Tis the Season

The month of November brought an abrupt end to the above average temperatures Milwaukee and the entire region had grown accustomed to. Cold, cloudy days melded together and the first considerable snow of the season graced the Thanksgiving weekend. The employees of the Leroy Jackson Law Firm arrived to a barrage of phone calls and voice mail messages from distressed or injured motorists who had been in an accident over the long weekend. Leroy quickly called everyone into a briefing.

"As I'm sure you are already painfully aware," the lawyer began, "We are going to be inundated with personal injury, vehicular damage, and insurance calls due to the snowstorm. Therefore, I am asking that staff from all departments make themselves available to assist with these cases. If you have any questions, please speak with your direct supervisor. Thank you."

And with that the meeting was over. Mac and Jo were walking out of the room when Leroy called out.

"MacGyver, could I see you for a moment, please?"

Mac nodded and headed back into the briefing room. Joanna hung by the door, not wanting to eavesdrop, but not wanting to leave, either.

"Due to your past training, I'm going to assign you to accident investigations unless you have any objections."

"No sir," MacGyver replied obediently. "Just let me know where you can use me the most."

Leroy clapped Mac on his back. "I knew I could count on you, son." And with that the older man strode from the room.

MacGyver stood still as Joanna approached him, already knowing the question she was going to ask.

"Don't worry, Jo. I'll be fine."

"But the anniversary is coming up. You don't have to do this."

"Look," Mac replied, settling his hands on her shoulders. "I know that there was nothing I could have done to keep my dad and grandma from dying in that crash. If I can bring someone to justice or give a family the answers they deserve, then I'm gonna do it.

Joanna smiled encouragingly. "Then I'll do the same."

A few hours later, MacGyver stood by the side of a snow covered road looking down into a ditch. He glanced at the pictures he held of the mangled car that had occupied that space a couple days ago. It was amazing anyone had survived, but thanks to seat belts, air bags, and child safety seats the young family had been able to walk away with only a few bruises. In fact, they were currently meeting with Jo and one of the lawyers to see if they had a case against the other driver.

"Kinda makes ya think, doesn't it?" the lead investigator who had introduced himself as Mike Harlow asked, if for no other reason than to make conversation.

"Yeah, I guess it does," Mac replied thoughtfully, knowing full well how quickly an auto wreck could occur.

"Don't know what we're doin' out here," the younger man grumbled. "Between time and the weather, any missed evidence is long gone. Looks like we'll just have to rely on the police report for the facts."

MacGyver figured that Mike was eager to return to the warmth of his office. He knew Jo was happy she didn't have to go out in this weather. Mac smiled to himself. He had spent too many years in L.A. missing out on the seasons to take even the worst of winter weather for granted. It was just one more thing that confirmed he had made the right decision to make Milwaukee his home.

A few more hours and several accident scenes later, MacGyver was rethinking his love of snow. It was great for skiing, not so much for driving. Seemed all drivers turned into novices when the first flakes of the season fell. And this was only the beginning, as more snow was in the forecast for the coming week and long term predictions called for more precipitation than usual.

Upon returning to the office, MacGyver fixed himself a cup of hot chocolate before perching on the edge of Joanna's desk and looking over her shoulder as she worked. She already had several files piled up and was skillfully entering the data into the computer when suddenly her fingers began to fail her and she was hitting the 'delete' key more than any others.

"Could you please not do that?" she asked, turning to face him with a frown.

"Do what? I'm just watching."

"Exactly! I can't type when somebody's watching me. Now go away!"

"Getting a little cranky, are we?" Mac teased.

"I passed cranky three files ago," Jo mumbled as she continued to type.

"Sorry to interrupt," Mike apologized as he tapped on the door, "But we've got a live one. Just came over the police scanner."

He handed a piece of paper with what few details he had to Joanna.

"Open a case, will ya?" he asked her before turning to MacGyver. "Ready to go, man?"

Mac was just about to slide off the desk when Joanna spoke up.

"How about if I go with you, Mike? I've been stuck in this office all day and could use some fresh air. I can interview the witnesses while you investigate and we can kill two birds with one stone."

"Doesn't matter to me," Mike shrugged. "Meet you downstairs in five."

"What are you doing?" Mac asked, his brow furrowed in confusion. "I thought you hated going out in winter."

"Normally I do," Jo responded as she pulled on her weatherproof boots. "I just could really use a break."

This didn't sit right with MacGyver, but he was too tired from spending the day going from one accident site to another to argue.

"How about if I work on some of this data entry while you're gone?"

Jo smiled and winked saucily. "I'd love you forever!"

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The next day Joanna entered her office to find MacGyver sitting behind her desk, the files nowhere to be found.

"Did you get all the cases entered?" she asked as she shrugged out of her long wool coat.

"Yeah. I stayed late waiting for you to come back."

Jo winced. "I'm sorry. The interviews took longer than expected so I ended up going straight home. I thought you'd…never mind, I should have called."

Joanna noticed that MacGyver looked tired today. His eyes lacked their usual twinkle and his mouth seemed to be set in a permanent frown. She knew him well enough to know that he knew why she went to the accident scene yesterday.

"Look, I was just trying to—"

"To what?!" he shot back.

"You were cold and tired. You didn't have to deal with that, too."

"Three fatalities, one a juvenile. No, Joanna, you didn't have to deal with that!"

"You don't have to protect me, you know! I love that you want to, but sometimes I want you to let me do the same."

Mac sighed in resignation. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," Joanna replied, her composure now firmly in place. "Mike made me stay behind the police tape. I didn't see anything."

"But still."

"I'm good, Mac," she insisted, her skill at professional detachment serving her well.

There was a light tap on Joanna's door and the couple turned to see Leroy standing just over the threshold.

"Either of you have dinner plans for tonight?" he asked, a master at getting straight to the point.

The couple looked at each other and shook their heads.

"Good. Evelyn wants you both to come to dinner at her place. There's something personal we'd like to discuss with you."

MacGyver and Joanna drove straight to Evelyn's after work to find Leroy already there and looking very much at home. Conversation started quickly and flowed easily and soon the meal had been consumed and dessert devoured.

"Let's go into the living room where it's more comfortable," Leroy suggested, leading his guests out of the dine-in kitchen.

Joanna and Mac each settled in an overstuffed chair while the older couple shared a small couch.

"Why don't you go ahead and tell them, Evie?" Leroy suggested.

Evie? Joanna's eyebrows shot up and she sent a questioning glance toward MacGyver who sent her one in return.

Evelyn cleared her throat and waited until all eyes were upon her. "We wanted you two to be the first to know that Leroy and I are getting married!"

Joanna let out an uncharacteristic squeal and jumped up to hug her friend while MacGyver shook hands with Leroy and congratulated the couple.

"When? Where? I need details!" Joanna insisted happily.

Evelyn and Leroy laughed. "We're getting married a week from this Saturday at my church. My pastor agreed to a private ceremony," Evelyn explained. "It will just be me and Leroy and our witnesses. We were hoping you and MacGyver would agree to fill that role."

"Of course we will!" Joanna exclaimed and hugged her friend again before Mac could even draw a breath.

"What about the reception?" Jo asked.

"We purposely scheduled the ceremony for the day of the firm's annual Christmas party. It will serve a double purpose this year," Leroy shared.

"And then we'll be spending our honeymoon and the holidays in Ireland," Evelyn added.

"And we may not come back," Leroy winked.

Evelyn playfully slapped Leroy on his arm. "Now don't go teasing them

like that!" she chided.

"We left out one little detailed," Leroy confessed. "I'm also retiring from practice."

"What?!" Mac and Jo responded in perfect unison.

"I've been at the helm too long. It's time for someone younger with new ideas and more energy to take the reins. Carlos Hernandez has been my vice president for almost five years now. It's time he move up into the role I've been grooming him for."

After another round of hugs, handshakes, and congratulatory remarks, Joanna declared it was time to leave and they bid the older couple farewell.

Joanna was standing next to her car and had just pulled her keys out of her purse when a hand reached around from behind her and snatched them from her.

"Hey!" she whirled to find MacGyver grinning at her. "If I hadn't known it was you, that little stunt could've earned you an elbow to the gut or a heel on your instep," she warned.

"And here I was just trying to be polite," he said as he unlocked and opened the driver's side door before standing aside to allow her to get in.

"So what do you make of that?" Mac asked, nodding toward the house they had just left.

"I had a feeling there was something going on between them, I just didn't realize it was this serious."

"Yeah," MacGyver agreed before changing the subject. "Hey, the weather is supposed to be kinda nasty tomorrow. How about if I pick you up and we drive to work together?"

Even though Joanna had extensive experience in driving in any kind of winter weather, it was always stressful. And if she didn't have to clean the snow off her car in the morning she could grab a couple minutes more sleep. How could she refuse his offer?

"Thanks, that'd be great. I'll be ready."

"See you then," Mac promised, bending down to kiss her cheek before closing her car door and heading to his Jeep.

True to his word, MacGyver was parked in her driveway when Joanna left the house for work early the next morning. Deep down she was glad because rain from late the night before had turned to ice before snow blanketed the ground. Not conditions she looked forward to driving in. The cold weather that week kept the roads slick, causing Mac to appear in her driveway each morning. At work, the number of accident and injury lawsuits multiplied exponentially with each passing day ranging from serious auto collisions to someone slipping on their neighbor's sidewalk.

"You know you don't have to do this," Joanna ventured late Friday afternoon as MacGyver was driving her home.

"I know I don't have to," he replied, tossing a grin at her. "I want to. I want to take care of my girl."

Joanna inhaled sharply at his remark. Never had they assigned titles or nicknames to each other. Well, except for when he called her 'baby', but then again, he used that term a lot. Even with Frog.

"You are my girl, right?" Joanna could hear a tinge of uncertainty in his voice. She was stilled surprised at the vulnerability this otherwise strong, handsome, self-assured man hid just below the surface.

"Yeah," she replied, her voice huskier than she had wished. "I'm your girl. But you can't go on protecting me like this forever."

"Hey, I'm just giving you a ride to work," he back peddled. "You know, carpooling. Saving the environment."

"And I suppose it's just coincidence that your sudden urge to save the environment corresponds with the bad weather and number of accidents we've been working not to mention the anniversary of

your—"

"Fine," Mac snapped. "If you want to drive yourself I won't argue."

Joanna remained silent. Mainly because she didn't know what to say next.

"Look, I'm sorry," MacGvyer apologized, his voice low and gentle once more. "I have this bad habit of wanting to protect the people I care about."

By now they were parked in Joanna's driveway. Mac ran the back of his index finger down her smooth cheek before tucking it under her chin and coaxing her to look at him.

"I know," she smiled. "That's another thing I love about you."

"You love me?" he responded with an impish grin.

"I didn't say that."

"Yes, you did."

"Don't go puttin' words in my mouth, Mac," Jo scolded gently.

"Now why would I want to do that when there are so many better things to do with your mouth?"

He had barely finished speaking when his lips met Joanna's in a kiss that warmed her from the top of her head to the tips of her toes.

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The following Saturday found MacGyver standing next to Leroy in a small Catholic church. Evelyn, wearing a cream colored skirt suit and holding a small bouquet of flowers, stood on Leroy's other side with Joanna at her left. The foursome faced the priest who was prepared to begin the ceremony. Mac leaned slightly backwards to catch a glimpse of Jo. She wore a white blouse under a cheery red blazer paired with a long, straight black skirt. The very same outfit she was wearing the first time he saw her and she literally fell into his arms when she lost her balance on the rickety stool she was standing on. The memory caused a smile to tug at his lips.

As the priest continued to read scripture passages, MacGyver's mind drifted back to when he and Joanna had stood as witnesses for Pete and Connie when they remarried a year and a half ago. At that time, Mac had wondered what it would feel like to stand next to Jo and make those same promises to her, but their relationship had been too new and fragile for him to explore those feelings any further. Today, however, he knew exactly how it would feel. It would feel like coming home. Like putting the final piece of his life firmly in place forever without fear of losing it. Like flying high while growing roots at the same time. He no longer balked at these feelings. In fact, he welcomed them and the hope they instilled in his heart.

MacGyver's thoughts were interrupted when Leroy loudly cleared his throat. Mac looked over to find everyone looking at him. The rings. Just like at Pete and Connie's wedding, he had been daydreaming about Joanna and did not hear the prompt for the rings. He reached in his pocket and handed the simple gold bands to Leroy with a sheepish grin which was met with a knowing wink.

The ceremony concluded quickly and soon the two couples were happily mingling among their friends and colleagues at the law firm's Christmas party. A large conference room had been gaily decorated for the occasion. Tables were laden with catered food while songs of the season could be heard coming from speakers hidden throughout the room. Time passed quickly and soon one of the female senior partners grabbed a microphone and announced it was time for the bride to toss her bouquet.

"That's my cue to head for the ladies' room," Joanna whispered to MacGyver.

"Why?" he asked, grabbing her wrist before she could make her escape.

"Because it's a meaningless, archaic tradition that unfairly singles out unmarried women."

"Aw, c'mon! It's all in good fun," he cajoled. "Besides, wouldn't it make a nice keepsake if you managed to get it?"

Jo looked him square in the eye and he could see her resolve melt away.

"One of these days, Angus. One of these days I'm going to say 'no' to you!"

He winced at her pointed use of his given name, but was soon smiling as he watched her turn and head to the front of the room where the single females were gathering. She positioned herself in the middle of the back row and he shook his head in mock dismay. Evelyn stood before the group and then turned so her back was facing them and the countdown began. Just as Evelyn began to launch the bouquet, the other women scurried out of the way, leaving only Joanna standing in place as the flowers landed squarely in her open hands. The room erupted in cheers and applause.

"I was set up!" Joanna complained, even as Evelyn hugged her tight.

"It doesn't matter, dear. It still counts," the new bride said with a laugh.

MacGyver stood cheering and clapping with the others. Indeed, he couldn't have asked for a better set-up had he planned it himself.