious, so she wouldn´t notice, but when he felt Nikki´s muscles tense up a bit, he knew he was busted. He sighed inwardly.

Yes… it is truly hard to hide anything from a smart woman…

He felt Nikki raise her head and opened his eyes with a shy smile on his face.

“Didn´t you say something like ‘just sleep’?” Nikki pinned him with an accusing gaze, but didn´t move away from him or loosen her embrace. “Where´s this supposed to lead?”

“I did.” MacGyver shrugged apologetically. “But you´ve been married, do I really have to explain it?” He tried to joke at the tense situation, but Nikki just stared him down silently for a few moments.

“It won´t lead anywhere if it is not okay with you.” Mac added quickly, released his hold around her, and reattempted to pull back from her. But Nikki slightly moved with him while she eyed him probing.

“It won´t?” she asked sternly as she once more pushed herself up to one elbow and rested her hand on the middle of his chest. Right above his beating heart.

“Of course not.” he reassured. His heartbeat sped up. “Nikki, I meant no offense… I´m sorry if…”

Nikki silenced him by crossing his lips with her fingers and observed him for another long moment. MacGyver had to concentrate on breathing when she slowly bent down and kissed him. Tender, soft, unhurried, and very sensual. Mac couldn´t help but close his eyes and respond to her while he managed to keep his hands pressed on the mattress.

He licked his lips nervously and opened his eyes with surprisedly raised eyebrows, when she broke the kiss seemingly endless seconds later. He could still taste her while she once again looked down on him critically, measuring him.

“I stayed on my side of the bed.” MacGyver tried to defend himself further. “You did come over and…”

“I know.” Nikki cut him off with a very low voice.

Her face stayed somber before she kissed him once more, even more intense, passionate and sensuous this time. Her hand caressed his tousled hair and traveled down to his shoulder when she rose up to scrutinize him afterward. MacGyver had to take a deep breath to stay in control of his thoughts due to the electrifying sensation he felt his body tingle with because of her kisses. But her mixed signals and her serious expression confused him.

“Nikki, you´d better stop this if you´re not…” he started hoarsely, inwardly still determined to respect her limits and back off if she wanted him to, but his words trailed off when he sensed her fingers draw a thrilling line along his collarbone through the t-shirt. By now, he was glad about the shirts and the sweatpants still being there and separating them. But then her body softened and melted even closer toward his own.

“It is okay with me.”

She smiled amused at how embarrassed he had been and how she now saw surprise and relief showing in his eyes and on his face with her consent. MacGyver at once felt himself blushing and a wave of heat rush up his spine as he understood. She had been teasing him! She had misled him! On purpose! But he wasn´t able to scowl at her for more than a few seconds because of her flirtatious smile.

He couldn´t take his eyes off her when she shot the clock on his nightstand a quick look. At that moment MacGyver didn´t care what time it was. The intensity of the emotions he sensed made his heart pound. The heat and the tingling spread through his whole body. At that moment he was done with consciously thinking about any of his feelings toward Nikki. He looked up at her with deep affection and wrapped his arms around her. Right now, the only thing MacGyver desired was to be close to her, to hold her, to feel her, to give her even more bliss and pleasure than he already felt thanks to the thrill of anticipation. But Nikki stopped him when he tried to pull her down for another kiss.

“You do remember that we both have an appointment with Pete Thornton?” she asked suddenly and firmly, but with a playful smile.

MacGyver´s hands gently traveled up to the back of her shoulders; the fingers of his right one started tenderly caressing the back of her neck while the left one slid back to her waist along her spine. He nodded. His dark brown eyes seemed to sparkle when Nikki held his gaze. His romantic expression slowly turned into an impish grin.

“I guess, he´ll have to wait… we might both be late.”


Posted by: uniquelyjas 4 December 2021 - 07:17 PM
Very nice chapter. The beginning is typical Mac with the TV western and couch-sleeping. Good job getting him into his actual bed, by the way!! I like how you provide us with insight into Nikki as she stays and looks around Mac's apartment (good details, here) and then muses in the chair. Darn that Deborah! She really did a number on Mac! I really like the conversation between Mac and Nikki the next morning, and I like Nikki calling him out for lying. Her straight-forwardness and tenacity is something I liked about her and also something I think Mac needs in a woman. As you made comments about how it's hard to be in a relationship with a smart woman, I'm thinking that's what Mac needs! Oh, and you mentioned Nikki dating Matt Webber. I didn't like him from the start! Finally, I think it's cute how Mac becomes shy when their interaction becomes more intimate. Though never actually shown on the series, comments about his relationships made me believe he wouldn't tend to be shy in that particular area. I think it shows how truly special Nikki is to him. He really doesn't want to do or say anything to mess this up. And yes! By all means, be late for the meeting! It took so long to get this far, don't stop just to go to meet with Pete! I have a feeling he'll forgive you:))

Posted by: bluegirl 5 December 2021 - 08:51 AM
So, has everybody had enough time to imagine why they would be late...? biggrin.gif tongue.gif biggrin.gif

So, let´s get them settled back at home, get used to the changes, and let everyday life catch up with them...
It´s 'halftime'! Remember, there are ten more parts to come! And all of you enjoying the 'lovestory', remember that I set out to explain why Nikki is NOT there anymore from season 4 on...

Here we go:

Part 11


It was well past 10 a.m. when MacGyver and Nikki stepped into the elevator at the Phoenix Foundation´s headquarters. Nikki had taken her own car and stopped at her apartment to change into a more business-like outfit after she´d left the houseboat. They had met again in the lobby by coincidence; Nikki had arrived just as MacGyver had been signing himself in. She had shown her usual behavior toward the securities and the colleagues that had entered the elevator with them and only shot Mac a quick smile.

MacGyver had been a little confused at first, but quickly picked up on her intention to keep their relationship concealed and, of course, respected it. He had greeted her along with the others, nevertheless, while they stood silently in the elevator car, he couldn´t keep his eyes off her for all too long.

The physical and emotional echo of their morning together had him being more aware of everything and more sensitive to his surroundings, but at the same time more relaxed and contented. His torn and broken heart felt whole again. Somehow it felt like being more alive, more energetic once again after the trying time he had been through. Mac silently smiled to himself when he forced himself to tear his gaze off her and lowered his eyes to look at his shoes.

Two floors later all the other Phoenix employees had left the elevator and they were alone. MacGyver looked up at her with a boyish grin while he still leaned against the back wall of the elevator car.

“Hey there…”

Nikki turned her head toward him and smiled back, but didn´t move.

“I take it, you wanna keep this between us?” Mac asked.

Nikki nodded and turned back to the elevator´s doors.

“Some discretion would be nice… At least until you´ve made it kind of ‘official’ with Pete Thornton.” she answered quietly. “I´m not keen on any more gossip since my mistake with Matt Webber.”

Mac nodded and pushed himself off the wall. He stepped closer to her and raised one hand to caress her hair and her neck.

“I can understand that… I´ll talk to him. As soon as possible.”

He brushed a soft kiss on the side of her head with a playful smile.

“Thanks again for this morning.” he whispered huskily while he breathed in the smell of her hair. “It was amazing.”

Nikki eased herself out of his reach but returned the smile for a brief moment.

“You do remember that the elevators have video surveillance?” she reminded him with a chiding edge.

MacGyver slowly lowered his hand and his smile turned into a mischievous grin.

“I know, where the security footage is kept…” he replied low while he retreated back to the wall.

Nikki shot him a silent warning look, and Mac quickly raised both hands in a defensive gesture.

“Hey… just kidding!” he added hurriedly.

Nikki kept staring him down, and only a moment later the elevator doors opened for them. MacGyver observed how Nikki instantly switched back to her business-like attitude when she left the car and followed her toward Pete´s office. Helen shot the clock on the wall a glance when they passed through the front office, yet greeted them heartily.

“He´s already waiting for you.” she said with a slightly accusing look towards Mac. “Go right in.”

MacGyver stopped with Nikki beside him to knock on the frame of the half-open door. Pete Thornton quickly looked up from the files he had been reading and waved them in.

“Good morning!” he greeted them smiling, but his expression went serious only a moment later. “I know that you´re not always the one to be on time, MacGyver… but you, Nikki?” he scolded them. “Don´t tell me some of his habits are rubbing off on you?”

MacGyver grinned and shrugged apologetically.

“Kind of… sorry, Pete… it´s my fault.” he took the blame and Pete´s attention off Nikki while they walked up to Pete´s desk and sat down opposite to him.

Pete shot his friend a puzzled glance but concentrated back on his files when MacGyver gestured toward them.

“Are those the prints made from the film we brought with us?” MacGyver swiftly changed the topic and Pete nodded and handed the folder over to him.

“Our analysts are already working on the documents.” Pete stated. “But a first look confirmed that it is hot stuff. It seems the GRU has more problems than just Zorkin and Baranov. I´ll wait to pass it on until the full report is ready, but I guess the DXS will also be very interested.”

MacGyver flipped through the prints silently. His Russian was a little rusted but he got the main points the documents were about. It seemed as if a group of agents had built a ‘shadow organization’ within the GRU and had followed their own agenda.

“So it was worth the effort… glad to hear that.” he nodded after he was done and offered the manila folder to Nikki. She shot MacGyver a quick deprecating stare as she took the prints from him but said nothing. Pete, on the other hand, picked up on Mac´s comment and pinned him with an expectant gaze.

“Speaking of your effort… care to share the details with me?”

MacGyver drew in a deep breath while he recalled the evening in Znojmo and the night and the days afterward. Being forced to flee through the forest. Falling ill with the cold and getting injured while crossing the border. Being weakened by and delirious due to the high fever. He straightened himself in his chair and nodded.

“Sure.”

It took several minutes until he was through with telling his side of the events and Nikki had related her point of view. They both deliberately spared out the part about how their relationship had changed during the days at Starkoss´s house. Pete Thornton sat silently and seriously looking at them for a few moments after they were done.

“Starkoss?” he asked baffled then. “You mentioned him on the phone, Nikki, but… him turning up must have been quite a surprise.”

Mac nodded and shot Nikki a thankful sideways glance.

“I´m definitely glad about that surprise.” he said to Pete. And you don´t even know about the other one yet, Mac added mentally.

“So am I.” Nikki agreed. “I didn´t have any clue how to find you until he turned up.”

“Your special kind of luck, Mac?” Pete asked as he leaned back behind his desk.

MacGyver shrugged nonchalantly and opened his mouth to reply but Nikki cut him off.

“Well, you certainly can´t claim him to be part of your improvisation.”

Mac was stunned silent for a moment.

“I don´t.” he then countered reflexively and threw her a quick sideways look. “I´m thankful that you chose to improvise along with him”

“I didn´t have much of a choice if I wanted to help you.” Nikki shot back.

“All right, people, save it.” Pete stopped them. “Why don´t you both get out of here and get to work on your written reports? I need them as soon as possible. And I also need those rings back from you.”

MacGyver and Nikki fell silent and concentrated back on their boss. Then Nikki took off her ring, got up, and handed the ring and the folder back to Pete.

“I´ll be in my office.”

“The promised money should arrive until the late afternoon.” Pete added. “I´ll let you both know in time.”

Nikki nodded, turned and left the office, but MacGyver stayed in his seat and gazed down at the ring on his bandaged left hand. Why not break the news with Pete right away, he thought.

“What will you be doing with your share this time?” Pete asked him with an amused smile and turned back to the files on his desk. “A new roll of duct tape again?”

“Nope.” Mac replied absentmindedly. “A new rain jacket.”

Pete first grinned at his answer, but quickly noticed his friend´s changed mood and focused on him.

“MacGyver? … What´s the matter?”

Mac sighed and looked up at him with a serious and pensive expression. Pete´s face turned concerned in an instant.

“What´s wrong?”

“Nothing.” MacGyver now assured quickly. “But what I´ve got to tell you might be quite a surprise to you…”

Pete frowned at Mac worried, but he waited silently for him to find the right words.

“Nikki and I left out something while we told our story… something important.” MacGyver started out hesitatingly and gazed at Pete with a shy smile. As comfortable as he felt with Nikki close, admitting his feelings for her felt unaccustomed to him. Even to Pete. His closest friend.

“Our relationship has changed during the last two weeks.” Mac finally said.

“I didn´t mention it yesterday, but I noticed that the two of you get along with less tension.” Pete answered as his expression eased up a little. “Your friendship must have grown closer while she took care of you… I guess you must be grateful.”

MacGyver lowered his eyes to his hands and licked his lips nervously. He slowly took off the golden ring and rolled it between his fingers.

“It´s more than just gratitude.” he stated with a low, but firm voice after a small pause. “It grew way beyond friendship.”

Pete gaped at him silently when Mac raised his head with a more confident smile.

“What?” Pete stammered baffled after a couple of seconds. “Are you telling me…?”

MacGyver nodded quietly.

“You and Nikki?” Pete continued, still puzzled, while he leaned back in his chair. “Well, that ‘is’ quite a surprise… the two of you always were like fire and ice…”

“We´re working on that…” MacGyver´s smile widened and relaxed.

“I´m happy for both of you.” Pete sighed with relief. “But why are you telling me this alone? You both know that the Phoenix Foundation has no restrictions concerning…”

“We do.” Mac cut him off and leaned forward. “Nikki asked me to talk to you… to tell you… with respect to our close friendship.”

Pete nodded and smiled with understanding.

“Let her know that I appreciate it… and that I´m grateful that she brought you back alive.”

“I will.” MacGyver promised with an earnest smile.

“And now get out of here and get to work.” Pete ordered. “You do remember that I need your mission report?”

MacGyver quickly got to his feet, laid the ring on Pete´s desk next to the one Nikki had worn, and gave his friend and boss a lopsided salute.

“Yes, sir.”

*****

MacGyver had directly gone to Nikki´s office to tell her about his conversation with Pete after she´d left them. She had been relieved to hear that Pete Thornton had taken the news well, but had soon afterward shooed Mac out of her office, so she could continue to work on her report undistracted. The three of them had met again later in the afternoon when Pete had called Mac and Nikki back to his office to pick up the money that had been offered by wealthy U.S. supporters of the organization the Dubcek brothers were leading. Like last year, MacGyver had chosen to anonymously donate most of his share to the brothers´ fight for human rights and Nikki had followed his example.

They had met Anton and Pavel Dubcek on the next day in their guarded house, as Pete Thornton still kept the brothers under protection by Phoenix operatives. Anton and Pavel had expressed their gratitude to MacGyver and Nikki and, like last year, Anton had been completely baffled and overwhelmed by the amount of money that had been contributed to their cause.

Pete had joined them and had shared all the news concerning the documents, as not only Mac and Nikki but also the analysts had finished their reports and had confirmed their first assumptions. Pete had already passed on the information about the shadow organization within the GRU to the DXS as well. Unfortunately, there were no news whatsoever regarding the whereabouts of Zorkin and Baranov.

Nevertheless, Pete had told MacGyver to take several days off for further recovery and had told Nikki to take care of all the paperwork that had piled up on her desk during the last two weeks. However, it had taken only three days until Mac had turned up in Pete´s office unannounced and bored. He had tried to persuade his friend to allow him back to his regular work, but Pete had been cautious.

“Only light duty for some time.” he had told MacGyver.

*****

A little more than a week later MacGyver was roused briskly and real early from his sleep by the alarm clock on his nightstand. Still half asleep and somewhat automatically he reached out with one hand and pushed the button on top of the clock to silence it. His still sleep-dazed mind noticed the half-light of daybreak through his closed eyelids, and then he felt movement next to his back. A female body turned and snuggled up to his, a slender arm wrapped itself around his bare upper body.

“Do you really have to get up that early?” He heard Nikki ask drowsily and softly.

Her warm breath tickled pleasantly on the skin of his neck. Slowly the memory of last evening and last night crept back into his head. Nikki. She had come over to his houseboat for dinner and they had enjoyed a cozy evening. Everyday life had caught up with both of them soon after their return from Austria, and yesterday had been their first opportunity to spend some time together, apart from their work at the Phoenix Foundation.

Planned and deliberately this time, unlike their first night back home.

He remembered the conversations they´d had; he remembered cuddling with her on the couch before she had chosen to stay for the night as well. It had been a very special night. Slow, tender, exploring each other's feelings and desires, but also passionate and filled with deep affection. The physical and emotional echo of the memory returned as he felt Nikki´s lips gently kiss the side of his neck. Slowly Mac rolled onto his back, turned his head toward her, and let his mouth find hers.

“You know, I do.” MacGyver answered low when their lips parted after a couple of sensual moments and he finally opened his eyes with an apologetic smile. “I have to keep up the schedule on recording the data.”

Nikki pushed herself up to one elbow and scrutinized him while her fingertips traced a line first along his collarbone and then down the middle of his chest. MacGyver let her do as she liked and savored the tingling sensation for a few moments before he caught her hand with his own and held it in place.

“Don´t tempt me.” he asked as he wrapped his other arm around Nikki´s waist, looked up at her adoringly, and pulled her into a close embrace. “I´d like to stay with you… you know that as well.”

At that moment Mac was truly relieved that she once again had commandeered one of his hockey shirts for sleeping, and he could only feel her body pressed against his through the fabric. Sensing her warm, silky skin directly on his own, like last night, might have shaken his resolve.

“So?” Nikki replied with a seductive smile and gently pulled her hand free. Her fingers traveled upward, caressing MacGyver´s neck and hair, and then followed his eyebrows and cheekbones before Mac caught her hand again. He brushed a soft kiss on her palm and looked up with a now serious expression at her.

“It is important, Nikki.” he answered.

“They´re all important.” Nikki shot back and rolled her eyes, but Mac quickly cut her off.

“Hey! … We´ve been through that.” he countered. “With Steven Knapp behind bars, his associates have aborted their plans to build the marina, but the state environmental agency is still asking for our long-term study. They´re thinking about turning the beach and its surroundings into a natural preserve. I´ve been involved in the research from the beginning. I can´t withdraw from it now. Not with an opportunity like this.”

Nikki stared down at him silently for a moment. She had always admired his dedication to his environmental work. But with this particular project… she was apprehensive. She sighed deeply and nodded.

“You know that Phoenix has several scientists on their regular payroll that could run the study.” she tried to argue.

“Many of them are already working on it.” MacGyver stated resolutely. “But I´ve been supervising this from the start… and Pete won´t assign me anywhere else for now. He´s still concerned about my recovery.”

“So am I.” Nikki snapped at him.

MacGyver flinched back a little with her harsh reply and frowned at her surprised and baffled.

“The work isn´t all too physically demanding. It is only ‘light duty’ according to Pete´s standards.” he told her, but after a beat, she suddenly avoided his gaze. Mac watched her for a moment and then reached up to stroke over her dark, wavy hair. His long fingers found her chin and urged her to look at him with gentle force.

“Nikki?” he asked her softly. “What´s really going on?”

Her face showed a lot of concern and Nikki hesitated to answer, but Mac´s deep brown eyes bore into her and held her captive. She cleared her throat.

“I don´t like the idea of you going back to that beach… alone… and by boat.” She said with a low voice.

MacGyver puffed out a deep breath.

“That boat is new… and I´ve checked it myself… nothing is gonna…” he started to assure her quickly, but his words trailed off when she lowered her eyes again.

“I´m not worried about the boat.” Nikki continued sharply after a small pause. “I´m worried about the memories it might bring back to you… I´ve seen how they still affect you, remember? I can´t get those moments out of my head.” She stared at him silently after those sentences.

MacGyver drew in a long, deep breath. He hadn´t been aware that his abrupt frightened reaction more than a week ago when they had woken up in his bed for the first time together still bothered her that much. Neither had he been aware that she was still thinking about it. He let out a long sigh, let go of her chin, and caressed her hair in a comforting gesture.

“That´s part of why I have to go.” he answered slow and husky. “I have to face those memories to know that I´ll be able to stand up to them. I´ll be all right.”

He forced his serious expression to turn into a reassuring smile when Nikki didn´t reply. After a few moments, he gave her his best disarming and boyish grin.

“And I didn´t panic last night or today, did I?”

Nikki couldn´t help but return a smile at his cheeky remark while her hand traveled back to the middle of MacGyver´s chest. Close to his beating heart. She soaked up the feeling of it silently for a moment. She liked his special kind of sarcastic humor when he tried to ease up tense situations.

“No, you didn´t.” she admitted with a widening and earnest smile. “You made last evening and night truly awesome.”

MacGyver´s grin turned into a look of pure adoration for her. Her openness touched him deep inside, and he was speechless and overwhelmed for seconds as a wave of comfortable warmth washed through him.

“Come here.” he asked hoarsely when he turned to her, pulled her down for a kiss, and then wrapped her into a tight embrace.

Nikki buried her face at his neck and held on to MacGyver. That is just another part of Mac´s character that makes him so special, she thought. No matter what difficulties he faced, he always tried his best to be a bastion of calm and solid as a rock for the people he cared about. She felt safe in his arms.

After a few moments, Nikki felt him turn her onto her back and ease himself a little away from her. Mac rested his body on his elbows just above her, so his weight wouldn´t crush her. He grinned down at her when she opened her eyes.

“You could come with me.” he offered. “You could help me recording the data.”

“Pete wouldn´t be happy about that.” Nikki shook her head. “There´s still a pile of paperwork waiting on my desk.”

“Too bad.” MacGyver´s expression turned serious when he shot his alarm clock a glance and then he brushed a quick kiss on her forehead. “But I do have to get up and get ready now.”

When Mac felt Nikki reluctantly loosen up her hold on him, he quickly pushed himself up, turned away, and sat up on the edge of the bed. He fished for his sweatpants on the floor and pulled them on over his boxer shorts as he stood up. Then he slipped into his sweatshirt with a little hurry because he sensed that inside he was in close danger of changing his mind. She looked too gorgeous lying in his bed with only his hockey shirt on and her dark, wavy hair still tousled from sleep. But he also knew he couldn´t leave Nikki like this.

MacGyver went around the bed to her side and crouched down next to her. He reached out for Nikki´s hand and she entwined her fingers with his. She smiled at him, but Mac could see a bit of remaining worry in her eyes. Silently he tried to smile away her sorrows for a couple of moments.

“I know it is real early.” he then said softly. “You can stay here as long as you like.”

Nikki nodded quietly while he kissed the back of her hand and then gently freed his fingers. MacGyver got up again, slipped into his socks and sneakers, and went downstairs to the kitchen.

*****

MacGyver had already finished preparing his breakfast shake and was consuming it while he checked the contents of the bags for his trip for the last time when Nikki came down the spiral staircase. She had used the time to take a quick shower and was now fully dressed and seemed ready for the day. Mac looked up at her and shot her a warm smile.

“I’ve set up coffee for you.” he told her with a nod toward the kitchen.

“Thanks.” she answered quietly, poured herself a cup and sat down at the kitchen table.

Nikki silently watched him while Mac finished making sure that every piece of his gear was there and ready, waited while he went upstairs to shower and get dressed, and helped him carry the bags outside and load them onto the boat.

Like last week, MacGyver felt more energetic and somewhat renewed after the time he and Nikki had spent together. But he had been so concentrated on getting ready for his day of research on that beach that it took some time for him to notice Nikki´s still pensive mood. He only became aware of the serious expression on her face when she handed him the last of his bags. Mac stowed the equipment away and then stepped back onto the pier next to her. He smiled down at her and softly caressed her hair in a comforting gesture.

“Hey… still thinking back?” he asked with a low voice.

Nikki looked up at him, seemingly lost in reflection, and then lowered her eyes to the boat.

“I was with Pete in his office when the call came in.” she said flatly. “They only told us about some explosion and that you were being taken to a hospital via emergency transport… that dreadful time until we had found you in that hospital and the doctor had told us that you were fine… for the most part. The memory came back to me while I watched you check your gear.”

MacGyver´s face froze while he drew in a deep breath.

“The explosion caught me completely unprepared.” he admitted. “I didn´t even have time to be scared before everything went dark… well, I was when I woke up blinded.” He sighed deeply and kissed her forehead. “But that is behind us, it all worked out well… We agreed to focus on the present, right?”

His long fingers found her chin and gently urged her to look at him. Mac forced himself to smile when he saw the sorrow in Nikki´s eyes.

“Nobody´s gonna get hurt.” he tried to convince her. “Trust me on that.”

“You know that I trust you.” Nikki replied resolutely, but her expression stayed serious.

MacGyver´s smile widened a little while he let go of her chin and reached down for her hand.

“So do I.”

His second hand went into his jeans´ pocket for the spare key to his houseboat that he´d stuffed into it earlier and now fished it out. He placed the key on her palm, softly wrapped her fingers around it, and held on to her closed hand with both of his for a moment.

“I´ll be back in the evening.” he said with a low voice. “Please, lock up before you leave.”

Nikki was speechless with surprise. She stared down at their hands. That man was known for his fear of commitment. She had heard enough gossip around the Phoenix Foundation about that fact over the last year. But there he was, handing her the key to his home, to the center of his life. Just like that.

His hands left hers, returned to her neck, and gently raised her head. She was still too overwhelmed to know how to respond when he bent down to kiss her. Soft. Warm. Tender. She couldn´t help smiling back and looking into his dark brown eyes only a second later.

“I gotta cast off.” Mac told her. “Can you help me with the lines?”

Nikki nodded silently as he let go of her and then turned to the stern of the boat to loosen the rope, while Mac did the same at the bow. MacGyver then stepped into the boat with a fluid motion and started the engine.

“Be careful, Mac, will you?” Nikki called out to him over the noise.

MacGyver shot her a beaming boyish grin over his shoulder.

“Yes, ma’am.”

In the next moment, he pushed the throttle control forward and steered the boat toward the open water of the ocean.

Nikki stood on the pier next to MacGyver´s houseboat and observed him drive off in the small boat until he was out of sight. Then she looked down at the key for a couple of seconds, still a bit baffled. She felt like looking at a gemstone… precious, but delicate. Slowly Nikki closed her fingers around the key and shot the direction Mac had disappeared to a glance while a blissful smile widened on her face. She took a deep breath and went back into the houseboat.

*****

MacGyver puffed out a relieved breath when he had tied the boat to the pier. He retrieved his bags and slowly took the few steps over to his houseboat. Mac unlocked the door, went inside, and dropped the bags next to the spiral staircase. With a deep sigh, he shrugged out of his jacket, hung it up on one of the coat hangers, and strode to the kitchen.

He was truly glad that one of his colleagues had offered to take the soil and water samples with him in his car. Otherwise, Mac would have been obliged to deliver those samples to the Phoenix labs right now. He had happily accepted that offer, as it spared him from having to drive to the lab complex after a long day of research. They had gotten through their planned workload well and without problems, and MacGyver had been relieved to see that the environmental study was perfectly on track. He hadn´t been involved in the daily work for some time as he only supervised the project, and it was way too early to predict its final results, but the initial findings pointed in the right direction. He hadn´t expected anything else after the earlier preliminary study.

MacGyver saw the evening sun already nearing the horizon through the window when he tiredly leaned against the kitchen island.

That day of research has been more exhausting than I thought, Mac mused while he filled up a glass with water. I hadn´t counted on the aftereffects of my illness and injuries still being that present.

He took a few large gulps and noticed that Nikki had taken the time to straighten up the kitchen in the morning. Mac silently smiled to himself. I´ve cleaned up the mixer after preparing my shake, but the rest of it… Thanks, when I asked you to lock up I didn´t have that in the back of my mind.

He emptied the glass, went over to his well-worn couch, and wearily dropped onto it. MacGyver allowed his thoughts to wander back to the morning.

Nikki has been right, he admitted internally. Apart from the research, the day has brought back a lot of haunting memories. But they don´t scare me like before. Thanks to her.

Mac turned and shot his guitar that was resting against the bookshelf a probing look. He had played on it for Deborah. But never since then. It hadn´t felt right. What about now?

Another thought from this morning surfaced in his mind. His decision to hand Nikki a key to his home had been kind of spontaneous. As he now reflected on this decision he had to swallow hard. He knew way too well about Nikki´s fear of letting anybody come real close. Mac´s own fear of committing himself completely to a relationship was quite similar. He had also lost so many dear people, friends, people he had loved.

MacGyver suddenly felt as if he had blindsided himself by handing her the key. It was truly a leap of faith for him. Even more so after Deborah´s betrayal. He had handed her a key to his home way too soon. Mac took several deep breaths to calm his abrupt doubts and urged himself to remember how he had felt… last evening, last night, this morning. He leaned back on the couch, ran his hands through his hair, and rubbed his face nervously.

Was it too soon? he asked himself. For her or myself? But we know each other for about one year now… I told her, that I do trust her… so? How can I not trust her after all we´ve been through?

MacGyver stared down at the freshly healed scar on his left palm. The memory of holding her in his arms last night popped into his head. The emotions returned. Sudden warmth spread from his stomach through his worn-out body.

Come on, MacGyver, he chided himself mentally. By now, you should have figured out what she means to you, what you feel for her. You can´t be seriously still doubting that…

Mac shook his head to clear it and sighed deeply.

No, he assured himself after a few moments. I´m not. Not anymore.

A contented smile widened on his face while he stood up to pick up his guitar. He then perched himself more comfortably on his sofa, before he checked the tuning of the instrument and started to play his favorite tunes.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 5 December 2021 - 02:13 PM
Good for them!! They were late...with a very good reason!!!! I love the little bantering between them in Pete' office...it's so much a part of both their characters it needs to stay even in this 'new' relationship. Well, we all know Mac won't take Pete's advice about taking it easy. Wonder how Mac interprets 'light duty'? Probably not the way Pete wants him to!! You do a very nice job transitioning back into real life and day-to-day work. So, Mac is still working on the project where he encountered Deborah. We know Mac is having trouble dealing with those memories, but I like how you added Nikki's point of view and her worry about him. When Mac gave Nikki the key to his houseboat, it seemed logical since she would be the one to lock up, but you load it with symbolism of commitment which makes the action that much more important. You also show that both of them still have issues to work through if their relationship is going to work. Since you pointed out that it's only "half time" I have a feeling things will get more 'interesting'. And the GRU agents are still out there somewhere. That unsettles me. Should I be unsettled?? The ending is terrific!! I LOVE that you have Mac playing his guitar. I wish he had done it more often on the series, especially since it's a part of RDA in real life. Another well written chapter!!

Posted by: bluegirl 9 December 2021 - 12:16 AM
Hi there, another Thursday has arrived...

Should you be unsettled with the GRU agents still being out there? ... Well, you might be, but isn´t there always someone out there hunting MacGyver?? hmm.bmp whistle.gif nasty.gif

I told all of you there´s ten more parts to come - kind of like 'the second half' of this story. Let´s get started with this one:

Part 12


The summer has passed real quickly, MacGyver thought while he loosened his tie and strode back to his jeep in the dimness of the street lights. The nights are getting cool already, even here in Los Angeles, and it´s only the beginning of September. But it´ll be a few weeks until I´ll have to get the hardtop and the doors back on.

Mac smiled to himself as he opened his suit jacket and climbed into the car. He fastened his seatbelt and turned for a moment to look back at the apartment building he´d just left before he turned the key to start the engine. It had been a very special evening. Not quite like the ones he was used to. Suit and tie. A high-class restaurant. Well out of his regular comfort zone.

MacGyver had taken Nikki out, had invited her on something like a date. He had felt, he had to do it as nothing like it had happened in their relationship yet. Nikki had been surprised when he had asked her. She had been even more surprised at his looks when he had turned up earlier this evening to pick her up. Especially because he´d chosen one of his best suits only for her. Without being pressed to do it. Simply because he´d known that she would appreciate it. She had teased him for his formal outfit, but he had noticed that she´d felt flattered by it.

Even though he had asked her to dress up as well in advance, MacGyver had been too baffled to counter her teasing for several minutes after she´d opened the apartment door. He had seen her in all kinds of outfits over the past year and he´d always seen her as an attractive woman, but this time… She had changed from her business outfit to a black dress, close-fitting, length just below her knees with high-heels and just the right touch of make-up and jewelry. The way the dress had hugged her curves at all the right places had blown him away at first sight. Mac had needed a few moments until he´d been able to tell her how beautiful she had looked.

Having had Nikki at his side in the car, during dinner and the walk they had taken afterward, had him feeling as if he had been taking care of a treasure. His treasure. Although MacGyver didn´t feel the least bit possessive toward her. He was very well aware that this treasure had been handed, had been gifted to him. That fact made it even more valuable to him.

He had just returned that precious home, had escorted Nikki to the door of her apartment only a few moments ago. Their last tender kiss still echoed within him as he put the jeep into gear and drove off. With the dark night sky above him, his thoughts wandered back even further on his way home. The last two months had passed quickly; however, they had been full of special days and special experiences.

After their return from Austria, their common, everyday life had soon caught up with Mac and Nikki. They had both been engrossed in their work for the Phoenix Foundation, yet had found ways to work together, they wouldn´t have thought about before, or even thought possible. The environmental study on the beach had been a good example. MacGyver had been able to concentrate on his work in the field and the lab thanks to Nikki taking the load of paperwork and red tape off his back as soon as she had been done with the overhang of files left on her desk after their return. Pete had been quite surprised when they had presented their idea of cooperating to him but had allowed them to follow through with it.

MacGyver and Nikki had worked together on a few other cases as well during the summer, and thinking back it amused MacGyver, how Pete had been almost relieved to see that sometimes he and Nikki had still been bantering about how to proceed in a complicated situation. But Pete had also assigned them solo on some missions if necessary.

He and Nikki had spent a lot of time with each other off work too, but been careful not to stick together all of the time. Nikki had been aware of Mac´s need to keep the balance between their relationship and his independence and he was truly grateful for it. Sometimes he longed for solitude and she´d granted it to him. Without questioning it.

On a few weekends, MacGyver and Nikki had been traveling up to Widow Canyon to help Pete rebuild the cabin that Murdoc had burned down. They both didn´t have the best memories about being there thanks to Mike´s accident and thanks to Murdoc, but had gradually overcome them. MacGyver had sensed the guilt and the sadness he had felt during his days after Mike´s death pull him down again on their first stay up there, but rebuilding the cabin and focusing on the work together with Nikki and Pete had helped him fill the place with positive memories once more. The last of those weekends, about two weeks ago, had been unique, Mac remembered while driving home. Pete had been forced to return to Los Angeles earlier because of some emergency at the Foundation, and they had had the last day for themselves.

Nikki´s manual skills had improved during all the days she´d been working up there, and they had been able to finish the roof and the boarding of the walls on that last day. Nevertheless, Mac had suggested staying in the tent they had pitched close to the fireplace that he had built near the shore of the small lake. He had fixed dinner using that fire but somehow, after consuming their meal, they had ended up sitting and talking on the pier behind the cabin, first watching the sunset and later gazing up to the stars.

At some point, Nikki had leaned against him; Mac had noticed her getting cold and had wrapped her into his jacket and his arms. He had felt her breathe, had taken in the smell of her hair, and had felt so deeply contented at those moments. Contented with how his life had once again taken an unexpected, but awesome turn. They had remained on the pier for quite a while, mutely cuddled up to each other, with no need for words anymore. MacGyver´s smile widened at the memory of those minutes, of that evening. He had just quietly held her, she had just silently lain in his arms, but it had felt so close, so intimate, and so profound.

*****

Nikki Carpenter hung up her coat after she had closed the door of her apartment behind herself. MacGyver had just chivalrously walked her up to her door, had wished her a good night, and had left after a tender and affectionate goodbye kiss. She stood thinking for a few moments, feeling the emotional resonance of that kiss, before she turned, walked to the window front, and looked down toward the street.

After a couple of seconds, she spotted MacGyver´s silhouette in the dim light of the street lamps and watched him head to his jeep. Nikki knew he cleaned up nicely; she had seen him in a suit before, yet on this evening MacGyver had looked incredibly handsome in the dark grey, double-breasted suit, with the dark red shirt and matching tie. She hadn´t been able to withstand teasing him for his formal attire, but secretly she had felt honored and special because he had chosen to dress up like that and leave his comfort zone… for her alone.

For this special occasion. The expensive restaurant. The walk they had taken after their exquisite dinner. She´d been astounded, when he´d asked her out. On kind of a date. It was something she hadn´t expected him to do. After all the time they knew each other already. Nikki hadn´t expected Mac to be that romantic up until tonight.

And she had noticed how he had been stunned silent at her sight. Although Nikki had been careful not to dress up too fancy or too sexy. He had needed some moments until he had told her how beautiful she was, and she knew that his compliment had been genuine and heartfelt by the way his dark brown eyes had been watching her during the whole evening. As if he had been fascinated by a unique gem. MacGyver had acted like a perfect gentleman all the time, had given her the feeling of being precious and dear to him.

Nikki sighed as she watched MacGyver climb into his Jeep, look back to her windows for a moment, and then drive off. Her eyes stayed glued to the spot where the jeep had been parked after he was gone. The last summer had been nothing like she´d expected it to be after she had moved to California more than one year ago. She had done her best to avoid working together with MacGyver after they had teamed up to catch the murderer of her brother Danny, but during the last two months…

Even though Nikki still couldn´t really bear with Mac´s spontaneous and at times slightly chaotic way of handling certain situations, they had found a way of collaborating that combined their individual abilities, had found a way to complement each other. They had spent a lot of time working together closely during the summer. And off work…

She was glad that Mac had respected her need to be alone when she felt like it, as well as she had given in to his urge for solitude at times. After all he had been through in the past year she could very well understand that sometimes Mac needed to be with just himself and his thoughts. Of course, she had let him have his own way.

But the weekends they had spent together… They had been wonderful, close, funny, and sometimes challenging for her. Nikki considered herself well-trained; yet keeping up with MacGyver during the hiking tour the athletic man had invited her to earlier this summer had caused some difficulties to her.

The same had been true for her manual abilities while they had helped Pete rebuild his cabin. She had witnessed MacGyver concocting all kinds of ‘solutions’ out of virtually nothing in a squeeze, but seeing and assisting him building a wooden cabin in a workmanlike manner had added another facet to her image of him. Seeing Mac and Pete interact on those weekends, away from the Foundation, away from their work, had shown her just how close those two men were, how much their friendship was like family.

And there had been this last day at Widow Canyon, two weeks ago…

Pete had had to leave early, and she and MacGyver had been alone up there… Mac had prepared a mouth-watering dinner out of some vegetables they had brought with them from Ellard´s store and fresh fish he had caught in the lake. The fire-grilled fish had been delicious. A smile widened on Nikki´s face as she thought back to that evening.

They had moved to the pier after their meal, had watched the gorgeous scenery during sunset, and had talked about everything and anything. When it had gotten dark and the air cool, she had snuggled up to MacGyver. At some point, they had stopped talking, and Mac had taken off his jacket and wrapped it around her as soon as he had sensed her freezing. He had encircled her in his arms without saying a word, had just held her close to himself. She had felt his heartbeat close to her, had sensed his warm breath in her hair.

And for the first time since Adam had died, she had felt whole again. She´d felt as if they were the only ones on this planet. She had felt the bond, the strong affection between them. She had felt as if she was the only person that mattered to MacGyver at those moments. Nikki had never thought that it would be possible again. Especially with MacGyver, of all people…

It has started out a little rough, she remembered. That evening in Austria, the morning on the day after, all the doubts and fears that had surfaced because of their previous relationship experiences. Nikki looked up at the dark sky through her window although she could barely see any stars due to the street lights here in the middle of the city. I´m still waiting for him to say those three special words, but I guess, we´ve overcome those initial doubts, she thought. Mac was right about asking me to give us a chance…

*****

Back at the marina, MacGyver parked his jeep at his usual spot and headed directly toward his houseboat. Despite all the pleasant memories whirling through his head, by now he was tired and truly looked forward to getting out of the suit and tie. He unlocked the door and went inside and directly upstairs to change into more comfortable clothes before he came back down and flopped himself on the couch. Mac sat silently thinking for a few moments and then reached out for his guitar. He was physically weary, but due to the lingering memories his date with Nikki had brought up on his way home, his mind was still in high gear. Usually, playing a few tunes helped him calm down his thoughts.

Tonight, however, it took quite some time until his mind relaxed with the music and he got sleepy. Still with a little smile on his face and the picture of Nikki in her black dress in his head, MacGyver turned off the lights and climbed the stairs to his bedroom. They both had an appointment with Pete tomorrow morning concerning the environmental study, and a meeting with the State Environmental Agency later on. It was high time to get some rest.

Mac locked his door from the inside before going to bed and had never noticed the dark car that had followed him during the whole evening. Neither had he seen the driver that had observed him and Nikki closely, nor the second man that had left the shadows next to his houseboat only moments after Mac had entered it. That second man hurried up to the parking lot and slipped into the passenger seat of the dark vehicle.

“Have you been able to place the devices?” the driver asked without preamble.

“Yes.” the man answered quickly. “Been no problem. One upstairs, one in the kitchen, one close to his sofa. We can listen to him, wherever he is in there, whatever he´s doing, to whomever he´s talking.”

“Good.” the driver sighed. “And he won´t notice them?”

“No way.” The man shook his head. “I´ve been careful. He shouldn´t even notice that I´ve been in there… what have you been able to find out?”

“He took the woman out for dinner.” the driver replied. “Got to be his sweetheart, judging by the way he treated her.”

“The one that also works for the Phoenix Foundation? This Nicole Carpenter?” the second man wanted to know. “The one we found in the border entry records?”

“She must have been his cover then.” the driver nodded. “We need to place some bugs in her apartment as well… but there´s nothing more we can do tonight. We can only keep MacGyver under observation. And be patient. Sooner or later he´ll tell us… or show us.”

*****

MacGyver was roused briskly by his alarm clock on the next morning. Automatically he reached out to silence it and then let his arm drop back on the bed while he rolled onto his back with a sigh. He´d set the alarm as a precaution, as he still had to prepare all the documents and records he would need for his meeting with Pete and Nikki. With all the pictures of the summer his date with Nikki had brought up in his mind, Mac hadn´t been able to concentrate on the files after his return home last evening but instead had chosen to get up earlier today.

He took a deep breath, got out of his bed, and slipped into sweatpants, a t-shirt, and shoes before he went downstairs. MacGyver made quick work of preparing his breakfast shake and booted up his computer while he started sorting through the manila folders on his desk. He checked the files against his records on the hard drive and made a few more print-outs to complete his reports.

When he had finished consuming his shake, he gathered all the folders into a stack and moved them to the kitchen island. He placed the empty glass in the sink and climbed the spiral staircase toward his bed- and bathroom. After a shower, MacGyver changed into black jeans, a banded collar shirt, and picked one of his not too formal suit jackets.

Suit again, he sighed inwardly but smiled with the memory of last evening. Well, since we´ve got this appointment with the State Environmental Agency in the afternoon, I guess I do have to.

He hung the suit jacket over the rope that formed the handrail of the staircase after he had descended downward again and grabbed his well-worn messenger bag. MacGyver was just done with straightening up the kitchen and stuffing all the files into his canvas bag when the phone rang. He shot his watch a glance, noticed that it was high time for him to get going, mused about letting the machine answer the call, but in the next split second, some gut feeling made him choose against it. With a few quick strides, Mac was at his desk and picked up the receiver.

“Hello?”

“MacGyver, you´re still at home… good… it´s Nikki.”

Mac instantly noticed that Nikki´s voice sounded hurried and a little stressed.

“Yeah.” he replied while trying not to pick up on her tension. “I was just about to leave so I won´t be late when the phone rang. Just finished gathering all the reports.”

“That´s good to hear.” Nikki answered with audible relief. “Listen, could you do me a favor?”

MacGyver was speechless with surprise for a moment and raised his eyebrows. Nikki… asking me for a favor?

“Sure… name it.” he offered. “What´s the matter?” He heard Nikki take a deep breath.

“Well, I´m already in my office at the Phoenix headquarters.” she said. “And we do have this meeting concerning your environmental study today.”

“Yes…” Mac agreed expectantly when she took a little break. “So?”

“Could you take a little detour and drive by my apartment?” Nikki asked. “And pick up something…?”

“Of course.” Mac assured. “But what´s that important?”

“When I left home this morning I took my briefcase with me…” Nikki explained a little hesitantly. “But I´ve got that folder with all the official application forms… we do need it in the afternoon… and I just realized that I forgot that one at home.”

Her words were trailing off; Mac could hear that she had a hard time admitting her mistake concerning the bureaucracy to him. Nevertheless, he couldn´t help but chuckle briefly when the initial tension he had felt at the beginning of the call left him.

“You…?” he teased her. “You forgot something?”

Nikki snorted at the other end of the line.

“Yes, I did.” she replied sharply. “I´d go home and get it myself, but I´m in the middle of getting all the print-outs ready for our meeting with the committee and I thought…”

“I´ll get it… no problem.” MacGyver stopped her with clearly audible amusement in his voice. “Sorry… it´s just… I´m not used to you forgetting…”

“MacGyver.” The now cutting tone of her voice silenced him. “Stop it.”

Mac drew in a deep breath, still smiling to himself but doing his best to sound serious again.

“Yes, ma’am.” he answered. “Where´s the folder supposed to be and what does it look like?”

“It should be on my desk next to the bookshelf.” Nikki told him. “It´s bright blue, with the Phoenix Foundation´s logo on it.”

“I´ll find it.” Mac assured. “But I´m gonna be late for our appointment with Pete because of that detour and you´re gonna explain to him why…”

“Fine.” Nikki snorted again.

“All right, I´ll better get going.” Mac added. “See you in Pete´s office.”

“See you… and MacGyver… thank you.” Nikki replied in a much softer tone.

“You’re welcome, dear.” Mac smiled, put down the receiver, and instantly turned to the kitchen. Now he had to hurry…

MacGyver picked up his messenger bag and the suit jacket, snatched his bunch of keys from the board, and headed for the parking lot after locking his door. He still had a bit of a smile on his face when he climbed into his jeep and drove off. He had handed Nikki a key to his houseboat quite soon after their return from Austria, whereas she had needed way more time to have enough faith in their relationship. She had given him the key to her apartment only two weeks ago when he had returned her home after their last weekend at Widow Canyon.

They hadn´t been there all too often, had rather chosen to meet somewhere else or spent their time with each other at the houseboat. But now… she had sent him there… to the center of her personal life. MacGyver knew how much her privacy meant to her, how thorough her trust in him must have grown. A comfortable wave of warmth caused by that realization spread through his whole body while he steered the jeep through the city´s morning traffic.

*****

MacGyver parked his jeep next to the apartment building at the Forster Lane, shrugged into his suit jacket as soon as he had slipped out of his car, and flung the strap of his bag over his shoulder. In the meantime, his thoughts had focused back on the work ahead of him instead of lingering with last evening, which he had spent with Nikki.

Nevertheless, Mac felt a little awkward as he approached the building, went inside, and stepped off the elevator at the correct floor a couple of moments later. It was the first time that he was here… alone… on his own. Automatically, his hand had already gone into his pocket during his ride in the elevator and now he fished out the key as he went along the corridor toward Nikki´s apartment door.

What had she said? Bright blue, Phoenix Foundation logo on it... shouldn´t be too hard to find, MacGyver thought while he reached for the door´s knob and slid the key into the lock. He hadn´t paid much attention to that action, but when he turned the key and didn´t hear the click that was supposed to signal the unlocking of the mechanism, Mac froze. The key had turned without resistance; it fit with the lock. But why would Nikki leave her door unlocked when leaving? She never does…

Suddenly MacGyver felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end. Something was wrong here, his gut told him. Cautiously and very slowly Mac removed the key from the lock, pocketed it, and then, evenly slow, turned the knob. When he found the door truly unlocked, Mac opened it just a bit, in slow motion, careful not to make any more sounds, and peeked inside. When he saw and heard nothing unusual he pushed the door completely open, away from himself, and took a step inside.

Once again, he froze, all senses now on high alert and focused, listening intensely and scanning what he could see of the apartment with his eyes. Everything seemed to be perfectly in order, just as Mac was used to it from Nikki. But still, he felt his adrenaline flow…

“Nikki?” he asked into the quietness and took a second step forward.

No answer… Well, it would have surprised Mac to meet her here. He could think of no reason for her to come back… especially since she had asked him to pick up the folder. MacGyver silently moved along the wall until he reached the corner and turned to his left to get a thorough look at the kitchen. He was just about to loosen up a little and take another stride forward when he heard a faint sound from behind.

But before he could whirl around or even react at all, something hit the back of his head hard. The sudden pain felt as if his skull was exploding and in the next blink of a second everything went dark and silent. MacGyver didn´t sense anymore how he dropped to the hard floor completely limp. He didn´t see his attacker step up to his side, still holding the gun in his hand that he had just a moment ago used to knock Mac unconscious.

He didn´t notice the second man that hurried down the corridor and stopped when he was just inside the door. Mac also hadn´t noticed that man tailing him in the dark car to Nikki´s apartment, just like last night. He had been too engrossed in his thoughts to pay attention to the man following him at a little distance, and hadn´t seen him walk to the staircase only seconds after Mac had entered the elevator. Now the man was standing only a few feet away, first staring at MacGyver´s motionless form, then glaring at his partner.

“What the hell happened?” he hissed.

The first man now aimed his weapon at Mac´s back.

“I was in the bathroom, trying to place the last device when he came in.” he shrugged. “I had no choice… he would have noticed me.”

“Damn.” the second man replied. “He took off too quickly… he was on the phone, but I couldn´t hear where he would be going. I had no way of warning you.”

“We could get rid of him right now.” Mac´s attacker growled while he straightened his arm and pointed the gun at MacGyver´s head. “He´s caused enough problems!”

“No!” The second man quickly raised one hand. “Not now! We still need him alive.”

He stepped closer to MacGyver, bent down, and took a closer look at his face. Satisfied with seeing him out cold the man turned to Mac´s messenger bag. The strap was still hanging over MacGyver´s arm; the bag lying next to him.

“Finish installing the device.” the second man ordered. “We can´t afford to draw even more attention. We can´t kill him… yet.”

A little reluctantly the first man lowered his gun, stuffed it back into the shoulder holster, and went back to Nikki´s bathroom. The second man crouched down next to MacGyver, opened the canvas bag, and searched through its contents in the meantime.

“All the files in his bag deal with data regarding the environmental study he´s working on.” he stated a couple of moments later when his partner returned. He got up, shot Mac a last probing look, and stepped back from him.

“We´d better get out of here. We mustn´t leave any traces leading to us.” he continued. “This shouldn´t have happened at all. We can only hope it won´t alert them too much or our mission might be jeopardized.”

Then they both left Nikki´s apartment and closed the door behind themselves, leaving behind an oblivious MacGyver sprawled out on the floor.




Posted by: Karenskatz 9 December 2021 - 07:50 PM
FINALLY, back to the action! happy_dance.gif But another clifhanger!!! dry.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 December 2021 - 10:33 AM
Awww, Mac and Nikki went on a romantic date! And he wore a suit without being told to! It must be love!!! I like how you summarize the summer, the time rebuilding Pete's cabin (nice touch, by the way), and the date from both their viewpoints. Yes, they are both definitely independent and need time alone! It's also great that they can cooperate on some work projects with just a minimum of annoyance...especially Nikki with Mac. And of course, Mac does the field work and Nikki does the paperwork and deals with the red tape...typical!!

I know Mac has no reason to believe they are in any danger, but he still, in my mind, is generally more observant and should have noticed the sedan or something. He's too caught up thinking about Nikki! He did notice the lock wasn't engaged on her apartment door...that's more like it! So these guys don't sound like GRU...is someone else after them too?? Oh my! And of course, another chapter concludes with an unconscious MacGyver! Great job! More intrigue ahead!

Posted by: bluegirl 10 December 2021 - 11:23 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 10 December 2021 - 07:33 PM)
I know Mac has no reason to believe they are in any danger, but he still, in my mind, is generally more observant and should have noticed the sedan or something.  He's too caught up thinking about Nikki!

So these guys don't sound like GRU...is someone else after them too??

Caught up with thinking about Nikki?? I´d rather call it 'distracted'... whistle.gif laugh.gif

And about two months after their return from Austria, no word from them and nothing happening so far... why should he suspect the GRU agents being after him?

And isn´t there always someone after him? Someone he´s previously angered? By crossing someone´s plans? whistle.gif nasty.gif

user posted image

By the way - that´s the suit I had in mind while writing this...

Posted by: bluegirl 12 December 2021 - 04:04 AM
So... after the last chapter ending with a bit of a cliffhanger... whistle.gif

Another Sunday has arrived... let´s wake MacGyver up... and see what happens next during...

Part 13


Silence… a moment later distant street sounds... lying prone with hard floor below him… somehow familiar smells.

And then a hammering headache took over MacGyver´s senses as he slowly drifted back to consciousness. He pressed his eyes shut in a painful grimace, moaned, and automatically moved one hand to the back of his head. He covered the hurting spot with that hand and very cautiously felt for any damage while he tried to remember what had happened.

He was relieved that he felt no bleeding, nevertheless, the bump under his fingers reminded him that he had taken a hard blow to his head… in Nikki´s apartment… after he had found the door unlocked… But why? By whom? One after another, like in slow motion, the pictures and questions surfaced in his woozy mind. He realized, he had no idea how long he´d been out… and if he still was in the apartment…

MacGyver sensed light through his closed eyelids, gingerly turned his head a little toward it, and tried to push himself up. Yet even with his eyes still shut intense vertigo sent his senses spinning with that effort, and a wave of nausea flooding through him made him freeze again. Mac leaned his forehead against the cool floor and took several deep breaths, striving to push back the pain, the dizziness, and the sick feeling in his stomach. But before he could make another attempt, MacGyver heard someone open a door at a little distance behind himself, take a few slow steps and then run toward him.

“MacGyver!” He heard that someone call out alarmed.

Nikki! … His clouded mind recognized her voice instantly, although he wasn´t able to react to her shout. Wait…! What if my attacker is still close by? I´m not able to warn her…!

But nothing happened. Only seconds later Mac felt her kneel down next to him and one of her hands touch his shoulder. Nikki´s other hand covered his own on the back of his head and with gentle force pulled it away only a moment later.

“Let me have a look…” she asked as she let go of his hand and ran her fingers through his hair, searching for any injury. MacGyver flinched and gasped with the sting the touch of her fingers caused.

“Sorry.” she said while her hand left his head and slipped the strap of his bag off his arm. Still breathing a little heavier, Mac tried again to push himself up a bit, but Nikki held him down at his shoulders.

“Don´t, MacGyver.” she advised. “Just turn to lie on your back…”

Her hands were there to help stabilize and protect his head as he cautiously followed her instruction and turned his head toward her voice. Slowly he blinked his eyes open to look at her, but almost immediately closed them again with a groan when the sudden brightness caused the throbbing in his head to spike. Automatically his hand returned to the back of his head. Nikki stroked back some strands of hair from his forehead and then cupped his cheek in her hand.

“Try again, Mac, please.” she asked. “Let me see your eyes.”

MacGyver nodded weakly and squinted up at her.

“Working on it…” he replied hoarsely.

The room seemed to be spinning around him as he strove to focus his eyes on Nikki´s concerned face. He was grateful that Nikki moved her hand to shield his eyes from the sunlight filtering in through the kitchen window. Through his hazy vision, MacGyver saw how she forced herself to smile at him.

“Hey there…” He tried to return the smile when his gaze cleared a little.

But Nikki remained silent while she covered first one, then Mac´s second eye with her hand, and observed their reaction to darkness and then the exposure to light again. When she saw that the pupillary light reflex seemed normal, she sighed with relief.

“Hey yourself… how are you feeling?”

“Hurts.” Mac admitted after a deep breath. “A little dizzy.”

He was thankful that the nausea had diminished over the last moments. The throbbing also lessened the longer he kept his eyes open. Cautiously he scanned the room around them. Nikki´s apartment, he noticed with relief. So whoever had struck him down hadn´t moved him anywhere else… just left him behind… what the heck was going on here? And why was Nikki back? MacGyver was drawn out of his clouded thoughts when Nikki´s hand returned to his forehead.

“I´ll call an ambulance for you.” she stated and wanted to get to her feet, but Mac managed to grab one of her arms with his hand.

“No.” he said. “I´m fine.”

“Fine?” Nikki snapped back and stared at him baffled and upset at the same time.

“Yeah.” Mac nodded with a half-grin. “Help me get up.”

Nikki scrutinized him silently for another long moment but then reached out to assist MacGyver when he gingerly raised his head and pushed himself off the floor. Mac swayed a little as he got to his feet and was thankful that he could hold on to Nikki´s hands while she wordlessly guided him to the couch. The room still seemed to be moving from his point of view. He lowered himself with a relieved sigh and Nikki right next to him.

“Are you sure?”

Nikki didn´t like the way how his gaze was unsteady, how his face was a bit pale under his suntanned skin, and how he was trying to hide the pain he was going through.

“You don´t look…”

“Nikki.” MacGyver cut her off with a low voice and felt for the back of his head once more. He straightened himself on the sofa and shot her a weary smile. “It´s not the first time I got clobbered on the head. I know the feeling…”

He could see how full of doubt her eyes were when she measured him silently. He could see how worried she still was.

“I´ll be all right.” Mac added. “Just give me a few minutes to rest.”

“I´ll be back in a moment.” Nikki said after another probing look at him, stood up and went to her kitchen.

MacGyver´s eyes followed her briefly, but as soon as he tried to turn his head the vertigo returned. He closed them immediately and focused on fighting back the pain and the dizziness. Mac leaned forward, lowered his head, and covered his face with his hands with a deep sigh. He was still so concentrated on his inside a minute later that he didn´t notice how Nikki came back to his side.

MacGyver was startled and flinched when she gently, but unexpectedly laid an ice pack onto the bump on the back of his head. He gasped with the abrupt cold, one of his hands automatically grabbed her hand on the pack, and he held his breath. Only a moment later he felt how the icy cold eased his pain. He forced himself to relax, swallowed hard, and slowly let out the breath he´d been holding with a light moan.

“Thanks.” he said as he opened his eyes and raised his head a little. He saw that Nikki had dropped his bag on the coffee table and noticed how she handed her hold on the ice pack over to him and then crouched down in front of him. Her hand slid to his cheek and she eyed him closely once more.

“Better?”

Mac straightened himself once again, managed to smile weakly at her, and covered her hand on his face with his free one.

“Yes, Nikki.” he assured her, turned his head a little, and then brushed a soft kiss on her palm.

Nikki turned her hand to hold on to his and lowered them to his knees. Yes, his eyes and his gaze had steadied. Yes, a little color had returned to his face. She sighed and let go of a bit of her tension. Then a question returned to MacGyver´s mind.

“Nikki, why are you here?” he asked. “You called me and…”

“I did.” Nikki cut him off. “But when you didn´t turn up at the Foundation in good time, Pete and I got worried. I tried to call you again; at the houseboat, at your car phone, even here… and when you didn´t answer any of those calls, I chose to look for you.”

MacGyver nodded slowly and shot the clock on the wall a glance. Close to midday… so I´ve been unconscious for some time, he mused. Whoever hit me must have known what he´s doing…

“MacGyver, what the heck happened?” Nikki´s question broke him out of his thoughts, and he focused back on her.

“I don´t really know.” he related. “When I came here I found the door closed but unlocked. The lock was still intact. Something felt wrong, and I went in slow and with caution, but I was struck down from behind before I noticed anything. I couldn´t see who hit me.”

“I am sure I locked it when I left in the morning.” Nikki replied. “It was also unlocked when I returned a couple of minutes ago.”

“Then someone must have picked it.” Mac concluded. “I was unconscious for quite a while, so that someone also must have known how to take me out.”

Nikki´s face turned even more serious than it had been all the time and now a little alarm mixed into it.

“So you don´t think you only disturbed some random burglary?”

“Your apartment was perfectly silent when I came in and it doesn´t look as if it has been searched thoroughly.” MacGyver stated while his eyes wandered around, taking in every detail of the room. “No, I don´t think so.”

“Well, someone searched your bag.” Nikki replied. “It was open when I found you.”

“What?”

MacGyver quickly focused back on Nikki and then on his messenger bag on the table. His hand left Nikki´s, and he reached out and checked its contents. All the reports and folders were there.

“Is the folder I was supposed to get still on your desk?” he asked alarmed.

Nikki got up and hurried across the room.

“It is.” she confirmed. “And it seems untouched.”

She picked up the folder, scanned the print-outs and forms within, then returned to MacGyver and sat down next to him. The look of confusion on Mac´s face grew when she laid the folder next to his canvas bag.

“This doesn´t add up.” he said slowly. “Who would break into your apartment, but not search it… knock me out, be interested in the research results in my bag, but leave that folder untouched?”

“You think it has to do with the beach?” Nikki suggested. “But Stephen Knapp is behind bars… one of his investors maybe?”

“Not sure about it… and why should they?” Mac gingerly shook his head. “As far as we know, they all drew back from the project after his arrest. That´s what enabled the State Environmental Agency to step in and offer to take over the land in the first place, remember?” He leaned back on the couch and looked over at her. “I guess, you´d better call the police. Maybe their forensics can find any traces that´ll help us clear this up.”

He could see that she wasn´t all too happy about having the police come to her apartment once more this year, but after a moment she got up and nodded.

“All right.” Nikki agreed and went toward her phone. “I´ll also give Pete a call, so he can stop worrying… and tell him to ask the State Environmental Agency to postpone our appointment.”

“No!” MacGyver quickly called after her and looked up. “I can still be there on time.”

Nikki put down the receiver and turned to stare at him baffled.

“But MacGyver, you´re…”

“I´m all right.” MacGyver cut her off firmly. “I can handle that meeting.”

Nikki glared at him silently for a few seconds, not knowing how to talk him out of it.

“It is more about my results than the red tape you´ve been handling.” Mac continued. “Pete will be there with me anyway, while you can help the forensics go over your apartment with a fine comb.”

“Fine.” Nikki snorted after a moment of consideration. “But I´ll tell Pete to pick you up right here. You´re not going to drive by yourself.”

MacGyver opened his mouth to protest, but Nikki quickly held up one hand to silence him.

“Your headache´s gone?” she added with a warning tone. “Not dizzy anymore?”

Mac puffed out a deep breath and remembered the ice pack he was still holding to the back of his head. He wasn´t going to admit to Nikki how weary he still felt, how his head was still throbbing. She is already worrying too much, as far as I´m concerned. Me giving in to that compromise might ease up her worries, he mused silently with a small sigh.

“Fine.” he nodded aloud.

*****

“Oh please, Pete, stop it!” MacGyver whined when they walked out of the elevator. “I´m all right!”

“I´m just saying, that you could have put my mind a lot more at ease.” Pete sighed while he fell into step at Mac´s side. “If you had agreed to see a doctor for a check-up.”

It was early evening when the two men returned to Nikki´s apartment. Their appointment with the State Environmental Agency had gone well, and they had discussed how to further proceed with the environmental study on the beach later on in the Phoenix Foundation´s headquarters. But Mac had refused a medical check the whole time and Pete still wasn´t too happy about it. Even if his friend seemed to be almost back to normal, physically.

“It´s nothing that a good night´s sleep or two won´t cure. You know, I can take care of myself.” MacGyver complained further while they walked down the corridor.

“I never doubted that. I´d just feel…” Pete tried to counter, but broke off when Mac abruptly stopped, turned to him, and raised one hand.

“Pete, I appreciate your concern, really.” Mac said firmly. “But stop acting like a mother-hen… I´ll live.”

Pete looked silently and considerately into MacGyver´s dark eyes for a long moment and then nodded.

“All right, I´ll try… I´m sorry.” he sighed.

MacGyver laid the hand on Pete´s shoulder and squeezed it briefly.

“No need to be sorry.” he smiled. “We´re friends, right?”

“Right.” Pete returned the smile and nodded again. The two men continued their way toward Nikki´s apartment.

“Besides, Nikki worrying about me is more than enough for me to deal with.” Mac added with a mischievous grin. “I don´t know if I can handle both of you.” He knocked on the door when Pete addressed him from behind.

“You´re trying hard to get it right this time… You really do love her, don´t you?”

MacGyver turned his head quickly and surprised at Pete´s straightforward question. His grin changed into an earnest smile within seconds.

“Yes, Pete, I think I do.” he said with a low voice and a glad sparkle in his eyes a moment later. “I don´t take this lightly.”

In the same blink of an eye Nikki opened the door to her apartment for them.

“Hello! Come on in!” she greeted both men, but then focused on MacGyver. “What don´t you take lightly?” she asked as she had only overheard his last words.

MacGyver allowed Pete to enter the apartment first and then brushed a soft kiss onto Nikki´s forehead before he stepped inside.

“The bump on the back of my head.” he answered afterward and saw how Pete shot him a quick intrigued glance, yet remained silent. Nikki didn´t notice, as she looked up at Mac with a relieved smile.

“I´m glad to hear that.” she replied after she had closed the door. “How are you feeling?”

“Tired.” Mac admitted while he dropped his canvas bag onto the couch. “It was a long afternoon.”

“But a successful one.” Pete cut in. “The council of the State Environmental Agency was quite impressed with the results you presented to them.”

“I just told them about our findings so far.” Mac shrugged wearily. “The study is far from being completed. I convinced them by merely stating some facts.”

“Oh, you did a lot more than only ‘convince’ them.” Pete countered enthusiastically. “They´ve given us a free rein in continuing with the research and asked the Foundation to come up with a plan for a visitor center providing information and a concept for trails giving visitors insight to the land and its habitats once it´s been turned into a preserve. Now is not the time for you to be modest, MacGyver. You were great.”

Pete singing his praises always made MacGyver feel uncomfortable. He rolled his eyes and shot his friend and boss a lopsided smile.

“Hold it, Pete.” he said and cut Pete off with a wave of his hand. “I´m just doing my job.”

“And this afternoon proved once more that you´re the best.” Pete continued beaming.

Mac sighed silently while Nikki looked from one man to the other and then stepped up to Mac´s side.

“The project grows a lot with the visitor´s concept.” she now added and looked up at him with a proud smile. “Good work.”

“Wouldn´t have been that good without you briefing me about the red tape in advance.” Mac returned the smile and reached for her hand. “This isn´t just my achievement. There´s a lot of people working on it and Phoenix certainly has qualified scientists that can come up with the plan and the concept for visitors.” Then he concentrated back on Pete. “I already talked about it briefly to Dr. Johnson after we returned to the Phoenix headquarters. He was also eager to hear how the meeting had gone.”

“I´ll get back to him tomorrow concerning the details.” Pete nodded.

“Yeah, about tomorrow…” Mac added slowly. He felt some of his headache returning with his tiredness. “I also asked him to take over for me at the beach… so I can have a day off for recovery and get some rest.”

Pete raised his eyebrows surprised at first but then a relieved expression widened on his face.

“I´m glad to hear that. Take as long as you need.”

“So am I.” Nikki agreed and briefly squeezed Mac´s hand. He returned the squeeze and turned to her.

“So, how about your afternoon?” MacGyver asked. “What did the police say?”

“Not much so far.” Nikki sighed. “Their forensics have been over every inch of my apartment. They secured a lot of fingerprints after you two had left, but won´t have the results until tomorrow. I expect most of them to be my own… The lock and handles on my door were wiped clean, by the way.”

MacGyver drew in a deep breath. All right, no amateurs then, he thought.

“I spent most of the last two hours getting rid of the fingerprint dust they scattered everywhere.” Nikki continued a bit annoyed after a moment. “The forensics didn´t find any other traces or clues whatsoever… unfortunately.”

“So much for the break-in-theory.” MacGyver stated and shook his head, but regretted it instantly. His headache spiked and he had to close his eyes for a few seconds. Nikki and Pete of course noticed it and quickly focused on him.

“You okay?” Nikki asked while her hand left his and traveled up to hold on to his upper arm.

Mac took another deep breath and smiled at her weakly.

“Yeah, fine.” he assured them. “Just a little headache returning. Excuse me for a moment.”

He eased himself out of Nikki´s hold and went into the bathroom. MacGyver turned on the faucet, bent over, and splashed some cold water onto his face and the back of his neck. He sighed as he felt the throbbing diminish a little after a few seconds and scrutinized his image in the mirror. He had to admit, he looked nearly as groggy as he felt. No wonder Pete and Nikki are concerned, he thought while he heard their muffled voices through the door. They´re probably talking about my condition right now… I´ll better drive home as soon as possible and get some sleep.

MacGyver straightened himself and turned away from the mirror to leave the room, but froze as a little detail caught his eye. He noticed that the casing of an electrical socket seemed a bit out of its usual place. Mac could see some of the wall´s color that hadn´t been affected by the light over all the years, showing a slightly different nuance close to the casing. He´d been in Nikki´s bathroom several times, but he´d never seen that before. Cautiously he reached out and ran his long fingers along the wall. MacGyver could feel a tiny gap between the wall and the socket´s casing. All of a sudden the hair on the back of his neck stood on end and the something-is-wrong-here feeling was back in his gut.

“Nikki?” he called out to her. “Did you have some electrician work in your apartment lately?”

Nikki and Pete instantly fell silent. Mac heard their steps coming closer and then the door quickly opened. Nikki walked into the room with Pete in tow.

“Not in my bathroom… why?” she asked bewildered. “I guess, I would have asked you first…”

Mac straightened himself and pointed toward the socket.

“I noticed that the socket seems as if it´s been moved… Or has that color difference always been visible? And I just overlooked it?”

Nikki stepped up to his side and took a closer look.

“No. Definitely not.” she confirmed afterward.

A tense silence hung in the small room for a moment while the three looked at each other gravely. Then MacGyver dug his Swiss Army knife out of his pocket and flipped out the screwdriver. Carefully he loosened the screw that held the cover of the socket´s casing and took it off with Nikki and Pete watching him closely. He paused for a couple of seconds at what they all saw within the casing.

Apart from the wires they had expected to see beneath the cover, there was some device hidden. Mac cautiously touched it with the blade of his knife and when he sensed no electrical charge, he pulled it out with his fingers. He took a closer look at it while he turned it around in his hands. A small circuit board with several electronic components mounted on it, some wire a few inches long hanging from it on one side, something little that could be a microphone on the other.

MacGyver heard Pete draw in a deep breath and quickly shot both Pete and Nikki a warning look along with a gesture to remain silent. He carefully laid the device onto the surface of the bathroom cupboard and quietly signaled his friends to leave the room. After he had closed the bathroom door, he led them further to the hallway outside Nikki´s apartment.

“A bug?” Pete asked alarmed as soon as they were a few steps away from the door.

Mac turned to him and puffed out a deep breath.

“Looks like one to me…” he replied dryly. “But we oughta show it to some of our technicians at Phoenix.” Then he turned to Nikki. “We need to search your apartment again. There´s probably more than one.”

“Somebody´s been spying on me?” Nikki asked exasperated. “For how long?”

“Just today, I guess.” Mac answered, trying to calm her. “Whoever knocked me out came up from behind. He may very well have come out of the bathroom.”

“You think you disturbed that someone while he was placing the bug?” Pete cut in.

MacGyver only nodded silently.

“But why? And who?” Pete continued worried.

“Don´t know.” MacGyver shrugged. “Having that device analyzed by our specialists might give us a clue. But you´d better call them in using my car phone in the jeep.”

“MacGyver, whoever is listening surely noticed that you found the bug.” Nikki objected. “Why not use my phone?”

“Because if that bug wasn´t the only one, I don´t want to give our listeners any additional clues.” MacGyver explained and looked at her with a small smile.

Pete nodded his consent and left them at once. As soon as he was gone, MacGyver concentrated on Nikki and laid his hands on her shoulders in a comforting gesture. He could tell she was shaken, although she tried to hide it under her tough and annoyed façade.

“You okay?” he asked softly.

“Yes, of course.” Nikki snorted. “It´s just that you got struck down, the police has been in my apartment for the third time since I moved here, someone chose to place bugs in it, and now the Phoenix technicians will be coming here as well.”

MacGyver sighed while one of his hands traveled upwards to gently stroke over her hair.

“I´m sorry.” he said with a low voice and tried to pull her into an embrace, but Nikki stiffened and refused.

“You don´t need to be sorry.” she snapped at him. “This isn´t your fault. I´m all right, I´m just…”

“Hey, shh.” Mac cut her off softly, but firmly. “It´s me, Nikki.”

Nikki now looked up at him still mostly angry, but Mac could also see a shadow of fright in her eyes. Nothing to be surprised about, he thought. Someone has invaded her most private space… for the third time during the span of one year. He placed a gentle kiss on her forehead, felt her body soften to his touch, drew her close, and wrapped his arms around her protectively. He sensed her bury her face at his chest, hold on to him, and sigh deeply.

“It´s gonna be okay.” he comforted her with a low voice. “We´re gonna find that guy.”

After a couple of moments, Nikki eased herself a little back from him and looked up, directly into his deep brown eyes.

“Thanks, Mac.” she said, still somber. “Of course, we will.”

MacGyver kissed her gently and then gave her his best encouraging and boyish smile.

“So, what about going back inside?” he probed. “We could have a quiet look around until our techs turn up… See if we can maybe find something else in the meantime? Something the police forensics didn´t look for?”

A little determined smile grew on Nikki´s face.

“Yes, let´s do that.”




Posted by: uniquelyjas 12 December 2021 - 02:07 PM
It's great to see Mac, Pete, and Nikki working together again! I'm glad Nikki found Mac and you do a great job describing his physical experiences after regaining consciousness. Nikki's reaction when Mac tells her he's still going to the meeting is very in-character. So is Pete's when he learns about Mac's "accident". Aww, Mac is so modest about his contributions to the project...and Pete is so excited! I can just see him beaming! Yay...eagle-eyed Mac found the bug! Now, who would bug Nikki's place?? Is she in danger??

Posted by: bluegirl 16 December 2021 - 03:03 AM
So, another Thursday is there... let´s find out a little more about those bugs... and maybe also if the two mystery men are dangerous...

Part 14


It was already late morning when MacGyver eased himself out of his bed and down to his kitchen on the next day. Unusually late for him, but he had stayed with Nikki for quite some time last evening and had assisted the Phoenix technicians while they had searched her apartment with their scanners until they had been truly convinced they had found all the hidden bugs. There had been three of those, including the one Mac had discovered in the bathroom. All of them had been placed strategically and hidden really well, almost professionally. The technicians had, of course, disabled them and taken the devices with them for further analysis.

MacGyver, despite his tiredness and headache, had felt the urge to be there for Nikki, but soon after Pete and the technicians had left, she had asked Mac to drive home. He had tried to protest, had told her he didn´t want to leave her alone after all this, had offered to stay overnight.

But Nikki had looked up at him sternly and said: “Mac, you´re tired and you´re hurting. You need to get some rest… in your own bed.”

He had opened his mouth to object, and again she had cut him off with a warm smile.

“There´s no need to watch over me… I can handle this… I´ll be fine.”

MacGyver smiled at the memory of her words while he set up his blender.

She´s been right. I wouldn´t have been able to relax fully if I´d stayed with her. I would have felt the need to protect her and watch over her all the time. She has also been in this line of work for quite a while. She knows about the risks. She can watch herself, he thought.

Nevertheless, Mac felt the urge to give her a call rise within while he was preparing his breakfast. He was just done with mixing his shake when the telephone rang. With two quick steps, he reached the phone on his kitchen wall and picked up the receiver while he shot the clock on the TV a glance. Almost 11 a. m.

“Hello?”

“Good morning, MacGyver. It´s Pete.” He heard the well-known voice of his friend and boss. “How are you feeling today?”

“Good.” MacGyver answered with a little smile. Of course, that would be Pete´s first concern, he thought to himself. “Thanks to a good night´s sleep. I´ll take it easy today and get some rest, but I´m okay.”

“I´m relieved to hear that.” Pete sighed.

“I should be back at the beach tomorrow.” Mac added. “I´ll be…”

“No need to rush anything.” Pete cut him off. “I already told Dr. Johnson that he might have to take over for a few more days.”

“You did?” Mac asked with a surprised raise of his eyebrows. “Pete, there´s no need…” But his words trailed off as he realized that Pete´s call to him might have another reason than just his concern about Mac´s health. “What´s the matter?” he continued with a little alarm after a moment. “What´s wrong?”

“The police just sent over their report on Nikki´s apartment.” Pete replied with a serious voice.

“So?” Mac probed after a moment of silence.

“Nothing.” Pete sounded a little frustrated. “No clues or traces whatsoever to be found. No fingerprints identifiable but Nikki´s and yours.”

MacGyver puffed out a deep breath and ran his free hand through his unruly hair.

“Well, ours are to be expected.” he then said. “I´d been hoping they would find something helpful… Any news on the bugs?”

“Yes.” Pete answered. “Our technicians are through with their preliminary analysis.”

“And?” Mac got a little impatient with Pete not sharing the details as freely as usual. “Spit it out, Pete!”

“They are quite certain that the origin of those devices is the Soviet Union.” Pete told him after he had taken a deep breath.

Mac was stunned silent for a moment.

“Russian?” he then echoed. His mind instantly went into high speed while his concern for Nikki´s safety spiked. He tried to recall the recent cases Nikki had been working on apart from their study on the beach. No memories of any connections to Russia turned up. “Have you talked to her? Does she have any idea about…?” Mac continued worried after a moment, but was cut off by Nikki´s voice.

“No, I don´t, for now… I´m here with Pete, MacGyver.” she said curtly. “I´ve already read both reports. And yes, I´ll be going over all my current files today.”

Mac instinctively flinched back a little with surprise at Nikki´s sharp answer. Neither had Pete mentioned his phone being in the speaker mode, nor Nikki being with him in his office. Nevertheless hearing her voice was a bit of relief to his sudden tension.

“Nikki, hey.” he said slowly. “You okay?”

“I´m all right. I can deal with this.” Her voice softened a bit and MacGyver silently sighed to himself.

“I´m gonna come in and help you.” he offered.

“Oh no, you´re not.” Nikki answered quickly. “You promised to take it easy today.”

“But...” Mac started to object but was cut off by Pete.

“You are able to log on to the Phoenix Foundation´s mainframe from your computer at home.” his boss stated with a voice that left no room for discussion. “You have no need to come to the headquarters.”

MacGyver took a deep breath and fought back his sudden urge to protest again, knowing very well that he was outnumbered.

“Fine.” he agreed reluctantly. “But we´ll stay in touch. I´ll call as soon as I can come up with anything.”

“We´ll do the same.” Pete added.

“I´ll catch up with you later.” Nikki promised.

“Yeah, do that, bye.”

MacGyver hung up the receiver after Pete had ended the call and slowly shook his head. The Soviet Union, he thought to himself. Nikki? What the heck? What did she get into?

*****

MacGyver leaned back in his desk chair with a deep sigh. He rubbed his tired eyes with his hands and then ran those hands through his unruly hair. He tore his eyes off the computer´s monitor and the print-outs on his desk, stood up, and slowly walked over to the French doors of his houseboat. Mac stared outside into the sunset over the marina while he tried to fight his growing mixture of frustration and concern inside.

He´d been digging his way through Nikki´s case files since their phone call and hadn´t been able to come up with anything. He´d gone through almost every piece of work Nikki had done for the Foundation, but hadn´t found any loose ends with any connection to the Soviets. Being that clueless had him feeling a little helpless and that fact worried him even more. He hated not knowing where to start off, not being able to do anything, not being able to protect Nikki.

At least my head´s feeling a lot better, Mac mused while he stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. A sudden knock on the door broke him out of his reverie.

“Door´s open!” Mac called without turning around to see who was there. He wasn´t in the mood for company; his mind was too occupied with his thoughts about Nikki. He heard the door open and light steps enter.

“Hi there, MacGyver!”

The sound of Nikki´s voice made him whirl around instantly. He hadn´t expected her to drop by and she hadn´t announced her visit. After a moment of taking in her sight in her business dress, he quickly strode toward her without saying a word.

“I brought copies of the reports with me, so you can also…” Nikki continued and held two manila folders up for him, but broke off when she saw his serious expression. MacGyver reached her near the kitchen island, wordlessly took the files from her, and laid them on top of the island without even looking at them. His dark eyes never left Nikki.

“It´s so good to see you.” Mac finally said with a low voice while his hands reached up to caress her hair and her neck. He bent down, kissed her softly, and then wrapped his arms around her in a tight embrace. Nikki was surprised by his intense reaction, but returned the kiss and held on to Mac for a couple of moments before she looked up at him.

“Mac?” she asked slowly. “What´s the matter? You all right?”

MacGyver sighed deeply and loosened his embrace a little.

“Yeah… fine.” he assured. “Just glad to have you close.”

He wasn´t going to admit to her how much he was worried about her safety, how much he hated not knowing who held the strings behind all this. He just now realized how tightly wound up he was after this day of research, being holed up at home, because he had promised it to Nikki and Pete. Seeing her now, safe and sound, relieved him of a bit of his tension. Nikki drew back a little more from him and scrutinized him with some doubt on her face. Of course, she had a good idea of what was going on in his mind.

“You don´t need to be worried about me.” she said with a bit of a chiding edge. “I told you, I can handle this.”

Mac brushed another soft kiss on her forehead.

“I know.” he nodded. “But I hate not being able to do anything.”

Nikki glanced past him to his slightly chaotic desk and then smiled up at him.

“By the looks of your desk, you´ve been at it since we talked in the morning.”

“Yeah.” MacGyver puffed out a frustrated sigh. “But I came up empty-handed.”

“Then why don´t you check those reports? Maybe Pete and I missed some detail?” Nikki suggested and cocked her head toward the files lying on the kitchen island. “You certainly do have more experience with Soviet spies than I do.”

MacGyver drew in a deep breath. Several memories came to his mind; most of them not all too pleasant. He slowly let go of Nikki and picked up the folders with a still somber face.

“True…” he answered quietly while he turned away from her and walked back to his desk. Mac sat down, opened both folders, and concentrated on the text and the pictures on the pages.

Nikki set her purse down on the kitchen counter, filled up a glass with water, and drank half of it, before she followed MacGyver. Mac was already totally engrossed in the information in front of him when she stepped up behind him and laid one hand on his shoulder. Nikki instantly, even through his shirt, noticed how tense his muscles were, set down the glass, and gently started massaging and kneading Mac´s shoulders and neck. But it took several minutes, until MacGyver had finished reading the analysis of the bugs, before he gave in to her ministrations, hung his head and closed his eyes with a small sigh. He leaned back on the chair and slowly let out a deep breath, while he allowed his shoulders to drop a bit and relaxed.

“Better?” Nikki asked a few moments later when she felt his muscles finally loosen up a little.

“A lot.” Mac nodded with a low voice. “Thanks.”

“How´s your head?” Nikki probed further.

MacGyver straightened himself in his chair, raised his head, and opened his eyes. He reached up to catch one of her hands, lead her around himself to face her, and looked up at her with an earnest smile.

“I´m good, Nikki.” he assured. “Especially now that you´re here.”

Nikki entwined her fingers with his, returned the smile, and placed a soft kiss on top of his head. No, there is no way of stopping him from worrying about me, she accepted internally. We´ll both have to cope with that.

“Mac, you´re not the only one who didn´t find any clue.” she said softly. “Pete and I didn´t find anything either so far. And you´re not the only one working on this.”

MacGyver got to his feet, and his free hand traveled up to caress Nikki´s hair.

“I know.” he gave in to her reluctantly. “But the Soviets must be after some information they think you can provide. I blew some part of whatever their plan is. From my experience, they won´t let them be stopped that easily… I won´t allow anyone to harm you. As long as we don´t know, who´s behind this, you are…”

He broke off as Nikki raised one hand to silence him and shot him a warning look.

“Is there any evident danger? Right now? At this very moment?”

MacGyver rolled his eyes, sighed, and shot her a lopsided smile.

“No.” he admitted. “But as far as I´m concerned, this is the safest place for you.”

“Mac, we´ve been through this.” Nikki countered quickly and a little frustrated. “I can take care of myself. Your houseboat isn´t any safer than…” She broke off when she saw that his smile had changed into a mischievous grin.

“I wasn´t talking about the houseboat.” he answered low. “I meant close to me.”

Nikki drew back for a moment with the surprise about his cheeky reply, but then her frustration evaporated and she returned a flirtatious smile.

“Really?” she asked. “Is that so?”

MacGyver´s grin widened while he wrapped her into an embrace and felt her body soften and lean against his.

“Yes, ma’am.” he replied with a husky voice and bent down to kiss her.

*****

Up on the parking lot the expression of two men inside a dark sedan was serious. The one who had been waiting there during the whole day, who had been listening to all the sounds in MacGyver´s houseboat for the whole day, had been joined by his partner only minutes ago. That second man had been tailing Nikki since the morning.

“It´s only a matter of time until they´ll start suspecting us.” the one that had been willing to shoot MacGyver yesterday growled, after they had listened to Mac´s and Nikki´s conversation.

“He´s concentrating totally on her.” his partner countered. “He doesn´t even consider that his home could be bugged as well. As long as…”

“You know very well how quick he sometimes is to make connections.” the first one cut him off angrily. “We can´t afford that. We must somehow get one of them to act. To show us.”

“Agreed.” his partner nodded. “Maybe their evening together will give us an idea how to pull it off… be patient.”

The first one puffed out a frustrated snort. “All right… but as soon as…”

“Yes.” the second man silenced him. “As soon as we´re done with our mission, MacGyver will be dead.”

*****

It was late afternoon when MacGyver returned home on the next day. He set down his grocery bags on the kitchen island and went outside again to retrieve his mail before he closed the door behind himself and dropped the envelopes next to the bags. Mac started stowing away his supplies, while his thoughts wandered back to last evening. After the emotional tension between them had loosened up, he and Nikki had spent some time discussing their individual findings and ideas concerning Nikki´s recent cases and probable connections to the Soviet Union, but still hadn´t been able to come up with anything conclusive.

They had perched themselves on the couch, had spread out the files on the coffee table, and Mac had brewed herbal tea for them. At some point, Nikki´s tough façade had crumbled and she had cuddled up to MacGyver. He had been a little surprised at first, but had wrapped her into an embrace, had softly pulled her close to himself. Mac had started gently stroking and caressing her hair, had brushed tender kisses on her forehead, her cheeks, her lips, anywhere he´d been able to reach. After a few moments, Nikki had responded in kind.

Several minutes later they had both grown still, silently snuggled up to each other, half lying on the couch. MacGyver had held her protectively in his arms; Nikki had rested her hands and her head on his chest. They´d sensed each other breathe and had finally been able to calm down and forget about the possible danger for some time. When Nikki had later on decided to drive home, Mac had at first tried to persuade her to stay with him overnight. But she had reminded him of another appointment concerning the beach study on the next day and some reports she still had at home, and he had reluctantly agreed to let her go.

MacGyver had spent a restless night filled with strange dreams, and although he had remembered only bits and pieces, it left him unsettled inside. He had driven to the Phoenix Foundation´s headquarters quite early today, had dug into the archives and researched Nikki´s older cases, had even talked Pete into allowing him access to Nikki´s dossier once more. But just like the day before, Mac had come up empty-handed.

MacGyver had met Nikki briefly after she´d been through with some meeting and had told her about his lack of progress. Even through his frustration, MacGyver had clearly seen that she´d been inwardly angry about him digging into her past again, yet thankfully not as mad as last year. He had tried to apologize to her; had tried to justify it with the possible Soviet threat to her, but Nikki had just ushered him out of her office with a curt: “We´ll clear that later.”

She had even declined his offer to have lunch together and had pointed out that she had a lot of work waiting for her. He had chosen to see Dr. Johnson instead. They had talked about new data from the beach study, had discussed their progress, and had set up a rough plan for getting the concept for visitors on its way. Their conversation had taken up a lot of the afternoon, until Mac´s hunger because of skipping lunch had reminded him that he still had some grocery shopping to do.

*****

When MacGyver was done with stowing away his food, he filled up a glass with orange juice and flipped through his mail, but none of the envelopes caught his immediate attention. He dropped them on his desk, strode over to the French doors, and let his gaze wander over the marina. Grey clouds were covering the sun today. Kind of like my thoughts, Mac mused. His mind was back to trying to make sense of the Soviet bugs in Nikki´s apartment. He felt like he was missing something. Something important. It made his stomach tighten; it frustrated him. Two days of research and no clue whatsoever…

MacGyver stepped back a little from the glass after several minutes, and the framed photos on the mantelpiece above his fireplace caught his eye.

Me and Jack, me and Pete, me and Mike…

The memory of Mike sent a sudden sting to his heart. By now he had accepted that her death hadn´t been his fault, but Mac still missed her so much. It also reminded him how Nikki had come to Pete´s cabin unannounced in an attempt to help Mac through his grief. He had been really angry about her intrusion then, had snapped at her for not leaving him alone, but Murdoc had interrupted their argument before it had gotten serious. Looking back, MacGyver was glad that she hadn´t given up on him on that day, that she had pulled him back from the brink. A lot has happened and changed since then, he sighed inwardly.

MacGyver forced a little smile on his face to overcome the inner pain he felt over the loss of Mike when he slowly picked up the photo from the mantelpiece. But his thoughts broke off and he froze for a moment as he suddenly felt something strange on the back of the frame under his fingertips. As soon as he had gotten a secure hold on it, he turned the frame around in slow motion to get a good look on its back. MacGyver drew in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds with what he saw. He set down the orange juice on the mantelpiece, grabbed the rim of the frame with his second hand, and slowly removed his fingers from the device he had just discovered.

A bug. The same kind like he had seen in Nikki´s apartment the evening before yesterday. Carefully Mac removed the device from the back of the frame and placed the picture back on the mantelpiece while he tried to avoid making any sounds. His mind instantly hit high gear and recalled the report of the Phoenix´s technicians he had read. MacGyver turned the device around and disabled it by tearing one of the wires off the circuit board, just as he remembered it from the specifications that report had stated. Then he allowed himself to breathe a little easier, but his thoughts ran wild.

There had been three of those at Nikki´s place… it is safe to assume this isn´t the only one in my houseboat… but if this isn´t about Nikki alone… if whoever has been spying is after both of us… I´ve been making the wrong connections. I´ve been researching the wrong files… I´m back to square one…

MacGyver let his gaze wander around the houseboat. He needed help if he wanted to make sure that his home was a safe place. Mac puffed out a breath, walked over to his desk, and laid the bug down next to his phone. He quickly turned to the door, grabbed his keys, and hurried toward his jeep on the parking lot. He slipped into the driver´s seat, picked up the receiver of his mobile phone, and dialed Pete´s number at the Phoenix Foundation from memory. Pete answered after the third ring.

“Hello?”

“Pete, it´s Mac.” MacGyver said a little exasperated. “I just discovered an unpleasant surprise in my houseboat.”

“What´s the matter?” Pete instantly picked up on his friend´s tension. “What did you…?”

“A bug.” Mac cut him off. “Similar to those we found in Nikki´s apartment.”

Pete was stunned silent for a moment. “What? … But how…?”

“By coincidence.” Mac pressed on. “The details don´t matter now. I need you to send our specialists here. I wanna make sure, the houseboat´s clean.”

“I´ll tell them right away.” Pete agreed. “But MacGyver, if this is not only about Nikki…”

“Yeah. We´ve been on the wrong track with our research.” MacGyver ended Pete´s sentence. “Tell Nikki to stay at the headquarters. I´ll be coming in as soon as I´m done here with our technicians.” Mac expected Pete to agree once more and was about to end the call, but what he heard made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end immediately.

“Nikki´s not here.” Pete told him. “She left in the early afternoon for the beach. She had an appointment with some officials from the State Environmental Agency. She´s got to be on her way back at the moment.”

MacGyver drew in a deep breath to fight his sudden worries. “All right. I´ll leave a message on her answering machine at home. If she does return to her office…”

“I´ll tell her to wait for you.” This time Pete cut Mac off. “Of course, Mac.”

“Right… I´ll see you later.”

MacGyver nodded and hung up the phone only to quickly punch in Nikki´s number. While he listened to the ringing tone, their argument from earlier today crept back into his mind. The memory of her annoyed face sent a sting to his heart. Hopefully, she wasn´t still too upset and would be willing to talk to him. But MacGyver wasn´t too surprised when the answering machine replied to his call. He left a short message asking her to drive back to the Phoenix Foundation and wait for him there as soon as she returned home.

Then he hung up and jogged back to his houseboat, determined to have a look around in advance of the Phoenix´s technicians arrival. He didn´t notice the dark sedan that took off from a parking space two rows behind his jeep immediately when he was out of sight.

*****

MacGyver restlessly paced Pete´s office three hours later. Finding the two remaining bugs in his home had taken up some time, but at least Mac and the specialists had already known what to look for. So their task hadn´t proven all too difficult. They had come to the headquarters quickly after making sure that the houseboat was safe again. He and Pete had just started discussing the new direction their research had to take now.

“Pete, I need to look into all the cases that Nikki and I have worked on together.” Mac insisted. “There´s gotta be a clue somewhere… some connection to the Soviets… some loose end.”

“Probably.” his boss sighed. “You´ve had a few run-ins with Russian agents and military forces. But I´m afraid, most of the files have been classified.”

“If I´ve been there…” Mac protested. “How can I not be allowed to look into those reports? Or get the latest news on them?”

“DXS and military orders, I´m sorry.” Pete apologized. “Give me a little time, I´ll get everything for you.”

MacGyver puffed out a frustrated breath and stopped in front of Pete´s desk, glaring at him although he knew, it wasn´t his friend´s fault. After a moment he tore his gaze off Pete and stared into the red and orange glowing sunset as he tried to recall all the occasions that he and Nikki had tangled with Soviets. Then he glanced at his watch for what felt like the hundredth time. The fact that there had been no word from Nikki yet worried him badly.

“Nikki should have arrived home one and a half or two hours ago at the latest.” Mac stated. “We should have heard from her by now.”

“There could be several perfectly logical reasons for that.” Pete Thornton tried to calm him. “Some traffic jam on her way back… or she had planned on running some errands before returning home.”

MacGyver focused back on his friend and sighed deeply. “I know.”

“She is able to watch herself, Mac.” Pete added.

“I know.” Mac repeated with a low voice. He still felt sorry for the way they had parted earlier and fervently hoped that her anger had faded by now. Pete noticed how deeply concerned MacGyver was despite the fact that they still had no evidence whatsoever of any immediate threat.

“What´s the matter?” he asked his friend while he straightened himself in his chair. “There´s more to it… You´re worried about her safety, but…” He broke off in mid-sentence when Mac sighed again and dropped into the chair opposite to Pete. His shoulders slumped.

“Nikki was annoyed about me looking into her dossier again.” Mac admitted after he´d taken another deep breath. “She didn´t accept my reasons or my apology. She was still upset when she shooed me out of her office earlier today.”

“I see.” Pete said slowly as he leaned back in his chair and nodded his understanding. “You´re afraid she might not react to your message immediately.”

MacGyver kept staring silently at his hands for a few moments before he looked up and answered. “Probably… you know her… she wasn´t too happy with me worrying about her over the last two days… although I really tried not to…”

“I know both of you.” Pete raised one hand to cut Mac off. “But you being that tensed up won´t help either. You´re not thinking straight!”

MacGyver opened his mouth quickly to protest but stayed silent when he inwardly realized that Pete was right.

“Calm down!” his boss almost ordered him. “We don´t know if there even is some evident threat to any of the two of you at the moment… you´d better get down to the archives and look through the files that aren´t classified while I work on getting the rest. I´ll let you know once I´ll hear from Nikki.”

MacGyver drew in a deep breath, ran his hands through his hair, and then reluctantly pushed himself off the chair. He took a few steps toward the door but then stopped and half-turned back to gaze at Pete over his shoulder.

“Fine… but if there´s any word on…”

“Of course!” Pete cut him off firmly. “You´ll be the first to know… and now get out of here!”

MacGyver straightened himself, nodded towards Pete, and strode out of the office, determined to find out who was behind all this.

*****

MacGyver had been in the archives in front of a computer monitor digging his way through the records for about half an hour when Pete came in through the code-secured door. Mac tore his eyes instantly off the screen and focused on him. His tension rose again.

“Pete? Any news?”

“Nikki just called.” Pete said while he walked up to Mac´s desk. “Her meeting ran late and then she ran some private errands before she returned home and listened to your message. I told her about the bugs you found on your houseboat. She´ll be coming here soon.”

MacGyver puffed out a relieved, deep breath and relaxed a little in his seat. So at least we know she´s safe… good, he thought. Gives me a little time to fully concentrate on the files. Pete stepped up behind Mac, glanced at the screen over Mac´s shoulder while he laid one hand on it with a small supportive squeeze.

“Thanks.” Mac replied with a low voice and fixed his eyes on the monitor again.

“So? How about you?” Pete asked. “Found something?”

“Nothing solid yet.” Mac answered with a little gesture toward the screen. “I´ve narrowed it down to all the assignments we´ve been working on together with any connection to the Soviets… and then started looking for any loose ends.”

Pete scanned through the text on the screen and the names on the manila folders spread out on the desk.

“You´ve certainly made some friends among the Russians during the last year.” He stated sarcastically. “I do remember that mission to East Germany. The first one I sent the two of you off to together.”

“Yeah, that one was kinda special…” MacGyver gazed up at his boss with a frown and a bit of an eye roll. He didn´t have the most pleasant memories of that assignment, but on second thought, after their trip to Austria and Czechoslovakia and the past summer, those memories felt different. His frown turned into a little smile and he turned back to the monitor. He felt Pete once more squeeze his shoulder briefly.

“Good work… I´ll be back with Nikki as soon as she arrives.”


Posted by: uniquelyjas 17 December 2021 - 10:39 AM
Wow, the plot is really thickening. I can only imagine how frustrated Mac must be with all that research turning up nothing! I hate how they keep saying there isn't any imminent danger...that makes me think there IS!! And I wish Mac would start noticing that dark sedan. I don't quite understand why Nikki should be upset with Mac looking at her dossier again. I understand she craves trust and privacy, but he's already seen and discovered the worst of what is in it (I'm assuming). Great chapter! You really gave us a lot to think about!

Posted by: bluegirl 18 December 2021 - 10:30 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 17 December 2021 - 07:39 PM)
I don't quite understand why Nikki should be upset with Mac looking at her dossier again.  I understand she craves trust and privacy, but he's already seen and discovered the worst of what is in it (I'm assuming).

I´m assuming, it´s more a matter of her feeling like he has violated her principles... that he looked into it again - without asking.

As for them not suspecting any imminent danger - We´ll see quite soon, if there is... whistle.gif nasty.gif

I´m glad, you like it!

Posted by: bluegirl 18 December 2021 - 11:23 PM
Hi there! Another Sunday morning...

Some of you were worried about Mac not noticing that dark sedan... Well, he will... soon. surprise.gif The tension will rise... quite fast. unsure.gif

Let´s get back into action with

Part 15


MacGyver leaned back on his chair and ran his hands through his hair some while later. He´d scanned through everything accessible to him and had only vague ideas about who might be responsible for placing the bugs. The windowless archive room didn´t give him a clue to how long he´d been at it, so he glanced at his watch but froze while doing it. Almost three hours had passed since Pete had been down here to tell him about Nikki´s call.

‘She´ll be coming here soon.’

Pete´s words echoed in his head. Driving from Nikki´s apartment to the Phoenix headquarters took half an hour at the most. Why wasn´t she here already? MacGyver´s worries spiked again. But in the next moment, he forced himself to take a deep breath and calm down. She might have gone directly upwards to meet Pete in his office, he told himself inwardly. But is she still holding on to her grudge against me? Is she still that fed up with me that she wouldn´t come down here to see me?

The mere thought sent a sting to Mac´s heart and he puffed out the breath he´d been subconsciously holding. Maybe she just stayed with Pete to help him with his investigation of the case files, he urged himself to relax once more. MacGyver´s eyes switched back to the computer monitor while he reflected on what he´d seen and read. He was done with his work here. I could just as well return to Pete´s office and see if he has been able to get some of the classified reports in the meantime. I hope, at least the DXS has been willing to share some information, Mac thought while he logged off and shut down the computer. Then he got up and strode out of the secured room.

MacGyver stifled a yawn when he stepped off the elevator and headed through the corridor toward Pete´s office. The sight of the dark nightly sky and the city lights through a window at the end of that corridor reminded him of how late it had gotten. The sight also made him realize how hungry and tired he had grown during his time in the archives. The sandwich he had grabbed while he´d been grocery shopping hadn´t been much, and due to the technicians at his home Mac had missed a decent dinner.

But his thoughts were forced back to the present when he came around the last corner. Pete was sitting behind his desk, concentrating on his computer monitor when MacGyver stopped briefly to knock on the half-open door.

“Hey, Pete!” he greeted.

“Come on in, Mac.” Pete waved him in without taking his eyes off the screen. “Found something?”

“Probably.” MacGyver´s eyes scanned the room while he answered and slowly walked up to Pete´s desk. His thoughts ran wild as he noticed that no one but Pete was there. An awful feeling of uncertainty rose in his gut. Suddenly he wasn´t too sorry anymore about his stomach being empty. “Pete… where´s Nikki?” Mac asked cautiously, inwardly dreading the answer. “Has she left you to work in her own office?”

Now Pete abruptly looked up from his computer monitor with a frown and turned his desk chair to face MacGyver.

“I haven´t seen her… I assumed she directly went to the archives… to meet you.”

“She didn´t.” Mac replied while he felt a wave of icy cold race up his back and the hairs at the back of his neck rise.

“She wasn´t with you either?” Pete repeated slowly as he picked up Mac´s sudden tension.

An uneasy silence hung in the office for a few moments as MacGyver only silently shook his head. The uncertainty he had felt turned into real worry about Nikki at once.

“It´s been almost three hours since she has called…” Pete added after a glance at his watch.

MacGyver nodded wordlessly while he tried to straighten himself. He felt as if he couldn´t breathe freely anymore. Something was wrong, really wrong… he just knew it. Pete leaned forward and rested his arms on his desk. His eyes found MacGyver’s and he saw the sorrow his friend was struggling hard to control. Mac held Pete´s gaze quietly for several seconds before both men winced when the phone on the desk suddenly rang.

Mac froze and held his breath for a moment. Whoever called Pete this late in his office… there had to be some truly important reason. Pete reacted with the second ringing tone and pushed the button that set his phone into speaker mode.

“Hello?”

“Pete? … Thank God, you´re still in the office.”

Nikki´s voice came out of the speaker only a moment later. Hearing the sound brought sudden relief to MacGyver, yet he also picked up the unease her tone bore.

“Of course I am, Nikki.” Pete answered. “What held you up?” Both men heard Nikki pause briefly.

“Is MacGyver with you?” she asked then.

Pete looked up at his friend and again, their eyes locked for a moment. Mac stepped closer to the desk.

“Right here.” he replied quickly. “What´s the matter?”

“Mr. MacGyver, I´m glad you´re also still around.” A male voice answered only a second later. “I´m here with Ms. Carpenter.”

The blood in MacGyver´s veins seemed to freeze at once and his heart skipped a beat when he recognized the voice within the first few words. He drew in a deep breath while Pete´s eyes widened with an unspoken question.

“Zorkin.” Mac muttered under his breath. Several pictures from the evening and the night he had spent fleeing from Czechoslovakia to Austria flashed back into his mind. His body subconsciously stiffened with the memories of the gun pressed against his spine, the fever, the pain from getting injured, and the exhaustion he´d been going through.

“Oh, you do remember me… good.” The GRU agent seemed contented.

MacGyver tore his eyes once more from the phone only to see the mixture of alarm and worry on Pete´s face while he could barely keep up his own calm façade.

“What do you want?” Mac asked cautiously controlled.

“You, Mr. MacGyver.” Zorkin´s voice was flat and stone cold. “Alone.”

Pete opened his mouth to reply, but MacGyver quickly raised a hand to keep him silent.

“What for?” Mac continued.

“Details. We´ll discuss that later. When we see each other… once again.” Zorkin´s reply was curt.

“All right.” Mac sighed, leaned forward, and rested his hands on Pete´s desk. “Tell me where and when.”

“I guess, you know where your sweetheart lives.” Zorkin said. “Half an hour.”

“That´s very little time to get there.” Mac opposed as he shot his watch a glance and tried to stall for a little more leeway.

“Oh, there isn´t too much traffic this late in the evening.” Zorkin brushed his words off. “I´m sure you can make it if you care about seeing Ms. Carpenter again… alive.”

MacGyver puffed out a breath.

“Fine… I´ll be there.” Mac´s eyes briefly found Pete´s again. “But first let me talk to her once more… I wanna know she´s okay.”

“You´re not in a position to make demands.” Zorkin almost chuckled. “You´ll have to trust my word. She´ll be fine as long as you´ll follow our orders.”

“All right.” Mac said through clenched teeth. “Just don´t…”

“Alone, Mr. MacGyver. 30 minutes.” Zorkin cut him off. “No police, no agents dangling from trees… or Ms. Carpenter will be dead until you arrive.” Then the line went silent.

The tense silence filled the room for several seconds. You could have cut the air with a knife until MacGyver slowly straightened himself. He nervously licked his lips and flexed his fingers while he took a slow step back from the desk. He saw Pete look up at him as he tried to keep his feelings in check, but his thoughts were running wild inside his head.

“Mac, we didn´t get any intel on Zorkin and Baranov since you tangled with them two and a half months ago.” Pete said low and with an apologetic tone. “It was as if they had vanished into thin air. There was no indication to assume they had made it to the U.S. I kept you posted, remember?”

MacGyver nodded silently. Of course, he remembered. But Zorkin and Baranov had made it to the U.S., and they had grabbed Nikki. He´d underestimated them. No matter from which side he looked at the situation, he didn´t have any choice.

If I want to save Nikki´s life… No, I have to save Nikki´s life!

Those guys wouldn´t hesitate to kill, he knew that. He felt some of his worry and fear turn into determination as adrenaline spread through his body. He felt anger rise within. Anger at the GRU agents for taking Nikki as a hostage, anger at himself for not thinking of that possibility earlier. MacGyver took another step back and was about to turn and leave, when Pete quickly rose out of his chair and hurried around his desk.

“MacGyver, wait!” he demanded.

“I gotta hurry, Pete.” Mac answered curt and turned.

“But you don´t have any idea what those men are up to.” Pete grabbed Mac´s arm and held him back. “You´ll probably be walking right into a trap.”

“I know.” MacGyver´s expression hardened. His eyes seemed to become even darker as he looked sideways to hold Pete´s gaze.

“At least give me a few minutes to arrange some backup.” Pete asked and let go of Mac´s arm.

“Pete, you heard him!” MacGyver shot back. “No police, no agents.”

“But you´ll be…” Pete tried to argue.

“No!” Mac cut him off way too loud. His hands tightened into fists. Pete flinched back a little with his sharp and intense reaction. MacGyver drew in a deep breath to regain some of his self-control when he saw his friend retreat from him. “I´m not gonna allow anything that might endanger Nikki´s life any further.” he continued with a voice that left no room for discussion but got softer to the end. “You know, I handled comparable situations before… on my own.”

“Of course, I do.” Pete nodded and looked up at his friend probing. If there was anyone he trusted to come up with a solution for a problem like this, it was Mac. He just didn´t like the mixture of worry, anger, and determination he saw in MacGyver, which was probably clouding his judgment. But he knew he had no way of holding him back. Not with the woman Mac loved being in danger. “Please, be careful, will you?” he sighed.

“Yeah, Pete.” MacGyver answered low and squared his shoulders. He forced a little smile on his face and his hands to open again. “As always.” With that, he turned, hurried out of Pete´s office and toward the elevator.

MacGyver´s mind went to overdrive during his ride down to the parking garage. He hated leaving Pete behind like this. He had seen how deeply worried his friend and boss had looked at him. He knew that Pete cared deeply about Nikki´s safety as well. He knew that Pete might have been able to support him, but with no time left for preparation, MacGyver had chosen to rather face the situation alone. Coordinating his efforts with Pete was more than he could handle right now. Concentrating on calming down, keeping his mind straight, and focusing on getting Nikki out of the hands of the GRU agents safe and sound was difficult enough for him at the moment.

He forced himself to recall every detail of the phone call in the silence of the elevator car. They need me to do something for them, he thought. Zorkin said, he´d tell me about the details later… it is safe to assume that Baranov is with him… they can´t kill Nikki as long as they need her as leverage against me… she´ll be okay as long as I play along… and they can´t kill me until they´ve gotten whatever it is they want…

MacGyver sighed before he stepped off the elevator and ran toward his jeep. To be honest, Zorkin and Baranov left him with no time to spare and no other choices. He had to follow their instructions, hope for any flaw in their plan, for any opportunity for rescue to present itself – and then grab it.

*****

Rage and worry were still battling for the upper hand inside him when MacGyver drove around the last corner, and the apartment building in the Forster Lane came into sight. His eyes automatically started scanning his surroundings for anything unusual and for a space to park his jeep. The man had been right. Thanks to very little inner-city traffic, Mac had made good time and still had a few minutes to spare when he parked his jeep.

He puffed out a deep breath, slowly slid out of the driver´s seat, and headed for the building´s entrance. MacGyver felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end and all his senses sharpen as he strode toward the door. He forced himself to clear his mind and focus. Thick clouds covered the sky again, but Mac could barely see them in the darkness of the night. The wind had picked up speed and was causing the trees in front of the apartment building to rustle.

Mac didn´t hear the man coming up to him out of the shadows until he noticed a movement in the corner of his eye.

“There´s no need to go upstairs.” Zorkin suddenly addressed him.

MacGyver stopped and turned to face the agent standing a few feet away from him. He froze when he saw the dim light of the streetlights reflecting off a revolver. Mac´s eyes were fixed on the muzzle that was aimed at him for seconds before he was able to look up at Zorkin´s face. He wondered briefly if he would ever get used to the sight of a gun pointing at him.

MacGyver had expected Zorkin to wait for him in Nikki´s apartment. He had hoped for the advantage of the familiar surroundings and lots of stuff up there that might have come in real handy. Not going to happen…, he thought to himself.

“Where´s Nikki?” Mac asked as controlled as he could.

Nothing personal, he had told the man when he had met him for the first time. Well, by now it was. Up close and personal. Those men threatened the woman he cared so much about. MacGyver suddenly remembered how he and Diana had observed Anton Dubcek in the zoo. How he had mentioned Anton being so tightly wound up that he might snap. How Diana had blown up angrily at his comment and asked if he wouldn´t be – facing the same situation.

MacGyver took a deep breath, forced his thoughts back to the present, and internally admitted that he was. Right now. Facing a similar threat. The slightest idea of Nikki getting hurt or even killed made his stomach turn. Don´t go there!, he chided himself in the next moment. Keep your mind clear, MacGyver, keep your thoughts straight.

“Close.” Zorkin answered low. “And in good company.”

MacGyver licked his lips nervously. So Baranov is with her. The one that almost shot me in the zoo…

“Well, I´m here as you ordered.” Mac stated. “Let her go.”

“I don´t think so.” An evil grin widened on Zorkin´s face while he took a step closer. “You´ll be much more cooperative like this. I don´t think you´ll try any of your inventive tricks as long as you know that another gun is aimed at her.” he continued amused.

MacGyver´s eyes subconsciously switched back to the revolver in Zorkin´s hand. He swallowed hard. No, of course, you won´t… so I´m back to waiting and playing along for now, he thought.

“So, tell me what you want me to do.” he asked, still trying to sound firm.

“Back to your car.” Zorkin ordered with a small wave of his gun. Mac took an involuntary step backward.

“At least let me know that Nikki is okay first.” MacGyver tried once more.

“I told you, you´re not in a position to make demands.” The grin on Zorkin´s face grew even colder, but when Mac didn´t move for a few seconds he continued. “See that dark sedan across the corner?”

MacGyver half-turned, looked over his shoulder and nodded. The semi-darkness concealed any details of the faraway car, but he could make out two persons inside. A dark-haired woman in the driver´s seat. A man in the back. The distance was way too big to try anything.

“She´s fine… and it´ll stay that way as long as you follow my instructions precisely.” Zorkin assured him. “Now, back to your car.”

MacGyver gazed back at the GRU agent briefly, raised his hands in a gesture of surrender, and turned away from the man. An icy chill ran down his spine with the knowledge of the revolver pointing at his back while he walked toward the jeep. His thoughts ran wild once more as he climbed into the driver´s seat.

In a moment he´ll have to tell me where we´ll be going… then I´ll learn the truth about what they´re up to…

MacGyver fastened his seatbelt and noticed Zorkin taking his place next to him. All the time he kept Mac covered with the gun. MacGyver laid both hands on the steering wheel and tried to calm his nervous breathing. When the agent had settled in the passenger seat, Mac reached down and started the engine.

“Where to?”

“You tell me.” Zorkin replied flatly. “We couldn´t listen long enough to the two of you to hear this little detail… But I´m sure you do know where the Dubcek brothers´ home is located.”

MacGyver held his breath for a moment. Of course… this has to be about getting rid of the dissidents… aw man, two more lives at stake…

“Yeah, sure.” he answered with a low voice, put the jeep in gear, and drove off. After several yards, Mac looked into the rear mirror and saw the dark sedan following them at a little distance.

“You´d better not lose them.” Zorkin advised as he noticed Mac´s gaze. “And don´t try anything funny.”

MacGyver shot the man a quick sideways glance and nodded. Zorkin still kept the revolver firmly aimed at him. No chance of getting to it or getting rid of it without a way too high risk of getting severely injured or probably even killed. Especially with Nikki in the car behind. Mac puffed out a breath in an attempt to get rid of some of his tension instead.

“So, I guess, I do owe my serious headache two days ago to one of you?” he asked with a sigh after a few minutes of silence.

“You didn´t give Baranov any choice.” Zorkin snarled. “But you´d better keep your concentration on the road at the moment.”

MacGyver only nodded silently while his eyes permanently switched between the road in front of him and the rear mirror showing the dark sedan with Nikki driving. His mind went to overdrive. His pulse shot up. He knew the house the Dubcek brothers were living in only briefly. They had moved in only a few weeks ago. And his time to come up with a plan that would rescue all of them was limited.

Driving to the house took only a little more than 20 minutes and during that time Mac had formed and also rejected several ideas in his head. When he parked his jeep in front of it, he saw lights on inside. Good, the Dubceks haven´t gone to sleep already. At the same time, he realized that he didn´t know if Pete still kept the house under surveillance. If some operative is watching, Pete should be notified of my unannounced appearance and my company within the next few minutes, Mac thought. That might help… He tried to casually let his eyes wander around the street while he unbuckled his seatbelt, but Zorkin impatiently waved his weapon at him.

“Now get us inside.” he ordered sharply. “Fast.”

Mac slid out of his seat wordlessly, went around the hood, but froze for a moment when he saw the dark sedan stopping behind the jeep. He managed a quick eye contact with Nikki that was harshly interrupted by Zorkin cocking his gun.

“I said, get us inside. Don´t stall, MacGyver.”

Mac tore his gaze off Nikki and reluctantly turned to walk toward the front door. He heard Zorkin follow a few feet behind and also noticed Nikki and Baranov getting out of their car. MacGyver drew in a deep breath when he took the few steps up to the porch. All his senses were on high alert, scanning for any kind of opportunity, any little flaw in the act of the GRU agents. He hesitated a bit when he approached the door and risked a glance over his shoulder at Nikki. Baranov was following her closely, poking the gun into her back to urge her forward, and carrying some case in his second hand. Quickly MacGyver´s thoughts circled around that case and what it might contain.

Maybe this isn´t just about shooting all of us, a small glimpse of hope flared up in his mind. Maybe they need something the brothers have… If we can just stop them from pointing those guns directly at us… Nikki and I should be able to take those guys down… We´ll only need a little diversion…

But in the next moment, Baranov shoved Nikki that roughly forward to the porch that she stumbled and nearly fell onto the steps. Instantly MacGyver felt his rage at the GRU agents return and boil inside. Instinctively he wanted to step back, reach out to Nikki and help her, but froze as Zorkin raised his revolver and shot him a warning look.

“Don´t.”

The tone of that single word made clear that Zorkin wouldn´t tolerate any further movement. Mac´s eyes locked with Nikki a second later, when she had recovered.

“You okay?” he asked quickly.

“Yes, MacGyver, just fine.” Nikki answered firmly and a bit annoyed. Even though he tried his best to conceal it, she could see how deeply worried he was about her and also how angry he was.

Mac straightened himself and glared at the man at his side after he had torn his eyes off Nikki. He barely managed to bite back a fuming reply to the agent. Instead he turned back to the door and saw Zorkin take a place a few feet away from it next to the wall. Come on, MacGyver, he ordered himself mentally. Concentrate. You´re about to deliver a very unpleasant surprise to the Dubceks… and you´re the one to find a solution to this whole mess.

MacGyver drew in a deep breath, raised his hand, and knocked on the door. After a few seconds he heard steps coming closer from the inside, and then Pavel Dubcek opened the door.

“MacGyver!” he exclaimed surprised when he recognized Mac standing in the darkness of the porch. “What are you doing here that late? Something important?”

Mac puffed out a breath. He was thankful that he could rely on Nikki and the Dubcek brothers to trust and follow his judgment in this dire situation.

“Unfortunately, yes.” he said slowly. “Is Anton at home as well?”

“He is, we were about to…” Pavel answered, but broke off when he noticed Nikki and Baranov standing behind MacGyver. His eyes quickly focused back on MacGyver´s face and his expression turned alarmed instantly. After a second of silence Zorkin stepped out of the shadow of the wall, his gun still firmly pointed at MacGyver. Pavel´s face fell when he got a first view of the weapon. He hadn´t even seen the gun aimed at Nikki´s back yet. Pavel took an involuntary step backward when he saw Zorkin´s grim face.

“I´m sorry.” Mac apologized with a low voice. “They gave me no choice.”

“Inside, everybody.” Zorkin ordered sharply.

Pavel shot MacGyver a quick questioning look and obeyed after Mac´s silent nod. MacGyver followed with Zorkin just a step behind and Nikki and Baranov bringing up the rear. Mac tried his best to focus on the task at hand, remember the room layout, and not let himself be distracted by his concern for Nikki. She can watch herself, he told himself internally, but it did little to quench his mounting rage at the GRU agents for how rudely they handled her. He felt his breath and his heartbeat speed up despite his best efforts to keep calm.

Anton Dubcek looked up surprised when he saw MacGyver entering the living room behind his brother and rose alarmed from the couch once he spotted Zorkin only a moment later.

“MacGyver, what is this…” he started to ask, but was cut off by Mac raising his hands in a calming gesture toward Anton.

“I´m sorry… we got no warning. I had no choice.” he repeated his apology while his eyes scanned the room for anything useful. He had to stall for a little more time, somehow. Zorkin motioned for Pavel to join his brother, yet when Mac tried to follow, he pointed the muzzle of the revolver right at Mac´s head.

“Not a chance, MacGyver.” he snarled. “Stay right where you are.”

Baranov shoved Nikki past him to stand with Pavel and Anton and covered all of them with his gun, while Zorkin made sure that Mac didn´t get any closer. MacGyver was still wondering what they kept in that case. Zorkin and Baranov are considering me as the most dangerous to whatever plan they have in mind, MacGyver thought. They don´t see Nikki, Pavel, or Anton as a heavy threat… I need to use that fact… if I can get them to concentrate on me… and to act… they´ll probably let their guard down toward Nikki… and the three might get out of this unharmed… but how?

MacGyver saw that Anton and Pavel were frightened and angry at the same time when he managed to make eye contact with them and tried to signal them to stay calm and quiet. Nikki, on the other hand, seemed more annoyed than anxious and held Mac´s gaze with an unspoken question.

‘What are you up to?’

If only I knew already, Mac mused inside, still feeling uncomfortably clueless. I need more information… I need to get those two to talk…

“The two of you managed to stay under the radar real good since we met in Czechoslovakia.” Mac stated out of the blue and threw Zorkin a sideways glance. “I have to give you credit for that. The GRU has certainly improved its tactics.”

Zorkin´s glare turned a lot angrier all of a sudden than Mac had anticipated.

“The GRU deserves no credit for it. We would have caught up with you a lot faster if we hadn´t been forced to avoid them.” Zorkin said with a stone-cold voice. “Thanks to you the GRU is hunting us.”

MacGyver barely managed to hide his surprise. They were not GRU anymore? Of course he knew that Pete had passed the documents Mac had retrieved from Czechoslovakia on to the DXS but after that… he hadn´t been notified about the actions the DXS or GRU had taken. Until now… The GRU was after them…

“Thanks to me?” he answered with an air of innocence and a little nonchalant smile.

“You helped uncover and blew the network we had formed within the GRU.” Zorkin continued. “You helped those people defect. Twice.” Zorkin nodded toward Anton and Pavel. “You are supporting their dangerous, revolutionary ideas.”

MacGyver swallowed hard. He felt the eyes of Nikki and the Dubcek brothers resting on him as he concentrated on Zorkin. Aw man, in my line of work I´m used to the other side being hot when I´ve been successful, but those men seem to be out for revenge… just great… careful now, MacGyver, don´t make them too angry.

“Sorry.” Mac shrugged apologetically. “Just doing my job.”

“Enough!” Zorkin´s expression darkened even more as he cut Mac off harshly. “This house does have a basement?” It was part question, part statement.

Anton nodded silently.

“Then lead the way.” Zorkin ordered and quickly raised his hand with the gun when MacGyver tried to be the first to go. Mac froze at once. “We´ll be the last to go.” Zorkin snarled at him.

Baranov waved his revolver at Anton, Pavel, and Nikki, urging them to move. After a brief moment of hesitation, the three followed the order.

Being situated in a residential area on a slope the Dubceks´ home had a brick-built cellar that served as a foundation for the wooden house. The stairs lead down from the house to a corridor with a garage on one side that the Dubceks used mostly as a workshop and a bigger room on the other that was mostly used for storage. MacGyver´s thoughts ran wild with all the stuff around he might be able to put to use if he could only manage to get Zorkin and Baranov off his back for a few moments. But the attention of the two men didn´t waver.

Baranov quickly checked both doors while Zorkin kept all his prisoners covered by pressing the muzzle of his revolver firmly against MacGyver´s neck. Mac kept his hands raised a little to signal that he wasn´t about to cause any trouble as he watched how Baranov chose the bigger storage room and waved first Anton and Pavel and then Nikki into it.

MacGyver slowly followed as soon as Zorkin ordered him to. He saw a large room with lots of shelves along the walls, two I-beams along the middle serving as supporting pillars, and a sturdy workbench between them. Baranov set his case down on that workbench. The shelves were filled with all kinds of stuff and Baranov soon spotted some durable rope.

He used it to first tightly bind the Dubcek brothers´ hands behind their backs and then both of them to one of the I-beams with their backs against it. Nikki tried to edge herself a little closer to MacGyver while Baranov was occupied with his work, but Mac shot her a warning look, wordlessly telling her to be careful. He sensed that the ex-GRU agents were getting more wound up with every moment. He tried to keep them both in sight, still alert for any opportunity. He had noticed that Zorkin kept a little distance to him again, the pressure of the muzzle against Mac´s neck was gone, although Zorkin was cautious about covering every single move Mac made.

“Over here! With me. Now!” Baranov harshly ordered Nikki toward the second I-beam as soon as he was done with the brothers. When she hesitated and didn´t obey his command at once, he took two hurried steps over to her, rudely grabbed her upper arm, pulled her toward himself, and then shoved her against the pillar.

MacGyver´s rage flared up again when he had to watch how Nikki stumbled and hit the beam hard due to the rough force Baranov had used. His heart was pounding at once. He felt himself breathing heavier, clenched his teeth, and subconsciously balled his hands into fists.

Nikki had just recovered when Baranov grabbed her again and wanted to turn her with her back toward him so he could also bind her hands. She was also truly angry about the way Baranov manhandled her by now and resisted once more, but that earned Nikki a slap on the face. MacGyver saw Nikki stumble again after the backhand hit from Baranov, and all of a sudden his fury took over.

“Hey! Leave her alone!” he yelled as he wanted to bolt toward the man, determined to do whatever necessary to get Baranov away from the woman he loved. In his red-hot anger, MacGyver didn´t care about Zorkin or the revolver in his hands.

But Mac´s attempt to help Nikki was stopped abruptly when Zorkin stepped from his side into his way and rammed his knee into Mac´s stomach as hard as he could. The air was driven out of MacGyver´s lungs; he dropped to his knees with a painful gasp and wanted to wrap his arms around himself protectively. Zorkin was quick to follow up with a brutal kick to Mac´s side that threw him sideways to the ground.

MacGyver heard Nikki call out his name alarmed, however wasn´t able to react to it due to the stabbing pain in his chest. He tried to take a few deep breaths, fought against sudden vertigo and the darkness that threatened to take over his senses. Slowly he rolled over to his front, pushed himself up to his hands and knees with a moan and raised his head. When he blinked his eyes open, he saw Baranov bind Nikki´s hands and Nikki look down at him worriedly. In the next moment, Baranov pulled Nikki back against the I-beam rudely, and out of his protective instinct, and again without thinking about it, MacGyver tried to rise and get to her quickly.

“I said, leave her…” he croaked, but was cut off by something hitting the back of his head hard. Almost the same spot… The thought flashed through his mind in the split second before his head seemed to explode with sudden pain, and then everything went dark and silent.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 21 December 2021 - 11:35 AM
I KNEW Nikki was in trouble!! Wow, this chapter was action-packed and intense! So Zorkin and Baranov are EX-GRU and now hunted by the GRU and they're blaming Mac. Yikes! And poor Mac has to protect Nikki and the brothers and is now once again, knocked out cold. Hopefully some of Pete's agents were indeed watching the house and will somehow get help. I like how you get in Mac's head and his thoughts throughout the chapter while he tries to process everything and think of ways to help. I do love how Nikki always seems more annoyed than anxious or scared! So they are in a real bind now...literally and figuratively! Can't wait to see how Mac is gonna get them all out of this!!

Posted by: bluegirl 21 December 2021 - 11:50 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 21 December 2021 - 08:35 PM)
I KNEW Nikki was in trouble!!  Wow, this chapter was action-packed and intense!  So Zorkin and Baranov are EX-GRU and now hunted by the GRU and they're blaming Mac.  Yikes! 

So they are in a real bind now...literally and figuratively!  Can't wait to see how Mac is gonna get them all out of this!!

Of course I had to get Nikki into trouble... whistle.gif It´s a perfect way of getting Mac into trouble... tongue.gif

Blaming Mac - revenge is one of the strongest motives, isn´t it?

Yes, they are bound... and don´t forget about the case Baranov had with him - it´ll play a crucial role during the next part! surprise.gif nasty.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 22 December 2021 - 10:51 PM
Hello again!

Let´s recall the timeline this is set in - the story starts in late June 1988, between seasons 3 and 4, Mac and Nikki spent a beautiful summer together and by now it is mid-September 1988... season 4 starts on Oct. 31st 1988 with 'The Secret of the Parker House'...

Everyone ready for another tension-packed chapter of this story?! Remember the case that Baranov carried?! And remember that I set out to tell why Nikki is NOT there anymore from season 4 on? surprise.gif

Part 16 of 21


His head was throbbing seriously when MacGyver slowly drifted back into consciousness. The next thing he sensed was that he was lying half on his side, half on his front on some cold, hard floor with his hands tied behind his back. The floor seemed to be swimming below him. Mac pressed his eyes tightly shut with a groan, while he tried to push back the dizziness and the pain in his head and his side. Probably a cracked rib, he assessed automatically. Then he noticed a female voice cutting through the haze that filled his head.

“MacGyver? …Mac! … Come on, wake up! … Mac, please!” that voice urged frantically.

Nikki… Mac suddenly realized as the dire situation they had been in crept back into his mind. Captured by two ex-GRU agents with very little to lose… and my dumb and uncontrolled rage didn´t help us either, Mac chided himself inwardly. But at least we´re still alive as it seems…

He cautiously turned his head toward Nikki´s voice and forced his eyes to open. He saw Nikki bound to the pillar a few feet away and staring at him tense with an awkward mixture of relief and concern as well as angst and hopeful expectancy. But after a moment the image before Mac´s eyes blurred with his intense headache and he allowed his eyes to close and his head to drop to the floor once more. Just gimme a few moments, he thought as he felt the cool ground against his forehead.

“MacGyver, wake up!” Nikki called out to him again. “We need your help!”

Yeah, sure… me again… just a minute… Mac strove to calm his labored breathing. For a moment, he wasn´t sure if he´d not only thought but also murmured these words aloud.

“Mac, those guys left us behind with a bomb ticking!” Nikki´s voice cracked with fear. “Come out of it! Now!”

A bomb?!

MacGyver´s eyes flew open in the same split second that the word registered in his mind. He lifted his head way too fast for his comfort.

“What? Where?”

“It´s on the table… with only a little more than seven minutes left.” Nikki replied quickly.

MacGyver wanted to turn to lie partly on his back to get a better look around the room, and while he tried to do that he noticed that his ankles were also bound tight, leaving him quite immobile. He had to get rid of those binds first, but his mind already rotated around the bomb he hadn´t even seen yet. He took a deep breath to quench the sudden panic his adrenaline rush had fueled. One problem at a time, he reminded himself internally. You´ve got a few minutes to defuse that bomb. Keep calm!

Now thinking a little clearer, he tried to bend and twist his body in an effort to reach his Swiss Army knife in the front pocket of his jeans with one of his hands, but realized after a moment that it was useless. MacGyver let his body sag to the floor and drew in a sharp breath with the stabbing pain in his side his attempt had caused. He struggled to turn his head to all directions while his eyes scanned the room for anything he could use to free himself from the ropes. However this was a storage room… the shelves were mostly filled with boxes of all sizes, some paint cans, but no knife or even a saw to be seen.

Then MacGyver spotted several glass jars standing in the shelf on the wall closest to him. An idea instantly formed in his head and he hurried to worm his way over to that shelf. Once he had reached it, he pulled and pushed his body up against it.

“What are you doing?” Nikki asked after watching him silently for a couple of moments.

“If I can get one of those glass jars to fall and break…” Mac answered through clenched teeth. “I should be able to cut the ropes.”

He was on his knees now, straightened himself as much as he could, and twisted his body so he could reach for the jars with his tied hands. He felt for them blindly behind his back until his fingers touched something. MacGyver wasn´t so sure about what he had touched though, because his bonds were so tight that parts of his hands were numb by now. Nevertheless, he grabbed it and quickly pushed it off the shelf.

Mac puffed out a relieved breath when he heard glass shattering on the floor and instantly sat down again. He glanced over his shoulder for a quick assessment of the shards and then felt across them for one of suitable size and sharpness. Trying to be cautious he picked it up, turned it around in his only partially functioning hands to reach the bonds, and started sawing on them immediately. It was only when he felt something warm and wet that he noticed he had unintentionally also cut into one of his wrists and two fingers.

But in the next second the rope snapped and the sudden loss of tension sent a wave of agony through his arms and shoulders. MacGyver bit back a moan as he wiped the blood off his hands on his black jeans and then hurried to turn around to get rid of the bonds around his ankles. He quickly got to his feet but had to steady himself by holding on to the shelf as the dizziness suddenly spiked.

“Mac, are you all right?” Nikki called out alarmed when she saw his bloodied hands and him swaying for a moment.

“Yeah, just fine…” Mac breathed and shook his head to clear it. The headache was also back with full force now that he was standing. Hang in there, MacGyver, he urged himself mentally. Concentrate. You gotta get 4 persons out of here alive. When he turned to look at Nikki he saw the bruise on her cheek where Baranov had slapped her and the returning anger gave him the much-needed energy to continue. He dug his Swiss Army knife out of his pocket while he strode over to her and scrutinized the bomb simultaneously.

It was on the workbench in the now open case that Baranov had carried with him. Plastique explosive, several wires, and a circuit board with a digital clock display ticking away the seconds… still more than five minutes. Anton and Pavel stared alternately at him and the bomb with clearly visible angst on their faces as Mac came closer. Mac took a short moment to silently study the details of the device.

A small battery to power the clock, wires in various colors connecting electronical components, the plastique and its detonators out of immediate reach under some transparent cover, no indication that the bomb was connected to anything else in the room, but to top it off, a mercury switch wired to the circuit board. Wonderful… so much for moving it out of here… but nothing I haven´t dealt with before.

Mac straightened himself, quickly turned to Nikki, and flipped the large blade of his Swiss Army knife open.

“You okay?” he asked over her shoulder while he cut the ropes that held her to the beam behind her back.

“I´m all right, Mac.” Nikki nodded and took a step forward as soon as the rope around her loosened. She held out her bound hands for him and whirled around to face him the moment he had freed her completely. “But what about you?”

MacGyver cupped her bruised cheek carefully with one hand and brushed a soft kiss on her forehead while he placed the knife hilt-forward into her hands.

“Cut Anton and Pavel loose.” he told her and concentrated back on the bomb. “Could you see if that thing is connected to anything else? The door maybe?”

“Don´t think so.” Nikki didn´t look up from sawing through the ropes that held the brothers. “They placed it there, gave us another sermon, set the timer, and threw a switch to activate it.”

“And then they left us behind to die!” Anton added exasperated.

Mac glanced up at him and then took his knife back from her when she was done. His brown eyes locked with hers. “You´re going to get Anton and Pavel out of here safely.” he said with a low voice and stepped over to the door. “Call Pete if you can… but be careful… Zorkin and Baranov might have stayed somewhere close to watch.”

“What about you?” Nikki wanted to know.

“I´m gonna try to defuse that thing and keep it from destroying the house.” Mac told her with a little smile while his eyes scanned the door and its frame. He heard Anton draw in a sharp breath and held up one hand to keep him silent. “Nothing I haven´t done before.” he added with a quick sideways look.

MacGyver cautiously reached for the handle and turned it when nothing aroused his suspicion. The door opened without resistance, Mac peeked out to the corridor through a small crack and pulled it completely open when all was quiet outside.

“Get out of here. You´d better try the backyard.” he ordered.

Nikki was at his side but hesitated. She reached for his hand, sensed the sticky blood on it, and squeezed it briefly.

“MacGyver, please…” she started to say but was cut off instantly by him.

“Of course, Nikki… Now go!”

Nikki let go of his hand, and MacGyver stayed at the door and watched how she lead the Dubcek brothers through the corridor for a moment before he determinedly turned back to the bomb.

About four minutes left… now it´s just you and I… with Nikki on her way to safety I can finally concentrate on you, Mac thought when he approached the table and took in all the details of the bomb once more. MacGyver wiped his hands clean from the seeping blood again and flexed his long fingers to restore a little more feeling to his still partially numb hands. He felt the pain from the cuts by now but pushed it back as he did with his pounding headache.

All his experience in defusing bombs, all he had learned since his time in Vietnam, all the memories of the bombs he had ever dealt with, flooded back into his mind. His thoughts went to high gear while his eyes followed the wiring and assessed the connections. A step-by-step plan formed before his mental eye. Carefully he used the blade of his Swiss Army knife to push the wires away from each other to be able to reach the components he had to disable, while he kept the mercury switch under close watch. He would have to deal with that one, but first…

*****

The last minute of the countdown was about to begin. MacGyver had cut a few connections, had been able to separate some of the plastique from the detonation circuit, thus making that thing less dangerous, and had just been able to render the mercury switch inoperative. He blinked to get his eyes to focus properly again and wiped some blood threatening to drop from his hands into the bomb away on his jeans.

Why do those seconds always seem to be ticking away faster when I´m disarming a bomb, Mac asked himself mentally while he took a deep breath to prepare himself for the last step. Still plenty of time left though… piece of cake… but getting clobbered on the head for the second time in two days and cutting my hands with the shard don´t quite help it…

MacGyver bent down, flipped the scissors out of his Swiss Army knife, and reached into the case once more when he suddenly heard hurried steps in the corridor. Mac froze. He´d been concentrating that intensely on the bomb that he hadn´t noticed any of the sounds outside the room before. His back stiffened instinctively when whoever had been running stopped at the door several feet behind him.

“MacGyver? … you alright?”

Nikki. MacGyver´s body relaxed a little but his thoughts ran wild within the second. What the heck? How can she return? Why? Where are Anton and Pavel? MacGyver pulled back his hands a few inches and raised his head a little. Not on top of my priorities list right now, he chided himself. Focus, MacGyver!

“I told you to make sure Anton and Pavel are safe.” he replied a bit sharper than he had intended to. His dark eyes were fixed on the digital display with the red numbers counting down… 1.00 … 0.59 … He heard Nikki come closer.

“They are.” Nikki assured him quickly. “Pete was already outside with our operatives, the police, and the DXS has just arrived. He´s taking care…”

“Good.” Mac cut her off. “Now go.”

“I came back to see if there´s anything I can do to help.” Nikki continued.

She was almost at his side now. MacGyver´s hands were still hovering over the bomb case when he tore his eyes off the display and shot her a glance over his shoulder.

“You can.” he stated flatly. “Get out of here.”

Nikki was standing a little more than a step behind him and didn´t move. Her face showed a lot of worries but also the huge trust she had in him.

“Can you defuse it?” she asked cautiously.

“Yeah.” Mac answered tensely. “Almost done… now please, go.”

MacGyver turned back to the table. 0.41 … 0.40 … He sensed Nikki step back from him and focused back on the last two wires he had to get to and cut. Mac licked his lips, pushed back his tension, and then slowly lowered his hands again. He hadn´t noticed the small trickle of blood that had found its way from his hands onto the handle of his Swiss Army knife while he´d talked to Nikki until he saw one small red drop falling, followed by another in the next blink of an eye.

The moment seemed to stretch into eternity as he watched his blood falling into the bomb case, directly toward the circuit board. Aw man, no… Mac subconsciously drew in a sharp breath. The drops landed with a tiny splash, right where he had disconnected a wire, just a minute ago. MacGyver stood still, like paralyzed, his eyes frozen on the spot while he watched the conductivity of his blood cause a short circuit and saw a few sparks racing across the circuit board and its components. He watched the countdown suddenly quicken to a terrifying speed.

What had felt like a comfortable amount of time a few moments ago suddenly shrunk into a few seconds. Definitely too short for any attempt to get this device under control. Adrenaline rushed into his veins. Then he remembered Nikki being several feet behind him, and the thought loosened his paralysis that had barely lasted more than a moment.

“Nikki, run… now!” he ordered as he stepped back from the workbench. Mac saw her stunned with surprise when he quickly turned and dropped his knife. Without a conscious thought, only acting on instinct, he grabbed her arms, pulled her with him to the door and shoved her into the corridor. Even if he had reduced the amount of plastique that would go off, the brick walls of that corridor were their only chance for survival, he just knew.

“Run! … To the garage!” MacGyver shouted at her again as he turned back to the door. This time, he sensed her hurry off. Mac reached for the door´s handle, tried to close it in an attempt to shield them both a little further from the explosion, but then all hell broke loose.

The deafening bang of the blast hit his ears almost in the same split second as the shockwave caught his whole body. All of a sudden time seemed to slow down to a crawl. He was thrown backward with a force he had no chance of countering, felt his hand getting torn from the handle, but saw the wooden door being hurled toward him by the explosion. Hot flames engulfed him and burned his skin, but then he hit the opposite wall of the corridor back first, seemingly his whole body all at once. MacGyver felt like getting crushed between brick wall and door; abrupt, sharp pain was racing through his head, his back, his torso, his arms, and his legs for the blink of an eye and then all went black… and quiet.

*****

The buzzing in her head and her ears was almost unbearable when Nikki cautiously pushed herself a little up. The haze in her head cleared bit by bit as she regained full consciousness. The memory of an explosion crept back into her mind… the explosion that had thrown her off her feet and past the door leading to the garage onto the stairs. I must have hit my head on the steps, she thought when she noticed a throbbing behind her forehead. Then she smelled a mixture of burnt explosives and smoke. The blast couldn´t have been more than a few minutes ago, she realized when she had risen to her hands and knees.

The blast from which MacGyver had saved them in the last possible second. Nikki shook her head to get rid of the dizziness and bit back a moan when the pain in her head suddenly worsened. She ran her hands through her hair and over her face to regain her bearings and felt a little blood trickling down from a small cut on her forehead. Dust surrounded her in the semi-darkness when she opened her eyes. Her ears were starting to work almost normally again, and she could hear the low crackle of fire at some distance.

And then it dawned on her. MacGyver.

He´d been right behind her. He´d grabbed her. He´d shoved her around the corner. To safety. But she was awake for several moments now and had neither seen, heard, nor felt any indication of him being close so far. An intense surge of fear washed through her. Where is he? What happened to him?

Nikki managed to get to her feet and turned back to the corridor at once. She saw the flickering light of flames filtering out of the storage room, through an opening that had been the door earlier. She saw bricks on the floor of the corridor in the twilight, together with splintered wood. Parts of the ceiling had caved in. The sheer destruction the bomb had caused had Nikki stunned speechless for a moment.

Then she realized, she still couldn´t see Mac anywhere close. Her fear grew into panic when the image of the mangled car her husband had died in flashed before her mental eye. She wasn´t sure if she could take a situation like this once again. Losing the man she loved to a bomb…

“My God, no…” she whispered and took a staggering step toward the debris. “MacGyver!” she then called out anxious. “Mac!”

No answer. Nothing.

An icy cold ran down her spine as she cautiously set one foot in front of the other and let her eyes scan the rubble for any detail, for any hint to Mac´s whereabouts. The seconds seemed to stretch while Nikki searched forward along the corridor, occasionally lifting and pushing some broken wood out of her way. It felt endless until she spotted a limp and bloodied hand in the flickering light. The rest of MacGyver´s body was covered by the shattered remains of the door leaf.

Nikki frantically shouted his name again as she dashed forward and pushed and pulled the door off him with all the energy she had left. What she found, made her freeze for a moment. MacGyver was lying on his back close to the wall, motionless, unconscious. One arm was folded across his torso, the other one on the floor, stretched out a little away from his side. Other than a bleeding split lip, Nikki couldn´t make out any injuries at first sight, but that did nothing to ease her terror.

Her hands were trembling when she kneeled down at MacGyver´s side. Nothing else mattered instantly. She didn´t even feel the heat radiating from the fire in the storage room. Now being closer to Mac, she saw him barely breathing, noticed how pale his face was.

“MacGyver?” she asked with a breaking voice, fighting back the tears that threatened to fill her eyes and blur her sight. “Can you hear me? … Mac!”

Nikki didn´t dare to touch him at first out of fear she might worsen his condition. But when she got no answer, no reaction at all, she slowly and very carefully reached out, brushed back some strands of hair from his forehead, and then cupped his cheek with a feather-light touch.

“MacGyver, come on… wake up!” she pleaded frightened. “Don´t do this to me… Mac!” She laid her second hand on his shoulder. “You gotta come back to me.” Nikki urged on a little louder and getting more desperate with every second passing. “MacGyver, please… open your eyes!”

*****

At first, MacGyver felt as if he was floating. Comfortable, quiet darkness was enveloping him. He wasn´t sure if he´d really heard someone calling his name; the voice had been so distant, so faint. But the voice returned, asking him to wake up, pleading with him to open his eyes. He knew that voice… it belonged to the woman he cared so much about.

Nikki.

The abrupt realization gave him the energy and will to try and leave his comfortable darkness. But when MacGyver attempted to breathe a little deeper, an immense wave of pain rolled through him. All of a sudden his whole body was swallowed up by unbearable agony. All of a sudden he felt like drowning with his inability to breathe properly; his lungs were burning with the lack of oxygen. Every effort to inhale intensified the stabbing in his chest and his back.

He noticed himself lying on his back, felt someone touch his shoulder and his cheek softly through the pain, and tried to cling on to that feeling. MacGyver wanted to move just a little, wanted to find a more comfortable position, but couldn´t. Everything he tried just aggravated his suffering. Panic took over his mind the second he realized that his body didn´t obey as usual, that he felt like being paralyzed. His breath quickened with the rising fear, causing the hurt to worsen even more, and he couldn´t help but let out a quiet moan.

At that moment Nikki´s voice was back, calling his name again. She sounded frantic and at once Mac´s worry about her safety cut back the panic about his own condition. The bomb… the explosion… what if I haven´t been able to shield her from the blast… what if she is hurt as well… I´m not able to help her… to save her… I gotta know if she is alright…

Holding on to her voice MacGyver found the power to fight back his way to full consciousness and blinked his eyes open. It took a few seconds to get his blurred vision to somewhat focus on Nikki´s face in the flickering light. He noticed the smell of smoke for the first time, tasted blood on his tongue. His memory of getting caught by the explosion flashed back into his mind, but he pushed it back and took every effort to concentrate on Nikki.

Mac could barely make out the tears glistening in her eyes, but he saw the angst they bore, even when she now forced a little smile on her face.

“Oh thank God… MacGyver, hey.” she greeted him with a breaking voice.

Mac had to swallow hard before he could answer her.

“Nikki?” he breathed hoarsely. “You ´kay?” Talking took an enormous effort, and he still didn´t dare to and couldn´t move, not even turn his head a few inches to be able to look more comfortably at her.

But her smile widened a bit with hearing his words. She bent down a bit closer to him because his voice was so faint, very softly stroked over his cheek, and her hand on his shoulder traveled along the arm to hold on to his hand.

“Yes, MacGyver. Thanks to you.” Nikki told him. “You pushed me around the corner to the corridor and saved me.” She noticed that his hand didn´t respond to her hold, saw how much he had to struggle to stay focused on her.

“But… you´re bleeding…” Mac croaked low. He had seen the dark blood on her forehead when she had come nearer. He tried his best to hide it, but having to breathe deeper in order to speak sent fresh waves of agony through his body. Mac bit his lower lip but couldn´t suppress another shuddering moan.

“It´s just a scratch, Mac.” Nikki hurried to assure him when she observed how badly he was suffering. “I´m all right, really.”

She gave his hand just a bit of a squeeze. Her words allowed Mac´s worries about her to calm down.

“Good.” he said while he tried to return the squeeze, but couldn´t manage more than a twitch of one or two fingers.

His energy was almost used up and the panic about his own condition returned. He couldn´t even determine where he was injured since the hurting seemed to come from every part of his body, let alone tell how serious it was. His focus on Nikki wavered until she addressed him again.

“Stop talking, MacGyver… spare your strength… help is on the way.” She wasn´t completely sure about the last part but wasn´t about to show him. With Pete being outside before… she had told him about the bomb… he had to have witnessed the explosion… he had to have called in the firefighters and an EMT by now. “Just hold on, will you… Stay with me.”

“Trying.” The word was barely audible. “Tell Pete… Dubceks… ´m sorry.”

But MacGyver knew, he was on the brink of losing that fight. His vision started to black out at the edges; his eyelids were getting heavier. All of a sudden he was scared. Scared to hell that he might not wake up once more, that he might not see Nikki´s face ever again.

I gotta tell her something important before I go unconscious, he thought desperately. Something I haven´t had the courage to tell her all summer long. She needs to know… I must…

MacGyver struggled to take a deep breath, pushed back the agony for a few seconds, and forced his eyes to focus on her for one last time.

“Nikki…” he whispered, his voice breaking with the effort it took to talk. “… love you.”

He never got to see her reaction because his remaining energy was spent, his eyes closed in the very next moment, the overwhelming pain faded, and all went dark and quiet again.

*****

Nikki was stunned silent for a moment with MacGyver´s last words. How could he, in a moment like this, tell her that? She´d been patient, had been waiting the whole summer for him to confess his love for her in words but deeds, to commit himself to her. How could he, in a situation like this, still care more about her, Pete, and the Dubcek brothers than about his own condition? Or was he injured that badly that he was…? She didn´t dare to finish that thought. When she saw Mac´s eyes close, her breath caught in her throat, and the tears in her eyes threatened to take over.

“Mac? ... no, please.” Nikki begged fearfully. “MacGyver, stay with me! … Look at me!” Somewhat automatically her hand closed a little tighter around his and her second one traveled to hover just above his chest. She saw and felt him breathing shallowly. “MacGyver, wake up… please.” she urged him again past the lump in her throat, but got no reaction. “Mac!”

An icy cold rushed up her back, the trembling spread from her hands through her whole body as she felt panic rising within. Her heart seemed to stop for a second and then raced as her eyes searched for any hint, for any clue on his face that he could still hear her. The moments seemed to slow down to a crawl. Nikki couldn´t tell if minutes or merely seconds had passed until she heard steps hastening inside the house through the garage and stopping when they had reached the destroyed corridor.

“MacGyver? … Nikki? … Where are you?”

Pete. She recognized his voice at once.

“Over here!” Nikki shouted back without taking her gaze off MacGyver. “Hurry! … Mac needs help!”

Abruptly the beam of a flashlight reached out to them.

“Oh, no…” Pete sighed at the sight. “Get the doctor down here! Now!” he ordered in the next second, and Nikki heard someone else running off at once. Then the light started to move as Pete hurried to get closer to them through the demolished corridor. Nikki didn´t pay any attention to it. All she saw was Mac´s deathly pale face; all she heard was the echo of his last words to her in her head.

“Oh dear God!”

She only sensed Pete´s presence close when he kneeled down next to her with those deeply concerned words and reached out to feel for MacGyver´s pulse on his neck.

“What happened? … How…?”

Pete wasn´t completely sure what to ask… and he wasn´t completely sure he wanted to hear the answer. He tried not to imagine all the possible injuries Mac might have sustained. Seeing his best friend lying there, motionless, unconscious, tore at his heart. This couldn´t be happening… this shouldn´t be happening. Not to MacGyver.

“He was defusing the bomb when I returned.” Nikki´s voice was stricken with tears and sorrow when she answered after a moment. “Mac said, he was almost done with it… I don´t know what went wrong, but suddenly he turned, grabbed me, shoved me into the corridor, and told me to run… I thought he was right behind me. The explosion must have caught him while he was…”

She broke off shaking with a sob, and Pete quickly laid a hand on her shoulder and squeezed it gently in a comforting gesture.

“Anything else?” He tried his best to keep his voice strong and even. “Was he unconscious when you found him?”

Nikki nodded silently and then drew in a deep breath.

“He was buried under the door…” she continued low. “Mac woke up for a few moments when I addressed him. He was able to talk to me briefly although he was hurting badly… He asked me to tell you he was sorry… Pete, he couldn´t move and he couldn´t stay with me… but he has saved my life.”

Pete wrapped his arm around Nikki´s shoulders when he sensed her shuddering again.

“He´s alive and breathing, Nikki … the doctor and the EMT will be here any minute.” he assured her as firmly as possible. “He´ll make it… He always comes through.”

Pete forced himself to take a look at their surroundings as Nikki´s words replayed in his head. MacGyver must have been crushed against the wall he is now lying next to… at that short distance to the explosion… a serious concussion, maybe broken bones… hopefully no internal injuries… The thought crossed his mind before Pete could push it back like before. But sorry? What on earth can he be sorry for? Saving the Dubcek brothers and Nikki? Of course, he doesn´t know yet that we apprehended Zorkin and Baranov when they tried to flee from here… but I am sure gonna tell him as soon as he wakes up… he has to wake up…

His gaze returned to MacGyver´s motionless body. Keep fighting, pal… hang in there, please!

Only a few seconds later Pete heard people closing in on them, saw light from several flashlights brightening what was left of the corridor. The doctor crouched down next to MacGyver at Nikki´s side and started giving commands to his team as soon as he had gotten a first good look at him. Nikki didn´t really hear him. The sudden burst of activity around her and MacGyver blurred. She noticed Pete talking to the physician but didn´t listen to the words.

The only thing she saw clearly was pale Mac´s face; the only thing she felt was his limp hand she was still holding on to. Nikki didn´t react when Pete tightened his arm around her shoulders and softly tried to guide her sideways. She would have to let go of MacGyver´s hand… she wasn´t willing to give up what felt like her last connection to him.

“We need to give the EMT more room.” Nikki heard Pete say urgently as he grabbed on to both her upper arms and started to pull her away. She still resisted. “Nikki, you gotta let them work! … They going to help him.”

Pete´s plea registered in her mind only a moment later and Nikki reluctantly gave up her hold on MacGyver, allowed Pete´s firm grip to help her get up and step backward several feet. She felt somehow frozen, paralyzed by her worries and her fear of losing MacGyver, while she watched the medical team hovering around him and taking care of him.

Nikki finally allowed her tears to fall and sensed how Pete again wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, trying to comfort her and steady her shaking. Deep inside, although she didn´t look at him, although he did a much better job at keeping up at least a bit of a façade, she knew that Pete was going through about the same emotions as she did right now.


Posted by: Karenskatz 23 December 2021 - 03:24 AM
Wow! That's a lot happening in one chapter! You keep saying that this is your way of showing why the character of Niki leaves the series. For the last few chapters, I see two ways this could happen. Kill her off (obviously), or have her realize that both she and Mac have lost loved ones and blamed themselves for it, and both are trying the protect the other so it doesn't happen again. This will keep happening as long as they are both together, and she can't live with Mac constantly trying to protect her at the cost of his own safety when (in her opinion) it should be the other way around. The only solution, to her, is to leave. Either leave the Phoenix Foundation and find another employer, or (as MacBeth laid out so nicely in her story), transfer to one of their other branches, like the offices in Washington D.C. or in London. You started laying the foundation for this several chapters ago with her reluctance to let Mac too close to her private life. Here you can see her starting to formulate the thoughts of "I can't bear to watch him keep sacrificing himself for others". Of course you could still kill her off just when it looks like everything's going to be okay, but I think it's more likely she's just going to leave. Now she could wait until it's sure he's going to be all right but he's not really awake, to avoid the "Sturm and Drang" (storm and strife) of a loud and nasty argument with lots of name calling as she tries to drive him away for his own good. Or it could turn into a Battle Royal yet. We've got about five chapters left; that's a couple of chapters for recovery, a couple more for the thunder and lightnings between them, and a chapter for parting and recriminations. Or you could take it in a direction we haven't seen yet. My money's on the nasty argument to drive him away for his own good. The handwriting's on the wall. I think Pete's starting to get a hint of what's going on. She could storm off on her own or he could quietly help her transfer to another branch of Phoenix so they don't lose her talent and skill. It will be interesting to watch this play out.

Posted by: uniquelyjas 24 December 2021 - 11:14 AM
Wow! What an intense and emotional chapter!! So...now we know what was in the case. Personally, once everyone was out, I would've let the bomb explode, but that's why I'm not MacGyver!! Speaking of the bomb...gosh, it sounds really complicated, but Mac seems to have a good handle on it. Why oh why did Nikki have to interrupt him?!?!? Will she eventually realize what she did and blame herself for distracting him?? Glad that the bad guys got caught, though! You do a very excellent job with the description of the blast and it's aftermath. You're making Mac's injuries sound pretty serious...even though I know he lives, I'm still worried!! You also did a great job focusing on Nikki and her emotions. How very similar to her husband being killed in a bomb explosion. So much happened that it's hard to find the words to address it all so let me just say very well done!!

Posted by: Karenskatz 24 December 2021 - 06:02 PM
[/QUOTE]Wow! What an intense and emotional chapter!! So...now we know what was in the case. Personally, once everyone was out, I would've let the bomb explode, but that's why I'm not MacGyver!! Speaking of the bomb...gosh, it sounds really complicated, but Mac seems to have a good handle on it. Why oh why did Nikki have to interrupt him?!?!? Will she eventually realize what she did and blame herself for distracting him?? Glad that the bad guys got caught, though! You do a very excellent job with the description of the blast and it's aftermath. You're making Mac's injuries sound pretty serious...even though I know he lives, I'm still worried!! You also did a great job focusing on Nikki and her emotions. How very similar to her husband being killed in a bomb explosion. So much happened that it's hard to find the words to address it all so let me just say very well done!![QUOTE]

I was thinking a lot about that too! You put it perfectly about Nikki!!! Also agree with "Once everyone was out..". Once the mercury switch was deactivated, it could be moved to somewhere else to explode, Depending on the neighborhood, that could be an empty lot, empty parking lot, football field, park; the only danger would be from flying pieces of the bomb shrapnel and maybe the shock wave would break some windows. That's why the nut-cases that make pipebombs pack them with nails, ball bearings, nuts and bolts and such to make shrapnel for the bomb to propel. Though the shock wave alone can pulverize your insides without leaving a mark on you if you're too close (we discovered that during the American Civil War). I think the door might have saved Mac from that. Maybe it's the bomb-tech mentally that it has to be compleatly dead? Maybe Mac just can't leave a puzzle alone until it's COMPLETELY solved? You're right, he should have bailed. thumbup.gif

Posted by: uniquelyjas 24 December 2021 - 06:30 PM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 24 December 2021 - 06:02 PM)
[/QUOTE]Wow! What an intense and emotional chapter!! So...now we know what was in the case. Personally, once everyone was out, I would've let the bomb explode, but that's why I'm not MacGyver!! Speaking of the bomb...gosh, it sounds really complicated, but Mac seems to have a good handle on it. Why oh why did Nikki have to interrupt him?!?!? Will she eventually realize what she did and blame herself for distracting him?? Glad that the bad guys got caught, though! You do a very excellent job with the description of the blast and it's aftermath. You're making Mac's injuries sound pretty serious...even though I know he lives, I'm still worried!! You also did a great job focusing on Nikki and her emotions. How very similar to her husband being killed in a bomb explosion. So much happened that it's hard to find the words to address it all so let me just say very well done!![QUOTE]

I was thinking a lot about that too! You put it perfectly!!! thumbup.gif

Great minds think alike! thumbsup.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 25 December 2021 - 07:28 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 25 December 2021 - 03:02 AM)
Wow! What an intense and emotional chapter!! So...now we know what was in the case. Personally, once everyone was out, I would've let the bomb explode, but that's why I'm not MacGyver!! Speaking of the bomb...gosh, it sounds really complicated, but Mac seems to have a good handle on it. Why oh why did Nikki have to interrupt him?!?!?
QUOTE


Also agree with "Once everyone was out..".  Once the mercury switch was deactivated, it could be moved to somewhere else to explode,  Depending on the neighborhood, that could be an empty lot, empty parking lot, football field, park; the only danger would be from flying pieces of the bomb shrapnel and maybe the shock wave would break some windows.

Maybe it's the bomb-tech mentally that it has to be compleatly dead?  Maybe Mac just can't leave a puzzle alone until it's COMPLETELY solved?  You're right, he should have bailed.  thumbup.gif

As for the 'once everyone was out...' - as I see MacGyver, he would have tried to save the house his friends had just moved into. Especially since he seemed confident that he can defuse the bomb and has a 'comfortable amount of time'. "Nothing I haven´t done before." he says.

As for moving that thing out of there once the mercury switch is disabled - he´s tried moving a bomb out of a danger zone in 'Blow Out' and very nearly failed... perhaps that´s keeping him from moving the bomb. Or it´s just too little time left once the mercury swith is deactivated - only a minute or two. I set the Dubecek house in the midst of a residential area, with many other houses around it, and families living there, right next to it. Even broken windows can kill or hurt people who happen to be too close. With no parking lot or football field close enough to reach within the time left, Mac probably chose to continue working on it in the brick built basement, to minimize the risk to the neighborhood. And yes, there´s his 'I can never leave a puzzle alone'-mentality as well...

And even as Nikki returns to him - and distracts him, as you both put it - he´s still confident, he can do it and that he´s got enough time left... so, from his point of view, before he sees the drop of blood falling... why should he have bailed?? hmm.bmp

By the way, Karenskatz, which of MacBedh´s stories are you referring to? 'Reverb'?

Posted by: Karenskatz 25 December 2021 - 07:58 AM
Yup; "Reverb". Couldn't remember the name of it.

Posted by: bluegirl 25 December 2021 - 08:49 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 25 December 2021 - 04:58 PM)
Yup; "Reverb".  Couldn't remember the name of it.

That one is such a great read! I love it. But to be honest, all of MacBedh´s stories are...

Posted by: bluegirl 25 December 2021 - 11:34 PM
Hi there! It´s Sunday morning (on my end of the globe) - time for another chapter...

So, after discovering what was in that case and a bit of an emotional cliffhanger... wink.gif You all ready for

Part 17 of 21


Silence. Velvety darkness. The sensation of floating again.

Slowly, very slowly the thick haze in MacGyver´s mind lifted just a little. Evenly slow the weightlessness made room for the feeling that he was lying on his back. Am I still on my back, Mac asked himself. Or again? … But if I can sense that… I can´t be dead, right? … And if I´m not dead, where am I? … How much time has passed? … Where´s Nikki? … Is she alright? One after another the questions slowly made their way into his foggy mind. The last one dawned on Mac relatively sudden. If I am still alive… what is my current condition?

At once his mind focused on his body and he felt his head pounding. At once he sensed the softness of the mattress he was lying on, something stiff that steadied his back and the warmth of the sheets that covered him. At once he came aware of the tube in his mouth that reached uncomfortably down his throat, and it reminded him of the necessity to breathe.

But before he could deliberately inhale, MacGyver felt a mixture of air and oxygen being pressed into his lungs through the tube. It came as a surprise and he wasn´t prepared for what it caused. With his lungs inflating the agony he had felt right after the explosion returned in a wave almost as bad as then. Mac wanted to moan but couldn´t with the tube in. The pressure was gone after a few seconds, and he gratefully let the air flow out of his body. He strove to relax with the throbbing and the stabbing easing up, yet a moment later the pressure was back; the air was filling his lungs again.

He noticed the brace around his neck as it hindered him when he tried to move his head in an attempt to get rid of the tube. His body continued to be mostly uncooperative, Mac realized while his eyes were still closed. He only managed to straighten out the fingers of one hand that stiffened as the anguish spread through his whole body. This time a low and hoarse moan escaped his throat. The panic about how badly he was injured returned. MacGyver flinched just a little bit when abruptly someone held on to his hand and another hand was laid onto his forehead.

“Calm down, Mr. MacGyver.” a soft female voice advised. “You´re on a respirator… Don´t fight it… it´ll help your body recover.”

The voice was unfamiliar to Mac, but it gave him something to cling on in his pained, confused, and frightened condition. For the first time, he noticed the beeping of a heart rate monitor that matched his now racing heart. Somehow he had to find a way to tell her how immensely all this hurt…

With an enormous effort, MacGyver forced his eyes to open. The image was blurry at first, got sharper only very slowly, but he figured it had to be a nurse smiling down at him. Mac tried to raise one hand to get rid of the tube, yet the woman held him down with ease.

“Don´t move.” she ordered. “You need to stay completely still… but I´m glad you woke up already.”

MacGyver wanted to shake his head but couldn´t. He wasn´t… well, of course, he was, but… while experiencing agony like this… he wasn´t. “Hurts.” he tried to say but all that came out was an unintelligible grunt.

“Don´t try to speak.” the nurse answered. “You can´t with the breathing tube still in.” Nevertheless, the expression on his face and in his eyes must have made her understand the extent of his suffering. “Is the pain that serious?” she asked.

Mac blinked, but then his eyes stayed fixed on her, silently pleading with her to help him.

“All right.” she nodded quickly. Her hand left his forehead and the other one squeezed his hand briefly. “Give me a moment.”

She turned away from him to a table next to the monitors at his bedside. MacGyver struggled to follow her with his eyes, but couldn´t completely. He could make out some IV-lines that were probably connected to the veins in his arm. He felt himself getting weaker with every second. His vision blurred again. The fear and the anguish threatened to take over. Thankfully the nurse turned back to him only a moment later. Mac barely saw her administering the two syringes she had prepared into his IV.

“This should take away the pain within a few moments.” she told him. “The second one will help you go back to sleep.” She laid the syringes aside and held on to his hand again. “Try to relax… you need to rest.” she added as she squeezed it softly. “You´re safe here… we´re all working to get you mended soon.”

MacGyver managed to focus on her face once more as he felt the pain fading away a couple of seconds later. He gave in to the respirator filling his lungs when he sensed the agony diminishing and his strength being almost used up. The hint of a grateful smile flashed across his face, barely visible, but the nurse noticed it and returned the smile. Mac was a bit surprised when he was able to close his fingers around her hand, albeit weakly.

A wave of relief washed through him when he realized that, even if only partly, but he could move again. A small glimmer of hope rose through his fears. But his energy was spent and the medicated fog settled back into his mind. MacGyver let his eyes close and allowed the darkness to envelop him again. The nurse had seemed to be quite happy with his condition so far. He drifted off with the reassuring thought that it was plausible that he would wake up again. And if he woke up once more, it was also plausible that he would soon see Pete… and the woman he loved… Nikki.

*****

When his mind and thoughts slowly made their way to the surface of the comfortable darkness for the second time, it felt different. The first thing MacGyver noticed was the constant, regular beeping of the heart rate monitor. It reminded him of the hospital of some sort he was obviously still in. Then, abruptly, the agony the respirator had caused flashed back into his mind. But it didn´t come this time.

When MacGyver concentrated on his body, he felt his head still pounding but the tube down his throat was gone. I had to have been breathing on my own, he thought and realized that the memory had caused him to subconsciously hold his breath for a moment. That implies I´m getting better… A bit of relief washed through him, as Mac now consciously drew in a breath and noticed smaller tubes reaching only a little into his nose. Still on oxygen support though…

And suddenly, when he tried to breathe a little deeper, the pain was back. It wasn´t as bad as the last time, but he felt some serious throbbing throughout his whole back and some stabbing in his chest. Mac froze for a moment, let the air flow out of his lungs with a faint moan, and drew in the next breath a bit shuddering and much more cautious.

“Mac?” He all of a sudden heard a well-known voice ask and felt someone touch the back of his hand. “MacGyver?”

Nikki. He wanted to turn his head toward her voice, but noticed that the brace was still stabilizing his head and neck. He couldn´t move.

Pain in my back, a brace around my neck… some damage to my spine probably… The frightening thought flashed through his mind, yet at the moment he had something more important to care about. Don´t panic, MacGyver… don´t go jumping to conclusions, he chided himself. Wait until you´ve got all the facts… First, you gotta make sure that Nikki´s okay…

MacGyver pushed the thought aside, blinked his eyes open, quickly found Nikki´s face, and managed to focus on her. She looked tired, worried, but smiled down at him.

“You´re awake…” Nikki said with a breaking voice. “Oh, thank God.”

Then she bit her lower lip to control the tears of relief that were threatening to fall. Mac saw her eyes glistening, saw the bruise on her cheek, saw that the skin around the cut on her forehead had turned dark blue, felt her squeeze his hand a little. He swallowed to clear his sore throat and struggled to plant a feeble smile on his face.

“Sort of…” Mac tried to reply, but it came out very hoarse, barely understandable, and the attempt to speak made him cough instantly. Abruptly it felt like knives were stabbing him, while the coughing fit sent his body shaking. MacGyver pressed his eyes shut with a moan as the headache spiked, and held his breath momentarily, desperately striving to get it back under control. He sensed Nikki still holding on to his hand and her second one softly stroking back his hair.

“Shh… easy, MacGyver… take it slow.” she tried to calm him.

After a few moments of labored and raspy breathing MacGyver was able to open his eyes again. His fears rose once more inside, but just to see Nikki, to feel her presence close by was comforting to him. He closed his fingers around her hand and swallowed once more. His throat still felt raw, and he couldn´t keep the pain he was going through from showing on his face. Nikki was now cupping his cheek with her hand in a feather-light touch, and Mac tried to lean just a bit into that touch. She had come closer, her expression was a lot more worried by now, but MacGyver could look up easier at her.

“That bad?” she asked softly.

“Yeah.” he admitted feebly. “As soon as…”

“Don´t, Mac.” Nikki cut him off quickly. “Don´t talk that much… it´s been only a few hours since the tube has been pulled out. Your throat needs time to recover.”

Mac managed the slightest hint of a nod. Yes, he could definitely feel that.

“I´ll get the doctor for you.” Nikki straightened herself, her hand left his cheek, and she moved a little away from the bed. MacGyver hurried to tighten his hold on her hand, and his breath quickened a little.

“Stay.” he breathed. “Please… don´t go…”

“I won´t leave you.” Nikki cut him off while she pressed a button close to his bed and then turned back to MacGyver. “Calm down, Mac… relax. You´re safe.” She bent down and brushed a soft kiss on his forehead.

Mac had to ease up his hold on her hand as he strove to slow down his breath. He couldn´t suppress a shiver running through him as he felt himself getting weaker with every moment. Nikki is right, he realized. I don´t have a lot of energy left. Even something as simple as breathing is exhausting right now. MacGyver locked his eyes onto Nikki´s face again. She looked worn out as well.

“You okay?” he croaked.

Nikki sighed and smiled at him through her worries. How could he still care more about her wellbeing than his own? “Yes, of course.” she assured after a moment. “As I told you, it´s just a scratch.” She ran her hand over her forehead. “Apart from that, I´m just tired… didn´t get too much sleep since…” she added but broke off in mid-sentence. Her expression darkened.

Mac sensed she didn´t want to be reminded of the explosion. He wished he could forget that evening as well… and his foolish mistake…

“What about Pete?” Mac hoarsely decided to change to another topic on his mind. It bothered him to cause his best friend that much sorrow… again.

“Tired as well… worried of course.” Nikki replied slowly. “We´ve been watching over you together… I´ve sent him away to get some coffee and take a break about half an hour ago. He should be back any minute.”

Just then the door of the room opened. Nikki straightened herself and turned her head to see who was coming in and then nodded to the doctor and the nurse accompanying him. MacGyver got a first good look at the doc when he stepped up to the bed next to Nikki, scanned the readings on the monitors, and then concentrated on Mac.

“I´m glad to see you woke up, Sir.” he addressed MacGyver while he scrutinized him.

“He was in a great deal of pain when he had to cough earlier.” Nikki told the physician.

“We´ll take care of that.” The doctor glanced sideways at her. “Would you please excuse of for a couple of minutes?”

Mac saw that Nikki wasn´t too happy about it, but she obeyed with a quick smile at MacGyver and briefly squeezed his hand before she left the room. Mac felt his tension inside build up again and some adrenaline flow into his veins, effectively suppressing his exhaustion. Now he should get some answers about how badly he was injured. The thought of permanent damage to his spine or spinal cord undeniably frightened him. The doctor´s face was serious when he looked down on him.

“I´m Dr. Marrow. I suppose speaking is still difficult for you, so I´ll just ask a few questions.” When MacGyver´s eyes steadied on him, he continued. “What´s your name?”

“MacGyver.” Mac answered hoarsely.

Then the doc held up one hand with three fingers straightened out. “How many fingers can you see?”

“Three.” Okay, so a test of my basic cognitive abilities first… aw man, do they suspect brain damage as well?

“Do you remember what happened to you?”

MacGyver needed a moment to sort through the jumbled memories in his head.

“Was trying to defuse a bomb.” he then said. The drops of blood falling into the bomb case appeared before his mental eye. His breath and heartbeat quickened. “But I was bleeding… failed… just managed to get Nikki safe… before it blew up.” Mac told Dr. Marrow between labored breaths. The stabbing pain was back with a deep breath he managed to take afterward.

“Easy, Mr. MacGyver.” the doc tried to calm him down and laid a hand on his arm. “To my information, the explosion threw you against a brick wall.”

Mac silently nodded – as far as he could. Probably… my memories aren´t all too clear about that part…

“But it seems, you are some lucky guy.” the doctor added.

MacGyver raised his eyebrows questioning. Lucky?

“As you were unconscious when you were brought here two days ago, we not only x-rayed you but also did CT- and MR-scans.” Dr. Marrow paused a moment to let the information sink in. “You´ve sustained a concussion, a cracked rib, but fortunately we found no damage to your spine.”

Mac subconsciously held his breath for a second. “But I can barely move… why?” he then asked low.

“For several reasons.” the physician hurried to explain. “Initially it was the shock you were going through after being crushed against the wall. Right now, it´s because we´ve given you muscle relaxants to keep you from moving. Even if there´s no damage to the vertebrae, you´ve got severe bruisings along your back. Some of the swellings and hematomas press against your spinal cord and may still damage it. They are likely to also cause some numbness and partial paralysis at the moment. That´s why you´re still wearing the neck brace, that´s why your torso is stabilized by the half cast you are lying in. That´s why we need you to lie as still as possible until the fluid build-up goes down.”

“Do you think, I´ll recover?” Mac needed to be sure.

“I do.” Dr. Marrow confirmed. “How fast and how completely depends on how the swellings and hematomas will respond to our treatment… and on how determined you´ll follow our orders.”

Determination? If it is for preventing permanent damage and paralysis, I can be incredibly determined, Mac thought. Now he let out a relieved breath. This news and prognosis were as good as they could get in his dire situation. “I will.” he hurried to assure the doctor. “Promise.”

“Good.” The doc straightened himself and smiled at MacGyver for the first time. “I was concerned about that last part… Mr. Thornton told us you can be remarkably impatient and restless when it comes to how long you have to stay still in a hospital bed.”

“Yeah.” Mac managed a weak and apologetic grin. “But I do recognize a serious diagnosis when I hear it.” The long sentence made him cough once more, and he bit his lower lip to suppress a moan when the pain spiked again. Dr. Marrow quickly turned to the nurse who had prepared two syringes in the meantime.

“This will ease the pain fast.” he said while he administered the first one into Mac´s IV. “But it is likely to cause some drowsiness and dizziness as well. Tell us if it gets too uncomfortable.”

MacGyver only blinked his eyes to signal his understanding. He was still striving to get his breath under control. The doctor briefly squeezed Mac´s arm when he was done with both syringes.

“The cuts to your hand and the burns the explosion left on your skin are minor.” the doc added. “They´ll be healed real soon. Just don´t pick on the bandages… but you´re not supposed to move anyway.”

Mac managed a bit of a nod. He hadn´t even noticed those yet.

“Very well… I´ll send your friends back in.” Dr. Marrow continued. “Please, remember that you need to rest. If you´re getting tired or exhausted, don´t fight to stay awake. You´ll have plenty of time to talk to them during the next days… understood?”

MacGyver managed to grin feebly through the already lessening pain.

“Yes, Sir.”

The doctor and nurse left the room, but it took several minutes until Nikki returned with Pete in tow. Although truthfully glad to see them both, MacGyver was dazed by the medication by then. His anguish had faded, but his mind and thoughts were foggy once again. Later on, he only remembered Pete´s smile that he tried to hide his worries under; he remembered Nikki´s face that seemed a little more relieved than earlier. Mac suspected that the doctor had briefed them on his condition and prognosis prior to allowing them back in. He also remembered talking to them briefly, before he had drifted off to sleep real soon, but couldn´t recall the topics afterward.

*****

From the next day on Pete and Nikki took turns sitting by MacGyver´s bedside and watching over him. Mac was still asleep most of the time, still too weakened to stay awake for more than a few minutes at one go, his mind still too dazed by the medicines to be able to hold on to a clear thought.

But he felt a lot better when the doctor looked after him during the afternoon of day four, and Mac took the opportunity to ask him to cut down his medication. He needed to have a conversation with his friends he would be able to remember, and desperately wanted to know what had happened while he had tried to defuse the bomb and after the explosion. Mac only vaguely recalled Nikki telling him that Pete had been outside, but he knew nothing about Anton and Pavel Dubcek had fared after they´d left the house or the whereabouts of Zorkin and Baranov.

Dr. Marrow had warned him to be cautious and not to overdo it, yet had complied with Mac´s wish. The different painkillers and reduced muscle relaxants held MacGyver´s hurting down at a bearable level and at the same time allowed some feeling to return to his arms and legs. The physician had also warned him not to move already, but being able to at least flex his fingers and wiggle his toes – albeit weakly – was relieving and encouraging to MacGyver. He was still trying out his possibilities when the door opened only a short while after the doctor had left and Pete came in.

“Hello, MacGyver!” he greeted joyfully. “Good to see you awake.”

Dr. Marrow had also agreed to further elevate the head-end of MacGyver´s bed so that Mac had a much easier time breathing and looking comfortably at his visitors. He only had to raise his eyes from observing his hands to Pete´s face.

“Hiya, Pete.” he replied as a pleased smile widened on his face. Mac´s voice was still a bit hoarse, but his throat had recovered well over the last two days.

“You were sound asleep when I stopped by during the morning… that´s why I left quite soon then.” Pete stated while he grabbed a chair and pulled it close to Mac´s bedside. “You look a lot better now.” He sat down, took a moment to eye MacGyver all over, and noticed his slightly raised hands and moving fingers. “You´re able to move your hands.” Pete continued with pleased surprise. “Since when…”

“I asked the doctor to reduce the meds.” Mac cut him off, now getting more serious. “They made me too drowsy, and my mind too foggy… I can´t remember much of what we talked about during the last days.”

“All right…” Pete´s answer came slowly. “But has Dr. Marrow also allowed you to do that?” he asked with a gesture toward Mac´s raised and turning hands and flexing fingers.

MacGyver froze for a moment, looked back at his hands, and then laid them back on the mattress and relaxed them.

“He told me to be careful.” Mac replied with a rueful glance, not revealing that the doc had ordered him to stay still. “But he has also told me that the returning sensation and motoric abilities to my arms and legs are a good sign.”

“Of course they are!” Pete agreed with a fatherly protective tone. “But I guess, he advised you to be patient and take the time your body needs to heal two days ago.”

“Yeah…” Mac sighed with a little eye-roll. “I haven´t forgotten the paraplegia threat, Pete.”

“Neither have I…” Pete said slowly while his expression darkened. “It scared me to death when I saw you lying in that corridor… unconscious… barely breathing… You were lucky that we had called in the firefighters and an EMT as soon as Nikki had told me about the bomb.”

“Yeah.” MacGyver slowly raised his eyes again to meet Pete´s worried ones. “I´m sorry for causing you that much anguish…”

Pete held Mac´s gaze quietly for a moment before he softly shook his head.

“You don´t need to be sorry for anything… you saved several lives that evening.”

“Speaking of which… I think I remember Nikki saying that you were outside the house… Care to tell me what happened? How did you figure out so quickly…?” MacGyver got curious now, but a sudden urge to cough cut him off and sent his body shaking. Mac pressed his eyes shut and held his breath for a few seconds with the ache the coughing fit had caused to his back. Then he drew in a slow, cautious breath and instantly felt Pete´s hand on the back of his own.

“You okay? Shall I call the doc?”

As the pain eased up after a couple of moments, MacGyver opened his eyes again only to see Pete´s deeply concerned expression.

“Sort of… No, but thanks, Pete.” he croaked low and with a lopsided grin. “Guess, I still shouldn´t talk that much.”

“Probably.” Pete sighed while his face relaxed with relief. He briefly squeezed Mac´s hand before he pulled his own back and leaned back in his chair again. “How did I figure out where Zorkin had taken you?” he continued after a small pause. “After our technicians had identified the Russian origin of the bugs, I raised the security level of all the dissidents we are supporting or watching over. Not just the Russian ones. As Anton and Pavel Dubcek had been our most recent case, I ordered 24-hour surveillance of their house. The agent in charge called in to notify me that you and Nikki had turned up together with two unknown guys, to make sure your visit was announced.” Pete took a deep breath. “I had already alerted every man available the moment you had left the headquarters, so… I only needed to send them off, when the call came in. At that point, I also called in the police and the DXS.”

Mac raised his eyebrows in understanding. “I was somehow counting on that, but I didn´t get a chance to scan the street for our man… or even signal him.”

“He had also given us a description of the sedan Nikki had driven.” Pete added. “As it tried to take off at high speed when we arrived, we stopped it with the help of the police. Zorkin and Baranov are behind bars.”

“That´s good to hear.” MacGyver puffed out a relieved breath. “They told us the GRU is…”

“Nikki has already told me all about it.” Pete cut Mac off to keep him from speaking too much. “Zorkin and Baranov weren´t all too talkative after we apprehended them, as you might imagine… but when Nikki left the house with the Dubcek´s in tow, she quickly warned us about the bomb you were dealing with. The police instantly called in the firefighters and an EMT, just to be on the safe side.”

Mac managed a bit of a nod. “But why did you let Nikki return to the house?”

“Let her?” Pete huffed. “Mac, I was occupied with keeping Anton and Pavel safe. As soon as she had related her information about the situation, she ran back inside. She didn´t ask for my permission.”

“Of course…” Mac sighed slowly. “But Pete, she could have been…”

“Killed?” Pete ended MacGyver´s sentence. “Well, I guess that´s kind of what she thought about you. As did I.”

MacGyver was silent for a few moments as he held Pete´s slightly accusing stare. “Yeah.” he then answered with a low voice. “I know… sorry.”

A tense silence hung between the two friends for another moment before Pete spoke up again.

“Nikki said, you´d been almost done with defusing that thing before it went off. Do you remember what went wrong?”

MacGyver´s eyes left Pete´s while he concentrated on his inside and sorted through his blurry and chaotic memories.

“I do.” he then said slowly as the image of two small red drops falling into the bomb case flashed before his mental eye. “I had cut my hand unintentionally with the shard I had used to free myself from the ropes. I missed some trickle of blood that had made its way onto the handle of my knife. It dropped onto the circuit board and caused a short circuit. That caused the countdown to speed up.” It was my mistake, a voice in the back of his head screamed at him. My lack of concentration, my fault… He sighed. “I only had time to get Nikki out of the room… I think, I tried to close the door, but I´m not…”

His last words trailed off to silence as the memory of the explosion slamming him against the wall surfaced in his mind. Mac´s breath quickened with the abrupt fear returning as well. He suddenly noticed Pete´s hand touching and taking his own again. Pete had leaned forward when MacGyver´s gaze came back and steadied on his friend. Mac noticed his worried and sympathetic expression.

“I´m sorry.” Pete said softly. “I shouldn´t have brought this up already.”

MacGyver took a deep breath and pushed back the memories and emotions in his head, while he forced a little smile on his face.

“It´s okay, Pete.” he replied firmly as he turned his hand around and closed his fingers around Pete´s. “I was starting to ask questions in the first place… and since you told me that the Dubcek´s are safe, that Zorkin and Baranov can´t cause any more trouble, and I know that Nikki made it out with only a scratch… I´m all right.” I´m certainly not gonna cause you even more sorrow by admitting how much guilt I´m truly feeling inside because of my mistake, Mac thought to himself.

Pete held his gaze silently and with a still serious expression, but returned the little squeeze to Mac´s hand. He knew MacGyver long enough to know what was going on in his head.

“Oh, come on, Pete!” Mac continued more cheerful when Pete´s face didn´t lighten up after a few seconds. “My prognosis is good; Dr. Marrow´s quite happy with the progress I´ve already made. He´s almost sure that I´ll recover completely and quickly.”

“I know, I talked to him.” Pete nodded. “He´s scheduled another MR scan for tomorrow.”

“Right.” A beaming smile widened on MacGyver´s face. “If the results are good enough, I might start with physical therapy on the day after.”

Pete Thornton could clearly see how excited Mac was about that possibility. Lying still, not being allowed to move was among the worst punishments someone could inflict on the younger and usually so active man.

“Glad to hear that.” Finally, Pete returned the smile.

“And I might get rid of some of those stiff braces.” Mac continued grinning. “And maybe out of this bed… soon.”

“Of course… just don´t rush it.” Pete sighed as he sat back again. “Give me your word that you´ll stay patient and take all the time you need.” Now his almost fatherly protective expression was back on and he pinned his friend with his stare.

MacGyver´s boyish grin froze with the serious face of his best friend and boss. He also hadn´t forgotten how easily the situation could have turned out far worse. It also still scared him.

“I will, Pete.” he answered low. “Promise.”


Posted by: uniquelyjas 26 December 2021 - 11:11 AM
Another well-written, descriptive, detailed chapter! Glad he wasn't injured as seriously as he could have been. Also glad the doctor scared him enough into remaining still and allowing his body to start healing! We'll see if Mac can continue to behave himself! And then there's the good ole Mac guilt! He blames himself for the bomb exploding AND for making Pete and Nikki worry about him. He really needs to stop feeling responsible for everyone and everything (in this story in particular as well as in general!!). I also liked how you used this chapter and Mac's states of semi-consciousness as a way to summarize and pull together the events from the last couple chapters from a different point of view. Looks like the next step will be to see how Mac responds to physical therapy. I wish the therapist luck!

Posted by: Karenskatz 29 December 2021 - 01:28 AM
Yeah, remember what Nikki said when he colapsed in the hallway of Stakros house? "As usual, ignoring his limits!" or something like that.

Frankly, with how he was slammed into the wall and then had the door slam into him, I expected the concusion, but I also expected several broken ribbs, not just one cracked one. You must be in a hurry to get him healed and back in action wink.gif. I can just imagine the EMTs and firefighters VEEERY CAREFULLY sliding him sideways onto the backboard! Gives a new meaning to "scoop-and-run"!

Posted by: bluegirl 29 December 2021 - 06:01 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 29 December 2021 - 10:28 AM)
You must be in a hurry to get him healed and back in action wink.gif.

I can just imagine the EMTs and firefighters VEEERY CAREFULLY sliding him sideways onto the backboard! Gives a new meaning to "scoop-and-run"!

Well, it´s not so much me wanting to get him healed - but season 4 starts on Oct. 31st, 1988... I just gotta stick to that date. hmm.bmp I´m trying to stay within canon!

Scoop and run... yep, that would have captured it quite well! thumbsup.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 29 December 2021 - 04:31 PM
All right everyone... since I´m still up and awake... and Thursday has just started around here... let´s post this part real early (1.20 a.m.) happy_dance.gif But after this I´m going to get at least a few hours of sleep until I gotta get up again - for dealing with the rest of Thursday blush.gif

Here we go: Let´s work our way a little further through Mac´s recovery

Part 18


Two days later in the afternoon, MacGyver was breathing heavily while his physical therapist straightened the blanket, he had just covered Mac with, again. Only a minute ago they had finished the last exercise of Mac´s first therapy session and Mac was exhausted. His therapist Ted had done most of the work and the moving this time, and Mac hadn´t supposed it could be that straining. MacGyver considered himself well-trained, but due to the bruises he´d sustained and due to being forced to stay absolutely still for several days the session had turned into a real challenge for him. Some of his joints were still aching.

“You okay?” the physical therapist asked when he was done with the sheets and blanket and straightened himself. One of his hands was lying on Mac´s arm.

“Yeah, Ted… fine.” MacGyver breathed with a feeble and lopsided smile. “Just a little worn out… you said something about easy mobilization techniques, you know?”

“That was the easy stuff.” The therapist smiled back at him. “You´ve been through a lot, MacGyver. Don´t underestimate it. Don´t expect your body to already be functioning again like you were used to it… but do expect some sore muscles by tomorrow.”

Mac raised his eyebrows surprised. “You told me earlier, we´ll be continuing this tomorrow… despite sore muscles?”

“Of course. With different exercises.” Ted assured him with a grin. “If you wanna get out of this bed soon, we´ve gotta make some progress.”

“Oh.” Mac responded with a slight nod. His neck brace had been replaced with a softer one today that allowed just a little bit of movement to his head and his neck.

“Make sure you get some rest now.” Ted continued, now more serious again. “Don´t be surprised when you feel like sleeping real soon… and please, don´t try moving on your own yet. You still need to be very cautious about your spine.”

“Yes, Sir.” MacGyver replied still a bit breathless and with an earnest expression, but in the next moment the door opened after a short knock on it, and his eyes quickly flicked toward it.

Nikki entered the room, but stopped in the second she spotted the physical therapist standing next to Mac´s bed, without even closing the door.

“I´m sorry, I didn´t…”

“It´s all right.” Ted cut her off as he turned to her. “We´re just done.” He looked back to MacGyver and squeezed his arm briefly. “See you tomorrow morning, MacGyver.”

“Thanks, Ted.” Mac answered, but his eyes were fixed on Nikki.

Nikki approached Mac´s bed slowly and with a worried expression on her face while Mac´s therapist left the room. She noticed his labored breathing and saw some sweat glistening on his face, which seemed pale compared to the day before.

“Mac, are you alright?” she asked cautiously when she reached his side and laid her hand onto the back of his.

“Yeah, fine.” Mac smiled up feebly at her. He closed his eyes for a few moments, tried to calm his breath, strove to push back the exhaustion and the ache the exercises had left him with. He was a bit surprised, but responded quickly when he felt Nikki´s lips brush his own in a feather-light kiss. MacGyver opened his eyes when she pulled back way too soon for his liking, only to see her scrutinizing him closely.

“Fine?” she repeated with a bit of a chiding edge. “You don´t quite look like fine… You were doing a lot better yesterday.”

“Nikki, I´m good.” Mac assured her. “I´m just worn out after my first session of physical therapy.”

“Physical therapy?” Nikki echoed surprised with raised eyebrows and straightened herself. “That soon?”

“Yep. The MR results yesterday satisfied the doc.” MacGyver explained with a glad but tired grin. “Today was mostly about mobilizing all my stiffened joints after lying almost completely motionless for several days. Ted did nearly all the moving for me, but… I never expected keeping some body parts still while letting someone else mobilize other ones to be that straining.”

“So the swellings and hematomas are responding well to the treatment?” Some of the sorrow and worry lines left Nikki´s face.

“You bet.” Mac confirmed with an excited sparkle in his eyes. “Dr. Marrow said, they´d switch the stiff cast for some kind of corset-like brace tomorrow. Should be more comfortable for me. And maybe get me out of bed and at least into a wheelchair the day after. Depends on how my body reacts to the physical therapy.”

“I never thought I´d see you looking forward to sitting in a wheelchair…” Nikki replied slowly and with an again darkening look on her face.

MacGyver´s smile froze with her remark. He drew in a deep breath and was silent for a moment before he turned his hand around and reached out for Nikki´s. She hesitated briefly before she held on to it.

“Me neither, Nikki… but it´s just a step along my recuperation.” Mac said with a low and serious voice while his dark eyes found hers. He weakly squeezed her hand.

Nikki only nodded quietly and avoided his intense gaze after a few seconds. Her expression worried MacGyver. He pushed back the tiredness that had threatened to take over only moments ago. He´d seen a shadow of fear in her eyes before she had looked away. A fear similar to the one he´d seen in Austria, in Starkoss´ house. Mac´s hand left Nikki´s, and he tried to raise it to her face but she caught it halfway up and suddenly stared at him sternly.

“I don´t think you´re supposed to do that already.” Nikki chided.

Mac was taken aback by her harsh change but chose not to react to it. He relaxed his arm and allowed Nikki to place it back on the bed.

“Nikki, what´s wrong?” he asked slowly. “What´s the matter with you?”

“Nothing.” she said quickly and looked away again.

Mac turned his hand so he could stroke along her arm with the back of his fingers. He felt her wince when his long fingers first touched her skin, but she didn´t pull back. He longed so much to be able to hold Nikki in his arms, to comfort her but knew he couldn´t… yet.

“Hey…” he softly tried to get her attention. “Doc Marrow expects me to make a full recovery… I´ll be all right real soon… I should be out of here in two or three weeks... if there are no…”

“I know that.” Nikki cut him off sharply. “He´s giving me and Pete daily updates on your progress.”

“So?” Mac did his best to stay calm and probed further. “What´s bothering…”

“MacGyver, stop it.” she snapped at him. “I´m okay. I´ve got to handle this myself.”

“But you do know you´re not alone with whatever ‘this’ is?” Mac sighed after a brief pause. He knew that even he had almost no way of getting through to Nikki when she raised her defensive walls. Nikki looked back at him after a moment and her eyes locked on to his.

“I know.”

“Good.” A feeble, yet relieved smile flashed across MacGyver´s face. A tense silence still hung between the two for a few seconds, but finally, Nikki took Mac´s hand into hers and squeezed it.

“You look exhausted, Mac.” she stated after another moment and returned his smile. “I´d rather let you rest and get some sleep now… I can run some errands now and be back later in the evening.”

“I´d like that.” Mac nodded with a weak grin. As his worries about Nikki eased up a bit he felt the overwhelming tiredness returning. Nikki bent down for a soft and tender kiss and left him, but he could still sense the echo of that kiss on his lips when she had already left the room, when he allowed his heavy eyelids to close, and while he drifted off into a quiet slumber.

*****

Nikki sighed tiredly when she dropped onto her couch in the very late evening of the same day. She had returned from her second visit to MacGyver at the hospital only a couple of minutes ago, had sat with him while he´d continued to sleep, had talked to him for some time when he´d finally woken up. He had still been worn out by the physical therapy. Seeing him that weakened still caught her off guard. Even if Dr. Marrow was quite convinced about his full recovery by now, seeing Mac, who was usually so active and thriving of energy, that feeble and motionless worried her. Her stomach tightened when she thought about how dependant on help the usually so self-reliant man was at the moment.

Nikki had called Pete right after she´d arrived at home; had told him about his progress, since it was Pete´s turn to see him tomorrow. Pete had seemed glad about the start of Mac´s physical therapy, but Nikki knew that he was just as concerned underneath his carefully kept up positive façade as she was. She had noticed it right after MacGyver had been brought to the hospital and taken directly into emergency care. As soon as she had come out a little of her initial shock. She had witnessed how deeply worried Pete had been about his best friend during the night, while they had sat waiting for a doctor to tell them anything about Mac´s condition, about the results of his examination. Pete had kept his composure a lot better than she had, had tried his best to be there for her and comfort her although he´d been so tightly wound up with his own worries.

Nikki pushed back some strands of her dark hair and then let her hands drop onto her lap. She silently stared at the sandwich she had prepared for herself and the glass of wine next to it for one or two minutes. Then she took a deep breath, picked up the glass and took a long sip. MacGyver wouldn´t approve, she thought wearily. But after the last few days, I´ll grant myself that favor.

A wave of mixed emotions rolled over her as she set down the glass on the coffee table. The worries about Mac´s current situation blended with the relief about his swift recovery that exceeded even Dr. Marrow´s expectations. But the relief did little to ease up her inner tension and the fear she felt since the explosion. Finding first Mac struck down and unconscious and later the bugs in her apartment two days earlier had already rattled her deep inside, more than she would have ever admitted it to MacGyver.

But she had to admit to herself that she hadn´t taken the possible danger the bugs had implied seriously enough. She had realized that fact at the very moment she´d seen Zorkin and Baranov waiting for her in front of her apartment house, when she had wanted to leave to meet Pete and Mac at the Foundation, and noticed them way too late to take any action. She had known in the blink of an eye that they wanted her as leverage against MacGyver and she had in that same second chided herself for not being more careful.

Nikki had been annoyed at those two goons for handling her roughly right from the start although she had followed their instructions to the point. They had tried questioning her, but she hadn´t known the location of the Dubceks´ house and she wouldn´t have revealed it anyway – even if she had known. It had angered Zorkin and Baranov even more.

She had been deeply concerned even before she´d seen how MacGyver had looked at her when they had all arrived at the Dubcek brothers´ house. She had felt sorry for snapping at him earlier that day, just because he had looked into her dossier again. A silly reflex out of her underlying tension. Did she really deserve a man like him? A man you could be angry at, you could scold needlessly, but he´d still be willing to risk his life for yours? She had expected him to be worried, but she hadn´t been prepared for the barely controlled fury at the ex-GRU agents she had seen in his dark brown eyes.

Despite all the squabbling and bantering between her and MacGyver over more than one year, or maybe because of it, she knew it needed some doing to get him to be truly angry, yet as soon as he was, he meant it. Unfortunately, his urge to protect her had caused a rage against Zorkin and Baranov that had gotten the better of him on that evening. MacGyver´s unique abilities had enabled the Dubceks to escape unharmed, but Nikki knew that if only a little more had gone wrong, she and Mac could just as well have gotten killed.

The thought scared her. Not as much for herself, but because she had endangered and nearly lost MacGyver. Nikki suddenly held her breath and clasped her hands together. Panic rose within her. A panic that reminded her of the one she had felt after Adam´s death and back in Austria, on that evening in Starkoss´ house. Her memory of the explosion and the havocked corridor mixed with pictures of the destroyed car her husband Adam had died in. The memory of talking to Mac before the blast came back to her mind.

I have returned to the basement. He has told me to leave. Three times. I must have distracted him. A shiver ran down her spine and her stomach turned. It has been my fault, it echoed in her head. Only MacGyver´s reliable luck has allowed him to survive. Nikki´s hands started to tremble. No, not again, she thought. I am not going to loose him the way I lost Adam. Sorry to say, but it looks as if Mac isn´t able to break the jinx sticking to me.

Nikki sighed deeply, stared down at her hands, and sat silent for a few moments while she felt the fear for Mac´s life mingle with an intense anguish that tore at her heart. She valued and loved MacGyver way too much to risk his death. Somehow she had to find a way to prevent all this from happening once more, a way to save him. After another couple of moments, Nikki abruptly lifted her gaze from her hands.

I´ve got to talk to Pete, she thought. I´ve got to know if that offer is still on the table.

*****

MacGyver let out a deep relieved sigh when he closed the door of his houseboat behind himself and dropped his bag next to the spiral staircase almost three weeks later. Home… at last, he thought as he took a moment to look around his familiar surroundings. Then he strode over to the kitchen, filled up a glass of water and drank almost all of it in large gulps. He turned to the refrigerator afterward and opened it only to see that his favorite basics were already there. Although Pete and Nikki had expected him to return home tomorrow, one or both of them had prepared everything for him. Mac smiled to himself, grateful for having friends like them.

He hadn´t told them yet that he had persuaded Dr. Marrow to discharge him one day earlier. Pete had been in the hospital to visit him in the early afternoon, had told him that Nikki couldn´t see him because she was occupied with a lot of work today, so Mac had taken a taxi home as soon as his doctor had given in and agreed to let him leave. It was only early evening and MacGyver planned to surprise Pete and Nikki with the good news.

But first, I´ve got to get settled, Mac mused as he closed the fridge, walked over to the staircase, gingerly reached down to pick up his duffle bag, and went upstairs. When he bent over, the supporting brace he had been ordered to wear by Dr. Marrow reminded him to still be careful while moving.

It also reminded him not to take the fact that he could move on his own and almost normally again for granted. With only a little more ill twist to the events on that evening, he could have ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life or even died. However over the last almost three weeks, since the start of his physical therapy, MacGyver had chosen not to be afraid of that thought, but rather to be grateful for the fact that all had worked out well.

He would have to attend those therapy sessions for several weeks to come, and Ted had warned him to be cautious about starting his own training during that time. MacGyver longed to get back into action, to be able to get his body back into shape; nevertheless, the taxi ride had shown him how quickly he tired, that his muscles were still in recovery and not as strong as he was used to. He dropped his bag on the bed and started to unpack his stuff while the memories of the last weeks crept back into his head.

On his first day of being allowed to get out of bed and sit in a wheelchair, Pete had brought Anton and Pavel Dubcek with him on his visit. The brothers had expressed how grateful they were that Mac had saved their lives once again, whereas Mac still felt a pang of guilt for not being able to save their house. He had apologized to them for failing to defuse the bomb, but Anton had quickly cut him off.

“Don´t feel sorry, MacGyver.” he had told Mac. “It´s just things. Most of them can be replaced and the house rebuilt… It´s more important that we all survived and you will be well soon.”

Mac had just silently smiled back at him. Still… if I had been more careful…

Some DXS officials had been there to get his statement about what had happened on the day after that, and MacGyver had been grateful that Pete and Nikki had been with him while the agents had asked their questions. Mac had felt comfortable with answering most of them, but at one point, they had started pestering him for information about the bomb and the defusing process he´d used. Thinking back he had realized neither could he recall all the details of the device, nor all the steps he had taken in his attempt to render it harmless. Probably due to the serious concussion he´d sustained. Mac had felt really disturbed by his inability to remember, and it had also triggered his memory of the explosion and some of the sudden fear, he had experienced back then, to return.

Although he had tried to conceal it, Pete and Nikki had of course noticed his unease. Pete had intervened quickly, had told the agents there had been enough questions for today, and escorted them out of Mac´s sick-room while telling them they would get a copy of the forensic report covering the bomb remains and the explosion´s consequences from the Phoenix Foundation´s specialists as soon as it was available. MacGyver had appreciated Pete protecting him, and he´d been grateful that Nikki had stayed by his side, just holding his hand and silently waiting for him to get his emotions back under control.

But he had also noticed that Nikki had seemed a little distant to him on that day. Like she had been keeping something to herself. Mac had chalked it up to the hospital setting and all the memories the questions of the DXS-agents had brought back. After all, she had been closely involved in dealing with the aftermath of that dreadful evening, had been helping Pete wherever she could.

MacGyver had tried to talk to her about her feelings a day or two later, like he´d tried after his first physical therapy session, had tried to console her, but once more she had refused to open up to him and blocked him off. She had quickly changed the topic to the latest reports from the environmental study on the beach, which she had brought with her. To fight his boredom, now that he had been allowed to sit up, use his arms and read, she had told Mac. Dr. Johnson had also passed on some of his ideas for the visitor´s concept via Nikki and asked for MacGyver´s feedback on them. Dr. Marrow, on the other hand, hadn´t been all too happy with Mac dealing with work from his bed but had allowed it, if only to a certain extent.

Several of MacGyver´s friends and colleagues from the Foundation had also visited him as soon as Mac had been able to leave his bed more regularly and been permitted to be taken to the small park behind the hospital, even if only in a wheelchair. Ted had tried to get MacGyver toward the feel and coordination he needed for standing and taking a few steps when he´d been in the hospital for about ten days – but Mac had urged himself to stop counting the days by then. Realizing how long he´d already been there had only made him more restless.

And it had also gotten him restless and concerned that his attempts to stand up and walk had been slowed down by some remaining numbness in his lower back and his legs. Ted had quickly consulted Dr. Marrow, who had ordered another MR scan to determine what was causing the problem. The results had shown one of the hematomas hadn´t been receding as predicted but had kept pressing against Mac´s spinal cord and some nerves close to it.

The doc had decided to puncture and aspirate that particular hematoma to keep it from causing permanent damage to Mac´s nerves; a procedure Mac wasn´t all too keen on going through again. Thanks to local anesthesia it hadn´t been very painful for him, but lying absolutely still on his side while knowing that someone was poking a needle into his back, very close to his spine… the sheer length and diameter of that needle sent an icy cold down his back, now that the memory of it popped up in his head.

But he had also felt the relief the procedure had brought to his lower back within hours, and within the next days, the sensation in his back and legs had returned to near-normal. Ted had assured him that the remaining minor problems would recede over the next weeks, maybe a few months at most.

A smile widened on MacGyver´s face as he went back downstairs after he was done with his bag. He remembered the surprised and at the same time gladly relieved look on Pete´s face when Mac had stood up from his bed without needing help for the first time in front of him. Only ten days ago. From that moment on his progress had been steady and quick. As soon as MacGyver had felt secure on his own feet, he had started asking Dr. Marrow about allowing him to leave. Three days ago. And today the doc had agreed, finally. After observing one of his therapy sessions with Ted. After having Mac promise, he´d show up for a check-up on the day after tomorrow, and keep to the therapy schedule the doc and his therapist had set up.

MacGyver dropped onto his cozy couch with a sigh as he realized how easily he got exhausted by the little things he had done so far. Nevertheless, at the same time he was grateful, he could do them… again… on his own. Without being dependent on anyone.

He was sorry that Nikki hadn´t been there to witness his progress over the last ten days. It would have helped ease up her worries, Mac thought. But she had been ordered to fly to Washington, D.C. to take care of some Phoenix Foundation business there. Mac hadn´t been all too happy when she had told him about it almost two weeks ago, but had of course understood that although he was holed up in the hospital, the world outside hadn´t stopped turning.

Today Pete had let him know that she had returned yesterday, but had been caught up with a lot of work since then. Mac shot the clock on his TV a glance. About 6 p.m. … Pete said, he´d be in the office real late this evening, but Nikki should be home by now. I could prepare myself a quick sandwich and then drive over to her place… and surprise her.

A boyish grin widened on his face despite the twinge MacGyver felt in his back when he got up and walked over to his fridge. He was so looking forward to seeing Nikki again. He had missed her deeply during the last ten days. Now he would be able to walk up to her on his own feet, to wrap her into his arms, to kiss her, to feel her again. He immeasurably longed to do all that.

And he longed to say those three special words to her again. Without the pain, the horror, and the desperation he had felt right after the explosion, but coming from his heart and soul, this time freely admitting just how much she meant to him. Mac knew, he had held back some of his feelings during the summer, and he had probably over-challenged Nikki with his confession in this terrible situation. Maybe that was why she had kept him at a distance in the hospital. Committing himself to her fully, giving her everything that he was and could be should calm down her worries, should help Nikki to open up to him again.

It was a huge leap of faith for MacGyver as well, but after all they had gone through together during the last one and a half years, and especially after all he´d been through during the last four weeks, right now he felt ready for it.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 29 December 2021 - 06:08 PM
Well, first of all, I'm glad Mac's physical therapy went so well and that he is recovering quicker than expected...but that's Mac! I'm not surprised he was able to talk the doc into discharging him early...LOL! Sooooo, it seems like he's in a pretty good place psychologically speaking...at least for Mac. That he's ready and willing to tell Nikki he loves her (again) is awfully huge given his fear of commitment.

As for Nikki, she seems to be in a pretty bad place and throwing up a lot of walls around her regarding Mac. She still feels jinxed and guilty for both Adam AND Mac now! She says she wants to protect Mac, but how? By pushing him away...again? And what's this about an "offer on the table"? Does her trip to D.C. have anything to do with it? Is she taking a new position? Leaving town? Leaving Mac? Oh boy, only a few chapters left to work everything out! I know you've said from the beginning this story would explain why Nikki no longer appeared on the show but please don't let her break Mac's heart!!

Posted by: Karenskatz 30 December 2021 - 05:42 PM
Wonder if they've dug his knife out of the debris at the house yet? Knowing Mac, he probably has a few spares around the house. wink.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 31 December 2021 - 08:21 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 30 December 2021 - 03:08 AM)
Oh boy, only a few chapters left to work everything out! I know you've said from the beginning this story would explain why Nikki no longer appeared on the show but please don't let her break Mac's heart!!

Hmmm... unfortunately, I can´t give you any guarantees on that... blink.gif hmm.bmp

Posted by: Karenskatz 31 December 2021 - 10:39 AM
Yeah. After this latest chapter, I see them quickly (he wants to "suprise" her?!!) heading for a major collision, and an explosion that Mac can't disarm! ohmy.gif blush.gif


Posted by: bluegirl 1 January 2022 - 10:39 PM
Hi there! It´s Sunday morning - at my little part of the planet...

So... we´re heading for the 'three chapter finale'... Mac´s just out of the hospital and eager to surprise Nikki, eager to be reunited with her, eager to confess his love for her...

But some of you sense trouble ahead... hmmm... Will his plan work out well? Will he end up as the one being surprised? In more ways than one? hmm.bmp

Part 19 of 21


It was just past 7 p.m. when MacGyver parked his jeep in a side road of the Forster Lane, slid out of it and closed the door. Pete had taken care of returning the jeep to the marina´s parking lot during Mac´s stay in the hospital, and he´d also sent someone to mount the hardtop and the doors. Mac had noticed it when the taxi had dropped him off and had given Pete a quick call to tell him he was home and to express his gratitude for all that he´d done for him while he´d consumed his sandwich.

Pete Thornton had been surprised, but glad to hear the good news and had brushed off Mac´s thanks off with a quick: “Hey, somebody´s gotta clean up the mess of the trouble you´re so good at getting into…” MacGyver smiled to himself at the memory. Pete was his boss, his best friend, and at times he felt almost like the father Mac had lost way too early in his life. Mac knew he could rely on Pete, come what may. Pete would always have his back and support him. He treasured their friendship.

The sun had set about half an hour ago, the air was cooling down, and he had appreciated the doors and the hardtop being back on the jeep during his ride. MacGyver pulled up the zipper of his jacket a little more, felt for the key to Nikki´s apartment in the pocket of his jeans, and then walked off toward the Forster Lane. Some large truck had forced him to park in the side road because it was occupying several parking spaces next to the apartment building, but Mac didn´t pay attention to it as he came around the corner. His focus was directed to the windows of Nikki´s apartment, and he let out a relieved sigh when he saw light filtering through the curtains.

She is home, he thought and strode toward the entrance of the building. So far, so good.

His heartbeat sped up a notch at the prospect of seeing and surprising the woman he loved. Subconsciously he quickened his steps a little with excitement as he crossed the small park and let his eyes wander around. He noticed Nikki´s sedan across the park and was only halfway through it, when he spotted Nikki leaving the apartment building and hurrying toward her car. Mac instantly changed the direction of his steps.

“Nikki!” he called out to her. He saw her flinch with surprise – probably about hearing his voice – stop and then turn to him.

A quick glad smile crossed Nikki´s face while she watched MacGyver walk closer to her, back on his own feet. His movements still seemed a bit stiff, but almost back to normal. Nikki sighed with inner relief about his improved condition, but then her heart sank with the realization of the situation he had caught her in and her decision she had yet to tell him about. Of course, she thought. With MacGyver involved, I should have known that it wouldn´t work out as planned.

“Aren´t you still supposed to be in the hospital?” she asked with a chiding edge while she managed to return to her controlled, a little distant composure.

“I persuaded the doc to discharge me a little earlier.” MacGyver replied cheerfully grinning during his last steps and stopped in front of her. “I thought, I´d surprise you with the good news, since you couldn´t witness my progress over the last 10 days.” He took a moment to eye her all over before his dark eyes settled on her face.

“I missed you so much.” Mac continued with an earnest smile and reached up with one hand to caress her dark hair. He stepped even closer, wrapped her into an embrace, and bent down for a tender kiss. Nikki returned the kiss, but MacGyver noticed that her body didn´t soften to his touch as he was used to and she pulled back relatively soon. She then looked up at him with an uneasy, but otherwise unreadable expression while his hand rested gently on the side of her neck.

“You okay?” Mac asked with a soft voice. He wasn´t sure what to make of her reaction. He´d expected to see her happy, probably concerned, but nervous?

“Yes, of course.” Nikki assured, but broke the eye contact to scrutinize him all over. “You caught me off guard, that´s all.”

“Well, I guess, that´s what surprising someone is all about.” MacGyver replied with an impish grin. “I thought, you´d be happy to see me.”

“I am.” Nikki answered quickly. “I was just so concentrated on…” Her words trailed off to silence and she shot him a hesitant glance.

“I interrupted something important.” Mac said after a moment. “Sorry.”

Nikki only nodded silently. Her thoughts were running wild. Somehow she had to deal with this unintended and uncomfortable situation…

“You were heading toward your car.” Mac stated, straightened himself, and pulled back his hand. “Need to go somewhere?”

“No.” Nikki shook her head and half-turned to her sedan, again avoiding to look at MacGyver. “Just need to pick up some stuff I left in it and get it up to the apartment.”

Some icy edge was back in her voice, causing Mac to suspect she hid her worries under her cold façade, as usual. He chose to change the topic.

“Has your trip to Washington been successful?”

“Yes.” His question seemed to loosen something inside her because she turned and walked off to her car. “I´m sorry, I didn´t call as soon as I returned, but I was too caught up with work.” she answered over her shoulder.

“Yeah, Pete told me the study on the beach kept you occupied… and you supported him with other projects as well. I appreciate it.” Mac said while he followed her. “I´ll be back to help as soon as I can.”

Nikki sighed deeply and stopped a few steps away from her car.

“Would you please take all the time you need to recover?” she snapped at him and turned to face him. “You promised.”

MacGyver flinched back with her sharp reply and raised his hands in a defensive gesture.

“Whoa!” He grinned at her mischievously. “Never said I wouldn´t.”

But then his smile froze with her serious expression. Nikki still pinned him with an accusing stare. MacGyver drew in a deep breath and in doing so was once again reminded of the corset-like brace stabilizing his back.

“Nikki, I´m well aware of the consequences I might face if I don´t.” he assured her. “I will stick to the therapy plan… and I will take all the time it needs.”

Nikki´s face softened a bit with his words but just a moment later, when Mac wanted to step closer and console her with a soft kiss, her eyes left him, and she looked at something or someone behind MacGyver. Mac half-turned to see what had gotten her attention. He´d been so focused on Nikki that he hadn´t noticed the man in the grey overall coming up from behind. He was still a few yards away when he nodded a greeting to MacGyver and then addressed Nikki.

“We´re done for today, Ms. Carpenter. Everything´s loaded and will be on its way. We´ll pick up the rest on the day after tomorrow as planned.”

“Thank you.” Nikki nodded to him. “I´ll see you then.”

The man turned and left them, leaving back a baffled and silent MacGyver. He only understood when he read the print on the back of the man´s overall and the side of the truck he hadn´t paid attention to previously. Some moving company. His thoughts relaxed a bit. Of course, if I caught her in the middle of packing her belongings, it´ll be likely for her to react annoyed… Mac´s face lightened up a little.

“You´re moving?” he asked the obvious. “I can´t remember you mentioning it, but... Well, after all that has happened in your apartment over the last year, I can understand that...”

“Yes.” Nikki cut him off curtly and turned back to her car. “It is time for a change.”

MacGyver remembered the key in his pocket and retrieved it while he followed her again.

“Then I´d better give you this one back… guess, I won´t need it anymore.”

Nikki froze for a moment with her hand on the door´s handle, but took the key from him and stuffed it into her pocket. “Thanks.” Then she pulled the car´s back door open.

“Can I see the new apartment?” Mac asked with a beaming smile. He was already excited by the idea of Nikki finding a new place to live. “Or are you moving into a house?”

“It isn´t ready yet.” Nikki stated after a small pause while she bent down to reach for some cardboard boxes on the back seat. “I can´t show you tonight.”

“Oh, come on.” Mac chuckled behind her. “Can´t be that far. Maybe I can help with whatever there is still to fix. You know, I´m an expert with almost…” His teasing words trailed off to silence as he caught sight of some personal items she had kept on her desk. In her office. At the Phoenix Foundation´s headquarters. Why would she pack those? Why would she clear her office? His stomach tightened to a knot with a sense of foreboding. His breath caught in his throat. He had to swallow hard before he could speak again.

“Nikki, where are you moving to?”

Nikki left the boxes on the seat and straightened herself, but didn´t turn around to face him. Mac saw her draw in a deep breath.

“Washington, D.C.” she answered tonelessly after a moment.

MacGyver suddenly felt as if someone had punched him hard into his gut. His stomach turned. “What?” he all but whispered. His eyes widened with shock as he stared at her from behind.

“The Phoenix Foundation has opened up a bureau in Washington a while ago.” Nikki explained flatly but very determinedly. “With my knowledge of the area and the people, the executive board offered me to be a part of it… and probably take a leadership position real soon.”

She stood still and straight with her back toward MacGyver. He was too stunned by her words; he opened his mouth but didn´t know how to reply.

“This is a huge career opportunity for me.” Nikki added after a few moments of tense silence.

Mac felt his chest tightening, an icy cold rushed down his back and spread through him. Slowly, cautiously he reached out and softly touched her upper arm in an attempt to get her to turn around and look at him.

“But, Nikki…” he started out hesitantly, somehow afraid to hear the answer to the question he was about to ask. “What about us?”

When he saw her face the cold and hard expression he had been so used to before the summer was back. She didn´t even turn all the way to face him.

“Oh, come on, MacGyver, be serious.” she snapped at him with a mocking tone over her shoulder. “There never really was an ‘us’.”

MacGyver subconsciously drew back a little with her sharp response. The words felt like a stab to his heart. This wasn´t anywhere close to what he had come here for. His thoughts went berserk. His mind flashed back to that evening in Austria… on that secluded clearing… next to Starkoss´ house… and to their first morning back in the USA… waking up together on the houseboat… her words to him.

“But… you told me…” he muttered a little helpless.

“Stop it, MacGyver.” Nikki cut him off harshly. “I know what happened. I let your injuries get the better of me in Austria and I allowed you to push me even further. But realistically, there never was a future to this.”

MacGyver´s heart seemed to skip a beat. “I never meant to push you… I´m sorry if you felt as if I did.” he said, now a little more determined despite the hurt he felt in his chest. “I really felt like…”

“Hold it, Mac!” Nikki retorted, still not turning to face him. “We had a nice summer, but that´s all there is to it.” Her voice had gotten back its chiding edge and she turned back fully to her car to pick up one of the boxes.

A nice summer? Her words echoed in Mac´s head as he licked his lips. There never was an ‘us’?

“When are you leaving?” he managed to ask in a carefully controlled voice despite his crushed feeling inside.

“My flight is due on Friday, around midday.” Nikki stated coldly. “I´ll ask Pete to give me a ride to the airport, so I´m not going to need your help, thanks.”

“That´s two and a half days from now.” Some of the icy pain MacGyver felt was turning into hot rage with her condescending tone. “When had you planned on telling me all this?”

“You were supposed to leave the hospital tomorrow morning, so…” Nikki straightened herself with one of the boxes in her arms.

“So?” Mac interrupted her angrily. “Two days left to break the news?”

“I certainly didn´t plan it to happen like this!” Nikki raised her voice as she finally turned around to face him. “A lot of the arrangements happened on very short notice… but I gotta move on with my life, MacGyver. Accept it.”

Mac was stunned silent with her last words for a few seconds. He was breathing heavily with the mixture of anguish and fury he felt within.

“A nice summer… that´s all it was to you…and now you gotta move on.” He repeated her words through clenched teeth, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Nikki only held the stare of his dark eyes quietly. “And you really expect me to simply accept all you said? Just like this… You can´t be serious…”

Nikki´s ongoing silent gaze and frozen expression cut like a knife into Mac´s soul. He couldn´t take any more of this. He stepped back a little from her. How could he have been this wrong in his judgment? Again?

“I had other plans for this evening as well.” MacGyver stated bitterly and half-raised his hands in a helpless gesture. “But I guess, what I wanted to tell you doesn´t matter anymore. Never mind… If Pete´s taking you to the airport, give the key to my houseboat to him. He´ll pass it on.” He took another step back as his inner hurt and bitterness took over. “I can´t promise I´ll show up at the airport.”

“I´d appreciate it if you won´t.” Nikki answered curtly.

Mac stood quietly for a few moments, eying her all over, searching for any clue that what he had heard from her during the last minutes hadn´t been true. But he found none. Something seemed to shatter inside of him with her last words. He bit his lower lip to keep his composure.

“Well then…” he said and drew in a deep breath. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.” Nikki only nodded at him.

MacGyver watched her for another second, then quickly turned and headed off to his jeep.

Nikki stood stiff, tightly cradling the box to her chest, desperately striving to keep up her cold façade while she observed MacGyver walking away with hurried, long strides. She had to breathe deep to keep the tears under control that threatened to fill her eyes. As soon as he was around the corner, out of sight and out of earshot, she allowed her head to drop a little.

“I´m sorry, MacGyver.” she whispered with a breaking voice. “I sure hope, I managed to get you truly angry with me. It´ll make it easier for you.” All of a sudden she felt as if she couldn´t breathe freely anymore. Her gaze blurred with tears when she turned back to her car and slammed the door shut. “It´s better that way.” she muttered to herself, wiped some tears out of her eyes, and then forced her feet to carry her and the box she held back to her apartment.

*****

MacGyver slid into the driver´s seat and closed the jeep´s door with more force than necessary. The raw pain about what Nikki had told him still fought for the upper hand inside of him against the hot anger about the tone she had used to tell him. He sat frozen for minutes until some of his intense emotions ebbed away a little, allowing him a few more reasonable thoughts. Some defiance made its way to the surface of his feelings as he managed to push back the anger a bit. He drew in a deep breath to clear his mind and forced himself to think straight, to assess the situation logically – like he usually did when confronted with a serious problem.

It´s impossible I imagined all that I felt from her, Mac thought. This can´t be. She said she loves me, after all. Months ago… But what can I possibly do?

For a moment he was tempted to go back, to try and talk to her again, but realized as quickly that it would be useless today. They were both too angry and hurt by what and how it had been said. Mac ran his hands through his hair and rubbed them over his face. The thought of losing Nikki scared him. Some resignation threatened to rise inside, but he fought it back after a few seconds.

If only I had a little more time… if only I could get her to remember how she felt during the summer… before that darn evening and my mistake while defusing that bomb… if only I could apologize to her for all I did wrong… maybe, if Pete could offer her a job with a comparable career outlook around here… I might be able to convince her to stay… and we might get another chance.

A tiny glimpse of hope rose within him. MacGyver straightened himself and reached for the steering wheel. I´m not gonna let her leave without at least trying to fight for what we had. I gotta talk to Pete. Quickly, he thought as he fired up the jeep´s engine and drove off to the Phoenix Foundation´s headquarters.

*****

MacGyver found Pete Thornton behind his desk, engrossed in conversation with several men from the research department when he stormed into Pete´s office with only a brief knock on the door. Pete looked up, waved him closer, and interrupted his discussion for a moment.

“Hello, MacGyver, didn´t you say you were planning to have a quiet evening today?” He greeted Mac with a pleased smile, but it froze when he saw the tense and serious expression on his friend´s face.

“Pete, I need to talk to you. It´s important.” Mac said quickly without reacting to Pete´s greeting and only nodding to the lab guys. Pete looked up at him silent for a second.

“Of course.” he then agreed and turned to his guests. “Would you please excuse us?”

Pete Thornton had a good idea of what this conversation with Mac would be about, and he dreaded it, but knew it was bound to happen. When Nikki had approached him with her wish to take the job offer in Washington, D.C., he had tried to talk her out of it. In fact, they had spent almost half a morning talking about the situation, her relationship to and feelings for MacGyver, but in the end, she had still insisted on leaving. As the offer had come directly from the executive board, Pete had had no handle against it.

As MacGyver´s best friend he felt miserable with her decision and her having him promise back then that he wouldn´t tell Mac about it. Keeping that promise had been truly hard for Pete over the last nearly three weeks. He could empathize with why she chose to act like this but wasn´t happy about it. Pete knew how much the relationship with Nikki meant to his friend. When he watched MacGyver half-turn and observe the men leave, Pete deeply hoped that Nikki had found the right words to explain it to him. Then Mac should at least be able to understand her motivations.

As soon as the doors had closed, MacGyver turned back to his friend and boss. “It´s about Nikki.” he said tensely. “She´s about to move to Washington.”

Pete sighed and sat back on his chair. “The offer to her to work for our bureau there has been on the table almost since the executive board had finally hired her last year.”

Mac drew in a deep breath to keep his composure. Of course, Pete would know about such an offer. “Yeah, she told me it´ll be a huge career opportunity.” Mac replied with a bitter tone in his voice. He took a small pause to sort his thoughts. “Pete, I need your help.” he then continued a little firmer. “If you can find her a comparable job around here… we might be able to persuade her to stay… and I might get a chance to help her remember the emotions we shared.”

Pete was surprised by MacGyver´s request and confused with his last words. Help her remember the emotions we shared, it echoed in Pete´s head. As far as he recalled his conversation with Nikki, she clearly knew about her deep feelings for Mac; she knew how much she cared about him. What, in God´s name, has she said to him?

“I don´t know if…” Pete started out, but trailed off to a few seconds of silence. He did his best to not let his inner turmoil show on his face. “MacGyver, what happened?” he then asked a little clueless.

Mac started pacing the office in front of Pete´s desk to cope with his inner pain and tension.

“I drove over to Nikki´s apartment after I had called you.” he related after a couple of seconds. “I wanted to surprise her with the good news of being released from the hospital since I hadn´t seen her for ten days… only I ended up being surprised.” Mac stopped in front of Pete´s desk and looked directly at him. “I caught her in the middle of getting her stuff packed into a moving truck. Her personal belongings from her office here, at Phoenix, were already in boxes in her car.”

Pete looked up silently at MacGyver and noticed how he barely controlled his inner chaos under a thin veneer. He quietly waited for his friend to continue, to find the right words.

“When I asked her where she´s moving to, she told me about this great new job…” Mac finally said low. “That she´s gotta move on with her life… that there´s no future for us… that in fact, there never was an ‘us’.”

Pete´s stomach tightened with MacGyver´s last sentence. That was about the complete opposite to what Nikki had told Pete. Why would she…? For a moment he was angry at Nikki for having him swear that he wouldn´t tell Mac a single word about their conversation. But in the next, Pete´s anger turned against himself for agreeing to it in the first place. His thoughts ran wild. How would he be able to honor his promise to Nikki and at the same time console his best friend in his anguish? How could he prevent increasing MacGyver´s suffering even more? Pete drew in a deep breath. Only everyday platitudes came to his mind. Meaningless platitudes in this situation.

“Mac, I´m so sorry.” he said nevertheless after a few moments and watched MacGyver lower himself into one of the chairs across his desk.

“I can´t believe that I´ve been that wrong… again.” Mac replied crestfallen, not facing Pete anymore but staring into the distance. “I mean, you´ve seen her… you´ve been with us.”

“I have.” Pete sighed. He knew which other mistake Mac was referring to. Deborah. He knew how deeply her betrayal had affected Mac. Seeing his friend that lost and almost broken by what Nikki had said tore at his heart. But at the moment he didn´t even know how or if he´d be able to help him. Suddenly MacGyver turned to him with a both pleading and determined expression.

“Pete, I really need your help… Can you find her a similar career opportunity around here? If you´ll talk to her, she might stay and we´d probably…” he asked, but his words trailed off to silence when he saw Pete´s frozen face. Pete cleared his throat and took another deep breath.

“That offer came directly from the executive board.” he stated carefully neutral. “I can´t do anything about it. Offering her a job like this in the western division will take time. I already discussed that possibility with her.”

“You did?” A little more of the pain he felt was visible in Mac´s eyes. “Well, if that offer´s been on the table for months… Why did she choose to leave that quickly? Especially now? I don´t understand it…”

Pete didn´t answer at once. He´d known he´d find himself cornered at some point of this conversation. How could he possibly get out of this mess without hurting his friend even deeper? He couldn´t just lie to him, that was unthinkable. With an inner sigh, he gave in to the inevitable. He had to admit that he had known about it. All the time.

“It all happened a lot faster than we both had anticipated.” Pete started to explain. “Especially her preparatory trip to Washington and her flight on Friday. She came to me with her wish to take that offer almost three weeks ago…” He broke off when he saw first surprise on Mac´s face and then witnessed his expression freeze.

“Wait a minute… we?” Mac repeated baffled after a moment. “What do you know about that flight? Nikki said she´d still have to ask you to take her to the airport.”

“She must have forgotten that I already offered to …” Pete wanted to continue, to calm the situation before it got completely out of hand but was cut off by MacGyver.

“She came to you?” he continued sharply after all of Pete´s words had sunken in. “Three weeks ago? … You´re a part of this? You knew all the time? … And didn´t tell me?” The realization hit MacGyver like another stab to his already aching heart. He had been perplexed a moment ago, but now a mixture of bitter disappointment and hot boiling anger rose within him. Mac straightened himself in the chair and felt his stomach turn into a tight knot. Once more on this evening.

“MacGyver, Nikki had me swear I wouldn´t say a single word to you.” Pete tried to defend himself when he saw Mac getting furious. He just now noticed how big a mistake he´d made. “She wanted to talk to you herself. What she told me wasn´t…”

“Well, she did talk to me.” Mac interrupted Pete again harshly and pushed himself out of his chair. “Kind of… unlike you.”

Pete rose out of his chair with him. “I tried to convince her otherwise!”

MacGyver took a silent step backward, staring unbelieving at Pete. His best friend, the one he had thought he could come to and trust with everything. The one he had thought would do all he could to support him.

“I trusted Nikki about this. Had I known… I never thought…” Pete tried again.

“I thought I could trust you.” Mac stated coldly before Pete could finish and took another step backward as Pete came around his desk. “You knew how much she means to me. But you acted behind my back… both… together. And you kept it from me!”

“Of course, you can trust me. MacGyver, I´m sorry.” Pete hurried to assure and apologize. “I´ll try again… I´ll call her… I´ll talk to the board.”

MacGyver felt a red-hot rage burning deep inside and taking over his senses. His body stiffened as he straightened himself.

“Yeah, sure… nothing you couldn´t have tried during the last three weeks… while I was stuck in the hospital… don´t bother.” he replied bitterly through clenched teeth. “Never mind… thanks for your help, friend.”

With that, he turned, hurried out of Pete´s office, and slammed the door closed behind himself. He heard Pete call after him, heard him open the door and follow him, but didn´t pay any attention to it. Mac almost ran along the corridor toward the elevators. All of a sudden he felt like he couldn´t breathe freely anymore. He had to get out of here.

MacGyver caught an elevator car just before it was closing its doors on its way down, just in time to keep Pete from coming after him. He was thankful no one was there but him. His thoughts and emotions ran berserk in the sudden silence of the elevator. Mac leaned against the back wall of the car and rubbed his hands over his face with frustration. The hurt and anger Nikki´s words had caused now mixed with the bitterness and disappointment about how his best friend had obviously been involved in all this.

For three weeks. Without saying a single word. Without giving me even the slightest heads-up or chance to do something about it. They have kept it secret. Both. Together.

MacGyver puffed out a deep breath when the elevator reached the parking garage; he hurried past the security guard with only a grim greeting and strode to his jeep. He started the engine and drove off quickly, but didn´t care about the direction he took. He only felt the overwhelming urge to get away from all this, to get some distance between himself and the city.

*****

MacGyver hadn´t paid much attention to where he´d been driving. He had headed roughly north out of Los Angeles, passed Pasadena, and then chosen to turn west through the Simi Valley. Somehow he had ended up on the Pacific Coast Highway and was just past Santa Barbara when he noticed he had to refuel his jeep.

Mac stopped at some small, random gas station, filled up the jeep, and got himself some soda to drink. Just then he realized how late it had gotten and how far he´d driven in his fury. Nevertheless, he continued his way along the coast. The waning moon cast only little, but an eerie light over the cliffs and beaches of the nightly coastline. MacGyver tried his best to keep his concentration on the road and the scenery to somehow get rid of his intense emotions, but he hadn´t paid attention to the station he had tuned the jeep´s radio to. The fast, rocky songs from the early evening had long changed to softer tunes, to ballads, to songs about love, longing, and loss.

The music got to him real fast, despite his best effort to focus on the road and the landscapes he was passing through. The lyrics of a duet called ‘The Last Unbroken Heart’ reminded MacGyver of the doubts he and Nikki had shared at the beginning, when first she and then he had shied away from giving this relationship a chance. But they had convinced each other to face their fears. It made him recall their time together in Austria, his frightful awakening on their first morning together on the houseboat, but then it fueled his anger. Hadn´t his heart been broken often enough?

Several minutes later, Roxy Music´s ‘Lover’ reminded Mac of how it had felt to have Nikki in his arms, to have her physically close. The memory of why they had been late for their appointment with Pete on their first morning back in the U.S. crept into his head. How soft and warm her body had felt against his. The scent of her silky skin and her hair returned. MacGyver couldn´t recall being that nervous about making love to a woman for the first time, but with Nikki… it had meant so much. And it had been so special.

Holding her, caressing her, kissing her had felt so good, so right. Witnessing her reactions to his touch and the pleasure he´d caused her had made it even more amazing, had made him feel the passion between them even more intense. With his angriness still raging inside, MacGyver tried to push back the pictures and the emotions that came to the surface of his mind but it was no use.

Their last evening on the pier behind Pete´s rebuilt cabin returned along with how contented and whole he´d felt then… the romantic rendezvous in the high-class restaurant he´d taken Nikki out to… the whole damn beautiful summer they´d shared. MacGyver had to swallow hard to keep his composure when the anguish about the prospect of losing all this took over and mixed with his wrath.

A small while later, when The Police sang ‘Every Breath You Take’, Mac realized he couldn´t safely focus on driving anymore. He was relieved when he spotted a sign pointing to the parking lot of a state beach within a few moments and let his jeep roll onto it while this song about love, loss, and futile longing was still playing.

MacGyver shut down the engine and sat there in silence, taking deep breaths in an attempt to preserve the last bit of his self-control. Then he left his jeep behind after a quick look around the parking lot. His car was the only one around, he noticed as he strode down to the beach. Nothing to be surprised about this late at night, Mac thought. A glance at this watch told him it was past 11 p.m. No one to be seen at the beach as well, he sighed inwardly. Good, being alone is exactly what I need right now.

Some clouds dimmed what little light the waning moon was providing, letting the water appear almost black under the nightly sky. Only the sand and some breaking waves added some lighter nuances to the scenery. MacGyver stopped a few feet away from the water line and stared out over the Pacific Ocean. Somehow the emptiness of the beach together with the darkness of the sky and the water matched his emotions inside. Some rage about how Nikki and Pete had acted toward him was still boiling underneath, but for the most part, he felt his heart aching with bitter disappointment, grief, and loss. Although he had subconsciously searched solitude, he all of a sudden felt extremely lonely… and broken.

While MacGyver watched and listened to the rolling waves more and more memories of the last one and a half years washed over him. He didn´t try to control them anymore. He was simply too exhausted by the intensity of it all by now. He still couldn´t fully comprehend what had happened, and why it had happened. Abruptly Mike´s and his last conversation popped into his head.

‘All those women in your life and you never learned a thing, did you?’

“Well, obviously I didn´t.” Mac replied low to himself as Mike´s words to him echoed in his head. He allowed himself to drop to his knees, sat back on his heels, and rubbed his hands over his face in frustration and defeat.

‘There never really was an ‘us’.’ … Nikki´s declaration replayed in his mind.

What warning signals had he missed this time? Had he angered Nikki too much by digging into her past again? But she hadn´t mentioned it anymore… Had he held back confessing his deepest emotions for her too long? But it had felt so true, so genuine, so much like the real thing this time… What had he done to screw up his relationship with Nikki? Why had Pete, of all people, been helping her?

The thoughts and doubts kept rotating in MacGyver´s head while he reflected on his memories, but try as he might, he couldn´t see any solution, any reason for what had occurred on this evening. Even the wide, black water of the Pacific Ocean didn´t help; Mac only felt as if it would swallow him and his dark thoughts, given some time.

He hadn´t cared about how long he´d been first standing and then kneeling on the beach, yet at some point he noticed tiredness adding to his emotional exhaustion. Gingerly he got back on his feet and slowly walked back to the jeep. Taking on the three-hour drive home wouldn´t be a good idea like this, Mac realized. I´d better find some motel around here for the rest of the night before I get into an accident.

He brushed the sand off his jeans before he slid into the driver´s seat, wearily thought about which direction he had to take for the closest town, and then took off. Fortunately, MacGyver had to drive only a short while until he found a small, run-down motel at the outskirts of the next village that was still open and had a vacant room. The old desk clerk eyed Mac suspiciously all over, seemingly not used to new guests showing up beyond midnight, but didn´t ask any inquiring questions. MacGyver was silently grateful for it, even if he wasn´t able to show it. At the moment he wasn´t sure if he would be able to muster up any patience with the man and he hated himself for it.

Mac unlocked the door, flipped on the lights when he entered the room, and let the door snap shut behind him. He dropped the keys on the table next to the window and stood silent for a moment, taking in his surroundings, before he cautiously shrugged out of his jacket. He´d noticed a throbbing next to his spine quite some time ago. The three hours of driving in his jeep hadn´t been easy on his healing back.

Not quite what the doc has told me to do, MacGyver thought wearily. Not quite what I had in mind either…

Mac hesitantly reached for the painkillers, Dr. Marrow had prescribed him, in his jacket´s pocket. He had taken them with him considering the possibility that he might have stayed with Nikki overnight; he´d been looking forward to that... but now? Mac quietly sighed to himself. He wasn´t a fan of medication at all, but the dull throbbing in his back had worsened to a nagging pain in the meantime. The cracked rib was complaining as well. He shook one of the pills into his hand, took the few steps to the bathroom, and swallowed it with a few gulps of water from the hand basin.

MacGyver avoided looking into the mirror when he straightened himself and returned to the bed. He sat down on it, slipped off his shoes, and then stretched out on his back with a quiet moan. He didn´t bother to turn off the lights but kept staring at the ceiling blankly. He sensed that many haunting shadows inside himself that he didn´t feel like adding darkness that would have engulfed him from outside.

The pain and the brace that stabilized his spine with every move he made reminded him of how closely he´d beat the odds of dying… once more. His thoughts started running wild in his head in the silence of the room… again. He´d been through a lot in the last one and a half years.

His lost love Lisa turning up out of nowhere, asking for his help, betraying him, but finally helping him and then dying in his arms. His friend Danny getting run over and dying before his eyes; Danny´s sister Nikki stepping into his life and rather being a nuisance at first. Mike Forrester falling and dying during their attempt to climb the Widowmaker. He still couldn´t stop himself from musing about what he might have changed hadn´t he pushed her away. If he could have prevented her death… Then Nikki almost getting killed by those terrorists… and Pete almost driven out of the Foundation by sabotage… Deborah, of course… His trust in her had almost gotten him killed… twice. That unexpected assignment in Austria and Czechoslovakia… where things had changed so surprisingly between him and Nikki… and those past wonderful months he´d shared with her.

MacGyver covered his eyes with his hands as he felt that some of these memories made his eyes water due to the intensity of his emotions. Loss, grief, bitter disappointment, quite some rage… and a lot of anguish. He sighed and took a few deep breaths to regain control over the tears that threatened to roll down his cheeks.

No, I´m not going to cry. I don´t want to. Wouldn´t be helpful anyway, he scolded himself stubbornly, now also angry about the lack of self-control he wasn´t used to from himself. I´m just on the brink of it because I´m so damn tired. Get some sleep, MacGyver!

The throbbing in his back had diminished thanks to the meds over the last few minutes, giving him a chance to notice how worn out he was. MacGyver wiped some of the stinging dampness out of his eyes with a curt gesture but kept his eyes covered by one of his arms. His exhaustion took over and soon he drifted off to oblivion before he had even covered himself with the sheets.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 2 January 2022 - 12:08 PM
Wow! What an emotionally intense and jam-packed chapter...again! I hardly know what to say. Poor Mac, believing he's been betrayed by both Pete and Nikki. Poor Pete for being caught in the middle, and then unaware of what Nikki said to Mac. Poor Nikki for thinking she has to make Mac angry to help him get through her leaving. And is she leaving just because she thinks it will protect him from her and her "jinx"? You did such a wonderful job describing their emotions my heart aches. And in the motel, when you summarize what Mac has been through recently, it really puts things in perspective. Soooo, it looks like there's a lot to get cleared up in the next two chapters unless this is meant to end in pain and heartache for all.

Posted by: bluegirl 6 January 2022 - 05:58 AM
Hello there! A little later today, but... let´s recall the last part...

Mac has been eager to see Nikki, but been surprised by her telling him she´s moving away, been hurt by her tone and by her stating that there never was an 'us'... ohmy.gif he´s gone to Pete for help, only to be disappointed by his best friend who had known all the time... sad.gif and then he´s fled from the city in his despair, anguish and fury and stranded in some random motel in the middle of the night... surprise.gif

Nikki´s packing her stuff, and Pete got caught in the middle... how do they deal with all this? Only two chapters left... Let´s continue with...

Part 20 of 21


Pete Thornton felt awkward when he parked his car in the Forster Lane and got out of it. He had hurriedly left his office to come here, after Mac had stormed out of it. He had failed to follow Mac, to hold him back, and to try and apologize to him. Normally he wouldn´t drop in unannounced and that late in the evening on any Phoenix employee. But this time was different. He had seen how lost and heartbroken MacGyver had been because of whatever Nikki had said to him; he had seen how upset Mac had become after he´d realized they had both kept it secret, and how mad Mac had been in an instant at him. Pete knew he had to act.

He had thought about why he´d promised Nikki he would remain silent while driving here and by now he regretted his decision badly. Now Pete desperately needed to know what had happened between MacGyver and Nikki before Mac had turned up in his office.

Before I´ve been stupid enough to add to his anguish, Pete chided himself as he stepped off the elevator and walked down the corridor toward Nikki´s apartment. He took a deep breath and then knocked on the door. He had to wait only a few moments until Nikki opened the door and instantly froze when she saw Pete Thornton standing in front of her.

“Hello, Pete.” she greeted him with a strained sigh, pretending not to have any idea why he was here. “What´s the matter? What can I do for you?”

“I need to talk to you.” Pete stated with a carefully controlled voice. Nikki´s pale face and her red-rimmed eyes told him that she must have been crying not too long ago. The irritation he had felt toward her faded a little.

Nikki silently stepped aside and invited him in with a small gesture of her hand. Somehow she had a fair idea what the main topic of this conversation would be. She closed the door, straightened herself and faced Pete, who had taken a few steps toward what had been Nikki´s living room. Her sofa was already on its way to Washington.

“Talk to me? About?” she asked anyway, trying to sound firm although she sensed Pete´s tension.

“About?” Pete echoed exasperatedly and quickly turned to face her. “You know that very well! MacGyver came to me after he had been here to see you.” The words left his mouth a lot harsher than he had intended to.

Pete forced himself to hold his breath for a moment and reign in his emotions. He knew he was upset because MacGyver was such a close friend, almost like a son to him, and the state he had seen him in tore at his heart. He had to figure out what had gone wrong between the two. Nikki just held his stare quietly for a moment and then looked away.

“Nikki, what happened?” Pete asked when she didn´t react. His voice was a lot softer now. “Mac said something about you telling him you gotta move on with your life, that you see no future for the two of you… that there never was something like ‘the two of you’… from your point of view.”

Nikki´s posture stiffened and she turned to one of the boxes she had been packing her stuff into before Pete had arrived.

“Yes.” she said with a low voice. “That´s what I told him after he had figured out that I am moving away.”

Pete was baffled by her agreement and needed to take a deep breath before he could speak again.

“But that is the complete opposite of what you told me three weeks ago!”

“I know.” Nikki´s reply was curt as she picked up some book from a pile and held it in her hands.

“You told me, you love him. You told me, you wanted to leave because you´re afraid MacGyver will get killed because he´ll protect you; because he´s so close to you.” Pete fought hard to keep his voice even. “You promised me, you´d explain it to him. That´s why I agreed to remain silent.”

Nikki lowered her head with Pete´s sentences.

“I know.” Nikki repeated flatly, but Pete could see some cracks in her hard and cold façade. He could hear that she fought back some tears.

“Nikki, that man loves you from the depth of his heart and soul! … With every fiber of his being!” Pete exclaimed, not able to fully control his emotions anymore. “Doesn´t he deserve…”

“I know that. He told me.” All of a sudden Nikki cut Pete off sharply and turned to face him. “That´s why I had to do this.”

Pete stood stunned silent and surprised for a moment. He knew about Mac´s fear of committing himself to someone. He also remembered the moment in the corridor, in front of Nikki´s apartment door, when he had straightforwardly asked Mac about him being in love with Nikki. Mac had almost admitted it to Pete, but only seconds later shied away from confessing it to her. “What? But if…” he then muttered. “When? … I had the impression he was still too cautious about…”

“After the explosion had caught him.” Nikki interrupted him low. “Those were his last words to me before he lost consciousness again.”

Pete drew in a sharp breath with this revelation. He opened his mouth to console her but didn´t know what to say. The logic of her doing eluded him even more.

“Then why…” His question a moment later trailed off to silence.

“I had to cut our bond to set him free.” Nikki continued slowly. “It´s better for him that way. It´ll be easier for him that way. He´s used to being angry at me… He would never let me leave otherwise.”

Pete let out a deep sigh. Now he understood that Nikki had used him as part of her plan to end this relationship, of her idea of driving Mac away from her, of making it less painful for him. But he knew MacGyver way longer than she did and way too well.

“Nikki, it won´t work like this.” Pete said softly. “Mac came to me for help. He asked me to find you a comparable job here, in L.A. So he could convince you to stay.”

Nikki looked up at him with an unreadable expression but said nothing.

“He was deeply hurt, he was heartbroken, but he cares way too much about you to give up that easily.” Pete carried on. “Even after all this, he wasn´t willing to let you leave. He was willing to fight for what you had, to help you remember how you felt… But he was sorely disappointed and angry with me when he found out that I had known about you moving away all the time… and didn´t tell him.”

“But you told him I made you promise, didn´t you?” Nikki´s eyes widened with shock and were glistening with tears now. “I never intended to get him mad at you…”

“Of course I did.” Pete hurried to answer. “But being one of his best friends… From his point of view, I let him down… I kept something from him. Something really important. Although I know how much he hates it if someone isn´t completely honest with him. He has every right to be furious with me.”

Nikki´s gaze lowered to the book she was still holding in her hands. Her grip on the book tightened until her knuckles turned white. Pete took one step closer to her when she didn´t respond.

“I don´t think, I would have agreed, had I known about your plan.” he admitted.

Nikki nodded slowly.

“I´m sorry, Pete.” she replied with a breaking voice after a few seconds. “I really thought I´d make it easier for him to let go… for us… I never wanted to…”

She broke off when a single tear escaped her eye and rolled down her cheek. She was angry with herself for her misjudgment. She brushed the tear away with a curt, harsh gesture of one hand. She didn´t want to cry in front of Pete. But Pete softly touched her hand that was gripping the book, trying to comfort her.

“Nikki… we need to talk to him… both.” he stated slowly, but firmly. “We owe him an explanation… and a huge apology.”

Nikki looked up hesitantly at him. For once she dropped her defensive walls for him. Pete could see how much she was hurting inside.

“You think, he´d be willing to?” she asked full of doubt.

“Maybe not tonight.” Pete shrugged. “But we´ve got some time left until Friday… we have to try. Even if your mind is still set on leaving… MacGyver deserves to know about the true reasons for it… don´t you think?”

Some of the doubt and pain faded from Nikki´s eyes. If I haven´t hurt him too deeply, he might agree to listen to us, she thought. After all, this is MacGyver we´re talking about. Of course, he does deserve the truth. After she had lowered her eyes to the book again, she only nodded silently. She knew she had to make up for her mistake. For all three of them.

*****

MacGyver´s body stiffened automatically when he slowly woke up the next day. Unfamiliar sounds, unfamiliar smells, and a ceiling he didn´t recognize at first when he opened his eyes. He needed a moment to reorient himself, to recall where he was and how he´d gotten here. In the next moment, the why flooded his mind. Mac closed his eyes again and let out a sigh. He forced his body to relax, took a deep breath, and pushed back his painful memories of the evening before.

When he concentrated on his body he noticed he was rested, but also felt the brace poking uncomfortably into his sides. Next thing, he noticed that although he´d fallen asleep fully clothed, he had wrapped himself into the bed´s covers at some time during the night. Without coming aware of it. When MacGyver blinked his eyes open again, he saw the ceiling light still turned on, and the sun filtering in through the curtains as well. He pulled back the sheets with one arm and shot his watch a glance.

Almost 11 a.m., Mac realized surprised. He rarely slept that late. Stiffly he rolled over to his side, swung his long legs off the bed and gingerly sat up. The throbbing along his spine had returned; the painkillers had worn off. Wearily Mac straightened his back and pushed himself off the bed. Slowly he walked over to the wall, turned off the lights, and glanced at the tube he had set down on the table last night. He cautiously stretched some kinks, the unfamiliar mattress had left him with, out of his long frame, and then ran his hands through his tousled hair and over his face.

After another sigh, Mac took the few steps to the bathroom, splashed some cold water onto his face and the back of his neck. He grabbed a towel to dry his face and hands and couldn´t avoid gazing at himself in the mirror this time.

You still look tired… haggard with the stubble on your face, Mac thought to himself. Although you slept like a log for about ten hours.

He rested his hands on the hand basin and lowered his eyes. He had to admit, he was still worn out, felt somehow drained, especially mentally and emotionally. After a couple of moments, he drew in a deep breath to gather a few ounces of energy. He returned to the main room, slipped on his shoes and jacket and picked up the painkillers. He took a few seconds to consider the ache in his back and then decided against swallowing one of the pills right now.

Not yet, he mused. I´d rather be fully aware of my condition while driving home. It´ll keep me more attentive about my limits… And I´d better grab something to eat before I hit the road.

*****

MacGyver arrived back home in the evening after taking his time on his way back to Los Angeles. He´d found a small diner close to the run-down motel he´d stayed in overnight and had eaten a very late breakfast – or early lunch there before he had climbed back into his jeep and driven southward. He had followed the coastline again, had tried to enjoy the scenery and lose himself rather in the gorgeous landscapes and beautiful weather than in his dark thoughts. He had taken several breaks to reduce the strain on his back, had spent quite some time sitting on different vantage points and beaches along the way.

MacGyver had barely been able to withstand dropping by at the beach area where Phoenix was conducting the environmental study and catching up with his colleagues there, and merely thinking about it had drawn his mind back to the evening before. The hurt, Nikki´s words had caused had returned as had the disappointment about Pete not warning him.

Mac had tried his best to reflect rationally on it during the last leg of his journey home, but it had done little to ease up his intense emotions. He´d only been able to somewhat control the blinding rage he´d felt the day before due to being caught totally off guard by the incidents. But the anguish and the bitterness were still very present in his head and heart when he closed the door of his houseboat behind himself.

He noticed the red blinking light on his answering machine quickly but opted to take a shower first. He spent a while letting the warm water loosen up his tense muscles and ease up the throbbing in his back. Then MacGyver chose to prepare himself a light dinner before he walked over to his desk and pressed the button that would replay the messages. He recognized Nikki´s voice within the first two or three words and instantly forwarded the tape to the next one. Whatever she wanted to tell him, he wasn´t ready to hear it. His grief was still way too raw; his heart still felt like it had been torn into pieces.

Pete´s voice was the next one he heard. He was asking Mac to answer the call, should he be there, and then asking him to call back as soon as possible. Pete had left a second message sometime later, this time sounding more worried, also telling Mac he hadn´t been able to reach him on his car phone.

Yeah, sure, MacGyver thought bitterly. Probably because I´ve turned it off. Probably because I wanna be left alone.

Pete carried on urging him to get in touch, telling him they needed to talk, that he needed to explain what had happened, and to apologize for it. MacGyver turned off the answering machine at that moment. He wasn´t willing to hear Pete´s explanations either. What was there to explain anyway?

Mac then chose one of his favorite westerns, flopped himself comfortably on the couch, and tried his best to keep his thoughts with the pictures on the TV while he consumed his dinner. Knowing that he needed to be at the hospital early on the next morning, he went to bed quite soon.

*****

MacGyver was startled awake by his alarm clock on the following morning. He rolled over with a frustrated groan and reached out with one arm to silence it as he remembered why he had set it in the first place. To prevent himself from being late for his appointment with Dr. Marrow at the hospital and the therapy session afterward with Ted. MacGyver took a deep breath, slowly got out of his bed, went through his morning routine, slipped into his clothes, and went downstairs to the kitchen.

He noticed, he felt differently this morning while he set up his blender and prepared his breakfast shake. He had gotten used to the pain that had settled in his heart and soul, had come to almost accept it, to accept the fact that he had lost Nikki. Mac wasn´t all too badly upset anymore, at least at the moment, and his mind was back to functioning more clearly and rationally again.

He couldn´t keep it from reflecting on the whole summer he had spent with Nikki though, while he was at work in the kitchen. He kept searching for his misjudgment, for the mistakes he´d made, for why he hadn´t seen it coming. Doubts about himself and his own doing started nagging in his mind. Had he really pushed her too far? Pushed her into something she hadn´t wanted? Or been ready for? Had he longed too much for it to be true? Had he been too desperate to find someone to love after Deborah´s betrayal?

MacGyver poured his shake into a large glass, walked over to the French doors, and took a long sip as he stared out over the marina. He felt the brace stabilizing his back when he drew in a deep breath. He´d chosen to sleep without it, as Dr. Marrow had allowed him to, but put it back on before going downstairs. He felt more secure moving around with it supporting his spine.

His thoughts turned back to yesterday´s messages on his answering machine. He still felt no intention to call back Nikki, especially since she had told him she´d appreciate not seeing him at the airport. The memory of those words sent a sudden sting to his heart.

If she isn´t eager to see me another time, what could she possibly be interested in telling me? No, thanks… I´m already suffering as much as I´m willing to take…

However, MacGyver knew he would eventually have to talk to Pete. He wasn´t only his friend, but also his boss. They currently had a few projects up and running together; the most important of them being the environmental study on the beach. Mac recalled how surprised he had looked at him at certain points of their conversation.

He has said Nikki had sworn him to secrecy. Maybe he hasn´t known all about what Nikki has been up to. But still, what good reason has he had not to warn me that she is about to leave? Not even the slightest heads-up? For three weeks? He knows I hate being kept in the dark…

The bitter sting of disappointment settled back into MacGyver´s chest. The hot spark of fury returned to his gut.

We´ll have to discuss that, Mac thought. But not today. I´m still too angry. I´m not ready yet… I still got a few days of sick leave ahead of me. I should have cooled down until I have to get back to work… after ‘she’ has left…

MacGyver stood silently gazing out the windows for several minutes while he consumed the rest of his shake, while those thoughts stayed lingering in his head. Then a glimpse at his watch told him he had to get ready and leave if he didn´t want to risk being late for his appointment with Dr. Marrow and Ted.

*****

Morning traffic had been a nuisance as always, and MacGyver had only found a parking space in a side road a block away from the hospital, but he still had a few minutes left when he came around the corner and walked across the fully occupied parking lot toward the hospital´s entrance. It was a nice and sunny day, and Mac observed the people and cars moving about to keep his nervousness at bay. He was worried about how much the doctor and his therapist would notice about how he had spent the last one and a half days.

Not as quiet and calm as they have advised me to… I can feel the aftereffects… I am stiffer than I was before, I am a little worse. I can only hope they won´t insist on keeping me here again.

But his musings were cut off abruptly when MacGyver spotted a very well-known person sitting on a bench in front of the hospital, right next to the entrance.

Pete… waiting for me… well, I did tell him about my next check-up and the therapy schedule when I called him… before I drove over to Nikki…

MacGyver froze, licked his lips nervously, and for a split second thought about how to avoid meeting his friend who hadn´t noticed him so far. But in the next moment, he chided himself for being that childish. He had no time to spare, so he couldn´t clear the air with Pete anyway right now. He had a good excuse for not being willing to talk to him at the moment. He had an important examination coming up.

MacGyver drew in a deep breath to steel himself, but felt his stomach tighten with disappointment and some anger nonetheless as he continued his way to the entrance. Pete saw him only a few seconds later. His worried face lit up with relief and he got to his feet quickly.

“MacGyver! Thank God!” he called out. “Am I glad to see you.”

Mac took the last steps and stopped a few feet away from Pete. It felt better to keep a little distance from his friend.

“Morning, Pete.” His reply was curt and toneless.

“You really had me worried when you didn´t return my calls.” Pete continued. “I hoped, I´d be able to meet you here.”

“Really?” Mac couldn´t keep the bitterness from showing in his voice. “Well, I came back home quite late yesterday, sorry. Wasn´t in the mood to call back.”

Pete Thornton sighed deeply and came a step closer. He could sense the angriness still boiling below Mac´s carefully kept up façade.

“Mac, you´ve got every right to be upset with me.” he began. “If you´d give me a few minutes to explain…”

Mac cut Pete off by raising one hand in a defensive gesture.

“I don´t have a few minutes.” he stated sharply. “I´ve gotta meet with Dr. Marrow as you very well know.” He wanted to turn and leave but Pete caught his upper arm with his hand and held him back.

“MacGyver, please.” Pete tried again to get through to his friend. “At least let me set some things right. I need…”

He broke off when he felt MacGyver´s body stiffen almost instantly in his grip. Mac couldn´t fight back the sudden surge of fury flaring up inside. At once, the fiery rage was visible in his eyes. He straightened himself, squared his shoulders, and shot Pete´s hand on his arm a pointed glare. Pete instinctively let go and drew back a little from his friend. Sometimes he forgot how intimidating and threatening MacGyver could be when he was in a truly sour mood. Something that only rarely occurred with the usually so caring and kind man.

“Set things right?” Mac shot back after a moment of tense silence. His dark eyes pinned Pete. “Such as? Me getting dumped? You not warning me although you knew what was bound to happen? For three weeks?” He took a deep breath and slowly let it out in an attempt to quench his anger.

“I didn´t.” Pete sighed. “Not the full extent… I would have never agreed to remain silent had I known what she was about to…”

Now MacGyver threw both hands up to interrupt his friend with a deprecating gesture.

“Are you trying to tell me she´s used you?” he inquired harshly. “Fine… that makes two of us.”

“MacGyver, I´m so sorry.” Pete Thornton´s shoulders slumped. “I failed my responsibility as your…”

“Pete, I accept your apology.” Mac interjected hardly controlled. “But I don´t wanna hear any more about it right now. I gotta go.” Again he half-turned to leave, yet this time Pete´s voice held him back.

“How about meeting for dinner in the evening?”

Mac puffed out a breath and looked at his friend sideways over his shoulder. His wrath at Pete had deflated with his apology. He thought about granting Pete that chance.

“Don´t know…” he answered indecisively and with a softer voice. “I´ll give you a call.”

“We´d really like to talk to you… no, need to talk to you.” Pete pleaded, but Mac´s chest tightened instantly.

“We?” he repeated with an icy edge. He still had no intention to see Nikki once again. The hollow and sore feeling returned to his heart. A vise seemed to tighten around it. He didn´t think he could take it. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans to keep them from turning into fists.

“Yes, we.” Pete confirmed. “Me and Nikki… we think, we owe you an explanation.”

MacGyver´s expression hardened again. He got mad at Pete once more for even mentioning Nikki. Pete saw the bitter pain returning to his dark brown eyes before Mac spoke up again.

“I think, I heard all the explanations I can cope with for now.” Mac replied coldly after a moment. “Don´t count on me.”

Pete opened his mouth to object but MacGyver didn´t give him the chance to.

“And now, if you would please excuse me? I´ve got an important appointment to keep. I´ll stay in touch about the progress of my recovery, so you´ll know when to expect me back at work.” His words were dripping with sharp sarcasm, and then he turned and finally walked off to the hospital.

“MacGyver, please wait!” Pete called out to him behind his back, but Mac didn´t stop.

“See ya, Pete.” he replied brusquely over his shoulder as he stepped through the entrance. This time he didn´t look back at his friend.

*****

It was early evening when MacGyver settled in a chair on the small deck of his houseboat with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. He lifted his eyes to the sunset over the quieting marina and allowed himself to reflect on the day he´d had. Meeting Pete in front of the hospital hadn´t been what he had planned on. Pete had tried to convince him how sorry he was, and Mac had sensed his anger with his friend easing up, but as soon as he´d invited him to meet for dinner with him and Nikki, Mac had instantly felt his inner walls going up again.

Fortunately the examination Dr. Marrow had performed afterward had forced his thoughts back to his recovery. Of course, he and Ted had noticed that Mac hadn´t ‘taken it easy’ for the last one and a half days. And they´d scolded him for it. Both. Had once again warned him about possible consequences. MacGyver had accepted their criticism guiltily, had told them there had been a serious reason for it, but had not elaborated on it. Reluctantly his doctor and his therapist had agreed to let him continue his rehab at home, but only after Mac had promised that it wouldn´t happen again.

He had driven off to Venice Beach after his therapy session, exhausted by it, yet at the same time noticing relieved that his condition was slowly improving again. He´d taken a small walk around his former neighborhood and grabbed lunch in a beachfront restaurant that had been one of his favorites back then. One of the waitresses had remembered him and engaged him in some small talk that had effectively kept his haunting thoughts at bay.

After spending a lazy afternoon at the beach and some grocery shopping on his way back home, the melancholy had again grabbed hold of his heart and soul. MacGyver had discovered another message from Pete on his answering machine when he´d arrived at the houseboat. Pete had left the name and address of the restaurant he and Nikki wished to meet MacGyver in. And of course, the time at which they´d be there.

Pete had pleaded with him to come, had sounded a bit desperate. Something that rarely happened, Mac noted mentally as he now thought back. He had also looked truly worried and full of sorrow in the morning. Pete had stated that they wanted to talk about the true reasons for Nikki´s decision and that it was important to them. But that statement had instantly fueled Mac´s defiance.

True reasons? What? Have they, on top of everything, been lying to me so far? Haven´t I been worth the truth? And important to them? What about me?

By now, about two hours after listening to the message, the grudge he had abruptly felt toward his friends had made room for resignation and emptiness. Up to this moment, he had chosen not to go there. A glimpse at his watch told MacGyver that even if he might want to see them, even if he´d drive to the restaurant in a hurry, he´d arrive quite late by now. Mac drank half of his orange juice, set the glass down on the deck next to his chair, and leaned back with a deep sigh.

He had no energy left for another painful conversation, for Nikki and Pete probably tearing even more at his already wounded heart and soul. He wasn´t convinced that he would be capable of dealing with them tonight already. Although he felt a pang of jealousy at the mental image of Pete sitting with Nikki in the restaurant… and not himself. The memory of meeting the two in the hotel restaurant in Vienna flashed into his mind before he could control it.

He had been unpleasantly surprised then. Pete had caught him off guard and in a mentally and emotionally vulnerable state. But as far as Mac was concerned, it had been the start of something wonderful. If the intensity of my emotions during the last days is any indication… I really do love that woman, Mac had to admit to himself. Otherwise, it wouldn´t hurt that damn bad, would it? His next thought went out to Starkoss. I guess you were right… and you were not… or is this what you call ‘being okay’? A pained smile widened for a moment on Mac´s face at the memory of the Russian and his cryptic remarks. Or haven´t you been able to see it coming?

MacGyver rubbed his hands over his face to ease up his inner tension and then tried to relax into the chair. A little twinge in his back reminded him to be careful since he´d already taken off his brace. The silence of the marina mingled with his thorough exhaustion. His eyes stared out into the semi-darkness.

No, I can´t meet them tonight, Mac made his final decision. I need some time to heal first… physically… and emotionally.

*****

MacGyver´s eyes slowly drifted open on the next morning. He moaned groggily when he rolled over to lie on his back. He´d gone to bed early last night, hoping that his mind and dark thoughts would calm down, that the intensity of his emotions would lessen with a good night´s sleep, but… well, his sleep hadn´t been restful. His troubled subconscious had conjured up all kinds of dreams. Pleasant memories had mixed with haunting ones, creating nightmares that had caused Mac to bolt out of his sleep panting and sweating a few times during the night.

Although it was already around 10 a.m. as a glance at the clock on his nightstand told him, he still felt weary and tired. MacGyver stared up to the ceiling while he did a mental check-up of his body and mused about the day he had ahead of himself.

Nothing scheduled. Just relax and recover. Next physical therapy session is tomorrow… Nikki´s flight is due sometime around midday… then it will be final…

The thought popped up in his head too quickly to control it. It sent a sting to his heart. MacGyver drew in a deep breath and let it out in a long, quiet sigh before he pushed himself up and got out of his bed. I might take an easy walk in the Griffith Park, he mused while he slipped into the brace stabilizing his back and then his clothes. Might at least get some fresh air and get reacquainted with nature…

After a quick stop in the bathroom, he combed his tousled hair roughly by running his fingers through it as he made his way down to the kitchen. Kind of automatically Mac prepared his usual breakfast protein shake and tried his best to keep his mind focused on what he was doing. He grabbed a science magazine that had been in his mail on the day before, perched himself on the comfortable couch with his shake, and started reading.

But only a little more than half an hour later MacGyver realized, it wasn´t working. In the quiet atmosphere of his home, his thoughts were running wild. Once again. After another couple of minutes of trying, he dropped the magazine, he couldn´t concentrate on, on the coffee table with a defeated and frustrated sigh. The melancholy he´d felt last evening now mingled with a deep sadness in his soul.

Sadness and grief about losing Nikki… like this. That sudden, unexpected and harsh… and even now connected with that much anger at Nikki… and Pete. This isn´t my way, Mac realized in a flash. I´ve been that caught off-guard and shocked that I haven´t been acting like myself. The disappointment and bitter pain were still there, but the fury abruptly turned against himself. They´ve offered me true reasons yesterday, a clarifying talk between the three of us, but I´ve been too pigheadedly sulking in my pain.

A tiny spark of curiosity made its way to the surface. What would Nikki and Pete have told him? Would it really have hurt even more like he had feared yesterday? Or would it have eased up things between them? MacGyver puffed out a frustrated breath. Why haven't I been willing to give them a second chance? The woman I love and my best friend? Why have I held on so selfishly to my damn wounded pride? The anger at himself mounted and he rubbed his hands over his face while he leaned back on his couch wearily. Well, do I still have a chance to fix that?

A moment later he straightened himself tense with an idea and shot the clock on his TV a glance. If I can find out the exact time at which Nikki´s flight is scheduled to take off… maybe I can still make it to the airport in time… a bit cliché, but who cares if it´s about my closest friends?

MacGyver felt a surge of energy course through his veins. His eyes found his desk and the phone on it. Would Helen tell me? Or has she promised to remain silent as Pete had? Then his eyes rested on the monitor and the keyboard, and he got up quickly. He strode over to the desk and booted his computer. If she´s moving to Washington, D.C. for a Phoenix job, Phoenix has probably also taken care of her travel arrangements… I should be able to find all the details I need by logging into the mainframe and a bit of digging through the data…

A couple of minutes later, MacGyver had discovered what he´d been looking for and shot his watch a glance. He drank the last of his shake while he calculated mentally and then froze for a moment. I can still make it on time if I hurry… I must not miss this last chance…

MacGyver got to his feet, placed the empty glass in the sink on his way to the door, and grabbed his jacket and the keys for the jeep on his way out. He ran toward the parking lot, trying his best to ignore the twinge it caused to his back. He wasn´t supposed to be running yet. However, he didn´t give a damn at the moment but hurried to slip into the driver´s seat and drove off. He focused only on getting to the Los Angeles International Airport as fast as he could.

But the further he drove, the closer he got to his destination, the more adrenaline he felt flowing into his blood. His nervousness mounted. All his thoughts from the last days flashed through his head. One part of him was curious about those ‘true reasons’, one part was scared about hearing them, one part was still disappointed and hurt, and one part feared that it had been his fault. Before he´d listen to anything, he´d have to apologize to Nikki. For a lot of things.

MacGyver felt himself breathing heavier while he searched for a parking space for his jeep. He felt his stomach tighten to a knot when he finally turned off the engine and slid out of his seat. Mac shrugged into his jacket while he left the jeep behind and hurried toward the part of the airport building that housed the correct airline. He pulled up the zipper although he knew that the cold running up and down his back and spreading through his body was caused by his inner tension and not the cool weather.

Once inside the building, he stopped and let his eyes search the huge displays for the desired flight number and destination. Mac quickly discovered the gate number and saw that the plane´s boarding wasn´t on its way yet. Good… I made it on time…

He puffed out a deep breath, took a moment to orient himself inside the terminal, found the correct direction and then headed off toward the gate. He had to dodge and round several groups of people as he neared the gate with long strides. MacGyver instinctively froze, when he spotted Pete and Nikki within the crowd of travelers waiting next to the gate. They were close to one of the huge windows, talking to each other.

He stood still at some distance when all of a sudden, a lump formed in his throat, the vise around his chest tightened again, and his heart started aching once more. He had to swallow dryly, balled his fingers into tight fists, and then straightened them out again.

Those are your friends, coward, he scolded himself inwardly. What are you afraid of? It can´t get any worse than it already is, can it? You´re not seriously considering chickening out now, are you? You came here to talk to them, to straighten things out, now get on with it!

MacGyver took a deep breath and held it for a moment to steel himself and to keep his intense mixture of emotions from showing on his face. Then he puffed out the breath and walked off toward his friends, determined to grab the last chance he might get to clear the air between them.


Posted by: uniquelyjas 7 January 2022 - 10:55 AM
I really want to be angry at Nikki for manipulating both Pete and Mac. I even want to be upset with Pete for going along with Nikki as much as he did. But when you hear their reasoning from their prospective 'point of view' (Nice way of reinforcing the title, by the way!) you can tell they are both hurt and, in their own way, doing what they believe is best for MacGyver. As for Mac, I think this may be the most emotionally intense chapter for him so far in the sense that he is forced to deal with such a range of emotions from sadness to rage and then looks inside himself and confronts those emotions and makes the decision to try and make things right.

I can't believe there is only one more chapter left! I know Mac won't win Nikki back, but I hope they manage to leave on good terms. It will be interesting to see what they have to say and how Mac reacts.

Posted by: bluegirl 7 January 2022 - 11:29 AM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 7 January 2022 - 07:55 PM)
I really want to be angry at Nikki for manipulating both Pete and Mac. I even want to be upset with Pete for going along with Nikki as much as he did. But when you hear their reasoning from their prospective 'point of view' (Nice way of reinforcing the title, by the way!) you can tell they are both hurt and, in their own way, doing what they believe is best for MacGyver. As for Mac, I think this may be the most emotionally intense chapter for him so far in the sense that he is forced to deal with such a range of emotions from sadness to rage and then looks inside himself and confronts those emotions and makes the decision to try and make things right.

Well, that´s where the 'title idea' came from - looking at what happened during this story from all sides... because every one of my protagonists has a different 'point of view'! unsure.gif

And yes, just one more part to go... but this one will be quite long!

Posted by: bluegirl 9 January 2022 - 08:49 AM
Hello everyone!

I know, I kept you waiting today - I´m a little late... but I wanted to take my time for the last review of this FINAL chapter, this conclusion of this very long story... I had to get it right, to make it real good for all of you... biggrin.gif

Because this is the last one. It has been quite a challenge to write, but it has been suuuch a pleasure to share it with all of you. Thanks to everyone who has been reading along - thanks to those who have left feedback for me - that is what keeps me going, what will probably encourage me to take on another challenge - another idea and form a plot, maybe write the next story - if you want me to... tongue.gif

But now... here we go... Mac has made it to the airport, Pete and Nikki are already waiting at the gate for the plane to get ready for boarding... with so many ill feelings left between all three of them - will everything work out? unsure.gif

Part 21


“Moving back to Washington, D.C. feels strange… now that it´s really happening.” Nikki said slowly to Pete while she lowered her eyes to her carry-on roller.

“Well, everything happened quite fast. Unexpectedly fast.” Pete replied softly, standing next to her and looking out of the window.

“Brings back a lot of memories.” Nikki added low. She pushed back a few strands of her dark hair and raised her gaze to also stare outside to the planes. “Reminds me of why I left that city.”

Pete Thornton drew in a sharp breath and turned to face her. His eyes narrowed.

“Do you doubt your decision?” he asked surprised. “You sounded so sure about it last night.”

“I was. I am.” Nikki answered quickly. “It´s just… returning to those memories won´t be easy for me.”

“The past few weeks haven´t been easy for you either.” Pete said sympathetically. “Allow yourself some time to adjust.”

Nikki nodded silently and kept staring at the moving airplanes while she stood completely still.

“Thanks for last evening.” she continued low after a couple of moments. “Thank you for reminding me of the good time I had in L.A.”

Pete noticed a little flash of pain and regret in Nikki´s eyes as he watched her.

“Don´t mention it. It was just dinner… I had really hoped he´d turn up and…” He broke off when he saw Nikki turn to him and look up at him with now a sad and a bit annoyed expression.

“Me too… but if he chooses to be that pigheaded…”

“We both know, he can be quite stubborn.” Pete sighed. “He was still furious when I met him yesterday morning. I´ve known MacGyver for many years now and I can tell he must be hurt quite deeply to be hanging on to his anger for that long.”

“Pete, I know it´s been my fault!” Nikki suddenly snapped at him. “We´ve already established that.”

Pete drew in a deep breath to keep himself from also raising his voice.

“And I added my share.” he then replied carefully controlled. “That wasn´t my point, Nikki… I just wanted to say that given a little more time, MacGyver´s anger might cool down and I hope we´ll eventually get a chance to explain everything and to apologize to him.”

“Sorry, Pete.” Nikki sighed deeply and lowered her eyes for a moment. “I didn´t mean to jump at you… it´s just… I´ve done him wrong.” She lifted her gaze to Pete again and the mixture of sadness, regret, and anguish she felt inside was now clearly visible on her face. “It probably would have made leaving easier for me, if I had gotten to…”

Nikki suddenly broke off in mid-sentence and her face fell as she stared past Pete. “Oh, no…” she muttered under her breath. “I asked him not to come… not here… not now.”

Pete was perplexed with her abrupt change for a second, but then quickly turned to see what had gotten her attention. He could think of only one reason for her to react like this. He could think of only one ‘him’.

Pete spotted MacGyver´s tall frame almost instantly as he weaved his way through and around the crowds toward them, still at some distance. Mac´s face was frozen in an unreadable, yet tense expression; his steps seemed quite determined. The memory of MacGyver´s furious reaction in front of the hospital from the day before popped up in Pete´s head. If Mac had been too mad at them to meet them in the restaurant, what could he be up to now? At the airport? He had to prevent MacGyver from causing any trouble here. Pete touched Nikki´s arm in a brief reassuring gesture and sensed how her body had stiffened.

“I´ll see what he wants.” he said sideways to her while he didn´t take his eyes off his friend. “I´ll take care of him.”

Then he quickly walked off to intercept MacGyver. Pete met him between two groups of people and held up both hands to block Mac´s way.

“MacGyver, hold it, please.” Pete said firmly. It puzzled him to see Mac stop at once and then even shrink back a step hesitantly. “Since you didn´t join us yesterday…” Pete nevertheless continued resolutely. “Do you really think this is the right time and place…?”

MacGyver slowly raised one hand to silence Pete.

“I´m sorry about that.” he replied with a very low voice and nervously licked his lips. I should have known that Pete would try to shield Nikki from my wrath, he thought. “I should have come.”

Pete was worried by the uncertainty and shyness he saw in his friend´s eyes as they switched quickly from Pete´s face to Nikki several yards behind Pete and back. He hadn´t cared to shave today and looked haggard and strained with the stubble on his face.

“But Pete… maybe this time and place is the last chance I´ll get.”

His brown eyes now locked on to Pete`s. Pete Thornton took a moment to try and decide what to make of his friend´s words and reactions. Mac tried his best to conceal his emotions, yet he seemed almost afraid, something Pete wasn´t used to seeing in him. Pete wasn´t sure how to handle it, and it did very little to ease his inner apprehension. The sudden realization that he even felt the need to step in and protect someone from MacGyver tore at his heart.

“MacGyver, whatever you´re up to…” Pete answered with a warning tone after a few seconds. “I am not sure you can…”

“Neither am I.” Mac cut him off again. He spread out his arms a little to signal that he meant no harm, but the gesture also radiated how lost and helpless he felt. Mac took a deep breath to regain some of his determination. Pete´s firm intervention had caught him off guard. His dark eyes searched briefly for Nikki before they returned to Pete.

“I didn´t come here to make a scene, Pete… I came to apologize.” Mac assured quietly. “And I came hoping for some answers… if I still do deserve the truth.”

“Apologize?” Pete echoed baffled and fell silent for a few moments but before he could continue, he felt a slender hand touch his arm. When he half turned, he saw that Nikki had stepped up to him from behind. MacGyver´s gaze was also fixed on her within the second, and he sensed his heartbeat speed up now that she was so much closer to him.

“Pete?” Nikki said with a carefully controlled voice and expression. “Give us a few minutes alone, will you?”

Pete Thornton glanced back at MacGyver probingly. He couldn´t detect any of the boiling anger he had seen yesterday. In fact, Mac seemed oddly frozen, at least on the outside.

“Are you sure?” Pete asked as he turned back to face Nikki.

She only nodded silently. One of her hands tightly gripped the handle of her carry-on roller; the other one had dropped down from his arm. Pete looked past her for a moment.

“They´ve just opened the gate for boarding.”

“Thanks, Pete.” Nikki replied quietly. She raised her hand and Pete quickly took it. “Thank you for everything.”

Pete held her hand in both of his as he eyed her closely. Whatever Mac might be able to accomplish with his apology, her intention to leave is unwavering, he realized and let out a small sigh.

“Take care of yourself.” he answered with a forced smile, gave her hand a little squeeze, and then let go of it. “And good luck with leading our bureau in Washington. We´ll stay in touch. Just call if you need any help.”

“I´m sure, we´ll have to.” Nikki smiled back at him. “And I will take you up on that offer, thank you. Take care, Pete.”

Pete stepped back from her and, after a last probing look at MacGyver, left the pair alone. While he headed away from the gate and outside of the terminal, he fervently hoped that both Mac and Nikki wouldn´t slip back into their former arguing habit, but remember how close they had been during the last few months. He´d have to trust them on this.

Pete took a deep breath once he´d reached the parking lot, his face still clouded with concern. He noticed MacGyver´s jeep parked not too far from his own car and chose to wait there. For whatever the outcome of their conversation might turn out to be. For whatever support he might be needed to provide afterward.

*****

When he sensed Pete retreating, MacGyver let out the breath he just now realized he´d been holding. For a long moment, he and Nikki just looked at each other silently, neither of them sure how to start off.

“MacGyver, there´s so…”

“Nikki, I need to…”

They had said it simultaneously and broke off at the same moment with a sheepish expression. Mac suddenly noticed they were standing amidst the crowds flowing toward the gates. He longed for a much calmer place to have this conversation. Bashfully he reached up for Nikki´s hand and nodded toward the large row of windows between the gates.

“Let´s take a few steps over there.” he suggested low.

Nikki allowed him to loosely hold her hand and lead her to the quieter space, close to where she´d been standing only moments before with Pete. Once they had reached the windows, Nikki turned to face MacGyver and opened her mouth to address him, but he quickly let go of her hand and held up his to keep her silent.

“Please, before you say anything… hear me out.” he asked and drew in a deep breath.

Nikki hesitated for a second, looked up at Mac with a bit of doubt and uncertainty, but then nodded. She owed him at least that. Especially because the unusual shyness and unease she felt from him worried her. Especially since his eyes missed the sparkle they normally showed. Even if his unreadable and guarded façade unnerved her a little. Even if she had so much to say to him herself.

“I´m sorry, I didn´t show up yesterday.” Mac said hoarsely and nervously licked his lips. Suddenly his throat and mouth seemed to have dried out. “I should have… but I was too stubbornly holding on to the pain and disappointment I felt… I haven´t been acting like myself over the last few days… I apologize for behaving that selfishly.” He took a break to sort his thoughts and turned to look out of the window before he continued.

“In fact, I´m sorry for a lot of things. I shouldn´t have angered you by looking into your dossier again without asking… but I was so worried about your safety… I shouldn´t have told you I love you after the explosion hit me… it probably overwhelmed you in that scary situation… but I was so afraid I wouldn´t wake up anymore… I needed you to know what I feel for you deep inside at that moment… I guess, I should have told you that a lot earlier… but then you know about my fear of committing myself. I´ve lost so many people I loved… so many dear friends.” MacGyver lowered his eyes to the ground with the memory of some of those persons coming to his mind. He puffed out a breath to keep his composure.

“I never intended to push you into a relationship you didn´t want… maybe I was just too desperate to find someone to love after my experience with Deborah´s deception. I´m sure you do remember that I doubted my feelings in the first place… but I wasn´t doubting myself when I came to surprise you three days ago. I had other plans for that evening.”

Mac fell silent for a beat, sighed deeply, and raised his gaze from his shoes to the outside once more.

“But you telling me you´re moving away… you telling me there never was an ‘us’… your words came as a shock to me… I still can´t figure what I misinterpreted, what I did to screw this up. Nikki, from my point of view it felt like the real thing. I´m so sorry.”

Mac shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “I sure hope you´ll accept my apology… I don´t know if it makes any difference… just tell me whatever I gotta do… if there is anything I can do to change…”

MacGyver shrugged helplessly, but his words trailed off to silence when he looked sideways at Nikki and noticed her perplexed expression. Nikki just stared up at him with wide and unbelieving eyes, and a second later Mac saw some unshed tears glistening in those brown eyes. He was surprised by her reaction. He had prepared himself mentally for the worst, for another chiding tirade, but not for tears… MacGyver turned to face her, yet resisted his urge to reach out to her for a comforting touch.

“Nikki? What´s the matter? Please, tell me what`s…?”

“Nothing.” Nikki suddenly cut him off. Nikki held his puzzled gaze quietly for a moment before she continued. “You did nothing wrong. You didn´t misinterpret anything.” Now she noticed the intense pain she had inflicted on him in his eyes although he did his best to conceal it. She had hurt him that deeply… and he still thought about which mistakes he had made. Her heart shattered at the realization. Her face turned sad. “You don´t need to apologize about anything… I´ve got to.”

“What?” Mac whispered with a baffled frown. He cocked his head sideways, still not understanding what caused her reaction.

“When you caught me in the middle of packing… what I told you then…” Now Nikki avoided Mac´s gaze and turned to look out of the window. “I made this up to set you free. I thought, if you could go back to being annoyed and angry with me… letting me go would be easier for you.”

MacGyver straightened himself a little next to her. He still wasn´t fully comprehending what she was talking about.

“Wait a minute… you made what up? Obviously not the part about leaving for a career opportunity.” He gestured toward her carry-on roller and the planes. Some of his deep bitterness and pain made it to the surface during his last sentence, making it sound harsher than he had intended. He instantly scolded himself for it inwardly when he saw Nikki wince with his words.

“No, not the part about leaving.” she replied sharply while her eyes stayed fixed on the moving airplanes. “But if the main reason was my career, I should have left when I had gotten the offer … many months ago.”

“So?” MacGyver drew in a deep breath. Her answer got him a little impatient. “You wanted to tell me about whatever true reasons you´ve got for leaving yesterday… I´m here now… just go ahead.”

Nikki hesitated for a moment. She had to muster up some courage first. Mac saw her swallow dryly and lower her eyes to the ground.

“MacGyver, if I´d stay… if we´d continued our relationship…” she then admitted slowly and with a hoarse voice. “I`m scared about it.”

Mac was stunned silent for a couple of seconds with her words. His thoughts ran wild. Relationship? Scared? Why? He reached out and softly laid his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to get her to face him.

“So there was an ‘us’?” he cautiously asked the question that had been running around in his head for the last two and a half days, still afraid of the answer.

“Of course there was!” Nikki exclaimed and quickly turned to him. “There is!”

MacGyver saw her eyes still wet with tears and couldn´t help letting his hand travel upwards to her neck in a comforting gesture. A little relief flooded through him with her assurance but at the same time, his chest seemed to tighten again.

“Then why are you leaving?” he continued to probe softly.

“Because I don´t want you to die.”

Nikki´s voice was cracking with emotion now. A single tear rolled down her cheek, but before she could reach up, Mac brushed it away with his thumb. He let out a deep sigh. They´d already had this conversation. A few months ago. In Austria. He´d been able to convince her then... he could do it again.

“Nikki, we´ve been through this.” he said carefully controlled after a moment. “I don´t believe you´re jinxed. I won´t die because I´m close to…”

“That bomb almost killed you!” Nikki cut him off way too loud and drew back a little from him, just out of his reach. “I´m not willing to take chances that big on your life!” She turned back to the window. “You were trying to keep me safe and I distracted you. It was my fault, on top of it all.”

“No, it wasn´t!” Mac objected quickly and resolutely. “The reason that bomb went off was a drop of my blood falling onto the circuit board. I missed it. I wasn´t careful enough. It was my mistake.” His hand, which had been comforting her only a moment ago, was now pointing at himself.

“You might not have missed it if I hadn´t been there to disturb your concentration; if you hadn´t been unconscious before because you´ve tried to protect me from those goons in the first place.” Nikki insisted.

“Nikki, I should have pulled back my hands from the bomb while I was talking to you... you weren´t…” Mac tried to explain but didn´t get a chance as Nikki cut him off sharply.

“MacGyver! … You were shielding me when I froze! You dragged me with you… That bomb caught you instead of me.” she declared standing stiffly, her arms crossed in front of herself. “Our line of work is dangerous. If I´d stay… if we´d stay together… if we´d continue to work together… your urge to protect me will get you killed.”

MacGyver drew in a deep breath and licked his lips nervously. Convincing her wasn´t going all too well this time… how could he argue with that? There was no way he could honestly deny his desire to keep her safe, to know that she was all right.

“But Nikki, you know I´m trying my best not to rush dying… on every single day?”

Nikki didn´t react.

“You also know, that there´s a lot of perfectly safe things I do at the Foundation… my environmental work for example… I´m sure I could switch to a job in the research department.” His words trailed off when Nikki turned to him and stared up at him silently. Even sadder than before.

“You would give up your position?” she asked taken aback after a seemingly endless moment. “For me?”

A lump formed in MacGyver´s throat. He had already signed a resignation letter once. And then torn it to pieces. He had longed for a ‘normal’ life then. He had offered to take another job now without thinking too much about it, out of the desire to keep her close to him. Was his relationship with Nikki worth considering it again? He held his breath for a moment, letting the idea establish itself in his mind.

“I would. For you.” he then confirmed huskily, took a step closer, and reached up to caress her dark hair and cup her cheek. “I almost resigned on my birthday… last year.” His dark eyes searched for any reaction on her face, but only a weak and gloomy smile crossed it. She covered his hand on her cheek with her own.

“I know. Pete told me. But in the end, you didn´t… MacGyver, be honest with yourself.” she chided him mildly. “You are the most caring and compassionate person I´ve ever met. Your desire to help and to right the wrongs of this world is an integral part of you. You need to do what you´re doing.”

“The research department would just provide me with different means and ways of helping.” Mac cut in, but Nikki´s expression didn´t change.

“You are the best field operative the Phoenix Foundation has ever had, their main troubleshooter. You are unique at what you do and how you do it.” she continued quietly after a moment. “Even with a position in research, the board would call you in when faced with trouble… Pete would ask for your help with serious problems… you´d answer that call. You´d help out Pete. Because that is who you are. That is part of why I love you.”

Another tear escaped Nikki´s eyes but her hand holding on to MacGyver´s prevented him from brushing it away as before. Seeing that tear and hearing her words sent a sting to Mac´s heart. She was right on all accounts. He couldn´t argue with that. He couldn´t deny it. He swallowed hard against the lump in his throat.

“Nikki, I could…” he started to say a little helpless, but Nikki cut him off quickly.

“Mac, please… no more ‘coulds’, no more ‘buts’.” she requested firmly. “There´s no way I can take that away from you. It defines you. What you do, what only you can do is too important.” She lowered her eyes to the ground and dropped her hand from his. “I´ve got to leave because I can´t live with the daily fear for your life. Especially since we´d be working together regularly. Especially since Zorkin and Baranov won´t be the last thugs to figure out how to use me to put pressure on you.”

For once, MacGyver was at a loss for words. Nikki had made her case for leaving. He could understand her motivations. He could empathize with her emotions, particularly because he knew what had happened to her husband. He saw no reasonable or fair way to poke holes into her argumentation. The realization he truly had to let her go tore his heart, but the bitterness and anger he had felt faded away now that he knew the truth. MacGyver´s hand slid down to her chin and with a soft force he urged her to raise her head and look up at him. The sadness and anguish her decision caused her and he saw in her eyes made it really hard for him to keep up his composure. His heart was now aching for both of them.

“Can´t convince you this time, can I?” he asked hoarsely and with a lopsided, weak grin. “That darn bomb blew all my chances at breaking your belief in that jinx, right?”

Nikki couldn´t keep an amused smile from showing on her face for a moment with his attempt to ease up the tense situation with his sarcastic humor, but then her face went somber again.

“I can´t cope with it.” She shook her head. “Seeing you lying unconscious in that corridor, sitting at your bedside in the ICU of the hospital, seeing you in that wheelchair… I can´t, not after what happened to Adam.”

Her voice was cracking with the intensity of her feelings. MacGyver´s hand softly caressed her dark hair, trying to comfort her. His eyes wandered over her face, taking in every detail of her soft skin, her wavy hair, her brown eyes. He watched her last inner protective walls drop for him.

“I should have talked to you about how I feel in the first place.” Nikki added after a moment. Her words tumbled out faster now. “I really thought, if I´d get you angry at me, I´d make it easier for you. I never wanted to hurt you that badly. I never wanted to get you angry at Pete. He really knew nothing about my plan. Mac, I… I´m so sorry. I never…”

“Shh.” MacGyver cut her off firmly and drew in a deep breath. “I won´t lie to you… Your words on that evening threw me seriously off track… but I appreciate you explaining it to me now. It´s alright.”

He raised his second hand, cupped her cheeks softly in both hands and brushed a tender kiss on her forehead.

“I won´t try to hold you against your will, as most important for me is that you´re happy… but don´t expect me to be happy about it.” Mac whispered while his lips were still close to her face. He fought against the sudden salty sting of tears that threatened to fill his eyes. “I love you.”

He felt a slight shiver running through Nikki with his last words and straightened himself so he could look at her more comfortably. The vise around his chest was tightening again. Forming the words got difficult around the lump in his throat.

“If this is what you truly want…”

Nikki only nodded silently. She was also fighting hard to keep her feelings under control. After a moment of looking up at him, she squared her shoulders.

“I love you too, Mac. I never thought I´d be able to feel like this for someone again after I lost Adam. You made me feel whole again. I´ll always be grateful for what you´ve given me... I don´t want to leave you… but I have to… I just can´t…” Her voice was breaking with emotion.

“Shh.” MacGyver silenced her once more and pulled her into a soft embrace. “It´ll be all right.” he whispered when he felt her bury her face at his chest and sensed her sobbing quietly. Mac buried his own face in her hair, cupped the back of her head with one of his hands, and softly held her close with his other arm. “We´ll be all right.”

Nikki wrapped her arms around his back and held on tightly to him. It tore her heart to pieces. He still managed to give her some sense of safety and reassurance, even now that she was about to leave him behind. Even now, after she had hurt him that badly, his first concern was for her. He was doing his best to comfort her, even now when she felt how he was suffering as seriously from losing her himself. She had faith in his words.

For several, seemingly endless moments they stood still, feeling each other's breath, sensing each other's heartbeat, taking in each other's scent, memorizing each other's touch. An announcement through the airport speakers disrupted their intimate closeness. The last passengers for the flight to Washington, D.C. were called to board the plane. Nikki eased herself a little away from MacGyver.

“I´ve got to go.” she said slowly.

“I know.” Mac replied evenly slow. “Our paths might cross again since we´ll still both be working for the Phoenix Foundation.”

Nikki nodded and looked up quietly for a moment. “Pete might ask us to if the occasion calls for it. Hopefully, he won´t interrupt your vacation next time.” she added with an apologetic smile. “Will you be okay with working with me?”

“Of course.” MacGyver smiled back at her. “This last interruption led to something good, didn´t it?” He noticed Nikki holding her breath for a moment and knew instantly he shouldn´t have reminded her of what she was leaving behind. Her eyes were filling with tears again. “Unlike a year ago…” he added with a mischievous grin, again trying to lighten her mood with humor. “Remember our first shot at posing as a married couple? In East Germany?”

Nikki´s eyes narrowed with the memory. She frowned.

“Yes. You handed me the one and only parachute.” she said annoyed. “And made me jump out of that tinkered hot-air balloon of yours.”

MacGyver´s smirk stayed on. Then he remembered something else. His smirk turned into a knowing and contented smile as he took in Nikki´s features silently for a few seconds.

“What?” Nikki asked intrigued by his expression.

“Oh, just something else that came to my mind…” Mac answered slowly. “After I made you jump, after Starkoss and I had made it over that mountain… he said something to me… and I laughed at him then.”

Nikki cocked her head sideways waiting for him to continue when Mac took a deep breath.

“He said, I´d grow to love you.”

Nikki was baffled by his words. “You never told me that…”

“No.” Mac gave up his embrace and his hands traveled up to caress her hair. “I wasn´t taking him seriously then.” He softly stroked over her cheek with his fingers and then rested his hands on her shoulders. “I´m not laughing anymore.”

His smile sobered as his dark brown eyes locked on to Nikki´s. He saw a flash of pain cross her face and it instantly sent a sting to his heart. Nikki opened her mouth to respond, but Mac quickly held up one hand to keep her silent.

“Don´t.” he said low and soft. “No more apologies… no more explanations… no regrets… it´s okay, Nikki.”

Nikki nodded, but another tear rolled down her cheek. Mac wiped it away with his thumb.

“Promise me, you´ll remember the amazing time we had… together.”

A warm smile widened on Nikki´s face. “We had something special.” she answered. “Thanks, MacGyver… thank you for everything.”

Mac´s look spoke of the love he still felt for her.

“You´re very welcome.” he said huskily. “Know, that I´ll always be there for you… come what may.”

Nikki raised one of her hands to cover his still cupping her cheek and nodded silently.

“And hey, it´s just a five-hour flight to Washington.” Mac added with an impish grin. “I might drop by for a visit…”

He sensed, he had to make that offer to make their goodbye feel less final for Nikki, and if he was honest also for himself. They smiled at each other with the idea, although they both knew it wasn´t likely to be happening soon. Another boarding call for Nikki´s flight interrupted their thoughts.

“You gotta get on your plane.” Mac stated hoarsely.

Nikki tore her eyes from him, half-turned to reach for her carry-on roller, but then Mac´s hands urged her to look up at him once more. His dark eyes wandered over her face, his intense gaze held her captive. After a seemingly endless moment, he bent down and let his lips find hers. He kissed her affectionately, tenderly, unhurriedly, sensed her respond, and then wrapped her into a soft hug. For one last time.

“Thank you.” he whispered close to her ear. “Take care of yourself.”

Nikki held on to him with one arm wrapped around his waist. She felt the brace stabilizing his spine below his clothes.

“You be careful!” she replied with a little chiding edge. “Watch yourself, MacGyver.”

“Always.” he promised low as he released her and moved back a bit. He brushed a quick kiss onto her cheek and then stepped aside to clear her way to the gate.

Nikki drew in a deep breath, retrieved her ticket from the front pocket of her carry-on roller, and gripped its handle tight with the other hand. She saw that Mac had buried his hands deep within his jeans´ pockets when she straightened herself again.

Mac forced a smile onto his face while she walked past him toward the gate and handed her ticket over so the flight attendant could check it. He didn´t move when the attendant returned the ticket and wished her a pleasant flight. Then Nikki turned back to him. Their eyes locked for a last, long moment and exchanged a silent goodbye.

MacGyver raised one hand with a small wave while he bit his lower lip in an attempt not to let his emotions overwhelm him and to hold on to his composure. A strained smile flashed across Nikki´s face and then she hurried to turn and walk away. She quickly strode onto the plane, was escorted to her seat by another attendant, and stowed her carry-on away overhead.

When she settled into the comfortable seat and closed her seatbelt, she sensed her sadness threaten to overtake her. Angrily, she brushed some tears from her face and squared her shoulders. Leaving MacGyver is one of the hardest choices I´ve ever been forced to make, she thought. But at least we´re parting on good terms now.

Nikki looked out of the plane´s window, back to the terminal building. Its large windows were reflecting the sunlight and the blue sky. She couldn´t see through them but was certain, Mac was still standing where she had left him. She heard the airplane´s door close and only a couple of moments later she felt the plane moving away from the terminal and taxi toward the runway. Goodbye MacGyver, she sighed inwardly. It´s better that way. But I promise I´ll always be there for you, too.

*****

MacGyver remained like frozen close to the large window although Nikki was out of sight real soon. After a couple of seconds, his eyes wandered to the airplane that was about to take her to Washington, D.C. Its windows were mirroring the terminal building, effectively blocking his sight into the aircraft. He imagined her taking her seat and getting ready for the flight.

He was relieved that he´d chosen to drive to the airport. Mac´s heart was aching badly with the loss he faced, but he was glad that they´d been able to clear the air, that there were no ill feelings left between them, that he now knew about her true reasons for leaving. He stayed at the window, watched the plane´s door being closed, observed the plane moving toward the runway and taking off.

Goodbye Nikki, he thought while he took a deep breath and straightened himself. You´ll always have a very special place in my heart.

With some effort, he stepped back from the window, pulled himself together, and with long strides headed back to the parking lot. The sunlight outside the building blinded him for a moment, and he rubbed his hands over his face and his eyes, also to ease his inner tension. He wasn´t too surprised to feel some dampness afterward on his fingers.

Seems like I´m missing her already.

MacGyver puffed out a breath before he crossed the driveway in front of the terminal, resuming the way to his jeep. Several yards later he stopped baffled when he spotted Pete Thornton pacing next to it. Mac overcame his surprise quickly, walked on and addressed his friend as soon as he was within earshot.

“Pete?”

Pete´s head snapped up with hearing Mac´s voice and he whirled around to face him. His expression was a mixture of caution and concern.

“What´s the matter?” Mac asked quickly when he noticed the nervousness radiating from his boss and stopped in front of him.

“I was going to ask you something similar…” Pete responded slowly. “I chose to wait for you because…” He hesitated for a moment and eyed MacGyver all over. Then his eyes locked onto his friend´s, and he noticed the pain and grief visible in them. “Mac, are you all right?”

“No.” Mac rolled back his shoulders, bit his lower lip, but then a bit of a smile widened on his face. A smile that didn´t quite reach his eyes, though. “Not right now… but I will be.”

Pete sighed with relief, yet waited expectantly for Mac to continue.

“We´ve talked it out, Pete.” MacGyver added after a brief pause. “I can understand her reasons now… It may hurt badly at the moment, but I believe we´ll manage to continue as close friends. I don´t think I´ll meet anyone like her again.” He sighed.

Pete nodded with sympathy, nevertheless kept up his probing gaze. The anger and bitterness he had seen yesterday in his friend seemed gone, but he had to be sure.

“MacGyver, what about…”

“Us?” MacGyver read his thoughts and cut Pete off. “Nikki told me, that you had no idea about what she had planned. It´s alright. I´m not mad at you anymore. Actually, I am sorry, that I overreacted in my shock… and my wounded pride.” He took a break and inhaled deeply. “Pete, we´re friends. You know how much I value true friendship. If you can accept my apology, we´re okay.”

Pete Thornton let out another deep sigh. The last of his tension left him.

“Thank God. Of course, I can.” He reached out with one hand and Mac took it, but then pulled Pete into a bear hug.

“Thanks, MacGyver.” Pete said as they parted again. “Listen, can I invite you to some restaurant… I haven´t had lunch yet… and maybe you´d like someone to talk to…”

Mac considered his offer momentarily but then shook his head with an apologetic smile.

“Not today. I need some time for myself after all this, Pete.” He placed a hand on his friend´s shoulder and squeezed briefly. “And Dr. Marrow ordered me to allow myself a few days of rest and recuperation when he discharged me from the hospital… three days ago. I haven´t had much of that so far… as you very well know.”

“Of course.” Pete agreed with a knowing and sympathetic expression. “Take all the time you need.” He could have guessed that MacGyver would want to be alone after all that he´d been through. It is quite normal for Mac to go into solitude after unsettling or emotionally challenging experiences. No reason to be worried, he told himself. Mac´s hand left his shoulder, and he turned to the driver´s side of his jeep.

“I´ve got a physical therapy session scheduled on Monday morning.” MacGyver told Pete as he approached the door. He opened it and looked back at his boss. “I guess, I´ll drop by at the Foundation afterward. I gotta catch up with Dr. Johnson regarding our environmental study at the beach anyway. How about if I take you up on that offer then?”

“Sounds good.” Pete´s smile was now back on. “My schedule for Monday isn´t all too tight.”

Mac was about to climb into the driver´s seat and wish Pete a nice weekend, when his friend suddenly remembered something important.

“Just a moment, Mac.” he asked quickly and hurried off to his sedan. “I´ve got something for you.”

MacGyver froze surprised behind the jeep´s door; only his eyes followed his friend with a frown. He raised an intrigued eyebrow when Pete returned with a small padded envelope and handed it to him.

“Since she didn´t expect you to turn up here… Nikki asked me to give you this… after she had left.”

His words trailed off as he saw a flash of pain cross MacGyver´s face while he eyed the envelope silently. It was plain. Nikki had only written Mac´s name on one side of it. Due to the padding, Mac couldn´t be sure what it contained, but he felt at least two items, not too big but heavy. He regained his composure and his questioning look found Pete´s eyes.

“I´ve got no idea what´s in it.” Pete added with an apologetic shrug. “She said, this is for you… personally.”

Mac´s gaze returned to the envelope in his hand, then he placed it on the passenger´s seat and turned to Pete again.

“Thanks, Pete. I´ll see you on Monday.” he smiled.

MacGyver slid into the driver´s seat as Pete waved his goodbye and headed toward his car. Mac shot the envelope a quick glance before he drove off. As curious as he might be about its content, he longed for the quietness of his houseboat to open it, have a look at, and deal with whatever Nikki had placed in there for him.

*****

His ride back took a little longer due to Friday afternoon traffic; it was already mid-afternoon when he parked his jeep at the marina. MacGyver dropped the envelope on the kitchen island together with his keys after he had closed the door behind himself. Then he shrugged out of his jacket and put it away on one of the coat hangers next to the door. With a deep sigh, he opened the refrigerator, filled up a glass with orange juice, downed half of it in one go, and then grabbed an apple. Since he´d only had his breakfast shake so far, he was hungry.

Should have better gone for lunch with Pete, he thought.

Then Nikki´s envelope caught his eye again and unintentionally he found himself imagining her on the plane. Mac straightened himself, shook his head to clear the image from it, and picked up the envelope. MacGyver walked over to his desk as he had noticed the red blinking light on his answering machine. He pressed the play button and continued his way to the couch while listening to the message.

He heard Penny Parker´s voice, excitedly bubbling and over the top as always. She talked about something concerning her 25th birthday – which was at the end of October – and some estate she was about to inherit on that date. Mac didn´t get all the details since she was talking really fast, but he got her asking him to accompany her to some small town on her birthday and have a look at the place.

MacGyver dropped onto his well-worn sofa and puffed out a breath. There were still more than two weeks to pass until Penny´s birthday. He decided it would be okay to call her back later. He had something more important to deal with before he could deal with Penny.

His eyes rested on the envelope in his hands. His pulse went up a little. Mac set down the apple and the glass on the coffee table and tore the envelope open. He let its contents slide onto the coffee table as well. A key, a letter, and a pebble. MacGyver recognized the key instantly. The spare key to his houseboat he had given to Nikki. The pebble had him guessing for a few moments. It was of light grey color but streaked with dark red lines. He couldn´t recall its significance or the meaning it might have to Nikki – or him.

Intrigued, MacGyver picked up the letter, leaned back on his couch and started reading. At first, her words dealt with what they had talked about at the airport. Since she hadn´t known if she´d get a chance to do it personally, she explained her motivations, apologized for hurting him, asked him not to be angry at Pete anymore. She called leaving him ‘one of the hardest choices of her life’. Although Mac already knew most of this, reading through those lines caused his heart to ache again.

Then Nikki thanked him for all the time they´d shared. She called it special and a wonderful experience. She was grateful for all the tenderness, the care and the love he´d given her. She was grateful because after Adam´s death she´d never thought she´d be able to feel love like this again. She told Mac he had filled the hole gaping in her heart since the loss of her husband. He had healed that part of her.

A pained smile crossed MacGyver´s as he took in her words. He could relate to those feelings all too well.

Next, Nikki turned to their last weekend up at Widow Canyon. She reminded him how she had taken a walk along the shore while he´d been out on the lake with the boat, catching their dinner. Pete had already returned to L.A. by then, Mac recalled. She told him about how she´d found the pebble along with a similar one during her walk and how she´d been fascinated by their partly red color. Those had been the only ones she´d discovered showing this particular red. Those two had instantly reminded her of the similar red color of Mac´s Swiss Army knife and therefore she had kept them.

She wrote, she´d included one of them with her letter to give him something that would always remind him of the awesome summer they´d had. She would keep the second one for herself. Her letter closed with promising him, she´d always be there for him, and wishing him goodbye.

MacGyver sat there frozen for several moments with the letter in his hands after he had finished reading. Then he leaned forward, dropped the letter on the coffee table and picked up the little stone instead. Resting his elbows on his knees, he weighed and turned the pebble in his hands while his thoughts started wandering. Yes, the reddish stripes are real close to the color of my Swiss Army knife.

He remembered returning to the pier behind the partly rebuilt cabin on that weekend. She had come back from her walk a small while after him. He´d already been preparing dinner by then. He didn´t recall her mentioning the stones or showing them to him at all. But he recalled very well holding her in his arms later that evening. He recalled the amazing night they´d spent together in the tent.

Slowly he got up with the pebble still in his hands and strode over to the fireplace. The photos on the mantelpiece caught his eye and after a moment of consideration, he placed the stone between them.

When he turned back to the room, a wave of memories and feelings flooded his mind.

Finding Nikki in his bed on the first night home, right after returning from Austria – because she´d been worried about him and wanted to watch over him. Waking up with her cuddled up to him on the next morning – and a lot more than cuddling a little later… The memory of her scent, the sensation of the softness of her skin and her hair… reminded him of all the time they had spent together during the summer and also of the deep trust they had managed to establish; the intimate bond that had united them.

Yep, she is right… it has been special, wonderful; I´d call it amazing, he thought. Part of me is missing her already. But the biggest part of me is grateful for the time we had. Hurt as it may at the moment, I´m feeling less heavy-hearted than before this summer. After all the sorrow and sadness I´ve been confronted with throughout the last one and a half years… This experience has healed me as well. Thanks, Nikki.

MacGyver sighed deeply and squared his shoulders for what felt like the umpteenth time today. He allowed his mind to delve into those memories for a couple of more minutes before his eyes caught on his black guitar case leaning against the bookshelf. He´d told Pete he needed time for himself, time to recuperate. What better way than to start like this?

MacGyver puffed out a breath, walked over to the shelf and bent down to open the case. With the guitar in his hands, he perched himself comfortably on his couch, checked and adjusted the tuning of his instrument, and then started to play.

***** THE END *****

Posted by: uniquelyjas 9 January 2022 - 02:44 PM
Bravo!! A very well-crafted chapter to end an excellently written story!! I wasn't sure how you were going to make their parting not be terrible, but you managed to! All the conversations between the characters were just wonderful and I love that you chose to have THEM choose to communicate and be honest with each other! You also left a glimmer of hope for a reunion (but we all know that doesn't happen, but it makes the ending not so bad!). I think the most important thing for the characters, as well as the readers, is how you stressed that, despite not ending up together, Mac and Nikki both got to experience emotions they thought they would never feel again and they actually felt "healed" by this. What you did with the pebbles was neat. A little "souvenir" of their time together for both of them! I also liked the message from Penny! LOL! If anyone can get Mac's mind off his own problems, it's Penny and HER problems!! Thank you for writing and sharing such a great story. I'll be here, ready to read, if you decide to write another one!!

Posted by: bluegirl 9 January 2022 - 11:33 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 9 January 2022 - 11:44 PM)
Bravo!! A very well-crafted chapter to end an excellently written story!! I wasn't sure how you were going to make their parting not be terrible, but you managed to! All the conversations between the characters were just wonderful and I love that you chose to have THEM choose to communicate and be honest with each other! You also left a glimmer of hope for a reunion (but we all know that doesn't happen, but it makes the ending not so bad!). I think the most important thing for the characters, as well as the readers, is how you stressed that, despite not ending up together, Mac and Nikki both got to experience emotions they thought they would never feel again and they actually felt "healed" by this. What you did with the pebbles was neat. A little "souvenir" of their time together for both of them! I also liked the message from Penny! LOL! If anyone can get Mac's mind off his own problems, it's Penny and HER problems!! Thank you for writing and sharing such a great story. I'll be here, ready to read, if you decide to write another one!!

Excellently written... oh, wow...

Thank you so much for your encouragement and your applause to my work! Of course, you´ll be on board if I choose to take on the next challenge of turning a vague idea into a story!! You were a great help while I was working on this one! Thanks for your support!

But the same question goes out to you - any moment/scene that stands out for you in particular, that you especially liked?

Posted by: uniquelyjas 10 January 2022 - 11:41 AM
I tried to mention any stand-out moments/scenes as I reviewed each chapter. And I may change my mind if I read it again! I did forget to mention that I LOVED how you had Mac pulling out his guitar to finish off the story...definitely a favorite moment! I wish he would have done it more during the series!

Posted by: bluegirl 10 January 2022 - 12:43 PM
QUOTE (uniquelyjas @ 10 January 2022 - 08:41 PM)
I tried to mention any stand-out moments/scenes as I reviewed each chapter. And I may change my mind if I read it again!

I know you did, and I enjoyed that fact while reading your feedback, but now, looking back over all the chapters? Is there any particular, special, favorite moment? hmm.bmp

Posted by: Karenskatz 21 January 2022 - 01:43 PM
thumbsup.gif happy_dance.gif w00t.gif Great Story! (Couldn't find a smileyface for "APLAUSE")

Posted by: bluegirl 23 January 2022 - 11:51 AM
QUOTE (Karenskatz @ 21 January 2022 - 10:43 PM)
thumbsup.gif  happy_dance.gif  w00t.gif  Great Story!  (Couldn't find a smileyface for "APLAUSE")

I´m grateful for your 'applause'!

But I´m curious... would you like to provide me with a little more detail about what you liked while reading my story - was there a scene or chapter you enjoyed in particular? A favorite moment, so to say...

Each and every feedback will help me do even better with a possible next one... whistle.gif

Posted by: bluegirl 27 February 2022 - 10:21 AM
Hi there!

I set myself a writing challenge... I wrote a little addition to this story... but I don´t dare to post it here...

It is dedicated to all those who might be interested in reading what I imagined to happen after the end of chapter 10. After Mac claims 'the might both be late...' for their appointment with Pete. You can find it (and only recently all my other works) on AO3 (archiveofourown.org) and probably soon also on fanfiction.net - my username on both sites is MacsBluegirl.

But I gotta warn you - all of you should be familiar with my 'descriptive' writing style! It is 'adult content'! But I tried my best not to let it get smutty or vulgar. blush.gif unsure.gif whistle.gif

Powered by Invision Power Board (http://www.invisionboard.com)
© Invision Power Services (http://www.invisionpower.com)