When I was a kid, I used to ask my grandfather a lot of questions. When those questions were about things that Harry didn't think I was ready to know, he would tell me, 'Knowledge is like a loaded gun, Bud; if you use it wrong, people can get hurt.' And then he'd answer my question anyway and try to make me understand.
Wish I'd listened better. As usual, Harry was right.
Weapon of Opportunity
Part One: Protect and Serve
I remember those words of Harry's running through my head as I walked past the door of the police station. I had gotten a note from Pete telling me to meet him there, along with an officer called Detective Mahey. That was all the note said, but the briefness of the message set off warning bells in my head.
Los Angeles Police Department
Detective Joshua Mahey, Homicide
That's what it said on the outside of the door that the pretty blond policewoman escorted me to after I arrived at the station. The walls of the office were made of glass and I could see Pete was in there, sitting and talking to a man I didn't know – presumably Mahey.
Pete glanced up and saw me, and in his eyes I saw that half-confident, half-worried look that Pete can get. That was my second warning.
I didn't get a third warning.
Pete glanced up as Mac raised his hand to knock on the glass pane in the door. Before he could rap gently, the man sitting behind the desk called out, "Just come in."
Mac opened the door, nodding to his friend. "How's it going, Pete?"
Pete smiled in return but didn't answer. Mac was startled to notice that even though the office was comfortably air-conditioned, Pete was sweating a little. There was a gleam of relief in his eyes as he took Mac's proffered hand, but it was obvious to his close friend that Pete was trying to hide something.
The man behind the desk was staring down at a pile of papers and photographs, but he stood and came around the desk to shake Mac's hand when Pete introduced them to each other. His grip was firm and he held onto Mac's hand for a fraction of a second longer than etiquette dictated, his wintry blue eyes examining Mac's face for any reaction.
Mac merely nodded and released his hand, returning the officer's drilling stare with a look of friendly curiosity. "Detective Mahey. Nice to meet ya."
"So ... you're MacGyver." The man returned to his desk. Behind his turned back, Mac raised an eyebrow at Pete, who answered with a half-lidded glance toward Mahey. He was watching their reflections in the glass panels of his office.
"I am. What's this all about, Detective?"
Mahey smiled. "Pete was telling me the truth when he said that you like to get right down to business."
Mac bristled a little at Mahey's implication that Pete might have been lying. He forced himself to relax before answering. "Pete knows me pretty well. He could also have told you that I don't like to be manipulated, so if you need help with an investigation or something, why don't you just come out and ask me?"
Mahey smiled and pointed to the only unoccupied chair in the room, directly in front of the desk. Pete was sitting off to the side, next to the door. "He did tell me that. He told me a lot of things. But I have some questions that I need you to answer, and that's why I asked Mr. Thornton to have you come down today."
"So ask," Mac said as he sat down. He saw the look on Pete's face shift from worried to miserable.
Mahey leaned on his elbows, steeping his fingers and peering at Mac over them. He waited a few moments and then calmly asked his question as if inquiring after the weather.
"How many men have you killed, Mr. MacGyver?"
Mac sat stunned for a moment, hardly believing what he had just heard. "What?"
"I realize that in your line of work, such a thing might be hard to keep track of – Vietnam, Afghanistan, working for the DXS ..." The detective's tone of voice was deceptively light, but his eyes were as hard as flint. "... so let me rephrase the question: when was the last time you killed a man?"
Mac rose to his feet, spots of color high in his face. "I do not kill people, Detective Mahey."
Mahey leaned back in his chair, unconcerned by MacGyver's annoyance. "Sit down, Mr. MacGyver."
Mac sank back down, but the hard lines of his features showed that he did not relax. He resisted the urge to look toward Pete, who had said nothing since he had introduced Mac to Mahey. Mac could see his reflection in the glass behind the police detective, though. The strain of remaining silent showed clearly on Pete's face ... as did his anger on Mac's behalf.