MacGyver concentrated on guiding his bike over the rough trail, weaving around holes and tree roots. Sam followed his Dad's lead, enjoying the warmth of the September sun on his back.
They pulled up in a clearing and Sam turned off his engine, listening to the stream and the birdsong.
"It's really beautiful here." He turned, seeing the potential for some fantastic photographs in the wilderness around them.
MacGyver pulled off his helmet and ruffled his unruly hair. Hanging the helmet on the handlebars, he stepped off the bike and looked around, breathing in the pine scented air.
"Sure is. Pete was right – I do like Oregon."
"Remind you of home?" MacGyver started, unloading his gear from the back of his bike.
"A little." He dropped a heavy bag and a bedroll on the grass. "Where do you want to pitch camp?"
"Over here." Sam took another look around and then turned his attention to his own luggage. "Out from under the trees but not too close to the water. OK with you, Dad?" MacGyver nodded, unrolling his tent. He hadn't been camping for a while and was looking forward to it. A vacation was just what he needed after dealing with bombs, runaway cars and, once again, Sam getting caught up in the kind of danger MacGyver wished he could protect him from. When Sam had expressed an interest in photographing up in the Northwest, it had seemed like an ideal opportunity for a road trip together. He hammered in the last tent peg and stood up, shaking the stiffness out of his hand.
By nightfall, they were sitting beside a crackling campfire and watching their stew bubble. MacGyver leaned forward to stir it and, as his t-shirt sleeve rode up, the firelight caught on an old scar. "I never noticed that before." Sam frowned.
MacGyver looked up, following Sam's gaze.
"Oh. Yeah…" He tugged his sleeve down as he sat back. "Little souvenir from Murdoc." He stared at the fire, lost in thought.
"What happened?" Sam leaned forwards, picking up a spoon.
"What do you know about Murdoc, Sam?" MacGyver sighed, poking at the fire with a stick.
"Well," Sam dipped the spoon into the pot and tasted the stew, moving it to the edge of the fire. "I know he's equal parts crazy and clever and that he's really fascinated with you. Other than that, not much."
"He's crazy alright, though I don't think he's as crazy as he used to be. He's also got nine lives like a cat, far as I can tell, 'cause he's survived stuff that would have killed your ordinary man. This," MacGyver indicated the scar, "Is the result of Murdoc trying to kill me halfway up a cliff face. He slashed at me with a knife, but then he ended up falling off the cliff himself." He shook his head and helped himself to the stew. "Fall would have killed anyone else." He looked into the fire again, his expression suddenly sad.
"So how did he survive? Sam frowned, wondering what memories the story had stirred. "How high up were you?"
"High enough." MacGyver ate a bite of stew. "I don't know how he survived the fall. He was pretty messed up, though – he didn't surface for a while after that and he was in bad shape even then."
Sam finished his bowl and dug into the pot for seconds.
"You know, this is pretty good to say it's vegetarian!" MacGyver shot him an amused glance. Sam grinned back around a mouthful of stew. "I hope Murdoc's learned his lesson, Dad, the last thing we need is a knife wielding maniac on the loose when we go climbing Williamson Cliffs tomorrow!"
"I think we're pretty safe. Last time I saw Murdoc, he was kind of on my side." MacGyver grinned, shaking his head. "Still trying to work that one out, actually"
"The bomb thing?" Sam stood up and stretched.
"The bomb thing." MacGyver leaned back against a boulder and looked up at the star-filled sky.
"Well, I'm gonna turn in, Dad. Don't stay up all night stargazing, will you? Can't have you falling asleep halfway up tomorrow and 'doing a Murdoc' off the cliff!" He stooped and gave his father a hug, then walked across the clearing to his tent.
MacGyver put more wood on the fire and settled back against the boulder, watching the flames. The warm light glowed on the empty pots, on the climbing gear heaped nearby and on MacGyver, staring into the fire and seeing memories there of another climbing trip, another fall. His hand strayed to the scar on his arm and he sighed.
MacGyver was up with the dawn, and by the time Sam crawled out of his tent, he had breakfast frying and coffee boiling.
Sam looked blearily at the array of climbing gear MacGyver was packing into his rucksack, then up at his father's cheery grin and disappeared back into his tent with a mug of coffee. MacGyver watched him go, shaking his head.
"You're just like your Mom, Sam, she wasn't a morning person either!" Sam muttered something MacGyver didn't catch and zipped the tent door shut behind him.
The morning was beautiful, with blue sky and sun that promised to be warm later on. MacGyver had slept well and felt ready for anything, though he had woken suddenly in the small hours. The campsite had been eerily silent, but the pots they'd left stacked up had been tumbled over. Some nocturnal animal, perhaps. MacGyver had looked for tracks, curious about their night-time visitor, but found none.
Half an hour later, Sam joined him. This time he looked much more his usual self. He grinned down at MacGyver and refilled his mug.
"Ahh… The power of coffee!" He sat down, savouring the smell. "So, Dad – what's the plan?"
MacGyver finished folding the map he'd been studying and zipped it into his bag.
"Well, Williamson Cliffs are about a half an hour from here. I say we pack up and head off pretty soon, so we get as much time there as possible. You should get some good pictures of the cliffs, they're spectacular. And there are a lot of Native American sites in the area too."
Sam nodded, swallowing coffee.
"Any places we shouldn't go? Some of this area's pretty special to the local tribes, I know."
"Yeah." MacGyver leaned back, stretching his arm and rubbing his hand. "We shouldn't upset anyone if we stay on the main trails, though this whole area's a bit of a sensitive subject right now." He flexed his fingers thoughtfully. "I think the whole of Williamson Cliffs will get shut down and given back to the tribes eventually."
"I guess I should get my pictures while I can, then." Sam went to the stream to rinse out his mug, wrinkled his nose at how gritty the water seemed this morning and set about packing his gear.
Leaving no sign at the campsite that they'd been there, MacGyver and Sam rode carefully back through the woods. As they rode, all the birds flew up at once, squawking and flapping out of the trees. Sam glanced up, momentarily spooked, but almost immediately caught his front wheel on a rock and had to fight for control of his bike. By the time he'd got back on track, everything was still and calm again.