Title: Dance Lessons
Author: Diva email email@example.com
Disclaimer: "MacGyver" the Television Series and "MacGyver" the character [as well as Peter Thornton] are the property of Paramount Pictures Television and Winkler/Rich Productions. No copyright infridgement is intended. The original characters as well as this story belongs to me and may not be posted elsewhere without permission.
Author's note: Well, here we are again. If anyone is still reading, they may have noticed that I've meshed the character of Susan O'Neil out more. Also please note that this story takes place ten months after "Missing Pieces," putting it in April 1998. To be honest, I don't know if it was a warm April in New York or not. <BG> This also explains the difference in the relationship between Mac and Susan, they've been working together for a while now. There's a smidge of language in here, Susan swears a few times, but nothing major. Enjoy! We've also got an opening gambit here which was directed by my alter ego Shada. (sorry, been watching first season MacGyver episodes where they've got Opening Gambit directed by splashed in big letters across the screen, as that opening gambit never had anything to do with the rest of the episode.)
MacGyver scaled the fence with O'Neil close behind him. Closer than either one of them would like were the Venezuelan border guards who were not thrilled with the film that they were illegally smuggling out of the country. Less than a half-mile to go and they were home free. Home free until Susan cried out in pain.
"Are you okay?" Mac asked as he turned to look up at her above him on the fence.
"I'm caught on the barbed wire."
She was indeed caught, her hair had fallen loose from the usual assortment of pins and barrettes she used to keep it out of the way and had gotten wrapped but good around the barbed wire at the top of the fence.
He climbed back up to see if he could tug it loose. The border guards were within hearing distance, soon they would be in shooting distance and they were vulnerable.
"You're going to have to cut it off," Susan said grimacing, "We haven't any time."
"Aw man, don't kill me if I ruin it."
"It'll serve me right for wearing it so long at my age. Just do it!"
With one hand, while holding onto his balance on the fence with the other, he reached into his pocket for his Swiss Army knife. Fumbling for a moment to get a blade out one handed, he took the best aim he could, so not to accidentally cut her or himself and started hacking at her hair. Susan closed her eyes.
He finally got the last lock free, a whole lot of it was still on the fence, but there was time to think about that later. The guards were within sight.
"Oh hell." Susan said by way of an understatement.
"We're going to have to jump." MacGyver said, he wasn't any happier about it than she was.
"It's now or never."
Just as the guards opened fire, Mac whirled around on the fence and leapt down. As a shot whizzed past her head, Susan turned herself, closed her eyes, and started reciting the Lord's Prayer as she jumped off the fence.
She had barely gotten to 'forgive us our trespasses' when she felt the ground rise up to meet her, and opened her eyes to find herself landing in a twisted mass of vegetation.
"Are we still alive?"
"Yeah, but we got to run for it now!" Mac shouted, already sprinting for the border Mike.
Susan was right at his heels and the last few feet, they both bolted, half tumbling across the border and down the hill, sprinting for the check station. When they were safely there, Susan crossed herself and silently finished her prayer.
Then she said, "That was close. We almost got through that one with all of our hair."
"For what's it worth, I'm sorry about your hair."
She shrugged, "Hair grows. We got to get moving though, Phoenix needs this film."
Thursday night two weeks later
MacGyver opened the door to the second floor of Barry's Bar and Grill. On rare occasions, Barry used the place for private parties. Thursday nights, Susan had rented it for dance lessons when they were in town. The room was quiet, large empty space when the tables were stacked away. Decent sound system. He peeked around the room looking for Susan. Nope, he was definitely early. Good, perfect time to get those moves down to impress the heck out of Susan. Sam didn't understand why he felt the need to get these particular ones down. It's just that these were the basic steps, if he could get those down, the drill sergeant would let him move on to more difficult ones, building up to the one part that he was good at, which was lifts and dips. He could swing her around like a rag doll, which was impressive because Susan wasn't exactly a 100-pound waif.
Nope, Susan was built more along the lines of a 40s movie star, that is if Marilyn Monroe ever lifted weights and kick boxed. Not that he minded, on those increasingly frequent moments that he allowed himself to think about her in that light, he enjoyed the fact that on top of that great set of legs there was a real woman with curves to prove it. Professionally speaking, he also appreciated that she was strong enough to toss a guy across a crowded room, which she had to do all too frequently.
Okay, MacGyver, stop thinking about her and starting concentrating. You almost had it earlier today.
Lost in concentrating on his dance steps, he didn't hear the door open, and the woman softly enter. She stood watching him, a smile on her face.
When he successfully got the combination, twice in a row, he pumped his fist in the air, "Yes!" Which is when he saw her standing there.
She applauded. "Very good."
There was definitely something different about Susan. She was dressed differently for one thing. Generally when she did wear a dress, it was a cocktail dress for her act, or a very short skirt with a business suit. She didn't usually wear a dress for dance lessons, usually opting for more serviceable outfits. Today, she was wearing a gray floral dress, possibly vintage. But her hair was definitely different. Shorter, now only shoulder length, it fell free with only a small clip holding it out of her face. It was redder now too.
"Your hair's different." Oh smooth MacGyver, really smooth.
"Yeah, I decided that it was time to grow up and go with it a bit shorter. You know, the hatchet job didn't help it much either, especially trying to explain it to my stylist without explaining it explaining it. Also went a little redder than it was before, thought I'd brighten up the highlights. And I'm boring you with girl talk."
"Maybe a little. But I definitely like it, it suits you." More than suits you, it really draws attention to those eyes of yours that I'm always in danger of getting lost in. Stop it MacGyver.
She grinned. "Thank you."
"So are you ready? I've got the combination down, want to try them together?"
"Well, actually, I was going to switch gears with the foxtrot tonight, but you've been working soo hard."
The foxtrot? I actually know how to fox trot. I mean, it's been years, but I think I still remember it. "I know that one already."
"You do? Good, saves me the trouble."
"Why that dance?"
"Would you prefer a polka?"
"No, why a polka? You're not dragging me to a wedding are you?"
Susan looked down sheepishly.
"You are. Whose wedding are you attempting to, rather lamely I would add, sweet talk me into going to?"
"Well, um, my cousin Theresa is getting married back in Brooklyn and I can't face them alone."
"Your family? In Brooklyn? No way."
"Oh come on, it'll be fun."
"Not the way you always talk about them. Besides, won't your quote overbearing intrusive busybody end quote of a grandmother think we're a couple and start planning our wedding right on the spot?"
"She might, but my grandfather will set her straight. Fine, I'll ask Jack Dalton."
No way. "You don't like Jack Dalton."
"I never said I didn't like him."
"Yes, you did."
"Well, he's not my favorite person, but I bet he's a lot of fun at parties, plus he'll drink with me."
This is fun, time to see if she's bluffing. "Okay, go call him then."
"I will, only, he's well . . .."
"He's not you." What did I just say?
What did she just say? Okay, my grandfather always told me that when it comes to women, a wise man never asks a woman what she means when it's obvious that she let something slip. I've always fancied myself a wise man. So I'm not going to ask.
"Don't make me beg, please, pretty please, I'm desperate here. I'm not seeing any one right now, hell, I've only been out once in the last three months and I don't even remember his name! I'm in the middle of a huge dry spell and I have to spend a weekend at a wedding with my family! Have I mentioned that I'm 37? Because my grandmother will. Please say you'll come rescue me? I'll let you indulge in the whole white knight thing if you'll only come."
"You know, you don't have to go." Yes she did.
Susan resorted to the one thing she knew she had over him. She walked up to him and looked right into his eyes and pleaded.
Damn. I wish she wouldn't do that. She knows I have this weakness for beautiful women and she exploits it way too much for her own good. Man, she's done it now; I'm going to have to say yes.
"Okay, okay, you win. I'll go. I'll even wear a tie. You just got to do one thing for me."
"Teach me the rest of this dance."
She smiled and walked over to the stereo system, locating the CD they had been using last time. She pressed play and a swing tune filled the room.
She grabbed his hand and started to lead him through the dance.
Why did I let her talk me into this? Damn that weakness of mine. Double damn the fact that she's becoming my main weakness, infuriating woman. I don't even like her half the time so why the heck does she get to me like this?
Reminds me of when she met Jack the first time. After she shot him down cold (good girl) for the third time, he comes over to me and tells me that she's a hell of a woman and I should "go for it." So I told him that she wasn't my type. So he says, nah, your type are beautiful women that turn out to be hired killers. Susan's a hired killer who just happens to be a beautiful woman. Which would make her my type.
Jack Dalton is *never* right. He's certainly not right about O'Neil. So why the heck am I sitting on a plane with her going all the way across the country to spend a weekend with her family?
Why did I ask him? I should have looked up some old boyfriend, goodness knows I have plenty of those; many of them are still alive and living perfectly legitimate lives out there somewhere. Heck, I dated that ballplayer for a long time; wonder what he's doing now? He's probably living some nice suburban life somewhere, not living in the ultimate bachelor pad with his grown son and hacking his partner's hair off to rescue her from barbed wire. Lord, this is what my life has come down to.
No, instead O'Neil, you put on a dress, a dress! And then, you exploit that weakness he has to make him come with you to meet *your* family. And you *like* doing that to him. Trouble is, he doesn't know that half the time, you lose yourself in his eyes when you're trying to get your way. Or maybe he does know that. Damn him.
Worse part was the other night, we danced a little too long, held each other a little too close, and enjoyed it a little too much.
Far worse, I asked him because I wanted him here because he belongs here with me, braving my family, being my friend. Does that mean that he, oh; I'm not even going to finish that thought.
"Are you decent?" Susan yelled through the connecting door between their hotel rooms. God bless having a date, there just weren't two separate rooms available at any of her relative's houses.
"Well, I'd like to think of myself as being decent." came the response.
Susan sighed. "That's not what I meant MacGyver. I'm coming in and you better damn well have clothes on."
"But . . ."
He didn't quite get the thought finished as Susan pushed open the door and then stood there blinking as a shirtless Mac stared back at her, rather surprised.
Oh Lord, I should have been more specific about how much clothes. Eyes up, Susan, do not stare at his chest.
She was anyway.
"Yeah? Um, I'm sorry. Maybe, I should uh, let you finish."
"Right, um, right. I'll be right back."
Both of them were a bit flushed. Mac grabbed his shirt off the bed and bolted into the bathroom.
Susan was pretending to be absorbed in the hotel directory when Mac emerged. She looked up at him and they both just laughed.
"Do I get to be the next to barge into a room?" He asked with a wink.
"I don't think so." She said, shaking her head at him.
"You're no fun."
"I'm a lot of fun, just not with you."
They both stopped and considered that comment for a moment.
Mac decided to switch gears, "So what is the plan tonight?"
"The plan, my dear, is dinner at my grandmother's house. Theresa's family is having the rehearsal dinner, so what's left of the family is gathering at Mama's." Susan got up and gathered up her belongings.
"Oh boy, I get to meet Mama first thing off the bat, huh?"
"You'll do fine. Do I look okay?" Susan was oddly in need of reassurance. He wondered why.
Susan was wearing another floral dress; a lot more conservative than anything he'd ever seen her in before. It was pretty, flattering, but it gave her a sweetness and innocence that he'd never associated with her before. Kinda made him wonder if that's what she was like when she was younger, before life and her choices had changed her.
"You look great, Susan, really."
"Good. Before we go, I really, really want to thank you for doing this for me."
"Hey, like you've always said, I can't help rescuing damsels in distress."
She smiled, rolled her eyes at him. "Just the same, Sir MacGyver, you didn't have to do this for me, and I'm glad you did."
Then she hugged him. They lingered for just a moment longer than necessary and then Susan backed away.
"Okay, let's go."
The cab took them into Susan's old neighborhood, and she occasionally pointed out landmarks they went by.
"I've always wanted to ask. How come you don't sound like you're from Brooklyn?"
"Not everyone from Brooklyn sounds like they do on television. I will admit that whatever touch I had, I lost over the years. You have to blend when you're in my previous line of work and a generic Midwest accent seems to work best for me. Course, going home might change things. But that's okay, I've been around you so long I think I'm starting to mimic your Minnesotan twang."
"I've found myself saying 'you bet', an awful lot."
Mac merely groaned, saved from more abuse by the cab coming to a stop. Susan paid the cabbie and then there they were standing in front of her grandparents' house.
Susan took a deep breath. "You ready?"
"Oh, you bet."
He shook his head at her, and then swept an arm in front of him. "Ladies first, even though you would say you weren't one."
"You beat me to it."
"And you're dragging your heels, O'Neil. I'm sure they don't bite. But you would know better than me."
"You're right, I am. It's just family." She did, however, hold out her hand. "I need some moral support."
"That's what I'm here for, I guess. That and the free food." But he took her hand and let her lead him up the steps to the front door.
Susan rang the bell and waited for just a moment. An elderly man answered the door. Mac guessed that he was Susan's grandfather. He guessed that the man's age had to be over 80, although like his granddaughter, he looked younger. The man had a bright smile and to Mac's surprise, the same deep green eyes that Susan had.
"Susie!" the old man shouted, and then shouted over his shoulder, "Angela, Susie's here!"
"Susie?" mouthed MacGyver to his partner who gave him a deadly stare.
"Papa," she cried, giving the man a hug, "It is so good to see you."
"Who's your friend, Susie?" asked her grandfather noticing Mac for the first time.
"Papa, this is my friend MacGyver. Mac, this is my grandfather Shawn O'Neil."
"Pleased to meet you, sir." Mac said shaking Shawn's offered hand.
"Likewise, son. I suppose Susan talked you into coming so that her grandmother and my daughters couldn't try to set her up with some available man? I do love my girls, but they do have a quite the preoccupation with getting our Susie married."
"Well, it was something like that, right Susie?" Mac asked with a smirk, one that he shared with Susan's grandfather. Mac knew right away that he was going to like the man.
Susan half growled at him. He was going to pay for that use of the dreaded nickname. Papa could get away with it, nobody else could.
But she turned back to her grandfather, "I guess so. But you'll like him, when he's on his best behavior. Then even I occasionally like him."
"Look at all the abuse I'm getting from her, and to think I gave up a perfectly good weekend to come all the way out here to do her a favor." Mac protested to Shawn.
"Well, you could always leave her here, the city's a nice place to visit." Shawn said, winking at Mac, "I'm sure my wife could find someone to keep her busy."
"Um, no," said Susan, taking Mac's arm. "I'm sorry, I'll be good."
Shawn just chuckled and showed them into the living room. Susan whispered, "You are going to pay."
"Really? I'm looking forward to it." He whispered back, he had the upper hand this weekend and she knew it.
Then Susan's grandmother came into the room. She was exactly how Susan had described her, which Mac hadn't completely believed. Susan had said she looked just like a woman in those old spaghetti sauce ads and she was right.
"Susan Angelissa! You are looking wonderful!" The older woman nodded toward MacGyver, "And you've brought a date."
"Hello, Mama," said Susan, not completely masking her sigh, "Mama, this is my friend MacGyver. Mac, my grandmother Angela."
Mac braced himself for the inevitable hug and jumping to conclusions. He got the hug, but Mama was stopped from the inevitable wedding planning by Papa's interjection of, "Angela, dear, they're just friends. He's simply escorting her for the weekend so that she can have some peace for once."
"What do you mean peace for once, Shawn?"
"Dearest, you know that you are always trying to find someone for Susie. I know you want her to be happy, as do I. But I think you should let her find someone herself. After all, if you had listened to your grandmother, you wouldn't have married me, now would you?"
The end of the argument was a beautiful thing to behold. Despite what Susan may have said about her grandmother, there was obviously an enduring love between her grandparents, as they melted together like twenty something lovebirds.
Unconsciously, Mac had put his arm around Susan, neither one of them wanting to interrupt or disturb Shawn and Angela's moment.
I wonder if I'll ever find something like that. Mac looked down at his partner and wondered if she had had the same thought. If I haven't already let it get away.
A few moments passed and then a man entered the room that caused Susan to stiffen. Mac went to remove his arm, but she ever so subtly leaned back into him, causing him to stop dead as well.
"Dad." She said simply and then MacGyver understood.
He was in his sixties and he had the air of preoccupation. Susan had explained that he was a college professor and that he tended to disappear into his books to escape the real world. The real world included a motherless daughter who had never had that void filled for her.
"Susan," he nodded toward her. "Good to see you."
"Really? It's amazing that you're seeing me at all."
"Susan . . .." Mac's voice had a warning tone.
Her father merely blinked at her.
"Fine, I'm not going to do this right now. This is Theresa's wedding and a family event. I'm sorry, Dad."
"I do try, Susan," he replied softly. "Who's your friend, Susan? You haven't brought anyone home in a long time."
"I know you do. Dad, this is my friend MacGyver. Mac, my father Dr. Peter O'Neil."
That initially awkward encounter being over, another slew of O'Neils and half-O'Neils and god only knows whatever relatives swarmed into Mama's house over the course of the evening. Mac got introduced to all of them, although he couldn't remember a single name. He was amazed that Susan did. He did wonder how a woman who was raised amongst so many people could be so alone inside. That was something that he was going to find out.
The O'Neils were a relatively good-looking clan. He had always thought of Susan as being relatively unique in her beauty, but he found that while she still stood out in the crowd, she couldn't be confused for anything other than an O'Neil. Many of them had those startling green eyes and a rather exotic combination of Irish and Italian colorings.
They also certainly knew how to party. If a pre-wedding party was this exciting, he wasn't sure he was going to make it through the whole wedding. Especially since there was just about noone else over the age of twenty-one that wasn't drinking. When the piano got rolled out and the drinking songs began, he ducked out into a hallway. Susan found him there.
"Some party huh?" She asked, well into her third beer.
"Uh, yes, maybe you should have brought Jack after all."
"Oh come on, it's more fun when you're sober, you know what everybody did."
"I'm thinking about getting some air, want to come?"
"Oh, sure, why not."
They got as far as the door when Susan stopped to look at the enlarged photograph of the bride and groom that was on display.
"I haven't met Theresa's fiancé yet." She said by way of explanation. The next noise was the sound of her bottle hitting the floor. The Brooklyn crept back into her voice with her exclamation of "Omigawd!"
"What?" Mac asked, running over. He glanced at the photograph. "Wait a minute, I know him."
"Obviously, you do too."
"Outside, now." Susan said suddenly quite sober.
They barely made it into her grandparent's tiny backyard when Susan turned to him and said, "You start."
"His name is Roger Delaney. I met him; let's see back in '90 I think it was. He was a Phoenix field operative in deep deep cover in an international drug ring. Problem was he was in such deep cover that when the government put a hit out on members of the organization, he was targeted as well."
"A covert hit, of course." Susan added she was staring at him strangely. "Go on."
"Well, to make a long story short, Phoenix put me in to get him out and foil the hit man. He was good, never saw him coming. But I managed to foil the attempt, got Roger out of there. Of course, after testifying, he was supposed to have gone into the witness protection program."
"So that was you," Susan breathed. "I thought it was you, in fact I was pretty sure, but now I know."
Mac looked at her, realization dawning over him. "And that wasn't a hit man, that was a hit woman, that was you."
Susan bowed. "Yep. You were good. I tip my hat to you. Of course, that wasn't the first time you foiled me."
"Cocoa Beach." He said, flashing back to a fleeting memory of the one time he had seen the sharpshooter clearly, not the face but enough to remember a brunette woman. "Why haven't you ever brought that up?"
"You never asked. I don't make a habit of bringing up my previous profession in front of you anyway. When I met you, I wondered if you remembered Cocoa Beach, we came very close to meeting and you came very close to catching me. But you never gave any indication that you remembered me, so I've never brought it up."
"In all honesty, I wasn't entirely sure until tonight, just like you weren't sure about me and the Delaney case, although I know you knew it was me in Cocoa Beach."
"Yeah, but you don't say to a potential employer, hi remember me, I almost killed you. Nor do you bring it up when you've become good friends with the person either. It wasn't personal, it was business. I'm glad that I wasn't able to finish the job though, if that means anything to you."
I wanted to know more about her. So now I find out that she tried to kill me twice. Got to love that brutal honesty, another woman would have lied. Not Susan, she freely admits to it.
"It does, I mean that you're glad that I'm still alive."
"Of course I am glad! You're my partner, the closest thing I've got to a real friend. And to top it all off, you were a formidable opponent, I was almost glad I botched it because I wanted to tangle with you again. Never got the chance because I quit, but hey, now we're on the same team."
"Gee, thanks I think. But it was a long time ago." "I'm not in the business of doing favors for professional killers," I said to Murdoc years ago, so here I am spending a weekend with one! When exactly did my life get this complicated?
"Yeah, can't change the past, just have to focus on the present. Which would be you and me and finding out why Roger Delaney is out in the open. Deep cover, huh? Man, I wish the government did its homework."
"Well, willing to crash a rehearsal dinner?"
"See, I knew you'd be fun."
The rehearsal dinner was just starting to break up when Susan and MacGyver arrived. After convincing her Aunt Margaret that she just had to talk to the bride and groom and it was important, Susan finally managed to get Theresa and Roger alone in a room.
"Ugh, I hate family get-togethers!" She groaned, calling Mac in from the foyer where he had been trying to stay out of the way.
"Susan, what is this about?" asked Theresa, looking very nervous.
"Trust me, Theresa, this is very important. I'm just waiting for my friend to get away from our family and up here."
Mac finally made his way up the stairs to the bedroom that Susan had hidden away in.
"I couldn't get away from your aunts, Susan. I think we may be engaged."
"Really, dear? I like really big diamonds." She said, closing the door behind him.
"MacGyver?" asked Roger, obviously shocked. "I didn't expect to see you, well ever again."
"Me either, Delaney. Aren't you supposed to be in the witness protection program and not getting married in front of hundreds of people?"
"What?" asked Theresa, looking like she was going to faint.
Susan took her arm and led her to the bed. "Sit down, Theresa. I'd like some explanation myself. My friend MacGyver knew your fiancé about seven years ago when he rescued him from a hit. It appears that Roger is supposed to be in hiding for his own protection."
"What did you do?" Susan's cousin asked.
"Honey, it wasn't exactly like that. I mean it was, but it wasn't. I was working for a Foundation; I was involved in a drug operation, trying to get it shut down. Only there was a case of mistaken identity and I got put on a list of people that were supposed to be taken out, if you know what I mean."
"I'm from Brooklyn, I know what that means. But Roger, if that's all true, aren't you in danger?" asked Theresa.
"Well, I, . . .." Roger stammered.
"You are Delaney. When the drug ring found out you were testifying against them, they put hits out on you. That's why you got put in the federal witness protection program." Susan said, and then realized that both Roger and Theresa were staring at her, as if wondering how she knew that information. None of her family members knew about her occupation, so she quickly said, "I work for the same place as MacGyver does, I have the same information. But my point is, what are you doing here, putting my family in danger?"
"I love Theresa. I have for a long time. I got sick of living a lie so I came back here, asked my girl to marry me. Can't I live a normal life?"
"It's not always that easy, Roger." said MacGyver, looking at Susan. I know what you're going to say. Just go ahead and tell him we'll see what we can do. Someone deserves to have a normal life, even we never do.
Susan exchanged a glance with MacGyver. That was weird, almost like I heard him tell me something. I guess I know him too well. I also know what we have to do. "Roger, we'll see what we can do to make sure your wedding goes on schedule." She said finally.
"Oh thank you, Susan." cried Theresa, hugging her. "The wedding's at 2, though do you think you'll have time?"
"Oh sure, nothing to worry about." said MacGyver, "Now, why don't you two kids go finish your party. Susan and I need to talk."
Soon as the lovebirds had left the room, Susan collapsed backwards on the bed. "Why the hell did I say that?"
"Because I would have said it if you didn't."
"I've become a sucker. They just sat there so in love, so . . .."
"Yeah, I know, I know. Got to me too."
"Normal life. I guess we all want that."
"Wonder what normal is like. I've never had a normal life. An exciting life, maybe, normal no."
"Same here. Maybe some day." Susan sank into silence for a moment.
"So got any idea where we start?" Mac asked, finally.
"We go back to the hotel and start calling in favors. You do your contacts, I'll do mine. See if there's still a hit out on Roger Delaney and if there is, how much it will cost to stop it."
"Think money will do?"
"It usually does. There were a lot of people on that hit list, MacGyver, I’m pretty sure I can find out who's left who would care about Delaney."
"Do I want to know how many of those names you drew?"
Susan stood up to face him, looked into his eyes and her voice dropped to a deadly serious whisper, "Mac, if you care about me, you don't want to know anything more about my past. Just pretend I started my professional career when I walked into your office ten months ago. It's better that we leave it buried."
I do care which is why I'm having a hard time letting it go. "I do care about you, Susan, it's just . . .."
"Mac, I'm serious, you don't want to know anything more. Because if you did, you'd stop caring."
Susan was in her room, calling in one of her favors. As far as he could tell through the crack in the adjoining door, it was some guy named Frankie and she was really laying on the Brooklyn accent and the charm for this guy.
He picked the best person for the job, he looked at his watch, 9pm, it would be 6pm in Los Angeles, and hopefully Pete would still be at his desk.
"Peter Thornton here."
"MacGyver! I haven't heard from you in a while. How is my niece? Where are you?"
"Susan's fine. We're in Brooklyn, believe it or not."
"Brooklyn? I don't remember giving you anything there."
"You didn't. Susan's attending her cousin's wedding and I'm well, um I'm kinda her date."
Mac could hear Pete laughing on the other side of the line. "How'd she rope you into that one?"
"Darned if I know. But Pete, seriously, I need you to do some checking up on Roger Delaney for me."
"Roger Delaney? Isn't he the operative you rescued from that government hit seven years ago? Why are you interested in him?"
"Because he's supposed to be in the protection plan, but he's not, he's the groom at this particular wedding. Which doesn't make Susan all that happy, because if there's still a hit out on him, that puts thousands of O'Neils at risk."
Pete chuckled, "There's hardly thousands of them, MacGyver."
"Pete, you didn't just come back from dinner at her grandmother's and crashing the rehearsal dinner, I've never seen so many people that are related in my life. Could you run the check?"
"I'm running it right now," Pete said, Mac could hear typing on the computer. "It may take a few minutes."
"That's good, Pete, because I really need to talk to you."
"Let me guess, it's about Susan."
"Yeah," Mac tiptoed over to the dividing door, he could hear Susan's 'But Frankie' giggle, which made him cringe, he closed the adjoining door with his foot. "That's better. Pete, take a wild guess who the government operative was that was after Delaney."
"Susan." Pete's guess was not at all wild, like he knew somehow.
"And remember Cocoa Beach back in '89?"
"Was that when you were protecting that Russian scientist who came over to work with the space program?"
"Yes and there was that female sharpshooter after us?"
"Yeah. Listen Pete, how much do you know about Susan's past?"
"I've read her file, MacGyver, I know just about everything. But I'm not telling you any of it."
"Because she doesn't want you to know. Because her past is just that her past. And I'm honoring her request. Why do you need to know? Trust me, you don't want to know what she's done."
"Why hasn't she served time?"
"Because most of her contracts were with the government, obviously that keeps them from prosecuting her for any potential crimes in relationship to those contracts. They could set her up, but Susan's a smart woman, she's got enough on people to keep them silent."
"Why haven't they gone after her for leaving?"
"The Phoenix Foundation. She's been working with us in one capacity or another since she left her previous profession. In our agreements with the government, she shares with us knowledge on an as needed basis. But much of what she knows, she keeps to herself. She's had specialized government training, they can trust her with her information, no one could get it out of her."
"No, I'm not. Susan was good, very good. If she hadn't been a heavy drinker, she'd have probably been a better assassin than even Murdoc."
"Why do you feel the need to know that much? Susan's been as forthright with you about her background as she is allowed to be. Despite the rough patch, she's told me that you two have gotten along very well. So why the sudden interest?"
"Because I think I might have um," Mac stumbled. This was his best friend he was talking to, but this was also Susan's uncle. " Oh heck, Pete, I think I'm starting to have feelings for her."
There was a deep sigh from the other end of the line. Not what Mac had expected to hear. "What's wrong, Pete?"
"I was afraid this was going to happen. I love my niece, but Susan's always trying to fill that void she's got in her life. First it was alcohol, and then it was men. Sometimes it's been both. She gets herself involved with these people, and then she gets scared and bolts, which means that I end up having to take care of her. She had to leave Los Angeles because of a failed romance."
"So you sent her to me?"
"Well, she's not your type."
"Thank you! Someone else whose figured that one out."
"If she's not your type . . .."
"She's not my type, Pete. But she's got this, I don't know, there's just something about her that I want really badly. And that came out very wrong."
Pete laughed, "So you want my advice?"
"It would be nice."
"Take it one day at a time. If there's something between you, just go with it. But don't rush it, or she'll be on the next flight somewhere else. Final piece of advice, there's no other woman quite like Susan, so don't treat her like any other woman."
"I certainly agree with that last statement."
"Well, here's that information on Delaney. The original government hit expired in 1990 after we revealed that he was in fact an agent. The drug ring put out hits on his life and he was placed in the witness protection program. He spent the next six years in the protection plan before they lost track of him. Apparently he's spent the last year or so living quietly in New York City. An engagement to Theresa O'Neil was announced two months ago. There is believed to be at least one ring man from the drug connection still operating, a Giovanni Vispenio. It's possible that he still may after Delaney. Although Delaney has been living in New York City under his own name for a year and nothing has happened so far."
"Hmm, okay, thanks Pete. I'll see what Susan's come up with. And, Pete, thanks for the advice."
"No problem, take care of yourself MacGyver."
"You too, Pete."
He pushed the adjoining door open. Susan was lying on her belly on the bed in her room, her laptop turned on.
She didn't look up, she said, "Frankie says that the hit is still out there, but it's been cold so long he's not sure if anyone would pick it up. Did you get anything?"
"A name, Giovanni Vispenio. Pete also said that Delaney's been living here with his real name for a year."
"Huh, interesting. What else did Uncle Pete come up with?"
"Not much we don't already know, why?"
"I just wondered why you were on the phone so long with him, that's all."
"Just talking to him, haven't seen him in a while."
"You asked him about my past didn't you?" She said her eyes flashing as she finally looked up at him.
"Yeah, but he didn't give me anything. He said that you didn't want me to know and that he's respecting your wishes."
"Why don't you want me to know?"
"Because some of it is classified, because some of it could get both of us killed if I don't have it locked away, and some of it is too painful to share. Mostly though because I don't want it coming between us any more than it already has."
He surprised her, he came and sat next to her on the bed, "You're right. I don't approve of what you used to do. I don't particularly like the fact that you tried to kill me twice . . ."
"That's only because you got in the way of my target and you drew
the fire onto yourself. I made a point not to go after anyone else. Which is why
you saved those people."
"Susan, that's not what I'm saying. I said I didn't like that stuff. But I also know that you're not particularly proud of what you used to do. I'm sure you're proud of your skills, and you should be, but not of the way that you used them. You walked away; you've tried to do good for other people. I can respect that."
"But can you respect me? Or is all that you're ever really going to see a killer?"
"Would I be sitting in this hotel room having this discussion with you in Brooklyn the night before your cousin's wedding that I'm taking you to if I didn't respect you? If I didn't see the woman behind that previous profession?"
"So where do we go from here?"
"I stop harping on what's past and start over. Hi, my name is MacGyver and I'll be your partner."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. MacGyver, my name's Susan O'Neil, Peter Thornton's niece. I'm sorry he had to bug you to find me a job, but you know uncles."
"It's Mac, Ms. O'Neil, and it's no trouble at all."
"No need to use the Ms, It's just O'Neil or Susan. So what's our first assignment?"
"Well, O'Neil, it seems that we have to stop a hit at a wedding. Up to masquerading as my date, while I fend off your overzealous matchmaking aunts and we foil a potential disaster?"
"That sounds like my idea of a perfect evening."
"Then maybe you can start by seeing what you've got on Giovanni Vispenio, while I go find some coffee. Want anything?"
"You're drinking coffee again?"
"Yeah, best laid plans to give it up. Want some?"
It had been a long night; they had finally decided to call it quits sometime around 2am. By that time, they had a pretty good idea of what might potentially go down at the wedding and who might be involved. They just had to make sure it didn't happen.
They hadn't bothered to lock the adjoining door, so about eleven o'clock after a befuddled room service guy had delivered two meals worth of breakfast to MacGyver's room, Mac was quietly knocking on the door. When Susan didn't answer, he pushed the door open, and nearly dropped the tray.
Susan was still asleep, curls tousled on the pillow, light from the cracks around the curtains bringing out the red highlights. She had pushed off some of the covers in her sleep, enough to give him a tantalizing glimpse of flesh clad in some flimsy little silk thing. One of the straps of her nightgown had slid down during the night revealing just enough of the soft curves of her breast to make him stop to catch his breath. And the breakfast tray, which he finally got enough of his wits together to set down on the dresser.
You never said you were only attracted to her mind. Man, it's been a long time. Too long.
As much as he wanted to just stand there and take in the sights, they had work to do. Which meant that he had to get things professional as soon as possible, even if it meant walking Susan up, which in all likelihood would mean catching her off guard in a vulnerable position. Which would put her in a mood that would be enough of a bucket of ice water to squelch the definite wave of desire that was threatening to overwhelm him.
"O'Neil," He called from a safe position, all the way across the room. Never mind that I want to go over there and touch her. That would be a bad idea, very bad. "O'Neil, wake up."
"Mac?" Susan's voice sounded groggy and half awake. She rather blurrily looked around the room.
"It's past eleven, sleeping beauty, it's time to get up."
That's when Susan realized what she was wearing. What's more, she realized that the blanket wasn't on her. "MacGyver! Ever hear of knocking?"
"I did knock," He tried to lighten things up, "I guess this means we're even for last night. I brought breakfast."
Susan finally covered herself up. "Out! I'll let you back in when I'm finished getting dressed."
"But what about breakfast?" He dodged the pillow that she launched at him.
"Take it with you!"
It was one o'clock and the crowds of O'Neils were already starting to gather at St. Anne's Church for Theresa's wedding. Mac and Susan were also there, walking down corridors, looking for places where someone could hide.
"I wish I had known about Delaney earlier, I could have told them to have someone check invitations." Susan sighed, as they stood in the choir looking over the pews below.
"This would be a great vantage point," Mac mused.
"Yeah, I was thinking that myself. Which would make it not the spot a hit man would use. Too obvious."
Sometimes it is helpful to know your territory. "So where would be a better place?"
"I'm thinking," Susan said pacing the length of the small balcony. "Wait a minute . . .."
She was down the steps before she had even finished her thought.
"Susan, where are you going?"
Susan had broken into a run now, which was pretty amazing; he'd never seen anyone run that fast wearing heels. He caught up with her on the other side of the church. By then, half of the guests were staring at them in amazement.
"Everybody, just stay back!" Susan yelled as she tried to open a door on the other side of the church. "It's locked."
"The priest would have the key," offered one of the guests, "But he's in with the couple."
"We don't have time for that," said Susan. "Mac, all I have are fancy hairpins, not worth anything when it comes to picking that lock."
"Already on it," He pulled his Swiss Army knife out of his suit pocket. It was an old lock, easy to pop. "Okay, everybody stay down here. Someone may want to call the police."
"Uncle Mike is a cop," Susan said as she started up the stairs.
"Of course he is." Mac muttered to himself as he followed her up.
The stairs led to the bell tower. In the bell tower was a small opening that looked straight down to the altar. Susan stopped dead at the top of the stairs and hugged the wall, Mac followed suit, following her lead.
"Right there," she whispered, titling her head slightly.
There was someone there all right. Someone with a wicked looking gun.
"So, I found him, now it's your turn, work some of that MacGyver magic."
"Thanks." He looked around the small room. There wasn't much to work with. Tiny little room, them hiding in the stairwell, nothing at all. Just his Swiss Army knife and Susan's . . .. Oh, she was going to kill him.
"How much do you like those shoes?"
Susan sighed, "I always bring an extra pair when I'm with you. Just be kind to them." She stooped down to remove her shoes; just then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. "Aw, shit."
The hit man walked into her field of vision and thus she was in his line of vision as well. He raised the gun and took aim and fired. Susan hit the ground. He didn't see MacGyver, who hurled one of Susan's shoes right at the hit man, hitting him square in the face. Off balance, the man dropped his gun. Susan scooted across the floor, grabbing the gun and rolling out of the way. Mac jumped the guy and wrestled him to the floor. Susan's Uncle Mike had sprinted up the stairs just in time to see this.
"What's going on?" Mike asked.
"The man's a hit man," Susan said from the floor. "It turns out Roger once did some undercover work and there was a hit out on him. He's got a rather nasty looking piece over here."
"I heard it go off, did anyone get hit?" Mike asked.
"No, he saw me in the stairwell but I managed to duck."
Mike and one of his buddies from the force took the guy away. Statements would have to be made, so the wedding would have to be delayed slightly.
Mac walked over to Susan and gave her a hand up. "Are you really okay?"
"The dress is ruined, I think I have a bruise, but otherwise, I think I'm okay. That was really dumb. I can't believe I was so stupid."
"What made you come up here?"
"Just played a professional hutch. I also swore I saw someone up here."
"Well, you should be happy, you saved everybody."
"Hmm, on the plus side, the shoes look okay."
"We got to get down to the station to make our statement, and as Delaney as to as well, I guess the wedding's going to have to be later. Tell you what, I'll buy you a new dress."
"Really? That's sweet. I figured you'd take the excuse to duck out of the rest of this wedding."
"And miss all this fun? "
"Told you it would be. Sooner we get this statement taken care of, the sooner we can get to what O'Neils' do best."
"Which would be?"
"Celebrating life and love."
"Now that's something anybody could get behind."
Statements having been made, the group made their way to the church where even with the delay, the wedding still went without a hitch. A near brush with death made Theresa and Roger's love all the sweeter and even usually cynical Susan brushed away a tear during the ceremony.
The reception though was a typical O'Neil fete. Music, laughter, and champagne flowed freely and all generations of the clan thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Susan was wearing the dress that Mac bought her. That had been more than a little strange. Susan had to admit though; he was a sport about it. And where he had picked up his taste, she wasn't sure. He had picked the dress as soon as they walked in the store and he was right about it. It was green; the same color as her eyes, and the cut was incredibly flattering. Considering he usually looked like he got dressed in the dark, why he had lucked out on this dress amazed her. Either that, or he had been spending too much time thinking about what looked good on her. She in return had bought him a tie, mostly because she absolutely abhorred his taste in them.
He had just finished proving to her that he did indeed remember the fox trot when her grandfather cut in. Willing to sit this one out, Mac scanned the room for a place away from the "aunt patrol" and succeeded in finding a group of older men who were telling war stories in the corner.
"I suppose you're not going to tell me everything about what happened this afternoon, right?" Papa asked.
"Papa, you know not to ask questions."
"Okay, then how about I ask you about your 'friend' then."
"He is my friend and my partner. We work together, Papa. That's all."
"Susie, you know, you've always been my favorite, that's why I think I know better. I've watched you two this weekend. He's very protective of you."
"He's doing me a favor, he knows that Mama and the aunts are always trying to find me a man, so he's hanging around to get rid of them." Susan replied. Though I never asked him to. Although I've been enjoying having him hang around me, letting him put his arm around me, as if we belonged together.
"Then he buys you a dress."
"The other one got ruined, I didn't have anything else to wear. He was being nice."
"I think you protest too much, Susie. I'm an old man and I know you very well. So I'll let you make up your own mind. But I think you two look good together. I also think you care quite a bit about this man."
"I do, Papa. Which is why . . .. Never mind, I think I'm just going to have to work this out on my own."
"Susie, take some advice from me. Don't let your mind contradict what your heart wants. That's what your father always did and look where he is. I've always thought it was a shame."
"You always followed your heart, didn't you Papa?"
"Of course, my dear. I married the love of my life, even though we were from two different countries, two different traditions. We've made it work for sixty years and I wouldn't have changed it for anything."
"Thank you, Papa." Susan kissed his cheek. "If you don't mind, I think I'm going to go find my partner."
The older men had gotten out the cigars, so MacGyver took it as his cue to make a quick exit. Susan wasn't on the dance floor any longer and he couldn't see her or her grandfather anywhere. Giving up, he decided that getting some fresh air might actually be a good idea.
A very good idea.
He went out the double doors leading out to the restaurant's garden and found Susan standing on the patio. She was pretty much all alone, which meant for once in an entire weekend full of her relatives, they could be alone.
Slow or she bolts. Slow or I'll lose my head and her at the same time.
Susan was taking a deep breath, admiring the way the multi-colored lights twinkling in the bushes made it seem like they were a million miles from Brooklyn. She was also thinking about what her grandfather had said.
But my heart isn't used to leading, it tries but my head always gets in the way. And my heart isn't sure what it wants. But it knows it needs to at least try. Very slowly.
She nearly jumped when she felt warm breath on the back of her neck, but relaxed when she heard a familiar voice say, "Haven't you ever heard that a guest shouldn't be prettier than the bride?"
She smiled; she usually made some witty comeback, but in response to her new outlook just said, "Thank you."
"Wow, O'Neil is that you? No snappy comebacks, no retorts, just thank you?"
"Yes, it's me, MacGyver," she said, echoing his tone. "Can't a girl just take a compliment when she gets one?"
"If that's the case then," He said, moving closer, taking the risk, brushing his lips against the nape of her neck, "You are definitely prettier than the bride."
She stifled a gasp at his touch, did not slap him, and did not say anything. Don't stop doing that.
Encouraged by her reaction, he went further, a couple more kisses up her neck, trailing them around and up to her ear. She shivered, leaning into him.
"If you don't kiss me, MacGyver," she whispered, "I'm going to slap you."
"We don't want that," He said, moving around to face her.
"Not at all," came her slightly breathless reply.
So much for slow. He ran a hand up the side of her face gently, playing with a wayward curl that had fallen in her face. They stood there just looking at each other for what seemed like forever. Then he leaned down and captured her lips with his.
Susan was reminded of her first kiss, years ago, possibly in this very spot during an aunt's wedding. The kiss had all the sweetness of that bygone kiss with all the passion of maturity. She had never been kissed quite like this before.
Susan tasted like chocolate covered strawberries. That's what he was reminded of, that and summer days after a rainstorm. He remembered the dream he had of kissing her and this was nothing like that. This was sweeter, much sweeter. With just enough underlying passion to make him want more. And to wonder what would happen when this woman's passion was fully unleashed.
They finally broke the kiss, but not the embrace.
"Susan, um, I've been thinking that, um."
"You'd like to find out where this could be headed?" She finished hopefully.
"Exactly," he leaned down and kissed her again this time softly. "By the way, I'm glad I came. I think I'm possibly having the best night I've had in years."
"Maybe someday, I could give you better." She said meaningfully.
He laughed, "Not that I'm not looking forward to that, but I'd like to take this slow if you don't mind. "
"I know," She said with a smile, "I'm okay with taking it slow. That's what I want too. Hey, remember that song?"
"How can I forget? I nearly took off two of your toes when you dragged me on the dance floor."
"You've gotten so much better since then. Dance with me?"
"Out here? Aren't you cold?"
"No, I’m not cold. Besides, think about it: no aunts, no Mama, no knowing smiles. Just you and me and the music."
"In that case, what the heck."
"Hmm, I think I'm going to have to lock that connecting door tonight."
"I think you're right, Susan, I think you're right."