"And so then me and Frog, we raced off round the dumpster and nearly got taken out by a pizza guy on a little bitty scooter!" Billy laughed and clapped his hands, miming the scooter driver's expression. "I thought he was going to end up in the river!" He shook his head, remembering the tirade of abuse the delivery guy had unleashed at them, and looked at Frog, asleep and snoring under the table.
"You guys have all the fun!" Nikki picked up another slice of pizza and sat back, tucking her feet under her on the couch. "So what happens to your homeless friend now?"
"Leonard?" MacGyver grinned. "Doc found out that he used to have a gardening business before he got ill and lost it. He's put him in charge of the Community Garden Project and found him a room at the YMCA, so I think he'll be just fine. His friend Jose will be OK too."
"That's great. I do like a happy ending." Nikki grinned. "What happens to the scumbags who kidnapped him?"
"Now we see what Kate and the police can get out of them and hopefully the street people are safe for a bit." MacGyver put down a pot of coffee and a pitcher of juice. "Or as safe as street people ever are, anyway." He sat down, helping himself to juice and pizza.
Outside MacGyver's house, the street lights started to come on. The fairy lights on Mama Lorraine's front porch came on too, twinkling in the gloom. Across the street, a shadowy figure hid in the darkness under a tree and watched. The tall civilian, another man with a dog and a dark-haired woman shared a meal and settled down to watch the television. He'd been there since the afternoon – first in the street, then around the back of the yard, now watching from a safe distance. The tall man's house would be easy to enter, with old style window catches and locks. He'd wedged the hall window already, so that it didn't quite close. All he had to do was wait here until the man's guests left and he went to bed.
Murder wasn't really his thing. He'd killed when necessary but never enjoyed it as some of his fellow gangers did. Preying on the homeless had been a means to earn serious amounts of money, rather than an opportunity for mayhem. One day he aspired to be a Suit himself, giving the orders and the threats, watching the others jump to do his bidding.
Sundance leaned back against the tree and waited.
"Well, it's been good to catch up, and to meet you, Billy." Nikki stood up and reached for her coat. "But unlike some people, I have to be at work in the morning. How'd you end up with so much leave, anyway?" She shook her head at MacGyver's grin. "Never mind, I don't think I want to know!" She reached down to pat Frog, who sighed and turned over without waking up, fished her car keys out of her pocket and jingled them. "Need a lift, Billy?"
"No, but thank you." Billy sat up on the couch. "We're staying over with Mac tonight, gonna head back in the morning." He nudged Frog gently out of the way and pulled on his boots, not bothering to lace them up. "I'm gonna get my stuff out of the truck, Mac. Back in a minute."
Across the street, Sundance watched the woman put on her coat and the unknown man get up. The woman came out of the front door, gave the tall civilian a hug and waved to him as she drove away. The unknown man disappeared into the house, but a moment later Sundance heard another car start up, backfire and drive away down a side street nearby. Perhaps he had parked behind the yard. The tall civilian came back into the front room alone and started picking up dishes and glasses. Sundance left his shadows and strolled across the street, to disappear into the overgrown garden of the house next door.
"Man, that neighbour of yours has the worst sounding car I have ever heard!" Billy came in through the back door and dumped his bag in MacGyver's guest room.
"I know – every car he gets sounds like that. I have no idea what he does to them!" MacGyver shook his head. "He's only had that one a short while; the last one wound up in the harbour."
"In the harbour. Right…" Billy folded his arms, leaning on the kitchen doorframe. "I don't suppose you had anything to do with that, did you?"
"Um…" MacGyver rinsed the last plate and set it on the rack. "Yeah, I might have had a little something to do with it!" He dried his hands and yawned. "He only has to have them a little while and they get all sorts of faults no-one else has ever heard of. I keep patching them up, but it's a losing battle."
"Yeah, by the smell of it, it's leaking all kinds of –" Billy broke off, turning to look towards the window. "You hear that?"
"Probably a raccoon." MacGyver shrugged. "They're pretty bold and they love to get into the trash."
Sundance crouched down under the window, cursing inwardly. His foot had crunched on a dry leaf and he was sure it had been heard from inside the house. He waited until the kitchen light went out and the bedroom light came on before he moved again. He sneaked around to the hall window and waited again. He heard water run in the bathroom, then the bedroom light went out. He waited another half hour and then eased the window open.
MacGyver turned over, half waking at an unexpected sound. Hearing nothing further, he went back to sleep.
In the next room, Billy and Frog snored. Used to sleeping through each other's noise, neither woke at the small squeak from the hall window.
Sundance let himself down onto the hall carpet, his feet making no sound. He drew his gun and padded down the hall to the bedroom, finding the door slightly ajar. Looking through the gap, he saw the tall civilian asleep on his back, one arm behind his head and with a shaft of moonlight striping the quilt. He moved the door to get a better angle for his shot and the door creaked…
Frog snuffled in his sleep, smelling a familiar scent. He sniffed, his sleepy mind working to place the smell… Then he woke up with a startled bark! He leaped off Billy's bed and raced into the hall, barking madly. He grabbed hold of something in the shadows with his powerful jaws and reversed into the hall, growling and pulling a black-clad figure with him.
"Frog! What the…?!" Billy followed him, half a pace behind and still mostly asleep.
MacGyver woke with a start, just in time to see Frog pulling someone out of his bedroom! Picking up the hockey stick that leaned on the wall beside him, MacGyver scrambled out of bed and swung the stick at the intruder.
Coming up from behind, Billy ducked under the stick and punched the intruder hard in the side of the head. The man snarled, firing the gun wildly. MacGyver grabbed the intruder's gun hand, wrestling with the man as Frog let go of the trouser leg and sank his teeth into the intruder's leg. The intruder yelled, kicked out and lost his balance, pulling Billy, MacGyver and Frog with him. MacGyver banged the intruder's hand against the floor until he let go of the gun, then grabbed the intruder's shirt front, landing a punch in his face. The intruder's eyes rolled up and he went limp.
"That's some raccoon!" Billy sat back on his heels, breathing hard. "Any idea who our mystery guest is?"
"Ow. Not sure…" MacGyver got up, shook out his punching hand and padded barefoot into the kitchen, returning with a roll of duct tape. "I've seen him somewhere before, though." He propped up the unconscious man and taped his wrists and ankles together.
Frog growled and strained at his collar as Billy pulled him off the man's ankle. Frog continued to sniff at the man's leather jacket, whining.
"What's he smelling?" Billy eased his hold on Frog's collar to stop the dog from choking himself, and Frog shot forwards, sniffing the man all over. MacGyver leaned in for a sniff too.
"That's it!" MacGyver snapped his fingers. "He's smelling aniseed on him! This guy is one of our kidnappers, I'm sure of it." He frowned down at the ganger, who was starting to regain consciousness. "I guess I'd better call and wake up Kate…"
"Nice catch, Mac." Kate looked through the bars at the captured ganger, sitting with his elbows on his knees and staring at the floor. "Aloysius Caesar Jones, also known as Sundance."
"Aloysius?" MacGyver shook his head. "Wow, I thought my name was bad enough!" He leaned on the bars, earning a nasty look from Sundance. "What happens to him now?"
"Well," Kate rubbed at her arm, where a bandage could be seen beneath her short sleeve. "At the very least he goes down for shooting a police officer, but I'm pretty sure the gang squad will have some other things they'll want to ask him about." She glanced at her watch. "I gotta get back to work. Don't stay too long, OK?" With a nod to the custody officer at the end of the row of cells, she disappeared back into the depths of the station.
As soon as she had gone, Sundance raised his head, looking at MacGyver.
"Why did you do it?" MacGyver frowned at Sundance. "Why kidnap homeless people? What was going to happen to them?"
"Money." Sundance shrugged. If he was concerned at being behind bars, he hid it well. "What happens to them? Who cares. Money in my pocket, man." He rubbed his fingers together as though feeling banknotes and smiled, showing a gold tooth at the front. He laughed softly, shaking his head at MacGyver. "You think I'm the one in trouble here? Man, you have no idea what trouble is. You a known face, my friend. The boss, he knows who you are now. You recognised. You marked." He sat back, leaning against the wall of the cell. "You better watch your back, man. Just because I didn't get you, don't mean the next one won't." He closed his eyes and tipped his head back. "See you around, Mac…"
MacGyver frowned, not knowing what to say. He was almost certain the ganger was bluffing, but Sundance did seem very confident.
Maybe he should watch his back after all.
"This man." A picture was pushed across the table, picked up by a manicured hand and studied.
"Who is he?" the voice was smooth and cultured, with no accent to place it.
"Angus MacGvyer. Serial do-gooder, works for the Phoenix Foundation. He's responsible for the downfall of friend Sundance and he was involved with that unfortunate Hawkins affair. He was also picked up in Germany recently, interfering with our well-laid plans. He's becoming a nuisance."
"How much of a nuisance?" The second voice came from the shadows on the far side of the polished table, it's owner indistinct in the dim light.
"Enough of a nuisance." The first voice sighed, as though at the prospect of a tiresome task. "Deal with him, would you?"
"Of course. Does it need to look like an accident?" the second voice was calm.
"Without question. Do not draw attention to ourselves, clear?" the manicured fingers flicked the photograph back across the table. "Especially as we'll be using Phoenix shortly."
"No indeed." The owner of the second voice got up and straightened his jacket. "Consider it done."