Written for the 2014 Circle of Friends Remix
Author: M. Scott Eiland
Summary: MacGyver wakes up after an improvised solution fails to produce results, and finds he has some explaining to do.
Fandom: MacGyver/Modesty Blaise
Time Frame: Sliding time frame: assume present day, late in the time frame for the Modesty Blaise novels, late in the TV series for MacGyver.
Rating: T, for themes
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wouldn't have minded taking a serious run at writing in the Modestyverse if I had come across the novels in the last ten years rather than in the mid-1990s.
Original Story: “Untitled20061122” by sroni.
Remixer's Opening Note: Another case where I saw a drabble and decided I just couldn't let it lie there unexpanded. . .:-)
My thanks to SRoni for providing another lovely story for me to Remix.
Mac was disturbingly familiar with emerging from unconsciousness after being struck by someone with serious intent. Given that, he had managed to develop a hard-wired routine when he found himself regaining consciousness without realizing how he had lost it: before opening his eyes, he would mentally recite his name, birthday, and state of birth, followed by what he had for breakfast the preceding morning and concluding with the last city he had flown into. As he became aware, he quickly ran through the drill: Angus MacGyver, March 23rd, Minnesota, ham and scrambled eggs, London—he was surprised at how little his head hurt as he did it.
The next step was tensing his muscles all over, checking for injury and restraints, along with the general state of his clothing. He felt relatively uninjured except for a slight soreness over a very familiar nerve cluster—someone had knocked him unconscious with a precise blow that did very little damage otherwise. He wasn't tied up or otherwise restrained—he was apparently lying on a relatively comfortable bed or cot--but he seemed to be wearing some sort of robe over his boxers and nothing else. Meaning that at most he had only a few of the emergency supplies that he was accustomed to have when needing to get out of a tight spot. Annoying to say the least.
The last step. . .he listened for breathing. He heard none, and continued to listen for thirty seconds. Abruptly, an amused voice broke the silence, “If you wait to hear me breathing, both of us are going to get very bored very quickly. How about we cut to the chase?”
Mac's eyes snapped open, and he received another bit of evidence that the blow to the head had done no significant damage to his memory or cognition—he instantly recognized the woman standing ten feet away as the one who had accosted him in the middle of his attempt to bypass the security around the device that Pete had sent him after.
She had changed out of the dark tunic that she had been wearing when she had slipped behind him and put that rather effective hold on him that had required, well, creative means to slip free even momentarily. She was now wearing a red cheongsam that hugged her five foot six frame with sinful efficiency—the lack of sleeves and the slit up the thighs openly displaying the lean, taut muscle that had clearly been the result of countless hours of training. Her medium length dark hair was up in a classic chignon that would have been equally stylish if worn by Mac's great-grandmother when attending FDR's first inaugural ball or by the prom queen next spring. Her eyes were midnight blue and they focused on Mac with unnerving intensity and humor as she spoke again, “You seem to have gotten yourself into a bit of a situation, Mr. MacGyver.”
Mac wasn't surprised that his captor had identified him, and decided to return the serve without pause, “It's hardly the first time, Ms. Blaise. My thanks for leaving me with less of a headache than most would have with that move.”
The woman raised a well-tailored eyebrow and noted, “Not much of one at all, if you have your wits about you enough to recognize me a minute out of your little nap.” She reached for a cup sitting on a nearby table and walked over to hand it to him, adding, “You certainly didn't have the two hours I did to jog my own memory.”
Mac took a sip—she'd had all the time she'd needed while he was out to dose him with something if she had been so inclined—then finished the water quickly. He saw a coaster sitting on the antique nightstand nearby and put the empty cup on it as he said quietly, “Thank you.” Modesty inclined her head and Mac took a moment to examine the room: wood paneled walls and high quality hardwood flooring, with a small kitchen area in one corner. There were no windows, and the single door looked to be sturdy, with a lock but no handle on the inside. Mac didn't think he'd need three guesses as to where the key was. He coughed self-consciously and asked quietly, “What now?”
Modesty shrugged elaborately and moved off to lean against a wall before looking back at him appraisingly and replying, “That's the question of the hour, isn't it? I ran across you breaking into a facility which you may reasonably infer that I have some connection with. You work for an organization that is not known for breaking and entering for profit, whether large or small scale. I've had indirect dealings with the Phoenix Foundation—they do good work. I had some dealings with one of their predecessor companies back when I was, ah, pursuing my former professional lifestyle.”
Mac nodded curtly, but he was remembering that this woman had run one of the most successful criminal organizations in the world from the age of twenty, and done so while eschewing both prostitution and the drug trades. Two of the entries in the file the Phoenix Foundation had on her referred to tips passed on by The Network to the DEA that had done a great deal of damage to the Colombian drug cartels. Pete is going to be seriously pissed-off at me if I don't try to get her as a contact, but I've got more immediate problems right now. “Your point, Ms. Blaise?”
Modesty smiled to acknowledge the not so subtle demand to get to the point, and continued, “So I know what they're about—and by reputation what you're about. If you cared deeply about money you'd have been a multimillionaire years ago and certainly wouldn't be involved in unorthodox hand to hand combat with retired businesswomen in the middle of the night in London.” Mac remained silent, and Modesty concluded, “So I need to find out what you were doing there, so I can decide what needs to be done about it. The easy way would be for you to just be a good boy and tell me why you were there and what you expected to find.” Modesty smiled disarmingly at Mac and added, “Any chance we could play it that way?”
Mac shrugged and replied, “I wouldn't be considered a very reliable man in my field if I spilled secrets every time a beautiful woman smiled at me and asked nicely—even if that smile is backed by world-class martial arts and firearms skills.”
Modesty nodded, her expression thoughtful, then suggested, “The next possibility would be to leave you in here, of course—since I've removed your little bag of tricks and put it in a box outside the door. There's plenty of food and water and a loo, but it might get a little boring after a while.” She grinned wickedly and added, “Of course you probably wouldn't stay put for long. Between your reputation and a few things that Willie Garvin has told me over the years about the mischief one can get up to with common household supplies, I'd say that you've already spotted half a dozen means to open that door without the key that would not otherwise damage the room.”
Mac smirked. “Fourteen—and at least twenty if the refrigerator has the usual contents for an English household.”
Modesty's eyes widened a little at the casual boast—and a little wider as she registered that he was not kidding—before she nodded absently and continued, “Of course, I have your cell phone and you'd have to go off to get help in an area unfamiliar to you—making it easy to follow you at a distance and gather information on whoever your local allies turn out to be. Since you're fully aware of this and probably know a thing or two about shaking a tail, we'd end up acting out some sort of badly written chase scene over half of southern England. Willie would never stop teasing me about it.”
Mac winced. “Yeah—wacky chase scene music isn't the thing for either of us.” Modesty chuckled, and Mac added, “And don't bother bringing up any scenarios where I attack you and try to get that key you have hidden in your hair. Even if I got lucky and knocked you out, there's probably a big guy with a fondness for pointy objects waiting on the other side of the door, ready to express his displeasure at my damaging his Princess.”
Modesty smiled a little, then replied, “Assuming you left me alive, he'd tease me about letting you get the drop on me. But you wouldn't get past him, that's true.” She carefully locked eyes with him and threw her shoulders back before suggesting, “Of course, you could always try to kiss me again and see where that gets you.”
“Right—because that worked so well the first time.” Mac was annoyed and a tad embarrassed and didn't bother to hide it. Modesty was silent, and Mac stewed for a moment before admitting, “I knew I was outclassed, and I've never really had it in me to try to kill before I was sure someone was trying to kill me. So I was thinking as fast as I could to improvise, to do something, anything, to get you to let go so I could have time to figure out how to get out. The pipe bought me a little space, then--”
“You made your move.” No accusation or mockery could be discerned in Modesty's voice, though there was the slightest hint of amusement. Mac nodded, and Modesty shrugged, “It did surprise me for a moment—so not the worst play you could have made. I've run across a few women in my line of work who would have made a point of playing 'Loves me, loves me not' with your bits and other extremities for a move like that, though. Might want to use it cautiously in the future.”
Mac shivered a bit at the mental picture Modesty had just provided for him. “Hope I don't run into any of them in the future.”
“Oh, you won't—at least not those particular ones,” Modesty assured him, leaning back with a suddenly cold expression on her face. “They worked for the wrong people, and sadists tend to make mistakes that work against them when they meet up with someone who is more interested in just winning.”
Mac remembered a few of his more. . .colorful adversaries and laughed, “Yeah, it doesn't help them think very well, does it?” He thought for a moment, then pointed out, “You could just turn me over to whoever your friend is who owns or is connected with that facility, I suppose. The fact that you deal with them and haven't just dumped my body in the Thames suggests that they wouldn't be inclined to be too rough on me.”
Modesty smirked. “Don't be too sure, Mr. MacGyver—even the good guys can play rough. Besides, I'm not sure my friends would thank me for giving you an engraved invitation into their domain. Heaven only knows what havoc you could wreak if someone carelessly left a gum wrapper and a spork in your cell.” Mac quirked a smile, and Modesty gave him a “you're not fooling anyone” look before adding, “I think we're on the right track, though. Does your organization have protocols for meetings between two organizations who aren't actively unfriendly to one another but are still inclined to be cautious?”
Mac had to think a moment after hearing the question before replying, “Yeah—it's been a while since I had a real refresher, but I know the protocols—and I think this is one of the kinds of situations they were designed to deal with. To do it, you or someone acting on your behalf will have to make the contact and deliver a message exactly as I dictate it to you. Any deviation will cause the contact to be broken and set the whole organization on high alert once they confirm I'm missing.”
Modesty raised an eyebrow and commented, “So, I'd have to trust you not to give me some sort of 'bring down the Wrath of God onto whoever makes that call' code to me on blind faith?”
Mac pretended to consider the question for a moment before replying with a grin: “Yeah—pretty much. Up for it?”
Modesty glared at Mac for a moment, then sighed and responded, “Remarkably—yes. I'll ring up my friend first and make sure he doesn't want to veto the whole bloody thing, but I've heard him say good things about the Phoenix Foundation, too—that should buy you enough trust to give this thing a go.” She reached into her chignon and extracted a key, then unlocked the door and opened it, calling over her shoulder as she did, “I'll be gone for a while sorting this out. Since you're probably not inclined to sleep any more for the time being, I'll leave you with someone to provide some interesting conversation.”
Modesty slipped out into the hallway and Mac could hear her speaking quickly and quietly to someone before the sound of conversation ceased and an unfamiliar figure entered the room. He was well over six feet tall, and resembled a rather insanely fit version of a young Michael Caine. He grinned as he laid eyes on Mac and called out, “The Princess asked me to keep an eye on you while she gets things ready. In the meantime, I'd like to talk useful gadgets with you. It's been a good long while since I was sure I was talking with someone who could teach me something new in that area.”
Mac smiled genuinely at Willie Garvin's invitation. While he was more than a little anxious to hear back from Modesty Blaise regarding the disposition of the inter-organizational meeting that would get him out of stir and start the process of identifying the real opponent in this scenario, he was always in the mood to discuss useful technological improvisation, and Willie Garvin was a worthy companion to discuss such matters. Mac grinned and replied, “All right, Mr. Garvin. Assuming the door is locked and you do not have the key—how many means to open the door without damaging any other objects within the room do you see? You have five minutes.”
“--shot caught him square in the kneecap and made a mess of his leg. Took the fight right out of him.” Modesty took another sip from her champagne and added, “The others decided that it might be best to find another mark that night.”
“I'll bet they did.” Mac took a sip from his own glass and had another quiet moment of gratitude that the woman sitting across from him had ended up as at least a temporary ally, a mere week after their unexpected encounter in the secret facility.
It hadn't gone completely smoothly, of course. Though Modesty had followed the instructions provided by Mac to the letter—producing a coded message that Modesty delivered back to Mac, who used the private cipher that had been given to him for that purpose to decode the designated location for the meet—the Phoenix Foundation contacts who attended the meeting were not inclined to look favorably on anyone who was holding their foremost field operative against his will, even if only partially so. Modesty's own background as the former head of a major criminal organization—even one prone to be helpful to law enforcement in certain areas as The Network had been—hadn't helped, either. Fortunately, the situation had been salvaged by the unexpected—to everyone but Modesty—arrival of Sir Gerald Tarrant, a high end British intelligence official who immediately vouched for Modesty and Willie Garvin without reservation. Since Tarrant was well known to the Phoenix Foundation and was regarded as a straight shooter, this helped bleed whatever tension remained out of the situation.
With that having been resolved, the discussion turned to what had led to the confrontation between Modesty and Mac. The Phoenix Foundation representatives stated that they had received word that dangerous biotechnology was being developed in the facility in violation of both British and international law. Tarrant denied this and offered to take everyone in the room on an immediate snap inspection of the premises. All present agreed, and the resulting field trip revealed a facility that was clearly devoted to surveillance, not bioterrorism.
Another element was that Modesty's presence there that night had apparently been a mere coincidence—Tarrant had asked her to consult on some of the data uncovered by the surveillance just that morning, and she had been departing when she noted a security breach and went to investigate of her own volition. Which meant that someone had apparently given the Phoenix Foundation bad intel about the activities in that building with the goal of creating a conflict between British Intelligence and the Phoenix Foundation, with possible secondary diplomatic consequences between the US and Great Britain (“Or maybe just someone trying to get Sir Gerald's boys to punch Mr. MacGyver's ticket for him,” Modesty had observed quietly).
The question had turned to “who?”, and that was as of yet undetermined. Both organizations were checking all available leads, and Modesty had offered to use her own contacts to follow up on anything they turned up. This would take some time, and Pete Thornton had told Mac to relax while they worked on it. Modesty had offered Mac a guest room at her home for the duration, and had snickered when Mac asked if this one unlocked from the inside.
Willie Garvin had been around on most days, and he and Mac spent time talking shop in their various fields of expertise, with Modesty an interested observer. They had also trained together, and while Mac knew he'd never be in the class of either Modesty or Willie in a scrap, he was always grateful to get a tip that could improve what he was capable of.
But it was with Modesty that Mac spent the most time, and he found the experience fascinating—it had been obvious all along that someone of her relative youth would have to have a first-rate intellect along with her remarkable athleticism and indomitable will to have accomplished even a fraction of what she had, but actually seeing it on display was another matter altogether. He was unsurprised to hear that she had been a voracious reader as a child once she was in an area where books were to be found, and each scrap of knowledge she gained fed her desire for more. He found himself wondering what she would have been if she had grown up in a “normal” environment and had been able to obtain the top-end education that her mind was clearly capable of exploiting—then decided that it was not worth wasting time wondering about, given the quality of the person who had resulted from the actual scenario.
Mac had been working on some notes from a prior case that Pete had sent for an evaluation when Modesty walked in with the champagne and sat down to chat without invitation—which Mac certainly didn't mind in the slightest. He noticed that Modesty was wearing the red cheongsam that she had worn the first night after their confrontation in the secret facility—she had chosen rather less colorful outfits for most of their time together, both in and out of the company of others.
Modesty stood up and called out, “I'll be right back.” She departed the room, and Mac turned back to his notes. After a few seconds, he called out, “So. . .what did you want to do for the rest of the evening?”
Mac felt a pair of slender arms slide around him—giving him an odd sense of deja vu—and he heard a rustle of silk slipping to the floor as Modesty whispered in his ear, “I was hoping I could persuade you to improvise again, Mac.”
Remixer's Comments: As I noted above, I read the Modesty Blaise novels back in the mid-1990s, long before I had starting writing fanfiction. While I was hardly unacquainted with strong heroines—having been an Aragorn/Eowyn 'shipper long before I ever heard the term “'shipper” because Eowyn impressed me a lot more than Arwen ever did—Modesty Blaise struck me as a protagonist who specialized in making the world bend to her will, and not the other way around: a self-made Galatea who then turned her chisel onto the elements of her world that did not live up to her expectations, with spectacular (and very entertaining) results. While she and Buffy Summers are two very different heroic figures, Buffy doesn't tend to give a crap about “how things are supposed to be” when it doesn't make sense to her, and she tends to behave accordingly (with mixed but broadly positive results). I don't think it's too surprising that I enjoyed the exploits of both and spent a lot of time writing about the latter.
I was more of a casual fan of “MacGyver,” only occasionally watching, but I certainly approved of the character concept and do think that he and Modesty would have found each other interesting and good company. This might have turned into something longer if I had watched enough of the show to get a broader read on MacGyver's personality and motivations.
As always, comments are welcomed and desired.