Author's note: Coatlicue is a sequel to 'The Maze', and 'Control', which are
Sentinel/MacGyver crossovers. You may want to read the others first. I do want to extend my
thanks to: Sharon, for all her continuing support; Zadra, for helping me keep my sense of humor;
Laura P., for helping me out of the corner I had written myself into, and Tonya, for posting it and
correcting all my grammar and spelling errors (dirty job, but someone has to do it J) . If there
are any left, they are all my fault. Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. I'm borrowing them out of deep reverence, affection and respect. I will accept only personal fulfillment, and no monetary gain. If you do sue, you will not get much, and I will send over my Black Lab mix, who will stare at you pathetically for hours, and probably con you out of all your food.
Rated PG-13, mostly for language.
C. L. Combs
In a quiet corner of the lecture hall, a brown-haired young man quietly watched the animated teacher in front, waving his hands to make a point. Katie had said Mr. Sandburg gave awesome lectures. Upon first spying the attractive young teacher, he had teased her of enjoying the view more than listening. Yet the teacher had surprised him, talking both intelligently and with an energy that made you excited over the material as well. "I should have known," the young man thought with amusement. "People connected to Dad are always interesting surprises." In some ways, Sandburg reminded him of his father when he was excited over some archeologically significant find. Dad was an excellent teacher, except that Dad was too laid back to show that much energy.
His thoughts wandered to the small statue tucked in his camera case. He knew Mrs. Farrell had told him about it, but he honestly didn't think he could even pronounce it's name. The least he could do in memory of the dear woman was to learn its history. Plus, it gave him an excuse to meet the young anthropologist Dad had told him about. He hadn't even told Katie that he planned to meet Sandburg. It was pure coincident that she had a class with him.
Blair made his point, then dismissed the students. He covertly watched the stranger with Katie Donnelly take another look at him before following the young woman out. It wasn't often that Blair had visitors to his classes, and it always made him nervous. The man was about his age, maybe a little younger, maybe a student. He didn't look old enough to be a reviewer, or CIA, or have a grudge against his roommate. Maybe he was just visiting. Blair shoved the folder full of viewgraphs into his backpack, and headed out the door.
Approaching Hargrove Hall, Blair spotted Miss Donnelly and her friend up ahead. Movement to his left drew Blair's attention. Two large men in their thirties wearing dark jackets were totally out of place in the campus environment. They were approaching Miss Donnelly and her friend. An uneasy feeling grew in Blair as he picked up his pace.
"This is the Social Sciences building, where Mr. Sandburg's office is." Katie waved her hand like a tour guide. As the young man turned to comment, huge hairy arms grabbed her. Before he could help, he was grabbed from behind and roughly slammed into a cement planter.
Witnessing the struggle, Blair started to run. "Get away from them!" he yelled as he saw the taller one empty a syringe into the guy's neck. As the young man started to slump, Blair swung his backpack, loaded with books, into the goon's face. The man howled, holding his nose. The second, realizing they were attracting attention, dropped the struggling, crying girl on the steps. Both ran.
"Call campus 911!" Blair shouted at students drawn to the commotion. Sobbing hysterically, Katie crawled over to the young man laying by the planter. Blair knelt beside them.
"Sean? Sean? Can you hear me?" Katie cried, cradling his head in her lap.
"Easy, Katie," Blair soothed. Gently checking her friend over, Blair pulled off his flannel shirt, and used it to apply pressure to a large, bleeding gash in his left arm. He glanced at the girl next to him, "Are you okay?"
Through the tears, Katie whimpered, "My, my ankle hurts."
"Okay, try not to move it until someone can look at it." Blair glanced back down, "Who is he?"
"Like, like my brother, " the girl hiccuped. "My parents took him in when his mom died."
"He's going to be okay, Katie." Blair tried to reassure her. "Do you know what they wanted?"
Katie shook her head. "Se-Sean is a photo journalist, but, but, hiccup, he's off-off assignment now. We, we were going to, to talk with you sniffle. He, he inherited this hiccup ugly statue from an old neighbor lady."
At that moment, the EMTs arrived, followed closely by Suzanne Tomacki. Blair gave the medics all the information he had, and backed up. So, they were coming to talk with him before they were attacked. Studying the unconscious young man, Blair realized he seemed familiar. "I'd better follow up on this," Blair thought to himself. That was when Suzanne approached him.
Jim Ellison's tension eased when he spotted his roommate sitting in the waiting room uninjured. Suzanne had told him Blair was okay, but after having spent hours worrying over his friend in hospitals, Jim felt better seeing it with his own eyes.
Removing the trace of relief from his face, Jim approached him. "Hey, Blair."
Blair looked up, and smilingly nodded his head in greeting, "Hi Jim. Thanks for coming."
"Well, since Suzanne believes this may be an attempted kidnapping, we've been called in on the case. Simon should be here soon." Then Jim stared down at Blair, forcing a stern look on his face, "Mind telling me what happen?"
Blair quickly filled him in on all that he knew. Jim could only shake his head, envisioning his slim friend scaring off two muscle men with only his backpack. Blair's unthinking courage sometimes scared him. Pushing back his thoughts, Jim asked, "Why are you waiting here?"
"The doctor is still in with the guy who was attacked. They gave Katie a sedative after wrapping her ankle, so I thought maybe he might appreciate seeing a semi-familiar face when he wakes up." Blair knew how disorienting waking up in a hospital bed could be.
Before Jim could respond, the doctor stepped out and told Blair he could go in. Jim quickly showed the doctor his badge. "I'm Detective Ellison. How is he?"
"Mr. Malloy has suffered various contusions and a gashed left forearm that required seventeen stitches. He is currently sleeping off the drug administered to him during the attack, but we feel he should wake up in the next half hour. We plan to send him home soon after that. You can get his statement then."
Jim thanked him, then quietly pulled back the curtain to glance in. Blair was settling down in the chair next to the bed, an anthropology journal in his hands. Malloy was still sleeping soundly. Something about the young man's face did seem familiar, but like Blair, Jim couldn't place it.
Turning, Jim walked down to the phone bank. Within minutes, he had Suzanne Tomacki on the line, and quickly updated her on the campus victims' injuries. "Do you have any more information on the attack?"
"Nothing much. I have several eye witness descriptions of the two assailants, but they either conflict or are very vague. At the moment, I'm going with Blair's, due to his police experience."
"What do you have on the victims?"
"Well, Miss Kathryn Donnelly is the only child of a columnist and a Seattle reporter, who are divorced. Neither seem rich enough to be ransom targets. I suppose one possibility may be an abduction connected with their work. It would be a good question to ask them."
"The young man is a Mr. Sean A. Malloy. I have managed to track down the news service who employs him. His boss says he shows great promise, tackling difficult international assignments with good results, especially if they deal with human rights. She said he isn't working on anything at the moment, however."
Jim glanced back at the curtain. "How about family?"
"All we have is a card in his wallet with an emergency number. The hospital called that, and left a message. His boss said she has the same emergency number. She believes his father travels a lot."
Jim frowned. "No mention of the Donnellys?"
"Nothing, only Blair thought there was a connection. Just keep me posted." Jim hung up the phone, puzzled. If Malloy was 'like a brother' to Miss Donnelly, why didn't he have either of her parents listed as an emergency contact? And why did the kid seem so familiar?
Blair glanced up when the patient began to move. Disoriented brown eyes gazed in confusion at the room, then settled on him, blinking.
Giving him his best reassuring smile, Blair answered the question in his eyes. "It's okay. You're in the hospital. I'm..."
"Sandburg," the young man finished hoarsely. "I remember." Still blinking, Malloy was glancing around the room again when he suddenly sat up. "Katie!"
"She's okay, she's okay." Blair gently soothed. "She has a cracked ankle bone from falling on the stairs, but she is okay. The doctors gave her something so she could sleep."
Malloy closed his eyes again, and released a deep breath. Gingerly, he cradled his arm as he shifted back into the bed.
"Like some water?" Blair offered.
Malloy opened his eyes again, and faintly smiled. "Yeah, thanks."
Blair poured the water, trying to grasp why the smile seemed so familiar. Handing the glass to Malloy, Blair decided to start a conversation. "Katie said you had a statue you wanted me to see?"
Malloy took a sip through the straw, giving Blair a cautious look. "Yeah, but I didn't tell her the statue was more of an excuse to meet you."
Puzzled, Blair tried to read the other man's expression, who in turn seemed to be waiting for Blair's reaction. "Why?"
"Oh, Dad had mentioned you," Malloy explained with a shrug, "so since I was going to be in town, I thought I'd look you up. Then I inherited the statue, and Dad had said you knew about Central and South American cultures. So I thought I'd see if you knew anything about the Aztec culture."
Blair was struggling to recall if he had met an older man named Malloy. Was that why Sean looked familiar? "Yeah, I know a little..." Before Blair could continue, voices from the hall intruded.
"Is my baby girl going to be all right?" A woman's voice asked anxiously.
"What I want to know is, why does the University allow that type of person on campus to attack helpless girls!" A deeper voice demanded.
"Damn," Malloy swore softly. He struggled to climb out of bed.
"Hey, chill man," Blair tried to stop him. "You shouldn't be trying to walk around before the doctor checks you out."
"That's Katie's parents out there. They hate each other's guts, can be very demanding and rude, and will probably have the whole hospital in an uproar if I don't try to calm them down."
"What do you mean Sean is here? Why wasn't I notified?" The female voice rose.
Blair shifted gears, and helped Malloy out of bed.
Outside, Jim was seated next to the curtain, quietly watching the exchange between the hospital staff, his captain Simon Banks, and Miss Donnelly's parents. He had been hearing Ms. Jordan whine worriedly about her daughter, Mr. Donnelly grumbling about hospital expenses and whether they could sue, and the couple taking potshots at each other all the way from the lobby. He was beginning to understand young Malloy's reluctance in contacting them.
"I believe an emergency number for the young man was called," the nurse told them anxiously, trying desperately to quiet them down.
'No one called me!" Ms. Jordan exclaimed.
The door opened, and Malloy, followed by Blair, stepped out. "I'm fine, Maggie."
"Oh, you poor baby! What number did you stupid people call?"
"Number?" Malloy repeated, then Jim saw a light turn on. "Oh, man, you called my Dad?"
"You had them call your FATHER!" Ms. Jordan exclaimed.
"Your father never paid a dime to support you. We raised you." Mr. Donnelly declared self-righteously.
"Mom's life insurance supported me," Malloy refuted softly, but Jim could hear the steel in his voice. "Dad didn't know about me then."
Simon was disliking this situation more by the minute. "Why don't we sit down, and discuss the matter at hand?"
"Well, your FATHER knows about you now, so where is he?" Donnelly continued, ignoring Banks.
"Sam's father is on a plane over the Atlantic as we speak. He should be here in the morning," a quietly confident voice replied. Turning in mass, everyone focused their attention on the man behind them.
"Mr. Thornton?" Simon called in confusion, walking towards him. Jim and Blair glanced at each other as the pieces fell into place. Sean A. Malloy, a photojournalist, whose father traveled a lot, knew Pete Thornton, and had mentioned Blair. Malloy had to be MacGyver's son, Sam. Glancing back at the young man, Jim realized it was the resemblance to Mac that Blair and he couldn't place.
The same young man who was currently staring at Thornton with consternation. "Oh, man, you called him in Greece? Dad had been looking forward to that dig with Prof. Atticus and Dr. Carson for months."
Pete gently smiled back in the direction of Sam's voice. "He worries about you, Sam. Besides, Mac hadn't left Britain yet."
"Oh, man," Sam muttered. He was even paler now than when he had first stepped out of his room, and Jim was becoming concerned.
"Well, you will return to the hotel with me in the meantime," Donnelly said huffily.
"With YOU? He will return WITH ME..." Ms. Jordan started.
"Actually," Blair piped in, feeling the growing tension in Sam, "Sam has accepted my invitation to stay at our place." Sam secretly shot Blair a grateful look.
"WHAT!" Ms. Jordan exclaimed.
"That's right," Jim cut in, supporting the two younger men. "Since we don't know the motive behind the attack, Sam will be safer staying with us." And probably get a lot more rest.
"Exactly WHO are YOU?" Mr. Donnelly demanded.
"Detective Ellison works for me," Simon informed him forcefully. "Mr. Sandburg, " as Simon gestured towards Blair, " is the university teacher who rescued your daughter and Mr. Malloy. He also works as a consultant for my department. Mr. Malloy will be perfectly safe with them for the night." Simon ushered the couple out of the waiting area.
Once they were out of earshot, Sam turned to Blair and Jim. "Thanks. You do not know how much I appreciate this."
"No sweat," Blair gave him a smile. "Sounded like you needed a way out."
"And I meant it about keeping an eye on you, until we know more," Jim added. He glanced around. "Let's get you checked out, and off your feet."
"I'll go find the doctor," Blair volunteered as he trotted down the hall.
"And I am glad to hear you are in capable hands," Pete Thornton smiled. He held out his hand in Jim's direction, "I'm Pete Thornton. You must be the Det. Ellison I've heard so much about."
Jim shook his hand. "Yes, but you can call me Jim. Blair and Simon have mentioned you, too." Gently, Jim laid his hands on both Pete's and Sam's shoulders. "Why don't you escort Sam back into his bed, before he gets in trouble from the doctor?"
Pete chuckled, as Sam tucked his arm around Pete's, and ducked back behind the curtain. Jim glanced around the hall again, but kept his hearing focused on them.
"Sam, do you think this was Murdoc?" Jim frowned as he noted the stress in Thornton's voice.
"No. From what Dad has said, Murdoc's style is too elaborate to include an attack by two goons."
Thornton's heartbeat eased, and the two discussed other things. Jim relaxed his focus. He made a mental note to find out who Murdoc was.
Jim glanced over the rail in his room as he finished pulling on his sweatshirt. Sam was falling sleep on the couch, arm cradled against his chest, while Blair was changing sheets in his room. The sounds of Sam's steady breathing and Blair's activity were comforting to him, knowing they were safe. While that feeling towards Blair was familiar, why did Jim feel so protective of Sam? Was it the resemblance to MacGyver? Jim admitted that he felt a great debt to the older man. Yet, it had been there before Jim had connected Malloy to Mac. Was that something that made Jim so comfortable with Mac also present in his son?
Wisps of memory from the cave again taunted him. During the time his senses were heightened by a drug to dangerous levels, Jim felt he had known why he instinctively trusted MacGyver. Yet he couldn't seem to grasp it now, even with Blair's help.
He glanced back down to Sam. Why had someone tried to abduct him? Since it was Sam who had been injected with the knockout drug, it was probable that he was the intended victim, not Katie. Did it have to do with his work as a journalist, or his father's work? Jim worried enough about Blair getting fallout for being his friend - how much worse would it be with a son? Remembering Simon's face when Kincaid had Daryl hung out a window answered that question.
From what little MacGyver had said about Sam, Jim had had the impression they were close. It surprised him when Sam mentioned he had only found Mac five years ago. Yet the bond Sam felt for his father had been evident in his voice, and in his defense of Mac at the hospital. Jim paused a moment, wondering what it would be like to have a father you could be close to.
Walking out of his room, Blair proclaimed, "All set!"
Sam gave him a sleepy frown from the couch, "I didn't mean to kick you out of your bed."
Blair shrugged as he headed for the kitchen. "No prob. You are going to be sore enough tomorrow without trying to cram onto the couch all night. I'm shorter, it won't be as bad for me. You hungry?"
Chuckling at the speed with which Blair talked, Sam drawled, "Yeah, a little."
"Then I'll get to work on supper."
Sam heaved himself off the couch and followed Blair. Blair turned back, "You don't have to help. Catch some Zs."
Sam shook his head. "If I do that, I'll never get to sleep tonight." Sam pulled a chair out and sat so he could watch Blair work.
Blair shrugged his shoulders, and filled up a pot. "Okay. So, how did you get nicknamed Sam?"
"It's my initials, S-A-M. I decided I liked it better than Sean, so I use it. Only the Donnellys still call me Sean."
"What does the 'A' stand for?" Jim asked as he descended the stairs.
Sam smiled. "Something awful."
Blair narrowed his eyes in puzzlement as he laid out the chopping board. "Come on. It can't be that bad."
"Oh, yes it can."
"Then how did you get blessed with it?" Jim asked.
"Mom loved it," Sam answered darkly. "Dad said if he had been around, he would have stopped her, but I rather doubt he could have."
"Why would Mac have stopped her?" Blair asked, wondering what name could be so bad.
Sam chuckled, "Because he avoids using it himself."
"Ah," Jim replied, "It's Mac's middle name."
"No, his first."
"His first?" Blair repeated.
Then he and Jim looked at each other, realizing they had never heard Mac's first name. Seeing their faces, Sam laughed. "Man, is he good, or what? I suspect over three quarters of his friends don't know it. I'm not even sure Pete knows it."
A loud knock at the door interrupted their laughter. "Who's there?" Jim called as he walked towards the door.
Jim smiled. He already knew that from the lingering smell of Simon's cigars, but wanted to keep up pretenses around Sam. He opened the door.
Simon ushered Pete Thornton in, then stared in pretend horror to see Blair in the kitchen. "You're letting him cook again?"
"Hey!" Blair called back, "For that, I might not let you eat."
Simon sniffed the air. "Are you cooking some of that health food garbage?"
Jim, taking Sam's bags from Pete, tried not to smile as a worried look passed across Sam's face.
"Well, it's pasta, and a salad. Afraid it will lower your blood pressure too much?"
"I had the marinara sauce last week, Simon. I can vouch for it," Jim added, more for Sam's benefit than his friend.
"Okay, I guess I'll stay," Simon replied with a smile, hanging Pete's coat on the hooks by the door. "As long as you are going easy with the ostrich."
Sam's face still looked worried. "Ah, Blair, what do you guys eat for breakfast?"
Puzzled, Blair replied, "Oh, eggs and toast, bagels sometimes. Donuts if Jim bought them. Why?"
As Sam tried to form a polite reply, Pete chuckled heartily. "Afraid you'd get one of Mac's healthy breakfast drinks?"
"Have you ever TRIED one of them?" Sam asked. He made a face and shuddered. "Even his bread is organically-grown and multi-grain. After a week of Dad's healthy vegetarian cooking, Mickey D's starts looking like paradise." Sam took Pete's arm, and walked with him to the couch.
Jim smiled. "I know that feeling. I have never enjoyed anything more than my first Big Mac after Peru." He walked over to join Simon, Pete and Sam in the living room.
"You missed McDonald's, Jim?" Blair called in amazement as he checked the pasta.
"After 18 months in the jungle, even you would miss grease," Jim said with a chuckle. He then turned serious. "Sam, do you have any idea who would want to abduct you?"
Eyes reflecting his memory search, Sam frowned a moment and responded, "No. I admit there are a few people back in Bosnia who aren't thrilled with me, but not enough to try anything while I'm in the States. Nor am I working on anything at the moment."
Jim frowned. That wasn't much more than what Suzanne had given him.
"Right now, I have my people back at Phoenix checking Mac's background for anyone holding a grudge," Pete inserted, anticipating Ellison's next question.
Did that include the elaborate Murdoc? "Any luck?"
Pete sighed. "Not so far, but I'm afraid between the DXS and Phoenix, Mac's record is rather long. We are still checking."
Simon added, "My talk with Miss Donnelly's parents didn't reveal anything, either. Neither was able to think of anyone who would attack their daughter. Nor did they think this could be anything more than random violence."
Jim shook his head. "That wouldn't make sense. The intent seems more like an abduction than a robbery."
Everyone paused a moment, thinking over the attack. Jim noticed a faint mix of confused unease slip over Sam's features, emotions he had seen on Blair's face in the past. Before he could say anything to the young man, Blair called out, "Dinner's ready!"
As Jim escorted Simon and Pete to the door after supper, Sam plopped on the couch. Closing his eyes, he again tried to search his mind for a reason to abduct him. Again, he came up empty. He felt guilty dragging his hard-working father back across the Atlantic when he wasn't even sure what was going on. Dad needed a vacation with good friends, especially the pretty Dr. Kelly Carson.
"How are you doing?" Blair asked with concern as he sat two cups of tea on the coffee table.
Sam opened his eyes and turned towards him as Blair sat on the other end of the couch. "Okay. Just wish I could give Jim more to go on."
Blair shrugged his shoulders. "Don't worry. Jim's pretty good at picking up clues out of thin air." Literally. "So, didn't Katie say something about a statue you wanted to show me?"
Sam smiled. "Yeah, it's in my camera case."
Blair jumped up, trotting over to where Jim had placed Sam's gear by his bedroom door. Finding the camera case, he picked it up and handed it to Sam. Sam smiled, thinking to himself, "And Dad thinks I'm energetic?" He clicked open the lock, and pulled out an eight-inch statue.
Blair glanced at it as he sat on the floor next to Sam. "That looks like Coatlicue."
"Who?" Jim asked as he sat in a chair across from them.
Sam chuckled, "I think those were my exact words to Mrs. Farrell when she said the name."
"Who's Mrs. Farrell?" Blair asked as he accepted the stone statue from Sam.
"She was an old neighbor lady of mine and the Donnellys when we were in Chicago. When their bickering got nasty, I'd sneak over to her garden for some quiet." Eyes distant, Sam smiled fondly, thinking of the sharp old lady who had a heart of gold. "Looking back, I realize she must have figured out what was going on, because she never questioned why I was there. She'd bring out whatever she had just baked, and we'd talk about the world. Her husband had been an archeologist and use to take her on all his digs. Then, when I wasn't quite 17, the Donnelly's separated, and headed for different parts of the country. I felt like excess baggage, and really didn't want to leave high school just before my senior year. So, Mrs. Farrell made me an offer- if I would mow the lawn, shovel snow, and fix things around her house, she'd let me stay in the room above the garage." Sam felt a familiar surge of gratitude. "It was great. I helped her out, and I actually had a place to stay until I was done with school. Afterwards, I'd always keep in touch with her during my travels, sending letters and postcards and such."
"Then the statue belongs to her?" Jim asked.
"Did," Sam replied sadly. "She died last month, just before I got back from assignment. She left it and a cabin near here to me in her will."
Blair glanced up sharply from his examination of the statue, hearing the faint tones of grief in Sam's voice. "I'm sorry."
"Thanks." Sam replied.
Feeling the weight in the air, Jim turned the conversation back to the original topic. "Okay, Chief, what is the name of that thing again?" He walked over to take a better look.
"Coatlicue, the old earth goddess of Aztec myth. See the snakes that form her skirt, " Blair pointed out to Sam and Jim, "her clawed feet for eating the dead, and her bare breasts. She was considered the mother of the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli."
"Who?" Jim and Sam asked together.
Blair smiled and chuckled. "Huitzilopochtli. He was the major Aztec warrior god who fought the night so the sun could rise. The Aztec's performed human sacrifices to him so that the sun would rise each morning."
"Sounds pretty gruesome," Jim commented, peering over Blair's shoulder at the stone figure in his hands, noting the necklace of severed hands and heads.
"Yeah," Blair smiled broadly, handing the statue to Jim so he could study it further. "Just the kind of tales Daryl would love."
"Daryl?" Sam asked.
"Simon's teenager. He's at that age where the more gore in the story, the better."
"An age I don't think you ever got over," Jim observed as he ran his fingers over the stone. Something didn't feel quite right.
"So," Sam stated thoughtfully, "the Aztecs feared the sun wouldn't rise again if they didn't do their 'cut-out-pumping-hearts' gig?"
Blair nodded. "In their culture, blood was the 'sacred liquor'. Giving your life for sacrifice was consider the most highest ..."
Screech Blair and Sam turned to Jim, who was staring numbly at the statue, now laying in two pieces in his hands.
"What did you do?!?" Blair asked, shocked.
"I just thought I felt a seam, that's all," Jim defended himself, stunned that it had come apart.
"Here I thought it was pretty solid," Sam commented reassuringly, gently pulling the feet from Jim's hands. He turned it from side to side, "You know, it looks like it was SUPPOSE to slip off."
Blair picked up the upper half to study it. "You're right. It does look like it was made that way."
Jim breathed a sigh of relief. He had been afraid that he had destroyed Sam's heirloom. Suddenly, his attention was drawn to the piece in Blair's hand. "What's this?" Jim turned the smooth end towards him, then ran a sensitive fingertip over the slight opening. "Feels like there is some paper in here."
"What?" Sam queried, turning his attention to the piece Blair held.
Jim took the upper half back from Blair. As Sam and Blair watched, he grasped the end, and carefully pulled the paper out using his fingernails.
"Well, that looks too modern to be Aztec," Blair commented as Jim gently unrolled the yellowing paper.
"Or else the Aztecs could foretell the future," Jim added. He handed the paper to Sam, "It is addressed to you."
"What!" Sam repeated. Pulling the roll open with his fingers, Sam read the suddenly familiar handwriting.
You have been such a dear friend, enlivening my later years with your tales of travel and adventure. With your strong sense of justice, I hope you can do one last thing for me, to set right a wrong my husband committed, and I didn't have the heart to correct. Find the map under Huitzilopochtli's sister, and follow.
S. E. Farrell
Stunned, Sam handed the paper back to Jim, who promptly read it, with Blair reading it over his shoulder. Jim looked back at Sam. "Do you know what she is talking about?"
Sam shook his head. "Not the slightest. I have no idea what her husband might have done, or who the sister is I'm suppose to find."
Blair thought for a moment. "Well, Huitzilopochtli's siblings were the moon and stars. We can talk to Dr. Trujillo, Rainier's Aztec expert, and see what more we can find out."
"We can check into it tomorrow, while Simon and Mr. Thornton do more digging into today's incident," Jim stated. He noticed the weariness creeping into Sam's eyes. He gently slapped Sam on the leg. "Get some rest, and maybe you'll remember something more in the morning."
Somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean
MacGyver closed his burning eyes and tilted his head back, waiting for the numbers of a Cascade hotel room to click through. Too many images of past foes trying to hurt his son had made sleep impossible for him during the flight. Soon, a warm, familiar voice answered.
"Hi Pete, it's Mac," Mac responded.
"I figured it was you. First off, Sam is fine."
Feeling a bit of tension ease, Mac wearily pointed out, "The message was from a hospital, Pete."
"Yes, well someone did bang him around a little, and injected him with a tranquilizer. Now that the doctor has stitched up his arm and the drug wore off, he's fine."
"Just a small gash on his arm. It's a bit sore, but he is fine." Mac finally released the rest of the breath he had been holding since getting the call.
"By the way, he and Miss Donnelly were rescued by an anthropology teaching fellow at Rainier." Pete waited.
Mac's eyes blinked open. "Blair?" he asked incredulously.
Pete chuckled at the reaction. "Yes, Blair Sandburg. Apparently, he saw the attack, ran up yelling, hit the man after Sam with his backpack, and scared them off."
"Blair's okay?" Mac knew Blair was shorter and lighter than Sam.
"Blair is fine. After Sam was released from the hospital, Blair and Jim Ellison invited him to stay at their place. I just returned from having supper over there."
Another bit of tension eased off. Mac couldn't think of anyone else he'd rather have protecting his son than Ellison with his sentinel abilities. Though if someone from his past was after Sam, he'd prefer that Blair wasn't in the middle of it, too. "Any leads on who is after Sam?"
"None at the moment, unfortunately. The Phoenix resources haven't turned up anything yet. Ellison and Banks are covering all the local bases."
Fingers rubbing his tired eyes, Mac sighed. Hearing the soft noise, Pete reassured him, "Sam is safe for now, Mac. I know it is impossible to not worry, but try to get some sleep. Sam already feels guilty about dragging you away from your dig. He doesn't need to see you looking like death warmed over as well."
Mac sighed again. "I'll give it a shot."
"Just do it. Ellison strikes me as very competent, and I'm sure Sam is safe with him. You can see for yourself in the morning. "
"I know, I know."
"Well, then, get some sleep, and keep an eye out for yourself until we know what is going on, okay?"
A faint smile surfaced on Mac's face at his friend's mothering. "Okay, Pete. Goodnight."
Mac leaned back in his seat, closing his eyes once more.
Cascade, WA, Ellison's loft
"They are on your desk?... All right, Sam and I will meet you there after your meeting... See you later." Jim hung up the phone as Sam wandered stiffly out of the bathroom, pulling on a sweatshirt. Jim poured a cup of coffee.
"Was that Blair?" Sam asked, gratefully accepting the cup.
"Yeah, he has an early meeting at the University this morning. However, he did leave you this..." Jim pulled a plate from the warm oven.
"Awesome, eggs," Sam grinned, accepting the plate and sniffing the wonderful smells.
"Better than your Dad's breakfast?" Jim smirked.
"Anything that doesn't come out of a blender is better than Dad's," Sam replied. "Blair is a great cook."
Jim shrugged. "One of the reasons I keep him around. As soon as you are done there, let's head for the University."
As Sam dug into his breakfast, Jim quickly checked in with Simon, Thornton, and Suzanne. It was Suzanne's news that grabbed his attention. "Someone broke into Katie Donnelly's dorm room last night."
Jim quickly glanced at Sam, and asked, "Robbery?" Sam immediately turned his full attention to Jim.
"Not sure. A roommate and her football-player boyfriend interrupted them, and they escaped. It appears that the place was searched, but nothing taken. Miss Donnelly herself stayed with her mother at the Marriot last night. In addition, the car Mr. Malloy rented was also broken into. We will need him to come down and tell us if anything was stolen."
Jim exchanged looks with Sam. "We are heading that way right now. Will meet you in 30 minutes. And pass this information onto Banks." He clicked off the phone, then turned and repeated what Suzanne had told him.
Sam shook his head, staring into the cup of coffee in his hands. "The only thing of value I own is my camera equipment, which Pete brought to me. " He lifted his eyes to meet Jim's. "I had planned to sleep on Katie's couch last night."
The increasing confusion and concern was easy to read in the brown eyes. Jim gently punched his shoulder. "Don't worry. We'll figure this out."
But how? So far, no one had any leads. Jim found himself staring at the little statue sitting on the coffee table. "Katie Donnelly was right," he thought. "That is one ugly statue. " Thinking back on the note, Jim briefly wondered if Sam's former benefactor might have inadvertently dropped trouble into the young man's lap. Shoving the question aside for the moment, Jim picked up his keys. "Ready?" he asked.
Sam quickly downed the last of his coffee, and trotted over to the couch to pick up his camera case, pausing to slide the statue into it.
As they walked towards the truck, Jim caught the sound of heavy, running feet. Turning, he spied two muscular men matching Blair's descriptions. "GET IN THE TRUCK!" Jim yelled at Sam, tossing him the keys. Jim immediately turned to face the approaching men. The larger one threw a punch, which Jim quickly deflected and threw one of his own. Soon, they were rolling on the ground, fighting.
The other chased after Sam. Quickly glancing around, Sam spied a canopy shading a store window. As the goon reached him, Sam swung his camera case. As the strap wrapped itself around the metal pole, Sam gave a sharp tug. With a snap, the pole was yanked out of it's socket, dropping the heavy canvas and frame on the man chasing him.
Behind him, Jim managed to knock out the larger man, then sprung to his feet to search for Sam. Dashing to the fallen canopy, Jim yanked the other man out, and handcuffed him. Sam released a sigh of relief, when again they heard approaching footsteps.
"SAM!" Turning, they spotted Mac running down the sidewalk.
"Hey Dad," Sam called back with a sheepish grin.
Mac pulled him in for a quick, tight hug, then pulled back, wrapping a hand around Sam's neck to study his son's face. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Dad. Just be careful of the arm, okay?"
Mac looked over Sam's shoulder to Jim. "You?"
Jim smiled. "Under control." He flipped open his cell phone to call Simon, watching Mac give his son another hug, noting the relief on Mac's tired face. He missed the camera taking pictures across the street.
Hargrove Hall, Rainier University Campus
"Well, just shift piles around, and make yourselves at home," Ellison threw over his shoulder as they entered Blair's office. The smell of coffee from the pot Blair left brewing drew him across the room.
Sam looked around the storage room Blair called his office, then caught his father's eye. "This looks even worse than your place when you are working on a project."
Mac glared at him playfully as he picked up a stack of folders from a chair. "Well, I doubt Blair has anything in here that could blow up."
Jim gave him a startled glance, but decided he didn't want to pursue it. Sam snagged the chair in front of Blair's desk, and started shifting through the books and printouts Blair had left there.
Jim handed Sam a cup of coffee. "I can't guarantee the last time Blair washed these cups."
"Yesterday morning," Blair replied as he entered. His face lightened when he saw Mac. "Hi Mac! When did you get in?"
"Couple hours ago," Mac replied, smiling wearily in greeting.
Blair quietly studied him as he dropped off his notes and accepted a cup of coffee from Jim. Weariness darkened Mac's eyes, and lines deepened across his face. "Probably didn't sleep much on his marathon trip across an ocean and a continent," Blair thought silently to himself. He knew Naomi would probably do the same thing if he was in trouble, except that she was almost impossible to reach. Which often was a blessing in disguise, since Jim had never connected with her during his Golden OD, or his gunshot wound. Blair prayed Naomi would never hear about either of those misadventures, and understood Sam's reluctance in having Mac contacted. "Well, what have you guys been doing this morning?" He wasn't expecting the story Jim launched into.
"....so, Simon has those two in interrogation, and promises he'll call me when he knows something," Jim finished.
Blair noticed that in spite of the bad guys being in custody, Jim had not dropped his guard. "He still thinks Sam might be in danger," he thought. A glance at Mac seemed to indicate that he was of the same opinion as well. Sam, however, was relaxed and only half-listening as he read one of the books Blair had found. "So, until we know more, what's on the game plan?" Blair asked.
Jim shrugged. "Figured we might as well work on Mrs. Farrell's puzzle." Blair again narrowed his eyes at Jim, realizing Jim thought the message might be tied in.
"Well, I think Huitzi - what'sits sister, the moon goddess, might be a good candidate," Sam replied, reentering the conversation.
Mac frowned a moment in thought. "You mean, Coyolxauhqui?" he asked, giving his son a puzzled glance.
"So that is how you pronounce it," Sam stated thoughtfully. He smiled at his father. "Yes, Dad, I can do research. Though it helps when Blair leaves a bookmarker." Blair chuckled.
"So, who is...?" Jim hinted.
Blair chuckled again. "Coyolxauhqui. She is the sister who tried to murder Huitzilopochtli before he was born, and who he defeats every night so the sun can come up. The Aztecs believed that she was a very evil sorceress, who spoke to all the centipedes and spiders and other low-lifes."
Jim leaned over Sam's shoulder to study the picture. "She doesn't look like much of a threat," he remarked. "She looks chopped up."
"Oh, that is the relief of the defeated Coyolxauhqui uncovered when they accidentally found the Great Temple in 1978," Blair explained. "It was 11 feet in diameter, and was used to catch the sacrificed bodies after the priests cut out the heart in front of the Huitzilopochtli shrine."
"Nice people," Jim commented dryly. "By relief, you mean like a carving or something raised on a flat surface, right?"
Jim turned back to the book. "Why do you think she is it, Sam?"
"I think I remember seeing a stone disc replica on the mantle in her cabin," Sam answered, trying to clarify the hazy memory in his mind.
"The one near here?" Jim asked.
"Yeah, the one she left me."
"Sounds like we need to take a trip," Jim stated thoughtfully.
Everyone nodded in agreement, then turned as one at a knock on the door. Blair chuckled nervously, glancing at Jim. Jim had focused briefly on the voices outside, then gave Blair a faint and reluctant nod. Blair opened the door.
"Hi Mr. Sandburg, " Katie greeted him, hobbling in on crutches.
"Hi Katie," Blair returned, then extended a greeting to her mother, who followed her in.
Sam immediately stood up, and gave his almost sister a hug. "Sorry about the ankle, squirt," he whispered in her ear.
"Not your fault," Katie whispered back. "Just glad they didn't get you."
"Hi Maggie," Sam continued, as he held out the chair he had been sitting in for Katie.
Ms. Jordan studied her former ward. "Well, you don't look too worse for wear."
Sam smiled. "I'm fine," he said for the umpteenth time, giving her a hug.
Ms. Jordan pulled back. "Did your FATHER show up?" she asked sarcastically. Blair shifted his stance as he debated on defending his weary friend, while Jim closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead. Katie had already noticed the fourth man in the room, and rolled her eyes at her dense mother as she realized his identity.
Mac took a deep breath, walked over, and extended his hand. "Hello, Ms. Jordan. I'm MacGyver, Sam's father."
Sam smiled slyly as Maggie, for once in her life, was left speechless at the sudden appearance of Sam's attractive father.
When Katie realized her mom wasn't responding, she smiled winningly at Mac and extended her hand. "Hello, I'm Katie Donnelly. Sean's told me a lot about you."
Mac returned her smile, and took her hand. "He has told me about you too, Katie. I hope that cast won't make things too awkward for you during your first semester."
Katie shook her head. "No, I've already had a few offers to help me," she said with a mischievous grin.
Before Sam could enter big brother mode and ask who, Ms. Jordan found her voice. "Speaking of which, I want to escort her to her French class." She turned to Ellison. "Detective, I understand you caught the creeps who hurt my daughter?"
"Yes, ma'am," Jim responded politely.
"Good, then this is over." Ms Jordan turned to Sam. "Call me more often."
As Sam replied, "Yes, Maggie," she turned and ushered her daughter out the door.
Across town, a man paced back and forth, speaking excitedly in a Spanish accent. "What do you mean they did not get the boy! How hard is it to get one, single, unarmed young man?"
"He seems to be a well-protected young man." The tall man quietly standing in front of him commented.
"Did you get the pictures of these 'protectors'?"
"Yes, and two have been identified." The tall man spread out the pictures he had taken that morning. "This one is Blair Sandburg. He is a teaching fellow in anthropology. I suspect it was he that young Malloy came to see."
"Anthropology! I want an eye on him as well."
"Already taken care of, though it may get interesting. He also works as a police observer with this man, a Detective James Ellison. Ellison is well-known for being one of the city's best police detectives. He was the one who captured Hanks and Edguardo this morning."
The short man swore in Spanish. "Why is he involved? Because of the anthropologist?"
"Most likely, since the men not only work together, but Sandburg rents a room from Ellison."
Suddenly, the short man pulled out one of the pictures and stared at it. The tall man commented. "He is a new player, who just showed up this morning. I haven't identified him yet."
"Well I can identify him, and he is trouble! That is MacGyver, former DXS agent, troubleshooter for Phoenix, amateur archeologist, and all around pain in the rear! What is he doing here? Is he associated with the anthropologist?"
"Apparently he is associated with young Malloy," the tall man replied hesitantly, pulling out a picture of MacGyver hugging Malloy.
The short man paused, staring at the picture, then pulling out two more pictures of full-face views of MacGyver and Malloy. "Damn it, they are related!" he roared.
"What do you wish to do now?" the tall man asked quietly.
The short man resumed his vicious pacing. After a few tense moments, he decided, "Follow them for now. Let MacGyver help Malloy find the Farrell treasury. Then we can take it from them."
Outskirts of Cascade
Quietly from the back seat of the rented Jeep Cherokee, Blair and Sam gently draped a blanket over the sleeping MacGyver in the front seat. Jim glanced over from the driver's seat to check their progress. They had barely traveled a block from the loft before Mac had nodded off.
Sam gave his father another worried look, and sat back down. "Man, I hate doing this to him."
Blair finished clicking his seatbelt closed. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I hate worrying my Mom, too. And she doesn't even know the half of it."
Sam chuckled. "Your police work gets a little dangerous?"
Blair snorted. "A lot, sometimes. I just don't tell her. The one time Naomi realized I might be in a little bit of danger, she just about tore Jim and Simon into pieces. "
Sam sighed. "Must be nice, having your Mom around to worry."
"What happened?" Blair asked, then realized that wasn't very tactful. "I mean, if you don't mind talking about it."
"She was killed by the Chinese army when I was nine. The Donnellys took me in after I had hiked back to Beijing."
Jim, who had been listening, glanced into the rearview mirror in concern, which Blair voiced. "Hiked back? You mean through Communist China?"
"Yep." A small twinkle slipped into the somber eyes when Sam turned to Blair, "Actually, that was Dad's reaction when I told him."
"I can imagine, " Jim thought silently, wondering how a grief-stricken, white American kid managed to travel through China on his own, and how he would feel if it was his son.
"Why didn't you contact Mac when you got back to the States?" Blair asked.
"Mom never told me his name. All I had was a locket with her picture and my father's in it. It wasn't much to go on, and the Donnellys weren't very helpful. They always figured there was something wrong with him, so they discouraged me from trying. It was pure chance I ran into him."
Blair's eyes turned introspective. "At least you had more to go on than I do," he commented quietly.
Sam's eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "What do you mean?"
Blair shrugged his shoulders, debating on whether to continue. When Sam leaned over to catch his eye, Blair realized here was one person who might understand. "All Naomi will tell me is that there is a list of candidates," he replied, turning his face towards the window for a moment. "Not exactly encouraging," he barely breathed.
Sam reached over, and squeezed his shoulder. "No man, not at all." They sat a moment in silence.
Jim glanced at Blair this time, his dishearten whisper cutting through him. He had suspected Blair wasn't as cavalier about his paternity as he pretended. Glancing ahead, he noticed the sign for the turnoff. "Hey, do one of you guys have the map?" he called softly.
Blair unzipped his backpack. "It is in here somewhere."
"Sam, do you know how to read a map?" Stupid question for a guy who navigated China at nine, Jim realized.
"I've got it Jim," Blair replied as he pulled out the map and tried to figure out where they were.
"Sandburg, which way is north?"
Blair silently glared at him, then handed Sam the map.
Thump! MacGyver's eyes sprang open. Within a second, he realized he was in a northwestern rain forest, he was sitting in a jeep with a blanket over him, and there was a cabin barely visible in the trees to his left. He must have slept the entire way to Sam's new cabin. The bantering voices of Sam and Blair drifted from up ahead, and Ellison was nearby talking softly, probably on his cell phone. Sitting up and stretching, Mac searched until he spotted the top of Sam's head and Blair's checked thermal shirt through the bushes.
"How you doing?" Ellison poked his head through the driver's side window.
"Okay," Mac replied, trying not to yawn. "I just don't seem to bounce back from these trips like I used to."
"London to Cascade in less than a day is a long haul for anyone," Jim pointed out as he opened the door.
"Yeah," Mac admitted, tracking the two younger men as they reached the cabin. "But worth it."
Jim glanced in the direction Mac was staring, easily spotting Sam and Blair carrying supplies into the cabin. "Simon hasn't had any luck in interrogating the two men from this morning. I've already checked the cabin and the surrounding area, and found nothing."
"Thanks," Mac responded gratefully. "I have a feeling this thing isn't over."
"So do I." The two men exchanged glances. Jim continued, "At the hospital, Mr. Thornton asked Sam if he thought this had something to do with Murdoc. Sam said no."
With his focus on Mac, Jim saw the older man tense at the name, but then shook his head. "No, this isn't Murdoc. Murdoc is more elaborate, and works alone."
"Who is Murdoc?"
Mac sighed. "Seventeen years ago, an international hit man decided to take out a DXS agent by making the cab I was driving a trap. I wasn't thrilled with the situation, so I managed to get the agent and myself out before the cab blew up. That led to a job offer with the DXS and my friendship with Pete. It also made Pete and I the only blemishes on Murdoc's perfect assassination record. He has tried several elaborate schemes to kill me, often endangering my friends. He even used Penny once." Mac paused, while Jim briefly thought of the sweet woman who had helped them with Harding. She had even sent Jim flowers and a humorous card while he was in the hospital, though she didn't really know him. "Ever since finding Sam, I've been worried that Murdoc will go after him. It was my first thought when I got the message."
"Where is he now?"
"Oh, he is presumed dead." At Jim's startled glance, Mac explained with unaccustomed bitterness, "Murdoc has been declared dead so many times, only to come after me again, I won't believe it until I see his lifeless body lowered into the ground. And even then I'll probably want to check his pulse." On that note, Mac opened the door, and climbed out of the truck.
"This is nice," Blair complimented as he sat the box on a sturdy table. He looked around the main room of the cabin, checking out the large fireplace on one end, the comfortable upholstered furniture, oak tables, and handmade throw rugs. The roof vaulted up two stories, the doors to two bedrooms visible in the loft above. He noted the replica of Coyolxauhqui sitting on the mantle, just as Sam had remembered. Walking over, Blair picked it up. Then he chuckled.
"What's so funny?" Sam asked as he returned from the kitchen.
"Me, man," Blair replied. He replaced the disc back on the mantle. "As if I honestly expected to find a piece of paper under it."
"Hey, I did the same thing, too." Sam admitted with a shy smile. "I even saw Jim pick it up."
"So that's three out of four," Blair drawled, his smile growing. "Wonder what Mac will do." He traded mischievous looks with Sam, then walked back to unload the box when he heard Mac and Jim on the steps.
Mac and Jim entered, carrying the last of the gear from the truck. "Hey, you two, stop stalling and make yourselves useful." Jim tossed his duffel bag to Blair, while Sam relieved this father of his backpack and sleeping bag. As the younger men climbed the stairs, Mac surveyed the cabin. "You have a nice place here, Sam," he commented as he wandered towards the fireplace. "Thanks, Dad," Sam returned from the top of the stairs. He and Blair paused, watching as Mac picked up Coyolxauhqui from the mantle to study. Blair gave Sam a high five, then continued to the bedroom chuckling.
A few hours later, Sam was becoming discouraged. He and Blair had searched the mantle and fireplace, while his father and Ellison studied the various pieces from the mantle. He sat back and massaged his fingers, which were sore from pushing bricks in an attempt to find a hidden door. "Why do I feel like I have sent all of us on a wild goose chase?" he commented with a sigh.
"Don't know," Blair replied, pulling back from inside the fireplace, brushing off the gray ash. "I don't. This is the only other thing your Mrs. Farrell left to you. The clues are probably here. We just haven't found them yet."
"We just have to keep trying," Mac added encouragingly, gently setting down the Pueblo pottery bowl he had been studying.
Sam sighed again. Jim stood up and stretched. "Why don't we take a break?"
"Good idea," Blair agreed. "If you let your mind relax, Sam, you'll think of something."
Sam shook his head. "You sound awfully sure about that."
"I am. Mrs. Farrell would have set this up for YOU to figure out. You just have to remember what she wanted you to remember."
Sam gave Blair a doubtful look. Jim chuckled, "Believe it or not, Blair's cryptic advice often helps. Just relax and give it a chance." At that moment, Jim's cell phone rang. "Hello? Hi Simon, what do you have for me?" Jim quietly listened as he strolled to the kitchen for privacy.
Then Mac's phone rang. Flipping it open, Mac answered, "Hello? Oh, hi Pete..." Mac wandered out to the deck to talk with his friend.
Blair smiled at Sam, "Guess it is a good thing we decided to take a break." Sam chuckled deeply in response, as Blair stood up and brushed off his clothes again. "I think I need to change."
Sam chuckled again, as he stretched out on the couch. Cradling his sore arm against his chest, he remembered how dirty he would get on some of the projects for Mrs. Farrell. Memories of crawling under the house, looking for a stinky dead mouse came to mind. When he had clipped her jungle of bushes one fall day, he had so many leaves on and in his clothes, he thought he'd be itching for life. Then his thoughts wandered to how she was always having him hang pictures and souvenirs in the oddest places. 'Why hang it here?' he had asked once, nailing a prayer circle high in a corner. 'I want to be able to gaze at it while sitting in my reading chair,' she replied. Sure enough, when Sam sat in the chair later, he did have a nice view of the prayer circle. Suddenly, Sam's eyes shot open. No, it couldn't be that easy. Barely moving his head, Sam discovered a framed close-up of the moon from one of the Apollo missions. "Oh, man," Sam softly swore.
"What?" Blair asked, as he walked over, pulling on a clean flannel shirt. Sam pointed. Blair craned his neck, and spotted the picture on the side of the rafter. "Well, Coyolxauhqui was the moon goddess," Blair commented.
Sam sat up. "Now we have to get it."
"We?" Blair repeated, studying the distance from the floor to the rafter. "I'm not going up there."
Sam glanced at him. "Don't tell me you are afraid of heights, too."
Blair swallowed. "Yep."
Sam shook his head. "You and Dad both. They have never bothered me."
"Like I have said before, you get that from your mother," Mac interjected as he walked back in. "What's the problem?" Blair and Sam pointed upward.
When Jim returned from the kitchen, he found Blair and Mac standing by the couch, both looking up. Following their eyes, Jim's mouth dropped open when he spotted Sam, carefully winding his way through the rafters. "What is going on?" he asked as he walked over to Blair and Mac. Blair quickly explained, pointing at the picture.
"And of course, neither of you are helping," Jim stated, studying the two men with their feet firmly planted on the ground.
"We are helping," Blair answered with a grin. "We are guiding him to the picture." There was no answering smile in Mac's face, however. His eyes were carefully following his son's progress.
"Right," Jim replied. He looked at his partner. "I thought you'd be over that height phobia after our jump over the cliff."
"No way, man. That adventure just reinforced it."
Sam had reached the rafter above them, and athletically knelt down on the beam. Stretching lengthwise on the rough wood, he slipped the picture off the nail. "Watch out below," he called, then dropped it into Mac's waiting hands. Handing the picture to Blair, Mac kept his eyes on Sam as he pulled himself up, and picked his way back across to the loft. Mac slowly walked over to the staircase.
"What did Simon have to say?" Blair asked, fingers feeling along the back of the picture.
"Well, it seems that our two 'friends' are basically hired help. All they will say is that they were hired by a Spanish-speaking guy."
Blair snorted. "That's not much help."
Mac grasped Sam's hand, and helped him over the rail. "It might be more helpful than you realize, Blair. Pete says Phoenix believes Diego Cruz is in town."
"Who is Diego Cruz?" Sam asked, brushing dust and wood splinters off his jeans.
"He's a suspected art and artifact smuggler. I've caught a few of his hired help, but have never come close to his inner operation."
"So, you think he may be interested in whatever Mrs. Farrell left for Sam to return?" Jim queried.
"Exactly. If Mr. Farrell picked up some artifacts that weren't recorded from a dig, Cruz could easily fake some papers, and sell them at a hefty price."
"Meaning he would rather get to them before I do," Sam said matter-of-factly, though Jim picked up on the tension reappearing on his face.
"We'll just have to prevent that from happening," Mac replied, squeezing his son's shoulder as they walked over to Blair and Jim.
"Here," Blair broke in, handing the picture to Sam, "Your mystery, you do the honors."
Sam smiled, noticing Blair had already bent back the tabs. He pulled the cardboard back while the other three watched, finding a piece of paper. Returning the frame to Blair, Sam unfolded the thick paper. With Mac and Blair peering over each shoulder, and Jim trying to read upside down, they all focused on symbols there. "Oh great," Sam muttered. "Now we have a map to decipher."
"What is with this woman and moons?" Blair muttered, noting the quarter moon in one corner.
"What is that?" Jim pointed, trying to crane his neck to get a better view.
"Looks like a large rabbit sitting next to his hole," Sam replied, frowning.
"Then we have some sort of path curving along here, and ending in an oval." Mac traced the line with his finger. He tilted his head sideways. "This is going to take some studying."
Jim glanced out the window, noting the darkness that had fallen during their search. "Why don't we have supper, get some sleep, and go after this in the morning?"
"Sounds good," Mac agreed, trying not to yawn. "Would you like me to cook?"
Blair fought to keep a straight face as Sam's nose wrinkled in concern. "Nah, let me do it. I know what we packed."
"Then I'll help," Mac continued, following Blair into the kitchen.
"We'll get the fire started," Jim called after them.
Blair carefully stretched as he walked out of the bathroom, leaving the door open for the waiting Sam. The mattress had been harder than he was use to. Yawning, he wandered into the living area, noticing the notepad next to the map on the table. He started reading the notes there as Jim walked past him toward the kitchen. "Jim, is this Mac's work?"
Jim glanced down briefly, and nodded. "Mac was up until late last night. I think he is still getting over his jet lag."
Suppressing another yawn, Blair read down the evidence of Mac's brainstorming. The older man had written down possible meanings of each symbol on the map. Blair was impressed by the various ideas, ranging from literal to mythical to symbolic. Studying the map and list, Blair could see several possible routes to try.
Jim walked back out. "Did Mac have any breakthroughs?"
Blair shrugged, "Some good ideas, just one snag. Where to start."
"Where to start?" Jim questioned curiously.
"Yeah, unless there is a place to start, it is hard to determine where to look for the various possible landmarks. About the only one that seems to easily connect to anything is the serpent that turns into a river here. That is probably the creek nearby, but nothing is certain. "
Sam exited the bathroom, and joined Jim and Blair at the table. "Well, what's next?"
"Next, you two go find some firewood, while I make breakfast," Jim answered. "I think all this nice weather is about to turn on us, and we may need a fire later."
"All right," Blair agreed as he grabbed his leather jacket.
Within a few minutes, he and Sam were scouting for wood a few yards behind the cabin. Blair noticed a small building as he walked towards a fallen limb. "Hey, Sam, what is this place?"
Sam turned, and chuckled. "Oh, that is the outhouse. I am SO glad the Farrells decided to install inside plumbing."
Blair chuckled as he walked behind it. "Yeah, can you imagine having to make a run for it in the middle of the night during a storm?" Suddenly, his mirth died away. "Sam, come here a minute."
Sam looked up, brow wrinkled in concern. Cautiously walking around the building, he found Blair staring at the door. "What is it?" Blair pointed at the quarter moon cut in the door. "What?" Sam asked again, puzzled.
"Mrs. Farrell's map had a quarter moon on it, at just that angle," Blair explained, excitement growing in his voice.
Sam looked at the door, then back at Blair. "You think this is the starting point?"
"Can you think of a better spot?" Blair asked with a smirk.
Sam glanced back at the door, then began sweeping the woods around them with his eyes. "Do you remember what symbol was near the moon?"
Blair, also turning to search, replied, "I think it was the..."
"Rabbit," Sam finished for him. He pointed at the rock formation up the slope from them.
Blair turned his head sideways, "You know, that DOES look like a rabbit, with long ears, and the eye being that small outcropping there." Excited for a new break in the mystery, Sam jogged toward the rock, Blair fast on his heels. Neither thought to go back and inform Jim and Mac.
Mac entered the kitchen, yawning. He smiled as he sniffed the aroma, "Pancakes?"
Jim smiled, " Yeah, the fresh mountain air always gives me a craving for them. Get caught up on your sleep?"
"Some," Mac replied, looking around. "Where are Sam and Blair?"
"Out getting firewood, " Jim answered, flipping the cake on the griddle. He automatically extended his hearing in the direction Blair and Sam had gone.
"I saw the young men go up the hill, Senor Cruz."
"We will follow them. You two get MacGyver and Ellison in the cabin."
At the concerned look that crossed Jim's face, Mac asked worriedly, "What is it?"
A connection deep within caused Jim to briefly respond, "Cruz," as he concentrated further, hearing a brief yelp from Blair. The edges of his focus had begun fuzzing into a zone out, when Mac grabbed his arm. "Jim!"
Jim shook his head, and met Mac's eyes. "We are about to have company."
Mac continued to read Jim's eyes, mouthing silently, "Where?"
Jim motioned towards the back door, then the front room with his head. Pulling his gun from his holster, he indicated the front with his gun. Mac tilted his head towards the back. Jim nodded his agreement, and slipped quietly through the door to the front.
Picking up a pot holder, Mac grabbed the griddle off the stove and positioned himself by the back door. He didn't have long to wait. As the back door slowly opened, Mac slammed the griddle into it, which in turn hit the man behind it. The man went down hard. Mac immediately dragged him inside and knelt beside him. Flipping the stunned man on his back, Mac pulled his arms behind him. Mac tore a towel from the nearby counter into strips, and tied the man's hands. Then he quietly searched the kitchen drawers for any other useful items.
Jim slipped into the alcove between the stairs and the wall. Patiently, he listened to the invader cautiously enter the cabin, and carefully step across the wood floor, searching for his intended victims. Once past Jim's hiding spot, Jim immediately placed his gun in the perp's neck. "Freeze! Cascade PD," Jim stated. He took the man's gun from his suddenly limp hand.
Hearing Jim, Mac entered the room. "Is that all of them?" he asked. He tore off lengths from a roll of duct tape he had found in kitchen, and gave them to Jim.
"No, Cruz has more after Blair and Sam," Jim replied as he quickly wrapped the perp's hands in tape, and forced him in a chair. As he wrapped another around the man's feet, he indicated his jacket hanging on one of the pegs. "Give me my jacket, and we'll go after them."
Stopping at the foot of the rock resembling a rabbit, Sam started looking around. "Okay, what is next?"
Studying the stone, Blair slowly backed off, trying to get the angle as it was on the map. "I think it was that black circle you called a rabbit..." Suddenly, Blair's voice ended with a yelp.
"Blair!" Sam called sharply, turning to where Blair was. Or where he had been, since there was no sign of him now.
A muffled voice barely reached him, "Down here."
Puzzled and concerned, Sam cautiously stepped over to the voice. A hole appeared in the ground, sod dipping inward. "Blair! Are you all right?" Sam called again, worry increasing.
"I'm okay, just got a new tear in my jeans," Blair replied. Sam could see light suddenly pierce the darkness below. "It looks like the mouth of a tunnel. If you want, there is some steps cut into the rock here. I just took the hard way.
Still concerned about Blair, Sam carefully investigated the hole, quickly finding the holds Blair had mentioned. He climbed down, guided by Blair's voice and his light. "Where did you get the light?" Sam asked. He ran an eye over his new friend, searching for injuries.
Blair held out a tiny lantern on his keychain. "Gift from an old girlfriend. Came in handy a while ago when I was in trouble, so I always make sure I have it." He then shone the light on the timbers lining the walls. "Looks a little like a mining tunnel. "
Sam pointed to a mark in the rock wall next to them. "What is that?"
Blair brought the lantern closer to the wall. "It is a curvy line like on the map." Blair traced it with the light. "It ends at this bump of rock."
"An oval-shaped bump of rock," Sam added. They exchanged looks.
"We should go back, get the larger flashlights," Blair suggested.
"Shhh," Sam said suddenly, hearing unfamiliar voices above.
Soon, both could hear a man say, "They were heading in this direction, Senor Cruz. I don't know where they went to."
Without a word, Blair shut off the light. Another voice replied, "We need those young men. They must be here to find the Aztec artifacts Farrell had." Sam reached into the darkness to grab Blair's arm. Silently, they crept back from the hole, and away from the new danger.
Jim and Mac crouched behind some brush, watching four men searching around a rock outcropping. "Cruz is the man next to the red bush, giving orders," Mac softly whispered. "Do you know where Blair and Sam are?" Mac knew that Jim's abilities gave him an edge over the others in the small meadow.
Jim tilted his head slightly, searching with his hearing for a familiar sound. Mac instinctively laid his hand on Jim's arm, providing the anchor that was usually Blair's job, a guide's job. Pushing that thought away, Jim filtered out the sounds from the men in front, finally pinpointing a familiar heartbeat, next to another. "To the left," Jim replied, puzzled. Something wasn't right.
Mac glanced to the left. "You mean in those trees?" Mac couldn't see how the younger men could hide there among the slim, bare trunks.
Jim slowly shook his head. "No, closer." He attempted to piggy-back his sight with his hearing.
Mac surveyed the men in the clearing again, then took a good look at the rock outcropping. It looked like a rabbit. On the map, next to the rabbit was... "Could they be underground?"
At that moment, Jim spotted the tiny dark hole in the ground. "Yes, there," he pointed.
Mac still couldn't see anything, but trusted that Jim could. "Can you tell if they are all right?" While Mac knew both his son and Blair were good at taking care of themselves, he was still worried given the circumstances.
Jim smiled slightly, "Both their heart rates are up. I'd guess they know they are being hunted, but hoping no one finds their hiding hole."
"Especially since it must be part of the map," Mac absently replied. At Jim's questioning stare, Mac pointed to the outcropping. "Rabbit."
Jim, really looking at the rock for the first time, nearly groaned when he recognized the outline. Studying the men in front of them, Jim worried that they might extend their search, and find the 'rabbit' hole. "Any ideas?"
Mac, too, was grimly studying the situation. "It's going to take a while for the cavalry to arrive." Jim had called Banks from his cell phone before they left the cabin.
Jim nodded. "Simon will alert the local sheriff, but with the distance and bad relations there, I doubt they will respond very fast."
"Tennison's district?" Mac asked, remembering the sheriff that hated the 'city boys', and Blair's story as to why.
"Yep," Jim confirmed. He had his gun, but in facing three armed men, two with automatics, knew he had to save his for a last resort.
At that moment, the men split up in different directions. "Divide and conquer?" Mac suggested.
"Sounds good," Jim replied. "I'll take the big guy on the right." They, too, split up, following different henchmen.
Sam felt the wall next to him curve in towards him. He and Blair had been stealthily slipping down the dark passage, trying to put as much distance between themselves and the entrance. "Blair, I think there is a bend or dead end here," he whispered.
Blair decided they were far enough in to risk light. Shielding his eyes, Blair pressed on his tiny lantern, drawing a soft protest from Sam. "Yeah, this tunnel continues on," Blair confirmed.
Sam turned his head back, still blinking. "Any idea where it could lead?"
Blair shrugged, "Hopefully, it leads someplace out, so we can avoid Cruz's men and warn Jim and Mac." They walked quietly several more hundred yards, when Sam and Blair both stopped at the same time. "Do you see..."
"Light?" Sam finished. "Maybe this is a way out!"
Rapidly covering the rest of the distance, Blair leaned over a pile of wood and debris to look out the small opening. "This looks out over the creek. Must come out the bank."
"Perhaps this is where Mr. Farrell brought in the artifacts, then boarded up the passage so no one else would find it," Sam suggested. He tugged at one of the wood planks. It broke off in his hands, one end a sharp point.
Blair picked up a nearby crowbar, rusty from disuse and years of humidity. He quickly tore off another couple planks, opening the passage enough for them to slip through.
Jim put to use his survival and hunting skills to sneak up silently behind the big man. "Looking for me?" he asked. As the man turned, Jim slugged him, knocking him out cold. "Hope the rest are this easy," he thought as he dragged the man off the path.
Mac climbed up a ridge of rocks that ran parallel to the path of the second man. Careful not to dislodge any stones that would make a sound, Mac managed to slip ahead of the tall man. He discovered a loose pile of heavy timbers near the edge. Noticing that the path lead directly below, he quietly picked up one of the timbers, and patiently waited for the man to walk under. Just before the henchman reached the correct spot, another voice called out. "Hey Tomas, have you seen anything yet?" Above, Mac held his breath.
"No, not yet. It is as if those two disappeared into thin air!"
"Well, whether they walked or flew, Cruz wants results." The two men started forward again, crossing the spot directly under the trap. Mac immediately levered the timbers over the edge. Shouts greeted the falling logs. Mac quickly climbed down to check his work. Both men laid unconscious under the pile. Before Mac could see if they were still alive, he suddenly felt a cold gun barrel on his neck.
Jim slipped down the path, searching to see if Mac had been successful. Rounding a bend, Jim stopped the instant he saw Diego Cruz, holding a gun to MacGyver's head. "So, you must be Detective Ellison. Perhaps you will be so kind to tell me where the Aztec artifacts are? Mr. MacGyver has not been cooperating."
Jim quickly scanned Mac, detecting no injuries, but spied Cruz's arm wrapped around the his neck. "We haven't found the artifacts yet."
The arm tightened. "You have had plenty of time to find the artifacts. I will even offer a handsome sum for them. But I refuse to let you sell them to anyone else."
Jim continued to study Cruz. He thought he heard footsteps behind the gunman and Mac, hopefully the sheriff. "Why do you want them so bad? We don't even know what the Farrells had."
"Rodger Farrell found a beautiful collection of jade figurines from a dig site in my home district. He had needed money for the dig, and I gave it to him in return for a portion of the artifacts. I wanted the figurines. However, Farrell double-crossed me and brought them back to the States. Before I could force him to give them to me, he died of a heart attack. His widow has finagled and stonewalled me ever since. I wasn't even sure if she knew where they were. With that infuriating woman finally gone, I want what should have been mine a long time ago!"
"Like I said, we have not found any collection."
"Fool! If you do not tell me where the figurines are, I will shoot Mr. MacGyver right before your eyes!"
Suddenly, a sharp point dug into Cruz's back. "If you shoot my Dad, I will skewer you with this stick," explained a cold voice behind him.
Cold metal was laid against his neck. "And if the stake doesn't kill you, Mr. Dracula, I will finish the job with this crowbar, " an equally cold voice added.
Jim watched as the confident man realized he was trapped. The hand holding the gun dropped, and the arm loosened, allowing Mac to pull away. Jim approached as Blair took the gun away from Cruz. The faint whine of sirens were barely touching Jim's ears as he pulled Cruz's arms behind his back, and cuffed him with his handcuffs.
"Thank you, Mr. Sandburg. I will contact you later if we need anything more."
Blair politely assured his continued cooperation as the deputy walked back to his fellow officers, easing Cruz and his men into the county cruisers. Glancing around, he noticed that Sam, Mac, and Jim were still giving their statements. Blair tried not to smile when he realized that Jim was giving his to Sheriff Tennison. Then he noticed Simon's car pull up behind the cruisers. Simon stepped out, then walked around to help Pete Thornton on the passenger's side. Quickly deciding that Simon could find them, Blair turned back towards his partner, and decided he'd better give him some support.
"Never thought to wait for us, did you?" Tennison scolded Jim.
"We didn't know if Sandburg and Malloy were in danger," Jim explained, trying to keep both his patience and temper.
"And who is Malloy again?"
"MacGyver's son, and the new owner of this cabin." Jim's jaw clenched tighter.
"Right. Be easier if they had the same last name."
Seeing Jim's control over his temper fraying, Blair gently touched his arm, "Simon is here." As Sam and Mac finished their statements, they also wandered over to Jim, wondering if there was a problem.
"Oh great," the sheriff responded in disgust. "Now all the city boys are here." He studied Blair a moment, noting the scraped cheek and the torn, dirty jeans. "Do I need to call in ANOTHER rescue helicopter?"
Blair gave him a tight smile. "Thank you, but I think I'll live without one this time." Sam, bemused, glanced at Blair, but decided to wait for a less tense moment to ask.
Tennison shook his head, "Why can't you boys cause trouble in someone ELSE'S district for a change?" He stormed off, pointedly ignoring Banks as he passed him.
Simon followed his progress down the hill, then looked at Jim and Blair. "More trouble from our favorite sheriff?"
Jim stared stone-faced after the county official. "He's upset because we didn't wait for backup."
Simon snorted, "When do you wait for backup?"
"Hi Pete," Mac greeted his friend, watching the sheriff and the rest of the deputies leave.
"Well, MacGyver, sounds like you got yourself into another tight spot," Pete stated with a smile. It seemed to him that Mac's life was a series of tight spots.
"Yeah, but I had help this time," Mac replied, draping an arm around Sam's neck, and smiling at Blair.
"So I heard. No luck in finding these figurines Cruz was after?"
"Mac and I don't know," Jim stated slowly, grilling the younger two men with his eyes. Sam looked sheepishly away, while Blair gave him an impish grin.
"What did you two find, before being interrupted?" Mac inquired, trying not to smile. He understood well how the thrill of discovery could block out more practical considerations.
"Oh, the quarter moon," Blair replied cagily.
"And the rabbit, " Sam added.
"And the rabbit's hole," Blair continued in disgust, gesturing towards his jeans.
"Huh?" Simon interrupted, face twisted in confusion.
"Mrs. Farrell left a map," Jim explained, "Apparently, Blair and Sam found the starting point and were following clues without letting the rest of us know." He gave Blair another playful glare.
"And Blair must have found the rabbit's hole by falling into it," Mac added for Pete's benefit. "That is where you guys were hiding when Cruz was looking for you, right?"
"Right," Blair confirmed.
"Plus, we found the last two symbols in the hole," Sam inserted, still trying to gage if Jim was really mad at them. "You want to take a look?"
Mac's excitement shone in his eyes and quiet smile. "Let's go."
Blair quickly updated everyone while Sam ran for flashlights. Soon, Sam, Blair, Jim, and Mac were in the hole, with Simon and Pete waiting just outside.
"Okay, there is the oval. What do we do now?" Sam asked.
"I'd guess we push the rock, and see what happens," Mac suggested with a smile.
"You do the honors, Sam. Mrs. Farrell left it for you," Jim suggested.
Sam smiled, then pushed on the rock. A huge section of rock swung inward, creating a high pitched screech that nearly brought Jim to his knees. Blair covertly held him up by his elbow, while aiming his flashlight at the opening. "You okay?" he asked in a whisper.
"Yeah, just give me a minute," Jim whispered back.
"Wow," Sam breathed, taking a step inside.
"What do you see?" Pete asked from above.
"It's an opening Pete," Mac called back as he followed Sam in, "about six foot high, and four feet across. Leads into a small room."
"A small room with ten jade figurines on a stand," Blair added.
Sam picked up one of the statues. "I don't even need an anthropology degree to tell that these are awesome."
Mac knelt down by the stand, picking a notebook off a small stack on the end. "This looks like Farrell's dig notes."
Blair picked up another one. "Yeah, they are. I'll bet he has finding these guys all documented in here."
Jim studied the figurines from the door, admiring the craftsmanship of the ancient Aztecs. "What are you going to do with them now, Sam?"
Sam quietly contemplated the jade figure of Coatlicue he was holding in his hand. Then he glanced over to his father. "Dad, do you think the Mexican government would want these back?"
"Oh, I think I can make arrangements," Mac replied.
Sam ran a finger over the smoothness of the stone. "Good. I suspect these guys have been away from home long enough."
"Hey, can I at least get a look before you send them back?" Simon grumped from above.
Everyone laughed as Jim made room for Simon to join them.
Next day, Cascade Airport
Children ran past them squealing in play, forcing Jim to tune down his hearing as they accompanied MacGyver to catch his flight. He glanced ahead, watching Mac continue to describe the dig site he would visit to Blair. While Jim had caught most of his earlier explanation, the discussion was starting to get deep, so Jim didn't mind missing the rest. He could still see the eager interest on Blair's face, and the pleasure Mac was taking in Blair's interest. Jim smiled. It was good for Blair to have another scientist to talk to, especially someone as experienced and practical as MacGyver. Jim's mind drifted to the conversation he had overheard that morning at the cabin.
"...Then he grabbed my arm with his bloody hand. Oh man, Mac, I was petrified! Just the way Encacha looked at me, like he was drilling his departing soul into mine." Blair's voice shook in memory. Jim, just about to enter the bathroom, had paused. The memory of Encacha's recent death was still very painful for him. He had forgotten the terror he'd seen on Blair's face at that moment, nor had they talked about it. Too many other things had happen in too short of time. Again, Blair's cracking voice drifted to him, "...Encacha entrusted me with being Jim's Shaman. Honest, Mac, the responsibility scares me. I haven't the vaguest idea what I'm suppose to do."
Jim turned towards the deck to find and reassure his friend, when he heard Mac's thoughtful reply. "I don't think Encacha necessarily gave you new duties, Blair. He was probably just giving you his blessing."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, when you saved Ellison from the garbage truck, you went from being a student of Sentinel theory, to a guide practicing that theory. Call it a field promotion. Thus, for the past couple years, you have been performing as a Shaman guide to Jim, you just didn't have the official title. So along comes Encacha. From what you said, he recognized early on that you had stepped into that role. So, as his last duty as Shaman, he gave you his blessing. Kinda like the military confirming the field promotion and making it official."
There was a pause. Jim could almost see Blair's face in his mind, processing Mac's explanation. "You think so?" Blair asks hesitantly.
"Yeah. From what I have seen, you are doing a great job with Ellison. Don't worry so much about it."
"But Mac, I swear, half the time I make it up as I go!"
Mac chuckled. "I've discovered that being able to 'make it up as you go' to be just as important as knowing all the facts ahead of time. Trust in Ellison, and trust in yourself. You'll do fine."
Wondering if this would be a good time to tell them about suspecting Mac was a guide, Jim took another step towards the deck. At that moment, Sam trotted down the stairs from the loft, and Jim decided to save the conversation for another time.
"Hey guys, here's the drinks!" Sam called out, dragging Jim's thoughts back into the present. The young man passed out the cups of tea, coffee, and water. He glanced up as the stewardess called for pre-boarding. "Looks like your flight is on time, Dad."
"For once," Mac chuckled. "Are you all set?" Sam was driving his rental back to Seattle to catch his own flight back to New York.
"All loaded," Sam replied.
Mac quickly downed his water, and tossed the cup into the trash. He turned to Ellison and held out his hand. "Thanks for keeping an eye on Sam for me."
Jim smiled, and shook his hand. "Any time," he returned, communicating with his eyes for an instant the developing friendship between them.
Mac then turned to Blair, " Take care of yourself, and keep looking after the big guy," Mac indicated Jim with his head while shaking Blair's hand.
"Will do," Blair replied with a smile, more confident since their talk. "And let me know what you find in Greece!"
The stewardess started calling row numbers for boarding. Mac draped his arm around Sam, and the two started walking towards the line of people forming at the gate.
Jim glanced down, and noticed a heavy shirt laying on the chair next to them. "Blair, we can't let Sam forget his shirt."
Blair glanced down. "That's not Sam's... Wait, it's Mac's!" Blair scooped it up, and ran over to catch up with Mac.
Jim stood, puzzled. "Why was I sure it was Sam's?" he thought silently, then realized, "Because it smelled like Sam." Closing his eyes, Jim concentrated on the smell. "No, it was Mac's scent. Just that Sam's scent is close to Mac's scent, and Mac's scent is close to B...." Jim's eyes popped open. "That's why I've felt so protective of Sam, why Mac feels so trustworthy. Their scents are similar to Blair's." He looked back at the three men near the ticket stand. Sam looked like his father, but Blair was so similar to Mac in so many other ways. "Oh hell, what do I do now?"
Author's note, 11/9/97: While I was writing 'Control' this summer, my adopted Colorado hometown was hit by a huge flash flood, turning my street into a river, but receding just as it entered my garage. While writing this story, the entire Colorado Front Range and DIA was shut down by a blizzard in October. I am almost dreading what the follow-up story to this one may bring. But, yes, there will be a sequel. Can't leave poor Jim hanging, can I? However, it usually takes about two months for me to write a story, so hopefully it will be done in January 1998 (barring any more natural disasters...)
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