Author's notes: 'Heirs to a Nightmare' is a sequel to 'The Maze', 'Control', 'Coatlicue', and 'Ares Bugle' which are Sentinel/MacGyver crossovers. Since this story makes references to the previous ones, especially 'Ares Bugle', you may wish to read the others first.
I do want to apologize to all my readers for being late with this one. It is the longest of all my stories, and I went through a period of major writer's block. However, here it is and I hope it was worth the wait. I also wish to mention that I try to respond to everyone who emails, but juno burped on me last month and I lost some. If I haven't responded to you, please write again.
Many thanks to: Zadra, for her support, comments, aiding in the development of the Mac/Naomi history, and for braving her mother's wrath to mail me a couple MacGyver tapes. (I would have never gotten out of my writer's block without them!); Sharon, for her continuing support and encouragement; Robyn, for answering my medical questions; Laura P., for great comments; Sealie, for her corrections and for providing a different perspective; and to superbeta and supporter Wolfpup, without whom none of this would see the light of internet.
Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: Most of 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, a little violence, but mostly for language.
Thursday morning, Ellison's loft
From the kitchen, Detective James Ellison called out, "Did you pack the antibiotics?"
A muffled voice from his roommate's bedroom answered, "Yes."
"Did you pack extra gloves?"
"Did you pack the cough drops?"
"Are you sure you packed enough sweatshirts and sweaters?"
"Yes, mother," the voice from the bedroom grumbled.
"I heard that!"
Inside the room, Blair Sandburg rolled his eyes to the ceiling. He could not wait to get out of the loft. For nearly five weeks, he had been stuck here except for trips to the doctors or brief visits to his office. Even then, his friend had been keeping close tabs on him. Blair felt as if most of Jim's heightened senses had been focused on him every minute of nearly every hour when Jim was in the loft. It had only been three weeks ago that Blair finally persuaded Jim to return to work. Even then, if it wasn't Jim phoning him, Taggart or one of the Major Crimes detectives was calling. Serena Chang from forensics even called him once. Blair felt like an organism under a microscope.
Blair twisted towards his dresser, then paused to rub his ribs. They still ached deeply, though not with the same intense pain as the first two weeks after he had hurt them.
"Did you pack the liniment?"
"Yes," Blair called back impatiently. He ran his hand through his hair, then paused as the shorter length registered. The memory of believing Kincaid was going to cut his throat, only to hack off his hair, flashed across his mind.
Blair took a deep breath. Okay, maybe Jim had reason for his 'Mother Hen from Hell' act. Much of the time they'd spent in Idaho was fuzzy, but he remembered coughing, pain, and the worried faces of Jim and MacGyver. Nor did it end once they were home. It seemed like he'd never get rid of this cough. He had taken so many different antibiotics over the last few weeks, trying to find just one that would work. He still felt like he was running on half the energy he normally had.
"You okay?" Jim had appeared in the doorway.
"Yeah," Blair replied with a sigh. "Just tired."
Jim studied his friend for a moment. The bruises had faded, but Blair still looked pale and too thin. "It will take a while for your lungs to get up to speed again after all they've been through. You're just going to have to take it easy."
"I know. It's just frustrating, you know?"
"I know." Jim continued to study him. "Are you sure you want to take this trip with Sam?"
"Most definitely," Blair stated without hesitation. "I need new walls to stare at, man." Sam's call three days ago had been an answer to prayer. After listening to Blair's complaints of cabin fever and Jim's over-protectiveness, Sam had told him of his great-grandfather's cabin in the Colorado mountains. Sam had planned a trip to look through the papers and memories he had left behind, hoping to get a feel for the man who had raised his father. He then asked Blair if he would like to come along and help him sort it out. Blair had jumped at the chance. If nothing else, being able to see the Rockies through the window instead of Cascade would help.
Jim smiled. He knew that Blair had been climbing the walls lately. Plus, there may be extra benefits to this trip that neither Blair nor Sam knew about. "Why don't you sit down on the couch for a few minutes? The fireplace is going and Sam won't be here for at least another hour."
"Okay," Blair quietly agreed. He walked to the couch in the living area, pulling the afghan over him as he sat. Within minutes, he was asleep.
After double-checking that his roommate was indeed asleep, Jim slipped another sweatshirt and a packet of cough drops into his backpack.
Thursday morning, Cascade
Sean A. Malloy, better known as Sam, leaned back into the seat of the cab. It felt good to be off assignment and taking a few days to relax. In addition, he was looking forward to seeing Sandburg and Ellison again. He had instantly liked the energetic anthropologist and the tough detective. The friendship had continued to grow as Blair and he corresponded through email. While Sam loved the traveling involved in his work, it was nice to read a friendly message from someone he knew at the end of a long day.
When Dad had told him about Blair's abduction a few weeks ago, Sam had been both furious and deeply worried. He hated to think of his slim friend being brutalized by militia men. It had to have been a bad scene, since Dad was still uncharacteristically shaken by it. If he could help Blair get well without going stir-crazy, Sam was all for it.
Thinking over his father's reactions and the phone call Sam had overheard, another thought reoccurred. Could it be? Sam shifted in his seat and pushed the thought right back out of his mind. If it was, Dad would tell him sooner or later. Right now, Sam wanted to concentrate on getting to know his friend Blair better by helping him over a rough time. Any other possibility would have to wait.
The cab pulled up to the storefront, above which was Ellison's loft. Sam got out with his bags, paid the fare and tip, and entered the building.
Sam had barely touched the door when Jim opened it. Holding a finger to his lips, Jim tilted his head towards the couch. Sam could see Blair curled up in an afghan, asleep. He followed Jim into the kitchen area. "How's he doing?" Sam whispered.
"Much better," Jim replied, though Sam could see the trace of worry in his features. "The last antibiotic is finally doing the job. He's just worn down with all the coughing and the injured ribs." Jim lifted the half-full coffee pot as a question and Sam nodded. "How remote is this cabin?"
Sam smiled as he watched Jim pour the coffee. This must be that 'Mother Hen' mode Blair was complaining about. "Not too bad. Dad says it's on a road that's kept open all year around. Back when Harry was alive, Dad helped him add a room and update the kitchen. It has indoor plumbing, a wood stove, stocked with food, and is well-insulated. Even if we do get snowed in, we should be fine for a couple of weeks."
"Are there any medical facilities near by?"
Sam's smile grew wider. "It's ski country. They know how to handle medical emergencies around there."
"How are you .... What?"
Sam chuckled. "Blair is going to be fine. I promise to keep a close eye on him."
Jim smiled faintly as he rubbed his neck. "Yeah, I know. It has just been a rough month and a half."
Sam's smile disappeared. "So I have heard. Honest, Jim, I'll take care of him."
Jim gently squeezed Sam's shoulder as he walked by. "I know. I just get a little worried about him sometimes. I'm not sure how I'd handle it if I lost him, too."
Sam quietly watched Jim retreat to the fireplace. After his father had mentioned Jim's time in Peru, he had looked up the articles. The empty, haunted gaze staring out of the cover of the news magazine was not the Jim Ellison Sam knew. It wasn't surprising that such an experience would leave the big guy protective of the friends he had. Loss was something Sam understood all too well. Apparently this last misadventure had been just as hard on Jim as it had been on Dad and Blair.
A groggy voice rose from the couch, "Jim? What time is it?"
"Nearly 8:30," Sam answered, walking over to where his sleepy friend was sitting up.
"Oh, man, I didn't mean to sleep that long." Blair stood up from the couch. "How long have you been here?"
"Not too long," Sam reassured him. Man, Blair did look rather pale, his eyes slightly sunken in. Was fragile the word Dad had used? No, not quite fragile. Yet Sam had never realized before just how fine-boned Blair was.
Blair forced his eyes open wider. "I just have a few more things to do, then I'll be ready."
"No rush, man. We've got plenty of time to catch the plane." Noting the lack of Blair's normal hyper-energy, Sam privately vowed that he would do most of the chores on this trip. They had no time schedule. Blair could sleep and relax as much as he needed. Turning back from following Blair's walk to the bedroom, he met Jim's worried eyes. "I will take care of him," Sam softly promised again.
Jim gave him a weak smile in return. He knew from experience that taking care of Sandburg was not always so easy.
Thursday afternoon, Telluride, CO
"...The tribal chief wasn't too happy with us, since some loggers had been there before and tore up one of their sacred burial places. His men were all holding their war spears, looking VERY unfriendly."
"Were they going to hurt you?"
"Well, we weren't sure at first, then Dr. Hanson got this idea..."
Walking back from the rental desk, Sam paused a couple of feet away. There was Blair sitting next to their baggage, entertaining three girls in their twenties. His blue eyes were alive, mouth smiling, hands waving in the air describing the meeting between his research group and a tribe of Central American natives. Sam couldn't help but chuckle. Fifteen minutes ago, Blair had been sound asleep in his seat on the plane. Sam had to shake him after they had landed to wake him up. Amazing how some pretty girls could bring him back to life.
However, Blair was starting to cough. Walking over, Sam slapped him on the shoulder. "Hey, Indy, we need to get going if we are going to be up to the cabin before dark." Blair glanced up, puzzled by the new nickname.
"Where are you guys going?" the brunette with large brown eyes asked.
"Up near Ouray," Sam replied, giving her a smile as he picked up a duffel bag.
"How far away is that?" the other brunette asked. Sam guessed they were sisters.
"Ouray is on the other side of those mountain peaks," the curly haired redhead explained, pointing out the large window.
"Oh, that's too bad," the first brunette sighed. She handed Blair a card. "If you're back this way again, look us up."
"We will," Blair replied, giving her his most charming smile.
As Blair watched them walk away, Sam shoved his backpack into his arms. "Come on, Indy, I can't carry all of this by myself."
"Indy? Why are you calling me Indy?"
"Because you are telling tales like Indiana Jones. Come on, I'm not kidding about the mountain. The forecast is calling for snow, and I'd rather get to where we are going before the roads get slick."
Blair picked up Sam's camera case. "The road that bad?"
"No, just winding and steep, with the last ten miles being dirt. Plus I've never been up to the cabin before. It would probably be a whole lot easier to find in daylight."
"That makes sense," Blair replied as he fell into step with his friend. "I hope you have directions."
"Yeah, the map's in my camera case. You can navigate when we get up there."
"Great!" Blair exclaimed. Jim almost never let him navigate anymore.
Early Thursday evening, Uncompahgre National Forest near Ouray, CO
Sam stopped the Jeep. "Ah, Blair, exactly where are we?"
Blair, studying the map intently, tipped his head left, then right, then flipped the map over. Sam laid his head on the steering wheel. Now he understood why Jim wouldn't give Blair a map. "Blair...?"
"I don't get it," Blair pondered. "The cabin should be right here."
Sam lifted his head, viewing pines trees, snow, rocks, and a steep drop-off down to a presumably frozen mountain stream. The one thing he did not see was a cabin. He turned his head to stare at his co-pilot.
"Okay, okay, so we are apparently on the scenic route," Blair weakly grinned, trying to lighten the mood. "Check out the mountain view, man."
Sam glanced back at the beautiful snow-covered peaks behind them, then turned to Blair. "What I see is the sun going down, Indy." He reached over, plucking the map from Blair's hands. Giving Blair another playful glare, Sam quickly glanced at the map, then gave Blair another glare as he turned the map another quarter turn. After a minute of study, Sam looked up. "Okay, I think we're are on the wrong side of the creek. I bet we can see the cabin from here."
"Really?" Blair exclaimed. Feeling very stiff and sore from riding in planes and jeeps all day, Blair popped the door open. "Let's check it out." Blair scooped up his backpack from behind the seat, zipped up his heavy leather coat, and clambered out of the jeep.
Sam smiled. At least Blair was acting more like himself. This trip was a good idea. Sam also stepped out, grabbing his pack and camera case. Within a couple of minutes, he had joined Blair on a rock overlooking the steep ravine.
"Hey, I don't even need my binoculars. That must be it just over there." Blair pointed. "But who is that guy walking around?" Blair squinted, thinking he looked familiar.
Sam quickly spotted the man walking around the corner. While he couldn't see the man's face in the shadows, there was something about the build he couldn't quite place.
"Ah, Sam, what is he carrying?" Blair asked, not liking the looks of the long tube. "Wait a minute, he's heading this way."
At that moment, Sam's stomach curled in dread as he identified the object.
"Hey Junior MacGyvers!" a crisp British voice called out. "You are suppose to be over here!"
As the man stepped out of the shadows, Sam felt a rush of fear sweep over him. Oh, man, it CAN'T be him!
"I'm sorry," Blair shouted back, feeling uneasy. "You got the wrong guys. My name is Sandburg." Junior MacGyvers? How the hell did he know Sam is Mac's son? A sudden memory of a utility door opening and a man placing a water bottle in his hands flashed across his mind. Oh, hell, this guy is connected to Kincaid!
"Oh yes, I do. You see, young MacGyver, Kincaid yanked out a few hair follicles when he gave you the impromptu haircut. I was delighted when the DNA test indicated a son/father match with a blood sample I stole from MacGyver."
Blair stood in shock, his mind trying to accept or deny what the guy had just said, but getting stuck in between. Sam spared a quick glance for his companion, then called back, "What do you want, Murdoc?"
"Ah, my reputation precedes me. I want you two to climb over here, before I decide to inform your father of the location of your graves, instead of your live bodies."
"No way!" Sam shouted. Instantly he grabbed Blair, dragging both of them down the incline. Sam raced back to the jeep, still hanging on to the dazed Blair. Suddenly, an object landed by the rear tire.
"Wha..?" Blair started.
"Grenade!" Sam yelled, yanking Blair down into a nearby ditch. An explosion lifted the back end of the Jeep into the air. "Run!" Sam commanded, moving as fast as he could up the ditch while still bent over. Blair scrabbled after him.
Early Thursday evening, Ellison's loft
"They are going to be fine, Jim," Simon Banks stated forcefully, carrying on the conversation they had started at the station. He walked through the door Jim had just unlocked. "Malloy has a good head on his shoulders."
"Yeah, this trip is just what the kid needs," Joel Taggart added as he followed Simon into the loft. "You know how Sandburg hates being cooped up. It should be restful at the cabin once they get there."
"I know," Jim stated again as he closed the door. Catching the looks of disbelief on his friends' faces, Jim restated, "I know. It's just that I'm still a little nervous after the Kincaid deal."
Joel gave his friend a pat on the back. "I think we all are, Jim. Blair gave us a good scare this last time. But he needs to move on and so do we."
Jim sighed, knowing it was true, but still on edge. He couldn't shake the feeling of a disaster waiting just around the corner. "Would you guys like some coffee?" At his friends' agreement, Jim started a pot. It had actually been quiet at the station for a change, so the three friends had decided to leave early to watch a basketball game at Jim's place.
"Yeah, what I wouldn't give for a vacation in..." Simon paused as a knock on the door echoed in the loft.
Puzzled, Jim focused his senses. That perfume was familiar. In fact, wasn't that...oh, oh. He sneezed, then walked over to the door to confirm his suspicions.
"Hi Jim," Naomi greeted breezily. Looking around the loft, she called out, "Oh, hi Captain. And have I met you?"
"Briefly, once, Ms. Sandburg. I'm Joel Taggart."
"Oh, please, just call me Naomi. Blair has mentioned you often."
Jim stood off to the side, attempting not to shake his head in amazement. After several weeks of MacGyver trying to track down the free spirit unsuccessfully, Naomi just sweeps in unannounced. Now, Jim just had to figure out how to keep Naomi in one spot long enough for Mac to catch her.
Checking the loft in a sweeping gaze, Naomi turned back. "Jim, is Blair around?"
Seeing a trace of worry cross her face, Jim replied reassuringly, "Actually, you've missed him."
"Oh dear. When is he getting home?"
Jim politely shrugged, lifting his hands in apology. "I'm sorry, Naomi. He left this morning for a week in Colorado."
Disappointment radiated from Blair's mother. "I was hoping to see him. He had such a nasty cough the last time we spoke. He said it was nothing, but I didn't like the sound of it."
Joel and Simon exchanged glances. They knew that Blair tried to keep his mother in the dark about most of his misadventures with the police. They were not surprised Blair hadn't told his mother about the abduction or the resulting illness.
"Plus, it seems that someone was trying to track me down recently. I was afraid it might be you because Blair was sick. Then when no one answered his cell phone or the phones here and at the University this afternoon, I decided I'd better check on him."
The glance exchanged between Simon and Joel was more serious this time. To the best of their knowledge, neither Jim nor Blair was looking for Naomi.
Jim's poker face was in full force. How should he field this one, especially with Simon and Joel there? He could read Naomi's deep worry for her son by her rapid pulse and lined face. Before he could come up with an answer, there was another knock on the door. Oh hell, it could not be this easy. With a feeling that the disaster had just arrived, Jim opened the door again.
"Hi Jim. I was hoping to catch Sam and Blair before they left. Are they still here?" It was MacGyver who had walked through the door.
"Sorry, Mac," Joel replied warmly, "they left this morning. You'll just have to make due with us old cops." He and Simon both knew and liked the multi-talented man who had helped them through many a tough situation.
However, it was Naomi's reaction Jim was interested in. He definitely saw one. The slim woman had lost all the color in her face, staring at Mac like she was seeing a ghost.
Mac's eyes had finally caught Naomi's, causing him to stop dead in his tracks. After trying to trace her throughout several countries on two continents, he hadn't expected to see her here. A quick check revealed that she had matured from the pretty girl he remembered into a beautiful woman. A woman who did not look happy to see him. Tentatively, he asked, "Naomi?"
Naomi's mouth opened and closed a couple of times before any sounds came out. "What, what are you doing here?"
"Why shouldn't I be here?" Mac returned firmly. He was tired of trying to track down answers to a question he desperately needed to settle.
Joel and Simon turned from Mac to Naomi and back, trying to figure out what was going on. They glanced at Jim, whose total concentration was on the drama playing out in front of him. Inconspicuously, they started edging towards the door.
"But what? Are you surprised that I know Blair?"
"Why shouldn't I know Blair?"
"Am I Blair's father?"
Both Joel's and Simon's jaws hit the floor at the same time. Jim continued to watch.
Naomi struggled to find the words. "But, but you're DEAD!"
Mac blinked. That certainly was not an answer he had expected. "What do you mean, I'm dead?"
Mac rolled his eyes to the ceiling in frustration. "Naomi, do I LOOK dead?"
"But you're dead!" Naomi insisted. "I saw your name on the lists. I even found your name on the Wall!"
"I am NOT on the Wall! I came back!"
"No, you didn't. I saw your name. Albert MacGyver."
Mac rubbed his face. "My first name is not Albert."
"What do you mean it's not Albert?" Naomi asked, shock and confusion still in her face. "I saw your id card. It said, 'A. MacGyver'." How on earth could I be wrong!
With a long-suffering sigh, Mac stated, "The 'A' does not stand for Albert. Trust me, Albert would be an improvement."
Naomi still continued to stare at Mac in shock. Escape forgotten, Joel and Simon were glued to the floor, mesmerized by the strange turn of events.
"You still haven't answered my question. Is Blair my son?" Come on, I need to know.
Finally, Naomi blinked, then drew herself up to her full height. "Why do you think you have the right to ask such a question?"
Let's just skip the facts and jump right to the defensive. She certainly hasn't changed much. Mac continued to stare sternly at her, trying to pull out the answer. "Because the timing is right. Is he my son?"
Naomi shrugged, hiding the fear and pain she thought she'd let go. "You are one of the possibilities."
"ONE of the possibilities?" Mac repeated. It hurt to think that he had been replaced so soon after she had hurt him so badly. Old Leary sure didn't waste any time.
"Okay, one of the better ones. But I rather doubt it, since Blair isn't anything like you. I raised him not to be like you. Blair doesn't even look like you."
At those words, Jim simply shook his head, and Joel looked puzzled. Blair was so damn much like MacGyver it wasn't even funny.
However, Mac felt stunned. Naomi still hated him that much? "Well, I don't think you succeeded," he softly whispered before turning and retreating onto the balcony.
Naomi watched him disappear. "Why is he here, Jim?"
"He is a friend of mine and Blair's," Jim stated softly, yet firmly. "It's..."
"Tell him to leave," Naomi interrupted.
Jim rubbed his eyes, feeling like he was between a rock and a hard place. "No." Damn it, this is not how it was suppose to go down.
Naomi glared at Jim, then stormed into Blair's bedroom, slamming the door.
The room was quiet. Finally, Simon cleared his throat. "Ah, Jim, you knew about this, didn't you?"
Jim shot Simon an uncomfortable look. "Yeah."
"Is... well... do YOU think it's true?"
Jim nodded, "Yes."
As Joel turned to study his friend on the balcony, Simon gave Jim a puzzled look. Jim paused, glanced at Joel's back, then rubbed his nose. Comprehension slowly crept across Simon's face. "Does Blair know?"
"No," Jim replied. He sighed. "With Blair so sick the last few weeks, we decided to wait until he was better and Mac had contacted Naomi."
Joel turned back. "Thank God Blair wasn't here for this. He didn't need to witness that scene."
Jim nodded in agreement, wondering how to clean up the fallout before his friend got home the next week.
"Does Sam know?" Joel asked.
"I don't think so. Mac was trying to keep it quiet until he had contacted Naomi."
Simon glanced to the balcony, then back at the bedroom. "Is there anything we can do to help? Should we leave?"
Jim glanced out to the desolate figure on the balcony. In this kind of situation, he usually relied on Blair's gifted touch with people. Yet this time he was on his own, with a lot riding on the outcome. "Could one of you make sure Mac doesn't jump off the balcony while I talk with Naomi?"
Joel gave a small smile. "Should be an easy job, considering how much Mac hates heights. I can do it."
Simon looked surprised. "MacGyver is scared of heights?" Both Joel and Jim nodded. "Damn, just like Blair."
Jim sighed and rubbed his face. "That's just one example. I've found many more." He took a deep breath and walked towards Blair's bedroom with determination. He had to get this settled for Blair's sake.
Thursday evening, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Blair's foot slid on the snow-covered slope, slamming the exhausted young man into the ground. Coughing, Blair pulled his knees through the snow up under his body, but just couldn't manage to get to his feet. Snow was lightly falling, deepening the gloom of the approaching night. Damp, hurting and shivering, Blair had had it. Yet he didn't want to stop. Stopping meant that a new psycho might catch up. Stopping meant he'd have to start thinking again.
Sam turned around and spied Blair on the ground. Damn it, Murdoc, Blair's not well enough for this! Walking back through the knee-deep snow, Sam knelt beside his coughing friend. Man, Ellison was going to kill him. He again scanned the woods around them, trying to see if there were any more grenades flying their way. At least Blair's brown coat and his forest green one gave them some camouflage. "Easy, Blair. I think we lost him for now." Sam picked up the backpack Blair had been carrying and searched an outside pocket. Finding the paper packet, Sam pulled out a cough drop. "Here, suck on this."
Blair managed to sit back up on his heels and took the drop. "Thanks." Still struggling to make his weakened lungs work in the thin, high altitude air, he glanced around them. "This snow is getting heavier."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, "and I haven't a clue as to where we are. Do you?"
Blair chuckled hoarsely. "You're asking me?"
Sam smiled, "Oh yeah, I forgot who I was talking to." Taking another deep breath, Sam glanced ahead. "I think I see something in those trees. Feel like checking it out?"
"Do we have a choice?" Blair asked breathlessly. He attempted to stand, but nearly slipped again.
Sam steadied him, then gently draped Blair's arm across his shoulders. "Come on, Indy, let's see if we can find someplace dry."
Thursday evening, Ellison's loft
One of the more popular topics in science fiction is the alternate timeline theory. I can see the appeal. Life would have been so different if I had stayed with Naomi and joined her cause. I would have never gone to Nam. I might not have met Pete nor joined the DXS. I wouldn't have lost so many friends to bombs and psychos. Maybe I'd have been in the country when Mom died. Most of all, I would have had the pleasure of watching my son Blair grow up. However, there is no way I could have made that decision and be the same person I am today. While my life has had its low moments, it has its high points, too. I wouldn't have met Pete, Penny, the Coltons, or Lisa. I'd have missed the opportunities to help all the people I've aided over the years. Worst of all, I wouldn't have met Kate nor had our son, Sam. Guess the problem with alternate universes is that you don't get to mix and match lives. You can only live one of them.
I just wish Naomi didn't hate me so much. I had hoped that she'd have mellowed, would have forgiven. Guess the differences that tore us apart then are still at work, even after all this time. Even if I had stayed, our opposing natures would have clashed eventually. Now I just have to find a way to keep it from affecting our son. Our son, that delightful blend of my logical nature and Naomi's spiritual one. Above all else, I don't want him hurt. I simply want to be there for him, if and when he needs me.
The door behind MacGyver opened and Joel stepped out. After silently standing on the balcony for several minutes, Joel carefully asked, "How are you doing?"
"I've been better," MacGyver admitted. He sighed, then glanced at his friend. "Sorry for the scene. That wasn't how I had planned it."
"That's all right," Joel replied. "That was probably more action than the Jags game."
Mac faintly smiled. "Yeah, probably was. I'm just glad Blair and Sam weren't here to witness it."
Joel gently laid a huge hand on his friend's shoulder. He had greatly respected his explosives instructor since the first day of class, realizing that this man had been on the front lines and knew what he was talking about. They had become good friends during the course, a friendship that had grown over the last few years. Once, Mac had told him how much he missed seeing Sam grow up. Joel could only imagine how much pain missing out on a second son's childhood would cause him.
"Well, I have to admit, you must have good genes." At Mac's questioning glance, Joel continued, "Blair's a good kid with a good heart. In spite of what Naomi said, there is a lot of you in him. I should have spotted it before."
"Yeah," Mac slowly admitted. "He also has my Grandma MacGyver's curly hair and my Mom's eyes. Man, how Mom would have loved playing grandma."
Joel gave Mac's shoulder a squeeze, not knowing what to say.
"I just wish I could have been there for them. Joel, how did I get so lucky, having two sons who managed to grow up into great adults without me?"
"Like I said, great genes." Studying his friend's tired face, Joel gave his shoulder another squeeze. "Hey, do you have a place to stay tonight?" MacGyver slowly shook his head. "Then you're coming home with me. I've got a spare room, and I can make a whale of a breakfast. By then, maybe we can figure out a way to settle things before your boys get home."
Mac nodded, following Joel back inside. Simon and Jim were in the kitchen talking. "Any luck?" Joel asked.
Jim ruefully shook his head. "Naomi is meditating. She will ignore everything and anything until she wants to come back. Last I knew, her 'personal best' was five hours, and I doubt she had as much to 'process' then as she does now."
"Oh man," Mac muttered. "I didn't mean to upset her that much."
Jim gave him an encouraging smile. "Don't worry. I'm sure once she is done, she will be easier to talk to. We'll try again in the morning."
Thursday night, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
"... basically, Dad and Pete are Murdoc's only failures. That ruined his reputation, so he blames Dad. For almost 20 years, he has made several elaborate attempts on the lives of Dad and his friends. Even after he's been declared dead, he just keeps coming back. Murdoc has got to be Dad's greatest nightmare." Silence fell as Sam finished the history between his father and Murdoc.
The building Sam had seen turned out to be an old cabin that was partially destroyed by a fallen tree. He and Blair had sought shelter in the one end still standing. A fire in the fireplace was starting to warm up the small area. Their wet jeans hung nearby. Hopefully, they would be dry by the next morning. Too bad Jim hadn't slipped in an extra pair of jeans along with the extra sweatshirt Blair found in his pack. In the firelight, Sam could see Blair huddled in the ragged blanket they had found. Between the coughing and the unusual quietness, Sam was growing concerned. This trip was turning out a whole lot rougher than they had planned.
Suddenly, Blair snorted. "Guess I'm not the only one to attract the attention of psychos," he commented.
"No," Sam admitted. "Me, too. I'm not exactly welcomed in Bosnia anymore."
The two shared a smile before Blair's eyes turned serious again. "Do you think what he said was true?"
Sam met Blair's deeply circled eyes across the flickering flames. "Yeah, I suspect it is."
Blair felt his stomach lurch. For the last hour, he had been trying to tell himself that crazy Murdoc was out to lunch, especially about Mac being his father. He had expected Sam to say the same. Hearing such a positive response shook him. "Why?"
Sam took a deep breath, trying to find the words to explain his suspicions. "Well, Dad's been pretty gung ho on you from the start. Talked about your University work, your work with the police force, how you handled yourself with that bomber. That's why I wanted to meet you."
Blair nodded, remembering Sam saying something about that the first time they had met.
"Then, when he told me about Kincaid and his militia abducting you, I could tell he was still pretty upset by it. While Dad tends to take things to heart, he will usually shake stuff off after a situation is over and everyone's safe. The only time I know of something affecting him that much was when my poly sci class was taken hostage."
"Your Poly Sci class?" Blair repeated in disbelief.
"Yeah, a Prof was upset because someone cut his grant and decided to take it out on us. But anyway, Dad tends to let things get to him a little more when I'm involved. I could see the same thing happening with you." Sam glanced back at Blair, wondering how he was taking all this. "Then, last week when I was visiting, he was on the phone a lot. I caught enough of one conversation to realize he was trying to find someone. Someone named Naomi Sandburg."
Puzzled, Blair asked, "My mother? Why would he want to find my mother? Unless..." All of a sudden, the whole situation hit him. A lifetime of loneliness, wanting, anger, rejection, and insecurity dropped on him with crushing intensity. "Oh man," Blair moaned, dropping his head on his arms. MacGyver was his father? That was just too big a concept for his tired mind to process. His body shook as his mind stalled out again, questions and fear pushing out his rational thought.
Alarmed, Sam stood up and jumped over next to the man who might be his brother. Damn it, he should have known Blair wasn't in any condition to handle this. He wrapped his arms around the too thin, shaking body, thinking up every curse he had ever heard of and wishing it upon Murdoc. Upon the circumstances that seemed intent on separating the MacGyver family.
"Why?" Blair finally managed to articulate. "Why didn't he tell me? Why didn't he WANT me?"
Sam tightened his embrace. "Dad adores you, Indy. He probably just didn't know about you before. I'll bet that even now he doesn't know for sure. That's why he's trying to reach your Mom."
For several minutes they huddled together, Sam gently rocking, trying to offer comfort. When Blair started coughing again, Sam pulled back. Rubbing Blair's shoulder, he commented, "You realize Ellison is going to kill me."
Surprised at the change of subject, Blair blinked at Sam in tired confusion.
"I promised him I'd take care of you. Now look. We are lost, hungry, freezing, exhausted, and hiding out from a psycho in a dilapidated building. You might as well shoot me now to prevent the slow death Jim will dream up."
As Sam had hoped, a tired chuckle accompanied the faint smile crossing Blair's face. "Nah, I'll threaten his beloved '69 Ford with a blow torch. That should stop him between the water torture and the flaying."
Sam chuckled, glad to see a little of the feisty Blair he had grown to like reappear. He started rummaging through his pack. "Well, I do have some Snickers in here. You hungry?"
"Snickers? Empty calories in an extra dose of fat? Man, you are as bad as Jim."
"So you don't want one?"
"I didn't say that."
Early Friday morning, Phoenix Foundation mail room, CA
Nodding to the music in his headset, a boy in his late teens sorted out the incoming mail. Barry enjoyed his job with its late hours and quiet atmosphere. There was no one to bug him except Carrie, and she was in the front room typing labels.
At the bottom of the bag, Barry felt a package and pulled it out. He glanced at the plain brown wrapper, noted the name on the label, and was about to toss it on the table. Suddenly, a flash of memory from his orientation meeting crossed his mind. Pulling back the package, Barry examined it more closely. Addressed to 'Mr. MacGyver' and postmarked Denver, CO, it had no return address. Feeling a sudden rush of adrenaline surge through his system, Barry took off his earphones and held the package closer. It was ticking.
With slow, deliberate caution, Barry gingerly placed the package on the work table, then carefully stepped back towards the door. Once through, he screamed, "CARRIE!"
A couple of hours later, Phoenix director Peter Thornton walked into the mail room with his assistant. "Willus, do you have any idea what time it is? What is going on that can't wait for a couple hours?"
"Sorry for getting you out of bed, Mr. Thornton," Willus, a scientist for Phoenix, apologized as he turned to his boss. "They called me when they couldn't get a hold of MacGyver. I thought you might know how to reach him."
"Yes, I know where he went and can probably track him down. Why do we need to?"
Willus sighed. "At first, we thought that someone may have sent him a bomb."
"A bomb!" Pete's tired eyes flew open, sleep now a distant memory.
"That's what they thought at first, sir. The bomb squad has since looked it over and found that it was just set up to look like a bomb."
Pete was now confused. "Why would someone make it just look like a bomb?"
Willus sighed. "Well, sir, I think they wanted to make sure we noticed it. Or I should say Murdoc did."
"Murdoc!" Pete exclaimed. This situation was getting worse all the time. "What did Murdoc send?"
"A bunch of pictures and a note." Willus shifted on his feet, hating to break the news to Thornton and praying he wouldn't have to break it to Mac as well. He knew how the name Murdoc seemed to shake his normally unshakable co-workers. "The pictures are of two men approximately in their twenties. One appears to be Sam."
Oh please God, not Sam. "What does the note say?"
Willus read the note which to him was a cryptic riddle, but which sent Pete's heart pounding in fear. The pieces were falling into place to form a horrific picture. Pete closed his eyes and asked, "Willus, what does the second young man look like? Does he have curly brown hair and blue eyes?"
Puzzled, Willus glanced back at the photos. "They are black and white, so I can't tell hair or eye color, but he definitely has dark curly hair and is rather slim. In this shot he is wearing glasses in what looks like a University setting. Comparing him to this street sign, I'm guessing he's well under 6 foot in height. We can have them analyzed to determine exactly."
Pete turned to the direction of Willus' voice. "That won't be necessary. Contact Jack Dalton and tell him to get here immediately. I want him to look at the pictures and see if he can identify the second young man as Blair Sandburg."
"Who is Blair Sandburg?" Willus asked in confusion.
"I'll explain later. Just make the call and meet me in Mac's office. We have to reach him as soon as possible."
Friday, predawn, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Slowly, painfully, Blair became aware of his surroundings. The hard ground under him and the smell of wood smoke brought home that he wasn't in the loft, hadn't dreamed the previous day's events. That meant he and Sam were lost in a mountain forest being chased by a psycho. That meant that MacGyver could very well be his father.
Blair shut his eyes tighter. How could that be? Mom has never once mentioned anyone like Mac being on the list. Okay, so I haven't mentioned MacGyver to her either, not wanting to explain the circumstances of how we met. However, I don't remember seeing Mac in any of her photo albums. Why didn't she tell me about him?
Blair slowly sat up, anger beginning to grow. Why didn't Mac say something? If he did suspect, why not just ask? Ask about Mom? Say anything? Maybe they could have done blood tests, or maybe Jim could have determined something with his senses. Wait a minute. A conversation from nearly two months ago crossed his mind.
"Hey Chief, I've noticed something. Something about my sense of smell."
"Really? Like what? For how long?"
"Not long. You know how everyone has their own scent?"
"Yeah? Is this a crack about using the spray again?"
"No, not that. It's just that I've noticed that the scents of people closely related are similar. You know, like Simon and Daryl."
"Really? It is probably something genetic then. Have you noticed this with anyone else?"
"Well, now that you men..."
"Damn, Jim, that's mine, I'm waiting for a call...."
Oh hell, even Jim knows! Blair jumped up and started to pace furiously, ignoring the protest from his ribs. Damn it, how long was everyone going to play dumb little Blair along, poor sucker that he is. Don't they think I have the right to know? Doesn't MacGyver want me to know?
In a flash of rage, Blair kicked a piece of wood on the floor. The twisting motion sent a flash of pain through his already aching ribs. As Blair leaned over in agony, another coughing fit rose from his chest.
Seeing Sam standing there, arms full of wood and eyes round with worry, cooled Blair's temper. Leaning against the wall, Blair finally got the coughing and pain under control.
"Blair, are you all right?"
"No," Blair admitted. Straightening, he stared at the wall in front of him. "Why didn't someone tell me, Sam? Why didn't Jim tell me?"
Brow wrinkled in puzzlement, Sam asked, "Does Jim know?"
"Yeah," Blair replied, his finger following the grain of the wood. "I just realized that about two months ago, Jim was trying to tell me but we were interrupted."
Sam shrugged. "Well, you did give him a good scare after that. Jim was still pretty worried about you just yesterday. Told me he didn't know what he'd do if he lost you."
Blair shrugged, knowing that his sentinel was rather protective of him. Mind still racing, he coughed again, then commented, "God, Sam, you know how weird this is? Do you have any idea how envious I was of you?"
"Yeah. ~cough~ You had not only found your dad, but you have such a cool one, too. Anyone can tell how much Mac loves you. ~cough, cough~ Now all of a sudden, I've gone from watching with my nose pressed against the window ~cough~ to being inside the store wondering when someone's going to kick me out." ~cough, cough~
"No one is going to kick you out, Blair." Sam sighed, handing Blair a bottle of water. "Besides, that just makes us even."
Blair turned around, coughing. "Even?"
Sam gave him a lopsided smile. "You have any idea how envious I've been of you about Jim? I've always wanted a big brother, and Jim definitely acts like your brother."
Blair began to smile, "Yeah, he is pretty great. Oh man!"
"I was suppose to call Jim once we got to the cabin."
The young men traded looks. "Do you think he'll get worried?" Sam asked. Blair lifted his eyebrows. "Oh yeah, I forgot we're talking about your Mother Hen from Hell."
"Exactly. My bet is that if he hasn't heard from me by 7 this morning, he'll try calling us. ~cough~ If he can't reach us, he'll find someone to check on us. If they can't find us, he'll buy the first ticket out here."
"Do you have your cell phone?"
"No, it's in my suitcase back in the jeep, or what's left of it."
"Oh, man," Sam moaned. "I just thought of something else. You can bet that with Murdoc after us, he's going to taunt Dad with it."
They traded looks again. "We had better find some way back to civilization and out of this mess ~cough, cough~ before Mac runs into a trap Murdoc set for him," Blair commented, thinking hard.
"Are you sure you are up to it?" Sam didn't like Blair's resurgent cough.
"Yeah, just give me another cough drop. Besides, if I stay in one place, it is more likely Murdoc will catch me. I've had more than enough of being used against Mac or Jim to last a lifetime."
Friday morning, Taggart's apartment
Barely out of the shower, Joel Taggart reached for the phone next to his bed. "Hello?" he answered with dread. If the department was calling him this early, it was usually because they had a situation.
A nervous, shaky voice replied, "Hello, I'm sorry for calling so early, but I need to reach my friend MacGyver. Do you know where he is?"
Joel blinked a couple of times. "Yeah. Who is this?"
"My name's Willus. Believe me, this is really important."
"Hang on a moment." Joel padded barefoot to his guestroom. "Hey Mac, you awake?"
"Yeah," Mac answered with a yawn. "What's up?"
"Some guy named Willus on the phone for you. Says it's important."
"Willus?" Mac repeated, trying to rub the sleep out of his eyes. Puzzled as to why Willus would be calling him at Joel's, Mac grabbed the phone. "Willus? How did you know I was here?"
Joel was about to leave and give Mac some privacy, when he saw all the color drain from Mac's face.
Friday morning, Ellison's loft
Quietly, Ellison buttered his toast, glancing again at the phone. It lay silent. Blair had taken his cell phone, promising to call him when they got to the cabin. With everything that had gone on the night before, Jim hadn't missed the call until he went to bed, frustrated that Naomi had still not left Blair's bedroom. By that time, it was too late to call Colorado. Of course, Sam hadn't been certain if the cabin would be within range of a tower. Surely that must be it. Or Blair, excited to have arrived and exhausted from a long trip, had simply forgotten.
However, the feeling of approaching disaster still had not left. Jim glanced at the clock. Surely they must be up by now. Maybe. He began reaching for the phone when Naomi emerged from the bedroom.
Wrapped in Blair's robe, she quietly glided over to the table. Sitting across from Jim, she remained silent. Jim studied her a moment. New, faint lines graced her eyes, making her seem much older than normal. Gently Jim asked, "Would you like some tea?"
Naomi looked up and nodded. When Jim returned with the tea, she took the mug, set it on the table, then looked straight into Jim's eyes. "Jim, there are several empty prescription bottles on Blair's dresser. Blair hates drugs, so just how sick is he?"
Jim sighed. He hated walking the fine line between loyalty to Blair and not lying to Naomi. "A few weeks ago, Blair was hit hard by a new strain of flu going around. It developed into a very stubborn case of bronchitis. He's had to take several different antibiotics until finally they found one that worked."
"I knew that cough sounded bad," Naomi replied worriedly. "Are you sure this trip to Colorado was a good idea?"
"He was getting pretty tired of being stuck at home. You know how Blair is. A friend invited him to his grandfather's cabin and Blair jumped at the chance. But Sam knows how sick Blair's been, so they don't plan to do anything too taxing. It is just to give Blair a quiet place to recover." Jim glanced back at the phone, wishing it would ring.
Naomi blew the steam off the top of her cup, thinking hard. Again, she looked into Jim's eyes. "You knew about Mac thinking he's Blair's father."
Jim nodded. "Yes."
"Does Blair know?"
"No. I didn't feel it was my place and Mac wanted to talk with you first."
Naomi shook her head. "I don't understand, Jim. What makes you think it's Mac? Blair doesn't look like him."
"Who do you think Blair looks like?" Jim asked, curious.
Naomi gave a faint smile. "That is the problem. Blair looks like my family with the dark hair and small build. I could never really pin down anything to one of the other candidates."
Well, they certainly smell like each other. "You said last night you thought Mac was one of the better possibilities. What happened?"
Naomi sighed, stirring her tea. "I was staying along the Gulf Coast, helping to plan protests around the various military installations in the area. I was still in my teens, but was deep into the movement by then. Then one evening, I met this college guy from Minnesota on the beach. There was such an instant ... inferno... between us. I fell hard. He was so sweet and cute and smart. We were constantly together for two whole days, totally forgetting the outside world. It was glorious.
"But then I found out how closed minded he was, rejecting things I deeply believed in. He couldn't see how great my hero Timothy Leary was and looked down on his, and my, lifestyle. He wouldn't join in with my friends and even had the nerve to say Timothy wanted me for something other than promoting his causes. I couldn't believe how much of a square he was.
"Of course, the final straw was his unenlightened views about the war. He couldn't SEE how wrong the government was and was hypocritical enough to go along instead of fight. Fighting against the war was my life's mission at that point. I'd dropped out of school and had left my family for what I believed. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't do the same. It infuriated me that he would even think of going along with the draft. What was worse, he didn't even stick around so I could convince him otherwise. He left the next morning, choosing school and the government over me and my cause. I was crushed. I felt so alone and empty with him gone, I found myself taking comfort from my various friends. I was just so damn young at the time. Later, I just wasn't sure who had fathered Blair. I was still so mad at Mac, I didn't want it to be him.
"Then a few years later, I ran into Mac when I was protesting. Not only was that a shock, but I also ended up getting arrested. I spent the entire night in a cell, scared to death. Not because I had been arrested, but because the girl I left Blair with had also been arrested and the police had handed him over to Social Services. Being a single, unwed mother, I was afraid I'd lose him. Nor did I trust my family or friends enough to look after him. So, when the judge was lenient towards me because I was a mother, I was a little more careful in the protests I got involved with. Blair was so precious to me, I didn't want to take that kind of chance again.
"However, running into Mac made me wonder if maybe he could be Blair's father. I kept watching the lists and a few months later saw that Albert MacGyver had been killed in action. I knew it was him. It's not like MacGyver is that common of a name. I mourned for him and continued fighting against the war that killed him. Yet, I was still mad at Mac for going, so I didn't tell Blair about him. I wanted Blair to have my values, not anybody else's. Blair is so impressionable. I couldn't take the chance of him looking up to a dead soldier and perhaps glorifying a war I hated."
Jim remained silent. As a former soldier himself, he wasn't sure what kind of defense he could muster. However, he had a hard time seeing his peace-loving friend ever glorifying war, even if he was impressionable. One guess as to which parent he inherited that trait from.
"Besides, Blair is so different from Mac. There is no way it could be him."
Noticing the slight hesitation in her voice, Jim gently explained, "They are actually quite a bit alike. Did you know one of Mac's minors in college was archaeology?"
Naomi looked at him in surprise. "Mac is interested in archaeology? But that's similar..." Her voice trailed off as she immediately returned her gaze to her mug.
"Yes, it's similar to anthropology. Mac still does a lot of amateur work in the field. He and Blair have gotten into some good in depth discussions."
"That's still not much." Naomi was back to studying her tea.
"Did you know Mac always carries a Swiss army knife? That Mac has a fear of heights?"
"So do a lot of people." Naomi took a deep breath, then launched her biggest defense. "But Blair is a pacifist. He doesn't like guns."
"Neither does Mac. I'd be surprised if Mac has shot one since returning from Nam. Even over there, being in demolitions probably meant he could avoid guns when possible."
Naomi raised her head. "Demolitions?"
Jim smiled. "Yes. MacGyver is still considered quite an expert. He is often called in to consult on complicated arson and bombing cases. He also teaches advanced defusing techniques for police bomb squad personnel. In fact, he taught the class Taggart took. That's how Blair and I met him, through Joel."
Face wrinkled in concentration, Naomi stated, "That is still a violent way to live."
Jim took a deep breath, remembering Naomi didn't know many of the things her son had done in the past two years. "That is just part of what Mac does. He's employed by the Phoenix Foundation. He's even tried recruiting Blair for them."
"Phoenix Foundation?" Naomi questioned, frowning as she placed the name. "That's that think tank that does a lot of environmental work."
"That's right. Mac has been involved in many of their studies and recommendations. He has also been heavily involved in their human rights causes. Mac does fight for what he believes in. He just has a quieter approach."
Naomi pushed her cup away. "But Jim, why does any of that matter? Why are you so sure Mac is such a great guy for Blair to know?"
Jim paused, choosing his next words with care. "Naomi, you raised a good son. Blair is a highly intelligent, brave, and compassionate young man. With the energy and drive he has inherited from you, he wants to be out in the world, not stuck in an academic ivory tower. Yet the real world is hard on young men like Blair. I try to protect him from the worst bits, but he still gets hit sometimes. Since my background and personality are different from Blair's, I can't always reach him. Yet Mac is very similar to Blair and has dealt with a lot of the issues Blair is dealing with now. The two of them have long discussions on things Blair and I can't always discuss, leaving Blair the better for it. But that kind of relationship is built on trust. How can Mac help Blair if he is always wondering if Blair is his son? How can Blair trust Mac if there is that kind of secret being withheld from him? Doesn't Blair deserve to know the truth?"
As Naomi and Jim stared at each other, the phone rang. Jim glanced at it. "That's probably Blair. He was suppose to call me and let me know they got there okay."
Naomi switched her stare to her cup of tea. With a sigh, Jim picked up the phone. "Hey Blair, you're late - Joel?... WHAT!...Damn... yes, I know who he is talking about...Okay, I'll meet you guys at the airport." Feeling Naomi's stare, Jim rubbed his eyes. The full force of the disaster had just made itself known, and Jim didn't know how to tell Naomi.
Friday morning, Cascade county airfield
Jim entered the hanger at the small airfield, Naomi on his heels. He immediately spotted MacGyver pacing in one corner. Sending another worried glance to his pre-occupied friend, Jim walked over to Joel and Simon standing in the center. "Has Dalton arrived yet?"
"He's landing right now," Joel replied grimly.
"Who is this guy, Jim?" Simon asked.
"Some international hitman with an old grudge against Mac. In the past, Murdoc has gone after several of Mac's friends to get at him. Mac's been worried the guy might decide to go after Sam."
"Just who do you think you are!" Jim, Joel and Simon spun around to see Naomi facing-off with the upset-looking MacGyver. "First, you decide you must be Blair's father, now you have him targeted by some murderer. I can't BELIEVE you would have the nerve and insensitivity to drag my son into this!"
"Nao..." Mac began, but couldn't get through Naomi's furious tirade.
"WHAT were you THINKING? Did you even CONSIDER that you might put my innocent son in danger? And just what kind of person are you to be threatened by a hitman? What exactly did you do to anger this guy enough to kidnap my son?"
"He saved my life," a firm voice stated.
Naomi looked up to see an older man, carrying a cane and holding another man's arm. Starting to cool down as she realized the man was blind, she asked, "Who are you?"
With a smile, the man held out a hand in her general direction, though not exactly. "My name is Pete Thornton, director of the Phoenix Foundation. You must be Blair's mother."
Non-pulsed, Naomi shook the offered hand. "Yes, I am Naomi Sandburg."
"If you could direct me to a chair, I can explain what is going on," Pete offered.
Behind her, Simon narrowed his eyes. He could swear Pete was playing up the blindness to divert Ms. Sandburg's attention. However, it did seem to be working. As Naomi led Pete to a chair, Jack spared a quick glare at her, then walked over to Mac.
"Did you bring the package?" MacGyver asked as they gathered round the table.
"Right here," Jack replied grimly as he slid out the pictures and the note from a large envelope.
Seeing Mac's attention was on the photos, Jim spun the note around so he could read it.
all alone in the woods to dream.
If Papa MacGyver is not there,
who will hear them scream?
Damn, no wonder Mac looked so grim. Jim quickly studied the photos. There were five of Sam and three of Blair. Of the photos with Blair, one was taken outside the doctor's office, one in the parking lot behind the loft, and the last outside Hargrove Hall where Blair's office was. After a moment, Jim commented, "All these of Blair are recent, since his hair is short. Yet I've been driving him lately and don't remember anyone hanging around."
Mac sighed, "Murdoc is an expert at disguises. I've actually been right next to him in disguise without realizing who it was."
"Me, too," Jack added, a flash of fear crossing his eyes.
"He's been keeping track of Sam for a while," Simon remarked. "I'm guessing this one was at college graduation?"
"Yeah," Mac slowly drawled, studying the candid photo of Sam in cap and gown, smiling at Mac walking beside him. "This looks like the parking lot near the arena. This one's outside his apartment, probably right after his assignment in Bosnia judging from the long hair." Mac closed his eyes and tried to take a steadying breath. While he had suspected Murdoc knew about Sam, he hadn't wanted to think of him stalking his son. Now to have him after Blair as well...
A large hand took a firm grip of his shoulder. Mac looked up into Ellison's face, seeing the strength and support in his eyes. "Easy, Mac. You are not alone in this."
"Thanks, Jim." Mac took another deep breath, clearing his mind. "First thing is to check if Sam and Blair are at the cabin."
"I called the Sheriff's department there and they're sending people to the cabin," Simon replied.
"While they are doing that, I need to get to Colorado as quick as possible."
"As soon as they finish refueling the plane, we can leave," Jack quickly responded.
Mac paused a moment, then turned to stare at his long-time friend. "Since when do you fly TOWARDS an area Murdoc has been sighted, instead of running in the opposite direction?"
"I'm hurt, Mac," Jack replied, holding a hand to his heart. When Mac only blinked and lifted his eyebrow, Jack continued. "Besides, it was bad enough when he went after Penny. This time he's after the kids, and that is going too far."
Mac was touched. Jack barely knew Blair. While Jack enjoyed talking with Sam and telling tales about their adventures, Mac hadn't realized he cared that much about his son. "Thanks."
"How many seats are on this plane?" Jim asked, still staring at the pictures, hoping to discover some clue.
"It's the Phoenix jet. There's plenty of room," Jack answered. While he was willing to fly MacGyver out, the more tough guys between himself and Murdoc the better.
"Then count me in," Joel replied.
"Me, too," Simon added.
"On what?" Naomi asked, walking up to the table. She looked down and glanced at the photos. "Oh my God, that's Blair. When did he get his hair cut?"
Mac glanced at Jim, who rolled his eyes.
"Oh, Det. Brown's sister is working on her beautician's license and Blair let her practice on him," Joel quickly replied. He wasn't exactly lying. Henri's sister had come over, trimming and shaping Blair's locks after Kincaid's hack job.
Naomi frowned. "She must be very cute then. Blair loves his hair long." She looked up to stare at MacGyver across the table. "What are you going to do about all this?"
Mac returned her stare. "I'm going to Colorado to get them back."
"Then I'm going, too."
"He is MY son. I'm going."
Mac, recognizing that particular stance, sighed. "All right." He turned to walk towards the window, his mind trying to decipher Murdoc's next move.
Friday morning, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Sam glanced back, searching the shadows cast by the evergreens. Blair was another step further behind on the snow-covered road. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Blair replied, trying to concentrate on breathing. His chest was feeling heavy and congested, like it had before when the bronchitis had been at its worst. While Sam had been breaking a path through the knee-deep snow, trudging through it was still wearing Blair down. Unfortunately, curling up somewhere warm for a nap wasn't an option. Nor was worrying Sam any more than he had to. Quietly, he squeezed the rock in his pocket. He had picked it up earlier to give him something to focus his attention on, instead of his health or other things he didn't want to waste energy dwelling upon.
However, his companion's sharp eyes were still studying him, not convinced. "You look cold." Blair's face was bleached white under the light blue wool cap.
"That's normal," Blair said with a slight smile. "Though I admit I am still getting use to the draft. Never knew how much my hair kept my neck warm."
Sam yanked his scarf off and tossed it to him. "Put that on, it will help."
Catching it with his left hand, Blair shot Sam a stern look. "I'm not taking your scarf. You need it as much as I do."
"I haven't been the one sick for the last five weeks," Sam replied just as sternly. "Take it, it will help keep you warm."
"I can warm you up!" a voice gleefully roared.
Sam and Blair jumped back as flame leaped across their path, scorching a nearby tree. Murdoc stepped out from behind another tree, holding a flame thrower. The maniacal gleam in his eyes sent a cold tremor of fear down Blair's back.
Sam immediately stepped between Murdoc and Blair, trying to give his sick brother some measure of protection. "Why don't you leave us alone? We haven't done anything to you," he declared, fighting back his own fear.
"No, but your father has," Murdoc replied. "While he's always been such a softy for his friends, he seems even more protective of his little family. You are the perfect bait."
Blair sized up the psycho in front of them, then swiftly measured the distance between themselves and the ridge of rocks to the left. Glancing up, an idea suddenly popped to mind.
"The only thing Dad has done is stay alive," Sam returned, growing angry now. "He doesn't threaten you."
"He ruined my reputation by staying alive," Murdoc declared righteously, "and he is the only one who has defeated me. That makes him a threat. However, I do not have anything personally against the two of you. If you just follow that path over there, I might let you go once I'm done."
At those words, Blair threw his rock with all his might, hitting the snow-laden branch over Murdoc. As the load of snow hit the assassin, Blair grabbed Sam's arm. Together, they ran for the ridge.
Temporarily blinded by the snow, Murdoc fought to wipe his face. By the time he could see, Blair and Sam had disappeared. "I will find you, Junior MacGyvers!" he shouted. "And when I do, I will end the MacGyver line once and for all!"
Then a huge smile crossed his face. "Seems the apples didn't fall far from the tree," he chuckled to himself. "This could be more fun than I thought."
Friday morning, Phoenix jet
Naomi stood in the tiny jet bathroom, trying desperately to calm her frazzled nerves. It seemed that just when things couldn't possibly get any worse, they did. First it was Blair's cough. Then she couldn't reach him, which for some reason scared her more than it normally would. Then MacGyver, who should have been dead for over 20 years, makes a sudden appearance and demands to know if Blair is his son. Now, Blair had been abducted by some ghost of MacGyver's past who also wasn't dead. She was petrified of losing her sweet boy, either to death or to a man who had hurt her terribly.
Taking another calming breath, Naomi stared at the mirror and silently scolded herself. "Your sweet boy is no longer a child who can be taken away, but a grown man of 28. He is living his own life his own way, as you always did and encouraged him to do. Only you or he can break the bond between you. As Jim said, he deserves the truth." Right then, Naomi vowed to tell Blair the entire truth the next time she saw him.
If only she was certain there would be a next time. She knew Blair had been taking risks recently, though he usually glossed over them. Yet she hadn't worried too much, knowing deep down that his tough policeman friend was looking out for him. This time Jim wasn't with him. She could see the worry in Jim's face as well as the others. It scared her to the core. There was nothing she wanted more than to be able to give her son a big hug and know he was all right. Closing her eyes a moment, Naomi firmed up her resolve and drew from her inner strength. She had been in here long enough.
Opening the door, Naomi glanced down the aisle. She spotted the back of Mac's head. He was holding something in his hands. Another step revealed two pictures, the one of Blair on campus and the other of a young man on a city street. Naomi briefly paused. The eyes, fine hair, and lanky build reminded her of Mac when they were together. It had to be the son Jim had mentioned, the Sam who had offered to give her son a much-needed break and was also threatened. Naomi quietly sat back down in her seat, suddenly realizing that Mac must be as scared as she was, if not more.
Friday morning, Uncompahgre National Forest CO
Blair stumbled against a huge boulder. Coughing hard and shaking, he leaned against its snowy, but solid, surface. A moment later, a hand comfortingly squeezed his shoulder, lying there as Blair continued to cough. When the cough finally eased, Blair looked up into Sam's worried face.
"You know, Indy, the scarf doesn't do any good in your hand," Sam lightly teased, still breathing hard himself. He pulled the woven woolen strip from Blair's grip. Wrapping it around his brother's neck and gently tucking it into his jacket, Sam pushed back another wave of fear. Blair was wearing down quickly, yet their situation was even worse than it had been earlier that morning. Now they knew for certain Murdoc was still after them.
Blair slowly surveyed their surroundings. Deep snow, rocks and trees. It all looked the same to him. "We ~gasp~ seemed ~cough~ to have lost ~gasp~ Murdoc."
"Don't talk. Concentrate on breathing," Sam ordered. A faint smile crossed Blair's features. Sam was beginning to sound like Jim. He watched as Sam took another look around. "We may have lost him for now, but we are leaving quite a trail for him to follow."
Blair glanced back at the way they had come, noting the churned up snow. "Yeah, we need ~breathe~ a better plan."
Shaking his head, Sam replied, "I don't know how we can avoid leaving a trail in this snow."
A smile broke across Blair's weary features. "Maybe we need to leave more." Sam paused, then broke out in his own smile as he caught Blair's meaning.
Friday mid-morning, Landing strip near Ridgway, CO
Waiting for the plane on the mountain landing strip was a tough-looking man in his 40s wearing a county sheriff's uniform and badge. He warmly greeted MacGyver, who was first off the plane. Jim walked over to join them.
"When the police captain said to check out Harry's old cabin, I wondered if you were going to show up. What is this all about?"
Mac quickly explained about the threat to his sons. The sheriff frowned. "This does not sound good at all, especially since my deputies checking the cabin haven't called in yet. "
"What do you mean they haven't called in?" Jim interrupted. The sheriff gave him a puzzled look.
"Um, Dave, this is Detective Jim Ellison, Cascade PD. He's Blair's friend and Blair works with him as a consultant. Jim, this is Sheriff Dave Connors."
Sheriff Connors shook Jim's hand. "It must be your captain who called me."
"Yes," Simon walked up from behind and offered his hand, "Captain Simon Banks."
"What do you mean your deputies haven't called in?" Jim asked again.
The sheriff turned serious. "They should have reached the cabin and checked it by now, but they are not answering. I've sent another unit up to check on them."
Mac rubbed his eyes. Jim could practically feel the worry, tension, and guilt radiating off him. "Murdoc is fond of traps, Dave. I sincerely hope your people are not caught in one."
"Then let's get out there and check it ourselves," Connors replied.
As they walked to the two jeeps waiting by the strip, Simon introduced the sheriff to the rest of the group, while Jim hung back with Mac. Quietly, Jim stated, "This is not your fault."
"Murdoc has targeted them because of me. If I hadn't started making inquiries to find Naomi, maybe Murdoc would not have gone after both of them."
"Or maybe he would have gone after Sam and considered Blair expendable. I was the one who forced you to take steps to acknowledge Blair as your son. No matter how or why Murdoc found out, you are not responsible for the actions of a madman."
Mac sighed. "Trust me, he isn't your average madman. Murdoc is an eccentric game player, who can be very elaborate and dramatic. He is most definitely amoral and without a conscience. But while he may be obsessed with killing me, he is crazy like a fox."
Jim blew out a deep breath, sending a stream of icy mist through the mountain air. "Great. Sounds like Brackett." He glanced over to MacGyver, observing a piece of the hell the older man was going through. Laying a hand on Mac's shoulder, he gently reminded, "But you have something this Murdoc isn't counting on." When Mac shot him a puzzled look, Jim returned a grim smile. "You have a sentinel who is very pissed off that someone would attack his guide and his guide's family."
Mac faintly returned the smile, hoping a pissed off sentinel would be able to swing the balance to his side. Mac had a bad feeling he may need it.
Late Friday morning, Harry Jackson's cabin
Jim looked around as he stepped out of the sheriff's jeep. He quickly spotted the small cabin with the group of deputies out front. Closing his eyes a moment, Jim pushed out all his thoughts and concerns in order to carefully turn up the dial on each of his senses. Cautiously, he stretched out each sense, trying to pick up on any indication of his guide. A couple of minutes later a hand grasped his shoulder.
"Jim?" MacGyver softly asked, wondering if the sentinel was zoning out. That was about the last thing they needed.
"I'm okay," Jim replied, sounding puzzled. Seeing the question in Mac's eyes, Jim added, "I don't think they've been here."
Mac's tension jumped to the next level. He had been praying Jim could at least pick up the trail here, perhaps leading them to where Murdoc had taken Sam and Blair. If they hadn't even made it this far, Mac was again forced to play Murdoc's game by Murdoc's rules.
Raised voices attracted their attention to a small group around the sheriff. Jim was barely aware of the second jeep of their party pulling up behind them as he and Mac walked over.
"We just got Jackson and McConnell cut out of the net. Of all the dumb, idiotic..."
"What happened?" Jim interrupted.
"Apparently, a trap was set at the entrance of the cabin and caught my deputies who came to check on the young men," Sheriff Connors explained. "Guess they have been hanging in a huge fishing net for nearly an hour."
"Was anyone hurt?" Mac inquired, knowing how dangerous Murdoc's traps could be.
"No, but I am real sick of spoiled rich kids playing games with us and taking up our valuable time," the deputy growled. "If their self-centered parents would only..."
He was suddenly cut off when two large hands grabbed his jacket, forcing him nose to nose with a much larger man. "We haven't been introduced," Jim coldly stated. "I am Detective James Ellison of the Cascade, WA PD. One of the missing men happens to be my partner, who is recovering from injuries sustained while on a case. He has much better things to do than to play games on the local authorities. I would appreciate a little professional courtsey, especially in front of his mother."
Released as suddenly as he had been grabbed, the deputy stared in shock as Ellison and MacGyver walked towards the cabin. "What....?"
"Ellison gets real grouchy whenever someone messes with his partner," Simon stated matter-of-factly. Sometimes it was a real joy to watch Ellison at his intimidating best.
"And the other man is old Harry Jackson's grandson, MacGyver. He is a former DXS agent and the father of the missing men," Sheriff Connors replied, trying to keep from laughing. He was really beginning to like Ellison. "I keep warning you to get all your facts straight before jumping to conclusions. Also, the pretty redhead walking up is the mother to Detective Ellison's partner, so you'd better mind your manners."
Jim and Mac quietly examined the net hanging in front of the cabin door, recently cut in order to pull the unfortunate deputies out. "This wasn't intended to cause any harm, only to capture," Jim pointed out.
"Yeah," Mac agreed. "I suspect that this was meant for Blair and Sam, but for some reason they didn't get this far."
A husky blonde with a tag identifying her as 'Deputy Kelsey' walked over. "Is one of you 'MacGyver'?"
"Yes," Mac turned.
She paused briefly, then handed him an envelope. "We found that nailed to the door. It didn't make much sense to us, but maybe since it is addressed to you..."
Mac quickly pulled out a slip of paper.
just don't follow the plan.
Will Papa MacGyver find them?
Not if first I can.
Mac could barely control his hands from wadding up the paper. Jim quickly read it over his shoulder. "He's toying with you. Something went wrong, so he didn't catch them here but wants to keep you on edge."
"He's doing a good job," Mac muttered. "So where are they?"
Jim carefully searched the surrounding snow, then noticed some impressions nearby. Kneeling, Jim quietly asked Deputy Kelsey, "Did you have snow recently?"
She nodded. "It snowed yesterday evening, starting around 4:30."
Mac walked over to Jim. "What did you find?"
"Looks like footprints, covered by a couple inches of snow. They are leading this way." Jim stood up and followed the prints, Mac carefully following behind him.
Watching the two men walk behind the cabin, the deputy knelt where the bigger man had been. After a few minutes of intense study, she too was able to pick up the impressions. "Wow," she softly breathed. "He is good."
Behind the cabin, Jim stopped, then turned to look across the narrow ravine. "The trail ends here. However, there are only indications of one person."
"Sam or Blair?"
"Definitely not Blair, the print is too large. I don't think it's Sam either. Stride doesn't look right."
"Great, it was probably Murdoc." Mac noticed a small twitch in Jim's nose. "What do you smell?"
"I'm not sure," Jim replied, puzzled. "It is very faint. Kinda like gunpowder, but not. Definitely doesn't belong here. I just can't place it." Again Mac's tension level crept up another notch. Just thinking of the possibilities with Murdoc scared him.
At that moment the sheriff and Simon walked over. "Kelsey said you found prints."
"Yeah, but they end here," Mac replied.
Jim's attention was suddenly caught by a glint on the other side of the ravine. "What is over there?"
The sheriff shrugged. "Another road. It isn't used much this time of year."
Both Mac and Simon looked at Jim, realizing he had noticed something. "Well, someone was interested," Mac drawled. "Let's check it out."
Mac was out of the jeep before it had stopped. Fear gripped him as he raced to the damaged vehicle ahead. It wasn't until he glanced inside that he could breathe again. Jim, only a couple of steps behind, stopped on the other side. They exchanged looks across the front seat, relieved to find no one hurt or worse.
"It matches the description from the rental agency," Simon quietly stated as he and the sheriff joined them.
Jim studied the damaged luggage in the back. "Yeah, this is their stuff." Picking up three prescription bottles that had rolled out of a ripped suitcase, Jim sighed, then placed them in his coat pocket. He paused a moment, searching. "Blair's backpack isn't here though. I think Sam was carrying one too, and it isn't here either."
"Nor is Sam's camera case," Mac stated softly, still trying to get his pulse rate back to normal. "Sam doesn't go anywhere without his camera."
"But why is the jeep over here?" the sheriff asked, puzzled.
A sudden thought occurred to Jim. "Mac, has Sam ever been to the cabin before?"
"No, I gave him a map..." Mac lifted his head to meet Jim's eyes, realization dawning. "But he was probably driving, so he would have given the map to Blair."
"And with Blair's crummy sense of direction, he promptly got them lost," Simon finished, following their thoughts. "Though actually, this is pretty close for Blair." He glanced back at the rear of the vehicle, trying to remember where he had seen a similar damage pattern. Horror crossed his face as he made the connection. "Damn."
Three pairs of eyes turned to him. "What?" Jim asked.
"That damage looks like it was done by a grenade," Simon stated reluctantly.
"Oh hell," Jim moaned, now identifying the earlier smell. "Someone used a grenade launcher on the other side."
"Murdoc," Mac stated coldly. The thought of that bastard shooting grenades at his sons froze him with an icy fury.
Pushing away his own anger, Jim gathered his thoughts. "Mac, Sam has been in war zones as a photojournalist, right?"
Struggling to cool down, Mac faintly smiled though his eyes were haunted. "Yeah, though he tends to tone down the details with me."
"So he would be slightly familiar with grenades." Jim walked around the jeep, trying to envision the situation and how Sam would react. Deep in thought, he paused by a nearby ditch, kneeling to take a better look. "Here we go." Jim pointed out impressions and turned rocks to the others joining him. "This is how Blair and Sam escaped."
"So where are they now?" Simon asked. Jim looked up the ditch, then beyond into the wilderness. His jaw clenched at the thought of Sam and his still sick partner out there being chased by a 'crazy like a fox' hitman.
Following Jim's gaze, the sheriff quickly replied, "I'll gather up the search parties."
Mac turned to him. "You will have to be careful, Dave. Murdoc is very fond of traps, and they are often lethal." Glancing back up the ditch, he continued, "Why don't Ellison and I grab our gear and follow the tracks, while you and your people start a grid search. That way if Sam and Blair are heading back to the road or cabin, you may find them quicker than we do."
"As long as you two carry a radio," Connors replied. "I don't want to have to search for you, too."
Friday noon, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
MacGyver was trailing Ellison as the sentinel followed the snow-covered tracks. Jim was as intent as a bloodhound on the scent, worry and anger driving him. Glancing to the northwest, Mac grimly studied the bank of clouds indicating a storm coming in. They had to reach Sam and Blair before the weather turned bad. While his sons were resourceful, Mac didn't think they had enough in their light packs to handle several days of winter camping, especially in the middle of a storm. Especially with Blair already sick. Mac forced back another wave of anger and fear. He might have gotten into this father business late, but he sure seemed to be catching up in the worry department.
Suddenly, Jim stopped. Quickly snowshoeing over to his position, Mac asked, "What is it?"
"Something smells burnt," Jim explained. He took another breath, trying to categorize the odor. "Wood, most likely pine."
"Maybe. Let's check it out."
As they carefully worked their way around a pile of boulders and a shallow ravine, the woods opened to a snow-covered road. Jim piggybacked his sight on his sense of smell, spotting the smoldering object. "Mac, can you think of any reason why a tree would be burning up here?"
Visions of Murdoc bursting into Pete's cabin with a flame thrower flashed across Mac's mind. "Oh, hell. Where?"
"This way." The two men quickly snowshoed to the blackened tree. Jim surveyed the scene around them. "Looks like three separate tracks, two together and a single on snowshoes."
"Sam and Blair, meeting Murdoc with a flame thrower," Mac grimly responded, studying the tree. He walked over to where a broken branch hung down, pulling off a note sealed in a plastic bag.
"Looks like Blair's aim," Jim commented softly, fingering the broken branch and spotting a rock in the snow. He looked over Mac's shoulder at the note.
Hunting Junior MacGyvers
is a lot tougher than I thought.
May require extreme measures
before they are caught.
"Extreme measures? How extreme can Murdoc get?" Jim asked.
"You don't want to know," Mac replied coldly, staring out into space. Jim could almost see the horrors flashing across Mac's eyes.
Gently laying a hand on Mac's shoulder, Jim encouraged, "Their tracks lead this way, and Murdoc didn't follow. I'm sure neither of them are making good time breaking through this snow. We may still be able to catch up to them."
They'll be even slower with Blair sick. Mac banished the memory of a feverish and coughing Blair hiking to the Ares Bugle installation. He turned to Jim, replying "Let's go."
Friday afternoon, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Blair dropped onto a rock, coughing and struggling to breathe. He glanced up as Sam joined him. Between the two of them and a little ingenuity, they had laid out three false and hopefully confusing trails for Murdoc to follow. For the past few hours, they had been making slow but steady progress down the mountain.
Sam studied his brother with concern. The circles around Blair's eyes were growing darker within the paler face. Rest breaks were becoming more frequent. Yet Sam hadn't seen anything to indicate they were even close to civilization.
Blair noticed Sam's worried face. "I'm all right. ~cough~ I just need to ~cough~ a minute."
Yeah, right. Sam sighed. They were both exhausted, their jeans were encrusted with snow up to their thighs, they had eaten the last Snickers bars at breakfast, the water was nearly gone, and Blair was getting worse. Ellison was definitely going to kill him, if Murdoc didn't have the honor first.
Blair's eyes suddenly narrowed. "Isn't that ~cough~ a tower down there?"
Sam turned and looked. Sure enough, an old metal tower stood near what appeared to be a drop-off. "Okay, why don't I check it out while you wait here? Hopefully, I can see a cabin or something from there and the best way to reach it."
"Okay," Blair replied breathlessly.
The fact that Blair wasn't arguing that he should go too worried Sam even more. After giving Blair a quick pat on the shoulder, Sam carefully weaved around boulders, punching his way through the snow. The sky highlighted the need to find shelter soon. The storm coming in looked ominous.
Concentrating on the sky, Sam didn't realize he had broken a fine white string just inches above the glittering snow. A loud explosion roared next to him. Sam barely had time to throw his arm over his head as the tower rushed towards him.
Jim and Mac were studying one of the false paths when they heard the distant explosion. Fear filled Mac's eyes as the two older men turned towards the sound and started to race as fast as the snowshoes allowed.
"SAM!" Blair shouted as he witnessed the blast at the base of the tower. He jumped up, fear punching him in the stomach as the tower crashed on Sam. Crashed on his brother. Shit. Exhaustion forgotten, Blair plowed through the snow as fear-driven adrenaline surged through his system. Sam had to be all right. He had to be.
Finally reaching the wreckage, Blair cried out, "Sam! Sam, answer me!"
A soft moan rose from under the metal beams, followed by a soft voice. "Blair?"
"Are you all right?" A flashing red light near the base caught Blair's eye. Damn, Murdoc must have it set to signal when the trap was tripped.
"Ye-ah, I th-think s-so" came the slow, teeth-chattering reply. "But I'm p-p-pinned d-d-down-n-n."
Frantically searching, Blair spied a piece of support lying on a flat metal plate. Grabbing it, he quickly examined the wreckage, then shoved the newly designated lever under the main beam on top of Sam. Pausing as a coughing jag hit, Blair ordered, "Okay, when I count to three, I'll try to lift this piece off you. ~cough~ Do you think you can crawl out from under it?"
On 'three' Blair threw his weight onto his lever, lifting the wreckage about a foot. It was just enough for Sam to wiggle out.
Allowing the twisted metal to slam back down, Blair knelt next to his shivering brother. Sam was now covered in snow and cradling his left arm.
"What's wrong with your arm?" Blair softly questioned, brushing off snow and gently tilting Sam's head to get a better view of the raw scrape on his cheek.
"I-I think it's b-broken," Sam forced out, gritting his teeth against the cold and pain.
Damn. Blair tried to squelch his rising panic, only partly succeeding. Carefully pulling Sam's right arm away and pushing back the torn coat, it became obvious there was a reddening bump on the left arm that shouldn't be there. This was not good. Glancing around, Blair finally yanked off the scarf and gingerly slipped it under the arm. "I'd rather put a splint on this," Blair explained as he pulled it out and tied it around Sam's neck as a sling. Where have I heard that edge of panic before? "But we don't have the materials or the time." Oh yeah, in Jim's voice when I had been shot during the Quinn incident. Another glimpse of Sam's pain- and shock-filled face caused Blair to pull the younger man into an embrace. God, what if that tower had hit Sam's head instead of his arm? Forcing another wave of panic back, Blair rubbed his gloved hands up and down Sam's back under his pack, trying to both warm and comfort his brother. His brother. Sam had said he always wanted a big brother. It was about time he acted like one. "Okay, do you think you can walk?"
Sam nodded against Blair's shoulder, soaking up the warm comfort for a moment more. "Yeah. Help me up." Blair stood and helped lift Sam out of the snow. However, once his full weight shifted to his right leg, Sam gasped and nearly lost his balance.
"Damn," Blair muttered, kneeling again to check out the knee.
"I think I just twisted it," Sam reassured him.
"Yeah, but with Murdoc heading this way we have to get out of here quick," Blair explained, searching the area with his eyes.
"You think he's nearby?" Sam asked, rubbing his hand over his upper arm.
Blair absently explained about the signal as he walked through the snow to the large metal plate he had noticed earlier. "Even without the signal, Murdoc certainly heard the explosion." He pulled the plate off the ground, then jiggled the loosely attached rod on the end.
"Great," Sam muttered. He felt so cold, tired, and achy, pain radiating out from his injured arm. He didn't think he could handle Murdoc at that moment.
Blair whipped off his belt, then paused. "Damn, I don't have my knife!" He had never gotten it back after Kincaid had confiscated it. Another cough nearly bent him over.
Sam struggled a moment to shove his gloved hand into his jeans pocket. "Here," he called, tossing Blair his own Swiss army knife once Blair's coughing had eased.
Blair caught it and opened it while he knelt. Using the flat top of the bottle opener, he loosened a screw in the rod. Swiftly slipping the head through a hole in the belt, Blair tightened it down, then set to work on the other side.
"What are you doing?" Sam asked, trying not to shiver.
"I need a way to steer this sled."
"Steer? Sled?" Sam repeated, staring at him. That didn't make any sense, did it? Had the tower hit him harder than he thought?
"We are going for a little ride," Blair said tersely as he tightened down the second screw. He tilted his head towards the slope next to them. "Down there."
Sam's eyes widened as he gazed downward. "What! Do you see how steep this thing is? And what about the bend at the bottom?"
"That's why we need a way to steer."
"Blair, we don't know what's around that bend!"
Blair jumped up and slipped the knife into his pocket. "Would you rather..."
Both Blair's and Sam's heads snapped up to see Murdoc on top of the hill. "Sledding it is," Sam conceded.
Blair swiftly sat on the metal plate, Sam slipping on behind him. Pushing off with their feet, Blair jammed his boots against a metal bar at the front, while Sam tucked his longer legs next to Blair's. "Hang on!" Blair shouted.
"No problem," Sam muttered, tightly wrapping his good arm around his brother's waist and cradling the broken one between their bodies. After one glance ahead as the 'sled' gained speed, Sam ducked his head into Blair's shoulder. He didn't want to see them crash.
Murdoc reached the top of the slope just in time to see the young men slide around the bend. Shaking his head in amazement, he started to laugh.
"Hold it!" Jim called out, stopping Mac with an outstretched arm.
"What?" Mac said sharply, then more apologetic, "What is it?"
Jim carefully knelt to look just above the snow. "There is a wire across here."
Mac looked around. "Does it go to that pile of rocks next to us?"
Jim followed the string with his eyes. It led to a small explosive device under a rock. "Yeah, looks like it is set to trigger those rocks to fall on or near whoever trips the wire."
"Oh, man," Mac moaned. "How much you want to bet this was set up by Murdoc to catch Sam and Blair? And that something like this is what we heard?" Visions of finding his sons crushed by rocks sent more fear to curdle in his stomach.
Jim studied the rocks with worried eyes. Such a trap could hurt and possibly kill someone. Especially if that someone wasn't moving very fast due to being sick and exhausted. "Then let's find the site of that explosion."
Together, they carefully stepped over the wire, Jim examining the snow even more closely.
Swiftly, Blair leaned back to the left and felt Sam shift with him. They swooshed by another large boulder, missing it by inches. Blair didn't even want to think about how much speed they had picked up on their suicide run. Instead, he concentrated his attention on not hitting any of the huge rocks jutting up from the snow. After a few more narrow misses, the slope widened and decreased in angle, slowing their acceleration if not their speed.
Suddenly, thick brush blocked their path. Blair jerked the belt and threw his weight to the right. The improvised sled veered sharply, sending a heavy sheet of snow into the branches ahead. Tipping up and skidding, the metal plate dumped its passengers roughly onto the snow. As one mass, the momentum spun bodies and sled into the brush.
Coughing hard, Blair laid still, trying to catch his breath and calm his pounding heart. A soft moan to his left snapped his head up. Damn it, he had forgotten about Sam's arm. "Sam, are you all right?"
"Yeah," a soft, pain-filled voice replied. "Though next time, Indy, let's go snowboarding in-bounds, okay?"
Not reassured, Blair pushed himself up and crawled over to where Sam was struggling to sit. "Let me see that arm."
"It's okay." Sam gritted his teeth as Blair gently looked it over. "I kept it cushioned between us."
It didn't look any worse than before, but Blair knew that the jolts from their ride had to have caused Sam a lot of pain. The younger man was shivering, worrying Blair that he might be going into shock. Feeling the light touch of wind that swirled around them, Blair glanced up. The storm was nearly here. He had to get Sam into some kind of shelter before it hit with full force. He started looking around.
Suddenly, Sam began searching the snow. "Damn it, I lost my camera."
Blair raised his eyes up the slope they had just slid down. "I don't remember seeing it ~cough~ since the tower. It's probably still up there."
Sam started to stand and nearly slipped. "I've got to get it."
"Whoa there, Jimmy Olsen," Blair commanded, steadying him. "I'll send Superman back for it when we see him. Right now, we need to find shelter."
Before Sam could reply another gust of wind blew over them, increasing Sam's shivering and forcing a few more coughs out of Blair. "Okay," Sam whispered in defeat. He glanced around. "Any ideas?"
Smiling, Blair stood up and gave Sam a hand. "Yeah, big bro's got a couple."
Sam returned the smile from his extra couple inches of height. "Big brother, eh?"
Blair chuckled as he draped Sam's good arm over his shoulder. "Well, yeah, I'm sure when you pictured a big brother, you expected someone actually taller than you."
Leaning on Blair for support, Sam denied, "Nah, I think you're plenty tall enough, Indy. Now, what's your idea?"
After stepping over or detouring three more of Murdoc's traps, Jim caught a whiff of the explosion on the wind. Surveying the area, Jim spied the metal wreckage. "Over there!"
Letting caution be blown away with the increasing wind, MacGyver rushed to the site. He knelt down to look under the twisted metal.
Jim touched his shoulder as he stopped next to him. "I don't see them. Maybe they got out of the way in time."
"No," Mac stated. He reached down underneath and pulled up a black case. "Sam was caught." Mac closed his eyes, fighting off the waves of anger and fear. Fear for his possibly injured son, Sam. Fear for his sick son, Blair. And a growing, ice cold anger directed at his nemesis for terrorizing them.
Jim squeezed Mac's shoulder, then started to search for prints in the storm-dimmed light. The two younger men were not here now, so where did they go?
Regaining some semblance of control, Mac opened his eyes and spotted another note. Yanking it off a nail, Mac quietly read aloud
While Junior MacGyvers on the run
really are a lot of fun,
I'd rather play with their father
so please follow the path
to the left of the danger zone,
and I'll leave the children alone
"He seems to be running out of rhymes," Jim commented as he picked up impressions in the snow. Kneeling, Jim studied them a moment, then looked down the slope. "No. They didn't."
"Didn't what?" MacGyver asked, walking over.
Jim shook his head. "It looks like someone sled down this slope."
Mac looked down, spotting the boulder-line bend at the bottom. "Oh, hell." Just how desperate were they? Another glance at the fallen tower answered that.
"It looks like they made it around the bend." Jim shifted his backpack and stared at the slide marks. "This slope isn't that steep. I think we can follow them down."
Mac rolled the note in his hand, making his decision. "You follow them and get them to safety. I'll follow Murdoc's path."
Jim's head snapped around to stare at MacGyver. "Are you nuts? That's what he wants!"
"I know, but I have dealt with him before. If I can keep his attention on me, maybe I can end this without him killing one of them." Mac turned serious eyes towards Jim. "Just promise me you will get them to safety."
"Damn it, MacGyver!" Jim ran his hand through his short hair and stared at the rolling clouds above them. "Okay, but you better get through this in one piece. You still have some news to break to Blair."
Mac didn't even crack a smile as he continued to stare at Ellison. "Also, I know you will always be there for Blair, but Sam doesn't have anyone else. If I don't make it..."
Jim cut him off with a glare. "I'd do that anyway. But it would be a heck of a lot easier on both of them if you do make it back."
A corner of Mac's mouth faintly lifted as he recognized the words he had once given Jim.
Friday evening, Sheriff's Station in Ouray, CO
Jack slowly walked back to the main room. Due to the storm, all of the search parties for Sam and Blair were in now, except one. Jack still couldn't believe the message from MacGyver and Ellison. Well, he could understand Ellison, being so close, wanting to continue the search. Heavens knows those two could probably use a friendly face carrying food and warm clothes about now. It was Mac's decision to go after Murdoc that bothered him. Not that it really surprised him that Mac would try to keep Murdoc away from the kids. It just worried him. Something the carefree Dalton was not used to doing.
Simon paused in his discussion with Taggart and Thornton. He knew that tone of voice. That was Naomi about to tear into him. Just barely preventing a sigh from escaping, he pasted his 'must be polite' smile onto his face and turned. "Yes, Ms. Sandburg?"
Naomi's green eyes were flashing. "Some of the deputies were saying that Blair was hurt during a police case. Jim said he was sick from the flu. Now, what is the truth?"
Simon couldn't hold back the sigh this time. "Actually, Ms. Sandburg, it is a little of both."
"Yes, ma'am. Blair was abducted by a group of militia he helped Jim put away. He came down with the flu while they had him."
"WHAT?" Simon closed his eyes against the angry mother's wrath, while Joel and Pete winced in sympathy. "WHY WASN'T I TOLD?"
"I suspect Blair didn't want to upset you," Simon tried to explain.
"How on earth could you allow him to get involved in such dangerous work, Captain Banks? What is it going to take for you to see what is going on and prevent it from happening?"
"Because it's not up to him." Everyone turned to Jack Dalton standing a couple of feet away. Simon had never seen such a cold look in Jack's eyes before.
"What do you mean it is not up to him?" Naomi steamed at a new target.
"Because it is Blair's choice," Jack sternly stated. "Blair chose to work with Jim and the Cascade PD. That big heart of his has to stand up for people who need help. Banks can't change that and neither can you. Lord knows I've tried to break Mac of that trait for years with no luck. But when you stick your neck out for others, you naturally make enemies. That is what happened to Blair with the militia, and that is what is happening to Mac now."
Naomi was flabbergasted. "What makes you think you know Blair so well?"
"Because there is a lot of Mac in him."
"There is not!"
"Yes, there is, and you would know that if you'd have gotten to know Mac instead of trying to force him into your way of life!"
"How dare you..."
"I dare because I'm the one who drove home what was left of him after you got done." Jack stormed off. And Mac thinks my taste in women is bad.
Friday evening, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Kneeling next to the metal plate leaning against a thicket of bushes, Jim had to smile. Wonder which one of you thought this stunt up? Jim stood, relieved to find only the plate and not any broken bodies by it.
Still, he couldn't be more than a half hour behind them. So where were they? Snow was falling heavily now, the wind blowing it around him. Vision wasn't going to do him much good, nor smell. Focusing in on hearing, Jim identified the various storm noises and filtered them out until a familiar hacking sound stood out. A sound Jim had listened to for the past five weeks.
Jim stepped out in the direction of a sound he never thought he'd be happy to hear.
Blair carefully sorted through the pile of wood he had gathered, searching for two fairly flat pieces. To his left, Sam added another branch to their fire. In spite of the raging snowstorm, the fire was starting to take the chill out of their hiding hole. A large slab of rock laid against another jutting out of the ground, forming a makeshift roof. Behind them a sharp mountain face covered the third side. With the wind blowing away from the small entrance, the rocks protected the two young men from the worst of the storm. Both had slipped out of their icy jeans and had wrapped up in their coats, waiting for the fire to warm them.
After gathering as much semi-dry wood as he could find in the flying snow, Blair's adrenaline level had begun to drop. His coughing was increasing as exhaustion pressed down, aggravating his aching ribs. Picking up a promising stick, Blair could see his hand shake in the faint firelight. He tightly closed his eyes, trying to regain control.
A hand gripped his shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Blair looked into his new brother's eyes. They reflected the exhaustion, hunger, and pain Blair knew were in his own. "Yeah, ~cough, cough~ just tired."
Sam studied Blair's face, reading the exhaustion. "You don't need to work on my arm now. Get some sleep first."
"No," Blair shook his head. "We need to protect it now. ~cough~ The way our luck's been ~cough, cough~ running, Murdoc will catch us first ~cough, cough~ if we wait."
"I doubt..." Sam started, then both stopped as the noise of someone approaching carried above the wind.
Fighting back a cough, Blair gently laid a hand on Sam's shoulder, indicating that he should stay put. Silently standing up, Blair grabbed a large branch and picked his way over to the opening.
"Hey, you two have room for one more?" a familiar voice called out. A large shape stepped forward into the light to reveal a tall man covered in snow.
"Jim!" Blair exclaimed in surprise and relief. Quickly, he reached out to help Jim take off the snow-covered backpack while Jim brushed off his coat and hat. "Am I ~cough, cough~ glad to see you."
As he turned back, Jim swiftly caught the pack when it nearly slipped out of Blair's hands. Taking his first good look at his friend in over 30 hours, Jim realized Blair was at the end of his endurance. He pulled the younger man into a tight hug, feeling his tremors of exhaustion and the labor of his restricted lungs. Glancing over the small fire, he quickly noted Sam's tired and bruised face. "I'm glad to see you guys, too. How are you doing?" he gently asked.
Concern and guilt slipped across Sam's face just before he looked down. Blair coughed, then replied, "Tired and hungry." He pulled back at looked up at his friend. "Sam was hit by a tower ~cough, cough~ and has a broken arm. Could you please take a look?"
Jim squeezed Blair's arm, recognizing the deep worry in his eyes. "Sure, we wondered if that's what had happened." Jim stepped past Blair towards Sam, pulling off his gloves then reaching into his pocket. He tossed three prescription bottles to Blair in rapid sucession. "Take those now. There is a thermos of chicken soup in the side pocket of the pack. Double up on the antibiotic, you need to build that back up in your system." He knelt beside Sam, gently taking the young man's face between his hands and looking into his eyes before examining the scraped cheek. "How are you doing, Sam? Hurt anywhere else?"
"I'm okay," Sam replied faintly. "Just feel stupid for getting caught in that trap."
Noting how cold Sam's cheeks were, Jim offered him a reassuring smile. "Well, you sure scared your dad. We came close to getting caught a couple times ourselves." Pulling back the torn sweatshirt sleeve, Jim lightly touched the injured limb, feeling the break in the ulna. "Yeah, you broke it all right. We'll need to splint this up."
"Check his right knee, too," Blair called back as he savored the rising steam from the still warm soup. He gripped the plastic top with both hands, trying to keep from shaking.
Sam shot Blair a glare. "I said I just twisted it."
"Let's take a look anyways," Jim soothed. As he examined the bruised knee, he ordered, "Blair, the first aid kit should be in the top of my pack. Can you get it for me? Under it should be some dry clothes for you two as well."
Blair smiled, welcoming his sentinel's bossiness for a change. He handed the cup to his equally cold brother. "Here, drink some soup. It's pretty good."
"It was suppose to be Deputy Kelsey's lunch, but she felt you two would need it more than she did." Jim took the first aid kit from Blair and opened it.
"She? Is she cute?" Blair asked as he pulled out some clothes.
Jim rolled his eyes. "Still after that table leg, huh Chief?" Jim turned his attention back to Sam. "Looks like the knee is just strained and bruised. It should be fine once we wrap it up."
"You mentioned my Dad. Where is he? Is he okay?"
Jim laid a calming hand on Sam's shoulder. "He's fine. We split up about an hour ago so I could find you two and he could go after Murdoc."
"What!" Sam exclaimed.
"Easy, Sam," Jim soothed. He could feel the alarm shoot through his patient.
Blair popped his head through a heavy sweatshirt. "Jim, that's probably what Murdoc wants." Worry joined the exhaustion in Blair's blue eyes, along with a host of other emotions Jim couldn't read.
"That's what I told him," Jim replied, pulling out supplies from the kit. "But Murdoc has been taunting him with notes, so Mac figured he could draw attention away from you two long enough for me to get you to safety."
"Damn," Sam whispered softly as apprehension filled him. The last thing he wanted was for his Dad to be anywhere near the hitman.
Tying up a pair of sweatpants, Blair glanced at the blowing snow outside. "How is Mac going to find Murdoc in this storm?"
"Mac is an experienced outdoorsman," Jim replied absently, concentrating on splinting Sam's arm. "I'm sure he has found a place to hole up until this storm is over."
Blair continued to stare at the storm. He's got to be okay. I need to yell at him. I need to talk to him. Heck, I just need to look at him. To see him just once as my father.
While I have often been alone, there haven't been many times when I have felt truly alone. But sitting here in a lean-to with a storm raging outside, I feel alone. I keep wishing I was with my sons and Ellison, feeling their presence, knowing they're safe. Yet at the same time, I know being with them would only put them in more danger. Visions of that tower hitting Sam, of him laying there with gaping wounds and broken bones continually play across my mind. My easy-going son with the quiet smile and the adventurous spirit doesn't deserve this. The only consolation is that he couldn't be too badly injured since he escaped with Blair.
However, that thought just brings worrisome visions of Blair, feverish and coughing, forced to walk to the Ares Bugle facility. I know he's still recovering from that misadventure, know this unexpected trek in the snow can't be good for him. My big-hearted son with the incredible intelligence and endless enthusiasm has to be nearing the end of his strength. I can only pray that the two of them have found some kind of shelter out of the storm outside. Even if they haven't, I try to be confident that Ellison has found them by now and has them out of the weather.
Thank God for Ellison. If anyone can find Blair in the middle of a snowstorm, his sentinel can. Even when the tough cop was giving me a hard time, I understood it was because he was looking out for his friend and guide. He provides Blair with the security and stability I wasn't around to give, and Naomi apparently could not. I rather wish Sam had one. Perhaps I wouldn't worry so much when he's on assignment.
One regret does plague me tonight. Well, two, if you count regretting ever getting tangled up with Murdoc in the first place. But the main one is that I didn't tell Blair I thought he was my son before now. I shouldn't have tried to find excuses, or try to find Naomi. I should have relied on Jim's senses and at least have told Blair it was possible. Now I'm not sure I'll get the chance. Blair deserves better than that. I can think of only one way to be sure that Blair has some idea of how I feel if I don't get through this.
Reaching into his backpack, MacGyver pulled out a notebook. Closing his eyes a moment as he composed his thoughts, he started to write.
Jim leaned over to lay another large branch into the fire, trying not to disturb the younger two men. He looked down and smiled. Between the sleeping bag stretched out beneath and the blanket over the top, Blair and Sam were nestled together in the tight space. Blair lay against Jim. They reminded him of a pile of sleeping puppies, worn out from play.
A slight cough directed his attention to his partner. Focusing on Blair, Jim gently brushed back an unruly curl as he checked for fever, listening to his labored breathing and steady, slow heartbeat. The lungs had improved slightly from when Jim had first arrived. However, he was still worried about pneumonia setting in due to his guide's deep exhaustion and previous hypothermia. Blair had fallen asleep while eating, nearly dropping the self-heating tray. Jim, half expecting it, caught him while Sam managed to grab the food with his good hand. Blair had slept deeply ever since. Considering the rough day, Jim wasn't surprised. With luck, he would sleep until morning. Then Jim hoped to get him into a warm, safe, real bed before tomorrow night.
Glancing over, Jim concentrated on Sam for a moment. His was a much lighter sleep, probably affected by his painful arm and worry for his father and brother. Sam had relayed the whole story of the past day to Jim after Blair had fallen asleep. Jim stared into the fire, thinking of all the emotional turmoil he had hoped to protect his partner from. However, if it was bringing him closer to Sam, perhaps it was worth it. Jim smiled, thinking of how guilty the kid felt about Blair not getting his restful vacation. It was almost like Sam expected Jim to actually bawl him out for not protecting Blair better. Instead, seeing Sam's scraped and pain-drawn face coupled with Blair's cough made him want to get his hands on Murdoc. Perhaps after getting the two younger men to safety, Jim could do just that.
Friday late evening, Sheriff's Station in Ouray, CO
Naomi stared out the window of the sheriff's lodge, not really seeing the snow blowing outside. It took several minutes before she realized another presence had joined her. She turned her head slightly to discover it was Mr. Thornton.
"How are you doing?" Pete asked in a soft voice.
"I don't know," Naomi stated frankly. "My son is sick and being hunted by a madman in the middle of a snowstorm. I have just found out that that same son has been lying to me. And I've been forcibly told he is like his father, who I didn't want him to be like. It is definitely not a good night."
"I can understand that," Pete sympathized. They stood a few moments in silence. "You know, from what I've heard, your son is a pretty decent young man. That is quite an accomplishment. I wished I had done so well with mine."
Naomi shrugged. "I tried. I just don't understand this attraction he has with the police and Detective Ellison. I certainly didn't raise him to be friendly with pigs."
Pete paused a moment. "Well, maybe it is like a story of some friends of mine. A few years back a young cabby, who was not much older than Blair is now, had dropped off a woman in a bad part of town. He noticed a man following her, holding a gun. Now, most people would have taken off and maybe called the police. This young man decided to follow the pair. He tackled the man so the woman could get away."
"That does sound like something Blair would do," Naomi admitted. Her son hated to see a woman get hurt.
Pete kept the smile off his face. Seemed that Jack did have Blair pegged. "Unfortunately, it turned out that the man he tackled was a government agent and the woman was an international assassin. The agent was so mad he forced the kid back into the cab and told him to follow the woman so he wouldn't lose her. He didn't realize they were driving into a trap until two men with bazookas appeared. The poor kid suddenly discovered that the 'woman' he had helped was really a man who had no problem killing his good Samaritan. The agent was sure they were both dead, when suddenly the kid starts pulling out his shoelaces and asked the agent to keep the assassin talking. While the assassin bragged about how he was going to kill them, the kid managed to set up the cab to rush the men using only a wrench, a paper clip, and his shoelaces."
Naomi looked at him in shock. "You're kidding? This really happened?"
This time Pete did smile. "The agent couldn't believe it either, until it worked. They managed to escape from the cab and capture the helpers, if not the assassin. The agent was so impressed he later asked the kid to join his agency. The two have become the best of friends. They would go through hell for the other, and have a few times. I suspect that there is a similar story between Ellison and your son. Blair might even tell you if you ask."
As Pete turned to go, Naomi quietly asked, "Whatever happened to your friends?"
"Oh, the former agent is currently worried sick because the kid is after that same damn assassin, who is now after the kid's sons. And the agent has no way to help him."
Stricken, Naomi watched Pete find his way back to the main room, tapping his cane. Apparently, that Dalton was right. She really didn't know MacGyver.
Saturday dawn, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
As Ellison finished his radio call, he heard Blair step out of the shelter. He studied the younger man from the corner of his eye as he approached. Blair still looked too pale and exhausted, but he did look better than the night before. Jim quickly closed up the radio. "How's Sam doing?"
"He's moving pretty stiffly, and I think his arm is hurting him, but he's getting back up to speed." Blair glanced up into the deep blue sky, gathering his thoughts. He had fallen asleep last night before having a chance to talk to Jim, and Blair needed to talk desperately.
"Did you take the antibiotic?"
"Yes, Mother," Blair smiled. Then the smile disappeared. "You knew, didn't you? About Mac and I? You tried to tell me with that comment about Simon and Daryl's scents being similar."
Jim sighed. He knew this topic would be coming up. "Yes, your scent is similar to Mac's and Sam's."
Blair swallowed hard. More evidence, from a source he believed in. "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't Mac?"
"I didn't know if it was my place," Jim admitted, lying a comforting hand on Blair's shoulder. "Mac wasn't sure, so he wanted to talk with your mother first. You know how difficult it is to catch Naomi. In any case, Mac was planning to talk with you when you and Sam got back from this trip."
"He was really going to tell me?" Vulnerable blue eyes stared up at Jim.
Or else I'd have pounded him into the ground. "Yes, he was. But he was worried, too. He didn't want to disrupt your life, nor did he want to make you a target for Murdoc like he suspected Sam might be."
"Well, that sure didn't work," Blair said with a sigh. "We both ended up on his list anyways. That Murdoc is downright scary."
"So Mac has told me," Jim replied, gently squeezing his friend's shoulder.
"We can't let Mac face him by himself," Blair stated softly. He was so close to having a father at last. It scared him to think of Murdoc killing MacGyver.
Jim could hear the deep worry and fear in Blair's voice. "I don't plan to. Once the rescue helicopter picks up you and Sam, I'm going after them."
"You can't go by yourself." Blair turned worriedly to his friend. "I'm going with you."
"No," Jim ordered. Seeing the stubborn look on his guide's face, Jim gently gripped both shoulders. The thinness of those shoulders only firmed up his resolve. "You need to stay with Sam. He's going to need his arm taken care of and he's even more scared for Mac than you are. Mac's the only family he has besides you."
Blair blinked, startled. "What do you mean? What about Mac's family?"
Jim slowly shook his head. "Mac doesn't have any other family either. He's an only child, raised by his mother and grandfather after his father died. They have both passed away. All he has is Sam, and now you."
*He seems even more protective of his little family* The memory of Murdoc's voice floated pass him. No wonder, if Sam was all Mac had. Apparently he wouldn't be meeting a boatload of new relatives from his father's side. Blair glanced back at the rocks where his brother was. It also explained why Sam was so willing to accept a new brother. "Okay, I'll stay with Sam."
Jim suppressed a smile. He had hoped using Sam would work. "Besides, I suspect Naomi would kill me if you didn't head down right away."
"Mom? Wait a minute, she KNOWS about this?"
Jim draped an arm over his shoulder and led him back to the rocks. "Not only knows, but is waiting with Simon and Joel back down the mountain."
The snowstorm from last night has made way for one of Colorado's crystal clear mornings. The kind of morning Harry used to love. I just hope its promise holds for both my sons and me.
Thinking of Harry, I slip my hand into my pocket and feel the pine nuts roll through my fingers. I can still see the glee shining in my grandpa's eyes as he explained to me how they explode in a fire. Whether I'll have a chance to use Harry's trick is unknown, but I want to be prepared. Who knows what Murdoc has in mind. Hopefully, it no longer involves Sam and Blair.
As Harry used to say, 'Waiting won't make it any easier, Bud'. Guess it's time to find Murdoc.
Jim and Sam turned around to find Blair planted face-first in the new snow. Both immediately snow-shoed back.
"Blair, are you all right?" Sam exclaimed, helping his coughing brother out of the snow. Jim quickly monitored Blair's vitals, noting the struggling lungs and pure exhaustion on his guide's face.
"Yeah, ~cough~ just got my snowshoe caught on a branch ~cough, cough~"
"Why don't we take a short break," Jim suggested, helping to brushing off the snow. Both young men had caught on quickly to using the snowshoes Jim had brought. However, Blair was becoming more clumsy as he wore down. Nor did Jim miss that Sam was beginning to favor his bruised knee.
Blair batted back the three extra hands. "I'm fine, guys ~cough~. Honestly, now I've got two mother hens."
Sam backed off, but Jim gripped his shoulder and stared him in the eyes. "You are not fine, Sandburg. You are still sick. If you are going to make it to the pickup site, we need to take it easy and you have to tell us when you're tired so we can give you a break."
Staring up into the stern eyes of his friend, Blair quietly admitted, "If I did that, we'd never get there, man."
Jim's face softened. He squeezed his friend's shoulder and brushed off a bit of snow on Blair's cap. "I know. You just need to hang in there for another mile, okay?"
"Okay." Blair looked back to Sam. "~cough~ Sorry for being such a grouch."
"That's okay, Indy," Sam replied with a smile. "As Harry used to say, 'Family can be trouble, but they're usually worth it'."
"Who's Harry?" both Jim and Blair asked together.
"My, our, great-grandfather, the one who owned the cabin. Hasn't Dad ever mentioned him?"
"No," Blair shook his head sadly.
Sam patted him on the shoulder. "He will. He usually spouts out something Harry said whenever he wants to make a point or as a prelude to a lecture."
"Like you just did?" A small smile twitched at the corner of Blair's mouth.
"Yep." Sam shared his smile.
Jim placed a hand on each of the young men's shoulders. "You two ready to continue?"
A few yards later, Jim spied someone ahead. He halted, raising a hand to stop Blair and Sam. Soon a long-haired man in forest ranger gear approached. "Hello! Are you Ellison?"
"That's right," Jim called back.
"Good. I'm Ranger Daily. They sent me to find you. Apparently, they are having some problems with the helicopter this morning and will be late to pick you up."
"What's wrong with the helicopter?" Jim asked suspiciously.
"Possible sabotage. They think that fellow causing you guys trouble may be behind it. He may be monitoring the radio, which is why they haven't called."
"Damn." Jim didn't like the idea of Blair and Sam out in the cold any longer than necessary.
"My cabin isn't too far from here. Why don't you come and warm up while you wait?"
"Sounds good," Sam admitted. His own tolerance to the cold seemed to be dropping. He hated to think how cold Blair must be feeling.
"We will. Thank you," Jim replied.
Only Blair felt a nudge of discomfort. Something was bothering him about the ranger, but he couldn't place it. Deciding his exhausted imagination was simply blowing things out of proportion, he quietly followed in the wake of the others.
The cabin was only one room. The ranger held the door open for the three men to walk inside. Blair had barely crossed the threshold when the door slammed shut behind him. All three jumped and turned around, only to jump again as heavy boards slammed down to cover the windows.
"Guess I only needed to find the proper bait for my Junior MacGyver trap!" a voice gleefully exclaimed.
"Murdoc!" Blair declared with disgust. He had known there was something wrong. Now he couldn't see anything in the dark room.
"What do you want?" Ellison shouted, furious that he had allowed the hitman to catch them. He opened his senses, instinctively reaching a hand out to Blair's shoulder. Blair's hand groped upward and latched onto Jim's upper arm, calming and anchoring him. A faint hissing sound reached the sentinel's ears.
"Do not be concerned, Detective. The boys are bait for bigger game, while you're just an added bonus. However, I'd rather you troublesome kids were not wide-eyed and bushy-tailed enough to find your way out. Nighty Nite!"
"What?" Sam asked in confusion.
Then Jim smelled it. "He's filling the cabin with ether!" Instantly, he began digging around in his pack's pocket.
"Jim?" Blair asked, woozy.
Jim felt Blair's hand loosen from his arm as the slim figure slipped to the floor. Nearby, the soft thud of Sam's body collapsing rang in his ears. Jim held his breath, fighting the dizziness. "This has got to work," Jim thought as his own head began to spin. His hand finally found what he was looking for. "This has got to work."
Saturday morning, Sheriff's station, CO
Banks stared straight ahead as the helicopter rose from its pad. Dalton, unusually serious, sat next to him.
"Did Jim say how the kids were doing?" Taggart asked from across the compartment.
"Blair's still sick, and Sam has a broken arm and twisted knee," Simon stated.
"Considering the two of them have been chased all over the mountain, we are lucky it's not worse."
"Just getting out alive is good with Murdoc," Jack replied grimly. "In fact, I'm not going to relax until those kids are safely back to town, preferably with armed guards."
"You've dealt with him before?" Joel asked.
Jack shuddered. "Oh yeah, several times, and have been grateful to be alive after every encounter. The man's a menace. I just hope Mac's okay."
Saturday morning, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
Pain. Jim clenched his jaw as he broke the skin of his hand with the tines of a fork. The pain gradually pushed back the dizzy drowsiness he was fighting. Soon, Jim was able to carefully concentrate his sight around the darkness. Blair laid in a heap at his feet, Sam's crumpled form a couple of feet away. Abandoning sight for the moment, Jim focused on sounds outside the cabin. He could hear Murdoc walking away laughing. Anger rose, but Jim pushed it to the side. He had a few problems to solve before going after Murdoc, like finding fresh air. First, though, he had to stop the gas.
After one-handedly unstrapping his snowshoes, Jim concentrated on the pain again. Then
imagining Blair's voice giving him careful, deliberate instructions, Jim focused his hearing inside, pinpointing the hissing gas. Piggy-backing his sight with hearing, Jim spotted the tiny tube in the wall. He walked over and smashed it shut with a nearby fire extinguisher.
Well, that took care of one problem. Now for fresh air. Jim started towards the window, pausing as he noticed the wires running alongside it. Damn, the bastard had them wired. Blood was dripping off his hand from the fork as Jim turned around. A wood stove sat in the corner. Jim walked over and checked behind it. Yep, a thick pipe ran out the back. Checking carefully for wires or explosives, Jim pulled out the fork in his hand and used it to pry the tube out of the wall. A cold, crisp mountain breeze flowed in. Jim held his face in the opening, breathing the pure air.
After his head cleared, Jim took one last breath and held it. He then strode over to Sam, who was the closest. Unstrapping his snowshoes, Jim rolled the limp form face up into his arms. Jim quickly, yet gently, pulled him over to the opening. He carefully propped the lanky man against a stack of wood, face next to the hole. Taking a couple more breaths of clean air, Jim then turned back for his partner. By the time he had half-dragged, half-carried Blair to the hole, Sam was beginning to stir. Kneeling beside the hole, Jim gently pulled his partner up to rest on his chest, face to the breeze. Then he laid a comforting hand on Sam's shoulder as he began to cough. "Easy, kid. Just breathe."
Sam's eyes blinked open. "J-Jim?"
"Easy. Take deep breaths."
Sam followed the instructions. As his head began to clear, he turned to study his brother. "How's Blair?"
"Still out." Jim laid a hand on Blair's forehead. The ether had pushed his exhausted friend into deep sleep again. Noting how cold Blair's face was, Jim turned back to Sam. "Do you think you can hold him up by the hole?"
"Sure," Sam replied drowsily. With Jim's help, he managed to wrap his good arm around Blair, leaning him against his side.
"Okay, I'll be right back."
Sam laid his head on the wood pile, still appreciating the clean air. A slight shiver in the body next to him brought his head back up. "Blair?" he softly whispered. Sam pulled his brother closer, Blair's curly head finally resting under his chin. Realizing Blair was still sleeping, Sam gave him a light squeeze. "Guess we walked right into this one, Indy."
A sleeping bag was suddenly draped over their shoulders. "We all walked into this one," Jim stated, still mad at himself. He placed his face by the hole for a few minutes. "Now I know what your father meant by Murdoc being a master of disguises."
"Yeah, I didn't even have a clue he was Murdoc, and we've seen him three times before this." Sam sighed, then looked over Blair to Jim's face. "Do you think Murdoc will lure Dad here?"
"I don't know. There is a camera over there in the corner. It's not on now, but probably has a nice view of the cabin floor."
"Where we would be right now, except for you." Sam's eyes turned puzzled. "How'd you manage to stay awake?"
"Old trick I learned in Peru," Jim stated, looking behind them. He didn't want to go into his sentinel abilities at the moment. "Our current problem is that we are still in the cabin with the windows and door all rigged to blow."
"Great, so Murdoc has us and Dad right where he wants us." Sam turned his head back to the woodpile. He noticed a half-hidden line in the cabin wall behind the wood. "Jim..."
Saturday morning, Evermore, CO
It's funny how snow can make the terrain look different. I didn't even realize I was close to Evermore until I was nearly on top of it. Of course, last I'd seen it was in summer over ten years ago. Since that little ghost town helped Harry and I capture Axminster, I took it as a good sign. I needed a good sign, since this was probably the destination Murdoc had picked. Hopefully, Ellison has my sons safely on their way to Ouray by now. That makes it just Murdoc and me. Why is it that thought does NOT invoke any warm, fuzzy feelings?
Saturday morning, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
"Okay, I think we got it." Jim pulled his knife out of line he had been tracing.
On the other side, Sam slipped out his Swiss army knife. The lines he had seen were the outline of a small hatch. "Do you think Murdoc has this booby trapped as well?"
"I don't know," Jim admitted. "That's why I want you back where Blair is while I push this out."
"Go on. See if you can wake him up. We may need to move fast once we're out."
Sam reluctantly crawled over to his brother. Jim placed both hands against the wood, held his breath, then pushed. The wood fell forward, opening up to the bright snow. Poking his head out, Jim quickly examined the outside. So far so good. "Okay, it's time to blow this joint."
Sam patted Blair's cheeks. "Come on, Indy. Time to wake up."
"Hmmm," Blair muttered, then tried to snuggle deeper into the sleeping bag.
"SANDBURG!" Jim suddenly shouted.
Sam jumped. Blair blinked his eyes in confusion, rambling, "Sorry Jim, I must have forgotten the alarm. I won't do it again, I promise. Give me five, man, I'll be ready. Really..."
"Blair," Sam said. "Just forget the alarm and wake up."
Blair finally focused on Sam's face. "What's going on?"
Saturday morning, Evermore, CO
As Mac rounded the bend into town, he spotted a lone figure standing in the middle of the street.
"MACGYVER! I'm so happy you could stop by."
"What do you want, Murdoc?" Mac planted his feet a few yards from the hitman.
A big smile spread across the scarred face. "Why, you, of course."
"Is that why you chased my sons all over the mountain side?"
"Oh, I had planned to keep them sleeping in a nice, warm cabin, but those two just wouldn't cooperate."
"They tend to be stubborn that way." Mac tried to hide a proud smile. The kids apparently did pretty well.
"It wasn't until this morning I managed to trick them and that large, dumb policeman into the very cabin I wanted them in all along." Murdoc chuckled as MacGyver's eyes grew wide.
"You promised not to touch them!"
"Tsk, tsk, MacGyver. You know me better than that."
"Well enough to know not to trust you now."
"I planned on that. If you step over to the building on your left, you can see for yourself." Mac glanced over to the shack, then raised an eyebrow.
"Come on, MacGyver. I know I won't need a trap once Papa sees the juniors sound asleep."
Cautiously, Mac stepped over to the building, searching for possible wires and triggers. He looked in the window, spotting a monitor. It showed the inside of a cabin, dark except for a stream of light filtering in from the side. The floor was empty. A smug smile stretched across Mac's face. "I don't see anyone, Murdoc." Thank you, Ellison.
"What!" Murdoc ran over to another building to check another screen.
"Guess my sons and that cop aren't so dumb after all." Mac instantly ducked behind the building. He had to take up some more time to allow Ellison and his sons to escape.
"You are still in my net, MacGyver. I don't mind the minnows getting away as long as I have the prize fish!"
So began the game of cat and mouse.
Saturday dawn, Uncompahgre National Forest, CO
A quarter mile from the cabin, Jim called for a break. He quickly studied Sam and Blair. Both still looked tired, from exertion and from the ether. Blair's cough was sounding as bad as ever, his lungs still restricted.
"How far do you think Murdoc was going?" Sam asked, unaware that he was working his right leg, trying to loosen up his sore knee. He had wanted to follow the trail of broken snow, but Jim insisted they try to meet the helicopter.
Blair wearily leaned against a tree. "However far ~cough~ to get to where he sent Mac." He, too, kept looking back. Yet as his vision blurred, Blair knew he was too exhausted and groggy to follow Murdoc for long.
Jim shook his head. "I know you guys want to help him. But I promised to get you to safety. Mac will have a better shot at stopping Murdoc if he isn't ..."
All three heads jerked to the east as the sounds of a nearby explosion rumbled. Without a thought, Sam turned towards the source and started to dash as fast as he could on snowshoes, Blair right behind him. Giving up, Jim raced to catch up.
Saturday morning, Evermore, CO
MacGyver leaned against a storefront, breathing hard. That had been close. The instant he had heard a click, he had dropped and rolled away from the sound. The small shed he had been near blew up, raining debris on him but otherwise leaving him unharmed. As soon as he had caught his breath, he started jogging alongside the sidewalk of the main street.
"MACGYVER!" Murdoc called out.
Mac turned then stopped. He was facing his nemesis.
Murdoc stood under a porch of a building near a fire barrel. He laughed. "So this is the end of the line, MacGyver. Here in the middle of frozen nowhere. The question is, will you come peacefully?
"What do you think?" Mac replied sarcastically.
"I think you do not have much choice. Either you enter the old hotel behind me and die in a small implosion of a falling building, or die when the bomb ticking behind you blows up. Of course, the one behind you will take out most of the town and probably cause several avalanches in the area. These may or may not catch your sons. So what is your choice, MacGyver?
Mac paused, weighing his options. Then he sighed, reluctantly walking close to the hotel and slowly pulling his hands out of his pockets. Once he was within six feet of Murdoc, he stated calmly, "Neither." He threw a hand full of pine nuts into the barrel beside Murdoc and started to run back across the street.
Surprised, Murdoc jumped back into the hotel as the pine nuts exploded. His finger inadvertently triggered the first bomb. His scream was drowned out by the roar of the building's collaspe.
Mac ducked at the sound of the explosion. Turning back, he watched as the hotel collapse in a cloud of dust and snow. Stunned, he stared at the heap. But only for a moment. He still had to find and disarm a second bomb. Mac turned and continued to run towards the buildings on the other side of the street. As he reached the steps of the wooden sidewalk, a loud crack ran out. He was suddenly falling, surrounded by boards and snow. His head hit something solid, engulfing him in sharp light, then darkness.
Jim, Sam and Blair had just reached the edge of the ghost town when they heard another small explosion. They stopped, panting.
"Damn, ~cough~ what is going ~cough cough~ on?" Blair struggled to ask.
Jim extended his hearing. The sound of wood and metal still settling from a falling building reached his ears. "Okay, it is this way. But be careful - we don't know if Murdoc has any traps set." Blair and Sam followed the sentinel, searching the buildings around them for any sign of trouble. Soon, they had reached the site of the collapsed building. A fire had spread from where the barrel had been. Behind it was all rubble.
"Oh God, was Dad in there?" Sam asked, fearful of the answer.
"Jim?" Blair whispered, praying Jim could pick up some signs of life.
Jim again focused his hearing, first filtering out the two heartbeats next to him and then his own. Gradually he became aware of another heartbeat, only it was behind them. Jim immediately spun around, expecting to see Murdoc. There was no sign of anyone. Jim walked towards the building, Blair on his heels still coughing. Focusing his sight into the building, Jim didn't see anyone. However, he did see a bomb, it's timer at 11:57 and counting down.
Blair paused as Jim did, looking around. Off to the right, something seemed to shimmer near the wooden sidewalk. Blair shook his head and blinked his weary eyes. Squinting, the shimmer resolved itself into a gruff-looking old man. Stunned, Blair watched as the nearly transparent apparition sternly waved him over and pointed to the ground next to him.
Before Jim could open his mouth about the bomb, Blair dashed forward. Kneeling beside the hole the man had been pointing at, he whispered, "Oh, shit..."
"What?" Sam exclaimed, rushing to his side. "Oh my God, Dad? DAD!"
Jim joined them, spotting MacGyver at the bottom, half buried in debris and snow.
"Is he...." Blair started.
"He's alive," Jim stated, realizing that was the heartbeat he could hear. "But..."
They all quickly glanced back to see Banks, Taggart, Dalton and Sheriff Connors approaching from the other end of town.
"Taggart!" Jim shouted back. "There's a bomb in this building and we need time to get Mac out of this hole!"
"Where's the bomb?" Joel asked, puffing his way to Jim's side. Jim quickly led Taggart into the building. The sheriff stepped back, calling his men on the radio.
Dalton stood behind Sam and laid his hands on the young man's shoulders. Sam was still staring at his father in the hole. "Dad's not moving, Jack," the young man stated, trying not to shake.
"Don't worry," Jack gave his right shoulder a pat. "He's tough. We'll get him out."
Suddenly, Blair was dropping to the ground, swinging his legs over the edge. "SANDBURG!" Simon yelled. Jack quickly tightened his hold on Sam to prevent the injured young man from following his brother.
Blair ignored Banks, carefully dropping into the eight foot deep hole without looking. By the time Jim, alerted by Simon's shout, had reached the edge, Blair was kneeling beside Mac.
"Blair?" Jim called down, worried.
"I'm all ~cough~ right." Blair laid two fingers against Mac's neck while brushing back hair from a bump on the other side of his head. "Mac's alive, but he's unconscious and shivering."
"Here," Jack immediately yanked off his jacket and tossed it down to him. As Blair wrapped it around Mac, Jim gingerly started climbing down.
"Mac, Mac. Can you hear me?" Blair fought to keep the panic out of his voice. MacGyver still wasn't stirring. "Jim, we've got to get him out of here."
Jim laid a reassuring hand on Blair's back as he quickly examined Mac. Unconscious and covered in snow, the older man was quickly progressing into hypothermia. He studied the debris burying him. "Okay, this is what we'll do..."
A quick glance at the clock showed the timer at 3:02. Joel turned his concentration back to the bomb. He blocked out all other thoughts as he gingerly cut the last wire, praying this Murdoc wasn't as tricky as Brackett. One snip later, Joel took another glance at the clock. The timer had been disconnected. He let out the breath he had been holding, taking a moment to calm his racing heart. Then he stood and hurried outside to check on his friends.
Seeing him exit the building, Dalton paused in tossing a board on a growing pile. "The bomb?"
"Taken care of," Joel replied. He could see Dalton and Sam pulling out boards and debris as it was handed to them from the hole. Approaching, he saw Jim and Simon carefully uncovering Mac, whose head lay on Blair's lap. Instantly, Joel was helping the one-handed Sam. The sheriff was just outside the town, directing the rescue helicopters.
Blair fought not to shiver as he gently rubbed Mac's arms, watching Jim and Simon work. A soft moan caught his attention. Brown eyes blinked, then closed. "Mac? Mac, answer me."
"B-B-B-Blair?" a soft voice gasped.
"Right here," Blair whispered, fighting to keep his voice steady.
"Up top, helping to get this junk off you."
"Good..." Mac's voice faded.
"Stay with me, Mac," Blair ordered, shivering himself. "Come on, stay with me!"
"I know, just stay with me."
"L-L-ike av.... aval..."
"Like an avalanche?" Blair asked, encouraging. Then realization hit. "You were in an avalanche?"
"P-Pete du-dug me ou-out."
"Well, we nearly have you out of this one," Blair comforted him. Glancing down, he could see blood around the knee Jim had just uncovered. "Pete must be a good friend."
"Y-Y-Yeah-ah. H-H-he br-broke h-h-his leg, get-getting m-m-m-me out."
"He broke his leg digging you out?" Blair repeated, encouraging him. He looked up to see an EMT drop into the hole. "Here's someone to check you out, Mac. Mac?" Mac had drifted back to unconsciousness.
Next thing Blair knew, Jim and Simon had helped him out of the hole. He wrapped an arm around Sam as they watched the EMTs pull the stretcher carrying their father out of the hole. He was faintly aware of Jim and Jack standing behind them as they carried Mac to the waiting helicopter.
Saturday morning, medical clinic in Ouray, CO
Blair kept his arm around Sam as they were ushered from the helicopter to the medical clinic. He was so tired, yet so tense with worry over both Sam and Mac. His new brother hadn't said a word since they had loaded Mac onto the helicopter, his body tight with fear. Blair didn't dare relax either for fear he would fall asleep while Sam needed him. Thankfully, Jim's comforting hand on his back was keeping him going. He only hoped he was helping Sam as much.
"Pete!" Sam's sudden word drew Blair's attention to the man standing in a waiting area.
"Sam?" Pete asked, a smile of relief crossing his face as Sam broke from Blair to give him a quick hug. Pete could feel the tiny tremors in the cold body, recognizing the stress and exhaustion. He could also feel the splinted arm.
Sam drew away. "Any word on Dad?" he asked. Blair and Jim stepped next to him, silently supportive.
"Not yet, they are still examining him," Pete explained. He heard a deep cough from Sam's right. No wonder Mac and Ellison had been so worried about Blair with a bark like that. "Why don't we have you and Blair checked out while we wait?"
"Sounds like a good idea," Jack replied, coming up from the side leading a man with a stethoscope around his neck. "Dr. Nung here can take a look at that arm, Sam."
"Go on, Olsen," Blair gently teased, trying to keep his own coughing exhaustion out of his voice.
"Only if you're next, Indy." Sam threw over his shoulder as Jack and the doctor ushered him into another room.
Blair, relieved of having to support Sam, was just beginning to wilt when he heard Naomi cry, "Blair!"
"Mom?" Blair turned and was engulfed in his mother's embrace. He allowed himself to relax a bit, drawing comfort from her warmth and love.
"Oh honey, you are freezing!" Naomi exclaimed. She drew apart from her son, examining his exhausted face. Quickly, she wrapped her arm around his and started pulling him towards the exit. "Let's get you back to the motel. I'll wrap you up in warm blankets by the fire, plus I have plenty of Echin..."
"No, Mom." Blair dragged his feet to a stop, wearily shaking his head. Concerned, Jim watched and listened from a few feet away. "I need to stay here with Sam until we find out how Mac is doing."
Naomi only wanted to get Blair someplace safe, preferably away from a man targeted by hitmen. "Honey, they can call us at the..."
"No, Mom," Blair's strained voice rose a little higher, raising Jim's protective instincts up a notch. "Sam needs me."
"Blair honey, there are plenty of people here to look after Sam," Naomi stated firmly, still trying to pull Blair to the exit. In her concern, she missed the stubborn gleam in Blair's darkly circled eyes. Jim did not and started tensing for the explosion.
Blair's feet remained planted, his voice growing louder and sterner. "He is my brother. He needs me."
"We don't know that, honey. Now let me take care of you."
"I don't care WHAT you say, Naomi. He's MY brother, and I'M STAYING!" Blair jerked his arm away and stormed off, leaving the stricken Naomi in the middle of the waiting area. Jim quickly grabbed a blanket from a nearby cart and chased after his partner.
Jim caught up with him at the end of the hall, where Blair had collapsed into a chair. Fighting anger and exhaustion, Blair pulled his feet up and wrapped his arms around them. Jim draped the blanket over Blair's head and shoulders, then quietly sat in the chair beside his partner's. Several minutes of silence passed as Blair pulled the blanket tightly around himself and coughed.
Finally, the hoarse voice Jim had been waiting for emerged. "I'm just so tired. Mac might be my Dad, I don't know how badly he's hurt, ~cough~ Sam nearly got killed by that damn tower, my chest hurts, we've been chased all over in ~cough cough~ deep snow by some psycho, we don't even know where in the hell he is, Sam is so scared for Mac, Mom doesn't care, I'm ~cough cough~ so confused ~cough cough cough...~"
"I know," Jim softly replied, waiting for his guide's coughing to subside. "It is confusing and you're too exhausted to think it through right now."
"I've got to be there for Sam," Blair softly stated, trying not to cough. His entire body was hurting from the coughing and his recent actions.
"I know," Jim agreed comfortingly. "Sam needs you."
"I'm just so confused," Blair restated, sounding lost.
"I know," Jim repeated for the third time. He placed a comforting hand on Blair's back. "All you have to do now is get checked out by the doctor and stand by Sam until we know Mac's condition. Depending on what the doctors say, we can then find some nice warm beds for you and Sam to crash in. How's that sound?" Jim patted Blair's back and stood up.
"Sounds good." Blair continued to sit.
"About Mac...I just don't know what to think anymore."
Jim knelt in front of his partner, staring into his eyes. "Mac is the same cool guy you knew a month ago, Chief. Just remember that, and worry about all the rest of it once you get some sleep."
"Okay." Blair accepted Jim's hand and allowed himself to be pulled onto his feet. Then he continued to hold the hand, silently turning it over. Dried blood still covered Jim's palm around the angry-looking puncture wounds. Blair looked up into his sentinel's eyes. "This is how you stayed awake in the cabin," he whispered. Jim reluctantly nodded. Blair gratefully squeezed the hand, deeply moved by this sign of his sentinel's dedication. "Guess Sam and I aren't the only ones who need to see the docs."
Saturday late afternoon, medical clinic in Ouray, CO
The first thing I was aware of was that I was cold. Really cold. It wasn't until I tried to move my head that I discovered I had a monster headache to go along with being cold. I couldn't help the moan that escaped. "Easy there, buddy." A hand patted my shoulder through thick blankets. It took a few moments to recognize the voice.
Dalton grinned as the brown eyes blinked at him. "Welcome back to the land of the living, Mac."
"Why is it so cold? And why does my head hurt?"
"You've had hypothermia, buddy, and a mild concussion. Plus, you have a pretty nasty gash just above your knee. Luckily it isn't too deep. Do you remember what happened?"
Mac paused, trying to gather his thoughts. "Murdoc just got buried in a building and I was... Oh man, did the bomb go off?"
"No," Jack assured him easily. "Joel Taggart disarmed it while we dug you out of the trap Murdoc had laid for you."
"How's Sam and Blair? Are they all right?"
"They're fine. Blair still has one mean bark, but they doped him up good and said he'll be okay. He zonked out in one of the beds down the hall once the docs said you'd live. Sam was in here with you for awhile. Do you remember?"
Mac was about to shake his head, then decided against it. "No. Wait. There was something wrong with his arm?"
"He broke it. Clean break, though. The docs put it in a cast. He's now catching some Z's in a bed next to Blair's."
"I, I need to talk to Blair."
"About him being your son? Relax, he already knows."
MacGyver stared at him in dismay. "How?"
Jack's eye started to blink. "He's a smart kid, just like his pop. He figured it out."
His friend sighed. "Murdoc told him."
Damn. Mac could feel his headache growing. "Is he okay?"
Jack shrugged. "I think too much has happened at once for him. He and Sam have gotten really close though." Jack couldn't prevent the wicked gleam in his eye. "He even faced down Naomi when she wanted him to leave Sam and go with her."
Jack paused, hating to even think about it, let alone having to tell his friend. "They are going through the rubble and ash of that building, but haven't found a body yet."
"Damn," Mac swore out loud, then winced at the pain that shot through his head. "He may still go after the kids."
Jack chuckled. "Not if he's smart. The way Blair's guard dog is pacing the halls, he'd probably tear Murdoc's throat out on sight."
Mac squinted up at his friend. "Guard dog? You mean Ellison?"
"Yep. Trust me, he's like a protective Rottweiler just waiting to tear into anyone who touches his wards. I doubt even Murdoc would want to go near him."
Mac's eyes drifted shut as he smiled at the image.
As Blair gradually came into awareness from his exhausted sleep, he relaxed into the soft pillow and warm covers. It was pure heaven after two days out in the cold and sleeping on the ground. Then he felt a hand brush back his hair. For a moment, Blair enjoyed the attention, slowly realizing it was Naomi. Then he remembered his earlier loss of temper. Might as well finish waking up now and apologize.
"Hi Honey," Naomi softly cooed as her son's blue eyes blinked open. "How are you feeling?"
"Groggy and sore," Blair admitted, "but I'll live. ~cough~"
Naomi frowned. "I still don't like the sound of that."
"Honest, Mom, it sounds worse than it is." Blair pulled himself into a sitting position, rubbing his eyes. "Why are ~cough~ you whispering?"
"Sam is sleeping in the other bed. I didn't figure you'd want to wake him." Naomi picked up a cup from the nearby stand and poured a glass of water for him.
Blair glanced over to his brother. Sam's back was to them, nestled into his own set of covers. "No, ~cough~ he needs the rest about as bad as I did." Blair then took a deep breath. "Mom, about earlier..."
"That's all right, Honey. I know you were tired and worried about your friend."
Friend. So, Naomi still doesn't want to admit Sam's my brother. "Mom, why didn't you ever tell me about MacGyver?"
Naomi sighed. "Lots of reasons. The first being I honestly thought he died over in Viet Nam."
Blair thought for a moment, drawing from his memory as he drank the water. "Is that who you left a flower for at the Viet Nam Memorial?" He could remember that rainy day in DC. He had stood under a tree, watching from a distance as his mother searched for a name on the black stone wall. Wondering who she was looking for.
"At least I thought I did." Naomi shook her head. "I just never thought there would be more than one A. MacGyver over there."
Blair thought for a moment, comparing his mother, the diehard war protester, with Mac, the laid-back war veteran. "How did you two meet?"
Naomi gave him a sad smile, then quietly told him of meeting MacGyver, falling in love, then quickly falling out. "When Mac didn't like Tim and disagreed with his views, I was crushed. Here was my hero, the man I would follow to the ends of the earth, while the man I loved
thought he was crazy." Blair smiled. He knew the logical MacGyver well enough to know he and Leary would clash. "Then, he wouldn't join in smoking pot with the rest of my friends and just left. I was mortified. I mean, who was this square? I was just beginning to realize that Mac was more into the establishment's views than going against them."
Blair quietly looked at his mother. "Mom, I've never done drugs either." With the exception of the Golden Incident, and that wasn't by choice.
"I know, Honey. But those were different times. I thought back then that if you didn't do drugs, you either didn't know what you were missing or were being a goodie two-shoes." Naomi looked down, then continued her story. "The final straw was the fight over Viet Nam. I wanted Mac to stay with me, fighting the war side by side. I expected him to drop out of school, dodge the draft, and I even promised I'd flee to Canada with him. The war protests were the center of my life. I felt anyone who wasn't protesting the war was either a sheep or worse. I couldn't understand why Mac insisted that staying in school was important to him. At least, not until years later when I could see how important it was to you." Naomi glanced up to give her son another sad smile. "So I accused him of being a Momma's boy, of wanting to go over there and kill babies. Mac started yelling at me about how he didn't want to go but felt it was his responsibility. He kept saying that I was being blind and closed-minded. I couldn't believe he had the nerve to call me, of all people, closed-minded. That upset me, so I'm afraid I said some pretty nasty things back to him. He and Jack left the next morning. I felt so abandoned, but I had lots of friends to keep me company."
They sat silently for a few moments. "So Mac is my father," Blair finally whispered.
"I don't know that, honey. Some of my old friends are candidates, too. In fact, I never wanted Mac to be your father. He was a soldier, and a dead one at that. Or so I thought. I didn't want that kind of influence for you. Plus, I was afraid that between being a single mother and my protesting activities, Mac's parents would sue for custody and win. You were too precious to me, baby. I couldn't take that chance."
Blair just shook his head. "Mom, just because you don't want Mac to be my dad doesn't mean he's not."
"Well, I still don't think he's a good influence. He has hitmen after him. Jim says he works with bombs. He's probably even encouraged you with this police observer idea."
"No, Mom," Blair sighed. "The police observer deal was a given long before I ever met Mac. Nor is it his fault that a hitman doesn't like him. That kind of thing just happens."
"Like you and the militia?" Naomi asked sternly.
Blair's eyes widened, then he took a calming breath. "Yeah, like me and the militia. I mean, you don't expect me to just stand back and let creeps like that take control, do you? You wouldn't let even the government dictate to you when you were my age. Why should I stand by while a group terrorizes innocent people and judges them due to skin color or religion?"
"I want you to be safe. That's why I wish you'd stay away from men like Jim and Mac."
"Mom, the world is a dangerous place. I could step into an elevator and be killed by a bomb. I could be bit by a poisonous spider. I could be in a car accident. If I die because of helping Jim, at least my life would have been spent trying to make a difference."
Naomi sighed, recognizing a losing battle, at least for the moment. "None of this makes Mac your father."
"No, it doesn't. Nor does it mean he's not my father, either. If it would make you feel better, we can see about tests."
"Oh honey, I worry because you seem so attached to the idea that Sam is your brother. I don't want you to be disappointed."
"Mom," Blair sighed. "After this weekend, Sam is my brother, whether by blood or by deep friendship like Jim. However, I really suspect it's by blood."
Naomi sadly shook her head. "I can't talk you out of this, can I?"
"No." The finality vibrated through Blair's voice.
"All right." Naomi stood up and reached over to pick up her purse and coat. "Then I'll just go back to the motel and leave you with your new brother."
It hurt to hear the sadness and resignation in her voice. "Mom..."
"No, Honey. You need to do this and I'd just be in the way. I'll call you in a week once you're back in Cascade."
Blair watched her go, hating to hurt her. Then he glanced over to Sam's slumbering form. She was right. He DID have to do this.
A blonde woman stuck her head into the room, quickly glancing to the sleeping man on the one bed and the wide-awake one in the other. "Hi, can I come in for a second?" she whispered.
"Sure," Blair managed a smile. The deputy walked in, carrying a pack and black case. "These were found in Evermore. Are they yours?"
Blair pulled his gaze from the attractive woman and looked at what she carried. "I think the pack might be Mac's, but that is definitely Sam's camera case."
"Okay, then. I'll leave them here for them."
Blair took a quick peak at the name tag. "Deputy Kelsey? Are you the one who gave up your lunch for us?"
Deputy Kelsey blushed. "Well, yes. I've been planning to diet, so figured it was a good time to start."
Blair gave her his most charming smile. "I don't think you need to diet, but we really appreciated the soup. Thank you."
The young deputy's blush deepened. "You're welcome." She quickly slipped out the door.
Blair watched her go, wondering how he could get her phone number. Then he turned to look at Sam's case. Man, I hope his camera's still okay. Blair leaned over and grabbed the strap. Plucking it up and pulling it into his lap, he quickly opened it to check. On top were two carefully folded packets of paper. One was addressed to Sam. The other, much thicker one, had Blair's name scrawled across the top.
Blair picked up the one with his name, holding it for a moment. Could it be a message from Murdoc? Jim said he'd been leaving them for Mac. Steeling himself against the worse, Blair opened the letter.
My dear son Blair,
For several weeks, I have been debating on what to say to you. On how to tell you I believe you are my son. But now, I fear I will not have the opportunity. So this letter is to tell you all the things I want to say, but may not have the chance...
Oh hell, this is a letter from Mac in case he didn't survive Murdoc. Blair stared straight ahead, tensing as he thought just how close Mac had been to not surviving. But he did survive. He's safe, just down the hall. Blair glanced down, running his finger along the edge of the papers. Now what should he do? One part of him said that he shouldn't read it, since Mac meant it in case of his death. Yet another part, the largest part, wanted to read it. Wanted to know what Mac had wrote. Wanted to know more about this man who was his father. Taking a deep breath, Blair leaned over to his pack and started hunting for his glasses.
Jim sighed. "So they haven't found a body?"
"No," Simon admitted. "But much of it burned before they could put it out. It's possible that he either died in the explosion or in the fire."
"Except that we are talking about Murdoc, who has more lives than a cat." Pete looked bleak, remembering all the other times Murdoc was supposed to be dead.
"So the real question is, are Blair, Sam, and Mac safe?" Jim asked around his clenched jaw.
Pete shrugged his shoulders. "I'd say from experience that they are for now. In the future is anyone's guess."
"Great!" Jim growled in frustration. He shook his head. "I just hate to have that bastard hanging over their heads."
Joel looked at Jim. "So, what do we do now?"
"Well, I'm hoping to take the week off," Jim replied, glancing at Simon. At Simon's nod of consent, Jim continued, "I'm still going to keep an eye on them. If nothing else, it will make ME feel better."
Simon chuckled. "Considering one is sick, the second has a broken arm, and the third has a bum leg, someone should look after them. If only to keep them out of more trouble."
Pete joined in, "With three MacGyvers under the same roof, you may have your hands full Det. Ellison."
"I've had plenty of practice with Sandburg. I think I can handle them."
"Then Jack can fly the rest of us back to Cascade tomorrow," Simon suggested.
After a few more details were hammered out, Jim walked down to Blair and Sam's room. Pausing in the doorway, Jim was surprised to see his friend not only awake, but with tears streaming down his face. After a quick glance at the sleeping Sam, Jim quickly, yet quietly, walked over to Blair's bed. "Chief?" he whispered, laying a hand lightly on his shoulder. "Are you okay? Did you have another fight with Naomi?"
Blair pulled up his glasses so he could wipe the tears away with his hand. "No. Well, yes, Naomi and I did have a disagreement, but I'm okay."
Jim noticed the paper in his hand. "Chief, what's this?" Focusing his sight, Jim read the first few lines. He glanced back up to his friend. "Blair?"
"Mac wrote this for me, in case... well, I decided to read it anyway." Blair paused, giving the paper a reverent stroke of his thumb. "God, Jim, I never realized Mac felt this way about me. I never thought anyone would."
"Mac has a very compassionate heart, just like you. And he's seen enough in life to know what's important. I suspect you and Sam are at the top of his list."
"But Jim, Mac hasn't known me for even a year yet."
"True, but I don't think that matters. In fact, would you like to know what he told Kincaid while they were fighting?"
"Fighting?" Blair's brow wrinkled as he tried to place it. "You mean, when he hurt his hand?"
"Yep. Kincaid wanted to know why Mac betrayed him and his generous offer. Mac told him because he had abducted you. Kincaid then asked why he'd care about a skinny nobody. Mac told him 'Because that brave, intelligent young man is my son.' Then he broke Kincaid's nose."
"Really?" Blair's eyes lit up, picturing the scene. Mac really does think I'm brave and intelligent?
"Really." Jim glanced over to Sam.
A soft moan rose as Sam became aware of all his aches and pains. Then Sam took a deep breath and rolled over to face Jim and Blair. "Hi," he yawned. "What's up?"
Jim took a quick glance at Blair, then caught them up. Blair and Sam looked at each other uneasily, neither liking the idea that Murdoc's death was unconfirmed.
So this is what Dad has had to live with. Sam quickly shoved the thought aside. "So Jack and Pete are going to stay with Dad?" he asked.
"Yeah. The doctors want to keep him overnight. Jack says he'll drive Mac up to the cabin once the hospital releases him tomorrow morning. Then he'll fly the rest of the group back to Cascade."
"You're staying with us at the cabin?" Blair asked.
"Considering the trouble you two get into when I'm not around, you better believe it."
Both young men stared at him in disbelief. "Seems like we find it with you as well," Blair observed.
"Murdoc may have fooled me once. He's not doing it again," Jim vowed. Then his face softened. "Why don't you two get cleaned up and we'll go out to eat. My treat."
"Your treat? All right!" Blair cheered.
"I don't care who pays. I'm starving," Sam declared.
Sunday morning, Harry Jackson's cabin, near Ouray, CO
Blair quietly slipped out of the bedroom, not wanting to wake Sam. Suddenly, he stopped by a bookcase, his attention focused on one of the photos on a shelf. It showed MacGyver standing in front of the cabin, his arm draped around a white-haired, gruff-looking old man. The same man Blair thought he had seen in the ghost town. Oh God, Sam said this cabin had been owned by our great-grandfather, Harry. The one who raised Mac. The one Sam says he quotes. Oh God, could it be....? A cold shiver shot through Blair's body. Then he vigorously shook his head. Man, do I need some coffee.
Pulling on a sweatshirt as he walked toward the kitchen area, he checked the coffee pot on the stove. He turned towards the cupboard and pulled out a mug, trying to muffle a cough. It sounded bad, but the doctor assured him that the antibiotic and rest would soon take care of it. At least, it would if he didn't take anymore unexpected hikes. As he poured the coffee, he could detect the faint sound of chopping. That must be Jim. Otherwise, only the crackling of the fire broke the cabin's silence.
Man, he still had so much to think about, so much to process. He walked over to the small living area in front of the fireplace and paused. On the couch, sound asleep with his leg propped up and bundled in blankets, was MacGyver.
For several minutes, Blair stared, studying the face of the man he now knew was his father. In his mind, he could hear Jim's words, "Mac is the same cool guy you knew a month ago, Chief." Blair pondered a moment, deciding that was both true and false. Mac was still the supportive friend he knew, yet now he was more. Now he was his father.
How would his life have been different, if he had known Mac as a kid? Would he have felt so out of place in his mother's world, trying so hard to be a scientist? Would he have avoided all the wounding remarks from the other kids, picking on the absence of a father? Would he have become bitter, because Mac couldn't be there all the time? Would he be where he was now, an anthropologist, a police observer, a sentinel's shaman guide?
No way to know. This was the hand fate had dealt them. Now Blair had to figure out how to juggle the new pieces into his hectic life. He smiled. Life could only get more interesting with Mac and Sam in it. As if it wasn't interesting enough hanging out with Jim.
Worried that Mac wasn't warm enough after the hypothermia yesterday, Blair walked over to the fireplace, adding a couple more logs. Turning, he met Mac's eyes. For a moment, they studied each other. Then Blair asked, "How are you feeling?"
"Still a little woozy and chilled, but all right. How are you doing?"
"All right. ~cough~" Seeing Mac frown at the deep cough, Blair reassured him, "Honest, it sounds worse than I feel." Another moment of silence passed. Again, Blair was the first to break it. Standing and brushing off his jeans, Blair awkwardly asked, "Why don't I dig us up something to eat?"
"I'm not all that hungry yet." Mac sat up and swung his injured leg to rest on the coffee table. He then patted the couch cushion next to him. "Why don't we talk?"
Blair paused a moment, studying the silent plea in the warm brown eyes. "Okay." He sat down, finding himself in the highly unusual position of not knowing quite what to say.
"I guess you've talked with your mother?" Mac tensed, certain Naomi couldn't have said anything positive about him.
"Yeah, we talked. I also talked a little with Jim and with Sam. And read your letter." Blair pulled out the precious papers from his jeans pocket.
"You read the letter?" Mac asked, stunned. He took a deep breath. "I wanted to tell you those things in person. I only wrote the letter, well, because..."
"I know. Still, I think it's the best letter I've ever received. I'm going to hang on to this for the rest of my life." Blair ran a finger over the edge of the paper, not looking at Mac.
"How do you feel about all this?" Mac asked, again tensing for the answer.
"I don't know. It all hit kinda sudden, you know? I mean, I really like you and Sam, always have. I'd really like to get to know you better. But I don't want you to feel like you have to accept me."
"There is no 'have to' involved here," Mac stated firmly. "You are always welcome to be a part of this family, whenever you feel comfortable enough to join it."
Blair paused a moment, thinking. Then he turned to Mac. "How about now?"
Mac smiled widely and embraced his son. Hugging back, a piece of Blair that had always been floating aimlessly finally found it's place to anchor.
A few minutes later, a voice asked, "Guess this means it's all settled?" Blair and Mac moved apart and looked up. Sam stood there, right eyebrow lifted and a huge smile on his face.
Mac and Blair looked at each other and smiled. "Yep, it's settled," Mac told him.
"Great!" Sam jumped and plopped into the upholstered chair next to them. "I just wish one of us didn't have to break an arm every time we gain a new family member."
"Huh?" Blair's eyes narrowed in puzzlement. The cabin door opened behind him.
Mac chuckled. "I broke my arm soon after I met Sam."
Blair glanced back and forth between Mac and Sam. "Well, that will be the first family tradition I intend to break, no pun intended."
"I'll second that." Jim rolled the wood from his arms into the basket. "I think all three of you have been beaten up enough on this trip. Anyone feel like eating?"
"Always," Sam announced.
"Me, too," Blair seconded.
"Okay, why don't you three invalids rest up by the fire. I'll handle the food."
"Thanks, Jim," Blair called out, knowing Jim was giving him a chance to be with his new family.
Jim smiled as he walked back to the kitchen. He could easily hear Blair from the living area. "Okay, now that I'm a member of this family, I have a question. What does the 'A' in your names stand for?"
"I don't know if we should tell you..." Sam's voice teased, meeting Blair's protests. Jim's smile grew as he opened a cupboard. He enjoyed seeing such a friendly relationship developing between the two younger men. He wished he and Steven hadn't gotten so far off track.
"Okay, we'll tell you on ONE condition: You do NOT give it to any of your future children." Mac's playfully stern voice rumbled.
Jim softly chuckled as he examined the can goods.
"Okay, sure, no problem. Though, I don't see how it could be THAT bad."
Jim paused, listening to Sam whisper the name.
"ANGUS?" Blair exclaimed.
Jim joined the laughter.
Author's note 3/27/98: Finally, Blair knows who his father is! On that note, I feel it is time to take a short break from this series. I'm not quitting the writing gig - I promised Zadra I'd write a pre-sequel to her 'The Sentry and The Thief' fairy tale featuring Nadira; I also have ideas for a pure TS story involving Steven, and an TS Alternate Universe tale which I am still debating on whether it should see the light of day. However, I do have three more TS/MacGyver stories in mind, and plan to work on the next one (Hot Time in Chicago) this summer.
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