The Date That Went to Hell

 “Oh come on Mac!”

“Nikki, what part of this are you not getting?” MacGyver muttered. The broken transmitter was in pieces in front of him, and try as he might to focus his attention on it, the distraction that WAS Nikki Carpenter had one hip on his desk. She also had her arms crossed and was glaring down at him.

He didn’t try to hide his irritation.

“You’re so caught up with THINGS that you forget there’s a whole world of PEOPLE out there, Mac. And I’m not going to let you spend any more time with the former at the expense of the latter!”

Sounds like high and mighty justification to get me to take YOU out, Nikki—“ he snapped, working on a particularly stubborn wire. She flushed a little, but worked her jaw for a second. Around them, various people passed to and fro along the hallway.

“Mac, that was really uncalled for! Just because I mention a new restaurant and the fact that you haven’t eaten yet isn’t any reason to make the assumption—!”

“Sure it is,” Mac glanced up through his bangs at her, sourly pleased to see that she looked both flustered and angry. Nikki was about a subtle as a train wreck, and while she had a good heart, she was too fond of getting her own way.

And lately that included him. Mac felt his annoyance grow. Nikki was a good friend, but deep down he knew that dating her would be about as much fun as dating an IRS auditor. And to be honest, the lack of personal attraction to her was pretty serious. Nikki might have lips and breasts and hips, but none of them kept him awake late at night, not like—

“Hey Mac, done with that transmitter?” Rose Clowderbock peeked in the door. She had on grungy sleeveless sweatshirt smeared with crab guts, and was carrying a bucket of dead fish.

 Nikki rolled her eyes dramatically.“Oh GOD! Rose, you REEK! And do you HAVE to drag that chum through here?”

“The gate’s locked and Kip didn’t show up yet, so I’m taking a shortcut through the building,” Rose told her cheerfully, shifting the bucket from hand to hand. Mac grinned at the sight of her; low cut jeans, long hair in two braids. She grinned back.

“Almost done. Hey Rose, you hungry?”


“Nikki told me about a new restaurant. I’ll pick you up at eight. And yeah, the transmitter’s about done so I’ll drop it off, okay?”

Rose blushed, and the bloom of it across her face was unexpectedly charming. “Okay—um, geez, I mean for the transmitter—“

“MACGYVER!” infuriated, Nikki slid off the desk and leaned down into his smirking face. Embarrassed, Rose took the bucket and sidled off. Mac shrugged.

“Nikki, I thought you’d be thrilled for me—I’m going OUT, just like you wanted, and I’m going to be with a PERSON, not a thing. Aren’t you delighted?”

Her pouting face said otherwise in VERY eloquent terms.

“I can’t believe you did that! Not only was that a cheap shot, MacGyver, you know darn well that Rose HAS a boyfriend who won’t be too thrilled about seeing you go out with her!”

“Nah, they broke up,” he replied, feeling a cheery lift at that news. He carefully reassembled the transmitter while Nikki glowered a moment, then stood up.

“Fine. What EVER. But don’t blame me if you’re bored out of your mind and end up with sand fleas! Rose Clowderbock is all wrong for you Mac and we BOTH know it—you’re sophisticated, well read, a traveler! Rose is a no-nothing little Podunk with an unhealthy interest in FISH, for God’s sake!” Nikki raged.

Mac glanced up at her again, his brows drawn, his lips tight. “Nikki, you’re talking about a friend of mine—” he warned in a lighter tone than he felt.

Nikki tossed her hair and moved to the door. “Mac, for such a smart guy, you’re really dumb about women—“ with that parting shot, she stepped out, leaving him to stare at the transmitter and mull over his own jumbled thoughts.

Rose was his friend. His very pretty friend. His friend with the tempting chest, and pert bottom, and—

He sighed. Rose was a lot of things besides his friend. Not that she knew it. Not that he was going to admit it. And certainly not to a ball buster like Nikki Carpenter. He flicked the switch of the transmitter and dialed for the frequency down in the Marine Labs. There was some static, and then the tinny sound of voices.

“He’s only going out with you to snipe at ME you know.”

“Yeah, I thought so,” Rose’s amused voice echoed in the room. Mac frowned and leaned forward, adjusting the dial a little more.

“So you ought to break it off and not give him the satisfaction of annoying me,” Nikki’s request still came out sounding like an order. Mac gritted his teeth and reached for the phone, but hesitated, not wanting to admit to eavesdropping. Rose’s next words startled him.

“Oh come on, it’s not as if he likes me anyway, Nikki—at best I get a dinner out of it, right?”

“Not if you don’t GO.”

Mac drew in a pained breath, not believing the complete cattiness in that voice. He pounded a fist on the table edge.

“Nikki, I’m hungry and I got asked out—I plan on going, so don’t get your panties in a twist. Mac is NOT about to make a play for me, so take the night off—trim your claws or something.”

Mac grinned, picturing Nikki’s face at that response.


“If you say so. If you like him so damn much why didn’t YOU ask him out?”

“Because it’s tacky for the woman to do that.”

A loud raspberry rattled through the transmitter, and Mac laughed. He couldn’t help it; that perfect response to Nikki’s smug comment reassured him that Rose could hold her own against Ms. Carpenter. He snapped it off and grinned.

It was going to be an interesting date.

***   ***   ***

The carnations were a whim. He’d scooped them up on the way through the check stand at the supermarket, just a small bouquet of ruffled- edged pinks. The clerk, a thin older man with half-moon glasses had winked at him.

“Kiss her for me!”

“You betcha,” Mac had replied with a grin. And now he stood outside her loft door, shifting nervously. He glanced down at himself, hoping he looked presentable in his black jeans and grey pullover with the bomber jacket. Mac finally knocked, smiling inwardly at the contrast of this with all the other times he’d been at this door loaded down with chips, urging her to open up before the hockey game started without him.

Previously, at least once a week Mac had wrangled a standing invitation to watch any game he wanted thanks to the satellite dish Rose’s landlord had installed. It had been an easy arrangement, with Mac parked in front of the TV, and Rose puttering around doing her chores. The give and take of the weekly drop ins was comfortable for both of them.

And now it was—different. This door knock was different. This was date. With rules.

“Hang on,” the door swung open, and Rose looked at him, her face slightly flushed. She waved him in, hopping on one foot.

“Broke my strap,” she called out over her shoulder to him. He held out the flowers to her backside.

“There are for you . . .” he muttered, realizing too late what a stupid thing it was to say. Of COURSE the flowers were for Rose. She looked back at him, tripped and fell on the carpet in a sprawl. Mac froze for a moment and then reached for her, tugging her up with his free hand.


“Sorry, sorry,” came Rose’s mutter as she lurched against him. He thrust the flowers at her again, and she laughed.

“Wow, the whole nine yards, huh? You must really be ticked off at Nikki.”

“Nikki?” he remembered in time to pretend to sound puzzled. Rose managed a crooked smile as she gathered the flowers and sniffed them appreciatively.

“Come on, Mac—she was sitting right there practically in your lap when you asked me out.”

“Yeah, well--If I wanted to go out with Nikki, I’d have brought ear plugs,” he muttered. Rose giggled. She handed him her high heel and scooted out to the kitchen for a vase of water. Mac studied the shoe. The strap had snapped right at the hole where the buckle tongue went in. He pulled out his knife and found the awl, then carefully drilled a new hole half an inch down on the strap while Rose hobbled back in.

“Beautiful,” she murmured, nose still in the flowers. He looked up at her and his mind completely agreed
Rose wore a baby pink button down sweater and skirt set. The color set off her tan and auburn hair, which was held back over one ear by a green fish shaped barrette. Mac held out her green high heel; she stepped into it and he knelt, buckling it up for her.

“Wrong fairy tale you know,” she told him. He grinned.

“I dunno, seemed like a Cinderella moment to me.”

With a snort she plucked a carnation from the vase and batted him on top of his head.

“Arise, Sir Mac and take me out for seafood.”

“As you wish, Brat.”

Winslow’s was crowded; the Maitre’d gave them an estimate of half an hour before a table would be ready. Mac shot Rose a look, but she was staring at the lobster tank in the lobby, a frown on her face.


“These aren’t local, are they?” came her question. Mac shrugged and stood a little closer as she studied the slowly moving crustaceans. Rose smelled nice, something light and summery.

“Because they’re under the limit—at least this one in the front is—if that’s three pounds I’ll kiss a cod, Mac. They’re violating state code.”

Standing next to her, a small boy with grimy hands was licking the glass of the tank. Mac winced.

Rose shook her head. “Two pounds eight ounces at the most.”

“Well we don’t exactly have a scale at the moment, and anyway, we’re here to . . .”

With that, Rose turned to look up into his face. Her expression was guarded, eyes wary. “Here to eat, right? Just have some dinner.”

“Yeah.” Mac agreed awkwardly. He didn’t understand why it suddenly seemed so difficult. He’d dated enough to know the routine. And this was Rose, who was always easy to talk to—

“Hey!” Rose grabbed at the boy, who was sticking his arm into the water, agitating the lobsters. They scuttled in the tank, piling up at the far end. Mac took a step closer.

 The boy struggled. “Wanna pet the crab!”

“It’s not a crab, it’s a lobster.” Rose told him. He shoved his arm deeper in the tank.

From somewhere over their shoulders came the loud yell:


“They’re lobsters!” Rose growled. Mac watched the enormous woman lumber towards them and tugged Rose’s shoulder.

“Umm, let’s just set him down . . .”

But as Rose tugged the boy; he gripped the side of the tank, rocking it. It sloshed water on the floor. The large woman loomed, her arms going around the squalling boy. She tugged, peeling him up and out of the tank. Water splashed over Rose’s blouse, startling her.


The cold salt water turned the pink sweater transparent, the garment clinging to her chest and ribs as she sucked in a shocked breath.

 The boy laughed. “You got boobies!”

“ROBBIE!” the woman clapped a hand over his mouth and hauled him off. He pointed again. “Boobies!”

Mac felt the heat rising off his face in heavy waves Rose had tried to pull the material away from her skin, but the sweater clung, emphasizing her erect nipples and rounded curves.

“H-here . . .” Moving quickly, Mac pulled off his jacket and handed it to her. She slipped it on, looking a little lost in it, but her grateful smile made him feel better.

“Well, Robbie Byers may not know his lobsters from his crabs, but he knows boobs when he sees them,” she quipped.

Mac snorted a laugh. “Good taste starts young—”

Rose blushed again and looked over at the bar while Mac chided himself for yet another stupid remark. He couldn’t remember being this gauche on a date in a long time. He put his hands on Rose’s shoulders and steered her to a free seat.

Sympathetically, the bartender handed them a huge stack of napkins. Rose took a handful and began wiping her sweater while Mac ordered a pair of Grolsches.

“Damn—I really liked this sweater too—Mom and I bought it for Easter last year when I had to get my picture taken for the family album.”

Mac grabbed a napkin and blotted her hip. “Well I don’t think it’s ruined.”

“No, but it’s going to stretch. Oh well, it’s probably par for the course. I’ve never managed to date well. Almost every one of them had some disaster happen. I got thrown from bike, and I had egg salad dumped on my head and once I had to bite a goat’s nose—”

“What?” Mac looked up at Rose in surprise.

She nodded. “He was eating the back of my skirt. I was caught on a barbed wire fence when we had a picnic in a private field. Got caught and had to climb out, got stuck. The goat wandered over and started to eat my skirt so I had to bite his nose. Mac?”


“Um, your hands are . . .”

They looked down at the same time; Mac’s hands were clearly and firmly blotting the sweater around Rose’s breasts. He jumped back, napkin fluttering down between them as the bartender set down their bottles of beer.

Mac rubbed his face, suddenly aware that he was blushing again. Rose saluted him with her bottle and winked. “Looks like you and Robbie are on the same page—“

Mac choked on the mouthful of beer.

When the waitress finally ushered them to a table, both of them were starving. The booth was a tiny one near the kitchen doors, Rose scooted in easily, but Mac had trouble finding room for his legs. He settled for parking them in a sprawl off towards the wall as Rose studied the menu.

“You’re in luck—they’ve got salads and pasta and stuff like that.”

“Don’t worry about me—you find something you like, okay?” He lightly ordered.

 Rose sighed and set the menu down. “Come on, Mac, ‘fess up. Why are you doing this? To rub Nikki’s nose in it? Because you don’t have to . . . .”

“Rose, look I asked you out and you said yes. It doesn’t have anything to do with Nikki, okay? Can’t I just take you to dinner on my own prerogative?”

“It’s suspicious, Mac. And you have to admit the circumstances were slightly—misleading,” Rose shot him a skeptical look.

 MacGyver drew in a patient breath. “Yeah well it was something I was meaning to get around to anyway . . .”

Rose paled a little and bit her lip; he realized how hurtful that sounded, even to HIS ears so he leaned and took her hand in his.

“I mean I OWE you dinner for all those games you let me watch, okay?” he explained carefully, wondering why it seemed so important to get that straight.

Rose dropped her gaze to the menu again. “Oh. Yeah.” she cleared her throat a little and pointed to something on the plastic card.

“Want to split a spinach salad?” she offered gently. He was about to nod when a huge crash made both of them jump; the door to the kitchen slammed open and a thin blonde waiter flew out.

“I HATE you Dominic, and I’m leaving! You and your fancy promises and bedroom eyes! You’re such a bastard!” he hissed furiously. Startled, Rose and Mac watched as a suave chef in crisp white came out to the waiter, shaking a cleaver.

“Stop it, Brent. It’s not like that! Paolo is just a friend. He means nothing to me, not like YOU—“

“You kissed him! That’s not what you do with a friend, Dominic! And to think I gave you the best eight months of my life!”

“Brent, darling angel, don’t do this to me!” Dominic snapped back. Rose shot a look at Mac. The two lovers were right in front of their table, completely oblivious to them. Rose turned her head to hide her grin.

“Oh don’t you DARE darling angel ME!” Reaching over, Brent took Rose’s beer and dumped it on the chef, who glowered. Mac motioned for Rose to move closer to the wall.

“The man’s waving a cleaver!” He whispered just as it came whistling down with a heavy ‘thunk’ into the wood of the table. Rose yelped but didn’t scream.

Dominic advanced on Brent. “So help me Brent, I love you and you’re the only one for me!”

The headwaiter came swiftly towards the two men, a fire extinguisher in hand, nozzle pointed at the two of them.

“Boys, let’s not have a repeat of last week, all right? We have a full house, and I need you both. Dominic, we all know you love Brent, and Brent, Dominic’s crazy about you, so let’s kiss and make up—orders are waiting!”

Brent looked through his tear-stained lashes at Dominic, who grinned. “You ARE my darling!”

The two men lightly kissed, amid some clapping and throat clearing from various fascinated patrons. Rose was stifling giggles in the heel of her hand. Mac pried the cleaver up and handed it back to the headwaiter.

“Um, I think this is yours . . . and we’re ready to order . . . I think.”

“Very good sir.”

After a moment, as the restaurant settled down again, Rose looked across the table at Mac. They both grinned.

“Love the floor show?”

“Oh yeah,” Mac fingered the deep gash in the tablecloth, “real cutting edge drama there.”

The food was good; on that account Nikki had been right. As Mac dug into his pasta he watched Rose daintily scoop scallops out of their shells.

Ohhhh these are great! I hate to say it, Mac, but we may owe Nikki a thank you—how’s the pasta?”

“Great—have a bite,” he held out a forkful to her. Rose hesitated at the easy intimacy of the gesture; Mac waved it slowly in front of her lips.

“Go on—it’s worth it,” he urged in a slightly husky tone. She grinned and let him slip the forkful into her mouth.

Mmmmmmm . . .”

Mac fought the surge that flushed through his body at her tone; at the sight of Rose’s tongue sliding on his fork as she lapped at the pesto sauce.

“Oh that IS good!”

“You’re telling ME?” he rasped softly. With deliberation, he pulled the utensil back and licked it himself, then scooped up another forkful of pasta. Rose flushed.

“Mac . . . came her warning tone.

 He gave her an innocent look. “What?”

“Stop with the flirting thing . . . I’m not used to it,” she confessed. Mac shrugged easily.

“It’s a date—that’s part of what you do on a date.”

“This isn’t a date, Mac, not really. We’re two friends going out to dinner,” Rose told him loftily.

 He shook his head. “It’s a date. We’re dressed up. I brought you flowers and I’m buying the dinner. Ergo, it’s a date.”

“And if we split the check?” Rose sounded intrigued.

 Mac frowned. “That’s not going to happen. What’s wrong with going on a date with me anyway?” Mac pushed his julienne carrots around his plate fretfully. Rose arched an eyebrow at him, her fish barrette twinkling in the light from the table lamp.

“There’s nothing wrong with dating you, Mac—according to several sources, it’s supposed to be a lot of fun, okay? And so far, it’s been . . . interesting, so stop torturing your vegetables.”

Mac looked up, suspicion on his face. “SEVERAL sources?”

Rose managed to keep her smirk small; she speared a scallop and waggled it in his direction. Ummm, yes, actually. Certain people have given me advice in regards to dating you, and . . .”

“What?” the fork clattered to the floor; Mac ignored it to lean over the table. Rose shrank back a bit at the sight of his intense expression. “What the hell have you been TOLD?”

“Calm down! Just that you’re fun and charming and a little old-fashioned, okay? Louise from Billing department and Claire over in the travel office seem to think the world of you.”

Mac looked startled. “I’ve never dated either one of them!”

“I didn’t say you had—I said I got advice, not histories, okay?”

He rubbed his face. This was NOT going quite the way he’d planned. Rose sighed.

“Let me get your fork—”

“—No, I can do it—!”

They both ended up under the table, reaching for the utensil at the same time. Mac slammed the top of his head on the underside of the table with a loud ‘thump’ as Rose tried to grab the fork from him. It flew up and landed tines first in her wrist. She yelped.



Crawling back up, Mac rubbed his head, but forgot about it as he saw Rose yank the fork out of her skin and begin to dab at the blood.

“Oh geez!” Mac dipped his napkin in his water glass and washed her wrist; the holes were small but deep, in a neat row across her wrist.

 Rose snickered. “Marked for life—another date from hell!”

Mac kept pressure on it, mouth twitching. He didn’t want to laugh, not with Rose wounded, but it was hard not to. She snorted first, giggles leaking out of her. He felt his lips twitch.

“Oh G-g-god! Mac! I can tell everybody that you forked me on the f-first date!”

He laughed then, big loud chuckles that made other patrons look at them disapprovingly. Rose was pink and out of breath; every time she looked at him, she broke out into giggles all over again.

Finally they managed to calm down and catch a breath; the busboy had scooped away their plates and left them with the dessert menu. Rose studied it with all the intensity of a surgeon doing a heart transplant. Watching her, Mac felt a sensation well up inside him, a giddiness tinged with something else.

Rose glanced up at him, her blue eyes sparkling. “I need serious chocolate to heal, Mac. Think you can afford that?”

“Whatever you want,” he grinned at her.

 She sighed happily.“Silky Sex. I want Silky Sex!”

Mac fumbled with his menu; face going hot; the rest of his body more than ready to capitulate to that throaty demand.

“That’s a dessert, right?” he asked quickly, his voice a little higher than usual.

 Rose nodded, watching him. “Oh you bet—three kinds of chocolate, an Oreo crust, whipped cream—complete decadence for the mouth and tongue. I will probably make a complete fool of myself eating it. What are YOU getting?”

“Huh?” he’d been watching her hungrily; with a start he glanced down at the menu.“A cone of vanilla,” he decided as an evil plan came to mind.

Winslow’s made their own ice cream, and the cone that the waiter brought to Mac was a lovely creation of golden French Vanilla speckled with flecks of vanilla bean throughout it. He hefted it and smiled.

 Rose looked up from her plate of Silky Sex and gave a pout.“That looks good too—“

“Ah ah—you got chocolate, so don’t complain now!”

“I’m not,” she insisted. With a soft scoop, she brought a spoonful of whipped cream up to her lips and licked it out of the bowl, kitten-like. Mac felt his thighs flex responsively. He worked hard on not sighing.

Ooooh creamy and good!” Rose purred. The look she shot at Mac telegraphed her intentions; his dimples deepened.

“Not as good as what I give---GOT, what I’ve got,” he blurted, feeling his face flush. Rose dropped her head for a moment, shoulders shaking. Slowly she slid her spoon through the cream again, bringing it up and licking it daintily while batting her eyes.

The gauntlet was thrown.

Mac brought the cone up to his mouth.

Few cones in the history of dessert had ever been treated to such loving oral attention. Mac knew he was well over the limit of socially acceptable behavior but it was damned fun. Rose wriggled every time she watched him flick his tongue around the drips. She got her revenge with every spoonful of her own, however, devouring the darkly decadent chocolate with passionate little moans and sighs that went from her mouth straight to his groin.

Mac twirled the cone and held it out across the table, his dark eyes sparkling.

“Want a taste?”

Rose cupped his hand with both of hers and dipped her head, her tongue gliding through the melting ice cream in a sensuous sweep that left Mac breathless. The thought of that concentrated attention applied elsewhere—

Mmmmmmmmmtasty!” she announced, letting her tongue circle her lips. Mac shivered. His jeans were tight, his pulse was quick and he had a raving appetite—but not for food.


“Try mine, Mac,” came her soft dare. Rose’s spoon slid along his lower lip teasingly, the edge of it still warm from her mouth. He opened obligingly, letting her feed him.

The sweet dark flavor rolled over his tongue in a slow wave of pleasure and Mac gave a happy rumble. Rose bit her lower lip, caught up for the moment in his sensual intensity. Everything around then faded away as MacGyver and Rose looked at each other, new and dangerously exciting potential blossoming between them.

Rose broke her gaze first, fingers twisting around the handle of the spoon. “Wow. Getting late—maybe we ought to call it a night.”

Mac swallowed and snuck a glance at his watch, noting it was only a few minutes after ten. He gently set his dripping cone down in the crystal bowl and gave her a questioning look. She didn’t meet his eyes.

Rose?” his tone asked much more than her name; she shook her head.

“I’m okay—maybe a little dizzy from all the sugar.”

Quietly they left the restaurant, Rose still wearing Mac’s jacket. The drive back to Pratchett’s pet shop was acutely hushed; Rose answered Mac’s questions in monosyllables and kept her glance averted.

He walked her up the stairs despite her soft protests. The streetlights made haloes on the sidewalk, and the green neon lights of the Pinkley’s Puppy Food sign in Pratchett’s window shone bright. Mac’s stomach twisted and he wracked his brain, wondering what he’d said or done to make her withdraw so quickly. So completely. It was as if Rose had deliberately gone from doll to wall in one fell swoop.

At the door she turned, looking up at him. He bent to kiss her, but she laid a hand on his mouth in warning.

“Mac—call it a date if you want, but we both know better. I don’t want to date you, okay? I need you to be my friend because I want to be yours without anything going bad for us. I like it when you come over to watch hockey, I like working with you at the Foundation. Let’s not throw a monkey wrench into that.”

“Rose are you afraid of me?”

“No. I’m afraid of . . .”

He understood in a bright flash of insight. The whole night had framed this moment of her fear. “You’re afraid of us. You know how good it could be, don’t you?” he rasped against her fingers. The bitterness washed through him more deeply than he wanted to admit. Rose said nothing, her face aching.

“Fine. Okay. But if that’s what you want, then at least stick to the rules for a date. A kiss. Just one, and then it’s all over and there aren’t any monkey wrenches for us, all right?”

Mac couldn’t believe the sound of his own voice, tight and hurt and deep. Rose’s eyes were wide, but she pursed her lips and stood stock-still. He cupped her face in his hands and slowly pulled her to him.

The soft press of her mouth to his touched and flared instantly in a shocking burst of passion. Rose’s full lips opened with a whimper and Mac could no more resist his driving desire to slip into that mouth than he could to breath. Their tongues slid together, rasping in a heady rush of pleasure. They molded to each other easily, naturally. Deeper, wetter, the kiss soared above and beyond a simple embrace. Mac tasted her erotic nature, her teasing desire, and her own arousal as her tongue wound around his.

The rush of that searing kiss made his knees buckle. He moaned. Rose moaned, her hands clutching his elbows, fingers fluttering against his sweater. They had to break for breath, and did so regretfully, panting a little.

“Oh GOD.” Mac groaned, pressing his forehead to hers hard, as if to knock sense into the woman in front of him.

 Rose swayed a little, gulping in air.“’Kay, you got your kiss. I gotta go, Mac . . .” she told him brokenly. With a twist and a little jump Rose managed to yank the screen door open and fumble with the keys.

Mac licked his lips, still tasting her, the deep ache between his thighs throbbing. He watched her retreat into the dark apartment without looking back; he stood there for a long moment, senses acute with loss, mind in complete flux.

Rose. She was more than anyone he’d ever kissed. Rose. More of everything. Sweeter, wetter, hungrier. Rose. With a confused shake of his head he managed to make it down the stairs, numb and empty.

He drove home to the marina. Climbed out of the jeep. Unlocked the door. Slammed it closed behind him and leaned back in the dark of his kitchen against the wall, fumbling at his fly. His cock surged out hard and pulsing. He gripped it and closed his eyes. A pained moan escaped his throat. Not ‘no’, not this time. It would be--

//Yes Mac. Yes. Love you, want you darling. Kiss me hard. Kiss me everywhere. God! Touch me. Make love to me, Mac. So good. So deep, yes, Mac I need you in me, harder, oh God, harder darling, Ohhhh Mac I looovvvve Yooouuu--//

He felt his semen patter onto the floor, the warm trickle dribble wetly over his tightly gripped fist. His knees gave out, and he slid to the floor, his back against the wall. Mac raised his tear-stained face to the ceiling and dark, desperate despair washed over him.

***   ***   ***

“God Mac you look like hell! So how WAS your hot date?”

Nikki sauntered in, arms crossed, a knowing smirk on her face. Mac glanced up and gave a shrug. Around them, the lunch crowd at the Foundation cafeteria surged.

“A little unusual. The food was good,” he added neutrally.

“I’m sure it was—and little Miss fish lover? Were your conversations scintillating?” Nikki tried to tease, but a little edge to her voice came through.

Mac drew a breath and took a bottle of iced tea before responding. “Why don’t you ask her? A true gentleman never kisses and tells you know.”

“Oh I would, but it seems she’s gone. Dropped her letter of resignation on Pete’s desk this morning and headed out for that Reef Project of Hanna’s.”

“Gone?” Stunned, Mac looked at Nikki’s slightly triumphant face.

She wiped the expression away and replaced it with mock sympathy. “Seems so—though to tell you the truth I never thought she was going to cut it here anyway. Hey! Where are you going?”

Mac left his tray and charged through the cafeteria to the door, impatiently dancing around those too slow to move out of his way. He darted up the stairs to Pete’s floor, and ran down the hall to the office, swinging on the door. Pete glanced up in surprise.

“Mac! You ok?”

“Rose quit?”

Pete frowned and sighed. He pushed a paper across the desk and nodded.

“She wants to. I have the right to hold her to her terms of contract, but she’s pretty adamant about it. At the moment she’s committed to the Reef Recovery outing with Hanna and Randy, but after that---well I just don’t know.”

Mac stared at the letter, the words ‘compelling personal reasons’ jumping out at him accusingly.

He looked up at Pete. “I could talk to her . . . talk her out of it,” he offered, hoping against hell it didn’t sound like he was begging.

 Pete studied him carefully. “Think you could?”

“I could give it a shot, Pete—she’s too good to lose.”

A simple truth he was just coming to terms with himself.

“Okay. Randy needs an extra diver anyway, and there isn’t anything on your schedule that can’t wait a while. If you think you can get Rose to stay . . . he waved a meaty hand at Mac.

MacGyver drew in a deep breath.

A chance. A single chance.

It was all he needed.