Sobriety
by Judith Freudenthal


MacGyver entered his loft, covered in sweat from his weekly hockey game, stopping short when he saw a tablecloth, dishes and lit candles, all the makings of a romantic dinner for two.

Murdoc had been dead for a year now. Still MacGyver's mind flashed back to their "dinner date". Mac quietly put his hockey stuff on the floor and looked around, careful where he walked and what he touched. He was not about to fall into another of Murdoc's traps. He smelled vegetarian lasagna and suddenly realized he was quite hungry. Everything looked fine, almost too fine.

Mac saw a familiar face come out of the kitchen. It was his girlfriend Cathy Davies, his perfect match. A smile crossed his handsome face as he relaxed.

Cathy was in her mid thirties, attractive and intelligent. She had the same sense of humor as Mac. She was a few inches shorter than he was, had bright sparkling blue eyes, fiery red hair and a trim athletic build.

"You did this?" He asked, a little surprised, but definitely pleased.

"Yes. I thought you'd be hungry for a hot meal you didn't have to fix."

MacGyver walked over to her and gave her a quick yet passionate kiss. Cathy eagerly kissed him back, but wrinkled her nose at his aroma.

"I don't want to get you all wet." Mac said as he pulled away. "Yeah, I guess I could use a shower."

He went upstairs to the bathroom while she put the finishing touches on the table. The crystal wine glasses, white dinnerware and shiny silverware looked nice on the light blue tablecloth. The silver candlesticks held thin white candles, flames dancing in the slight breeze. There was a single red rose in a cut glass vase.

Shortly MacGyver returned with his hair damp from the shower, smelling of British Sterling and wearing a royal blue pullover and jeans.

Cathy wrapped her arms around him and involved him in a very long and passionate kiss. Mac's eyebrows arched in surprise and pleasure. He returned the kiss with as much passion. His brown eyes sparkled with delight. He had never felt so happy and so in love before. They enjoyed the taste of each other's lips. He kissed his way across her cheek and gently caressed the side of her face with his fingertips. Mac and Cathy worked their way to the couch.

Mac started to slowly kiss his way down her neck. She nibbled on his ear. He unbuttoned the first two buttons on her light yellow blouse. She ran her hands up the front of his chest, under his shirt caressing his bare, trim chest, tugging his shirt up towards his head.

Mac was immediately on the alert when the door rattled. Cathy quickly rebuttoned her blouse. Mac's shirt fell back down. The door opened and Sean Angus Malloy, otherwise known as Sam, entered looking a little annoyed.

Mac and Cathy sat up trying to look completely innocent, but not succeeding very well. Sam noticed that their hair and clothes were a little rumpled and felt a bit awkward disturbing them.

"Hi Dad. It looks like I'm interrupting something. I'll come back later," Sam said, a bit uneasily.

"Dad?" Cathy asked surprised.

"It's a long story," MacGyver stammered.

"I've got time," Cathy said teasingly. "I'd like it if both of you stayed right here."

Sam dropped his bag at the door and sat in a stuffed chair near the couch.

"My name's Sam. Sean A. Malloy if you want the long version."

"Mac, why didn't you tell me?"

"I was going to," MacGyver said, trying to squirm his way out. "Sam, I thought you weren't due home for a couple more weeks."

"Well, the editor decided that I wasn't old enough to cover the story so he assigned someone who was. I tried to convince him I was old enough and could handle the story, but you know how bullheaded they can be," Sam said. "How long have you two known each other?"

"Several years. We met at a party years ago. We would go for months without seeing each other."

"We've been seeing each other for about two months now," Cathy answered, intimating that they had become more than friends, but not yet lovers.

Mac knew the question she was dying to ask. He took a deep breath and began.

"I didn't know I had a son until we bumped into each other about a year ago."

"Bumped into? I saved your butt!" Sam grinned at his father, then turned to Cathy and continued. "I had been looking for him for years. All I had to go on was a picture in my mother's locket," Sam said, sadness creeping into his voice. "She was murdered before she could tell me my father's name. I was only 9." His voice trailed off.

"How terrible. It's amazing that you found each other," Cathy said.

Mac spoke up, "we talked and realized that we were father and son. I had met his mother in college. Her name was Kate Malloy. I never knew I had a son." Mac smiled wistfully at the memory.

"She used to tell me that she'd introduce us when we were both mature enough, old enough," Sam said with a small grin. "I always wondered what that meant, until I met him, then it all became very clear." He laughed, and it was easy to see he was definitely his father's son.

"What does the A stand for?"

Sam looked at Mac. Mac shrugged.

"Angus," Sam said, not terribly fond of the name.

"So that's why you never told me your first name. It's not so bad," Cathy said, having noticed Mac's small flinch.

"I don't know about that," Mac said, even less pleased with his first name than Sam was with his middle name.

"Sam, why don't you join us for dinner? Are you a troubleshooter like your dad?" Cathy smiled as she asked it.

"What?" Mac asked a bit puzzled.

"Nothing. Just you being a dad," Cathy teased.

"No. I'm a stringer. A photojournalist. I'd love to stay for dinner but I can't. I have plans."

"You don't have to go," Mac said wanting his son to stay.

"I do have to run. I promised a friend I'd meet her." Sam left, he felt too awkward, having interrupted something with his arrival.

"I'm great with kids," Mac said grinning. "He's a great kid. We've spent a lot of time together lately, when work doesn't get in the way."

"I know. I still can't picture you as a father." She grinned. "Now where were we?" Cathy said seductively.

Mac put his arms around her and kissed her passionately. He unbuttoned her shirt before he kissed his way down her neck and then kissed his way down her chest, onto her abdomen. She caressed his stomach muscles and his trim chest as she worked the shirt up his body and over his head, dropping it on the floor behind her. She ran her hand through his long light brown hair, enjoying the feel of it as it passed between her fingers.

Her body welcomed his gentle touch as he gently ran his fingers down her chest.

He scooped her into his strong muscular arms and carried her to the bedroom where he set her down lightly on the bed. He slowly lowered himself onto the bed next to her and wrapped her in his embrace.

Her fingertips traced a path down his back. She turned her attention to his tanned chest, kissing her way down slowly, inch by inch.

He unbuttoned her slacks and worked them and her panties down her legs, caressing her trim hips and thighs as he went.

Her hands found his zipper, working it loose as she continued to kiss her way down onto his stomach. His jeans and boxer shorts soon found themselves on the floor, her hands exploring the territory the jeans had covered.

The next morning found them snuggled together under the covers. Her back pressed up against his chest, his hand draped across her front. When the alarm clock sounded, Mac reached across Cathy and turned it off, enjoying the feel of her against him.

"Morning." They both said with a smile as their lips met again. Mac passionately kissed the woman he loved more than he ever thought he could. He smiled to himself as he thought about how wonderful it would be to wake up this way every morning.

Every fiber in their bodies cried out to the world that they were very deeply in love.

The next evening Sam was busy in the kitchen cooking a traditional Chinese dinner. The wok was steaming, the vegetables sizzled. Sam looked like a master chef hard at work. Cathy watched in amazement. She liked Sam and couldn't believe Mac had a son. Sam liked her too. He thought she was a good match for his father. Cathy noticed that Sam shared a lot of his father's traits.

"You cook well for someone your age."

"I've been on my own since I was 12. That's when I left the people who helped raise me in China. I wandered across China, and have since been too many places to remember. Cooking was a necessity, especially since I didn't have a lot of money. Usually I was broke or had only a few dollars to my name."

"Sounds familiar. Like father like son. Both wanderers."

"It's in the blood," Mac and Sam both said at the same time.

"That's obvious," Cathy teased.

"Anything serious between the two of you?" Sam asked, almost sure there was. Their bodies screamed 'we're in love'.

"Maybe."

"What do you mean maybe?" She said, playfully slapping his shoulder.

Sam was pleased to see his father so happy. Mac's eyes sparkled, lighting up his whole face, in that way they do when one has found their true love.

The next morning Cathy tried to make Mac late for his meeting with Pete. She grabbed hold of his the waistband of his pajama pants and pulled him back into bed. He momentarily gave in and kissed her deeply. She responded with an equal hunger. He pulled away knowing he had an appointment and would just barely make it.

"I have to go. I have to see Pete."

She pulled him back to her, not satisfied with his answer.

"Tell him you got stuck in traffic or got a flat tire."

Mac smiled wickedly as he seriously considered it. He used his remaining bit of willpower to give Cathy a quick yet passionate kiss.

Too late...

He gave in.

He snugly wrapped his arms around her as she kissed her way down his neck, onto his shoulder. He kissed his way down the side of her face, stopping to nibble on her ear briefly before he continued on down her jawline.

At the Phoenix Foundation Pete Thornton was busy checking his watch. He knew Mac was almost always on time and wondered what had kept him, even though he had a hunch. Pete was picking up the phone to call him when Mac knocked on the door.

"Sorry I'm late. I got stuck in traffic," Mac said, trying to sound convincing, and failing.

"How's Cathy?" Pete asked, with a chuckle.

"How'd you know?" Mac asked, a little embarrassed.

"How long have I known you? Also your voice gave it away." Pete grinned.

"I'm impressed," Mac said. "I really tried to be here on time."

Pete's only response was another chuckle and a large grin. He was pleased to finally see Mac get the happiness he was long overdue for. And judging from his friend's recent behavior, he was very happy. Pete had met Cathy and could tell why Mac was so in love. Cathy was as much in love with Mac as he was with her. Pete might have been blind, but he knew love when he heard it. Besides, he remembered when he had first married, how his wife had made him late to work a few times.

"Have you given the new contract any thought?"

"I can't. I have my life back and I enjoy it."

"I need you. How about if you work on a case by case basis. Take only those that you want to."

"Isn't that how I started last time?" Mac asked. He saw Pete's near panicked expression and took pity. "Okay. We'll try it."

"Good," Pete said with a relieved smile. "How are Cathy and Sam?"

"Good. Sam came back from his last assignment two nights ago. Cathy had a romantic dinner prepared for me when I got home from my game. Things were heating up between Cathy and me when he arrived. I owe him big for leaving," Mac said grinning wickedly before becoming serious. "For a moment I thought maybe it was Murdoc."

"Don't say his name," Pete said.

"I don't know if I'm doing a good job with Sam. I do enjoy having him around, when he's not working. He's a great kid."

"You're doing a great job. You missed the hard years. But then again, so did I, for the most part. I always knew you'd be a great parent, once you finally got around to it."

A few months later MacGyver leaned against the driver's door of his truck as he waited for Cathy to meet him. He realized that her business meeting was running late. As the president of her own consulting firm, she couldn't duck out early.

He had driven her to the meeting due to her having a stomach virus. He did not want her getting into an accident. He had parked in the closest spot he could find, which happened to be across the street.

Mac smiled as he saw her come out of the building. She smiled back as she spotted him. No sooner had she started across the street when MacGyver shouted "Cathy, look out!" He froze, unable to move as he saw the car speeding toward her like a lightning bolt.

Cathy saw the car a split second too late. She felt the pain as the driver's side of the hood made contact with her hip. Her briefcase flew out of her hand towards Mac, who watched helplessly as she flew across the hood of the car.

His heart skipped a beat as he saw the pain on her face as she flew off the other side of the hood, landing on the pavement with a dull thud. The car sped away as fast as it had arrived, leaving behind shattered lives.

"NO!" Mac cried out, his heart breaking, as he ran to her side, tears welling in his eyes. He had seen enough death to know what it looked like. It tore him apart when he realized that she was dying and he could not do a single thing to help her. MacGyver fell to his knees. He sat on the ground and ever so gently cradled Cathy in his arms, trying his best to make her comfortable.

"You're going to be fine. Just hold on."

"No. You know it too."

"Shhh. Don't talk."

"Will you marry me?" Cathy asked weakly, looking up into his brown eyes.

"Yes. Now you have to hold on," Mac said forcing a grin.

Cathy gave him a small smile before her broken body went slack.

"No!" He said heart broken. Tears ran down his cheeks. The sparkle left his eyes, leaving nothing but a haunted hallowness.

The police arrived and an officer had to pry Cathy out of MacGyver's arms. The cop helped him to his feet and escorted him away from the body. Mac wiped away the damp remains of his tears with the back of his hand.

"I'm Sergeant Springfield. Your name is?"

"MacGyver. It was a hit and run." Mac said with no light in his eyes, no life to his voice. He truly looked like a man that had lost his entire world.

"Was she your wife?"

"Fiancee. We just got engaged."

"I'm so sorry. What was her name?"

"Cathy Davies. She had no known relatives." Mac knew he had to answer the questions sooner or later. He just wanted to get it over with so he could grieve for her in peace. He still could not believe that she was gone.

Sergeant Springfield saw that MacGyver was in no condition to answer any further questions. He looked totally drained.

"One last question. Can you tell me anything about the car?"

MacGyver concentrated. "It was a white Audi. It may have been this year's model. It looked new."

"Thank you. My partner will drive you home."

MacGyver was alone in his loft. It was almost unbearable. He could smell her perfume still in the air. He heard her laughter and her beautiful voice. He laid on the very same couch where Sam had almost caught them in what could have been a very embarrassing situation. Tears ran down his face. He was alone. Truly alone.

There was a knock on his door.

"Go away. I don't feel like company," MacGyver said, his voice full of grief, depression, and a touch of anger.

"I was sorry to hear about Cathy. Call me if you want or need anything. Or just to talk," Pete said. He knew that Mac was going to sulk until he snapped out of it. It was how Mac handled grief. He heard the depth of Mac's angst in his voice.

The morning of the funeral Sam arrived home. Sam entered and gave his father a comforting hug. He couldn't believe Cathy was dead. She had been so full of life the last time he was home.

"I'm so sorry, Dad. I know how much you loved her. I liked her a lot," Sam said, tears welling in his eyes. "I just heard last night. I hopped the first plane. Did I miss the funeral?"

"No. It's in an hour," Mac said, his eyes full of tears. "I can't go."

"You should. You'll hate yourself later if you miss it." Sam was scared by how much pain he saw in his father's eyes. It brought back painful memories of his mother's death. He had never seen his father so hurt, or so vulnerable before.

MacGyver, Sam, Pete and Cathy's friends were at the funeral to pay their final respects.

"Good-bye, Cathy. I love you," Mac whispered, his eyes full of tears. He laid a beautiful bouquet of red roses on her casket. Tied to them was a pair of simple gold wedding rings.

Both Sam and Pete were surprised by the wedding rings, Pete especially. Pete had known that someday the right woman would tame his best friend's restless soul. He had had a glimmer of hope that maybe Cathy would be the one.

The minister said a few words. Mac couldn't take looking at her lying there, knowing she was gone from his life forever. Her death had left a giant hole in his soul. It was more than he could stand and with the tears that he'd fought to keep away, running down his cheeks, he stood and turned his back on his lost love, quickly running from the chapel. Concerned, Sam started to follow his father but was stopped by a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder.

"He needs time," Pete said, his voice barely more than a worried whisper.

Sam had never seen his father so despondent before. Pete had, when Mike died. Pete was concerned because Mac seemed more devastated this time.

MacGyver arrived home with a brown paper bag in hand. Once inside he set it down on the kitchen counter and picked up the phone. He dialed a number, heard the phone ring and prayed that someone would answer.

"Dalton Air. I'm currently out. If you leave your name, number and a brief message I will get back to you as soon as I touch down." The machine beeped. Mac hung up disappointed.

"Great." Mac said a bit annoyed.

He walked over to the counter where he pulled a pint of scotch out of the bag. He stared at the bottle for a long moment before he put it down and headed for his car. He wanted the bottle's comfort, but refused to give in to the temptation. He had barely reached the loft's door before he turned around and walked back over to the bottle.

Mac opened the bottle and poured himself a glass. He picked it up and was about to drink when he hesitated. A part of his mind wanted him to resist the temptation. The rest reminded him of how good he would feel if he gave in. A moment later he had downed the glass. He refilled the glass and with less hesitation, swallowed it in two gulps.

That evening, Sam returned from his assignment. He was a little concerned when he entered the loft and saw his father sulking on the couch in the dark. The only light in the dimly lit area came from a small lamp across the room. Neither the pint nor the glass were anywhere in sight.

"Dad. If you need anything at all, I'm here."

"I just want to be left alone," Mac said, sounding totally defeated. He looked almost lifeless laying there on the couch.

"You sure?"

"Yes. Very," Mac said, with a little anger in his voice along with the deep sadness.

"Okay."

Sam put his dirty clothes into his hamper before he packed some clean ones into his soft-sided luggage and picked up his camera equipment.

"I'll call in a day or two," Sam said on his way out the door. He had another assignment. He missed Cathy, even though he had barely gotten to know her. Sam hated to see his father so despondent. It hurt to see his father LYING there day after day lost in grief.

Sam made a pit-stop on the way to the airport. He knocked on Pete's door. He needed someone to talk to who would understand his feelings.

"Do you have a few minutes?"

"Sam. Come in. Have a seat," Pete said, hearing the concern in Sam's voice.

"I'm worried about my dad."

"You know that everyone deals with grief differently. Mac tends to run away from people. He prefers to be alone to grieve. A couple of years ago he lost one of his two best friends. They were mountain climbing. Her harness broke and she fell to her death. Mac felt guilty because she was upset before she fell. I never learned about what but I do know that he blamed himself. He spent weeks sulking, grieving up at my cabin. He was very much like he is now. It was scary."

"What made him come home?"

"Someone gave him a wake up shove," Pete said, trying to keep his voice neutral, not letting his hatred for Murdoc show. "He would've come home on his own sooner or later. Mac needs time and space to work it out."

"I have a new assignment. Will you look after him?"

"Sure," Pete said, hiding much of his own concern.

MacGyver was restlessly asleep on his couch in the near dark. On the coffee table in front of the couch was a half-empty pint of scotch and an empty glass.

Suddenly Mac bolted upright, soaked in sweat, and breathing hard. "NO!" A tear ran down his cheek.

He opened his eyes, found his scotch bottle and poured himself a glass which he downed in one shot. He tossed back a second one before putting the glass back on the table and lying back down on the couch. He rubbed his hands across his face as if to wipe away his tiredness.

A friend of Mac's stopped by to see him. Mac reluctantly let the medical examiner in.

"What do you want?"

"I have some news you might not know. Cathy was pregnant."

Mac was stunned. "How..."

"About 7 weeks."

"Why didn't she tell me?"

"Maybe she didn't know. I found no records of any recent doctor's appointment. I discovered it during my examination of her."

His friend left him alone to grieve. Mac could not believe what he had just heard. He was to be a father, now it would never happen.

He tried to escape the pain of his losses through scotch and sleep. This went on for most of the next week. Whenever he managed to fall asleep he had nightmares about Cathy's death and their unborn child. The alcohol in his system deprived his body of its REM cycle causing him to toss and turn whenever he tried to sleep.

Pete was concerned how his friend was handling life and stopped by near the end of the week to check on him. He approached the loft door hesitantly, as if he didn't really wish to intrude, but decided Mac's well-being was worth risking his ire.

"Mac, you there?"

Mac was in no mood for guests but knew that Pete was not easy to get rid of. He knew he had to talk to him sooner or later so he reluctantly got up, hid the empty pint and glass before heading for the door.

"What do you want, Pete?"

"How about inviting me in?"

"Sorry. Come on in," MacGyver said, quite depressed and tired. It came across quite clearly in his voice. It showed on his face. He looked older, very tired. His head hung down, his shoulders slumped. His hair was uncombed.

Pete entered and made his way to the couch. He had been here enough times now to know his way around pretty well.

"Sam and I are worried about you. How are you doing?" Pete's concern came through in his voice. It was also clearly written all over his face. His eyes may have lost their sight but they still reflected deep concern for his friend.

"I'm okay. Just doin' some thinking," Mac said, feeling relaxed from the scotch. He had consumed enough to have a buzz going.

"How are you really?"

"It hurts. When I can fall asleep, all I see is the accident. I miss her so," Mac sighed. A single tear rolled down his cheek.

"I know. You know I'll listen any time you want or need to talk. Maybe you need a change of scenery," Pete said. "How would you like an all expense paid trip to -"

"I know. Thanks. I'm not ready for work."

Pete was surprised when he detected the smell of scotch. He knew MacGyver didn't keep alcohol at his house.

"Do I smell scotch?"

"A neighbor came over. He thought I might like to drink a toast to Cathy. He drank a glass. I didn't have one."

Pete knew his friend did not drink and saw no reason to question his answer. Something in the back of his mind did have a question about Mac's answer, but the rest of his mind ignored it.

"Mac, you can't withdraw from life. It's not healthy. You have a son to take care of. Besides I really need your help. All you have to do is go into Tokyo and retrieve a computer disk. Stay a few days to relax."

"Why can't you get someone else?"

"Because I need your special skills to get into the room where the disk is. If you do this I won't bother you again until you're ready to come back to work unless...."

Mac cut him off knowing the second half, "unless another emergency comes up where I'm the only one who can do it."

Pete nodded. "Please, Mac."

"If it will get you to leave me alone, I'll do it. When do I leave?"

"Two hours. I have your ticket right here." Pete said as he pulled the ticket out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Mac.

MacGyver had couple of scotches during the long boring Trans-Pacific flight. Business class had its advantages, he had room to stretch out as well as free drinks. He was unable to sleep on the plane, the alcohol impairing that ability once again. He arrived in Tokyo feeling relaxed and elated. He took a cab to his hotel and checked in.

Mac then took another cab to the building where his meeting had been arranged. He walked inside the tall glass and concrete office building where he met his contact.

"Domo Arrigato," MacGyver said, using some of the few Japanese words he knew. He bowed slightly as he spoke.

"Domo Arrigato. You speak Japanese? You know some of our customs," His contact said impressed, as he returned the bow.

"A few words. I try to know something about where I'm going."

"I am honored," the contact said. "The disk is in the vault in the storage room on the third floor. Here is a copy of the floor plan and security system. Good Luck."

"Thank you," MacGyver said, as he bowed again.

His contact returned the bow.

MacGyver stuck the small envelope into his jacket pocket.

He returned to his hotel room where he spread the floor plan out across the small table and studied it over a scotch. Once he was sure he knew the layout and security system he burned the papers in his wastebasket, being careful not to set off the smoke detectors or sprinklers. He had another scotch. He was buzzed, it was fast becoming his usual state of being.

MacGyver entered the building looking like he belonged there and took the elevator up to the third floor. When the doors opened he walked down the hallway casually until he found the storage room. He carefully and without notice picked the lock. He found his concentration and dexterity to be giving him some slight trouble.

He entered the storage room and headed past the organized shelves of boxes, straight for the vault. He hooked up a mini computer to read the numbers. Once he knew the numbers he punched them in, being careful not to touch the vault with his bare fingers, and opened the vault. A quick search revealed the proper disk which he removed and copied the label info to a blank disk's label, before leaving the blank disk in the other's place. He shut and locked the vault door.

He had almost made a clean escape when a security guard came his way. Mac turned and walked down the hallway and entered the first room he came to. Luckily it was empty. It was a lab of some sort. He heard footsteps in the hallway coming his way. He scanned the room and found a lab coat. He put on the lab coat and looked in the file cabinet. He found several empty file folders. He soaked some papers in one of the liquids on the counter. He put the papers once dry into the bottom folder. He walked out of the room like he belonged there.

MacGyver had almost reached the door when security approached him. He took a match out of his pocket lit it. He dropped the doctored file to the floor with the lit match landing on top of it. The file exploded putting up a smoke screen. Not a real thick one but good enough for MacGyver to escape. He dropped the rest of the files as he bolted out the door.

Back at the hotel MacGyver quickly grabbed his bag and split.

It was only after the airplane had been in the air for about an hour that Mac relaxed. He had several scotches during the first part of the flight. He closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep. The nightmares didn't come as frequently now, though they still plagued him. About halfway through the flight he had several more scotches. He was very relieved when the plane landed in Los Angeles.

Mac stopped by a package store on the way to the Phoenix Foundation where he bought two little mini bottles of scotch, which he drank on the way to the Foundation. Dropping the empty bottles into a curb-side trash bin, he quickly popped a few mints and headed inside to Pete's office.

He handed Pete the disks and the handwritten report.

"How did it go?" Pete asked.

"Pretty good. Only a minor problem or two. Sorry for the handwritten report. I did it on the plane. I want to go home and sleep for a week. I'm glad to be home again."

"Glad you're home safe, Mac. Good work."

MacGyver left. Pete read the report and found a few things wrong with it. Nothing major. Pete excused it as being pushed into work too soon.

Pete was disappointed to see little change in his friend's mood. There was still no light in the eyes and no smile. MacGyver still looked like a defeated/beaten man. He had hoped the job would have helped some.

MacGyver entered his house with a brown paper bag containing a liter instead of his usual pint. He grabbed a glass and headed for the couch. Once seated Mac opened the bottle and filled his glass. He tossed it back before refilling the glass.

Several hours later Mac had passed out on the couch. Sam arrived home from his assignment. He entered quietly since it was the middle of the night and he did not want to wake his father.

Sam turned on one small light and saw his father asleep on the couch. He saw the glass on the coffee table and the empty scotch bottle on the floor. He was quite surprised. He had never seen his father drink alcohol.

The next morning Sam was out doing some errands when MacGyver came around. The light hurt his eyes and he rolled over to put his face into the back of the couch, but that did not work for long. This was a nasty hangover, something he was not used to. He picked up the empty bottle and shook it, but dropped it to the floor when nothing sloshed. He stood up too quickly and immediately regretted it: the drums between his ears pounded louder and the room acted like it wanted to spin around him. He tried shaking his head to clear it, but instantly realized that it was not the right thing to do.

Mac headed for the kitchen. He grabbed a couple of aspirin from the bottle in the drawer under the phone. He washed them down with some orange juice straight from the bottle.

Sam returned home a couple of hours later. MacGyver was once again buzzed.

"Dad? I didn't know you drank?"

"I don't."

"I came home last night and you were passed out on the couch."

"I was dead tired. I had been to Japan and back in two days."

"There was an empty bottle of scotch on the floor."

"A neighbor came over and brought it. It was mostly empty. He drank it and I drank orange juice. He left the empty bottle on the table. I must've knocked it off."

Sam did not really buy the story but did not know what else to do.

"How are you?" Sam asked concerned.

"Okay. I just need some more time alone."

"Sure. I have another assignment. I just came back to pick up some clean clothes and fresh film." Sam was a little hurt that his father wouldn't or couldn't talk to him, but he hid it well.

At the Phoenix Foundation Pete was worried when MacGyver missed a meeting. No call. No nothing. It was not like him. Mr. Bronson was there as part of the joint Phoenix/FBI task force.

"I'm sorry. He's never missed a meeting without calling. He's always on time. Maybe he had a flat tire or was stuck in traffic."

MacGyver was at home laying on the couch sulking. He was thinking about a party he and Cathy had attended a couple of months ago. A smile momentarily spread across his face. He raised his drink in a toast.

"To my love."

He downed the scotch in one gulp.

MacGyver and Cathy were dressed in formal wear and attending a dinner party given by some of her friends. MacGyver looked stunning but quite uncomfortable in his tuxedo. Cathy looked very beautiful and elegant in her evening gown. They arrived separately and had not seen each other yet. MacGyver turned around in the hallway and saw her.

"Wow! You look great!" MacGyver said surprised.

Cathy checked MacGyver over from head to toe. She circled around him making him uncomfortable.

"You look terrific. You should wear a tux more often."

MacGyver pulled at his collar. Cathy playfully slapped his hand.

"I hate these things."

"I know, but you look terrific."

Sometime later, in the ballroom MacGyver and Cathy were slow dancing, holding each other close. They made a nice couple. Shortly the music stopped.

"Would you like to take a walk?"

"Sure."

Seeking some fresh air, they walked out onto a dimly-lit balcony. Cathy turned to him.

"I'm glad you came. This means a lot to me. Thank you." She said.

"You're welcome."

They were drawn into a kiss.

Back in the present, MacGyver poured himself another drink and downed it. A tear ran down his cheek.

"I miss you."

MacGyver handed in his latest report. Pete read the report and was surprised by the lousy quality of it. The fact that it was late forced him to rewrite it. Pete again excused it as the result of Cathy's death and Mac being pushed into work too soon.

Several days later Sam returned home and found the house a total mess. The kitchen was full of dirty dishes, take out cartons; the counters were sticky and piled with the dishes, cartons and trash.

Dirty laundry was tossed everywhere. It looked like the place of someone who no longer cared about anything. Sam was surprised.

His father entered the room. Mac's hair was uncombed, he hadn't shaved in at least two days, and was still in his clothes from the day before.

"Would you like some help cleaning up this mess?"

"I don't care."

Sam's concern grew. He wasn't sure how much more of this he could take.

The next afternoon, Pete checked his watch for what seemed like the hundredth time in the last two hours.

"Mac, where are you?" Pete said concerned.

Pete called Mac's. No answer. Next he tried the cell phone. Again no answer. Concerned, he left the office.

Pete and Sam arrived at the house at the same time.

"Is something wrong?" Sam asked Pete outside the house.

"I was just going to ask you the same question. Mac and I had a meeting two hours ago. He never showed."

They entered the house. Sam was surprised to see his father drunk. Not buzzed, plain old drunk. A mostly empty liter of scotch was on the coffee table. Mac had a drink in his hand.

"Come in. Have a drink."

"Is he..." Pete inquired quietly of Sam. Pete was quite surprised. He had never seen Mac take a drink as long as he had known him.

"Yes."

Unknown to them Jack arrived. He watched from the doorway, careful to stay out of sight.

"Anyone want a drink?" Mac offered.

"No thanks." Pete said. "We had a meeting two hours ago."

"I'm sorry, Pete. It sorta slipped my mind." Mac said, his speech a tiny bit slurred, as he finished his drink.

Mac poured himself a drink. Sam shook his head.

"It's my fault. Everyone close to me dies. Danny, Cathy, Mike, Lisa. Just leave me alone! Before I kill you too."

Jack entered. "It's not your fault. It's the alcohol talking. What happened?"

"I killed them both like I killed them all."

"It wasn't your fault. None of it. It's the alcohol that's making you feel that way," Jack said far too calmly. "It's me. Your old buddy Jack. Talk to me, Mac."

<Had he done this before?> Pete thought. <Naah. This is Jack. King of trouble.>

"Just leave me alone!" Mac said. Anger and frustration grew inside him.

Jack signaled for the three of them to leave. They did. They weren't getting anywhere and knew that most likely they wouldn't.

Outside Pete asked Jack "Why did we leave?"

"You can't argue with a drunk." Jack said matter of factly.

If Pete had been able to see he would have slugged Jack.

"How can you call him a drunk?" Pete angrily asked. "His fiancee was killed by a hit and run driver. He gets drunk once and you call him a drunk. Some friend."

Jack just ignored them and walked away. Nothing he could say would help so he left.

"Did my dad ever drink, Mr. Thornton?"

"Not in all the years I have known him." Pete said.

"Could that guy be right?"

"Jack right? No. He's usually the one to get Mac into trouble." Pete said trying to be reassuring. He succeeded fairly well. But then DELETE> [the] he thought about what he had said. <Could Jack be right, as scary as it seems,>

Pete was back in his office trying to concentrate on his paperwork when what Mac said hit. His face fell, his heart SPACE> broke for his friend.

"Oh, my," Pete said out SPACE> loud. He now understood why Mac was so upset. He had lost both his fiancee and their child. <Maybe that was why they were marrying.>

MacGyver awoke with a major hangover. He headed for the kitchen where he grabbed a couple of aspirin, which he washed down with the orange straight from the bottle.

Mama Lorraine entered all loud and cheerful. Mac thought his head would explode. She saw he was hung over and whipped up a disgusting smelling concoction from ingredients found in Mac's kitchen. She poured the liquefied contents into a glass and handed it to Mac. He very reluctantly took it. He started to put it down when he got a whiff of it and recoiled.

"Drink it." Mama Lorraine said sternly.

Mac reluctantly did as told. It tasted equally disgusting. Mac made a face as he drank.

"Drink more." Mama Lorraine said. "It's not that bad."

She wasn't satisfied until he finished almost half the glass.

"It is my special hangover cure."

"It tastes as disgusting as it smells."

A week later MacGyver was in Pete Thornton's office. Neither was happy at the moment. MacGyver had been drinking. Not enough to make him drunk, but enough to give him a comfortable buzz.

"Mac, what is it with this report? I've seen new agents turn in better reports their first time. Burnout's have turned in better ones."

"Despite what you might think. I'm not perfect. I'm human. I screw up once in a while."

"I couldn't believe it when I heard you blew the mission. I've never known you to do that."

"I'm only human. I can't always do the impossible. I'm surprised I've gone this long without a major screw up. Half the things I've done should've gotten me caught, hurt or killed."

"You've always done the impossible. For as long as I've known you."

"There have been a time or two when I failed. Remember the terrorists? Remember the French jewels?"

"Yes. Jack got you into the jewels. Okay. I see your point."

Sam arrived home. Mac was working on his computer. He had a glass of scotch next to the keyboard.

Mac turned around to face his son.

"How was the job?"

"Good. I have another one in a few days." Sam said as he walked over to his father.

Sam looked over his father's shoulder at what he was working on. It was the same report Mac had been working on when Sam left.

"I thought you finished that?"

"I did. Pete wants me to make a few minor changes."

Sam smelled the scotch on his father's breath."

There was a knock at the door. Mac finished his drink and poured himself another as he got up from his computer and headed for the door.

"Come in." Mac said as he opened the door for Pete.

"Hi Mac."

"Care for a drink?" Mac asked.

"No. I did come by to talk to you about some stuff."

Pete made his way over to the couch where he took a seat.

"Dad, why have you been drinking since Cathy died?"

"It makes me feel better. I haven't been drinking since she died."

"Mac, I have a question to ask you. I want you to answer it honestly. Do you have a drinking problem?" Pete asked concerned.

"No. I can stop whenever I want to."

"Then why are you drinking now?" Pete asked.

"I lost the woman I love and have a drink or two and everyone thinks I'm an alcoholic. Some friends you are." Mac said defensively. "I can stop when I want to."

"Then why don't you?" Pete asked.

"Because I don't want to. It helps me feel better."

"It won't stop the pain. It may put it off for a while, but it won't stop the pain."

"You don't understand. I saw her bounce across the hood of the car and land on the pavement. I saw the driver flee without a thought to her. I held her in my arms as she died. She was in so much pain. It took her dying request to get me to accept her proposal. Then to make matters worse, a friend told me she was 7 weeks pregnant. I wonder if she even knew."

Sam and Pete were surprised by MacGyver's alcohol related confession. They knew they would most likely never have gotten that out of him had he been sober. They did not want to accept the fact that Jack may have been right. That Mac did have a problem.

Sam was stunned to learn that he almost had a brother or a sister. He was not sure exactly what to think or feel about that.

Sam and Pete entered Jack's hangar. Jack was working on his sad excuse for an airplane. Jack was surprised to see them.

"Dalton, you here?"

"Pete, I thought you swore never to come here unless something happened to Mac? Is he all right?"

"How'd you learn that?"

"Mac."

"He's still drinking." Sam said.

"Jack, you've known Mac longer. Did he ever drink?" Pete asked.

Jack was surprised.

"You mean he never told you?" Jack asked. "Mac's an alcoholic."

Pete was stunned. He couldn't believe it, though it did explain why Mac never drank. And it did help explain his recent behavior.

Sam was quite surprised. He didn't know his father as well as these two did.

"He had been sober for," Jack did a quick calculation, "fourteen years now. I helped him get help sober and tried to be there whenever he was tempted."

Pete could not believe it, MacGyver an alcoholic. What was more surprising was that Jack helped him out of trouble instead of his usual getting him into trouble.

Jack dropped by MacGyver's unannounced. Mac was quickly headed towards intoxication; he had a good buzz going and a good start on the next day's hangover. Jack knocked on the door.

"Mac, it's me."

Jack opened the door and entered. He saw the partially empty liter of scotch on the coffee table.

"What do you want?"

"Mac, what's wrong?"

Mac said nothing. He just sat there and stared into his almost-empty glass.

"Nothing. Just leave me alone."

"We had a deal. You were supposed to call me. Remember?"

"I did. You weren't there."

"Why now, after fourteen years?"

"Want a drink?"

"No."

"Then I'll have one."

"You know you can't. You're an alcoholic, remember?"

"I felt like it." Mac said as he finished the drink in his hand.

"Sam and Pete are worried about you."

Mac poured himself another. Jack's sentence hit.

"You didn't tell them did you?" Mac said a mixture of panic and anger.

Jack did not say anything.

"Dammit, Jack! You had no right." Mac angrily said. "It was none of your business."

"They came to me. They asked me if you ever drank." Mac finished the drink in two gulps.

"Mac, you need help. I offer the same deal as last time."

"Get out." MacGyver said as he poured himself another drink.

"Talk to me, Mac. What's wrong?"

MacGyver missed an appointment with Pete. Pete was not that surprised anymore. He was annoyed and a little angry that Mac did not call.

Pete arrived at MacGyver's, knocked on the door before he opened it and entered. He could smell the scotch.

MacGyver had a good buzz going. The partially empty scotch bottle and glass were sitting on the table.

"We had an appointment. If you're not going to show the least you can do is call."

"I'm sorry I forgot. My memory hasn't been real good lately."

Pete had a seat in a chair near the couch. He could smell the scotch on MacGyver's breath.

"You've been drinking again, haven't you?"

"What business is it of yours?"

"It's my business when you miss meetings and appointments because of it. You have to stop drinking."

"I didn't miss the appointment because I was drinking. Sam borrowed my keys without asking."

"Maybe he told you but you were drunk and don't remember."

"If all you're going to do is yell then you can just leave."

"Mac, this isn't like you."

MacGyver decided to prove to them that he did not have a drinking problem. He showed up at Pete's office totally sober. He was clean shaven and his hair was nicely brushed.

"Good morning Pete. I'm sorry for my recent behavior."

Pete noticed that MacGyver seemed to be back to normal. He did not detect any scotch and some of the life seemed to have returned to MacGyver's voice.

"It's okay. Maybe I was a little too hard on you. You ready to return to work?"

"Sure. Maybe it will help get my mind off of it."

"That's great. I have the perfect job for you. I need you to recover some files for me. It's a local job."

MacGyver entered a downtown Los Angeles office building and headed for the seventeenth floor. He entered the offices of Minicom, saw that just about everyone was out, and headed for the nearest empty office. He closed the door, sat down at the desk, and hacked his way into the computer system. He retrieved the computer version of the file Pete wanted and found the hard copy. Once done he returned the computer to the file it was on and left the office exactly like he found it. Mac left without anyone knowing he was there.

MacGyver returned home and wrote up the report.

Sam entered. He saw his father working on the computer and went over to him.

"Hi, Sam. How about we take in a hockey game tonight?"

"Sure." Sam said a little surprised. His father looked and sounded sober. The life was somewhat back in his eyes and voice. There were no visible scotch bottles. The house was tidy.

"I'm sorry for my recent behavior ."

"No problem. I'm glad to see you back to normal."

"I have to turn some stuff in and I'll pick up the tickets on the way home."

"I'll cook dinner." Sam said.

MacGyver entered Pete's office and handed the stuff to him.

"Pete, here's the computer file and the hard copy. Also my report."

"How's it going?"

"Sam and I are going to a hockey game tonight. Wanna come?"

"No, thanks. You two need to spend some time together. Besides, you know hockey's not my game."

"Yeah. Thought I'd ask anyway."

Pete quickly looked over the report, pleased that it was up to MacGyver's normal high quality.

"Everything looks fine. Enjoy your game."

"Thanks."

"Say hi to Sam for me."

"I will."

Pete was relieved to see that MacGyver hadn't totally relapsed. That he had climbed back onto the wagon.

MacGyver arrived back home and had dinner with Sam. They talked about Sam's recent assignments.

The hockey game went well. Both had fun together. It was like it had been before Cathy's death.

The next day Jack stopped by. Sam and Mac were playing a little one-on-one air hockey.

"Hi Jack." Sam said.

Jack noticed that Mac was sober. He had his doubts about how long it would last.

"Hi Sam. How's it going?"

"Better now."

Jack noticed that Sam had bought the routine. As had Pete. As had he, the first time.

A few days later Mac was taking a nap on the couch when he had the same nightmare again. It was really vivid this time. MacGyver bolted upright shaking. Once he calmed down some he walked over to the cabinet where his scotch bottle was, grabbed it and a glass and returned to the couch. He poured himself a glass and quickly downed it. He immediately poured himself another and downed it in one gulp. This continued until he passed out.

Sam came home in the middle of the night and found his father passed out again. He was stunned. He thought his father had gotten over it. Sam took his dad's car keys, the spare set and his own keys and split.

The next morning when came MacGyver around he HAD a major hangover, one so bad he didn't want to open his eyes or even move. He skipped the aspirin and orange juice. Instead, he picked the cup up from the floor and poured himself a drink straight from the scotch bottle. He downed it without hesitation. After the third drink his hangover faded and was replaced by the beginning of a nice buzz. One more drink gave him the welcomed buzz.

He stood, pleased that the room didn't spin, walked over to the kitchen where he hid the bottle and rinsed out the glass. Next, he headed upstairs for a quick shower before dressing. He went to grab his keys, searching all over for them, annoyed when he couldn't find them.

He donned his sunglasses as he left his house. As he walked down the street towards Haitian Creations he ran into Mama Lorraine.

"Mama, have you seen Sam?"

"No. I still can't believe you're a father."

"I can't either."

"Would you like me to give him a message if I see him?"

"Tell him I'd like to talk to him."

"I will."

"Thanks."

"MacGyver, something's different about you? What's wrong?"

"Nothing."

She knew that something was very wrong but couldn't quite put her finger on it.

MacGyver headed home to wait for Sam. About an hour later Sam returned.

"I want my car keys, now."

"No. Not as long as you're drinking."

"I never drink and drive. I'm not that stupid."

"Not after what I saw last night. You've been drinking this morning. I can tell."

"What business is it of yours?"

"I love you. I just found you and I'm not going to let you kill yourself or anyone else drinking and driving."

Sam left because he wasn't going to fight with his father.

Sam went to see Jack. He found Jack working on his poor excuse for an aircraft.

"Jack, what can you tell me about my father?"

"Did you have a fight?"

"Yes. I found him passed out last night. I took the car keys and split. He demanded them back and was annoyed when I wouldn't return them."

"Good for you. In a way you're lucky. Mac's not a violent drunk. A lot are. Some get very violent and abusive when they get drunk."

"I thought he had beaten it."

"It's a trick. They stay sober for a while, sometimes even a month to prove to everyone that they don't have a drinking problem. It never lasts without help. You can't beat alcoholism. You can abstain day by day but that's the best you can do."

"Did you and Pete fall for it?"

"Everyone who doesn't know about it falls for it. I did the first time. Pete did like you, assume that because he's sober that he's over it. Your dad's a great guy when he's sober. I didn't expect him to relapse because everything was going great for him. He's put up with me and my schemes more times than I can imagine. He's saved my butt more times than I care to remember."

"What kind of schemes?"

"Get rich quick, usually. I always mean well but things usually get a bit out of control."

"Pete's not real fond of you, is he?"

"No. It's better than it used to be. He hates me involving Mac in my schemes. He's afraid I'll get Mac arrested, injured or killed. I can't say I blame him. Mac does get annoyed at me at least once a scheme. I usually have to coax him into helping me." Jack said with a grin.

"How long have you known him?"

"Most of my life. There used to be three of us that hopped around the globe on one adventure after the other. Mike was beautiful and just as spunky as us. Mac and I both had a crush on her. I think he had it a bit worse than me. She liked him better. They were afraid to admit their true feelings for each other. She died almost five years ago in a mountain climbing accident. Mac was devastated but didn't turn to the bottle. He had other problems to snap him out of that depression."

"Like what?"

"Like a psychotic hitman with revenge on his mind and a flame-thrower in his hands. Murdoc torched Pete's cabin, mined the road, booby-trapped the jeep and chased Mac and a friend up a cliff. Murdoc fell off the cliff to his supposed death. I don't know what would've happened if Murdoc hadn't been there."

"Does he run across Murdoc often?"

"Let's see there have been six meetings that I know of over the last ten to fifteen years. Most within the last five years. Only during one did they work together as partners. That's another long story. Ask your father about Murdoc. Murdoc has more lives than a cat."

"Why did he start drinking this time?"

"I don't know. Only he knows. Same goes for what ended his sobriety trick." Jack said. "Is there more to the story than just Cathy's death?"

"Yes. A friend of Mac's told him that she was seven weeks pregnant. I don't think either of them had known."

"Oh man." Jack now believed that was the missing element, the thing that had pushed Mac over the edge. "Thanks for telling me."

Pete was disappointed when MacGyver turned in another report of lousy quality. Pete also noticed that MacGyver was drinking again. He did not know what to do. Pete reluctantly rewrote the report. He did not bother to say much to MacGyver about the report because it would just lead to excuses and another fight.

Pete and a Federal Agent waited in Pete's office for MacGyver to show up. MacGyver never showed. The phone rang. Pete answered it and Sam told him that his father had lost the car keys and couldn't find a taxi. They both knew it was a lie but at least it was something to tell the fed.

MacGyver was buzzed all the time now and thought no one noticed. Everyone noticed something was different and a few knew the cause, others suspected it. Sam and Pete were annoyed about having to make many of MacGyver's excuses, the ones he didn't make.

A few nights later Jack knocked on Pete's office door.

"Pete, you wanted to see me?"

"Yes. Mac's helped me so many times and I feel like whatever I do isn't helping him. I feel like I'm letting him down."

"It's not your fault. You can't stop him from drinking. Only he can." Jack said.

"Am I doing the right thing by covering for him?"

"No. You're only helping him to escape his responsibilities. In a way you're making it easier for him to drink. You have to let him fall on his face. He must be held accountable for his actions."

"But-"

"It's the only way." Jack said as he cut Pete off.

Pete knocked on MacGyver's door figuring that Mac probably had not been eating properly lately so he brought him breakfast. Mac answered the door looking like a wreck. He was in his sleepwear. Thornton entered.

"I brought a healthy breakfast."

MacGyver suddenly looked very sick, like he was about to throw up, as he bolted from the family room to the bathroom in the back of the house. Pete heard the rather disgusting sound. A few minutes later MacGyver slowly reentered the room and collapsed on the couch.

"You been drinking again?"

"Pete, I have the flu. I haven't had a drink since yesterday." MacGyver said sternly.

MacGyver was telling the truth. He had the 24 hour (stomach) flu.

Thornton was bothered by the fact that he was not sure if he believed Mac. He was not used to doubting his friend.

"Have you eaten lately?"

"I can't keep anything down."

Sam entered.

"Are you feeling any better?"

"Do I look like I am?"

"No."

"Sam, could you please pour Mac some coke? He needs fluids." Pete asked.

Sam poured a glass of coke and took it over to MacGyver.

"Drink it. It should help settle your stomach." Pete said.

"I don't want any." MacGyver said as he reluctantly took the glass from Sam.

"You need to drink plenty fluids. Just a sip?" Pete said.

MacGyver reluctantly took a sip. Within seconds he bolted from the room and once again threw up. A few minutes later he slowly returned to the couch where he again flopped down.

"Satisfied?" MacGyver asked.

"You weren't kidding. Would you like some tea, chicken soup?" Pete said.

"No. The thought of food is making me nauseous."

"The pharmacist told me that this should help settle your stomach. I also bought a thermometer." Sam said as he unpacked the bag setting the two items on the counter.

Sam removed the thermometer from its packaging and cleaned it. MacGyver reluctantly went along with it. A minute later Sam read the thermometer with difficulty.

"101.6. Why do they make these so hard to read?"

Pete and Sam now both believed MacGyver.

"Now do you believe me?"

"I'm sorry, Mac, but...." Pete said.

"I want everyone out so I can try to get some sleep."

"Try to drink some of that stuff." Sam said.

Pete and Sam left because they knew he needed his sleep to recover.

They walked a distance from the house before they spoke.

"I'll keep an eye on him. Do you think he was sober?" Sam asked.

"Yes, now. He said he hasn't had a drink since yesterday. If he's been that sick I have to believe him. I've had that type of flu before and there is no way he could hold alcohol down. His drinking may have lowered his resistance enough and he may have had some in his system at first." Pete said. "Thanks. Let me know if the two of you need anything. Hang in there."

"Thanks."

MacGyver's sleep was punctuated by nightmares and worshipping the porcelain god. Except for when he was throwing up he was asleep or just out OF it. Sam woke every time his father cried out from the nightmares or threw up. Around the middle of the next morning all his abdominal muscles were killing him, making him desperate enough to try the stuff Sam brought home. MacGyver discovered he did not have the energy to get off the couch.

"Sam."

Sam stumbled into the room half asleep. He was concerned about his father. If this continued much longer he was going to call for help.

"What?"

"I'm ready to try your stuff."

Sam poured MacGyver a small glass of the stuff and left the path to the bathroom clear. MacGyver took the glass and hesitantly took a small sip. It tasted like a very weak lemon drink with a little aftertaste. When that seemed to stay down he took another sip. A few minutes later he took a couple more sips. By the end of fifteen minutes he had finished the small glassful and his stomach seemed somewhat settled.

"It worked."

Both men went back to sleep, exhausted. MacGyver's sleep was still interrupted by a few nightmares. Sam was woken by his father crying out during the nightmares. Sam wished there was something he could do to ease them. He remembered having nightmares like that after his mother had been murdered. It was something you had to get over by yourself.

Several hours later Sam woke hungry and tried to find something to eat without waking his father who finally seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Sam saw Jack looking in the window and very quietly went outside to talk to him.

"How is he?"

"His stomach has finally settled down. I have to thank the pharmacist for the stuff he suggested. It worked. He's still having nightmares. I remember those."

"Nightmares?"

"Yeah. I had nightmares every time I fell asleep. I kept seeing my mother's murder. Sometimes several in one night. They were brutal." Sam said as he looked in on his father. "He seems to be sleeping more peacefully now. It was hard not knowing whether or not to believe him. I hated not being able to believe him without proof."

"I know how hard it is."

Sam saw his father stir and entered. Sam poured him another glass of the lemony liquid. Not only did it settle his stomach, it also helped to replace the fluids and electrolytes he had lost with all that throwing up. Mac took the glass and drank it slowly over the next few minutes. Sam fixed himself something to eat.

"How are you feeling?"

"A little better."

Sam took his father's temperature. He could tell that his father was in pain every time he moved.

"100.8. That's good. Do you feel up to trying something light?"

"No. Maybe later. You look almost as bad as I feel. You okay?"

"I'm okay, just a little tired."

"You don't have to stay here. I don't want you to make yourself sick."

"I don't have anywhere else to go. Besides I don't mind taking care of you."

There was a knock on the door. Sam walked over to the door and let Pete in.

"How is he?"

"A little better." MacGyver said.

"Sorry, I didn't know if you were awake."

"It's okay. My fever's down almost a degree and my stomach seems to have settled thanks to Sam's lemon stuff. My muscles are quite sore, but I think I'll survive."

Pete was pleased to see more of the spark of life return to Mac's voice. He knew it was a good sign when Mac's sense of humor returned.

"What do you expect, you gave them quite a work out. I'm glad you're feeling better."

"Thanks."

Four days later MacGyver was over most of the flu. He was still a little tired and a little sore. His fever was gone.

MacGyver entered Jack's hangar and saw Sam and Jack talking. He was wearing his sunglasses and was rather irritable.

"I'm fine. I'm just a little tired. I didn't sleep well last night." Mac said.

"Alcohol tends to do that." Jack said.

"Get off my back. I didn't drink last night."

"Dad, you've been drinking since Cathy's funeral."

"That's not true. Besides it helps me feel better."

"Mac, you know that's crap." Jack said.

"You're buzzed right now, aren't you?" Jack said. He knew the signs all too well.

"What business is it of yours?" Mac asked.

"We care about you, Dad."

MacGyver left because he was not going to get into that discussion again.

At the Phoenix Foundation the elevator doors opened. MacGyver in his sunglasses was the only one to enter before the doors closed for the ride to Pete's office. As soon as the doors closed Mac pulled a metal flask out of his jacket pocket. He opened it and took a drink or two before he saw/heard/felt the elevator slow/stop. He quickly closed it and put it away. He chewed on a couple of mints to get the scotch odor off his breath. The elevator door opened, he removed his sunglasses and exited. He was buzzed as usual.

Pete noticed but did not want to say anything in front of the Federal Agent. The Federal Agent did not notice. The meeting went well.

Mac and Sam went to a hockey game together. Sam did not say anything about the fact that Mac was buzzed before they left the house because he wanted to enjoy the time with his father and Mac seemed to always be buzzed these days. Sam didn't say anything about Mac's beer consumption during the game. He figured beer was a little less intoxicating than scotch. It was an exciting game.

"How about we get something to eat? I have to make a stop on the way home."

"Let me guess, the package store. Dad, you don't need that."

"Don't start with me."

"You need to stop drinking before someone gets hurt or killed."

"I don't want to get into this. I don't have a drinking problem. It's helping me with a rough time."

Sam didn't want to fight with his father. He hated when they fought, especially if it was about Mac's drinking.

"Fine. Let's just get something to eat. Something solid." Sam said giving in. <Is this how it is going to be from now on?> Sam sadly thought. He missed the father that Mac had been.

At the Phoenix Foundation the next morning the elevator doors opened. MacGyver in his sunglasses was the only one to enter before the doors closed for the ride to Pete's office. As soon as the doors closed MacGyver pulled a metal flask out of his jacket pocket. He opened it and took a drink or two before he saw/heard/felt the elevator slow/stop. He quickly closed it and put it away. He chewed on a couple of mints to get the scotch odor off his breath. The elevator door opened, he removed his sunglasses and exited.

Mac's not drunk but is a little more buzzed than usual.

He entered Pete's office on time for the meeting. Pete, Jack and the Federal Agent all noticed Mac had been drinking and it wasn't even lunch time yet.

"If you'll excuse me a minute I'd like a word with MacGyver. Jack why don't you show our guest around the floor."

"Sure. If you'll follow me." Jack said not exactly knowing where he was going.

MacGyver and Pete entered Pete's office. Pete closed the door. He was annoyed.

"I can't believe it. You've been drinking. Everyone could tell. You have to stop drinking. If you have a problem I'll help you." Pete said angrily.

"I don't have a drinking problem. I'm going through a rough time right now. It helps me. It makes me feel better. I can stop whenever I want to." Mac said angrily.

Their voices became louder as the fight continued.

"Then why don't you? Or can't you?"

"I don't want to."

"You're an alcoholic."

"Jack lied. He's trying to cause trouble."

"No. His eye didn't twitch once when he told us. Sam told me. You have a drinking problem. You need help. Let me help you."

"I'm not an alcoholic and I don't have a drinking problem. A friend wouldn't say that. So I guess you're right. I do have a problem, you." Mac angrily said as he stormed out slamming the door behind him.

Thornton did not know what to do.

MacGyver was pouring himself a drink when he heard Pete knock on the door. Mac answered the door drink in hand. Pete was discouraged when he could smell the scotch. Pete entered.

"What do you want?"

"I've been covering for you for the last several weeks."

"I know. Thanks." Mac said cutting him off.

"I came by to tell you that I can't and won't do it anymore. From now on you're on your own. Actually, this may be just what you need."

Mac downed part of his drink and angrily said, "thanks a lot."

"Mac, you have to stop drinking. I'll help you get help but you have to want to stop."

"It helps me feel better."

"No. It helps you escape for a while. Then you sober up and feel worse so you drink more."

"It's not like that. Stop talking to Jack."

Pete knew he wouldn't get anywhere so he left.

A car pulled up to Mac's place and the passenger side door opened. Mac managed to get his seat belt off with some effort and stumbled out of the car. Mac's friend drove him home because he was quite drunk.

"Are you sure you can make it to the door?"

"I'm fine. Thanks for the ride."

The car pulled away and Mac stumbled to the staircase and up the steps. He reached his door and had trouble getting his keys out of his pocket. He dropped them. He picked them up and had trouble getting the key into the lock. He dropped his keys again. He picked them up again and got the key into the lock on the second try. He unlocked the door, entered and went straight to his kitchen where he grabbed his scotch bottle before heading for the couch. Mac plopped down onto the couch and opened the bottle, taking a long draught. Within minutes he passed out face down on the couch, the bottle falling from his hand and spilling onto the carpet.

Sam came home shortly. He was disappointed when he saw that his father was passed out drunk again. Sam had not seen his father pass out in this position before. Mac was usually laying on his back like he was asleep. He smelled the scotch and saw the bottle on the floor. He looked around for the glass, a little afraid that Mac had fallen on it. Sam felt under Mac's body and was relieved to find no glass. He looked around the floor and saw no glass. He was torn between cleaning up the mess and leaving it. He decided to leave it for Mac to deal with. He split.

Sam did not know where to go. He needed to talk to someone. He headed for Pete's. He knocked on Pete's apartment door.

"Who's there?" Pete said sleepily.

"It's Sam. I'm sorry to wake you but I need to talk to someone."

The door opened.

"It's okay. Come on in. What's wrong?"

Sam entered. They walked to the living room and sat down.

"It's my dad. He's getting worse."

"I know."

"I came home and found him passed out face down. The bottle had slipped from his hand. He didn't use a glass this time. I actually checked to make sure he hadn't fallen on the glass. I've never seen him passed out like that. Usually he's on his back like he just fell asleep. I miss the way it used to be."

"So do I."

"How can I help him?"

"You can't help him stop. He has to want to bad enough." Pete said. He could not believe he was quoting Jack. "You have to stop covering for him. By covering for him you make it easier for him to drink because he doesn't have to face his responsibilities. He may have to hit rock bottom before he's ready to ask for help."

"I hope he gets help before he destroys himself. I feel so helpless."

"So do I." Pete said.

"Would you talk to my dad tomorrow? You've known him longer."

"Sure. Do you have anywhere to sleep tonight?"

"No. I don't want to go home."

"Feel free to sack out on the couch anytime you need to escape."

"How is he going to deal with his grief is he's always drinking?"

"He's not. That's part of the problem."

The next morning Mac woke with a horrendous hangover. He didn't want to open his eyes or move because it hurt way too much. He picked up his bottle and downed the little that remained. It didn't help ease the pain much. He skipped the aspirin and orange juice. He headed for his new bottle and grabbed a glass from the kitchen cupboard before he headed for the couch. Mac opened the bottle, poured a glass and downed it. A second glass followed the first. His hangover pain seemed to lessen. He had just poured himself a third glass when he heard a knock at the door. He didn't bother to answer, so Pete let himself in. He could smell the alcohol both in the air and on Mac's breath all the way across the room.

"Good morning."

"What's so good about it?" Mac muttered, a half-empty glass in his hand.

Pete could tell he was buzzed.

"Mac, you need to stop drinking before someone gets killed. You need help. You're an alcoholic."

"I don't have a drinking problem. I'm not an alcoholic."

"Okay. If you don't have a drinking problem then why are you drinking so early?"

"This was left over from last night. I was cleaning up."

"You've been drinking. One would have to be pretty stupid not to notice. I'm blind and I noticed. Sam saw you passed out cold. He spent the night at my place. He needed both someone to talk to and a refuge."

"Pete, we've known each other for years."

"Yes. So."

"We've always known when to help and when to back off, right?" Pete nodded and Mac continued, "back off, Pete. If I need your help I'll ask for it."

"Mac, I can't let you do this to yourself."

"I know what I'm doing. It helps me relax. It makes me feel better. And yes, I can stop whenever I want to. If you have nothing important to say please leave."

"I can't. This is the third time you passed out drunk. You've been intoxicated since Cathy's funeral."

"That's not true." Mac said a bit angrily.

"What do you call it?"

"Okay. So I have a drink or two. It helps take the edge off. It's not a problem."

"You have to face it sober or the pain will never go away."

Sometime later, Sam drove Mac to his meeting with Pete. Sam dropped him off and left. MacGyver wasn't in the mood to take on a new assignment.

MacGyver knocked on Pete's door before he opened it. He was a little more buzzed than usual.

"What was so important it couldn't wait?"

"I have some bad news for you and thought that you would rather hear it from me than someone else."

"What?"

"You've been suspended. Effective immediately. I'm sorry, Mac. They wanted to fire you but I reminded them of your excellent record. They cited your lousy work lately as one of the reasons."

"Thanks a lot, Pete." Mac angrily said. "I've been shot, beaten, nearly killed more times than I can remember and this is my thanks. I thought we were friends."

"We are. Who do you think got them to suspend you instead? You have to stop drinking."

"Did you tell them that I drink?" Mac angrily asked.

"I didn't have to. Anyone who looks at you can tell. It was the other reason they gave. You should take a good look at yourself."

"I don't see anything wrong with myself."

"Of course not. You've been drinking."

"It's none of your business." Mac angrily said.

MacGyver stormed out, slamming the door behind him.

When MacGyver reached the street he did not see Sam or the car anywhere so he hailed a taxi.

"Where to?"

"Joe's bar."

The taxi pulled out right as Sam pulled in. Sam waited a few minutes and did not see his father come out. Sam entered the Phoenix Foundation and soon knocked on Pete's door. Sam was surprised to see Pete alone.

"How did the meeting go?"

"Not well. I had to suspend him. He stormed out of here after we fought."

"When?"

"Just a few minutes ago. Why?"

"I haven't seen him. I'll see you later."

Sam left.

Meanwhile Mac was in the taxi finishing off his flask. The taxi arrived at Joe's. Mac paid the driver and exited the vehicle.

Sam started checking the bars near the Phoenix Foundation.

Mac entered Joe's and sat down on a barstool.

"I want a double scotch."

The bartender noticed that Mac was quite buzzed. He poured him the drink.

"Here you go."

Mac downed the drink in two gulps.

"Another."

"Did you have a bad day?"

"Yes and it isn't over yet."

The bartender poured him another double and set it in front of him.

"That will be $10.80."

Mac paid the bartender and quickly downed his drink. He had his back to the door so he did not notice Sam enter. Sam quickly found his father.

"Dad. Why don't we go home."

"Why? Pete stabbed me in the back. He said that the Board wanted to fire me and he got them to suspend me instead. He had to have told them that I drink. How would they have known otherwise?" Mac said. "Bartender, another double."

Upon seeing that Mac had transportation home he placed the requested double in front of Mac. Mac quickly downed it.

"Another."

"Why don't you slow down and we can talk." Sam said.

"No. I want another now."

The bartender placed the requested drink in front of Mac, who quickly downed it. He was drunk.

"Another." Mac demanded with a slight slurring of the word.

The bartender gave Mac another double scotch. Mac downed it. He was quite trashed.

"Another." Mac demanded slurring the word.

"I'm sorry but I can't."

"What do you mean you can't. This is a bar right?" Mac angrily said, slurring his words.

"Yes. I can't serve liquor to anyone who is drunk."

Sam paid the tab and helped Mac to the car. Once they got home he helped Mac to the couch where Mac passed out. Sam poured out every bottle of Scotch he could find. He knew it wasn't the answer but it would keep his father from drinking until he bought more.

Mac had a horrendous hangover when he woke. His stomach was very unhappy with him. Mac found himself bolting for the bathroom where he promptly lost the contents of his stomach.

Jack entered and heard the tell-tale sounds. From the available clues, he knew Mac had passed out the night before, and decided to have some orange juice while he waited for Mac to emerge. Retrieving a glass from the cupboard, he poured himself some juice, then put the container back into the fridge. As he took his first sip, he was not too surprised to find scotch mixed in.

"Put that down. You shouldn't go nosing around in people's fridges." Mac was angry at having his secret discovered.

"A new kind of orange juice? What do you do? Look in the dairy case or the package store?"

"What do you want?"

"I just stopped by to see how the two of you are doing."

Mac grabbed the glass from Jack and only succeeded in spilling it all over himself.

"Now look what you've done. Get out!" Mac left to change his shirt.

Sam entered and poured himself a glass of juice.

"I wouldn't drink that." Jack said to Sam.

Sam tasted it and noticed the scotch.

Mac started to causally look around for his scotch. Sam and Jack noticed.

"You won't find any. I poured it all out last night." Sam said as he poured out the orange juice.

"You had no right. It was mine." Mac angrily said.

"Yes, I did. I care about you. I'm not going to let you kill yourself."

"It's none of your business."

Sam refused to argue with his father.

Mac stormed out.

Jack and Sam just looked at each other. Helplessness was written over Sam's face. Jack finally spoke.

"He'll be back. You can pour out every bottle he brings home but it's just wasting money. He'll keep buying more. I was hoping he wouldn't have to hit rock bottom before he stopped."

"Was he this bad last time?"

"Yes."

"What finally convinced him to stop?"

"I don't know. He called me in the middle of the night and asked for help. I never thought he'd slip this seriously."

Sam and Mac were on their way to a basketball game. Mac was buzzed as usual. Sam drove. He noticed that Mac seemed to be searching for something. Sam saw a silver metal flask on the floor and pointed to it.

"Is that what you're looking for?"

Mac picked up the flask.

"If you don't have a drinking problem why do you have a flask of scotch. Don't try to tell me it contains something else."

Neither one said anything the rest of the way to the game. Sam was not about to let his father's drinking spoil his fun at the game. He refrained from saying anything when Mac had a couple of beers during the game. Sam could tell that the flask had been emptied earlier in the game, probably when Mac had gone to get them food and drink. Sam did not drink.

After the game they were in the parking lot. Headed for the car.

"I'll drive."

"No. You're intoxicated. I'll drive."

They reached the car. Mac tried to take the keys from Sam. Sam simply moved his hand and the keys out of reach.

Mac slapped his son and grabbed the keys. He got in and started the car.

Sam was stunned that his father hit him. He reluctantly sat in the passenger seat, determined to convince his father to turn over the keys.

Mac started the car, having a little trouble due to the alcohol in his bloodstream. He drove across the parking lot unable to stay in his lane. Sam noticed a semi heading straight for them and tried to grab the wheel. Mac swerved, barely avoiding a head-on with the truck and slammed on the brakes. Mac was stunned. Sam took the keys and forced Mac out of the drivers seat. They arrived home safely.

Once inside Sam threw a few things into a bag. He was angry and hurt. His father almost got them both killed. He had slapped him for no reason. He wasn't going to sit around and watch his father slowly kill himself and possibly someone innocent.

"Sam. Don't leave."

"I'm not going to stay. I can't take it any longer." Sam said as he left.

Mac laid on the couch to think. He had not had anything to drink since they entered. He could not believe he had slapped his son and then almost gotten them both killed. He fell asleep.

Sam knocked on Pete's door. "Pete, its Sam."

Pete answered the door. "Come in. What's wrong?" Pete asked concerned by the sound of Sam's voice.

Sam entered. "I can't take it any longer. My dad slapped me. He grabbed the car keys and nearly had a head on with a truck."

"Was he drunk?"

"Yes."

"Make yourself comfortable. I was just about to fix dinner would you like to join me?"

"Sure. Can I cook?"

"Sure," Pete said, knowing it might help to take Sam's mind off Mac. "You know it was the alcohol that made him do those things. He does love you very much."

"I still love him. That's why it hurts so much. I can't stay and watch him slowly kill himself and any innocent person who gets in his way."

"Maybe he'll get help before its too late."

"I just don't know anymore."

The next morning MacGyver woke with a small hangover. He headed for the fridge and poured out his spiked orange juice. He gathered up the bottles of scotch he had hidden in various places around the loft and dumped them as well.

He was scared, but knew what he had to do. And he had to do it while he was still sober.

MacGyver entered a small room full of people seated in rows. Mac noticed an empty chair, walked over to it and sat down.

"Welcome. Would you like to say anything?"

MacGyver stood up and said "My name is Mac. And I'm an alcoholic. I've been sober since this morning."

Everyone welcomed him to the group.

"Would you like to tell your story?"

"I recently lost a very special woman and my unborn child. I couldn't handle it and called my friend for help. When he wasn't there I gave in to temptation. It snowballed from there. I hit my son. Something I'd never done before. I almost got us killed because I was drunk and thought I could drive. I know better than to drink and drive. I turned on my friends and family. When my good friend managed to keep me from being fired and got me a suspension instead, I blamed him. I know it was the disease but I hurt so many people. Will they truly forgive me?"

"How long were you sober before you gave in?"

"Fourteen years. She wasn't the first person close to me I'd lost during those years. She died in my arms and I couldn't do anything about it."

"Did any of the others die similarly?"

"One did. She died in a mountain climbing accident. We had a slight disagreement right before she died. But I didn't turn to the bottle even though I was devastated. Maybe it was because I loved her as a friend not as a lover."

"Grief can make us do things we don't usually do. I started drinking when my son was killed by a drive by shooter. He was just seven. I turned to the bottle to drown the grief. It was the only way I could make it through the day. If I hadn't I would've lost my mind. Maybe committed suicide."

Mac had just left his AA meeting and it had helped, just like the first time. But he knew the hard work was still ahead of him.

Mac pulled into a parking space in front of the Phoenix Foundation. Before long he was knocking on Pete's door.

"Pete, I need to talk to you."

Pete noticed a change in MacGyver. This man sounded like the Mac he knew and liked.

"Come in."

"Pete, I'm sober and have been since last night. I want to apologize. You did what you had to do. I know that." Mac said humbly. "I'm sorry I never told you. I never told anyone. Jack helped me face my drinking problem fourteen years ago."

Pete grinned and Mac was confused.

"That's probably the only responsible thing Jack has ever done." Pete said. "If you ever need anyone to talk to..."

"Thanks, Pete. I almost did call you but I wanted to apologize in person. There hasn't been an hour since last night where I haven't craved a drink."

"What do you do?"

"I put it off till later. If that doesn't work I call someone and talk with them. In time the craving will lessen but the temptation will always be there lurking."

"If you're serious about staying sober I'll talk to the Board."

" I am. I'd appreciate that. It was stupid not to turn to my friends for help." Mac said. "Thanks, Pete."

"For what?"

"For not covering for me. For letting me fall on my face." Mac paused a moment, "For being a good friend."

"You're welcome. I have to tell you it was hard."

"I know. It was the right thing to do. It made me hafta face my drinking. That's the hardest part, to admit there's a problem." MacGyver looked at his watch and saw that he was late. "I've gotta run. I'm late."

"For what?"

"For my meeting."

"Meeting?"

"I've gone back to AA. It helped me last time and is helping me now. I'm trying for my ninety meetings in ninety days."

"That's great."

Jack popped his head in the door. He heard the end of Mac's statement.

"Did I hear you say that you were going for your ninety days?" Jack asked pleasantly surprised.

"Yes." Mac said with a smile.

"That's terrific," Jack said quite pleased. "I offer you the same deal as last time."

"I'll take it. Thanks."

MacGyver looked everywhere for Sam with no luck. Sam had disappeared from Pete's. Mac continued to look everywhere for the next three days. His fear grew as place after place failed to turn up his son.

Mac went home afraid that he had blown it for good with his son, his only living relative, and friend. Mac entered the house and heard someone in the back. Mac knocked on Sam's door.

"Can I come in?"

"Why? I have to leave." Sam said a bit angrily.

Mac stopped him by standing in the doorway and refusing to move.

"Give me five minutes. If you don't like what I have to say or if you don't believe me that's fine."

"Okay. Five minutes."

"I'm sober and have been for five days. I have gone back to AA. I'm sorry for slapping you and nearly getting us killed. I hope you can forgive me. If you can't, I understand. I was a jerk for not accepting the help of my friends or my son. I should've told you about my alcoholism. I never told anyone. Please give me another chance. I'm going to do my best to stay sober until the day I die."

Sam searched the house and found not one single bottle of alcohol, hidden or not. He searched his father and did not find the flask. He searched the car and again came up empty. This earned Mac points.

"I've listened to your side. Now listen to mine."

"Fair enough."

"At first I was quite surprised. I had never seen you drink yet I found you drunk and passed out drunk. That was a shock. I figured it was because of Cathy so I let it pass. Then it kept happening." Sadness crept into his anger, almost overtaking it. "I was hurt that you didn't tell me. I would've understood. What hurt me the most was when you slapped me. You had never hit me before. Then you almost got us killed. You knew better than to drink and drive." The anger briefly flared before settling back into the sadness. He wanted his dad to understand how much he had hurt him. "I haven't found any alcohol and you seem sober. I didn't want to lose you so soon after finding you. If you will talk to me instead of holding it in, I will give you a second chance." He noticed his father was a little uncomfortable hearing these things but he listened, truly hearing what his son had to say.

"I promise to try my best toO. But you are right. There are some things we need to talk about. If you have the time."

"I do. Why don't we go into the kitchen and fix something to eat."

"Sure."

In the kitchen they worked together to fix dinner.

"Alcoholism tends to run in families. You have to be careful not to fall into the same trap."

"What do I need to look out for?"

"Most of what you saw in me. When you drink out of need rather than want. When you drink whether or not you're with people. When you hide how much you drink or the fact that you drink. It is a progressive disease. It gets worse over time. Once you have the disease you can never have another drink because one drink is too many and fifty are not enough. Every day this last week has been a struggle to stay sober. Not an hour goes by where I'm not tempted to give in. Where I don't think that I can handle one drink. Either I put it off till later or I talk to someone, sometimes both. I know that the craving will ease in time, but it will never truly go away. I will be tempted for the rest of my life but as long as I have people who care about me I can resist the temptation. I know one thing, a drink is not worth losing my family, friends, career or life over."

That night Mac had a wicked nightmare about Cathy's death. He bolted upright soaked in sweat and breathing hard. He looked around for his bottle. He wanted a drink so bad it hurt. Mac was dressed and almost to the door before he stopped himself.

He went and knocked on Sam's door.

"What is it?" Sam asked sleepily and a little annoyed.

"I need to talk."

"Come in."

Mac entered as Sam turned on the light and sat up in bed. Mac sat on a corner at the end of the bed.

"You okay?" You look pale."

"I'm sorry to wake you. I had a horrible nightmare. I want a drink so bad it hurts. I was almost out the door before I stopped myself."

"I'm proud of you. It's okay. Why don't you tell me about it."

"Cathy and I were so happy and the next thing I knew she was flying across the hood of the car, landing on the street. I was holding her in my arms as she was dying. She asked me to marry her. I said yes. Then she died. They had to pry her out of my arms." Tears clouded Mac's vision. "I was so devastated that I could barely answer the police's questions. They gave up after a few tries. I couldn't tell them much." A single tear ran down his cheek. "A few days later I learned that she was pregnant. I wonder if she knew. Every time I fell asleep I saw the accident again and again. I felt like I let her down." A deep sadness filled Mac's eyes, going all the way down to his soul. Another tear ran down his cheek.

Sam hated to see his father in so much pain. He knew exactly what his father was going through and wished there was something he could say to make the pain go away.

"It wasn't your fault. It was an accident. There was nothing you could've done differently. The nightmares do stop eventually. I know. I used to have them after mom was murdered. Sometimes they were so bad I thought I was gonna die. I even scared the people I lived with. Sometimes I woke up shaking so hard that they thought I was having a seizure. Now I rarely have them."

"I can't wait till mine go away. There have been one or two times I thought I might die from the nightmares. The alcohol didn't help much. It masked the pain for a while but then I felt worse. After a while it didn't totally hide the pain. I couldn't face it sober so I drank more."

"I'm glad you're talking to me about it." Sam said, pleased that his father was talking to him instead of drinking.

"I would rather talk to a friend than a stranger. It is helping. I didn't want you to think less of me because I wasn't the person I seemed to be."

"You are my dad. I will never think less of you. Unless you turn into a serial killer." Sam said with a little teasing creeping into the last sentence.

Mac caught it and grinned.

"That's better."

"So what you're saying is we're stuck with each other no matter what." Mac said a little teasingly.

"Yes."

"I'm feeling much better now. Thanks. I think I can go back to sleep without needing a drink."

"I'm glad I could help." Sam said.

The next afternoon Mac was driving across town on an errand and passed the spot where Cathy died. It all flooded back as clearly as if it was happening all over again right in front of his eyes. He changed direction and headed towards the Phoenix Foundation.

Mac knocked on Pete's door.

"You busy?" Mac said, sounding a little desperate.

"No. Is something wrong?"

"Yes." Mac said as he entered and took a seat on the couch in Pete's office. "I need someone to talk to."

"What's wrong?"

"I was out doing my errands and I passed by the spot where Cathy died. It felt like it was all happening again right then and there. All I could think of was where was the nearest place to get a drink. You were the closest person I had to turn to."

"I'm glad you made the choice to come here."

"So am I. How's it going without me?"

"Tough. I'm keeping a few missions for you when you come back."

"Ones that require my special touch."

"Yeah." Pete said with a slight grin. He became serious again. "I have a meeting with the Board set up for next Tuesday morning."

"How are you doing?"

"Better. I have one less major headache to deal with."

"Thanks."

"Check out these reports you did and you'll see what I mean." Pete said as he handed a stack of papers to Mac. Mac quickly read through them, grimacing occasionally. He also managed a chuckle or two.

"Wow. These are terrible. I did better work in the third grade."

"Imagine how I felt reading these. There are parts that are so bad they're funny. Now read the rewritten version." Pete handed Mac another stack of papers.

Mac quickly read through them and noticed a remarkable improvement in all but one. "I didn't write these did I?"

"Just the top one. That is after two rewrites. The rest I rewrote. I am sorry for pushing you so hard to come back to work."

"You were just doing what you thought was best for both of us. I'm sorry for being such a jerk."

"How are you doing?"

"It's tough but with my friends all there to help me I'll make it. It gets a little easier with time."

"If you hadn't had this problem I would never have suspected. I didn't suspect it until Jack called you a drunk. It was after the first time we saw you drunk. He said you can't argue with a drunk. Boy did I want to slug him. I defended you. I still denied it until Jack told us that you were an alcoholic. You never seemed uneasy around alcohol."

"I had managed to put it behind me. I probably wouldn't have slipped if it hadn't been for Cathy's death."

"Have you managed to come to terms with her death yet?"

"I'm working on it. Is there anything I can do to make up for the fact that you had to rewrite so much of my recent work?"

"You can start by buying me dinner. I'm starved. Then you can help me catch up with my own paperwork."

"Sure. No problem."

"I'm surprised that you didn't drink to calm your nerves after every one of Jack's adventures. I was a nervous wreck the few times we had to work together. I was afraid something would go wrong and he'd be the most likely cause. I still find it amusing that the King of Trouble was the one to help you out of trouble the first time."

"It is kinda ironic, isn't it." Mac said with a grin. "Thanks, Pete. I feel much better. I'll be fine now. What do you say we go to dinner?"

"Sounds good."

Two days later Mac bolted upright from a nightmare. He was shaking and soaked with sweat.

"I didn't let you die. I swear."

He was alone in the house. Sam had taken an assignment now that he felt secure in his belief that his father would be fine. Also Mac had nearly pushed him out the door saying that they both had to get on with their normal lives. Mac dressed in a hurry and headed out the door.

Before he knew it he was back at home with a suspicious brown paper bag. Mac pulled a pint of scotch out of the bag and opened it. He hesitated a moment before he poured himself a drink. It sat there on the counter begging him to drink it. He put his hand around the glass and was about to raise it when he pulled his hand away and picked up the receiver instead. He dialed Jack's number.

"Dalton Air."

"Jack, this is Mac. I really need to talk to you."

"Have you?"

"Not yet. But it is sitting on my counter begging me to." "I'll be right over. Don't do anything you'll regret until I get there."

About ten minutes later Jack arrived at Mac's and found him sitting on the stairs outside his front door.

"That bad, huh?"

"Yeah."

"What's wrong?"

"The nightmares won't leave me alone. Tonight she accused me of letting her die. I didn't. There was nothing that could be done to save her. She died before the paramedics got there. I wish I could have one sober night free of nightmares."

"You will. It will take time. Just like this part takes time. How close did you come?"

"I actually went out and bought a pint. I had my hand on the glass and was about to raise it when I called you. I had partially forgotten how hard this part was. I had it so well under control I didn't think about it until...." Mac said with the sadness creeping back into his voice. "This is the worst of the three bad ones I've had lately. Two have followed nightmares and the other was when I passed the accident site."

"I think that once you deal with your grief the nightmares will stop and that will help with one cause of temptation. Has Pete talked to the Board yet?"

"Tuesday morning."

"How are things between you and Sam and you and Pete?"

"Better. Sam was understandably quite angry with me. I apologized and we talked. Each of us got to state our position without interruption. I went first. I also gave him the informational and warning talk. He didn't know what to do. He searched the house, car and me and was pleased to find no alcohol. I think that helped a great deal. I apologized to Pete. We also talked some. A couple of days ago he showed me some of the work I had turned in. Man did it stink. I've been helping him catch up on his paperwork. I think it will be a while before things are totally square with either of them. I have a lot of trust to reearn."

"I was quite surprised to see you drunk that first time. Not to mention quite disappointed. I was sure you were one of those that had it under control and wouldn't slip."

"Do you want to crash on the couch tonight?"

"Why are you going to need me again?"

"No. I just thought that you might not want to drive back to your place so late."

Mac stood up and headed back inside. Jack followed.

"Thanks. I think I will." Jack said with a yawn.

Mac walked over to the kitchen where the pint and glass stood. He picked them up and dumped them into the sink.

"Would you take the bottle with you? I don't want Sam jumping to the wrong conclusions. He probably wouldn't believe me at this point."

"No problem."

The next afternoon Sam was about to enter the loft when a glance through the window showed tears running down his father's cheeks and left without being seen. Sam was glad his father was finally grieving for Cathy.

"Why? Why did you take her?" Mac asked angrily as he whipped a pillow across the room.

He picked up the silver framed picture of Cathy he had kept and looked at it with a sad longing for something that could never be.

"I don't know how good a husband I would've been. I've never been one for commitments. But for you I would've tried. I also would've tried hard to be the best father. In case you didn't know, you were almost 2 months pregnant," Mac said, hoping she heard him wherever she was. His near death experience had taught him that there is more to death than the end of your physical existence here on earth.

His fingers gently caressed the side of her face.

"I miss you so much." Mac said as he wiped away the evidence of the tears with the palm of his hand. "Why does it have to hurt so much?"

A while later Mac was seated on the top step outside his front door staring off into the distance when Sam arrived.

"Why?" Mac asked. "Why does it hurt so bad?"

Sam sat down on the step below him. "I don't know why. It hurts because you loved her so much."

Sam put his hand on his father's shoulder to comfort and reassure him that everything would be okay.

It was Tuesday morning and Pete was in the Board room fighting for Mac.

"I know he made some mistakes. He had just lost someone very close to him."

"We all know that and sympathize with him. Mr. Thornton, we heard you had some new information for us."

"Yes. He stopped drinking. He is determined to stay sober. I'm here to ask that you remember all the good work he has done for us over the past 10 years and lift his suspension."

"Is Mr. MacGyver here?"

"Yes."

"Would you please ask him to come in."

Out in the hallway Mac saw Pete leave the Board room.

"How is it going?"

"I don't know. They want to talk to you."

Mac entered a bit nervously. He was dressed in a gray suit with a white shirt and a pale yellow tie. He was clean shaven and his hair was nicely brushed. The usual sparkle of life was back in his eyes.

"Hello."

"Hello. We have a few questions."

"Go right ahead. I have nothing to hide."

The Board members noticed that he seemed to be sober.

"Have you stopped drinking for good?"

"As you have figured out I am an alcoholic. Before this incident I had been sober for 14 years. I have been sober for ten days now. I plan on being sober until I die."

"Are you receiving help for your drinking?"

"Yes. I attend an AA meeting every day. My son and my friends provide love and support. I believe that the death of my fiancee and child, along with family and job related pressures led to my fall. I believe that I have dealt with those issues and they will not cause any further problems."

"Do you think that you should have told your family and friends? Or at least talked to them when you started drinking again?"

"I saw no need to tell them because it had been 14 years. I would have told my son eventually. I should have talked to someone when I started drinking again but the nature of the disease prevented me from seeing that. But then again once everything is over it is easy for people to say I should've or you should've."

"You do have a point there, Mr. MacGyver. It is too easy to second guess after it is all over. You have done excellent work for us in the past and we would like it to continue but we have to consider our interests as well."

"Thank you. I understand."

"If we were to lift your suspension would you be willing to undergo a probationary period?"

"Yes."

"Thank you. That is all. Would you please ask Mr. Malloy to come in."

"Sure."

Pete and Sam saw Mac leave the Boardroom.

"How did it go?"

"I don't know. Sam they want to see you."

Sam entered. He was dressed in a blazer and slacks.

"We understand that you are Mr. MacGyver's son and that the two of you recently found each other."

"Yes. It has been almost a year now."

"Did he know about you before the two of you met up?"

"No. My mom was killed before she told him."

"Why did it take so long before the two of YOU met DELETE>up?"

"She died before she could tell me his name. All I had was a picture to work from."

"How do you and your father get along?"

"Very well, most of the time. We have the occasional disagreement."

"Did you know he had a drinking problem?"

"No. Not until a friend of my father's told Mr. Thornton and myself."

"Has your father stopped drinking?"

"Yes. He has been sober for 10 days now."

"Is he getting help?"

"Yes. He goes to AA meetings every day."

"Thank you. Please send Mr. Thornton back in."

Sam left and Pete reentered.

"Mr. Thornton, do you believe that Mr. MacGyver has stopped drinking?"

"Yes."

"Do you believe that he will stay sober?"

"Yes."

"Did you know he had a drinking problem?"

"No. Not until a friend of his told Sam and myself. No one outside of his friend knew."

"If we were to reinstate him would you be willing to monitor him during a probationary period?"

"Yes."

"Thank you. That will be all. We will let you know our decision."

Pete left the room and saw two nervous faces waiting for him in the hallway.

"How do you think it went?" Mac asked.

"I don't know. It depends on if they believe us. You both look nice. I think the suit helped."

"I hope so." Mac said, running a finger inside the almost-too-tight collar. He hated suits of any kind, but in this case, the confinement was worth it, if it helped him get his job back..

Mac, Sam and Pete sat in Pete's office and waited for the decision. Pete couldn't keep his mind on his work. The intercom buzzed.

"Any word?." Pete asked.

"They're ready for you. They would like to see both you and MacGyver."

The tension in the room raised a bit.

"Thank you. Tell them that we will be right there."

Pete was the first one escorted into Board room.

"Mr. Thornton, We have talked it over and reached a decision. We are willing to lift his suspension if you will monitor him during his ninety day probationary period. We expect regular reports from you. If we find out that you have filed even one false report...."

"You won't have to worry about that."

"I hope that your faith is justified and that he doesn't let you down."

"He won't. Thank you."

"Send him in. Don't tell him anything."

"Yes, sir."

Pete left and motioned for Mac to enter. Mac entered. He was nervous.

"Mr. MacGyver, we gave the matter very serious consideration. This was not an easy decision to reach. We took in your spotless record and the death of your fiancee and child. Their death is no excuse for the behavior you've recently shown."

"I know that and I apologize."

"We'll mark it down to grief. We don't ever want to see behavior like that again."

"You won't."

"We decided that we will lift your suspension if you agree to a ninety day probationary period. One alcohol-related mistake and you're out. Is that understood?"

"Yes."

"I have ordered Mr. Thornton to be in charge of your probation and to file regular reports. He has a lot of faith in you. I would hate to see it broken."

"It won't be. Thank you, sir."

"I hope not for both your sakes."

"That will be all."

Mac left and rejoined Pete and Sam in the hallway.

"Yes." Mac said happily.

"Congratulations, Dad." Sam said

"Welcome back." Pete said as he clapped Mac on the back. "What do you say I take the two of you out and we celebrate?"

"Sounds good." Mac said. "Pete, I won't let you down."

"I know you won't."

That weekend Mama Lorraine entered with a trail of people bearing food and drink. Pete had come over to talk to Mac about work and personal matters. Sam was just arriving back from an assignment. Pete surprised by the long line of

people arriving for the seemingly impromptu party.

"What's the occasion, Mama?" Mac asked.

"We thought you could use a party."

The pretty women passing by carrying both food and liquor did not go unnoticed by either Sam or Mac. Pete couldn't help but notice all the terrific smells as the various dishes were paraded in front of them.

"Thanks, Mama."

They tried to get their three guests to try some of the more exotic dishes and were pleased when all three did.

"This is good." Pete said.

Mama Lorraine tried to press a glass of wine into Mac's hand.

"I don't drink."

"It's a party, live a little."

"I'm an alcoholic." Mac said. "I've been sober for two weeks now."

"See I told you there was something to celebrate."

Mama Lorraine handed Mac a glass of soda, knowing that he needed to know that he was still accepted by his friends. Sam and Pete grabbed sodas as a symbol of their acceptance.

"I'd like to make a toast." Mac said as everyone picked up their glasses.

"To life, family and friends. Three of the best things around."

"Hear, hear!" said the crowd.

End

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