A/N: I have no rights or affiliation with the characters presented within this piece
Elegant Lady Madonna
"God damn it, Spinelli, you didn't say anything about sand. The stuff is in my socks, in my boots, it's crunching around down there and the boots are wet too, they're leather, Spinelli-Italian leather!" Jason had been grumbling and complaining like this for the last twenty minutes as they trudged down the beach toward Honolulu's famed King Kamehameha Club where they had a dinner invitation to meet with some notorious local mobster and close personal acquaintance of Michael, "Sonny," Corinthos.
"Stone Cold, you should have taken the Jackal's advice, unsolicited as it was, and forgone your normal working attire for the local business cum living the dolce vida wear. We are, after all," he stopped and stretched his arms out wide, face toward the sun, "in the Aloha state." He turned to Jason with a big goofy grin on his face.
Jason thought the young man looked comical and stuck out like a sore thumb in his bright green and black leaf-patterned aloha shirt with matching shorts which screamed out "tourist". It had taken him nearly a half an hour to glop sunscreen over the exposed portions of his skin and-much to Jason's mortification - Spinelli had an additional thick white mass of zinc oxide plastered on his nose. As if that weren't enough, he had also donned a straw colored sun hat and toted a small beach umbrella, having stated that, "One in every three tourists ends up with severe sunburn this time of year, some even being so compromised as to require hospitalization."
Spinelli stumbled in the sand, losing one of his flip-flops, known locally as slippers. Hopping on one foot, he went back to retrieve it as Jason watched with a grim look on his face. Spinelli, oblivious to his Master's half-hearted glare, procured the half-buried slipper and dusted it off, smiling to himself as he adjusted his sun hat so that the brim left the lower half of his face in shadow.
"Well, aren't there any sidewalks in the Aloha state?" He grumbled querulously. "I thought when you asked me along on this all expense paid little jaunt that it would be a chance to rest on the beach, drink a beer, watch the sunset, maybe look at a few girls..." Here he turned and walked backwards for a few steps, his sunglasses, the one overt concession to the locale, pulled down on his nose as he admired some of the aforementioned local scenery. "Anyway, tromping miles to have dinner with someone named Ice Pick for Gods sakes isn't my idea of a relaxing vacation, it just seems like home. And at home," he ended his litany of complaints with irrefutable logic, "This is what I wear!"
"Ah, Stone Cold, the Jackal hears your sound reasoning and," Spinelli stopped suddenly, his jaw slack as he lost his train of thought. There, right before him, not ten yards away, was the most gorgeous woman he had ever had the pleasure of laying eyes upon, she was a veritable goddess among goddesses. She was a long-legged, bronzed beauty with ebony hair which cascaded in rivulets down her back. Clad in nothing more than a flaming red bikini and matching sarong, she held Spinelli's euphoric interest.
Jason followed his young protégé's line of sight and his bad temper miraculously disappeared, he fully appreciated the kid's taste. He had obviously been taking copious notes during his tutelage by the Master. He spontaneously whistled, startling both himself and Spinelli. The only one unaffected by the sound was the gorgeous recipient swathed in crimson swatches of fabric, she was far too inured to attracting males the way certain flowers attract bees. Besides, she was in a hurry, running really, because close behind her were two men also running and they weren't chasing her because of her myriad charms but rather in spite of them.
One of her ardent pursuers was dressed in a black suit and would have looked comical if it were not for the ambitiously committed way in which he made chase. Short and somewhat portly with a little moustache and a receding hairline, he made quite a spectacle on the beach, but appeared to be oblivious to the host of engaged onlookers. Single-minded in his aim, he never took his eyes off of the woman.
Valiant though his efforts, he was still trailing a much taller man, also sporting a moustache albeit of a much more luxuriant nature. Dressed in short shorts and a loud flowered aloha shirt, the spiritual twin to Spinelli's; he was almost upon the woman. The obliging spectators had parted to make way for the unlikely trio. Daring tourists even snapped a photo or two as they passed by them at full tilt.
The shorter man paused to catch his breath and yelled out to all and sundry in a clipped British accent, "Stop that absconding female, she's a thief!"
A couple of the tourists gasped in excited horror at the thought that, here they were, in Hawaii of all places, and they got to witness a real life crime. Wait until they got back home and told their co-workers. They'd even have a picture or two to illustrate the tale as they told of the great adventure. No one would believe it otherwise.
That commanding line was all which was needed to spur Jason into action as he stopped gaping and was instantaneously after the lithe, gazelle-like young woman; it was a pure pleasure to chase her. Already he found his liking for Hawaii to be improving.
Spinelli, having temporarily lost all senses save the one of fervent visual admiration, continued to gape in absolute wonder at the elegant beauty as she ran down the beach. She was all grace. Her ebony locks flowed in silky tendrils behind her. Her frantic flight registered, as though in frame-by-frame action, as the chase played out before his very eyes. It was clearly evident to his outraged and chivalrous eyes that the fair beach maiden was being chased by two evil doers, miscreants of a lesser nature. How dare they strive to visit damage upon her sacred person?
Spinelli, still enamored by her beauty had not heard a word the pursuers had uttered and acted on pure instinct. The ancient call of the hunt coursed in his veins. Intent upon protecting the fair maiden from her heinous stalker, he made to tackle the man in lead. Unmindful of any possible danger to himself, he threw off the cumbersome flip-flops and let go of the now burdensome umbrella and ran pell-mell toward her closest pursuant.
Magnum doggedly chased the petty thief, she had been making the rounds lately at beach front clubs and hotels and he had been hoping to get a lead on her. It was just his dumb luck that it happened to be Higgins' pocket that she picked this evening. He'd never hear the end of it. No doubt the uptight British man would blame him for it, even though, in all honesty, it was not his fault. In Higgins' eyes everything seemed to fall under the auspices of "if there's a problem-blame Magnum".
Groaning, he pushed himself to go faster as his lungs burned, damn, she could run fast! If he hadn't been chasing her for the past ten minutes, he might have taken a moment or two to admire how athletic she was. Yes, if he weren't in hot pursuit of the lithesome pickpocket, he would have time to appreciate just how tan her shapely calves were and how the red suit she wore complimented the tone of her skin perfectly and just how pert her…
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a young floppy-haired man cut in front of him. Having veered toward the waterline to take advantage of the speed engendered by running on the wet packed sand, he had almost caught up with the wayward thief, could almost reach out and touch her…
The collision was inevitable. Magnum attempted to stop himself, but his momentum kept him moving forward. Physics, as Spinelli could have told him, was an unyielding mistress who must be obeyed in all things. Either way, it was a mess and Magnum's pursuit was cut short as they went down in a winded tangle of arms and legs. The only way to tell which was which was by the color of their respective shirts, Magnum's a bright red and blue contrasting with Spinelli's green and black.
Waves rolled over the two men, causing them to sputter and cough. Neither could see clearly through the blinding saltwater. Magnum attempted to disentangle himself from the human barricade, but the crashing waves made it impossible for him to regain his balance. Sputtering, Magnum glared at the young man who had intentionally waylaid him. Loathe as he was to admit it, he was temporarily out of the chase.
The only two left to continue the urgent hunt were Jason and the older British man who sent a disgusted glance and a muttered, "Really, Magnum!" towards the mélange of inseparable body parts that was rolling around haplessly in the surf.
Jason hated to do it, he really did, he bowed to no one in his admiration of a beautiful woman and this one was stacked! Still, he couldn't condone petty thievery; grand larceny perhaps, but pick pockets and muggers, no way. He sped up, intent upon catching this exotically lovely thief. Truth be admitted, he was enjoying every moment of the adrenaline pumping pursuit.
"Cease and Desist, your malevolent designs on the beauteous maiden," or at least that's what Spinelli would've said if he hadn't gotten a sandy mouthful of the Pacific at that precise moment. As it was, it came out more like, "Gurgle, gargle."
"Great, just great," Magnum muttered as he attempted to help the young man to a standing position. Both boy and current were fighting him. With his luck the kid would drown. He didn't want that on his conscience, much as the boy's inept actions had interrupted his work.
"The murderous malefactor should keep his hands off the Jackal or he shall know true retribution at the stern hands of Stone Cold himself!" Spinelli attempted once more, only to cough up a lungful of briny water. This time he managed to enunciate each syllable but it was all still just, "Gurgle, gargle," to an indignant and disgusted Magnum.
"Just hold still!" Magnum shouted impatiently at the floppy-haired young man whose sun hat was dangling at an awkward angle from the knot around his chin. The boy reminded him of a puppy, all loose limbs and no control over them. It would've been comical had the situation been one he merely had borne witness to rather than being a full fledged participant.
"Look kid, hold still," Magnum tried once again, "I'm trying to help you here, you plowed into me remember!"
"As was my distinct intention, sir. Did you think I would let you get your rather large..." for the first time Spinelli had noted the size of the man he had unthinkingly taken on in hand-to-hand combat for the honor of the fair maiden. He gulped and continued unsteadily, "um hands on such a sweet, undeserving personage as yonder fair one?" He turned to point towards where he assumed the desirous one would be beaming at him, her hands clasped appreciatively at her waist as she gushed, "My hero!" whilst batting her eyelashes charmingly.
Instead what met his startled gaze was the sight of his hero and mentor tackling, in a very rough manner, with absolutely no regard to her tender gender, the self-same doe-like creature that Spinelli had been intent upon rescuing from this ruffian who kept denying his culpability.
"Look kid, you've got it all wrong," Magnum helped the boy to his feet, sighing in relief when he didn't resist the offer of aid. "That 'yonder maiden' is none other than the elegant," he bowed in her oblivious direction, water dripping from his moustache, "thieving, Lady Madonna, I've been after her for the past month. She's been pick pocketing tourists, businessmen and women and, no thanks to you, I lost her." Grasping the boy by the elbow, he marched them out of the water back onto the beach.
"Never fear, Stone Cold has once again in his ever honorable conduct, procured said feminine miscreant, the thieving Lady Madonna," bowing his head, Spinelli tiredly swept an arm toward the beach where Jason had tackled the apparent thief.
"Gotcha!" Jason said with a triumphant grin as the bikini clad beauty twisted and wriggled in his grip, her long scarlet talons inches from his face as she tried to rake them viciously across his skin with particular aim towards his eyes. "Yep," He thought happily, "Hawaii was looking up."
"My good man, "the British gent finally arrived, bent over and clasping his knees as he panted out his speech of gratitude, "My undying gratitude is yours for stopping this...this she-devil." It was clear the lissome beauty could expect no quarter for her questionable charms from this particular ex-Regimental Sergeant Major late of the Queen's service.
Suddenly Spinelli and Magnum were there, the latter delighted to see the downfall of the thief so that Higgins could do no worse than task him with dereliction of duty; it would have been much, much worse had she escaped. The former was entirely puzzled and still unsure as to why everyone was so intent upon treating this treasure, this lovely nymph like a common criminal, in spite of what the rough man beside him had said, that is until he got a good look at her face twisted and contorted with rage and hate.
"Stone Cold," he said uncertainly realizing with a pang of misery, that he had once again gotten the wrong end of the stick and because of him she had almost gotten away.
Jason hauled the trapped villainess to her feet; she was hissing and clawing at any one of the men who was silly enough to get within her reach. Almost absentmindedly, Jason grabbed both her wrists in one of his hands, acting like a human pair of handcuffs.
Magnum reached around Jason and delved without fanfare into the sarong wrapped alluringly around the brigand babe's diminutive waist. Pulling out the lumpy wallet she had stored there, he turned to Higgins, "Yours, I believe," he murmured restoring it to Higgins' awaiting hands.
"No thanks to you, Magnum," Higgins said sharply, "You were taken down by this snip of a boy here." At his off-handed reference to him, Spinelli flushed unhappily, turning a bright red in spite of his ample application of sunscreen earlier that morning.
"If it hadn't been for this man's timely intervention, Mister..." he cocked his head interrogatively at Jason.
"Um, Morgan, Jason Morgan, you can just call me Jason and it wasn't anything really, just instinct," Jason shrugged it off.
"Yes, well Magnum could take a few lessons on honing his instincts it seems to me," he groused, not yet mollified.
"Give it a rest, Higgins," Magnum said, a faint whine in his tone, "You've got your wallet back and as they say 'all's well that ends well'"
"You're a fan of the bard?" Spinelli said eagerly, thinking perhaps he had found a fellow culture lover. He looked at the man he had hastily and, it appeared unjustly, deemed a ruffian in a new light, a faint smile on his lips.
Higgins guffawed at Magnum's puzzled expression, "Hardly, it's probably the slogan of some local strip joint he frequents..."
Jason sniggered quietly as Magnum's eyebrows fused together and he looked at Higgins through narrowed eyes, "Cut it out, Higgins, they're going to get the wrong idea here."
Magnum turned towards Jason and extended his hand which Jason clasped in the one that wasn't holding onto the wrists of the thwarted thief, still squirming in his grasp.
"Thomas Magnum," he flashed a dimpled smile at the blonde-haired, crew cut man who had captured the thief that had been eluding the police for the past three months. Much more wounding to his self-esteem was the fact that it had taken him over a month on the job to get even as close to catching her as he had today. Oh, well, he supposed that he would treat this particular case as a game of horseshoes and count 'close' as good enough. "While this self-righteous gentleman over here is Higgins-Jonathan Quayle Higgins to be more precise," he grinned impishly as he cocked his head in the man's direction.
Then he turned his attention towards Spinelli, grin still firmly in place, his white teeth contrasting blindingly with his luxuriant moustache and tawny skin, "Who are you kid, a contender for the WWF?"
Spinelli grinned shyly, liking this man that could be so forgiving about being tackled because he thought he was a mugger or something worse, "Not a wrestler, just Stone Cold's protégé and tech support, Spinelli, Damian Spinelli..."
"Stone Cold," Magnum said, turning to look quizzically at Jason, who stared back at him unperturbed, "interesting nickname, fellow."
Higgins had been looking through his wallet, checking to see if all the cash and cards were intact, "Damn it!" It slipped out of his grasp, covered as it was in suntan lotion transferred from the shapely thief's behind.
It fell into the sand at Spinelli's feet and, hoping to somewhat redeem himself; he bent down to retrieve it. It had splayed open and a dislodged photograph fell out, sticking into the sand at an odd angle.
He returned the wallet to Higgins and, bending over once more, picked up the picture and looked at it while dusting it off. Bringing the photograph up, he held it in the light of the sun and let out a shaky breath as the image on it became clearer. His hands grew clammy and he stumbled forward as his face drained entirely of blood. His eyes rolled back into his head and he keeled over in a dead faint, falling flat on his back in the burning sand.
"Hey, kid," Magnum was on his knees next to the recumbent form, shaking him gently. Tapping him on the cheek, he attempted to rouse him, "C'mon, wake up."
"Oh, I say," Higgins stepped forward, mildly anxious as he looked down at the boy who still grasped the displaced photograph in a bone white hand.
Jason yelled, "Spinelli!" Entirely forgetting his prisoner, she took advantage of his distracted state and pulled free of his loosened grip, sprinting off at a dead run with no one in pursuit. At liberty once again to steal another day, she chanced one quick look back at the four men who had hounded her and silently thanked the awkward youngster who had unwittingly been her savior.
A/N Reviews and perceptions are appreciated