Authors notes: This story is part of my The Sentinel/MacGyver Series, set after 'The Promise of Christmas Future' and 'Chance Destiny', and before 'A Christmas to Belong'. It is also crossed with Stargate:SG1, set approximately between Season 5 and Season 6, and contains major spoilers for the fifth season episode, 'Meridian'.
If you are unfamiliar with my series, I recommend you either read the first five stories ('The Maze', 'Control', 'Coatlicue', 'Ares Bugle' and 'Heirs to a Nightmare'), or read the SPOILER. In addition, original character Cory Buchanan is introduced in 'Follow the Tiger'; Ian in 'The Promise of Christmas Future'; and Amanda Chambers in 'Mishaps with Dinner'. How Jack O'Neill meets MacGyver is in 'Weardians and Witans'.
Sorry this story took so long. Work picked up over the summer, and I was too pooped to do much writing. Hopefully, I've struck a balance again.
As always, I wish to thank several people. To Zadra, who's always there to lend an ear; Shallan who is great at brainstorming and helps to keep me on track military-wise; Toni Rae for pep talks and brainstorming sessions; Ian's self-declared Godmummy Sealie, for all her encouragement, beta'ing, and keeping Amanda British; Ian's self-declared Auntie Robin for beta'ing, Teri and the rest of the Crossgate list for help answering my all-important questions (like the location of Jack O'Neill's cabin); and as always wolfpup, who gives my stories such a happy home.
Please send any comments to email@example.com.
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 graying Black Lab mix, who will stare at you pathetically for hours, sleep on your couch, and probably con you out of all your food.
Please do not reproduce, copy, or otherwise use any part of this story without permission from the author. A copy for personal use is allowed.
MacGyver's firehouse, Los Angeles, CA
"...Five knives, Dad. They missed five!"
Seated at the kitchen table, MacGyver could only shake his head as he listened to his son describe the latest airport safety test. Cory Buchanan was leaning against the counter holding a cup of green tea. His face was just as grim as his partner's.
Waving his arms, Sam continued, "Admittedly, a couple were hidden pretty well, but one was so obvious, Ian could have spotted it."
"Me, Daddy?" the three-year-old piped up from his booster seat.
Sam's face immediately softened. He ruffled his son's blond curls. "Yeah, buddy, you. You're way smarter than some of the people Daddy has to work with."
Mac suppressed a laugh as Cory lifted his eyebrows, waiting for Sam's response. Sam paused a moment before shooting a smirk in his friend's direction. "No, not Uncle Cory. He's way smarter than me."
"Good answer," Cory replied.
A muffled ring interrupted the proceedings. Both Cory and Sam started reaching for their pockets, only for MacGyver to wave them off. "Mine. I'll take it in the other room." He met Sam's eyes, then glanced at Ian, indicating that Sam should take the time to be with his son.
Sam nodded that he had received the message. "Hey buddy, what'd you eating?"
Happy that his family was back home, Mac flipped open his phone and greeted, "Hello."
Only his double, Colonel Jack O'Neill, ever called him Gus. Mac sat in one of the living room chairs. "Jack! How's it hanging?"
For a moment, there was only dead air. Frowning, Mac was about to repeat his friend's name when the gruff voice softly stated, "I had to let him go."
Catching the weight of the words even though he didn't understand, Mac stood back up and headed for the privacy of his bedroom. "Had to let who go?"
The voice cracked slightly. "Daniel."
Mac's gut twisted. He had noticed the deep friendship between his double and the scientist. It reminded him a lot of his son Blair's friendship with his partner, Jim Ellison. Something was very wrong. "What do you mean you let him go?"
"Danny didn't have any family, so I was his medical power of attorney."
The implication of the past tense wasn't lost on Mac. Closing his eyes, he asked quietly, "Can you tell me what happened?"
"Not really. Let's just say Daniel got too close to radiation." There was a pause. "He, he was in pretty bad shape. The others wanted to try... some things... but Danny asked me to let him go."
MacGyver swallowed hard as he sat on his bed. He knew how horrible dying from radiation poisoning could be. It wasn't difficult to imagine the situation Daniel and Jack had been in. "I'm sorry."
"How are you holding up?"
"Stuff's been pretty tense, so we've been keeping busy since... well, the last couple of months."
Mac frowned. Didn't the Air Force give people time off for grieving? Or was their secret war against dangerous aliens going that badly? Mac wasn't sure he wanted to know.
"I keep telling myself that it's what he wanted." Another pause commented louder than words that Jack was trying not to second-guess the decision. "Besides, I've got to keep it together this time. Carter and Teal'c are depending on me."
Noting the 'this time', Mac softly pointed out, "You're human, Jack. You have to grieve, too."
Mac waited. If Jack wanted to talk, he was there. However, forcing him might drive his friend away, and Mac wasn't sure he had many other sources of support outside Stargate Command.
Finally, Jack offered, "I've got a few days off starting tomorrow. My C.O. is lending me his place in the mountains. Thought I'd go fishing."
Mac nodded to himself. He couldn't think of a better way to deal with the loss. "My grandpa always said a man could never do enough fishing."
"Yeah." Another pause echoed across the phone line. "Wanna come?"
The decision was instantaneous and heartfelt. "I'll take the first flight out."
Somewhere in New York, NY
She tossed her bag onto the counter, smiling. She would never have to go to that horrible little job again. With her target dead, she was able to quit due to 'emotional stress'. While the contract was profitable, she was more than ready to move on. She could only take mousy clothes and boring typing for so long. Turning to a mirror, she decided she would have to dye her hair again. The blonde locks were just not her. She popped out the green contact lenses. That was better. She had missed her hazel brown eyes.
Now she could focus on her pet project. She walked into her bedroom and stood in front of a huge bulletin board. She looked at the picture tacked to the top and felt a familiar surge of anger. He was responsible for the death of her sister. He was the reason behind everything she had done and would do.
The question was which of two avenues to pursue. Both had their pluses and minuses. She looked at the pictures on the left. The curly haired man in his early thirties was certainly handsome enough. Her initial research pointed out that he had an eye for the ladies, making him easy to attract. The challenge was that he was a cop who lived with another cop. That could complicate things.
She turned her attention to the right side. The other was also handsome, in his late twenties, and appeared to be shyer than his older brother. He might be a more solid catch. Of course, the challenges surrounding him were daunting. He traveled a lot and also lived with others, including her ultimate target. While it might be fun to float under the man's nose while dating his son, she wasn't sure how long she could keep it up without her temper igniting.
Then she trailed her finger across one of the pictures. A toddler was in the younger brother's arms, legs wrapped tight around his father's waist. No matter who the boy's grandfather was, the curly-haired imp deserved to have one living parent. Nor was she certain boy's mother was gone; triggering the wrath of the Deadly Rose was not something she would do lightly, no matter what was at stake. It would probably be best to leave his father alone.
She would go to Cascade, Washington.
Amanda Chamber's new townhouse, Cascade, WA
"A little to the right."
Jim and Blair, at opposite ends of a blue and brown sofa, obligingly took a step to Amanda Chamber's right.
"A little more... There. Thanks, guys!"
The two men set the piece down and pushed it against the wall. Jim shot his girlfriend a grin. "Anything else?"
"No, that's the last of it," Amanda replied. Jim stole a kiss as he walked by. "I figure next weekend I'll paint the bedrooms."
"For that, I'm going to need some more of this." Jim stepped back and gave her another, deeper kiss.
Blair smirked as he leaned against the arm of the sofa. "Hey, what do I get?"
"Pizza." Amanda stepped back and smiled at him. "I think there's a couple of pieces left."
"Nah, that's okay. I'm stuffed." Blair stood up and stretched. "And I need to get back. See ya later, Jim?"
Jim waved a hand at him as he smiled down at Amanda. Grinning, Blair walked past them to leave the three story townhouse. It was nice to see his sentinel so happy. He hopped into his Mustang, singing to his tape as he drove back home.
The good mood lasted until Blair stepped into the loft. For a moment, the apartment he shared with his friend seemed cold and isolated. Blair shook the feelings off. He was happy for Jim. Plus it was good to have some time to himself. He tossed his jacket on the hooks by the door and walked into the kitchen area. Tea would do the trick.
Blair had barely turned on the stove when his cell phone rang. Jogging back to his jacket, he pulled it out of his pocket and flipped it open. "Hello?"
"Sam?" The cold feeling was back. Blair wasn't sure why, but somehow he knew something was wrong. He walked over to the loveseat.
"Dad asked me to call you."
Pushing back the fear that was creeping into his throat, Blair softly asked as he sat down, "What's up?"
The sigh was audible over the connection. "Colonel O'Neill just called Dad. Man, I don't know how to say this."
"Just say it."
"Daniel Jackson has died."
Blair closed his eyes. "Oh, man."
"Yeah." There was a pause as the two brothers remembered the man. Blair knew the Egyptologist with a big heart better than Sam, but Sam had met and liked him.
"Do you know what happened?"
"No. Dad said the Colonel couldn't give him details."
"Well, their work is highly classified." Blair shuddered, remembering Botolf's stories of the aliens they fought. Did one of them kill Daniel?
"Whatever happened, O'Neill apparently had to, to make the decision about life support. Dad said it was hard on him."
"I can imagine. Daniel told me they'd been friends for years." Blair also knew that the dangers of their work would have deepened the friendship. He could understand that. He didn't even want to think of how it would feel to lose Jim. "Man, I bet Carter and Murray's hurting pretty bad, too. They've been together as a team for a while now. Did Jack mention either of them?"
"Dad didn't say. He's packing right now for Colorado."
Blair blinked. "Jack that bad off?"
"Don't know. Dad's worried, though. He's dropping everything so they can go fishing. He figures O'Neill needs someone to talk to who's not a part of the project."
"Yeah." Blair nodded. "The rest of the team looks up to Jack as their leader. Hell, from what I could tell, most of that base is either awed by or scared of Jack. All that military toughness is practically imbedded in his bones, even worse than Jim. There's no way Jack would show a hint of weakness there."
"And you think he might with Dad?"
"Maybe. With Dad being older and outside the chain of command, Jack might loosen up with him."
"Hopefully." Sam paused again, then asked, "Speaking of Jim, where is he?"
"She's in the States now?"
"Moved this week. I just got back from helping her and Jim arrange her furniture."
"I bet Jim's happy about that."
"Like you wouldn't believe."
Perhaps picking up on the melancholy in his brother's voice, Sam inserted, "Hey, got someone here who wants to talk with you." A couple of moments later, a high voice asked, "Unca Bear?"
Blair couldn't help it. A wide smile stretched across his face as he leaned back into the cushions. "Hi, Buddy. How you doing?"
"Good. Making a pic-toe for Daddy."
For the next few minutes, Blair chuckled as he talked with his nephew. But when he closed his phone, sad thoughts of Daniel crept back in. He could relate so well to the archeologist. Both had gone from the verbal world of academia into the physical world filled with danger. Both gave it their all to protect people whom they barely knew. All his possible futures, including triumphs, failures, wife and children, were no longer possible for Daniel Jackson. Was there a lesson in there for Blair?
When Jim stepped into the loft an hour later, he was surprised to find the lights off. Shrugging off his jacket, Jim reached for the switch, then paused. A faint glow shone from the living area. Jim took a couple of quiet steps towards the center. His partner was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the wooden floor, eyes closed as he faced a single, lit candle.
The sentinel frowned. The candle wasn't one of the colored, lightly scented ones Blair normally used for meditating. Deciding to leave his partner to his thoughts, Jim took a soft step towards the stairs to his loft bedroom.
Jim turned back. "Sorry. Didn't mean to disturb you."
"That's okay. You can turn on the lights."
Sentinel sight could see the sadness in his guide's face without the need for further illumination. Still frowning, Jim asked quietly, "What's wrong?"
"Got some bad news. Daniel Jackson died."
"Damn." Jim bowed his head a moment in respect. Then he looked up. "Classified?"
"What about the rest of the team?"
"Sam didn't know about Carter or Teal'c. But since Jack called Mac, and they're going fishing, I'm assuming the rest of the team's okay. I can't see Jack leaving if either of them were hurt, too."
"True." Jim paused, remembering things he'd rather not think about. Softly, he commented, "Fishing's probably the best thing O'Neill could do."
"Yeah. I, myself, can't believe Daniel's gone. Can't imagine how Jack feels."
"I can," Jim replied, the day his young partner had been pronounced dead by the paramedics swirling in his mind. At Blair's worried look, Jim shrugged. "Your Dad will help him. Mac has a way of talking with people."
"That he does."
Next day, Pike's Peak National Forest
MacGyver slid his duffle bag under the bed Jack had indicated was his. Slowly, he turned in a circle, taking in the nice bedroom in the two story log home. Compared to Harry's rustic cabin, it was a mansion in the woods. It was a good place to spend a couple of weeks. It was the host who might be questionable.
Jack looked worse than he had sounded over the telephone. Mac thought he could detect a limp to his step and new lines in his grim face. Other than a few polite responses, he'd barely said a word since picking Mac up at the airport. Mac hadn't forced him. He doubted he would have been in much better shape if he had been grieving one of his close friends, like Pete Thornton or Jack Dalton. He didn't even want to contemplate his condition if it had been one of his boys. He understood why words might be too difficult.
Stepping out of the cabin, Mac drew in a breath of clean air. Then he followed a dirt path that meandered around the cabin and onto a dirt trail. It didn't take long before a small lake became visible through the trees. As he continued down the path, he spotted his double sitting on a large rock on the shore. Jack sat with his head down, legs gently swinging over the water.
Mac paused a moment in thought. Should he intrude on his friend's solitude? They really weren't that close. Yet Jack had invited him on this trip. Perhaps he just needed someone's presence. Taking a deep breath, Mac hiked the rest of the way to the rock. Quietly, he eased himself down next to Jack. For several minutes, MacGyver took in the natural beauty around them. It was a wonderful spot.
Jack hoarsely asked, "You settle in?"
After another minute, Mac added. "Nice place."
Mac waited a while longer before asking, "Fishing any good?"
"Depends on your definition." Mac turned slightly and lifted an eyebrow. Jack only shrugged. "Haven't actually caught anything here."
Swallowing that tidbit of information, Mac offered, "Well, my Grandpa Harry always used to say you don't fish for fish, you fish for fishing."
A ghost of a smile graced Jack's face briefly. "I think I would have liked your grandpa."
"He was kinda crotchety, but he had his moments."
The two men sat for a while longer, staring at the water. Mac softly asked, "You hungry?"
"Should probably eat." Jack didn't move.
Mac suddenly had insight as to how frustrated Blair must had been the Christmas Sam was missing. He slowly stood up. "I'll go see what we've got." Hiking back, he realized he had his work cut out for him.
The Next Adventure Book Store, Cascade, WA
Blair ran his fingers over the worn bindings, a familiar thrill running down his spine. There was nothing quite like exploring through stacks of books. If there was anything from his previous academic life that he missed, it was the smell of aging paper and ink as he searched for just the right volume to enlighten him. The quiet rustles of other customers blended into the background, its familiar sounds soothing away the week's tension. His regular visits to the used bookstore were a welcome counterbalance to the action and stress of being a police detective. Blair firmly believed his life needed the balance.
Choosing a promising hardcover from the shelves, he turned only to run into someone. Dropping the book, he swiftly reached out his hands to close around stiff wool. Blair found himself looking into wide, hazel eyes. They were beautiful eyes. With a blink and a slight shake of the head, Blair pulled out an embarrassed smile. "Whoa, sorry. I didn't know you were there."
The dainty mouth stretched into a sweet smile. "It's probably my fault. I was concentrating so hard on the titles, I forgot to notice things around me."
"Me, too," Blair admitted ruefully, his eyes taking in the rest of the slender woman. "But I usually don't run into too many people in the South American aisle."
The woman chuckled, brushing back her deep brown hair. "I have a friend traveling through Peru, and she's gotten me interested in the culture."
"Did she send you this cloak?" Blair focused on the red and brown wool he was still touching. "Wow, this is a wonderful example of Peruvian textile."
"Are you familiar with Peru?" she asked, her face glowing with interest.
Blair couldn't help but puff up a little. "Yeah, I've been there. Kinda a quick trip, but it was, ah, interesting." Noticing the glares they were getting from another patron, Blair asked, "Hey, how about we get some coffee or something and I'll tell you about it. There's a Starbucks across the street."
Her smile brightened. "I'd like that. Just let me buy these books."
"Yeah, I need to replace this one, and I'll meet you up front." Blair leaned over to pick up the book.
She turned towards the front. For a brief moment, her smile became smug as her eyes glowed triumphant and calculating. Then she schooled her features back to an innocent smile.
That evening, Ellison's loft
Jim studied his tie in the mirror's reflection. It still didn't look right. With light, precise tugs, he worked it into place. He hated ties, but this dinner was important. He had no idea how Amanda would react, so he planned to look as good and as hard to reject as possible.
The front door opened below. His partner's whistling sounded cheerful. After another tug, Jim turned from the mirror to walk down the stairs.
Blair was pouring a glass of tea from the refrigerator when he spotted his friend. "Nice. Let me guess; you're taking Amanda out."
"Yeah." All of Jim's nervousness poured into that one word.
Face turning serious, Blair asked, "Tonight's the night?"
"Yeah." Uncertain what to do with his hands, Jim patted his tie again. Then he shrugged. "I think. Maybe it's not the right time."
Blair rolled his eyes. "It's time. Hell, it's past time. You should have spoken up before she moved here."
Jim briefly closed his eyes. "I just don't want to rock the boat."
Pushing back his own concern, Blair forced a confident face for his partner. "It'll be fine."
"What if she doesn't want to be with a freak?"
"You are not a freak. You're gifted. Besides, she's so into you, you could tell her you were once a woman and she'd probably still love you."
Jim stared at him. "I was once a what?"
Laughter burst out of the shorter detective. "See, there's worse things than telling her you're a sentinel."
Jim rolled his eyes. "Thanks a lot."
Studying his friend, Jim noted, "You look happy."
"I am." A huge grin stretched across Blair's face. "I just met the most wonderful girl."
Jim lifted an eyebrow. "What's her name?"
Blair started waving his hands around. "She beautiful, intelligent, beautiful, funny, beautiful..."
"Does this beauty have a name?"
"Man, Jim, I could have talked with her for hours! She's an artist, interested in South American cultures. The stories she told me..."
Jim's gut clenched, remembering another 'artist' Blair had been interested in. "Where'd you meet?"
"Bookstore. Nearly ran over her. Then we went to Starbucks. Man, I could get lost in her eyes."
"Did you find a name in there?"
"Diana," Blair answered in an airy tone.
Blair paused a moment. "I don't know." Then he blinked. "Oh, no, you don't."
"You are not running a background check on her."
"You ran one on Amanda."
"That's different. You know your track record, and you didn't know anything about her."
"Your track record's worse than mine. And you don't even know this gal's last name!"
"You worry too much."
"And sometimes you don't worry enough."
"Jim!" Blair paused to take a deep breath and collect his thoughts. "I really like this girl. Just let me get to know her, okay? Besides, I met her in a bookstore. What could be wrong?"
"Don't get me started," Jim muttered under his breath. He was all too familiar with the type of woman Blair tended to attract. He glanced at the clock. "I've got to go. Just do me a favor and be careful?"
"I will, Jim."
Manchini's, private table
Jim was toying with his napkin as he waited for Amanda to return from the ladies room. He had to tell her about his abilities, especially if their relationship was to go where he wanted it to go. Yet there was a lot of risk involved. If Amanda didn't like being with someone like Jim, she could storm out and never speak to him again. Even worse, she could tell people. He and Sandburg had barely survived the dissertation disaster. It would be harder to convince people there was nothing there if an angry ex-girlfriend confirmed Blair's original story. It could hurt both of them. Was it worth the risk?
Spotting Amanda returning to their table, Jim took a deep, steadying breath. It didn't work. Amanda frowned slightly as she studied him. "You look worried, Jim."
Jim wasn't quite ready. He latched onto another topic. "Sandburg's met a girl and has fallen hard."
Amanda tried not to smirk. "Isn't that a good thing?"
"He doesn't even know her last name."
"Is that so horrible?" Amanda's eyes began to twinkle.
"It's Sandburg. With his luck, if he was stranded on a desert isle with a girl, she'd be a cannibal."
Amanda snickered. "She could be nice."
"I just have a bad feeling," Jim muttered to his glass.
Reaching over to curl her fingers into Jim's hand, Amanda suggested, "Then we'll have them over to my place. Surely between the two of us, we can find out if she's a cannibal."
Jim looked up and smirked back. "Thanks." Toying with his napkin again, he pushed his partner out of his mind and returned to the main reason for his nerves. "I do need to talk about something else with you."
Amanda tilted her head to the side. "It sounds serious."
"Yeah." Jim took a deep breath. "I'm not sure how to say this."
Now worry creased her brow. "Jim, like you Americans say, just do it."
Jim softly spoke to his glass. "I'm a sentinel."
Speaking slightly louder, Jim repeated, "A sentinel. It's a term Blair used in his studies to describe someone with all his senses enhanced."
"I can see farther, hear things from great distances, feel the slightest imperfections, things like that."
"Really?" Amanda quietly thought as Jim's heart sank. "Does that include smell?"
"Yes," Jim replied simply, waiting for her horror at his abnormality and determine to face it with all his courage. He steeled himself for her reaction.
"What a coincidence! My family is well known in our field for our sense of smell."
Jim blinked. "What do you mean?"
"You've probably heard of wine or beer tasters?"
"Well, with malt liquor, or any hard liquor, the alcohol content is too high for someone to perform quality control by taste. So it's done by one's nose, so to speak. My family for generations have had great noses for malt liquor. We can not only tell if a batch is off, but whether it can be salvaged and what needs to be done."
Relief stretched across Jim's face as he realized what it meant. "Sandburg would say that you're carriers; people who carry the sentinel gene, but don't have all five senses."
"How fascinating! And you have all five? I can only imagine how incredible the world must be to you!"
"You sound like Sandburg," Jim chuckled. "It's actually pretty overwhelming without his help."
Amanda leaned forward. "Then whatever did you do before you met Blair?"
Amazed that she was interested instead of freaked out, Jim started his story.
Three hours later, Ellison's loft
It was wonderful. Blair couldn't remember the last time he had enjoying necking with a girl so much. It felt good to have her curled up against him. Her soft skin, rich fragrance, the things she was doing with her...
Then Diana pulled back. "Oh no! Is that the time?"
"What time?" Blair was bewildered by the sudden change. He almost fell off the couch as she jumped to her feet.
"I've got to get going," she explained as she straightened her shirt. She quickly pushed her feet into a pair of leather sandals.
Not wanting her to leave, Blair softly asked, "Stay."
She gave him a warm smile. "That's so sweet." Then she picked up her purse. "But I've got an early appointment with a local gallery about showing my work. I really have to look my best."
"You already look good."
"And you really are sweet. But I do need to go." She leaned over to kiss him deeply.
"Tomorrow?" Blair asked breathlessly as he stood up.
"Tomorrow," Diana agreed.
"Let me walk you to your car," Blair insisted as he picked up her shawl.
Reentering the loft a few minutes later, Blair whistled to himself as he picked up their tea cups. He was placing them in the sink when the door opened again. There was lightness in Jim's step until he suddenly stopped, wrinkling his nose. "What's that?"
"What's what?" Blair asked as he turned around.
Jim sniffed again. "Perfume."
"Oh, that must be Diana's."
"She just left."
Jim continued to frown, only for a different reason. He needed to meet Blair's mystery woman. Feeling faintly uneasy, he hung up his jacket.
"How'd it go with Amanda?" Blair asked as he walked back into the living area.
"Great. Much better than I expected, in fact. She's asking me a lot of questions instead of being freaked out." As Jim stepped towards his roommate, he finally pinpointed the problem. He could hear an unfamiliar buzzing noise.
"If you like, I could talk with her," Blair suggested.
The electronic buzz grew louder as Jim closed in on his partner. Puzzled, Jim glanced around. They had no new electronic equipment. A dark suspicion popped into Jim's mind.
"Jim?" Blair prodded when he realized his friend was no longer paying attention to the conversation.
Mind working fast, Jim replied, "That might be a good idea, considering you know so much more about computers than I do. You can probably answer the questions I couldn't."
Blair blinked at him, confused. Jim held up a hand and then pointed at his ear. "I told her that the only thing I'm sure about is hooking them up, and even then I can't guarantee it's right."
Quickly catching on, Blair replied, "Perhaps I can stop by this weekend and see if I can find the problem. There may be some difference between British and American..."
Tuning out his partner's cover babble, Jim slowly stepped around him. Closing his eyes, he turned his head in different directions, trying to locate the sound. He leaned toward the end of the couch. Still talking, Blair lightly touched his arm to ground the sentinel. Jim trailed his fingers up the floor lamp, then looked underneath the shade. Narrowing his sight and piggy-backing it on his hearing, Jim spotted the tiny receiver next to the light bulb.
Jim stood up and pointed at the lamp. Blair frowned, still not quite sure what the problem was. Then Jim casually interrupted him, "Hey, looks like we need a new bulb."
Staring at the brightly lit lamp, Blair blinked again. "Ah, I think there's some new bulbs in the closet." Blair trotted to their utility closet and grabbed a package. Returning, he found Jim had unplugged the lamp and was unscrewing the bulb. He barely noticed the tiny thing that dropped to the bare wood floor.
Jim took the light bulb from him, casually stepping on the speck. The buzzing sound ceased. Dropping to his knees, Jim picked it up. Blair tapped him on the shoulder and pointed at it. Jim smiled. "It's safe now."
"Is that a bug?" Blair asked, his voice hushed.
"Ah, man. That's creepy. Any more?"
"I can't hear any others."
Blair frowned. "Why is it here?"
"I don't know." Jim held it on his fingertip, studying it.
"Well, I hope they got an earful of Diana and me making out. That's about the only thing's that happened since I arrived."
Jim smirked, "Right, I'm sure someone's just dying to hear that."
Blair folded his arms, thinking hard. "Is it someone wanting to know about a case? Your sentinel abilities?"
"Maybe. It looks pretty advanced." Jim glanced around. "Did you see any sign of a break-in when you got home?"
"No." Then Blair shrugged. "Though I was a bit pre-occupied."
Jim continued to study it. "There may not have been anything for you to have noticed, Chief. This looks like it's pro equipment. A pro wouldn't have left any signs for you to see. Hell, if the damn thing wasn't so noisy, I wouldn't have known it was there."
"Noisy for a sentinel, you mean. I couldn't hear it, so maybe we can remove someone suspecting a sentinel from the list. Can you smell anything foreign?"
"All I can smell is your girl's so-called perfume. Besides, we were gone all day. They could have been here this morning."
"Could Motts know we're onto him?" Blair asked, naming their current lead suspect on their gambling ring case.
"I doubt it, but maybe. We also have to consider a few former suspects."
"I'll give Kelso a call." Blair glanced around their home where only minutes ago he had been ignorant of anything but kissing Diana. The one place that was his sanctuary had been violated. "I don't like this."
Jim reached over to squeeze his shoulder. "Me, neither, Chief. Me neither."
Blair slowly shook his head. "I'm going to have to ask Mac about getting a decent alarm system for this place.
Diana's secret apartment
She slammed her fist into the desk next to her. She had managed to plant a bug in Blair's apartment, only to have the light go out and his clumsy roommate destroy her toy. That was truly rotten luck.
She paused a moment. Was it just luck, or had the roommate found it? Then she shook head. There was no way for the cop to find it that quickly. She was becoming too paranoid.
Hammond's vacation home
Standing on the step to the cabin, MacGyver could pick out Jack through the trees. This trip definitely rated as one of the strangest fishing trips he'd ever taken. Even after three days, Mac was having difficulty gauging Jack's mood. At times, his double seemed so sad, Mac was certain he was grieving. Then at others, he seemed more contemplative, like he was thinking hard on a major problem. Without any guidance from Jack as to what he needed, Mac was at a loss on how to help.
A soft ring barely reached his ears. He trotted into the cabin and pulled his satellite phone out of his backpack. Flipping it open, he answered, "Hello."
"Hey, Dad. How's it going?"
Sam's cheerful voice was welcome. Sitting on the bench in the kitchen, Mac replied, "Restful."
"Caught any fish?"
"How's the Colonel doing?"
"I think he's healing. Kinda hard to tell with Jack. How's it going there?"
"Not bad. Cory's out on a date with that gal from Supply. We're going to the Sloans' to play on the beach. However, I do have a little guy here who wants to know where Grandpa Mac is."
A grin stretched across Mac's face. "Put him on."
As Jack stepped inside, he heard his double chuckle. Looking over, he spotted Mac in the kitchen area. He walked over.
"...be a good boy for your Dad... no, you're not supposed to have that... Your Daddy did WHAT!"
Puzzled, Jack quietly pulled a beer out of the fridge.
"Sam, you didn't... Yeah, but McDonald's? Surely you could have... Don't blame me if he grows up eating junk like you... Yeah, you take care. Bye."
Head tilted, Jack studied Mac as he clicked off. "Who was that?"
There was still a smile on Mac's face. "Sam and Ian."
Mac's smile grew into a huge grin. "My grandson."
"Grandson?" Jack sat in a chair facing Mac. "When did you get a grandson?"
"Last Christmas. Kinda surprised us all, including Sam." Mac reached into his hip pocket and pulled out his wallet. With the ease of constant practice, he pulled out a photo. "That's Ian."
Jack took the photo and felt his heart slam into his chest. He shot up to his feet.
Struggling to breathe, he paced a couple of steps, then kicked a chair. Spinning, he swung his arm across the counter. Pans and boxes flew in all directions.
MacGyver ducked out of the way. "Jack!"
Too much anger and pain still surged through his system. Jack's fist slammed into a cabinet door.
"JACK!" Mac grabbed his friend from behind, holding on for all he was worth as Jack blindly tried to throw him off. "Easy, Jack. Easy."
When Jack's anger finally drained out, Mac guided him into a chair. Collapsing into it, Jack simply stared down at his throbbing hand, cradled in his lap.
Taking a deep breath, Mac righted the chair Jack had kicked and placed it across from his friend. Sitting down backwards in it, Mac draped his arms over the back and gently asked, "Jack, what's wrong?"
Jack simply shook his head.
Mac laid a hand on his friend's shoulder. "Jack, you can tell me. Was it something about Ian?"
Taking a deep breath, Jack lifted his head. Pain flowed from his eyes. "Just that, that your grandson... looks like Charlie."
MacGyver blinked. "I didn't know you had a son."
"Charlie died a long time ago. He found my handgun..." Jack took a deep breath. "It was hard."
Mac simply squeezed his shoulder.
"Sara and I... our marriage fell apart. I couldn't take it. I was about to eat my gun when I was offered a suicide mission. Figured it was better to go out serving my country than embarrass Sara further." Jack shifted, uncomfortable with the memories. "It was Stargate and when I met Daniel."
"Didn't go as planned, I take it?"
"Nope. And I'm glad. Daniel's the only one I ever really told about Charlie, and with everything else that happened on that mission... afterwards, I didn't want to die anymore."
"And now Daniel's not here."
Mac lifted an eyebrow. "You guess?"
Jack waved his hand weakly. "I'm not entirely sure where he's gone or what he's doing. I'd like to talk with him and know I can't. But I keep getting this feeling that he's not that far away. There are times when I feel like he's standing beside me, but I can't see him."
"You mean, like a ghost?"
"No." Jack wiped off his face. "I can't really explain it. He's gone, but he's not." As Mac continued to look at him worriedly, Jack lifted his other hand. "Sorry. I really can't give you anything more."
After pondering a moment, Mac made a decision. "When my Grandpa Harry had his fatal heart attack, I was working over a thousand miles away providing security for an Egyptian artifact. It was a Sun Boat, which the Egyptians believed carried them into the afterlife. The Sunboat was stolen and I ended up taking a three story fall. While the docs were working on me, I saw Harry. I left my body and followed him onto this cruise ship. My parents, who had passed away long before this, were there to greet Harry and take him 'home', where Grandma was fixing dinner." Mac looked at his friend. "I was so happy to be with them again, I wanted to stay. But Harry insisted it wasn't my time. He made me look through one of those observation scopes. I saw Pete get killed by the men who had stolen the artifact. Harry told me that was the future unless I got off. As much as I wanted to stay, I couldn't let Pete be murdered. So I got off the ship and was suddenly back in my body in the hospital."
Mac looked down a moment. "Perhaps it was some kind of fantasy my brain cooked up as I was dying." Then he stared Jack in the eye. "But to this day, I feel like Harry's still watching over me. If he hadn't made me leave, I would have never found out about Sam and Blair. I also have faith that someday, Mom and Dad are going to be waiting on that boat for me." Mac leaned back and shrugged. "Probably stupid."
"Not stupid." Jack sighed. "It's kinda nice to think Charlie will be waiting for me when it's my time." Looking down again, he shifted to pick up something from the floor. It was the picture of Ian.
"I'm sorry." Mac reached for the picture.
Jack avoided his hand as he examined the photo. "That's okay. And he is a cute kid. Looks like a handful."
"Not too bad for a toddler, though he's a lot sharper than any child that age should be. Keeps me on my toes."
"How did Sam end up with a kid?"
"Now that's a long story..."
Simon Banks' Office, Cascade Police Headquarters
Simon's door was closed and the blinds were down as he and his best detective team stared at the three bugs that had 'happened' to appear in the loft the past three evenings. Each had been in a different location. Jim had knocked one off a CD case when he decided to play a particular song, while Blair had poured tea over the third residing in a plant. Both were tired and unnerved by the game.
Simon looked up. "Have you found any other surveillance equipment?"
Blair shook his head as Jim replied, "I've only heard these, and our searches of the loft came up empty."
"Any idea who's doing this?"
Both Jim and Blair shrugged. Blair quickly explained, "We've wondered if it's associated with the gambling ring case, but there's been no indication that Mott's suspicious. Kelso's checked on Brackett, and he's where he should be. Yuri should be dead; even if he did manage to survive, he'd know Jim would find them, so he'd probably do something else. Of course, there's always the possibility of someone else who suspects about the sentinel stuff. Or a perp we put away..." Blair shook his head. "You know, there's just way too many possibilities."
The captain glanced at his senior detective. "Any of your, you know, picking up anything?"
Jim shook his head. "No foreign scents or anything out of place."
"We suspect they must be going in soon after we leave for work," Blair inserted. "Anything Jim would pick up on would have dispersed by the time we get home."
"Or hidden by your new girlfriend's perfume," Jim added. "What is it, Eau de Skunk?"
"It's Shalimar. Very expensive."
"I think it smells nice."
Simon interrupted, "Gentlemen, back to the bug problem." Looking down at the devices again, he asked, "Have you had forensics go over them yet?"
Jim nodded. "Serena said it was too sophisticated for her to identify."
"Have you tried your dad yet, Sandburg?"
"Mac's on a fishing trip," Blair explained. "He doesn't have his laptop, and I'm really nervous about discussing this over the phone."
"Understandable," Simon replied. He glanced between his men. "Is the bust set up for tonight?"
Both Jim and Blair nodded. "Cisco should be in the house, so we can catch him and Mott," Jim explained.
Simon nodded. "I want you two to concentrate on the case. I'll have a unit watch your place and see if they can spot anyone suspicious." He turned back to Blair. "When's MacGyver due back?"
Blair shrugged. "It's kinda a grief support trip. I don't know how long he'll be gone." Then he snapped his fingers. "I could send Sam an encrypted email, though. He may be able to send the info through the Phoenix resources."
"Do it." Simon looked at the devices. "I don't like this."
"I think we all agree on that, Simon," Jim confirmed.
After Blair left to send Sam the message, Simon looked at Jim. "What about this girlfriend?"
"Not yours, his."
Jim shrugged. "He refuses to give me her last name so I can run a background check."
Simon rubbed his nose. "Can't blame him. Normal people would take offense."
"Yes, but when has Sandburg ever been normal? You know his track record with girls."
"Could she be behind the bugs?"
"I don't know. I hope not."
"Just do me a favor and figure out a way to get at her background. Right now we can't take chances."
Hammond's vacation home, CO
Jack leaned back in the lawn chair. The rays from Earth's sun warmed and comforted him in a way that other suns shining on other planets could not. Stargate expeditions were cool and usually an adrenaline rush. But at the end of the day, this planet was his home.
So much had been sacrificed to protect Earth. His stomach ached from the painful hollow caused by letting his best friend go. He couldn't help but think that he, SG-1, the SGC, even the whole damn universe was worse off without Daniel Jackson. Yet Daniel was given a chance to ascend, to go to a whole different plane of existence. As much as it hurt Jack not to be able to share the journey, he could not deny his friend the chance to escape the pain and go on to a new adventure. It was just the hardest of a long line of sacrifices. How much more would he have to give up to keep Earth safe? Was it worth it?
The past few days had assured him that it was. MacGyver had reminded him of the innocents on his world. After Jack had talked about Charlie, it had pulled the conversational lid off between the doubles. While Jack still wasn't in the mood for much talking, he had listened as MacGyver filled him in on finding Sam, finding Blair, and the many misadventures his family had had. Jack had enjoyed the stories. He had always felt a strange sense of connectedness with Mac and his boys. Perhaps somewhere in the past they were related by blood. It reinforced the need in Jack to keep them safe, at least from the Goa'uld threat. It sounded like the MacGyver family was more than capable of handling the threats at home.
Phoenix Foundation, Los Angeles, California
Sam was sorting through his notes on the security system trials when a beep informed him that he had new email. Feeling frustrated with the lack of progress, Sam pulled up his Outlook and saw it was from Blair, with a little flag on it. Sam frowned. Blair had never sent him a message with a flag on it before.
Pulling it up to his screen, Sam realized it was encrypted. He could only think of one subject for which Blair would go to such lengths. He looked over his shoulder to his partner. "Cory, do you have Dad's orange code on your laptop?"
Cory swizzled around to face him. "Yeah. Why?"
"Just got a message from Blair."
Cory grabbed a floppy from his desk. "Put it on that, and let's take a look."
A few minutes later, the two young men were quickly reading the older guide's message. "Someone's planting bugs?" Sam glanced at his friend. "Have you heard anything unusual at the firehouse?"
Cory shook his head thoughtfully as he pulled up the photos of the devices. "No, but I'll do a careful sweep tonight."
Checking the scale that Serena had placed in the photos, Sam blinked. "Man, that's tiny. If Jim hadn't heard them, I doubt they would have found them."
"I can see why Blair's worried," Cory added. "This is some pretty sophisticated stuff."
"Who would have it?" Sam asked.
Cory leaned forward, studying the design. "Upper end spy agencies. High-priced crooks or assassins checking a potential target."
Sam's face turned white at the thought of an assassin after his brother or Jim.
Cory continued, "I saw a few of these at the DXS, but they're pricey. You really have to prove a need to get them."
"I don't like this." Sam slouched back in his chair, thinking hard. "What if this is about the sentinel stuff? Or part of something bigger?"
"If it's a big operation, Blair's right to be concerned about a phone tap."
"Would they be able to listen in on cell phones?"
"Depending on the size of the operation and just what they want to know... Yeah, they could."
"I don't like this. What could Jim and Blair be working on that rates this? Surely nothing with the Cascade PD. That pretty much leaves Jim's covert ops past or the sentinel stuff."
"I wish Mac was in town," Cory commented. "He might have an idea who would do this."
Sam suddenly sat up. "Well, if Mohammed won't come to the mountain, I'll have to go to him."
Cory frowned. "You mean, go to Colorado?"
Sam pointed at the screen. "Dad will want to know about this as soon as possible. He doesn't have his laptop, so we can't ship him email. If we don't dare discuss this over the phone, I'll have to see him in person."
Cory nodded. "I'll get us tickets."
Sam frowned. "You don't have to go."
"Yeah, right. Even if this isn't about sentinel business, it's at a level you've never worked at before, Sam. I've got the DXS training. Besides, who's going to question two guys and a little kid taking a trip to Colorado?"
"You think we should take Ian?"
"You feel good about leaving him here if there's a threat against sentinels and guides? So far your family's two for two in the guide business. It wouldn't be that much of a reach for someone to realize the odds are good."
Sam's face turned grim with thought of his small son a target. He would feel better having Ian close where he and Cory could protect him. "Okay, you better make it three tickets."
Late that night, Cascade Police HQ
Blair was signing the last of the paperwork for the Motts/Cisco bust. With a big yawn, he stood up to deliver it.
"Easy there, Chief." Jim just managed to avoid running into his partner, grabbing him by the shoulders.
"Sorry, Jim. Guess the adrenaline rush is finally dropping."
"Yeah." Jim paused a moment. "You having trouble sleeping, too?"
Blair sighed, closing his eyes a moment. "It's unnerving to think someone can just walk into our place and plant bugs." He opened his eyes to look up at his sentinel. "Did either Motts or Cisco mention..."
"No," Jim answered grimly. He ran his hand over his face. "To be honest, I really didn't think it was them."
"Yeah, me neither." They exchanged worried looks. "Sam's hunting Dad up tomorrow. Cory and Ian's going with him."
"That's good." Jim took a deep breath, trying to figure out a way to say what needed to be said. "You may want to cool it with Diana."
Blair blinked. "What?"
"Spend a little less time with her for now."
"Jim," Blair growled. "I really like this one. Just because you don't like her perfume..."
"It's not about that, Chief. Right now, all we know is that someone's planting bugs in our apartment. We don't know where that's going to lead. If it turns violent, I don't want Amanda in the line of fire. Do you want Diana?"
"Oh, man," Blair ran both hands through his curls.
"I've let Amanda know that we're going to be scarce for the next couple of weeks while we figure this out. You should probably do the same with Diana."
Blair stared at Jim in shock. "You're serious."
"Don't you think we need to be? Sam and Cory are dropping everything to go to Colorado. How do you think Mac's going to react when he hears? I'll be surprised if we don't have the entire clan here in the next couple of days. If it's about the you-know-what, don't you think we're all in danger?"
His head lowered, Blair softly mumbled, "But I really like her."
"I know, Chief. If she's the one, she can wait for us to sort this out."
"Yeah, you're right. But it still sucks."
Next day, Pikes Peak National Forest
Teal'c soaked in the view through the pine trees. He wasn't allowed out of the mountain very often, so he enjoyed the times when he could experience his adopted home planet.
It was the first time he had been escorted outside by GeneralHammond. GeneralHammond was worried about ColonelO'Neill, and Teal'c privately admitted it was a valid concern. Losing DanielJackson was a grievous wound to all of SG-1. Teal'c still felt the loss keenly. Yet O'Neill and DanielJackson had been friends and comrades much longer than they had known Teal'c. His brother warrior was strong, but even the strongest warrior could falter when his injuries accumulate.
"I need to pull over for a moment," GeneralHammond told him. As the heavy land vehicle that MajorCarter called an 'SUV' slowed, Teal'c noticed another vehicle parked to the side. A young man was studying a map stretched across the hood. Although his pose was relaxed, Teal'c could tell he was a warrior.
GeneralHammond parked in the same rest area. The black-haired warrior glanced up briefly, then looked back down. Stepping out of the SUV and checking that his baseball cap was in place, Teal'c surveyed his surroundings. Another young man was walking the path from the primitive relief stations, a small child skipping alongside. The boy was chuckling as he bounced around the lanky man, full of life. He reminded Teal'c of his son when he was small. Observing them gave Teal'c a lift in his heart.
Then the black-haired warrior looked up again. His eyes narrowed as his nose wrinkled. He was staring straight at Teal'c. While Teal'c's face remained passive, his warrior instinct was alerted.
"Cory?" The lanky man touched the shoulder of the warrior. Then he followed his gaze. A second pair of brown eyes latched onto him. Teal'c tilted his head. The suspicious eyes were familiar. He also could see the lanky body prepare for action. Here, too, was a warrior.
Then the little boy tugged on the lanky man's jeans. "Daddy, I'm hungee."
The young father glanced down, the face soften by a smile. "Okay, buddy. Just a minute." The man again turned his attention to the first warrior. "Cory?"
Reluctantly, 'Cory' pulled his eyes away. "It's okay. Feed Squirrel."
The lanky man stared at Teal'c a moment more, then turned to open the vehicle.
They were O'Neill's eyes. Why would this young man have O'Neill's eyes?
The warrior 'Cory' returned his attention to the map. Teal'c suspected that was only part of his name. Teal'c had been taught that it was rude not to use a person's full name and title, unless you knew someone very well. Yet the Tau'ri always seemed to shorten each other's name, sometimes in ways illogical to the Jaffa.
"Sam, do you remember the address?" The warrior 'Cory' asked.
The warrior 'Sam', pausing a moment to set his son on the hood, replied, "County road 16. The Fox Ridge area. I'd have to look up the number."
GeneralHammond was passing by at that moment. "That's where we're headed, son. Who are you looking for?"
Warrior 'Sam' still looked suspicious. Warrior 'Cory' studied GeneralHammond a moment, then replied, "We're looking for my friend's father, sir. He's staying with a Colonel O'Neill."
"Jack O'Neill?" GeneralHammond asked. The pieces fell into place for Teal'c.
Having given his son an open package of food, 'Sam' straightened up. "That's right."
Teal'c decided to confirm his theory. "You are the son of MacGyver."
'Sam' turned to look at him again. His eyes did look like O'Neill's, especially when O'Neill didn't like a situation. It made sense that they were inherited from O'Neill's double. "Do you know my Dad?"
Teal'c gave a slow nod of respect. "Indeed. I have met your father and your brother, BlairSandburg."
Sam's eyes turn thoughtful. The General replied, "In fact, it's my cabin they're staying at. If you like, you can follow us in." He extended his hand. "I'm General George Hammond."
The other warrior shook the hand. "I'm Cory Buchanan."
"Sam Malloy, and my son, Ian." There was still suspicion in the O'Neill-like eyes.
"You wanna go' fish?"
Teal'c looked down to see the small boy offering a tiny cracker to him. Innocence shone from the big, brown eyes. Teal'c gave him a gentle smile and took the cracker, well aware of his father's close scrutiny. "Thank you."
The boy dipped his head shyly, smiling. "You well-come."
Teal'c turned to the boy's father. "I am called Murray."
"Murray?" SamMalloy repeated. A light of recognition appeared. "Blair's mentioned you. You're part of the Colonel's team, right?"
SamMalloy nodded to himself. Teal'c could feel the suspicion lessen as the young warrior placed him in the context of 'friend of father's friend'. However, the other warrior was still on guard, in spite of his casual appearance.
General Hammond smiled. "Well, let's get this show on the road. We're only about five miles away."
"Thank you, sir," CoryBuchanan replied.
Once back behind the wheel of the rented Jeep, Sam turned to his friend. "Okay, what's got you so upset?"
Cory was digging into his laptop case. "That Murray guy smells funny."
Sam lifted an eyebrow as he started the vehicle. "Smells funny? Like he hasn't showered or something?"
Cory rolled his eyes as he pulled out his cell phone. "No. Just..." He paused a moment, trying to find the words. "It's like... scary death. Makes every one of my nerves tense like someone's running their fingernails down a chalk board."
"But Blair did mention the guy. He asked if Murray and Carter were okay after I told him about Daniel." Sam gazed at the Mercedes SUV with the General and Murray in it. "He did kinda talk funny, like he's not use to conversing in English or something."
"That's why I'm calling Jim," Cory replied. "If he knows him, maybe he can shed some light."
Major Crime Department, Cascade Police Headquarters
Jim was working on a report when he noticed his partner stand up. He noted the time as he stretched. "Going to lunch early, Sandburg?"
"Yeah. Meeting Diana." Blair pulled on his jacket, then paused. "Man, I really don't want to tell her we can't see each other for a while."
"Think of her safety, Chief. Where are you taking her?"
"I'm picking her up downtown, then I thought I'd take her to the Star of India near the waterfront." Blair bounced his keys in his hand a couple of times. "We are going to figure this out, right Jim?"
"That's why they call us detectives," Jim told him reassuringly. "Just be careful."
Blair rolled his eyes at him. "I'm only going to lunch."
"Remember how 'I was only getting a good luck statue authenticated' went?"
"Yeah," Blair replied with a smirk. He had been held hostage in an elevator during that errand. "I'll be careful."
A few minutes after Blair left, Jim's cell phone rang. "Ellison."
"Jim, it's Cory."
Jim could hear the strain in the younger sentinel's voice. "What's wrong? You guys okay?"
"We're fine. But on the way to the cabin, we ran into a couple of guys. One's a General George Hammond; the other's named 'Murray'."
Jim could easily see where Cory was headed. "Let me guess. Tall, black guy with some sort of hat pulled over his forehead, and smells really bad."
"That's him. He seemed nice enough and says he knows Mac and Blair. But the smell just gets to me."
"I know, but Murray's okay. He's on the Colonel's team."
"That's what Sam thought. But what's with the smell?"
Jim smirked, remembering the first time he had smelled the Jaffa. "Unfortunately, I can't tell you. It's classified."
"That's not much help."
"Tell Sam it has to do with Blair's little unplanned vacation after the diss disaster. And Cory? If you ever, and I mean ever, smell that smell from anyone else, you grab Sam and Ian and head for the hills. Then call O'Neill when you're clear. Understand?"
"Got it. And I'll email once we talk with Mac."
Rented jeep, Pikes Peak National Forest
Cory relayed Jim's half of the conversation as Sam drove, tuning out Ian's happy humming in the back seat. Then Sam nodded. "Blair's mystery abduction."
Sighing, Sam replied, "Soon after Blair's press conference, some Men in Black grabbed him. I was in Europe at the time, and Dad told me to 'disappear' for a few days while he and Jim went after Blair. I wasn't happy about being left out, but I was too far away to do anything else. A few days later, Dad informed me that they had Blair and the coast was clear. None of them would tell me about it later, except to say it was 'classified'. It was soon after that Blair told me about Colonel O'Neill and how much he looked like Dad. Only he never told me HOW he met the Colonel."
"So you think he met O'Neill while he was abducted? Do you think these people had something to do with it?"
Sam shrugged. "I'm sure they were involved somehow, but Jim likes the Colonel. If he had been the one to abduct Blair, Jim still wouldn't trust him."
Cory nodded. That did sound like the older sentinel. "You know, this is just way too weird."
"Welcome to life in the MacGyver family," Sam replied as he watched the Mercedes make a left hand turn onto a short, dirt road. Soon they could both see the two story log house through the trees. "Certainly fancier than Harry's two-room cabin."
"I wouldn't call that a cabin." Cory thought a moment. "Sam, I know Jim says these guys are okay, but considering the bug issue, we'd better stay alert."
Jack had finished cleaning a couple of brook trout he and Mac had caught that morning. He was walking towards the cabin for lunch when he heard vehicles pull into the drive. Cautious, he approached the front. He immediately recognized the General's SUV. That didn't surprise him; in fact, he kinda expected George to check up on him. However, he didn't recognize the Jeep.
Suddenly, a high voice shouted, "Gampa Mac!" Jack turned his head in time to see a small blur race towards him. Then the boy stopped short a foot away, a brown teddy bear trailing behind him. Jack swallowed hard. Other than the color of the eyes and the thick curls, the boy could have been Charlie. It had to be MacGyver's grandson, Ian.
Ian tilted his head to the side. "You not Gampa Mac."
With a sad smile, Jack knelt down to be closer to eye level. "No. I'm Colonel O'Neill."
Tilting his head to the other side, the boy asked, "Gampa Neill?"
"Gampa Neill needs a hug," Ian interrupted matter-of-factly.
Suddenly, the small arms wrapped around Jack's neck. After a moment of surprise, Jack gently wrapped his arms around Ian. His hard, military heart melted. He had needed the hug.
"Hi, Colonel." Sam had followed his son. "Dad around?"
"He's inside, and you can call me Jack." Jack stood up, Ian in his arms. "To what do we owe this unexpected surprise?"
Sam glanced over his shoulder, obviously checking that the General and Teal'c were out of hearing range. "Blair and Jim may have some trouble, so we need to talk with Dad."
Jack frowned a moment. "Then let's go inside."
Diana's base of operations, New York, NY
The door burst open. Homicide detectives Sara Pezzini and Jake McCartey, along with a handful of uniformed officers, entered the residence with guns ready. With smooth and practiced moves, they searched the apartment of a suspected assassin. It was quickly apparent that the suspect wasn't there, though a variety of weapons and surveillance equipment were found.
Sara sighed to herself. She had really hoped to find the woman here. Her sentient bracelet, the Witchblade, had been twinging throughout the case, but Sara had yet to figure out why.
"Hey Pez! Check this out!"
She followed her partner's voice into a small back bedroom. Jake waved at the walls, indicating several large bulletin boards. "You think she lays out information on her victims?"
"Possibly," Sara replied. She pointed the computer out to a forensic tech. "We'll need to take that for evidence." Then both she and Jake were drawn to the only board with pictures tacked to the right side.
Jake tilted his head and gently touched one of the pictures with his gloved hand. "This man seems to be the main subject. Do you think he's her next target?"
"Maybe." Something was nudging the back of Sara's mind. "But why are there only pictures on one side of the board?"
Jake continued to study the pictures. "You know, he seems familiar. The kid, too."
"You're right," Sara agreed. "But why?"
All of a sudden, Jake snapped his fingers. "Blair Sandburg in Cascade! His brother and nephew! Remember the picture on his desk?"
"Oh my god," Sara whispered, remembering the pride in Sandburg's eyes as he spoke of his family. She gently touched the empty space of the board, triggering the Witchblade to swirl with light.
Sandburg sat with his brother and an older, graying man before a blazing fire. All three were laughing.
The picture on Blair's desk, his voice explaining, "My father, brother, and nephew. They live in L.A., so I don't get to see them very often."
Blair's father, blond hair indicating an earlier time, was hiding in a warehouse as a storm raged outside. From his uncertain moves, he appeared to be injured. A young, dark haired woman was hunting him, holding a knife. She knelt on the cement floor, picking up bandages that Sara knew instinctively had been covering his eyes only minutes before.
They were on a cliff face, Blair's father holding onto the woman's hands as she clung to the rocks. She slammed a knife at him, intending to stab him in the back but only slicing his arm. Unable to maintain her hold on the rocks, she fell to her death.
"...is he a target?" Jake's voice drifted back to her. "Did Sandburg ever say what he did?"
"No," Sara declared softly. She touched a hand to each side of the board. "Two sides, two sons. She was deciding which son to go after."
Jake blinked, but he had long ago learned to listen to Sara's hunches. "You mean, the ultimate target is Sandburg's father?" Eyes wide, he stared at the board. "So who is she going after?"
The Witchblade provided an image of Sandburg eating and smiling with another young woman. A young woman who bore a strong resemblance to the one who had tried to kill his father. Sara tapped the empty side. "There must have been pictures of Sandburg here, which she took with her. She's after Sandburg."
"We better warn him," Jake replied grimly.
Star of India, Cascade, WA
Diana smiled at Blair. "So, your case is finished now?"
"All except the paperwork. And let me tell you, that's not trivial."
"Great." Diana practically beamed at Blair. "Then we can go away for the weekend!"
Blair's eyes grew huge. "Whoa! Wait a minute."
"Don't you want to go away with me?" Diana pouted.
"I'd love to go away with you," Blair replied truthfully. "But I can't."
"Why not? You said your case is done."
"Then it's time for us to play!"
"Diana..." Blair paused to take a deep breath. "I'm sorry, as much as I would love to spend the weekend concentrating on you, I can't. In fact, I really shouldn't see you at all for the next couple of weeks."
Her hazel eyes grew teary. "Blair, are you dumping me?"
"No! I adore you, honest!" Blair declared. "It's just..."
"What? Do you have another girlfriend?"
"No, not now." Blair ran his hands through his hair. "It's for your protection, Diana."
She stared at him. "My protection? What, you have some disease I should know about?"
"What! No, of course not," Blair rushed to assure her. "Just that there's something weird going on, and Jim and I need time to figure it out."
"Weird?" Diana asked. "What do you mean?"
Blair sighed. "We've been finding electronic listening devices in our apartment."
Diana wrinkled her nose. "You have? Why would anyone do that?"
"That's what Jim and I have to figure out." Blair gave her his most winning smile. "Honest, once we do, I'll call you and we'll go out, take a weekend getaway, whatever you like. But we've got to find out what's going on first."
Still frowning, Diana replied, "And how do I know you're not just messing around with me?"
"Because I think you're the sexiest girl I've ever seen, and I'll call you the first moment I can," Blair answered.
Diana rolled her eyes. Blair could tell she was still miffed, but hoped she'd eventually understand. "Okay, I guess we might as well go."
Blair quickly paid the bill, and escorted her out to his Cobra. As he bent slightly to unlock the door, Diana triggered a needle from her ring and jabbed it into his neck. Blair turned, eyes shocked. Then his knees crumpled. Diana finished opening the door and tucked him inside. Then she picked up his keys and ran to the driver's side.
Major Crime Department, Cascade Police Headquarters
Jim pitched the remains of his sandwich into the trash can beside his desk. He wanted to get the reports on the Cisco/Motts case done, so he could concentrate on the bug problem. He tapped his pen on his desk a moment. A feeling that he'd missed something kept tugging on him. Jim shrugged to himself as he went back to his report. Perhaps this evening, he and Blair could sit down and concentrate on the problem. His roommate probably had some ideas on how to tackle it, if he wasn't still mourning 'stinky perfume' Diana.
Blair's phone rang on his desk. Jim glanced at it, debating on whether to answer it for him. The thought of Sam and Cory in trouble pushed him to pick it up. "Hello?"
"Ellison? I thought this was Sandburg's phone."
Jim frowned, trying to place the voice. "It is his phone. He's out."
"Damn," the woman replied. "It's Pezzini."
"Pez," Jim greeted, remembering the tough New York detective. "What can we do for you?"
"It's what we can do for you. We have some photos that came up in a case. We think Sandburg might recognize the main subject."
"Can you send them to me?" Jim asked.
"Jake's emailing them now."
Jim walked over to his desk as his email pinged. He swiftly opened it up, clicking on the first jpeg. It was a picture of Sam outside the firehouse. Jim clenched his jaw. "It's Blair's brother, Sam Malloy." He quickly clicked on the remaining jpegs.
"That's what we were afraid of," Sara replied.
"The rest of these include Sam's son and his partner, Cory Buchanan."
"What does Malloy do?"
"He and Buchanan are troubleshooters for the Phoenix Foundation. They're a think tank based in Los Angeles. Recently, they've been consulting with the airlines on safety issues." Jim frowned a moment. "What case are these from?"
He could feel Sara's pause. "We're working on the murder of a prominent businessman. These were found in the apartment of the hired assassin we believed killed him."
Jim closed his eyes. "So Sam may be a target?" He thought of the bugs in their own apartment. Was there a connection?
"There's more, Jim." Sara hesitated again. "These pictures were found on only one side of a large bulletin board. The other side was blank. I suspect there may have been pictures of Blair on that side, like the assassin was trying to decide who to go after."
When Pezzini and McCartey were in Cascade, Jim had suspected that Sara had psychic abilities. As a consequence, Jim trusted her 'hunches'. "Meaning Blair could be the intended target."
Simon had stopped by Jim's desk, noting his tension. "Jim?"
Jim turned from the phone and quickly updated his captain. While pointing out the pictures, it occurred to Jim what was missing. "Pez, in any of the photos of Sam, was there an older man, tall, gray white hair, brown eyes like Sam's?"
Sara paused again. "No, why?"
"Sam lives with his father. He travels so much, Mac's been helping him raise Ian. Mac also works at Phoenix. He should have naturally popped up in some of these pictures, unless..."
"He was left out on purpose," Sara finished for him. "Jim, what's Blair's father's name?"
"MacGyver. And before you ask, he doesn't use his first name, only his last."
"Does he have any more children?"
"Just Blair and Sam."
"Could he be the target, and she's just going through his sons to get to him? From our information so far, it would fit her M.O."
"Wait a minute, 'She'?"
"Yes, it's a woman."
"Approximately late twenties."
Jim looked straight into Simon's eyes, fear coursing between them. Simon softly concurred, "Sandburg's new girlfriend."
"Damn, he's with her now." Jim turned back to the phone. "I've got to check on Sandburg. Will you send us what you've got?"
"No prob. Just keep us updated, and look out for Sandburg."
Jim hung up and ran a hand over his face. Simon touched his shoulder. "Can you give a description?"
"I still haven't met her. We'll have to wait for New York."
"Jim, we don't know for sure that it's the same woman."
"Simon, it's Sandburg."
"Okay, so the odds are good."
Jim grabbed his cell and punched a button.
Highway out of Cascade, Blair's Mustang
Diana was thinking fast. The drug she had given Blair should keep him asleep for at least three more hours. She had to be ready to transfer him by then, and take him to the remote location she had set up.
She certainly was off her game plan. Originally, she wanted to take Blair on a romantic getaway, then spring her trap once they were in the mountains. That way, she could have drawn his father to her without attracting the interest of his cop buddies. That plan bombed the minute she realized that Blair and his roommate had found the bugs. She frowned to herself. It didn't make sense that they found them. She'd have to pump Blair for information on how later.
But her plan could still work. She just had to make a few adjustments.
A muffled sound rang from Blair. She leaned over, reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his cell phone. She glanced at the display. It was the roommate. An evil grin stretched across her face. It was time to play.
She tapped the appropriate button as she drove one handed, bringing the phone to her face. "Yes?"
"Who's this? Diana?" A suspicious voice asked.
"Is Sandburg there?"
"Oh, he can't come to the phone right now. He's sleeping."
"Oh, I'm sorry, Jim. This is Jim, right? Well, he's not going to be awake for a while."
The voice turned colder and more dangerous. "What did you do to him?"
"Oh, don't worry. We're just having fun for now."
"What do you want?"
"Lots of things, but all in good time. For now, you can give his father a message: I wonder if I'll be Blair's sight for sore eyes." She clicked the phone off, chuckling to herself. It was time to get off the highway.
Hammond's vacation home, CO
Jack placed the coffee pot into its slot and turned on the machine. He glanced across the cabin where Cory and MacGyver were set up on the coffee table. He had caught enough of the conversation to know both were worried about the sophistication of the bugs.
Hammond set the mugs on the counter. "Those young men appear anxious."
Jack spared another glance towards his double. "Sounds like they have reason to be."
George frowned. "I can understand Malloy's worry about Sandburg and Ellison, but you should have seen the look Buchanan gave Teal'c at the rest area. You'd have thought he was seeing a rattlesnake."
Teal'c tilted his head in acknowledgement. "It was the same reaction I have received from other weardians. Apparently, the scent of a symbiote is unpleasant to them."
Hammond blinked. "What?"
Jack turned to the cupboard. "You guys want cookies with your coffee?"
"Colonel." The General glared at his second-in-command. "Is that true?"
"About symbiotes smelling bad to weardians? I wouldn't know, sir."
Hammond's eyes grew more heated. "No," his voice rumbling low. "That Buchanan over there is a weardian."
Jack dipped his head down a moment. "Yes, sir."
"Why wasn't I informed? Mr. Sandburg was supposed to report any new weardian/witan pairs to the SGC. I'm assuming he knew about his brother's friend."
Jack shifted his feet to stand straighter, but not quite to attention. "He did, sir. He informed Daniel soon after Malloy and Buchanan met." Jack looked his commander in the eye. "About a year ago, the Buchanan kid was seriously injured in Colombia during a DXS assignment. He was in a coma for a week. Gus says he still gets bad migraines that knock him out for 12 to 24 hours."
Teal'c inserted, "It would be detrimental if one were to occur during a mission."
"Exactly. Besides, he and Sam just met last August. Sandburg felt they needed some time to bond before they'd be ready for anything like the SGC."
Hammond stared at the young man in the dining room. "Malloy is the witan?"
"Yes, sir. Who, I may point out, was a journalist up until last August."
"A reporter? But he's not one now?"
"No, he's working for Phoenix. But I'm sure he's got the connections if he gets mad enough to use them."
"I still want them on our team."
Jack sighed. He was afraid of that. "I'm just suggesting we tread lightly, sir."
Sam trotted down the stairs after settling Ian for a nap. As he stepped onto the first floor, he spied his father and partner pouring over the information on Cory's laptop. From the frown on Mac's face, he was taking the bugs as seriously as Sam and Cory. That only increased Sam's own uneasiness. His dad didn't sweat the small stuff.
He could also tell that O'Neill was casually listening in. That didn't bother him. He'd always liked the Colonel, perhaps due to the amazing resemblance to his father. However, the same respect was not so easily transferred to the Colonel's co-workers. Every one of Sam's journalistic instincts were awakening from hibernation, screaming that he was on the edge of a huge story. The question was, did the deep, dark secret have anything to do with Jim and Blair's current problem?
His cell phone rang. Sam quickly jerked it out of his pocket and answered.
"Sam, it's Jim. Are you with Mac?"
Sam could almost feel the tension in Jim's voice. "We're all here. What's wrong?"
On the word 'wrong', both Cory and Mac's head's popped up. He had also attracted the attention of Jack and his people. Sam wasn't sure that was good or not.
"Sam, I've got bad news."
Eyes growing wide, Sam softly asked, "What?"
"Blair's been abducted by his new girlfriend."
Sam felt his stomach twist into a knot, but tried to keep most of the fear off his face. He knew he was failing when Mac rose to his feet. "Is she the one responsible for the bugs?"
"We think so. Sam, is there any way to get this on speaker phone? I'd like to say it just once. And could you get your Dad to sit down?"
"Sam?" MacGyver asked, worried.
Taking a deep breath, Sam shifted the phone away from his mouth. "Cory, could you get this set up on a speaker, so we can all hear it?"
"No prob," Cory replied, holding out his hand for the phone.
Once the transfer was complete, Sam stepped towards his father. "Sam, is that Blair?" Mac asked.
"No, it's Jim. Dad..." Sam sighed before he gently laid his hands on his father's shoulders. "Blair's been abducted."
"What?" Mac exclaimed, resisting Sam's pressure to sit down. "Who? Why?"
"Apparently by that new girl he's been so excited about." At his father's blank look, Sam ran a hand through his hair. "Blair met some 'beauty' last week that really had him going."
Suddenly, Jack was there by their side. "Come on, Gus. Sit down so we can hear what Ellison has to say." As Mac sank into a chair, Jack gently squeezed Sam's shoulder. Feeling slightly better, Sam sat in a chair next to his father.
"Can you hear me, Jim?" Cory called out.
"Yep, all set to go. I'll have the email running in a minute."
"Email?" Sam asked.
"I'm sending some pictures I got from New York. They came up in a homicide investigation. The detectives on the case were in Cascade a few months ago, and recognized you from the picture Blair keeps on his desk."
"Pictures? Of Sam?" Mac questioned.
"Yes. Ian and Cory show up in a couple of shots, but the main subject's Sam."
A chill ran down Sam's spine. "Why?"
Jim quickly explained the New York case. Sam felt his shoulders tighten. He could deal with being a target. However, there was one thing he didn't understand. "Jim, if the pictures were of me, then why did she bug your place and abduct Blair?"
"Pezzini thinks she was debating between two targets: You or Blair. She just took the pictures of Blair with her."
"She decided to go after Blair," Cory interjected. "Makes sense. Blair's more stationary and has less people running in and out of his home."
"But why go after either of us?" Sam asked.
Jim's sigh was audible over the phone line. "I've got an idea."
"Which is?" Mac urged when Jim paused.
"Right after I talked with Pez, I called Blair. I knew he was at lunch with Diana, and suspected she might be the perp Pez and McCartey are looking for. But instead of Blair answering the phone, she did."
"She already had Blair," Cory softly guessed.
"Yes. She said Blair was 'asleep' at the moment and she would contact me later. And that she wanted me to give his father a message."
"What's the message?" Mac asked bleakly. Sam's chill grew when he realized the whole thing was to get to his father.
"She said to tell you, 'I wonder if I'll be Blair's sight for sore eyes.'"
Mac's face turned deathly pale. For a moment, Sam feared it was too much for his father. "Dad?"
Mac whispered, "Deborah. But she's dead."
"Who's Deborah?" Jack asked.
Mac ran his hands over his face and took a deep breath. "A few years back, I was heading up an environmental impact assessment for Phoenix. We were examining how a proposed marina would affect a nearby wetland. The people behind the marina already knew the results wouldn't be in their favor, so they tried a couple of heavy-handed attempts to 'persuade' me to their way of thinking. When that didn't work, they hired a woman called 'The Negotiator'.
"Deborah studied me, then set herself up as my perfect woman. I fell for it hook, line and sinker." Mac rubbed his forehead above his nose. "When her persuasion and terrorizing tactics didn't work, she set a bomb on my boat. I just surprised her by surviving the explosion."
"How bad were you hurt?" Sam asked softly.
"My eyes took the brunt of it."
"Flash burn," Jack guessed.
"Yeah. So Deborah drove me to a 'getaway' so I could recuperate. She confessed later that her original plan was to send me and the jeep off a curve and to disappear. But Nikki and Pete had figured her out and tried to reach me on the car phone. Deborah managed to cut off the call, but Nikki's tone alerted me that there was a problem. I insisted that I needed to call her back. So she pulled into this abandoned storage shed and told me it was a gas station. With my eyes bandaged, she didn't think I'd know the difference. Yet things weren't adding up, and I managed to get away from her."
Mac paused again. Sam could tell the memories were hard on him. "I yanked the bandages off my eyes so I could see a little. Then I managed to disable her."
"How?" Cory asked.
"Let's just say that water and car battery cables are useful things."
"The reference to sore eyes?" Jim queried.
"When Deborah found my bandages, she asked if she was my sight for sore eyes."
"So she's the one after Blair?" Jack asked.
"No. Deborah's dead."
"Sure?" Sam prodded.
Sam had never heard such a dead tone in his father's voice. A sliver of fear pierced his soul. Obviously, there was a lot more to the story, but he didn't dare press it. He changed the subject. "So who's this 'Diana'?"
"I don't know. But Nikki can probably pull the Phoenix files and see if there's any mention of another woman."
"We'll contact her immediately," Jim responded. "And Mac, we'll do everything we can to get Blair back."
"I know," Mac replied. "But she wants me."
Blair was aware of his nausea even before he realized he was sitting up and his face was hot. Blinking, it became apparent the heat was from the sun shining through the window. It took a while longer to realize he was on the passenger's side of his Cobra and that his hands were tied. Groggily, he raised them to wipe away the sweat trickling from his hairline.
Diana. Sharp jab. Tied up. So much for it's-only-lunch-Jim. Blair forced himself not to flinch as Diana flung the door open. That in itself wasn't too hard, considering the rebellion in his stomach. Then he discovered that there was a gun pointed at him.
"Get up. We need to move to another vehicle."
Fighting back his sickness, Blair asked, "Why? My car too hot for you?"
Diana simply smiled. Blair decided it wasn't one of her familiar sweet smiles. "Move."
"I don't know if I..."
"Oh, the nausea will pass eventually. Now move before I decide to make a hole in you."
Her voice was sliding into a New Jersey accent. It worried Blair. He'd never heard it in her voice before. Struggling, he managed to slide out of the low seat and onto his feet. Then he was leaning over his knees, throwing up.
Diana simply shook her head. "Now if you had told me that you found my listening devices before we ate, you wouldn't have this problem."
His mind scrambled to connect the dots as he retched. He was barely finished when Diana pushed him again. "The bugs are yours? Why?"
"Because I wanted more information before springing my trap for your father."
Blair stopped a foot from the open van. "A trap for Mac? Why?"
For the first time, Blair saw pure malice in Diana's face. "He killed my sister!" Then she shoved him into the van.
There were definite advantages in dealing with the military, Sam reflected as he followed his father onto a C21. There was no way they could have gotten the Phoenix jet so quickly, and with commercial they'd still be trying to get a ticket. All General Hammond had to do was pick up a phone, then hustle them over to the airport. Sam just wished he could shake the feeling that there was a reason the General was being so accommodating, and that it wasn't because Blair was in danger.
However, it was an indication of his concern level that he was willing to accept the ride without asking about the strings.
"Daddy," Ian whined as Sam sat him in the seat he was directed to.
"It's okay, Buddy. Go back to sleep."
Unfortunately, all the sleep during the car ride meant the toddler wasn't ready to continue his nap. "We on pane 'gain?"
"Yeah, Buddy, we're back on a plane."
Ian studied his father with big eyes. "Why?"
Sam held back a sigh. He had tried to keep his fear under wraps, but his young son was often more perceptive than he liked. He couldn't remember what he was like at Ian's age, but he could easily imagine his brother having a similar temperament. How had Naomi handled it? Sam was gaining a lot of respect for her and his own mom.
However, it wasn't in his nature to avoid the question. "Because Uncle Blair's lost, so Grandpa, Uncle Cory and I are going to help Uncle Jim find him."
"Gampa Mac and Gampa Neill?"
"Yep, Grandpa Mac and Grandpa O'Neill." Sam sat down in his seat and gently ran a hand through his son's curls. He then quickly secured the seatbelt around him.
Ian was still looking at him. "Unca Bear have an owie?"
Sam felt like he'd been kicked in the gut, hearing his son voice his main fear. Then a hand squeezed his shoulder. "Nah, Squirrel. Your Uncle Blair's tough. He'll take care of himself until we can get there."
Taking Cory's reassurances to heart, Sam shot him a faint smile then resumed fastening his seat belt. "You hungry, Buddy?"
Shaking his head, Ian kicked his feet against the carrier. "I wanna story."
"What do you say?"
Sitting across from and behind his family, MacGyver was also struggling with his thoughts. As O'Neill sat next to him, Mac quietly asked, "Why the nice ride, Jack?"
"Don't worry about it."
"Let me worry about it. You concentrate on Blair."
The reminder of his son's danger removed all other concerns. Mac stared at the cargo compartment above him. "It's all my fault."
"Mac, you don't even know who's doing this."
"It's connected to Deborah, so that means it's my fault."
Jack shifted so he could see his double's face. "How did she die?"
Mac was silent for a moment. "I was her only failure. She decided it was because of her feelings for me. When she got out of prison, she thought she had to kill me to vindicate herself. Only, she knew the best way to get at me was through my friends. Pete, Jack and I were on vacation in a remote spot trying our hands at panning for gold."
"Pete," Jack repeated. "You've mentioned him before."
"Yeah, my boss, Pete Thornton. We've been friends for years. This was back before Pete lost his eyesight."
"Jack Dalton and I were in high school and college together." A tiny smirk lifted a corner of Mac's mouth. "He's always got some 'get rich' scheme, and drags me and sometimes Pete into it. Working a gold claim was rather tame for him. But then Deborah abducted them to draw me into her trap." Mac sighed. "One thing led to another, and she fell over a cliff. I tried to save her, but she used the opportunity to try to knife me. Never understood that. I could have easily pulled her to safety. But because of the knife, I lost my grip and she fell."
Jack softly commented, "Sounds like it was her choice."
"That's what Pete told me. That, like a scorpion, it was her nature. But she was so beautiful, intelligent and creative. I thought I loved her at one point. I keep thinking there should have been a way to save her. To show her a better way of life."
"You saw what she wanted you to see, Mac. Like your friend said, what happened on the cliff revealed her true nature. I deal with it all the time with my job. One, ah, culture I deal with can look exactly like us, but have something pretty rotten inside. Another culture looks nothing like us, yet they're our greatest allies. You can't always tell just from the outside."
"There should have been a way."
"Sometimes there's not. And the bottom line is that none of this guilt trip helps Blair."
Mac stared ahead. Jack followed his line of sight to the back of Sam's head. The low mumble in a rhythmic pace hinted that Sam was telling Ian a story.
"I can't handle having both of them in danger," Mac softly stated. "Especially considering Ian."
"Your boys are close, Mac. Sam's not going to get left behind with Blair in trouble."
Jack studied him. "This isn't something to do on your own, either. You've got to let us help."
Back up front, Cory felt his own blood pressure rise at his mentor's unconvinced voice. He quietly reached for his laptop case.
It was hot and dark in the back of the van. With his hands and feet chained to a hook in the floor, there wasn't much Blair could do. He braced himself the best he could in order to weather the bumps and turns, but his mind was not focused on the ride. As his nausea diminished, his anger increased.
He had been abducted again. AGAIN. Good grief, he wasn't some wimpy little college student anymore. He was a full fledged police detective who had taken down some of the biggest, baddest criminals in the city. He even carried a gun now. How in the hell did he get abducted again?
Okay, he was a sucker for a pretty face. Guess Jim was right about his love life. Man, he really liked this one, too. Why did she have to be a psycho? Okay, that was probably too harsh. The sophistication of the bugs indicated that she wasn't any crazy person. Her intelligence was one of the things he'd liked about her. Surely the sweet woman he had been falling in love with wasn't all an act. Perhaps if he had a chance to talk with her, he could settle it without anyone getting hurt.
That was the one thing that did not make any sense. His father didn't just kill people. MacGyver hated guns, hated violence, hated killing even more than Blair with his flower child upbringing. Mac wouldn't just kill someone, especially a woman, in cold blood. There were only two possibilities that came to mind. Blair didn't know the details of what his father did for the DXS, but he did know that Mac was a legendary bomb expert. Could the sister have been 'collateral damage'? Yet even that seemed hard to believe, since Mac was the very definition of careful. That left the possibility that the sister wasn't so innocent. It wasn't that much of a reach, considering Diana had just kidnapped him. However, he still had a hard time believing that MacGyver would ever deliberately kill someone, even if she was evil. To be responsible for any death would tear up his father.
Had she contacted him yet? There was no doubt in his mind that MacGyver would come for him, no matter what the danger. Did Jim know? Jim would at least keep Mac from doing something stupid, probably by doing something stupid himself. Which meant Blair had to escape and contact them before either could do something stupid. He just had to force down his anger and wait for his opportunity.
After all, it could have been worse. She could have gone after Sam.
Jack was signing the paperwork for the car, Sam was helping Ian with the drinking fountain and Cory was conversing over his cell phone. While everyone was occupied, MacGyver's cell phone rang. Not recognizing the number, Mac stepped back into a corner and answered.
"So, do you remember Deborah?" A snide voice with a strong New Jersey accent sneered.
"I've never forgotten Deborah," Mac replied honestly. "How's my son?"
"Well, I think he's still mad at me, but he's contained."
Mac barely held back his relief. Present tense and his emotional state hinted that Blair was alive. He could hear grinding engine noises in the background. Must be on a back road. "What do you want?"
"You. Alone. You will find directions in the Yellow Pages of the pay phone behind a Kum 'N Go at the intersection of Highway 5 and Sounder Road. Be there in two hours." The phone call ended.
Mac leaned his head against the nearby wall. It would take them an hour to drive to Cascade, perhaps twenty minutes for him to slip out of the police station, leaving forty to drive to the remote intersection. It would be tight, but he could do it.
"You okay, Mac?"
MacGyver straightened to stare into Cory's worried eyes. "I'm hanging."
"Who was on the phone? Jim?"
Inwardly breathing a sigh of relief that the sentinel didn't suspect, Mac waved it off. "Nothing important. We ready to book?"
Cory studied him a moment, then reached over to squeeze his mentor's shoulder, near the collar of his jacket. "Yeah, we're ready.
Police Headquarters, Cascade, WA
Jim could feel the headache growing behind his eyes. His guide was in danger, and his instincts demanded that he leave the building and search his territory. Unfortunately, the Cascade PD didn't see it that way. Simon had pointed out that he was too close to the situation. Rafe and Brown were coordinating the search while Joel was checking out Blair's abandoned car. All Jim was allowed to do was sit in his chair and stare across at Blair's desk.
Lifting his head, he could see Simon in his office, arguing with the new Chief of Police. The chief wanted to pull not just Jim but the entire Major Crime off the case. He already had several members on his newly formed 'Victim's Unit' going through Jim and Blair's old case files.
Jim snorted to himself. The VU was an effort to appear more politically correct to the community. It was bad enough that the Chief ignored the highly effective Major Crimes department in favor of his new unit. Add in that the VU members were chosen according to appearance and connections rather than actual talent, it became a recipe for disaster. Major Crime not only felt slighted, but rolled their eyes at the ineptness of the investigators. Even Blair claimed they were so full of pop psychology they couldn't tell the difference between the victim and the criminal. Just the fact that they were searching through the partners' ever growing list of enemies and ignoring the obvious lead to Blair's father was poor detective work, in Jim's considerable opinion. On the other hand, Jim was willing to let them continue their wild goose chase. It kept the idiots out of his way.
Glancing at the clock, he watched as Rhonda got a phone call. After she had left the room, he quietly walked over to the fax machine behind her desk. Right on time, it started to spit out Phoenix documents. Nikki Carpenter was still as efficient as ever. Jim was grimly satisfied beneath his hard face. He tucked the pages into an empty file folder from Rhonda's desk. Quietly picking up another folder from his desk, he walked to the break room.
Thirty minutes later, Jim was seething. Nikki had been thorough, including not only the Phoenix personnel's reports on Deborah's attempt to 'negotiate' with MacGyver the first time, but also included the police reports and Pete's notes of Deborah's second attempt at Mac. It angered Jim to see how Deborah had utilized Mac's character to manipulate him. Reading between the lines, he could easily guess how much the woman's betrayal and death had hurt his friend. It chilled him to realize that similar tactics had been employed by the new woman to get close to Blair. While Mac's scientific mind and loner status had been the key to getting close to the father, Blair's love of other cultures and eye for pretty women had been the foothold to the son.
He glanced at the last page, listing Deborah's parents as deceased, but indicating that she had a much younger sister who would be in her late twenties now. Nikki noted that they were looking for background into the sister, but she seemed to have disappeared soon after Deborah's death. "Probably plotting revenge," Jim muttered to himself.
Jim looked up to see Joel gazing at him sympathetically. Jim quietly pointed out, "I'm off the case."
Joel snorted. "Yeah, right, like you're just going to sit here while Blair's missing. You're waiting for Mac and the others to get here from Colorado." He pulled another chair out to sit next to him. "What have you got?"
Jim pushed the folder and its contents to Joel. Joel quickly read, frowning. "This is the woman Mac ticked off?"
"Yeah. Sounds like a real piece of work."
"And the kid sister disappeared? You wanna bet she took up the family line of work?"
"No bet." Jim pulled out a picture from the New York folder and laid it next to the picture Nikki had sent of Deborah. The resemblance between the two was unmistakable. "Same long face and slightly square chin. Facial structure around the eyes and nose is very similar. Hair and eye color don't match, but--"
"She could have changed those for each job," Joel commented.
"What did you find out with the Cobra?"
Joel sighed. "Not much. Forensics is going over it now, but Serena guessed she'd wiped it down thoroughly. It did look like someone had been sick next to it. Serena's running the samples through now."
Jim breathed out. "That's something."
"So this is where you disappeared to," Henri commented as he walked into the break room.
Jim tilted his head back towards their bull pen. "The Mod Squad having any luck?"
Henri rolled his eyes. "Right now they think maybe Lash came back. Rafe and I keep waiting for them to hit the part where you blew him away when you caught him, but they can't seem to read that far."
Joel shook his head. "While they're chasing after ghosts, Blair's being held by a mad woman." He looked at Jim. "When's Mac due in?"
Jim glanced at his watch. "About twenty minutes."
Stirring his coffee, Henri promised, "We'll find him, Jim."
"The key is Mac," Jim pointed out. "She's bound to contact him sooner or later." He suddenly stood up.
Rafe stepped in, Amanda following in his wake. The younger man gave her a sad smile. "Our conference room away from official channels."
Amanda threw him a 'thank you' as she stepped into Jim's arms. Knowing when to make an exit, the other three detectives slipped out, Joel taking the folders Jim had been studying.
After a long hug, Amanda pulled back. "Any word?"
Jim shook his head carefully. While his headache had gradually retreated into the background during the hug, he could tell it was still ready to pounce back.
Amanda must have read something of his pain in his face. She gently ran the back of her hand along his cheek. "Oh Love, I'm so sorry. Anything I can do?"
Jim gave her a weak smile. "Agreeing to take Ian is a big help. Things could get rough, and I'd like to keep the little guy out of the line of fire."
"No problem. I love children." Amanda sighed. "And I am sorry for not taking your concerns about Blair's girlfriend seriously. Next one, I'll bring the chair and bright light if you bring the whips and chains."
A slight smirk crossed Jim's face as he pulled her in for another hug. "Deal."
Cascade National Forest
The van finally pulled to a stop. Blair heard the engine shut off. It was show time. Diana swung the back door of the van wide open. Blair just glared at her. She shook her head mockingly. "Still mad at me?"
Blair took a deep breath to keep from exploding. "Let's see, you drug me, abduct me, chain me up in the back of a van so I get to slide around with each bump and curve? Oh yeah, I'm still mad."
After a dramatic shrug, Diana pointed a gun at him. "My first plan was much better." She leaned forward to unlock the cuffs around his ankles, still holding the gun at his chest. "We were going to make long, delicious love while your father worried himself sick, wondering where you were. But you had to find the bugs." She stood back. "Now you're just going to have make due with plan B." She waved for him to get out of the van.
"And what exactly is plan B?" Blair inquired as he scooted across the metal. He slid out, thankful his legs were steady enough to hold him.
"Why, you get to be my prisoner while we wait for your father." Blair held himself still as she ran a hand down his cheek. "I haven't decided what to do with you yet."
"Oh, that's going to be much more fun for me than him. A couple of bits of poetic justice, in fact. Now follow the path down there."
Blair walked down the path, studying as much of the forest surrounding him as possible. The trail was overgrown and difficult to follow in spots, indicating it was little used. He couldn't hear any noises associated with other humans. Feelings of isolation grew from his gut. He was also well aware of the gun aimed at the small of his back. He estimated they had hiked over a mile before a cabin appeared through the trees and brush.
As he stepped across the threshold, he had to admit it was a nice cabin. There was a small kitchen near a large fireplace. Comfortable couch and chairs faced the fireplace, while a small desk and chair faced a wall near a door. Diana pushed him towards the door. Blair stumbled, briefly bumping into the desk and rattling the pencil holder. Diana only rolled her eyes and shoved him again. A large bed broke his fall. Blair rolled over so he could face her.
"Best get comfy. You're going to be here for a while," she told him as she closed the door.
Blair held his breath as he listened to her lock the door and walk through the cabin. The room only contained the bed, an unlit candle, and a small dresser. The single window had a heavy shutter over it, limiting the light. Slipping over to the window, Blair could barely see Diana exit the cabin and walk back down the path. Once she was out of sight, Blair smiled. "I wouldn't bet on that." In his hands was a large paper clip he had grabbed from the desk.
Police Headquarters, Cascade, WA
The group from Colorado entered Major Crime in mass. Sam glanced around before spotting Jim and Amanda by his desk. "Jim, have you found Blair yet?"
Before Jim could reply, a man of Asian descent stepped forward. "Who are you?"
As Henri rolled his eyes in the background, Joel stepped forward to shake Mac's hand. "Captain Woo, this is MacGyver, Sandburg's father. Sam Malloy, Blair's brother. Cory Buchanan here is a family friend, and..." Joel paused when he reached the man who looked like a duplicate of MacGyver with shorter hair.
"Colonel Jack O'Neill, Sandburg's cousin," Jim inserted, shaking Jack's hand in greeting.
Glancing around, the Captain blinked, but continued, "I'm sorry, we have nothing as yet. Why don't you go home, and we'll contact you when we do."
"What?" Sam inquired forcefully. "The woman already mentioned my father by name. You're going to need him."
The man waved him off. "We are following several leads. We can't find the current address for David Lash, and we suspect this may be him."
Sam's eyes grew in disbelief. "Lash? Have you checked the cemetery?"
"Cemetery?" Woo asked, surprised.
Sam looked at Jim. "Lash was the serial killer who abducted Blair, right? Didn't you empty your gun on him?"
Joel, Henri and Rafe couldn't hold back their smirks as Jim grimly nodded.
Woo blinked, but continued, "Be that as it may, you will only get in our way here. Go home."
Sam folded his arms and glared. "We live in L.A. We won't 'go home' until my brother is safe, so get used to it."
As much as Jim enjoyed Sam employing his tough journalist tactics on the man, there were other considerations. "Sam, why don't you get Ian settled with Amanda, and then we'll get to work."
Sam blinked, then glanced down to the toddler. Ian was standing close and slightly behind his father's legs, staring up at all the huge men with big, scared eyes. Pausing a moment, Sam forced back his anger. Then he gently took Ian's hand as he smiled at Amanda. "Lead the way."
After the elevator doors closed behind the trio, Jack was only too willing to step in for Sam. "What kind of asinine operation are you folks running here? One of your own's in trouble, the bogey told you who they wanted, and you're chasing dead ends? Why aren't you out there tracking down that woman?"
"I assure you, Mr. Neal--" the captain attempted to calm him.
"That's Colonel O'Neill... with two Ls," Jack corrected, stabbing two fingers at the man.
Simon had walked into the bullpen, lifting an eyebrow at Jim. Jim only smirked. He was enjoying the show.
"Colonel O'Neill, we are doing everything we can..."
"Has ANYONE looked up where the gal lives?"
"We're working that," Rafe quietly inserted. "She apparently shut off Blair's cell phone after she talked with Jim, so we can't track her that way. But we've determined the range of the listening devices left in Jim and Blair's place, and officers are canvassing the area with the picture we got from New York."
Woo glared at the junior detective. "We have this case; the police chief took Major Crime off."
"Oh, for crying out loud, this isn't the time for petty politics," Jack declared. He stabbed a finger at Rafe. "He at least is looking for her. I want him and his people on this case."
Woo glared at Rafe, who had a 'deer in the headlights' look. Simon stepped forward, but before he could defend his man, a quiet voice from the rear stated, "Sounds like the Colonel has the right idea."
Police Commissioner Craig Mathews smoothly stepped into the center of the crowd. "I think Banks and Major Crimes can handle it from here, Captain."
"The victim's family in this case has requested them," Craig pointed out. "I suggest your unit clear out."
After the VU shuffled out, Craig held out his hand to O'Neill. "Craig Mathews. Are you Blair's father?"
Jack shook the hand warmly. "No, I'm his cousin. MacGyver's his..." Jack glanced around. "Mac?"
Jim searched the room with several of his senses. "He's not here." He met Jack's eyes, sudden realization hitting them both.
Joel, too, looked worried. "You don't suppose he'd go after her by himself, do you?"
"Ah, hell." Jack briefly rubbed his face. "Let's find him, quick."
Jim then glanced around again. "Where's Buchanan?"
"I appreciate you doing this," Sam told Amanda as he set the booster seat next to her SUV.
Amanda smiled sadly. "Just concentrate on finding Blair. Ian and I'll be fine, right, Ian?"
The little boy glanced between the woman and his daddy, uncertain. Sam knelt down. "It's okay, Ian. Miss Amanda is Uncle Jim's girlfriend. She'll take good care of you."
Ian sniffed. "I wanna go with you."
"I know, Buddy." Sam ruffled the blond curls. "But I've got to go look for Uncle Blair."
"I wanna help."
Sam thought fast. "You are helping. Someone's got to stay with Miss Amanda, just in case Uncle Blair calls her."
"Unca Bear call?"
Seeing the confusion on the small face, Amanda knelt down. "I know, Sweetie. I'd like to help your Daddy search, too. But your Uncle Blair will be hungry when they find him. Would you like to help me bake some cookies for him?"
Ian's eyes brightened. "Cookies?"
Seeing Amanda knew the way to his son's heart, Sam stood up just in time to spot the rented Taurus speed away from the curb. "What the...?"
"Sam?" Amanda had stood up, holding Ian's hand.
"That looked like Dad in the rental car. Where's he going?"
"Meeting the kidnapper." Cory skidded to a stop next to them, out of breath.
"WHAT?" Sam declared.
"She called him at the airport and told him to go alone."
Sam was about to swear, but then remembered the little ears next to him. "Do you know where?"
"Vague idea, but it doesn't matter." Cory was unzipping a pocket in his laptop case.
"What do you mean, it doesn't matter?" Sam asked, voice rising with his mounting panic.
"I thought he might pull something like this, so I planted a tracker on your Dad at the airport."
"You did what!" Sam exclaimed. Then he paused. Calmer, he added, "Cool. Why didn't I think of that?"
"You're not as sneaky as I am," Cory replied as he turned on a hand-held device. Soft blips filled the air. "I've got him, but we've got to move fast."
"But Dad took the car."
"Here." Amanda held out her keys. "Go after him."
"Thanks, Amanda!" Sam grabbed the keys and raced for the driver's door.
"Tell Jim we'll contact him once we're on the road," Cory threw back at her as he hopped in the passenger's side, his eyes never leaving the screen.
Amanda watched them drive away, still holding Ian's hand. She looked down at the toddler. "Something tells me that keeping up with your family will be a challenge." She pulled out her cell to call Jim.
Cascade National Forest
Getting out of the handcuffs was easy. Getting out of the cabin was a whole different ball game.
The door had three solid deadbolts in place, plus the pins holding the door were on the other side. Not that it mattered. While Blair was drugged, Diana had taken his Swiss Army knife along with his gun, watch, keys, jacket and badge. While Blair didn't feel naked without the gun like his partner would, he really missed the knife and its various blades and tools.
That didn't prevent him from finding a way to pull off one of the wooden slats on the window's shutter. That only gave him a first hand view of the iron bars across the window. Blair next felt along the walls, looking for any weakness. That method also came up empty.
Blair dropped to the bed, shaking some feeling back into his cramped hands. There had to be another way out of here. He had to get out before Dad fell into his evil girlfriend's trap. Man, that sounded like a comic book plotline. How did his family get into these situations?
As he sat, he tried to force his mind to 'think of all his options', as Mac would say. The only thing his tired mind could visualize was the log wall. Sighing, his eyes landed on the closet. With a shrug, he decided to give it a closer look.
He examined the walls, still not finding anything of use. Then he glanced at the shelf above him. Stepping back, Blair craned his neck to view the shelf, then the space above it. Suddenly, he noticed the thin outline of a trap door. A smile lit his features. He finally found a break.
Kum 'N Go, Highway 5
MacGyver had found the intersection and the phone directory with four minutes to spare. He debated about bagging the whole book for the Cascade PD forensics, then decided his priority was to reach Blair, not help Jim convict the abductor.
It was a topographic map of the area, with a route into the back country marked in blue. The meet was going to be isolated. Mac's gut tightened. The last encounter with Deborah had been in an isolated area. He still could remember it clearly. Deborah's eyes had been so sad when she'd held her gun on him, trying to explain why she had to kill him. Later, they were determined when she slashed him. He had been scrambling for some leverage to pull her to safety, only to look back in time to see the knife. He had jerked so that only his arm had been cut, yet in doing so he had lost his hold on Deborah. He could still hear her scream echo off the cliffs. Mac shook the images out of his head. This woman was not Deborah. He could do this.
One step at a time, Bud. One step at a time.
Somehow, he doubted Harry had ever been in this position. It was still good advice, though.
Taking a deep breath, Mac forced himself to walk casually back to the car, searching the pockets of his leather jacket for the keys. He found his cell phone instead. He looked at it a moment. He should call Jim. The sentinel was sure to have missed him by now, and already worried about Blair. After a moment of thought, he put the phone back in his pocket. Calling Jim would bring Sam as well, and he had to keep the rest of his family safe. Taking off the jacket, Mac dug for the keys then tossed the garment into the passenger's seat. He sat a moment, took a deep breath, then started the car.
After driving over the ever-increasingly bad road, Mac came to a stop at a packed dirt spot marked on the map. It was a trailhead, though it appeared not to be used heavily. He took another deep breath as he searched the area with his eyes. "Show time," he softly whispered to himself.
He stepped out of the car. The late afternoon sun was warm on his skin. He immediately spied a dark blue canvas jacket laying on a rock. The rock sat at the intersection of three trails. He slowly approached it, noting that the arm of the jacket was pointing up a path that was more of a deer trail than anything else. Cautiously, he picked it up. He had given it to Blair for his last birthday, to replace one that had been torn up by a perp. Mac squeezed it a moment, praying his boy was okay. Then he followed the path.
"It looks like he's already hit the phone booth..."
Sam took his eyes off the rough road to spare his partner a glance. He was so glad Cory was talking with Jim. The older sentinel had to be pissed.
"You know Mac; when he's in that father protector mode, he's going to do what he damn well pleases, no matter what else anyone thinks. Trust me, Sam does the same thing." Sam sent his partner a glare.
"...I gave him a chance to tell me she called. When he blew it off, I knew the best shot was the tracker... Do you honestly think that Mac wouldn't have found a way to give us the slip if he set his mind to it?"
Sam sighed to himself. Cory was right. Dad would have found a way, especially if he thought that was the only way to get Blair back safe. He just had to trust that his father would find a way to stay alive.
"Yes, Jim, I promise next time to give you a head's up, if there's time... Okay, I'll give you a heads up, period." Suddenly, all of Cory's attention focused on the tracker. "Stop!"
Sam slammed on the brakes, heart in his throat. Good thing the road was deserted. "What?"
"He must have turned somewhere around here. He's no longer on the highway."
Sam glanced around. "A back road?"
"A really back road. It's not even listed on the tracker's map."
Heart beating in the right spot again, Sam pulled a U-turn. "It can't be too bad if Dad drove the rental on it."
"Do you honestly think a bad road's going to stop your Dad from reaching Blair?"
"Damn. We better start looking."
Blair dropped to the ground with a roll, finishing up on his feet. Swiftly, he ran to the edge of the clearing. It wasn't until he was behind the brush that he paused, searching the area for any sign of Diana. There was none.
Blair allowed himself a sigh of relief. The trap door in the closet had led to the rafters of the cabin. It had taken him a while to find another trap door that led outside, then another few precious minutes to figure out how to climb down. He had been scared that Diana would return before he got out.
Where was she? She'd been gone an awfully long time. Surely his dad hadn't gotten here from Colorado yet. However, the sun was getting rather low in the sky; Blair had no accurate way of measuring how long he'd been drugged, and only a rough estimate of time since leaving the Cobra. The uncertainty urged the young detective to get the hell out of the area while the getting was good. Blair smiled to himself. Sounds like something Dad would claim Harry had said.
Problem was, he didn't know which way to go. Chances were too good that he'd meet Diana on the trail they'd taken to the cabin. With both her gun and his, the odds were in Diana's favor that she'd retake him. So which way did he go? "Where's a former Ranger sentinel when you need him?" Blair muttered under his breath.
So Blair did what he did best. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and picked a direction.
Mac had quite a collection. At each twist of the path, an item of Blair's had been left in plain sight. So far, that included Blair's police badge, watch, Swiss Army knife, and keys. Mac just hoped he didn't start finding more of Blair's clothes. He didn't like the idea of his son tied up in the middle of nowhere, naked, as night approached. He didn't like Blair being under her control, period.
Of course, he hadn't been simply following the track. He always believed in options. Or in this case, little surprises. It should slow her down if the worst happened.
Slowing, Mac spotted a cell phone, antenna pointing up a dirt path over some rocks. Had to be Blair's. Following the procedure that was becoming routine, Mac cautiously approached as his eyes searched for any signs of traps. Seeing none, he carefully lifted the device. Mac considered turning it on, knowing that Jim's people would be trying to trace it. However, the battery was gone, so that idea was out. He should have brought his, but it was still in his jacket pocket back in the car. He tucked it into Blair's jacket along with the rest, and climbed up the steep slope.
Once on top, Mac paused. A sweeping vista stretched before him, with not just a little deja vu. He knew without looking that he was on the edge of a cliff. This was it. He felt it in his gut.
"So you're the great MacGyver."
Mac turned, the drop-off to his back. "I don't know about great, but the name's MacGyver." The woman before him did look a lot like Deborah. She was slightly shorter, but she had the same curly hair and facial features. The biggest difference was the eyes. While he'd seen Deborah's eyes turn cold, this young woman's were harder, meaner. She hated. The gun in her hands didn't look too promising, either. "Where's Blair?"
"Oh, he's tucked away." A sly smile slipped across her face. "I was hoping to get some good sex out of him. I can tell he'd be fun in bed. But I'm afraid he's not going to like me much after I finish Deborah's business with you."
"And what would that be?"
"Killing you, you stupid bastard." Mac held his breath as she continued to aim the gun at him.
Then she paused. "You know, after all this, you're a bit of a disappointment. I can't see why Deborah didn't just off you as soon as she got out of prison."
Standing still, watching the gun and the eyes, Mac softly replied, "Actually, I asked her the same thing."
"Oh, really? I'm surprised she'd even take the time to talk to you. I can't see how you'd be so worthy of her attention."
"Do you want to know why?"
"I know why! She hated you because you put her in prison!"
"No, that wasn't it. In fact, she told me that I was her only assignment she couldn't find anything to hate."
"Couldn't find anything to hate? Nothing? She must not have looked very deep."
"Yes, she did. In some ways, she knew me better than I knew myself. She knew I'd fall in love with her. She just didn't expect to have feelings for me in return. She said she had to find out if she could feel those emotions, and still kill me."
"So why did you push her over the cliff? Because she wasn't who you thought she was?"
"I didn't push her. She tripped during the struggle for the gun and fell over. I tried to save her, but I couldn't." For the first time, Mac truly believed he couldn't have saved Deborah. The question was what to do about her look-a-like.
"I don't believe you!"
A voice from the right quietly stated, "I do."
"You got out?" the woman gasped. Unfortunately, she only shifted position slightly, still holding the gun steady on Mac.
Mac spared a quick glance. It was Blair. His face was slightly pale, and bits of his hair had managed to escape its leather tie and curl around his face, but otherwise his son looked fine. Mac wanted to hug him, but there was still the matter of the woman with the gun.
"Oh yeah. Took me a while, but I finally managed it. Guess you could say I'm like my Dad that way." Blair eased forward a step. "You don't have to do this, Diana. Let it die here."
"The only thing that's going to die here," Diana growled, "is your father!"
"Come on, Diana." Blair took another step closer, placing himself roughly equal distance between his father and the woman. "Let it go. Leave now, and we'll call it even."
"Even?" Diana echoed. Her hand slipped into her pocket. "My sister is dead because of him. How could it ever be 'even'? It won't be even until he dies!"
Blair suddenly stared at her hand. Mac could see he had made a connection that Mac hadn't yet. "DAD! Move!"
As Blair threw himself at Mac, a small rumble shook the ground beneath them. Rocks crumbled under his feet as Blair reached him. They both fell.
Jim parked his truck next to Amanda's SUV. There was barely enough room for the three vehicles. He didn't know where the rest of the rescue team, ten minutes behind him, were going to park. He really didn't care. His partner and Mac were what mattered.
With Jack O'Neill close behind, Jim walked up to where Sam and Cory were studying a large rock at the trail intersection. "Anything?" Jack asked.
"Looks like something was laying on this rock," Sam pointed out. "And that looks like Dad's boots."
"What about the tracker?" Jim asked.
Cory held up Mac's jacket. "I put it on the collar. Mac must have gotten too warm or something, because we found it in the car."
"With his cell phone," Sam grumbled. Jim could see his fear rising with each moment, much like Jim's own.
"So let's follow the boot prints," Jack declared.
Jim lifted up his hand as he sniffed the air like a hunting hound. The other three looked at him curiously. "We don't need to follow the prints. I smell Stinky Diana's perfume."
"Perfume?" Jack questioned, sniffing the air himself.
Cory's eyebrows wrinkled along with his nose. "That's perfume?"
"Yep. And it'll lead us right to her." Jim started walking, following the scent.
Cory fell in step behind him. "You mean, she wants to smell like that?"
Sam patted his shoulder as he slipped between the two sentinels. "I don't care what she smells like, as long as we can find her."
They quietly walked single file, senses alert for any danger. Jim and Cory suddenly stopped, staring at each other. "Was that an explosion?" Cory asked, worried.
"Maybe," Jim replied. "Let's pick up the pace." They walked another quarter mile when Cory softly called a halt. "Jim, do you hear that?"
"Sounds like a woman in trouble."
Sam smirked, "Or maybe a woman who's discovered Dad can be nearly as sneaky as Cory."
Following the noise, Jim led them to a spot in the trees. A woman was swinging upside down, two feet above the ground, ankle caught in a vine. Sam's grin had a nasty edge to it. "Definitely Dad's handiwork." Then he shouted, "Where's MacGyver?"
"Go... To... Hell!" She screamed back as she swung.
"Where's Blair!" Jim shouted.
"Hell, where you should be!"
Suddenly, she fell to the ground hard. Before she could sit up, Jack was there, pointing his gun at her head. "They asked, rather nicely, where are Blair and MacGyver?"
She glared at him.
Jack calmly shot. The bullet flew by her ear as Jack re-aimed at her head. "I'm not going to ask again."
Hazel eyes stared at the cold brown ones. Diana gulped. "At the bottom of Morry Point. Up there." She waved her hand up the path.
Sam felt his stomach fall out. "Oh God, no." He raced towards the cliff, Jim and Cory on his heels.
Jack stared hard at the woman, fighting his own despair. "They better be alive, or you won't live long enough to see the inside of a jail."
Blair stirred, then opened his eyes to see the river far, far below. He nearly had a heart attack. Shutting his eyes tight, he cautiously lifted his head enough to turn it the other direction. The view wasn't much better.
Miraculously, they had fallen several feet to a small ledge. Mac was lying against a thick rock on the cusp, his legs entangled with Blair's. Gingerly, Blair pulled himself away from the drop-off and into a sitting position, checking for any sharp pain signaling a potentially serious injury. Finding only scrapes and bruises, Blair slid over to his father. "Dad?"
Mac's eyes blinked open, then shut again as a deep moan escaped him.
"Dad, where are you hurt?"
"Collarbone," Mac hoarsely replied. "Probably broke."
Blair quietly swore. That meant Mac was not only in a lot of pain, but any movement would be difficult. He looked up. The broken rocks above them displayed the recent violence, the face nearly vertical. The only reason they survived was the ledge and that Blair had pushed them out of the path of falling rocks. A good rock climber could probably make it up. Unfortunately, Blair was too scared of heights to try any rock climbing.
Carefully, he helped his father up to a sitting position, then took his jacket out of Mac's hand and draped it over him. Mac's face was white and taunt with pain. "Was that an explosion?"
"Yep. Diana had the detonator in her pocket."
"You saw it just before the blast?"
"Yeah. Sorry I didn't move fast enough to get you out of the way."
"Last time I checked, you're not Superman. And that's the kind of speed you needed."
Blair shrugged. "At least she's not up there shooting at us."
"She probably thought the fall killed us."
Both were silent for a moment, the 'like Deborah' swirling silently between them. Then Mac looked up at the rocks. "There is no way I can climb like this. You'll have to go by yourself."
"Me?" Blair squeaked. After a little cough, Blair tried again. "Me? I'm not climbing up there."
"You're forgetting which son you're talking to. Sam's the one with a head for heights. There is no way I'm going up there."
"Besides, you're hurt."
"I'll be okay for now. You need to get out."
"Uh uh. No way, Jose. Besides, aren't Jim and the guys around here somewhere? They can rescue us."
Mac dipped his eyes away from Blair. "Well, now that you mention it..."
Blair stared at him a moment. "Oh, no. Let me guess. You didn't tell anyone where you were going."
"She told me to come alone."
"Dad! Didn't you notice the little footnote that said, 'P.S. This is a trap!'"
"Well, she already had you. I didn't want anyone else in danger because of me."
Blair leaned his head against the rock behind him, rubbing his face with his hands. "Man, you're as bad as Jim. What about your cell phone?"
"I left it in the car. I've got yours."
"You do? Hand it over."
"Diana took the battery."
"Of course she did."
Blair's hands dropped as he wondered how this situation could be any worse.
"You may not be the only target. Some detectives from New York found pictures of Sam as well."
Gut clenching, Blair could only stare at his father. "What detectives?"
"Jim called one of them 'Pez'."
"Sara Pezzini and Jake McCartey?"
"Sounds about right. Anyway, they were tracking an assassin and found Diana's apartment."
"Okay, let me get this straight. You're saying Diana's an assassin?"
"The sweet gal I've been dating the past week is an assassin?"
"Blair, she just tried to kill us!"
"Okay, I'll give you that. But I thought she was just upset about her sister, not that she was a professional! And what's this about pictures of Sam?"
"Surveillance photos. Cory and Ian were also in some of the shots. Pez thought she had been debating between you and Sam."
All of a sudden, the full weight of the situation hit Blair. "Oh... My... God..."
"She probably considers this finished, though."
"We don't know that." Fear coursed through Blair. He accepted danger to Jim and himself as a matter of course. They were police detectives, protectors of the tribe, and it came with the duty. However, Sam wasn't a police officer, or even a federal agent. While he and Cory were protectors, they weren't on the front lines like the older pair. Plus Ian had just lost his mother; he needed his daddy more than ever. Fear was quickly replaced by anger. No one messed with his younger brother and baby nephew. Blair stood up, contemplating the rocks above him more seriously. "We need help."
"You can do it, Blair," Mac told him encouragingly. "I've done it. Just focus on reaching the top."
Blair closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "God, I hate this."
"Then it's a good thing we found you."
Blair stared up into Jim's relieved face. "All right, Jim! How did you find us? Wait a minute, tell us later. Right now, Mac's got a broken collar bone, and we need to get him out of here."
"Rescue unit should be right behind us, Chief."
"Hey, Indy!" Sam's head popped up next to Jim.
"Hey, Olsen!" Then Blair paused. "Jim! Diana's still on the loose!"
"No, she's not," Sam corrected. "O'Neill's got a gun on her. If she even looks at him funny, I really think he'll shoot her."
"I'd count on it," Cory added as he, too, looked down on them. "She sprung one of your traps, Mac."
"Traps?" Blair asked.
Sam laughed. "We found her swinging by an ankle."
Mac simply smiled. He knew they'd be okay now.
General Hospital, Cascade, WA
Blair sat in the hard waiting room chair, hands running through his curls. The doctors had already released him from their quick checkup. He was going to be sore tomorrow, and he didn't think he'd ever eat curry again, but at least he didn't break anything. Now he was just waiting for confirmation on his father's injury.
A Styrofoam cup was gently bumped against his hand. Blair looked up and took the coffee gratefully from his partner. Jim sat down next to him and sipped from his own cup. Silence stretched for a couple of minutes. Then Blair stated into the air, "You were right."
"I'm always right. But what am I right about this time?"
"I've got lousy taste in women."
"Hell, I've been telling you that for years."
"Yeah, but this time, it not only nearly got me killed, but my dad as well. And Dad said she had pictures of Sam. God, Jim, what if she had gone after Sam?"
"We would have found her and stopped her, just like this time."
"Dad could have been killed, Jim. I didn't know which way to go from the cabin. What if I'd gone in the wrong direction?
"You did go in the wrong direction, Chief. Yet it turned out to be the right direction. You found them, you and your father survived, we got Diana. That's all that matters."
Blair only sighed. Then he stood up as he spotted Sam and MacGyver exiting the cubicle. Mac still looked pale and a little wobbly. Blair was only too familiar with the wooziness associated with pain killers, so he helped Sam escort him to a chair. "What the doc say?" Jim asked.
"Broken collarbone," Mac replied. "Just like I figured."
"Well, I need to pick up your prescriptions." Sam patted his father's good shoulder.
"And I should check in with Simon," Jim added. "Come on, I'll show you where to go." The pair disappeared around the corner.
A minute of silence stretched into two between father and son. Then at the same time, they both said, "I'm sorry."
Mac then smiled at his son. "What are you sorry for?"
"For not letting Jim do a background check on Diana when he wanted. What are you sorry for?"
"That my past made a swipe at me and hit you instead. I know how much Deborah hurt me. I'm just sorry you had to be hurt like that, too."
"It's okay, Dad. Actually, it may have been a good thing."
Mac blinked. "A good thing?"
Blair shrugged. "It made me think."
Blair paused a moment, then sighed. "Jim has found a good woman. And I'm extremely happy for him. If there's anyone who deserves a good woman, it's Jim. But I guess, seeing him so happy and realizing Daniel wasn't that much older than me and he died..."
"You were wondering if you would find a good woman before you die," Mac suggested.
"Yeah. So when I met Diana, I thought she was it. So I guess you could say I was a sucker waiting for the hook."
"And now?" Mac asked softly.
"And now I realize what a great life I have. I have family who loves me, great friends, and a job that makes a difference. I don't need a woman to complete me, or children to feel like I've made a contribution to society. Not that I wouldn't like to eventually have both, but not right now. Although, heaven forbid, if something were to happen to you and Sam, I assure you that Ian would be welcomed into my home with open arms. But I'm not going to go out of my way searching for it."
Mac smiled at him. "I understand. Somehow, I skipped the part of a good woman, and ended up with two great sons. I couldn't be prouder of you."
Cory and Jack approached their chairs. "You two okay?" Jack asked.
While his voice wasn't noticeably anxious, Mac could detect the concern in his double's eyes. Jack had already been through enough recently; he didn't need the extra stress. "We're fine, Jack. Thanks for helping."
"Yeah," Blair replied with a smile. "Glad to know someone in this family's handy with a weapon."
Sam and Jim joined the group. Sam gently squeezed his brother's shoulder, still happy he was in one piece. "Yeah. Too bad we don't have better taste in women."
"Yeah, what is with that?" Cory asked as he dropped into a chair. "I can't believe all three of you have dated assassins."
"Jim's dated an assassin, too," Blair pointed out defensively.
"You have?" Cory looked at the older sentinel, startled.
Jim refused to meet his eyes as he took another sip of coffee.
Cory turned to Jack. "Colonel?"
Jack dropped his gaze to the floor. "Let's just say it's classified."
"You mean, I'm the only one who hasn't dated an assassin?"
"Ian hasn't," Sam pointed out.
"Ian's only three," Jim replied pessimistically. "Give him time."
Cory shook his head. "Ah man, you know what this means, don't you?"
Blair glanced at him. "What?"
"As my duty as godfather, I'm going to have to check into the backgrounds of every girl Ian shows interest in for the rest of my life, starting with pre-school."
"Don't laugh," Jim admonished him. "Sounds like a plan to me. And speaking of which..." Jim's eyes bored into his partner's. "You will, from now on, give me the name, address, and social security number of every female you even THINK about dating. Got that?"
"Okay, Okay. I see your point. But social security number?"
"We'll talk about how to get fingerprints later."
Blair looked up to see Ian running down the hall to him. He scooped up the toddler, cuddling him close. It eased away the fear from the day. When he allowed Ian to wiggle out, the boy thrust a baggie in front of his face. "Miss 'manda said you'd be hungee!"
Blair took the bag and identified its contents. "Chocolate chip! Thanks, Buddy." He met Amanda's eyes over Ian's head, "and thank you."
Amanda gave him a happy smile. "I'm just glad you're all right." She turned to her boyfriend. "Did you explain to him the new girlfriend checking system yet?"
"Some of it."
Blair looked up, suddenly worried. "Some of it?"
"I insist that I meet all your future girlfriends within the first week, so I can give Jim a female perspective on whether she's likely to kill you."
"Or eat you," Jim added. He and Amanda shared a private smile.
Blair looked at his nephew. "Ian, never date."
Ian scrunched up his nose. "What a date, Unca Bear?"
Before the toddler could jump into the hurting Mac's lap, Sam intercepted him. "Hey, Buddy, you're going to have to go easy on Grandpa Mac for a while."
Ian's eyes grew huge as he glanced between his father and grandfather. "Why?"
"I've got an owie, Ian," Mac told him with a dopey smile. Blair could tell the stress and the pain was catching up with him.
"But I'm okay," Jack announced, seeing the confusion on the small face. He held out his arms. "How about a hug for Grandpa O'Neill?"
Ian smiled as he held out his arms for the Colonel. Blair grinned as well. His family was here and in one piece, more or less. What more could he ask for?
Note 3/2/05: For anyone who hasn't seen seasons 6, 7 or 8 of Stargate, don't worry about Daniel. As an ascended being, he pops up here and there in season 6, then comes back in season 7.
Back to The Loft