P.Q. 2 -- Chap 3

8:00 A.M.

"Mac, sit down and eat."

"I can't. Any food I put in me right now would find it's way back out again just as fast."

"Then just sit. Pacing a groove in your floor is an expensive way to express anxiety."

Reluctantly, Mac acquiesced.

"It's better than repressing it."

"Is that what you think I'm doing?"

"Aren't you?"

"No. I'm doing what I was taught to do. Perform the required task without questioning the outcome." Jarod explained. "If I let myself worry about all the things that could go wrong with this plan, at least one of those concerns would become reality. Probably more than one. I have to focus only on the next step. That's how you ensure the least chance of mistakes."

Mac's own apprehension abruptly faded, to be replaced by concern for Jarod. He was certain the younger man had no idea how much like an automaton he'd sounded.

"That little speech... they weren't your words. It didn't even sound like you."


"No. If you could've heard yourself you'd be shaking like a damn leaf about now. Do you even remember what you said?"

"I was sitting right beside you and my hearing is perfect."

Mac studied Jarod for a few tense seconds before he replied.

"That piece of paper you had me working from last night? I kept it and I did a

little more practice with it before I went to bed. I haven't sorted out everything I saw yet... but I will. Maybe then you'll finally be ready to talk."

As MacGyver stalked upstairs to shower and dress, Jarod hunched over his cup of decaf and pondered the implications of allowing something with such an intimate connection to his past to stay in the hands of a man with incredible insight and a gift with the potential to be stronger than his own.


"Mac! You ready to go?" Jarod shouted up the stairs

Mac thumped down the stairs perfectly attired in his best, and only, suit.

"I'm set. Let's move." Mac replied woodenly, refusing to look at Jarod.

"Look... I'm sorry. It's not something I can just talk about on the spur of the moment. I was an abused child to the n-th power.... people who grew up in normal homes with loving families just don't have the capacity to understand."

Mac's stiff expression softened.

"Then why show me that paper at all?"

"You had to know what they're capable of. I had to make you see that they'll come for you too if they learn that you exist. Once they notice you, there's no going back to a normal life. You'll be watched and followed..."

"Kyle, why don't you just ask? I like the concept and from what your e-mail buddy said it sounds like something I wanna be involved in...."

"Mac... I've been able to stay on the run because I'm constantly cutting ties to anyone and anything I care about. You have a life here, a job.... a history. A few days and some sketchy details about what I'm trying to create aren't enough for you to know whether you're ready to risk your life and your freedom for me. For now... we have a job in front of us. Let's get Santos taken care of before we talk about my network or anything else. Alright?"

"Okay, but you should understand something. I'm no stranger to living with a flashing red bulls-eye on my back. All the years I spent with the Phoenix Foundation..."

"I know. I know about almost all of it. We'll talk about that later, I promise. Now let's get going. We can't be late for this appointment." Jarod said, turning and striding toward the door. Mac sighed, shook his head and followed.

"You're doing great." Jarod assured MacGyver as they sat in the outer office, waiting to be admitted to Santos' inner sanctum. Though his mentor had said more than once that he was nervous, that he'd be worried if those feelings weren't present, Mac never would have believed it just from looking at the other man.

"Great. Yeah, right. I've got so many butterflies my stomach's about to fly away under its own power!" Mac whispered harshly.

"Just relax. Remember what we talked about on the way here." Jarod murmured in response.

"Appearance is everything. If they think you are, you are. Getting upset or angry won't get me what I want and it will get me killed."


"Gentlemen? Mr. Santos will see you now."


"Oui. Il payera qu'il est fait." (He'll pay for what he's done.)

"Oui, il fera, mon ami. Oui, il fera." (Yes he will, my friend. Yes he will.)

Smiling, the two men stood and followed the secretary down a narrow corridor and into a large, luxurious office. Jarod strolled right in, but Mac fell a step behind, faltering as he moved through the door. Believing that, after his many attempts to gain a Swiss bank account, Santos spoke the language fluently, Jarod spoke to MacGyver in German. After catching his breath, Mac responded easily.

"Sind sie in ordnung?" (Are you alright?)

"Ich bin fein jetzt. Ich kann es nicht erklären. Wir werden später reden." (I'm fine now. I can't explain it. We'll talk later.)

Confused, Santos stood and addressed his visitors cautiously

"Gentlemen. Welcome.... I think. You are Henri Michel?"

Mac leaned in and whispered in Jarod's ear. The younger man delivered the message to Santos.

"Mesr. Michel extends his apologies if you were confused. As an attaché he speaks many languages. He often switches into something other than French when he does not wish his words to be understood by others."

"I see. Please, take seats gentlemen and we can get the interview started."

Once all the participants were settled, Mac went through the whisper routine again.

"My employer asks if you speak French. Being fairly new to his position, English is one language he is not yet fluent in and he prefers to avoid possible misunderstandings..."

"I'm happy to accommodate the attaché. Whatever will make him comfortable."

"We can proceed, then. Merci."

" Bien sûr. Maintenant s'il vous plaît, demander vos questions.... " (Of course. Now please, ask your questions....)


As the two friends dropped off the rented limo and climbed back into Mac's jeep, Jarod was forced to postpone their departure in order to calm MacGyver, who was curled into himself and shaking like a leaf. For several minutes, Jarod patted and rubbed his friend's shoulders, but despite the comfort being provided Mac leapt from the vehicle, ran to the edge of the parking lot and vomited into the dirt and scrub grass. Jarod crouched beside him, supporting the other man and speaking soothingly.

"You did fine, Mac. It's over now. You're okay...."

"No... I mean... I am. It's not that.... God, what have you done to me...."

"I don't understand."

"What you've been showing me.... it must've opened me up.... more than either of us knew. Walking into that room.... I... I've never felt anything like that before. It hit me like a... a punch in the gut. There was a smell... almost like a natural gas leak... but nastier. I was nauseous the whole time we were in there. I don't know if I can stand to go back into that office, Kyle... you didn't tell me this was part of... of being a Pretender...."

"It isn't. At least... it never has been for me. I'm sorry, MacGyver. If I'd known I never would have put you in that situation."

"You couldn't have predicted that, Kyle. Don't beat yourself up, okay?" Mac replied, slowly straightening up. As he helped him back to the jeep, Jarod continued to apologize.

"I should have known. Your gift is stronger than mine. If I had taken the time to think it through, I would have realized a stronger gift means greater sensitivity...."

"Kyle... stop. It wasn't your fault. Let's just go back to the house. I'm gettin' better, but being further from Santos will speed the process even more. Man, my mouth tastes like I've been licking a sewer outflow pipe. Let's stop somewhere for a bottle of water before we get home."

"No problem." Jarod told him, starting the engine and pulling out of the lot.

"Mac, that's your second beer in less than an hour. Slow down."

"It is? Damn... " MacGyver murmured, staring fixedly at the empty bottle in his hand before placing it carefully on the breakfast bar. "I don't do that.... it's just I can't make sense of this. I'm used to being able to see the patterns, the shapes that make things work. Then I can get behind or underneath.... figure it from the inside out. There is no pattern here. There's nothing I can get a handle on...."

Gently, Jarod dropped his hands on Mac's shoulders and squeezed.

"I know. Go sit on the couch, alright? I have something that might help you calm down."

"I don't need to calm down. I need to understand...."

"No, right now you need the de-stress. Go sit."

MacGyver conceded the battle, walked across the room and dropped heavily onto the sofa. Jarod was back in a few minutes with a small gray leather case. Sitting beside Mac, he opened the holder to reveal a series of small vials, each tucked into their own pouch. Selecting one, he popped the cover with a thumbnail and handed it to his friend. "Hold it close to your face and take three slow, deep breaths through your nose."

"Aromatherapy? You've got to be joking..."

"Trust me, this worked wonders on someone a lot more wound up than you are."

His expression radiating disbelief, Mac took the vial carefully and did as Jarod had instructed. The first breath didn't bring any noticeable shift in his body or mind, but with the second inhalation he could feel his muscles begin to loosen and his stomach settle into a more normal state. By the time he'd released his third deep draught of air, Mac was sinking back against the couch cushions, eyes closed and his brow clear of stress lines.

"Wow.... if I ever doubt you again, you have permission to smack me in the back of the head. Really hard." He replied, handing the vial back.

"Not necessary. Why risk your incredible mind? I'll just force-feed you a pint of "Hagen-Dazs"." Jarod chuckled.

"Deal. What other magic have you got in there, anyway?"

"Formulas for reducing physical pain, relieving mild depression, increasing energy...."

"Where'd you ever find them?"

"I didn't. A friend taught me about herbs and showed me how to create my own blends."

"Boy, he taught you well."

"He'd be glad to hear that. Now, how's your thinking? Any clearer?"

"Yeah, it is. Amazing...."

"Then let's start talking about what happened to you today."


"Miss Parker."

The young woman's shoulders and neck instantly knotted when the hated voice sounded behind her. Stopping in the middle of the corridor, she turned on her heel, schooling her expression into a picture of calm and respect before she faced her new employer.

"Major Hilliard. What can I do for you?"

"Your job. I need to see progress in the search for our missing property and I need to see it soon. The Triumverate won't be patient much longer."

"Jarod has completely dropped out of sight, sir. The only way we were ever able to track him at all was by virtue of the clues and items he sent and the media reports of his Pretends. He hasn't done either one in months..."

"That makes your job a little harder, but it doesn't make it impossible. Step up your game to the next level, Miss Parker, or you'll find yourself off this pursuit altogether. Losing that prestige would leave you very... vulnerable within the Centre. That's a state you do not want to find yourself in. Do we understand each other?"

"Yes... sir."

"I hope so. Get back to work."

Seething, shocked that steam had not begun pouring from her ears, Parker waited until she was sure Hilliard was out of earshot before she allowed herself to release a little of her rage, though it only showed in her face and in the hard slap she delivered to the nearest wall.

{Property?! He's not a stapler somebody took home in their briefcase, you son of a bitch.... oh, if I could have blown you away and gotten by with it, you'd have been dead weeks ago....}