Okay, okay, this is NOT the Before Dawn sequel (which I am laboring hard on as we speak, er read *grin*). And I know that there have been TSBS missing scenes before this and there will be more after this, many longer and much more in depth than this can ever hope to be.
However, Blair desperately needs to talk to his dad, and MacGyver really wants to catch up on all those father-son talks he's missed over the years. And admittedly, I've had similar chats with my Dad, though my situation has never been quite so dire! So here it is.
You can thank Shallan for this one - it was due to a long conversation we had that led to this story and inclusion of the poem. The Road Not Taken is a favorite of mine by my most favorite poet, Robert Frost. I also feel that it speaks for Blair in the episode, The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg.
Needless to say, there are major spoilers for The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg.
C. L. Combs
MacGyver's eyes jerked open, staring into the darkness.
Okay, I'm in a hotel in London, just arrived from assessing the refugee crisis in Albania, not in any trouble that I know of, it's, what, THREE AM? Mac stared at the clock for a moment.
That makes it 7 p.m. in California. Groggily, Mac reached over to grab the phone from the night stand. "Hello?"
"MacGyver? It's Nikki."
"Nikki, do you have any idea what time it is here?"
"Yes, I do, but I thought you might want to hear this."
"Hear what?" Mac yawned.
"Has, well, has Blair called you?"
"Blair?" Foreboding sank to his stomach as MacGyver sat up in the bed. "No. Why?"
A soft sigh whispered across the trans-Atlantic connection. "Has Blair by chance mentioned anything to you about, oh, people with hyperactive senses called sentinels?"
"His dis is on sentinels," Mac replied warily, tension driving the sleep from his mind. Feeling his friend's hesitation, Mac urged, "Talk to me, Nikki."
Another sigh followed before Nikki could put together the words. "Apparently, his dissertation must be pretty good. There are news reports that Blair has written what promises to be a best-seller on a modern day sentinel named James Ellison. There is even talk of a Nobel Prize."
"Ah, damn," Mac swore quietly.
"You knew about this? You knew about Ellison?"
"I knew about Jim, not about Blair publishing." Mac rubbed his face. "I can't believe Blair's doing this. He told me he wanted to protect Jim's identity."
"I'm not sure it's Blair's idea," Nikki quietly told him. "The footage shows Blair saying 'no comment' and looking like a deer caught in the headlights. That's why I called."
Now Mac sighed. "Is it national?"
"Local right now. Tom Withers called me and sent a video."
Recognizing the name as the head of a Phoenix research facility near Cascade, Mac nodded, then realized Nikki couldn't see it. "Okay. Are you in your office now?"
"See if Pete's in, and check out an envelope I left in his secret safe. It contains the details of what I know, and what arrangements I've made in case Blair and Jim need sanctuary."
The worry was easy to detect in Nikki's voice. "Do you think it will come to that?"
"I don't know. But I don't even want to think about what certain parties might do if they decided Jim would be of value to them. And Jim can't do what he does without help from Blair."
"I'll get right on it."
"Thanks, Nikki. I'll try to reach Blair and take the first flight to back to the States."
Mac hung up the phone, knowing sleep would not come for the rest of the night.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
"Hello, Ellison residence."
Mac blinked. "Naomi?"
"MacGyver?" For the first time in nearly thirty years, Mac could hear joy in Naomi's voice while saying his name.
"Yeah. Is Blair okay?"
"Oh, I don't know, Mac. Everything's a mess and it's all my fault." Naomi sadly filled him in on what had happened. "Blair is in such turmoil. I swear I've never seen his aura look so chaotic. Jim is withdrawing inside himself and wants to get rid of his special gifts. I fear for both of them."
"Is Blair there?"
"He's in his room. Just a minute." Mac could hear a knock on the French doors guarding Blair's domain. "Honey, it's your father."
Before Mac could reflect on that surprising statement from Naomi, Blair's voice came on the line. "Dad?"
First Naomi refers to me for the first time as Blair's father, and now Blair calls me 'Dad', which he rarely does. We must be in BIG trouble. "Hey, son." In the background, Mac could hear the French doors close.
"I heard. How you holding up?"
"I don't know, man. My dream of riches and fame has arrived, only now it's a nightmare. I never wanted it to come out this way. My research is destroying Jim, the very thing I wanted to study and preserve. You should hear the guys at Major Crimes teasing us, and while Jim tries to put up a good front, he seems to wilt a little more with each word. Plus it's interfering with his job. We're on this big case, trying to protect a guy from an assassin. Jim was within steps of catching the bastard, but the media suddenly realized he was there and bombarded him with lights and noise. So the Iceman is still out there. There's even talk of the police commissioner and IA falling down hard on him and Simon. Hell, it's like everything's taking a slow spin down the dumper, and I'm the one who pulled the handle. Damn it, Mac, I'm so confused."
Mac's heart went out to his son as he listened to the rush of words. "How are YOU taking all this?"
"I don't know. On one hand the University is ecstatic - they've been about one step away from firing me the last couple months, and now you'd think they've nurtured me from birth. Then there's that slimly publisher friend of Naomi's. He's the one who released it to the press, trying to force me to give him the rights to my manuscript. His offer is up to 3 mil. Three million American dollars. I never thought I'd ever see that kind of money outside of winning lotto. They were even talking Nobel Prize. Man, only in my wildest dreams did I think I'd win a Nobel Prize. All the elements I have ever dreamed of when I was searching for a sentinel are ready to fall into my lap. Yet I can't help but feel it will cost me something worth much more than that. It may already have."
It wasn't hard for Mac to figure out what Blair was talking about. "How are things between you and Ellison?"
"Well, he hasn't moved my stuff out of the loft yet."
"Not really. I've been in the Ellison Ice Zone since the news broke. I keep checking my fingers and nose for frostbite. Yet now it's like he really doesn't blame me, more like it's somehow his fault because he has these senses. God, Mac, he even used the 'F' word earlier."
"I'm surprised with Jim's army background it didn't get more colorful."
"No, not that 'F' word. You see, when Jim was a kid, he found his mentor's dead body and saw the murderer running away. He told the police what he saw, but they didn't believe him because 'no one can see that far'. Jim overheard his father tell the police some story about him being in shock and just trying to help. Then when they got home, his father told him he had to stop hearing and seeing things like that or people would know he was a freak. God, can you imagine your own father calling you a freak?"
Mac shuddered. He couldn't picture saying that to any child, let alone your own.
"Because of that, Jim repressed his senses until Peru. So when Jim was pacing back and forth and telling Mom and I how he didn't want to have the senses anymore, he mentioned that his father and brother were being asked what it was like living with a freak. I'm sure that's not the word the reporters are using, but it's how Jim feels. Here I thought we had made such great strides helping Jim realize he was gifted and not a freak, but now he's back to square one. I wish he would just get mad, blow up, blame me, blame the reporters, blame Sid the slime, blame anyone, but he's not. He's essentially blaming himself for being a sentinel and bringing all this down on everyone. He's even told me to go ahead and grab the brass ring, like it doesn't matter what happens to him. He's becoming a martyr and that scares me."
It scared Mac, too. He had seen Jim Ellison on a major guilt trip and it wasn't pretty. But it sounded like Jim might not be the only one trotting down that path this time. "How guilty are you feeling?"
The heavy sigh tugged at Mac's heart. "Really guilty. You tried to warn me, but I didn't listen. Jim even flat out asked me if I had honestly thought up a way to validate my research without using his name. All I could say was that I didn't know, Dad. He read the answer on my face and turned away. And you know what? I really can't blame him. I am suppose to be his guide, the one who guards his back no matter what, and what do I do? I paint a big red target on him then step back for the world to shoot its arrows. And perhaps even get big bucks for doing it. I really suck, man."
"Ah, Blair, don't say that." Mac closed his eyes, trying to think of some way to give his son the courage he needed to get through the next few days. "Do you know what you're going to do?"
"Do? I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm going to do. Hell, I don't even know what I CAN do. I feel like I'm riding a sled down an avalanche."
"Would you like some fatherly advice?"
In spite of his son's misery, Mac could almost hear the faint smile in Blair's voice. "Is this where you quote Harry?"
"Maybe," Mac returned with a faint smile of his own.
Gathering his thoughts and every bit of wisdom gathered in 48 years of living, Mac began. "From what I can tell, up to this point you've been able to combine your academic career with your guide duties without too many problems."
"Not if you ask the Dean."
In spite of himself, Mac chuckled. "I'm not asking her. However, she is a sign that you have come to the fork in the road. One way leads to an academic career with possible fame and fortune. The other leads to the life of a guide, protecting your sentinel and thus protecting the people of Cascade. Both are full-time jobs; you can not do both. Each path has rewards and pitfalls. I'm not going to tell you which one you should chose. I'm not going to say that either choice comes without risk. Yet you're at the fork in the road, you can't turn back, and you can take just one road. Which one is a decision only you can make. However, I will tell you this: no matter which one you chose, I'm behind you 100 percent."
"You are?" a tear-filled voice asked.
"I am. It may have taken me a while to find you, but as Harry would have said, I'm here for the long haul."
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
MacGyver's trip to the west coast was a chapter right out of Murphy's Law. First, most of the flights out of London to the states were booked solid. Once he finally did arrive in New York, the airport soon closed due to bad weather. When he finally got a flight out, it was for Los Angeles, not Cascade.
In spite of trying to call every hour, Mac couldn't get a hold of Blair. This sent his blood pressure rising as he began to think of various reasons why Blair wasn't answering, each scenario worse than the one before. When he finally reached Naomi, he learned that both Simon Banks and Megan Conner were at the hospital in serious condition. "It's just awful, Mac," Naomi told him tearfully. "Apparently the assassin they're after shot from across the street. The bullet first hit Simon, who was standing next to Jim at the time. Then it continue through the office glass wall, hit Miss Conner, and hit the door frame only inches from where Blair was standing. Just inches! A little bit over and it could have been Jim and, and Blair in the hospital."
"Damn," Mac swore. "How's Blair?"
"I don't know. He said something about brass rings and that he knows now what he has to do, but I'm not quite sure what he means. I'm suppose to meet him with Sid at the University in a half hour."
Mac closed his eyes. He had a couple ideas, but wasn't sure if he was on the same wavelength as Blair. "Okay. Tell him I'll try to catch him this evening. And tell him no matter what, I love him."
"Thank you, Mac." Naomi sniffed a moment. "I guess Jim was right. You do make a good father for Blair."
Four hours later, Nikki greeted MacGyver at his arrival gate. "Come on, Pete's waiting in his van."
Mac quickly read her face. "What happened?"
"I'll show you once we get to the van."
Mac barely held on to his patience until he was greeted by Pete in the back of his comfortable van. "What's up, Pete?"
"Have a seat and we'll show you," Pete answered grimly. He started the tape.
The tape was heartbreaking. MacGyver watched as his good-hearted, intelligent son bravely stood in front of a pack of vultures and declared that all his hard, detailed work was a fraud. The urge to touch him was strong as Blair struggled for composure, destroying the career that he had spend all his adult years to build in a matter of minutes. Mac admired Blair's elegant mastery of words as he weaved a protective barrier around his Holy Grail. Tears were streaming down Mac's face when, in probably the most truthful words of the entire speech, Blair apologized to those he had harmed. Yet through the tears, he smiled. One of the bravest act of selflessness had just been performed by his son. Never in MacGyver's life did he think he could feel this much love, this much pride in one person.
When the segment ended, only the sound of static filled the van.
Finally, Nikki whispered, "Mac?"
"He did good."
"He sounds pretty upset," Pete ventured.
"He looks pretty shaken," Nikki added.
"He made his choice and bravely did what he had to do. He did good."
Nikki leaned back in her chair and studied her friend. "He lies better than you do."
"Yep, certainly didn't get that talent from me."
Pete cleared his throat. "Ellison really is a sentinel, isn't he?"
MacGyver look at the two people he trusted more than anyone else in the world. "Between just us in this van? Yes."
"He threw away his career to protect Ellison," Nikki observed, still staring at MacGyver. "Sounds like something his father would do."
"I've never had that much at stake," Mac shrugged.
"So what does Blair do now?" Pete asked with concerned.
It warmed MacGyver's heart to realize how much Pete was worried about that. "I don't know. Things between Blair and Jim were on pretty shaky ground last I knew."
Nikki could barely hold back her outrage. "You don't think Ellison's going to turn his back on Blair, especially after this, do you?"
Mac sadly chuckled. "Actually, I think Jim has been trying hard NOT to do that even before this press conference. Jim learned a hard lesson last spring when Blair nearly drowned and it shows. The question is whether the Cascade PD is going to turn their backs on Blair."
"Can Ellison use his sentinel abilities without Blair?" Pete questioned.
"Yeah, but not easily and with great risk to himself. Blair helps to keep him from focusing too hard and to sift through all the input he receives. Blair also guards his back while Jim does his thing."
"You know," Nikki thought out loud, "We could always use more field agents, especially ones who have 'special' talents."
"I can't think of a better team than a former covert ops/police detective and a man who thinks like MacGyver," Pete added, shooting a smile at his old friend. "In fact, doesn't Phoenix have a standing offer to them?"
Mac's quiet smile crossed his face as he enjoyed his friends' support. "Yeah, we do. If the Cascade PD isn't smart enough to realize what they have, we can definitely welcome them here."
And both that morning equally lay
in leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
MacGyver was trying not to pace his small apartment as he waiting for the phone to ring. Naomi promised that she would have Blair call him as soon as he got in. I have got to get a bigger place. Time to start house hunting again.
Mac picked it up before it finished the first ring. "Hello?"
The voice sounded tired. "You okay, Blair?"
"Yeah, I'm okay." Mac was heartened by the slightly upbeat undertone. "We finally got the Iceman, and kept Bartley alive."
"You did?" We. That must mean he and Ellison have made up.
"Yeah. That idiot actually came to the station trying to take out the guy. Thankfully, Jim spotted Zeller by his reflection on Bartley's glass, and shoved him to the ground when Zeller opened fire."
"He shot up the police station?"
"No, just Major Crimes."
"JUST Major Crimes?"
"Well, yeah, but we got lucky. They were mostly minor injuries, like Rafe's head getting grazed by either a bullet or flying debris, I'm not sure which. You don't want to see the office equipment, though." Mac took a deep breath, trying not to imagine gunfire in the small Major Crimes area. "Then Jim chased Zeller up to the roof. By the time I got there, Zeller had already gone over the side, and I had to help Jim to the edge of the roof."
"Yeah, he got hit in the leg, but it's not too bad. In fact, he's home and Mom's wrapping him up in an afghan and making some soup for him. Anyways, when Zeller saw us he started shooting, and the rope gave way. No more Iceman."
"That's good." There was a pause. "Now, how are you REEAAALLY doing?"
There was another pause. "Guess you saw the news conference?"
"Well, yeah, I had to do something."
"You did good."
"You think so?"
"Yeah, Blair. That was the bravest act I have ever seen. I'm very proud of you."
"How are you and Ellison doing?"
There was another pause. Mac could pick out a conversation between Jim and Naomi about being out of tongue or something. "We're okay," Blair whispered. "Jim even told me I was the best cop he'd ever met and the best partner he could have."
Even in a whisper, Mac could pick out the awed tones in his son's voice. "Well, Ellison is a smart man. Any idea what you're going to be doing now?"
"Not a clue. I have to have my University office cleared out by Friday."
"How do you feel about that?"
"Well, you know, it's funny. While I wished it hadn't ended this way, and it would have been nice to have had those letters after my name, I feel okay about it. I realize now that I was getting rather disenchanted with the whole academic scene anyway. The last few days have just cemented it."
"So, what do you want to do?"
"I don't know. I rather doubt employers are going to be lining up outside my door after today. I mean, who wants to hire a fraud?"
"The people who really know you won't believe you're a fraud," Mac pointed out. "In fact, Pete reminded me you still have an open offer to work for Phoenix."
"That's still good?"
"Of course it is. Pete knows talent when he sees it."
"Well, I don't know "
"You don't have to decided anything right now. Take a break, get your thoughts together. You're always welcomed to stay with me for a while. And you know you can always use Harry's cabin."
"Harry's cabin sounds really good. I could spend some time away from people right now."
Especially reporters. "It's yours. Just let me know when and I'll get you the key."
"Thanks again, Dad."
"Any time." Mac could hear Naomi in the background.
"Hey, Dad, Naomi needs something, and Jim wants to talk with you."
Before Mac could say anything, Jim was there. "Hi Mac."
"Hey, how's the leg?"
"All right. Blair helped me put the dial on zero point one."
There was a pause. "Are you and Blair all right?"
"Yeah. I promise you, Mac, I won't let Blair fall through the cracks. At least, not without me hanging on to him for dear life."
Mac smiled in relief. "Got anything planned?"
"The guys at the station are working on something."
I was hoping they were. "Just know that if it doesn't work, the offer at Phoenix is still open for both of you."
"Hey Mac," Blair's voice came back on. "I'll let you know in a couple days about Harry's cabin, okay?"
"Okay. And remember, if you need to talk, call me."
"I know. Thanks, Dad."
Mac thoughtfully hung up the phone. His son was going to be okay.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-- The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost
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