Old friends meet new
June 11, 2005 12:27 PM
She'd sent him a note.
Mac was quite pleased with herself. She still had research skills. She's used a few Ravenclaw connections to find this Michael Tuckers person. It had not been easy, but the few facts she had from Kasie had helped. She'd sent him one sentence, a location and a contact name.Beth needs you. Three Broomsticks, Hogsmeade. Ask for the MacDougal.
Now she waited. Kasie was in Hogsmeade, but she and Oz were shopping. Mac was going to meet with mentor man and feel him out. Brody had already agreed to let them meet in the store room. Mac wanted familiar territory.
She nodded at her brother and moved to the back.
Michael was wary and concerned. After some quick flash research, he figured out where exactly this MacDougal wanted to meet. There were many MacDougals alive but after staying a few hours in the pub under the premise of taking a break from shopping while his wife continued on, he saw a vaguely familiar face. The woman who hung out with his Beth at the Wiltshire building. No one knew a thing about her, which made this a bit more tricky than he'd like.
With a sigh, he came up to the bar. "Thanks for the hospitality, boys. You've made this trip a treat. Any way I can speak to the MacDougal and to relay the gratitude in person?"
Brody grinned. "The livin' one or the dead one? I'm thinkin' livin', though, as she said she were meetin' someone. Have a care, mon, she's m'sister, and she's deadly."
"Aye," Cullen said, leaning on the bar. "What would ya be wantin' wit wee Mac anyhow?"
Michael just grinned. "That's private, sir. I think if this deadly living MacDougal wanted you to know, she'd tell you. Now she went through there, right?"
Without waiting for an answer, he started towards the storage room and slowly opened the door.
He was not what Mac expected. He was a very pretty man. Very blue eyes. She hopped off of the crates she had been perched on with grace.
"Yer Michael? No' what I expected."
"You're not what I expected either, but for a girl who can take down hellhounds, I think you defy boundaries," Michael replied, putting his hands in his pockets. "I haven't been called Michael in years. I guess you got that name from Beth? What's this about?"
"Ya sent her flowers for her birthday. Ya have meanin' to her, she has meanin' to me. I have a feelin' she'd like to see ya again. Ya dinna make tha' easy. So the hellhounds? Ya know 'bout tha'? Does tha' mean ya know what we are then?"
Mac paced a little, noticing how he kept his eyes carefully trained on her.
"If you know her name you know how we met and what we do. I know about the supernatural, and I know what she is. I know where she is. Just because we haven't been in touch doesn't mean I don't make sure she's all right. And she is
all right, isn't she?"
"Aye," Mac replied. "But she wonders 'bout ya. Mayhap she'd like a way to make sure YOU are all right, ya ken what I mean? I know ya like to fade, due to yer work, but mayhap she'd like ya no' to fade."
Michael shook his head. "She's done just fine with little reminders she's gotten over the years. We're both adults and we both have separate lives."
"Oh for fock's sake, mon," Mac snapped. "Yer her family. Both stubborn as damned mules, ya are. She's here, aye. Right here in town. She doesna know ya are here. She's no idea wha' I've done for her, but it tis for her. She's m'friend. I want her to have this, ya ken?"
Michael sighed. "She's either going to be angry at you for doing this or angry at me for having to leave. I'd much rather her be angry at you, so can we just skip this?"
"Oh ya just try and leave, boyo. She'll be back any mo, and m'brother knows to send her this way. I dinna understand why ya dinna want to speak wit' her. Ya took care of her once. Why did ya leave her? How could ya do tha' to her?"
Mac was getting angry. She could not help it. He was the reason it was so hard for Kasie to trust her. Mac knew it.
Michael scratched his head and tried to plan an exit strategy. Problem was there was only one exit. "Oh I don't know. Maybe it was the fact that when she was sixteen, I pocketed the wrong fare from a client and had some Russian mobsters after me. By the time I got them off my tail and away from her, she had moved on. She was growing up and it didn't do her well to follow me blindly."
"Ya dinna give her any choice. Just like everythin' and everyone else. Ya decided for her. Oh aye, I bet she just loved tha'. Ya could have asked. Mayhap she'd like to know tha' now. I'll be she dinna know tha's why ya left."
Mac could see him planning an exit, so she carefully put herself between him and it. She and Kasie weren't the team to beat for no good reason. They were smart.
"She knew they were after me," he said, making a face at her planting herself right in front of the door. There was no way he could worm his way past. "Now are you really about to hold me hostage in a closet to make a point? You're damn lucky I'm not claustrophobic."
Mac appeared to consider. "Aye. Yer stuck here. I could always sit on ya and let Kasie know ya are here against yer will. Would ya like tha' then?"
Michael frowned. "Kasie? She's calling herself Kasie again?" He hadn't heard that alias in a long time. She knew he hated it.
"She likes it better than Beth," Mac defended. "I happen to thin' it suits her. Mayhap she's tryin' to get yer attention, make ya surface?"
"She knows changing her name to something like that wouldn't make me come running. I get her messages. I sent her notes. Changing her name to Kasie was recent." Michael looked down at his watch. "What time is the star of the show supposed to arrive?"
"When she's done pickin' up new shiny thin's wit' Oz. I dinna understand why ya dinna want to see her. Or is there somethin' yer needin' to be stealin' right now?"
Michael glared at her. "One, I'm very select with my jobs. I wouldn't be here if I had one to do. Two, if you give her free reign to pick out shiny things, she'll never arrive. Three, I didn't say I didn't want to see her."
Kasie walked into the Three Broomsticks laughing with Oz trailing her. She had bags on both arms that she dropped by the bar. "Brody! I repainted my toes. Wanna see?"
"Aye, in a bit, lass, Mac has a surprise for ya in the store room. Ya can head on back."
"It's not a severed head, is it?" Oz asked.
Brody gave him a look. "No' unless thin's got violent."
Kasie stopped short. "But I don't want a severed head."
Cullen gave her a push and she headed back to the storage room. "Mac?" she yelled out before opening the door. "If you severed some guy's head for me I swear--"
She stopped short when she saw the other person occupying the storage room. All she could do was blink, because before her, like he hadn't aged a day, was Michael. Mac really found him.
"Michael? Michael Brecker, is that really you?" she whispered, hoping this wasn't a witch's trick.
Michael gave her a lopsided grin. "Hey Bethy."
She squealed and ran towards him, launching herself when she got close. Her legs clasped around his waist and her arms went around his neck. He laughed and hugged her.
Mac grinned, folded her arms across her chest and watched. She was feeling quite pleased with herself just now. Especially considering how happy Kasie looked.
"Are you going to get down anytime soon?" he asked, and she shook her head. "You're ten anymore, Beth."
She got down, but kept her arms around his neck. Kasie looked over at Mac. "How did you do it? I just gave you his first name."
"Ya know my first love is books and research. I dinna just have a first name. I had an occupation or specialty of sort. No' everyone in Knockturn hates me on sight. I put a feeler out. I were pretty sure he were the one."
Mac hoped that Michael did not mention her holding him here.
Kasie did a little dance then gave Mac a hug before returning to Michael. "You have to catch me up. Come on. Brody has this awesome alcohol that makes you feel like your head is going to explode and Oz is here and he's so irritating but you'd like him."
Michael's eyebrows rose as he was drug from the storeroom out into the open. Before they were completely out into the open pub, Kasie turned to him. "What's your name?"
"Matthew Jones," he replied, not needed a clarification.
She did a double take. "Really? Ew." Kasie turned to the pub. "Everyone, this is Matthew. Matthew, this is everyone."
Os frowned. "And Matthew is who, exactly?"
"He's her family, Oz, so dinna be so damned suspicious. I'd have broke his legs already iffen he were here to hurt anyone."
Oz grinned. Kasie did look very happy. Brody and Cullen shook the guy's hand. Oz sniffed him a bit. He didn't notice anything unusual.
"Kasie and I go way back. You're her watcher, right?" he asked casually with a grin. "I taught her most of her defensive maneuvers and the basics of general thievery. I'm a bit of bad influence."
She snorted. "Who convinced me the Hope Diamond was an easy steal when I was 12? Bad influence my eyeball."
"You're the one who actually tried it."
"And I had it a few years back. I got bored. But I put it back," Kasie said hastily.
Oz just looked at the guy as the group sat in a booth and Cullen brought then drinks. He was looking between Kasie and 'Matthew' and frowning.
Michael rolled his eyes. "Jaime was wondering who pulled that off. She was angry she didn't get to it first."
Kasie looked at Michael. "Jaime?"
He laughed a bit. "My wife. You remember Jordan James, right?"
Kasie's jaw dropped. "You married Jordan? You
?!" she screeched.
"She goes by Jaime now, B."
She just stared. "She tried to kill you!"
"We got over it."
Kasie turned to Mac. "Now you know why I'm insane."
"Hey!" Michael snapped. "I'm putting up with Kasie, but I told you to stop calling yourself that."
Oz was still frowning.
"What would ay suggest she go by then? Everyone knows her as Kasie."
"Yer name's no' Kasie?" Cullen asked.
Oz was looking between Mac and Kasie and frowning. He knew girls had secrets, but he had thought he at least knew their real names.
Kasie waved them off. "He likes another name for me. My name is Kasie and I go by that. It's just his wife
," she glared at him, "used the name for more insulting purposes. No biggie."
"Really?" Mac asked. "Ya want I should find her as well and break her legs for ya?"
Oz just shook his head. Mac really did need to find a better way to express her love for people.
"Now her I'll tell you all about," Kasie said and Michael rolled his eyes.
"Please don't break my wife's legs. She's partial to them, and so am I. Can we pick another topic?"
"Ooh, what's been your greatest haul?" Kasie started.
"I picked up a nice Rolls Royce from a guy who refused to pay me."
Kasie grinned. She never liked cars but could appreciate the intricacy of stealing one. "I miss doing jobs. I never get to steal stuff anymore."
Michael leaned in. "Technically it is illegal. You know that right?"
She snorted. "After all the times we've been arrested, I picked that up."
"You'll be stealing again soon enough," Oz answered cryptically.
Mac looked at him. He knew something.
"Watchers have secrets too."
"Well that's no fun," Kasie said before turning back to Michael. "How long are you staying?"
He looked down at his watch. "I wasn't planning on staying too long."
Kasie's face fell.
Mac glared. She glared hard too. If looks could have melted faces, his would be like chocolate left in the summer sun.
Oz frowned. "You could always see the Council house. As long as you don't steal anything. Our witch would find you."
Michael finally relented. "As long as it's a short tour. It'd be interesting to see the inside of the house."
Mac grinned. "Warn him 'bout Willow proper, Kase. And after she were done wit' ya, iffen anythin' were left, I'd break yer legs."
Kasie turned to Michael, excited. "She can throw me up in the air with her magic and drop me. It's totally like the dive we did at the Louvre!"
"Is that supposed to link with leg breaking?"
"Willow can also make yer insides yer outsides," Mac said.
"And I'm sure she'll love you saying that about her," Oz added. "Look, Willow's nice. She cares about the slayers. As long as you don't act like a threat to the girls, you'll be fine. She's got a kind heart until you piss her off. The quickest way to do that is to hurt one of her friends or one of her girls."
Michael laughed. "I'm not an idiot. I'm not going to hurt anyone. I don't want to."
"Nobody said idiot," Oz replied. "That's your word."
"All right. Nobody except Mac thinks you're an idiot."
Michael chuckled. "Duly noted. Shall we then?"