MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

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MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by Sanguine » Wed Dec 04, 2019 3:33 pm

Part One

December 15, 1996


Raining. It was raining. Because Los Angeles was too hot for snow. It doesn't snow at 55 degrees Fahrenheit; it rains. She didn't like the rain. Back in Indiana, it snowed. And Mom & Dad would take her to look at the Christmas lights, the lights and trees and tinsel in every storefront and every window…

"Dad?" she said, tugging at her father's coat sleeve as they walked past a line of shops. "Daddy?"

"Hm?" he grunted wearily, just pausing for a second. She could see rainwater dripping from the brim of his brown hat, trickling down the collar of his coat.

She hesitated for a split second, suddenly meek. "Christmas trees. See? They're so pretty."

"Uh-huh," he said again, with another tired nod. He took her hand and continued dragging himself forward, tugging her along with him.

He was tired a lot lately. Ever since…

Well. She didn't like to think about that. But things would get better soon. They had to.

As they started to break off from the main streets, they entered what Mom would've called a "shady part of town." But it was what they could afford now and closer to Daddy's new job. Besides, she had grown up in Indianapolis, so she wasn't afraid of any kind of city. Even one as big as this.

Just before they went inside their apartment building, as Dad pressed the white button on the tan brick wall to get the two of them buzzed in, Kierra Morgan cast a wistful glance at a Christmas tree across the street…

*********************

December 16, 1996


MacGyver pushed through the front door of the Challengers Club with a grin on his face. And the grin got even wider when he saw (and more importantly, heard) the enormous strand of silver jingle bells attached to the door.

Before he could even say hello, he was swarmed by three teenage boys in hockey jerseys.

"MacGyver! Great news!" said the tallest one, a high school senior named Darius. "We finally converted Brandon to the Calgary side!" He grabbed the smallest kid, a freshman, around the shoulders.

Brandon grinned self-consciously, a slight blush heating up his freckles as he tugged at his jersey collar. "I guess I knew I couldn't hold out forever!"

MacGyver grinned too. "This calls for a celebration! And speaking of celebrations, this place looks great. Did you guys help decorate?"

"Yeah!" the third boy said. He was another freshman named Curtis, and he was one of the newer members of the club. "And I even put the star on the tree in the window!"

"I bet everyone in the city is happy to see it," MacGyver said, making all of the boys beam with pride.

"Hey, is there any chance that our celebration will involve some street hockey?" Brandon piped up.

"You're on! Hey, is Breeze here? I haven't seen him in a while. I bet we could convince him to join in, too."

"Yeah! Let's get Breeze!" Curtis shouted, making Darius wince.

"I think he was fixing a broken table earlier," Darius said. "We, uh---I mean, somebody kinda bumped into it after a game of pool got a little heated."

"That's 'cause you cheat," Curtis scoffed. "C'mon, let's get him! He's gotta be done by now!"

Shaking his head, Mac followed the three boys further inside just in time to see Breeze decorate the newly-fixed table with some holly garlands and a candle.

"There," Breeze said to himself. "Good as new!"

"And you didn't even have to use duct tape," Mac teased.

"MacGyver!" Breeze said, eyes wide with surprise. "I haven't seen you in forever! Where've you been?"

He grabbed MacGyver in a hug as Mac tried to explain, deciding to go with the short version of a long story: "Phoenix has kept me pretty busy lately, and so has my son Sam. But I've missed all of you. It's good to be back."

Breeze nodded and grinned. "You're just in time, too." He pointed to himself. "Guess who's been appointed as assistant manager to this whole place?"

"Really? That's incredible! Cynthia would be so proud of you."

Breeze stood a little taller. "Thanks, MacGyver. That means a lot to me. Yeah, Mr. Hines has been letting me take charge of a lot of the programs around here. It really makes me feel good. Hey, while you're here, can I get your advice on something?"

"Sure, anything."

"Uh, can it wait until after a hockey game? Or two? Or three?" Curtis asked hopefully, bouncing up and down in his Jordans.

"Only if you're ready for a smackdown!" Breeze retorted, pantomiming the swing of a hockey stick.

"Save it for the ice!" MacGyver teased.

*********************

Around half an hour later, the five wanna-be Flames dragged themselves inside, pushing and joking.

"We are the kings of street hockey!" Darius proclaimed.

"That's only because you had MacGyver on your team!" Brandon countered.

"It was three on two!"

"Three of us can't make up for one MacGyver!"

"Oh, I don't know about that," MacGyver said with a smile. "Besides, you'll get the next one. You can't win 'em all."

Darius shook his head and wrapped a sweaty arm around Mac's shoulders. "Man, don't listen to them. They're just jealous. Jealous of our success!"

"You know, there is one good thing about MacGyver being on your team," Curtis said with a smirk.

Darius glanced at him, puzzled. "Oh, yeah? What's that?"

"He makes sure you don't cheat!"

Then Curtis took off running, with Darius giving chase, shouting, "I'll get you for that!"

"Hey! Easy! Don't break the table again!" Breeze called.

MacGyver just shook his head. "There's just something about hockey that turns men into boys. So, what did you want to talk to me about earlier, Breeze?"

Breeze perked up. "Well, I was thinking about an idea and I wanted to run it past you. Thought maybe you could help me, you know, come up with something really good."

"Sure. I'm happy to help if I can. What was your idea?"

At that moment, the immense snake-like band of bells attached to the front door jangled loud enough to be heard across the building.

"Probably Darius chasing Curtis outside," Breeze said. "They do this at least twice a week."

"Somebody's at the door!" Curtis hollered.

"Yeah, it's a little kid!" Darius shouted.

"Or maybe not," Breeze quipped.

MacGyver chuckled. "C'mon, let's go see what's going on."

When Mac and Breeze walked to the door, they found Curtis and Darius standing a short distance away with doubtful expressions, watching the young girl who'd just stepped in and was looking around with sharp brown eyes.

Eventually, her eyes latched on to MacGyver and Breeze.

Swallowing hard, she drew herself up to full height, though she was still less than five feet tall.

She took in a deep breath, like a performer preparing to recite her lines. "Hello. My name is Kierra Morgan, I'm twelve years old, and I would like to join your club."

*********************

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Re: MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by tvero80 » Wed Dec 04, 2019 5:08 pm

:D Thank you !
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Re: MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by Sanguine » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:32 am

I apologize for being late with Part Two. I spent the weekend and the better part of this week working on my final project for my master's class. However, Part Two is ready and will be posted tomorrow, 12-12. Apologies for the inconvenience!

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Part Two

Post by Sanguine » Thu Dec 12, 2019 5:28 pm

Part Two

For a moment, Kierra's bold request hung in the air like a wisp of fog. Then the fog cleared and Darius, Curtis, and Brandon began laughing.

Darius was the first to get serious. "No."

The young girl bristled, opening her mouth for what would indubitably have been a sharp retort, but Breeze jumped in first.

"Of course you can join. Challengers is a place for everybody."

"But she's just a little kid!" Darius argued.

"And you were a little kid when you first joined. Remember? All of you were. That's why this club is here: to take care of the young people so they won't have problems when they get older. You should be happy she's here instead of complaining so much."

Darius scoffed. "All right, sure. But you just wait. I bet she's out of here for good before the end of the day. She'll get bored and quit, you wait and see."

"I will not!" Kierra said. "My daddy says once I put my mind to something, nothing can sway me. You wait and see, Mister."

MacGyver just grinned at the stunned look on Darius' face. At the same time, Breeze folded his arms with a laugh. "I guess she told you! Why don't you show her around?"

"Yeah, fine," Darius mumbled, motioning for the other two boys and Kierra to follow him.

As they walked away, Breeze shook his head. "Every day is different here, that's for sure. Anyway, maybe now we can talk."

MacGyver nodded. "You were about to tell me your new idea."

"Yeah! I was thinking about New Year's Eve. You know how people get really crazy around New Year's Eve? And they go to parties and get real drunk and stuff? I was getting worried about the high schoolers in the neighborhood, 'cause they might get caught up in it or get hurt by the crazy drivers or something. So, I need something that will keep them busy for that week between Christmas and the New Year stuff. What do you think?"

"I think it's a great idea," Mac said. "Maybe you could also invite the community to participate, just like you did with the environment clean-up projects. That might help the kids feel more invested in it, too."

Breeze's face brightened. "Good idea! Making flyers and posters will add something else to keep them occupied, too. Now I just have to decide what the project should be. What does our community really need?"

MacGyver gestured to the Christmas display in the window. "Looks like the boys have a knack for decorating. Maybe have them beautify the neighborhood?"

"That's a good idea! They can set up decorations in the park, and maybe decorate windows for the old people who can't get out anymore."

"I think that'd be a great project," MacGyver said. "But why limit it to just Christmas? We've got a lot of diversity here at Challengers. They could also decorate for Hanukkah, or even talk about the way Christmas is celebrated differently by different groups of people."

"Good idea! I'll round up all the kids and have them choose a holiday. And maybe we can even have an open house and invite the whole neighborhood for a holiday walk!"

MacGyver smiled. "There you go! The whole idea is coming together already."

"Thanks, MacGyver! I can't wait to tell the kids!"

Almost as soon as he got the words out of his mouth, a lanky girl with her straight black hair in pigtails ran up to Breeze. "Breeze, Brandon sent me to tell you that the new girl challenged Curtis to a football throwing contest because he was teasing her for not playing hockey. He wants you to come see!"

"Oh no," Breeze groaned. "This is going to be a disaster. All right, Mei, lead the way. C'mon, MacGyver. We might have to break this up."

"I'm right behind you."

When they got outside, teenagers of all ages, shapes, and sizes were lining the empty alleyway behind the club. Hockey equipment was propped against the brick wall, forgotten in the wake of Curtis and Kierra, who stood side by side at one end of the alley, footballs in hand.

Curtis had his chest puffed out, while Kierra just stood there with her football and sniffed.

Darius placed around like a ringmaster, using an old Coke bottle as a pretend microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages! Challengers Club proudly presents the champion athlete Curtis Lundell---"
And there Darius paused for cheers just like a sports commentator, the teens diligently and enthusiastically following their unspoken cue. "And the challenger, Kierra Morgan! This contest is to see who can successfully throw the football through that hula hoop that Big Brock is holding over his head right now! Anyone who hits Brock or the wall or anybody else is immediately disqualified!"

MacGyver's eyes followed Darius' pointing finger to the other end of the alley, where another high schooler---built like a basketball power forward and definitely deserving of a name like Big Brock---was holding a faded pastel pink hula hoop over his head.

Overall, the situation was one of the most laughable things MacGyver had ever seen---and yet the look on Kierra Morgan's face gave no doubt that she was taking every moment seriously.

As Breeze groaned and rolled his eyes, Darius continued his Coke-bottle narration: "As the champion, Curtis gets to go first, followed by Kierra. Play will continue until someone either makes the shot or gets disqualified. Are you ready?"

"Yeah!" Curtis whooped, bouncing up and down.

"Of course," Kierra said icily.

Darius sidestepped out of their way and shouted, "Go!"

Bounding forward, Curtis hurled his football towards Big Brock with all his might. The wobbling, weathered ellipse sailed right past Brock's elbow and crashed into a trash can behind him.

Kierra smirked. "My turn." Her delicate fingers tapped the laces of her football as she took a single step forward and threw the ball. It sailed, straight and true, in a graceful arc across the sky---right through the hula hoop. It bounced once on the pavement behind Brock and rolled to a stop next to an old tire.

Kierra dusted off her hands and began to retrieve her ball, pausing as she walked past Darius, who was standing in the alley dumbfounded, Coke bottle slipping from his fingers. "Oh, and in football, it's called a pass, not a shot."

Breeze just shook his head. "I came out here because I figured the boys were picking on her. Now I guess it's the other way around!"

MacGyver shrugged with a smile. "It's just like you were telling me earlier, Breeze. Every day is different! That's what makes it so fun."

"Yeah, that's true," Breeze agreed. "Hey, let's get everybody back inside. Now that everyone's rounded up, this is the perfect time to tell them about the holiday project!"

"You got it!"

*********************

"Kierra? I'm home," Dr. Thomas Morgan said as he pushed through the door to their apartment building, twisting to hang his jacket on the peg by the door. Hearing no reply, he sighed and called out again while he went through his usual routine: keys and wallet in the bowl on the coffee table, then to the kitchen to put on some coffee for himself and hot chocolate for Kierra. On autopilot, he started to reach in the cabinet for a third mug and a teabag before realizing…
He swallowed hard and called for his daughter again. "Kierra, I know you're upset about being alone all day, but you'll feel less lonely when school starts again. Kierra?"

"It's okay, Daddy," Kierra's voice came muffled from the hallway as she walked out of her room. "I had a good day."

Dr. Morgan smiled. "I'm glad. It's going to take a lot of time to adjust. Thanks for taking it so well."

"Daddy, can I get out the kinara?" she said hopefully. "I think I remember which box it's in. With the Christmas things. I can get those out, too."

Her father's face twisted and he looked away, busying himself with coffee mugs. "I don't think so, Kierra. It's better we don't celebrate this year. Do you want marshmallows or no?"

"Yes please," she said softly, downcast.

But even as she looked away, her small hands clenched into determined fists.

If she couldn't celebrate Kwanzaa at home, she'd do it at Challengers. After all, her father could hardly say no…especially since he had no idea that she'd just come from the club and had snuck in through the fire escape.

*********************

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Part Three

Post by Sanguine » Thu Dec 19, 2019 4:58 pm

December 17, 1996

"Okay, everyone," Breeze said, clapping his hands once to get the attention of the twenty or so kids who were buzzing around him, bouncing ideas. When the chatter had died down, he continued, "Now that you guys have had some time to think about it, it's time to decide which holidays you want to do and who gets what job. We need three teams: one to decorate the parks and homes in the neighborhood, one to set up the holiday displays here at the club, and one to make and pass out flyers to get people's attention. MacGyver and I made some sign-up sheets for each team. Now, if you're on the holiday display team, you'll also need to choose a holiday you want to present. First come, first served. Any questions? No? Great! Let's get started."

"I call Chinese New Year!" Mei shouted, pouncing on the sign-up sheet.
"I call Hanukkah!" said another girl. Before long, a swarm of kids lined up for their turn to sign up for something.

MacGyver nudged Breeze with a grin. "This is starting to come together already!"
"It's going to be great!" Breeze agreed.

The kids filed through, two or three at a time, to add their names to the sheets. Within fifteen minutes, all but five of the kids had joined the project, and even those reluctant few were quickly cajoled into it by their friends.

By the time the room had cleared---with the teens already rounding up posterboards, Magic Markers, jingle bells, and any other supplies they could get their hands on---there were only three people left: Breeze, Mac, and the newly-arrived Kierra Morgan, who was clad in a bubblegum pink windbreaker. She stepped forward with deliberation and signed---not printed---her name on the sheet, along with a single word: Kwanzaa.

"Thank you," Breeze said politely, sharing a glance with MacGyver. It was hard not to crack a smile at how serious and formal the little girl was.

"You're very welcome," Kierra replied quietly. "I already have a lot of the supplies I need at home. But I'll need someone to help me carry them. They're in a big box."

"I don't mind to help, as long as you've got everything covered here, Breeze," MacGyver said.

"Sure," Breeze said. Before he could get another syllable out of his mouth, Mei had burst back in and grabbed his arm.

"I want to show you the designs for my paper lanterns! I think you're going to love them!"

"Just hurry back, will ya? I think I've got my hands full here!" Breeze said, only half-joking.

"Will do!" MacGyver said before turning back to Kierra. "Lead the way, Ms. Morgan!"

"My apartment building is just across the street," she explained as she led him down to the crosswalk. "It's apartment 703. The lady at the front doesn't mind to buzz me in, but I usually just take the fire escape."

"I think we should stick with the front door for right now," MacGyver replied. "Are your parents home today?"

"No. My dad works. He's a doctor. Dr. Thomas Morgan." After a beat, she added, "It's just the two of us. My mom---" She cut herself off. "I'll buzz us in."

MacGyver watched her as she pressed the white button beside the door and followed behind her as she walked inside.

"Is he with you?" the woman at the desk asked as they walked past, raising a skeptical eyebrow.

"Yes, ma'am. He's a friend. He's helping me move something."

"Okay," the woman conceded, retrieving a nail file from her purse as she watched MacGyver and Kierra walk all the way to the elevator.

"So, you decided to make your display about Kwanzaa. Do you and your dad celebrate it?"

"We used to. We did last year."

"But not this year?"

Kierra shook her head. "This year, it's just me. C'mon, the elevator is stopping. This is my floor." She unwound her brass-colored key from the purple lanyard around her neck and led MacGyver to apartment 703.

"This is where we live now," she explained. "We used to live in Indianapolis. And we had a house. It wasn't like this at all."

"Do you miss Indianapolis?"

"Mm-hmm. But it's okay. I don't mind it here so much. I just really miss our football team. Everything is about the Colts back home. Back in Indiana, I mean. I guess this is home now."

"Home is where the people you care about are," MacGyver said.

Kierra shrugged. "Yeah. C'mon, I pushed the Kwanzaa box in my room. I was gonna push it out the fire escape, but I don't think that's gonna work, which is why I asked for help."

"That was a good idea. You know, you can't do everything on your own."

"I can if I don't have a choice."

"There's always a choice."

She shrugged and opened the door to her bedroom, which was equal parts bubblegum pink and Indianapolis Colts blue. The wall opposite the window and fire escape was dominated by a pop-art-style lightning bolt poster reading "Cute But Psycho." MacGyver could do nothing but shake his head.

Kierra nudged a large cardboard box in the corner with her KangaROO sneaker. It was patched up with duct tape in several places, and feminine cursive handwriting in black marker read "Christmas and Kwanzaa" across the side.

"This is the box of Kwanzaa stuff. It's the kintara and most of the decorations we need. It's too heavy for me to get very far. Can you carry it?"

MacGyver picked up the box with ease. "No problem. Are you ready to go?"

For once, Kierra smiled. "Ready!"

But the smile faded when she heard the unmistakable sound of the front door opening and her father calling, "Kierra? I'm home."

"Oh no!" she whispered to herself. "He's early!"

Mac glanced at her, a sinking feeling coming over him. "Is something wrong?"

"Quick! Go down the fire escape!"

"Kierra?"

"Coming, Dad!" Kierra shook her head and hissed, "Just go! Hurry!"

"Your dad doesn't know what you've been doing, does he?"

And then---the worst of all---her bedroom door opened, and Kierra covered her face with her hands.

"Kierra, I wanted to surprise you, so---" Dr. Thomas Morgan froze midsentence, aghast at the stranger in his home.

"Oh, no," Kierra groaned.

*********************

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Re: MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by Sanguine » Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:37 am

Part 4 will be posted on December 27 (the second day of Kwanzaa!) because I'm crazy busy with my family's Christmas stuff and, honestly, I think most people are busy with some type of winter holiday or another at this time of year anyway. Sorry for the inconvenience!

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Re: MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by tvero80 » Tue Dec 24, 2019 3:07 pm

Sanguine wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:37 am
Part 4 will be posted on December 27 (the second day of Kwanzaa!) because I'm crazy busy with my family's Christmas stuff and, honestly, I think most people are busy with some type of winter holiday or another at this time of year anyway. Sorry for the inconvenience!
No problem . Take your time , Sanguine .
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Part Four

Post by Sanguine » Sat Dec 28, 2019 9:02 pm

Part Four

"Who are you and what are you doing with my daughter?" Dr. Morgan demanded.

"Name's MacGyver. I'm a volunteer with Challengers, across the street."

"Challengers? What is that, some kind of gang? I see enough gangsters at the clinic. I don't need one in my home!"

"It's actually a boys and girls club. An outreach for the young people in the community. Your daughter volunteered to make a Kwanzaa display for our holiday celebration. She asked for help moving a box of decorations, so I offered to lend a hand. I assumed you knew that Kierra had been visiting the club or I wouldn't have just shown up here."

Dr. Morgan shifted his gaze to his daughter. "Kierra, is this true?"

Kierra kept her eyes fixed on her sneakers. "Yes, Daddy, it's true."

Her father sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "In that case, you have my apologies, Mr. MacGyver. As I'm sure you've noticed, my daughter is very strong-willed. I should've known that she'd find some way of causing trouble."

"Well, that's why Challengers is there: to keep kids out of trouble," MacGyver replied. "Maybe you'd like to visit and see what kinds of things we do there? The whole community's welcome to see the holiday displays."

"I appreciate the offer, but for now, I need to have a serious conversation with my daughter," Dr. Morgan replied in a tone that made MacGyver see where Kierra got her cold expression sometimes. "And that box needs to go back in the closet where it belongs."

"Daddy, no!" Kierra cried. "We have to celebrate Kwanzaa! It's not fair! This will be our first year without it!"

"It'll also be our first year without your mother, Kierra," Dr. Morgan said, hands clenching. "And even though I know how much you loved to celebrate it with her, this is hard for me, too. And I'm not sure I can stand to spend seven more days being constantly reminded that my wife is gone. I'm sorry, Kierra, and I know you're disappointed, but I just can't do it." He lifted the box from MacGyver's hands and gestured to the door. "You can go, Mr. MacGyver. Thank you."

On his way out, MacGyver locked eyes with Kierra. The usually bold and confident girl looked to be on the verge of tears. He took one last look at Dr. Morgan and said, "If you should change your mind, Challengers will still be there, and we can always use a set of hands. Especially someone as bright and strong as your daughter."

*********************

After all of that, the last person---or maybe the second-to-last---that MacGyver expected to walk through the front door was Kierra. Yet when he turned around after helping string some paper lanterns across the ceiling, there she was, with a wooden candleholder in her hands.

"Kierra?" Mac said, climbing down from the ladder. "What are you doing here?"

"I came to finish the Kwanzaa display," she explained. "My dad told me I'm forbidden to use the fire escape unless there's a real emergency, so instead, I just waited until he got a call from the clinic and then I walked right out the front door. I told the lady at the desk that I was leaving and she didn't seem too happy, but when I told her where I was going, she said she'd cover for me."

"Kierra, you could get in big trouble with your dad for this. Are you sure you don't want to go home?"

Kierra shook her head. "I have to finish this. It's for my mom." She clutched the kinara close to her chest. "This was the kinara we always used. I brought it and a box of candles. I don't have the other decorations, but maybe we can make some new ones instead."

"I think that's a great idea," Mac said softly. "Come on. Let's set up a table for it."

After a while, MacGyver and Breeze came to check on Kierra, and when they peeked through the door, they saw Kierra overseeing Curtis and Brandon, who were working on a different Kwanzaa decoration.

"How does this look?" Curtis asked, holding up a mat made of strips of construction paper that he'd woven together.

"Perfect," Kierra said. "Now put it right in the middle of the table, under the kinara."

"Okay, I think the papier-mache stuff is done too," Brandon said. "I made three ears of corn, two apples, and---uh---well, this green one that didn't turn out like I thought."

"Hmm…" Kierra looked it over and nodded. "We'll call it a lime. The corn is the most important part. Put that around the kinara, on top of the mkeka mat."

"Got it!"

"Well, this is coming along really well!" Breeze said. "I'm especially proud of you for getting the boys to help. It's looking great."

"Thanks," Kierra said. "There's only a couple more things I need: something to light the candles with, and a Unity Cup."

"A Unity Cup, huh? I'll see what I can do. Listen, we're not presenting the displays until the open house later tonight, so why don't you go on home for now? I'll make sure the boys finish setting it up for you while you're gone."

Kierra nodded. "Okay. I guess that'll be all right. And…thank you. For everything."

As she left, MacGyver turned to Breeze. "I'll work on the cup. Until then, why don't you send Darius and some of the younger kids to the free clinic down the next street over?"

Breeze furrowed his brow. "The clinic? You mean that new one that opened up a few weeks ago? Why?"

"Somethin' tells me they could use a little holiday spirit over there."

Breeze smiled. "I gotcha. I'll have them decorate their front window and all the doors!"

MacGyver grinned. "Perfect!"

*********************

It was around seven o'clock in the evening when Dr. Morgan left his office in the clinic, having finished stitching up his last patient for the day. He was so tired that all he wanted to do was sink into sleep. It seemed like he was constantly tired these days.

But as he headed for the door, briefcase in hand, he found a crowd of doctors, nurses, and patients alike crowding the front room.

"What's going on?"

One of the nurses, a cheerful blonde woman in magenta scrubs, grinned at him. "Somebody decorated our clinic! They even set up a little papier-mache tree and everything."

Another nurse, overhearing the conversation, looked over her shoulder at them and nodded with delight. "It was the kids from the Challengers Club. I used to work at another clinic closer to their building. They always go around decorating this part of town for the holidays! Aren't they sweet?"

"Yes," Dr. Morgan said slowly, stepping through the crowd for a better look. Indeed, a papier-mache tree covered in glittery homemade ornaments stood in the windowsill, surrounded by cottonball snow and popsicle-stick candy canes. Cut-out pictures of dreidels and Santa Claus were stuck to the glass door, but the thing that caught his attention the most was the hand-drawn kinara taped right in the middle.

"It's beautiful," one of the other doctors proclaimed.

"And so thoughtful, too. What great kids," said another.

Dr. Morgan swallowed hard, pushing back the tears stinging his eyes. "Yeah. Really great kids."

He took off for apartment 703 as fast as his legs would carry him.

*********************

Just a street away, Kierra stood behind her Kwanzaa table, watching members of the community of all ages filing into the Challengers Club, milling about and being treated to Darius' best tour guide voice. Suddenly, she felt self-conscious, like everyone was watching her, and her face and hands felt too hot.

She quickly ducked into a back hallway just to get away.

MacGyver happened to be walking down that same hallway, carrying a box of snacks for the kids. "Hey, Kierra! Are you ready to show everyone about Kwanzaa?"

Mutely, she shook her head, feeling like her heart was going to explode.

Mac quickly set down the box and knelt down to her level. "Are you okay?"

She shook her head again. "I know this sounds funny, but I'm scared. I don't wanna mess this up. I'm doing it for my mom." Her voice cracked and her throat felt thick. "I know my dad will be mad at me when I get home, but I really really miss her."

MacGyver put a hand on her shoulder. "I know how you feel. I lost my mom, too."

"Really?"

"Yeah. It's something that you never really get over."

"I was afraid you'd say that."

"It's not a bad thing. It means that you loved her. It's okay to be sad and it's okay to miss her. And I think what you're doing to remember her is important and very special."

"My dad doesn't."

"He's sad, too, and sometimes grief causes us to not think straight. He'll understand you eventually."

"How do you deal with not having your mom?"

MacGyver sighed. "Not very well, for a long time. There were a lot of years where I just couldn't handle Christmas because it reminded me so much of her. But then I found out something that changed everything."

"What was it?"

"Her last words. The last thing she said was, 'Ice cream.'"

Kierra wrinkled her nose. "Why? What's that mean?"

MacGyver smiled. "It was one of our secrets, just between us. It was how we let each other know that everything would be okay. And that's how I know that, even though I miss my mom and I love her, she wanted me to be okay."

"My mom wanted me to be okay too."

"Sure she did."

Kierra finally smiled. "Thanks, MacGyver. I feel better now. My mom loved Kwanzaa and I love Kwanzaa, and I know my dad does, too. So everything will be okay."

"That's the spirit! So, do you think you're ready now?"

"Yes!"

"Great! Want me to get everybody rounded up?"

"Please."

"All right!"

This time, when Kierra looked out at all the people, she didn't think about the crowd of adults, strangers, and community members hovering around. Instead, she made eye contact with all of her new friends---even the boys who couldn't throw a football---and mentally chanted, Ice cream.

After MacGyver had ushered most of the visitors into the area around Kierra's table, Breeze cleared his throat.

"Can I get everyone's attention, please? Thank you. We'd like to welcome everyone to Challengers, and we're especially pleased to give you a special treat tonight. These holiday displays and presentations have been put together with a lot of love and hard work from all the Challengers Club members, and I couldn't be more proud. And the first thing we have to share with you tonight is a celebration of Kwanzaa from our newest member, Kierra Morgan."

He nodded at Kierra with a proud smile, and she took a deep breath.

"Thanks, everyone," she began. "I'm celebrating Kwanzaa with you tonight in memory of my mom. Her name was Shondra Keyes Morgan, and she had pancreatic cancer. This is my first December without her, but Kwanzaa was her favorite holiday and it's mine too. So this is for her."

Kierra stopped for a moment, but she caught sight of MacGyver in the huddle of people and met his eyes. She cleared her throat and kept going. "Here on the table, you see a mat that my friend Curtis made. The mat is called the mkeka, and it symbolizes our foundations and our potential. On top of the mat are the mazao, which are the crops. The ears of corn represent the children, and how all of the adults in the community are our parents, whether it's by blood or just being with us in spirit. And my friend Brandon also made apples and a lime. The fruits represent the harvest, because Kwanzaa was based off the harvest festivals in Africa. The name comes from matunda ya kwanza, which is Swahili for 'first fruits.'"

Kierra glanced around the room, surprised by how many people were paying rapt attention. Curtis and Brandon were right up in the front, high-fiving each other over their contributions to the table.

She grinned at them and carried on, "The next thing, and the thing most people know about, is the kinara. And the kinara has seven candles, one for each of the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa. There are three different colors of candles that mean different things: black for the people from Africa, red for their struggle, and green for the hope for the future. The red candles on the left represent self-determination, working together economically, and creativity. Creativity was my mom's favorite."

"The green candles on the right are uplifting the community and solving problems together, purpose, and faith. Faith is my dad's favorite. The black candle goes in the middle, and it's actually the first Principle but I saved it for last 'cause it's my favorite. The black candle means Umoja, which is unity. Unity for our family, our community, our nation, and even people all across the world. And---and---I'm supposed to have a Unity Cup, too, but---"

Quietly, Mei slipped over to Kierra, held up something, and whispered to her. "We couldn't find anything that would be a good Unity Cup, so we had to improvise." In her hand, she was holding a plastic cup that had been decorated with strips of cloth, beads, and colorful sequins. "I know it's not what you were hoping for, but I put all the little kids to work, and we made one for just about everybody. This one's for you."

Kierra found that she couldn't say anything through the held-back tears, so she just gripped the teenaged girl in a tight hug.

Breeze stepped forward again, holding up a bottle of sparkling red grape juice. "MacGyver and I rounded up something to fill the cups with, if you want."

Kierra pulled away from Mei, wiping her eyes. "Yes, please. But I don't remember the part about the cup."

"I believe I can help with that," sounded a strong voice from the back of the crowd.

Kierra's jaw---and MacGyver's too---dropped when Dr. Thomas Morgan pushed his way through the crowd.

"Daddy!" she cried.

"Kierra!" He scooped her up in his arms for a tight hug, whispering, "I'm sorry for being stubborn, too. You get it from me. I was wrong to try to keep you from celebrating Kwanzaa. I thought I was protecting myself, but hiding from all this just made it worse. And I don't want to miss this for the world."

Kierra smiled. "Ice cream."

He frowned. "What does that mean?"

"It means it's all going to be okay. Will you tell the part about the Unity Cup now?"

Her father smiled. "It'll be my honor." He turned to the people gathered around and accepted the bottle of juice from Breeze. "The Kikombe cha Umoja, or Unity Cup, is the final item that my family places onto the mat. We use it to pour tambiko, or libations, to all of our ancestors---and all those who keep us on the path to what is good. ...Those such as Kierra's mother, my wife. I couldn't be happier to honor my family today. My daughter is right---this time of year is when all of us should be unified together, as a community and a family."

He leaned down to kiss Kierra's head as he poured some grape juice into her cup. "Thank you, Kierra."

Kierra grabbed him in a hug with her free arm. "Does this mean I can keep being part of the club?"

"Of course. Just...make sure that I know where you're going next time."

"You know, we can still use an extra set of hands around here," Breeze said with a grin.

Dr. Morgan chuckled. "You can sign me up anytime. But first, this set of hands is going to pour grape juice for everyone!"

Quietly, Kierra slipped back through the crowd, weaving her way over to MacGyver. She grabbed him in a hug, too.

"Thanks, MacGyver. For everything."

MacGyver returned the hug and smiled. "Nah. Thank you. I think this has been the best holiday Challengers has seen yet."

*********************

December 31, 1996


"You're gonna lose, MacGyver!" shouted Kierra as she barreled down the alley with a hockey stick in hand.

Darius hunkered down in front of the makeshift goal. "Take cover!"

"I really wish I hadn't switched teams!" Curtis wailed.

Flanked by Brandon and Mei, Kierra swung as hard as she could---and flung the puck past Darius, squarely through the goal.

"Score!" Brock bellowed as he marked another tally on the brick wall in chalk, clearly enjoying his new role as scorekeeper.

"Are you kidding?" Darius whined. "That's our third straight game! MacGyver!"

"Don't look at me! It's not my fault we have a miniature Wayne Gretzky on the opposing team!"

"Is it too late to switch to football?" Curtis groaned.

"All right, guys, come on in!" Breeze called from the doorway. "Thomas and I have a big surprise for you!"

Mei reached the door first, and urged her hockey teammates with a cry of, "Cookies!"

Dr. Morgan winced as the horde of sweaty kids charged through the door. "Don't break the table! I just fixed that!"

Breeze clapped a hand on his new volunteer's shoulder. "I'd love to tell you it won't get broken again, but… You just better get used to it."

MacGyver grinned and shrugged. "Men will be boys."

"And girls will kick all their butts," Kierra added.

As everyone bustled around, playing or working or eating cookies, Breeze smiled proudly at another happy---and busy---day in the Challengers Club. "And here's to a happy New Year!"

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bftlovesRDA
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Re: MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by bftlovesRDA » Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:54 pm

Nice part four, Sanguine. Well done.
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Sanguine
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Re: MacGyver Virtual Season 10.6 - Umoja

Post by Sanguine » Fri Jan 10, 2020 3:42 pm

Thank you so much! I appreciate it. :D

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