Part IV - Chapter 18 - Chuck Finley

1913 - Miami

Pete had traveled to 1912 as planned and between the letter of reference and Pete's conman skills, he was able to convince Weston and his team that Pete was a down and out spy and they adopted him like a stray dog. However, to ensure that Pete remained invisible to the future, he used a fake name that Ellie had created and included in the reference letter. That name being James Kendrick, Kendrick for short.

"Kendrick" had managed to ingratiate himself into the small spy ring which might have been difficult without Brisco's unwitting recommendation. Weston seemed to be exceedingly untrusting of people and preferred to do missions alone or with his girlfriend, Fiona. If times were desperate, they might loop in Weston's mother, Madeline. Kendrick's arrival had turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Pete's underworld knowledge and previous connections with Irish mob enabled him to become a mole for Weston, providing additional intel that proved vital to Weston's mission. Pete got what we wanted, a front row seat to Weston's operation. Not only did Weston have experience in covert missions and becoming invisible, but he had extensive training in utilizing targeted munitions and explosives to even a playing field. If anyone was a one-man army, it was Weston.

Over the course of the year, Pete was able to better understand the small team. Weston worked hard to be a closed book to everyone around him but Pete was able to glean that Weston was wholly devoted to serving his country, beyond any logical thought for himself. It was such a deep-rooted belief in Weston's self that caused both admiration and a sense that burn out was not far away. Pete observed that if it wasn't for Fiona and Madeline, Weston would be a much darker and lost soul. Weston's savior, Fiona, was the individual that Pete most related to. Almost immediately, Pete and Fiona bonded over their mutual affection for guns and their ties to the Irish mob. Both of them preferred to handle a mission with guns blazing or through other means of force. Instead, Weston was willing to occasionally take a punch if it meant retaining a cover, rather than utilize violence. Weston used violence as more of a last resort which was an adjustment for both Pete and Fiona.

Of course, it wasn't the only adjustment that Pete had to face but the lack of traveling through time and space on a regular basis. A routine 24 hours a day made the world feel as if it was moving at a snail's pace compared to the time hopping that he had enjoyed. However, Pete was determined to learn all he could from Weston and Pete had a lot more patience than anyone gave him credit for. It was a skill that he developed in waiting to rob trains, to stop stagecoaches, or to play dead in order to kidnap high value targets.

After spending a year with the Weston crew and knowing that the final objection was in sight, Pete started to worry about how he might leave the group without suspicion. He had hoped that the group could simply go their separate ways upon completing the mission but something about this spy bureaucracy told Pete that Weston was probably in for a series of "one last mission" lifestyle. Additionally, the timeline had caught back up with Pete's time of departure. Pete had contacted Ellie so she knew where to reach him and she had immediately responded with a new concern. Apparently, Socrates was asking around town after a man who had gone on a crime spree and kept appearing and disappearing from San Francisco. Socrates had stopped by the bar to show newspaper clippings to Ellie and to the bar frequenters to find out the identity of the thief. While Socrates never told Ellie why he was hunting for the man, Ellie was concerned that Brisco might have actually left the bars in Los Angeles and had started to hunt down the thief. Additionally, she recommended that he return to review all that she had uncovered about the bracelet.

The biggest complication to ending the mission was that they still had not been allowed to meet the man pulling the strings of the Irish mob in the United States. Despite Pete's connections, Fiona's Irish heritage, and Weston's charm, the highest that they were able to reach was O'Banion. Finally, Weston had been able to come up with a plan that would draw the mastermind out. However, it required an added person, someone to pose as a weapons dealer. Weston had asked Jesse, his commanding officer, for an additional man stating that they would need the individual for 48 hours at the most. Unfortunately, Jesse had stated that the nearest agents were already assigned to Europe and Mexico to monitor rumors of rising world tensions. Jesse had explained that while the United States was determined to stay isolated from any potential conflicts, there was a growing national anxiousness and key decision makers were dependent on spies to stay fully informed. However, a European war seemed too distant to affect Pete or his agenda. Pete had his own future war to win.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

“We finally got our man!” exclaimed Weston in his most charming smile.

The exclamation had caught Pete off guard as he had been lost in thought and staring at the breakfast and coffee Madeline had made. In Pete’s experience all that one needs to get things done is right plan, right people, and a good cup of coffee. By zeroing in on the coffee, he hadn’t even noticed the excitement in Weston’s demeanor when the group had sat down at the table.

Weston continued, “I know that it’s been a long road but we are finally near the end. Additionally, I just got our authorization from Washington to take the son of a bitch into custody before we can pull up stakes and move to Washington D.C.”

A sigh of relief came from Madelyn as Fiona spouted, “About bloody time.”

“What time can we expect the man Jesse’s sending?” asked Pete who was already calculating how much time it would take to prepare the agent on the plan that Weston had created months ago, to go through the motions of capturing the head of the local insurgents, and finally, to leave without any kind of notoriety.

"It's actually not one of Jesse's agents but an old colleague with spy experience and he should be here late tonight. He is going to be registering at the hotel under the name 'Charles Finley.'"

"If he arrives too late, how are we going to be able to get him up to speed?" asked a concerned Madeline as she ladled more eggs onto Pete's untouched plate.

"Luckily, he's got enough experience that he'll be able to roll with the punches," explained Weston as he finished off a yogurt.

"You mean you hope he can roll with the punches," corrected Pete. He felt a worry rise inside of him, not about the mission's success but what if it failed and he would be ordered to stay until it's completion. Pete was unconcerned about disobeying an order as he did not have the same national pride that Weston carried. However, Pete was concerned that disappearing in the night might cause a paper trail that the future Charles could track. Pete needed to remain a ghost.

"The meeting with O'Banion and Snake is set for tonight, it's too late to back out," explained Fiona in an effort to defend Weston.

"I know him," began Weston, "and honestly, there is no one that I trust more. We just need to work on getting everything else in place as best we can."

"Will he be staying here?" asked Madeline.

"He'll need to keep up appearances so he'll be registered at the hotel. Hopefully, I can sneak him out at night so that I can bring him by the cabin to do a more detailed mission briefing. Kendrick, can you run interference after the meeting to ensure that no one discovers that we're meeting?"

"I'm guessing you'll want me to move into the hotel as well?" asked Pete, knowing the answer.

"I'd suggest bringing a good book and finding a comfy chair to move into for today and tomorrow."

"We're running the operation tomorrow?" Fiona asked hopefully. She had bolted up right in her chair, suddenly enthusiastic about the day's events.

"Tonight is the meeting and tomorrow will be the sale to draw out the mastermind," confirmed Weston. Fiona and Madeline began to hug each other in excitement before Weston regained control of the room issuing orders to each member as there was still a lot to do before Chuck Finley's evening arrival.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete had been at the hotel since the late afternoon. It was unlikely that the train would arrive that early but Pete wanted to position himself at the hotel bar so that he could watch the front door for Finley's arrival. For the first few hours, it was just the hotel and bar regulars, even low members of the Irish gang whom Pete knew giving him a better reason for hanging out while not renting a room.

The first stranger to arrive through the door was a tall and wirey man with blonde hair which seemed to point in every direction. The skeleton of a man was hunched over and covered his face as he coughed. There was something familiar about the man but Pete didn't get a good look at the guy and obviously, he was not an agent. Just behind the skinny stranger was a young woman who walked in as though she owned every room she entered. Her looks and confidence caused several of the men at the bar to stop drinking or pause conversations just to watch her pass. However, Pete didn't get a good look at her as the final member of the trio was none other but Brisco County Jr.!

Pete slid into the shadows to watch the group. Brisco signed the small group in before each collected a key and moved upstairs. Is Brisco playing Chuck Finley? And if so, why didn't Weston just tell me that it was Brisco? More than that, why did Brisco bring a young woman and scrawny man with him? They certainly weren't part of the mission which meant that Brisco was placing civilians in harm's way which seemed out of character for Brisco.

Pete had remained at the bar and watched the minutes ticked by. After about twenty minutes or so, Brisco left the hotel, alone. Pete took note of the time and noticed that if he was the buyer, he'd arrive a few minutes before the meeting and might be able to catch up with Weston. However, a few moments later, the woman snuck out after Brisco. Maybe Brisco was not Finley, if that girl is following him out. Pete waited until the appointed time of the meeting and noticed that only those three individuals had registered this evening. Pete was now almost certain that Brisco was playing Finley but he wanted one last confirmation, just in case the agent didn't arrive and the operation was now going to be pushed back, again.

Pete approached the hotel manager who was managing the check-in desk. Of all of the members of the Irish gang, the hotel manager annoyed Pete the most. Pete had found that people who irritate him, or seem to offer nothing to further Pete's interests, seemed to all have forgettable names. The hotel manager had given Pete his name on numerous occasions but Pete had always forgotten it within seconds; there just seemed to be no reason to remember the man. Until now, grimaced Pete. How am I going to read the register list without tipping off that I know Brisco if he's not Chuck Finley? If he is Chuck Finley, I'm supposed to know him and wouldn't need to find out his name.

Pete took a deep breath before giving his most charming smile to the hotel manager before saying, "I would like to register a complaint."

The hotel manager frowned before stating, "Mr. Hutter, I don't believe that you are a guest and therefore, any complaints will have to be ignored."

"Ignored? Ignored?" Pete began. He lowered his voice as though the offense was so great that it would take all of his strength to contain it. "That's ridiculous!" exclaimed Pete throwing his arm down to feign his anger.

"Mr. Hutter, it's not that we don't appreciate your utilization of our bar this evening or that we don't appreciate the growing relations between your colleagues and mine, but at the moment, there are far more pressing matters for both of our groups than to handle a mere complaint."

"That's just want I wanted to complain about," Pete quickly replied, in an effort to change avenues of attack. "With so much occurring tomorrow, specifically here at the hotel, I should have a room."

"And who will be paying for the room?" asked the hotel manager with a dark grin.

"Obviously, my room should be on the house," Pete stated, knowing full well that the room would not be comped by the hotel but also noting that to make the "complaint" believable, he'd need to be demanding.

"My, how surprising," commented the hotel manager. "You wanting something from me without any cost to yourself, how American of you."

"For the sake of our growing alliance, can't you make an exception?" asked Pete who planned to acquiesce momentarily in order to sign in and gain access to the registry.

"Fine," commented the hotel manager, "I have other things to attend do. Would you mind staying upstairs with the rest of your group?"

The hotel manager agreeing to give Pete a free room caught Pete by surprise. Not that the rooms were anything extravagant, in fact they were about as plain and basic as they could be. But Pete was used to working with people who charged for everything and the word "favor" did not exist.

Pete collected himself before saying, "That should be fine."

The hotel manager handed Pete a key and then turned to go back to his office.

"Wait, don't I need to register or something?"

"Why? We're all friends here."

"True," Pete stated with a forced smile. He started again, "Would you mind if I borrowed your pen?"

"My pen?" asked the hotel manager who seemed to be watching something occurring behind Pete now with great interest.

"I need to write myself a note before heading back to the bar," explained Pete desperate now to see the register book.

"Take it," stated the hotel manager as he handed the pen over to Pete before leaving the front desk area. Pete took the opportunity to quickly turn the registration book around and finally confirmed that Brisco had signed in as "Chuck Finley."

Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. Pete turned to see what had pulled the hotel manager away and he noticed that the hotel manager had joined a couple of the Irishmen that Pete had seen in the past, Playfair and Lonergan. The hotel manager was talking quickly to the Irishmen and pointing upstairs before the two men began hurrying up towards Brisco's rooms. It wouldn't be long until they barged in on the 3rd man in Brisco's small party and who knew what the civilian might say. Pete quickly passed the hotel manager and moved out the front door of the hotel. In the alley beside the bar across the street, Pete could make out the shadow of Weston with two other figures, presumably Fiona and Brisco. Pete gave a loud whistle and when the shadow of Weston turned towards the hotel, Pete waved to signal the need to return to the hotel immediately. Pete then moved out of the light as he knew that it would be best to meet Brisco under the cover of darkness before going inside.

Within minutes, Brisco crossed the street and arrived at the lobby door. Despite the possible unraveling Weston's carefully calculated plan, Pete couldn't help himself and allowed "Brisco County Jr." to come rushing out in his favorite sing song tone. Brisco turned and stared at Pete, his face frozen between shock and confusion. Before Brisco could blow anyone's cover, Pete quickly put out his hand to shake Brisco's.

"Chuck Finley, I presume. I'm Kendrick," Pete began before turning his attention upstairs to the Irishmen. "While I would love get to know you better and to pontificate the meaning of life. I believe there is a matter upstairs that demands our immediate attention."

The two men quickly moved up the stairs and down the hallway towards the rented rooms but Pete could tell that Brisco was spiraling with the information. About all that Pete could glean is that a scientist was upstairs. It looked like the Irishmen had already ransacked the girl's room as her clothes littered the hallway floor. Pete ignored whatever motions Brisco doled out and silently moved into position behind one of the Irishmen before hearing the man in front of Brisco shout, "Where are the weapons?"

Clearly, we did too good of a job setting Brisco up as an elite gun runner. This could blow up in our faces if we're not careful.

Trying to decide how to save the situation without blowing the mission, Pete failed to time his sneak attack on Playfair as Brisco knocked out Lonergan. In that time, Playfair had managed to punch the young blonde man in Brisco's party and knocked the kid out. Pete looked over at the scientist but all he could see was a mess of tangled blonde hair. Pete honed in on Playfair rather than the knocked out kid. Pete grabbed the gun from the passed out Lonergan and pointed it at the co-conspirator, Playfair who was now standing in the middle of the scientist's room with big fearful eyes.

"Now that wasn't real smart of you to break into a scientist's room and knock him out," Pete said in a mocking tone. "You just lost your only leverage. Obviously, you don't play chess. Maybe you should stick to checkers because you are all offense but no strategy."

Pete did not get a good look at the young man in a crumpled heap on the floor but based on his clothing and scribbled paper everywhere, he certainly seemed to have the "genius" trait of disorganized chaos. Looking around at the belonging of Brisco's two companions, Pete realized that his suspicions that the two strangers were just civilians had been correct. Unfortunately, whether Brisco wanted his civilians involved in Weston's operation or not, both individuals were now dragged into the operation.

"How dare you Yanks try to profit instead of support our cause! You have no honor! There is a fight coming and you dare to-"

"How dare you break into my employees' rooms!" The rage in Brisco's voice shook Pete to the present as he realized how protective Brisco truly felt about this young man. Brisco continued to rant, "Do you think that I would be stupid enough to bring the weapons anywhere near town before I got paid? Kendrick was right you are stupid!"

As much as Pete enjoyed Brisco agreeing with him, truth be told, Pete was more enchanted by the gun that he was holding rather than whatever Playfair was yelling about. Clearly, the Irishman had some kind of martyr complex and Pete had little patience for any further tyrannical behavior.

The Irishman seemed determined to justify the ran sackers' actions and continued, "At least we believe in a higher calling - like freedom and-"

"I believe in nothing but the almighty dollar. And I don't need you or your cause! In fact, I am about to call this deal off!"

Despite how precarious their safety was in this moment, Pete couldn't help but smile. This was the Brisco that Pete remembered, not the hopeless shell hiding from widows and living for his next drink. It looked like Brisco had caught enough of the plan and had enough skill to improvise and to save Weston's all important and final Miami mission.

Unfortunately, Brisco caught the smile and turned on Pete by demanding, "Anything you want to add?"

Pete raised his hands in mock surrender in an attempt to abet Brisco's ire. "Nossir! Looks like you've managed to say everything needed."

It seemed enough for Brisco to turn back on the intruder and Pete watched as Brisco picked the man up and threw him out of the room. "In fact, deal's off! That's the message you can tell your employers!"

"No need to cancel the deal or to pass on a message," came the cheerful voice of O'Banion. He had silently moved up the stairs and was standing next to Snake and the hotel manager. "Message received. It's like you said, had to try. Come Playfair, we'll attend to Lonergan."

Pete casually watched the martyr move toward O'Banion while Snake and the hotel manager carried the unconscious man away. Most of Pete's attention was directed towards admiring the captured weapon. The spell was only momentarily broken when the hotel manager had interjected with "That's my friend's gun."

"And?" Pete asked as though the fact had no bearing on the conversation at hand.

"Well, it's his," came the weak response from the hotel manager, a little less confident as he looked into Pete's eyes.

"It's a Beautiful Colt 45. Almost as beautiful as my piece." At that Pete retrieved his piece and pointed both guns at Playfair. "Pete's piece is what I call it and it's about time, it had a mate. So, I would say, it was his. Past tense is key."

Pete knew that he did not necessarily need another gun but it was too beautiful of a weapon to surrender. Since both guns were pointed at the hotel manager, the hotel manager surrendered the question of the gun's ownership and he joined the Irishmen as they slowly left the hallway. O'Banion was the last to leave the hallway but just before he turned to leave, he gave a mock apologetic smile. "Our apologies for the confusion. Let's all get a good night's rest before deciding if we want to call off the deal."

At that Brisco and Pete were left alone in the hallway. Pete holstered his piece and tucked the second gun behind his back. In that moment, Pete was relieved that he had booked a room at the hotel as opposed to trying to find a way to guard the rooms surreptitiously. By now the hotel manager had surely explained to the rest of the Irish gang that Pete was staying at the hotel and that their movements could damage their deal for the next day. He began by tossing any item on the floor into the girl's room. He wasn't exactly sure if they were all hers but it seemed a good deduction based on the items he threw. After the hallway was clear, Pete went downstairs to the bar and picked up the book he brought to keep awake and ordered coffee from the hotel manager to be delivered to his room. It looked like it was going to be an all-night event, guarding the hallways from any further intrusions.

After a few instructions to the hotel manager, Pete noticed that Brisco had finally come downstairs, carrying the scrawny man over his shoulder, as the young man was still out cold. Pete could tell that this lightweight had clearly not worked in any hard labor environment as he looked too weak to carry a satchel of books much less anything with real weight. Before Brisco left, Pete discreetly motioned to Brisco that he would keep guard over the rooms while Brisco and his unconscious friend met up with Michael. Unfortunately, Brisco was never the best at nonverbal communication so Pete had to trust that Brisco understood how to get out of town and into the direction of the cabin. Worst case, Pete knew that Weston was somewhere tailing Brisco and would meet up with the duo after they left the town.

Either way, it was out of Pete's hands when Brisco rode off into the night. With a sigh, Pete went back into the hotel and moved a chair from his room into the middle of the hallway so that he could watch over the hotel rooms. Once he felt settled and guns within reach, Pete picked up his coffee and copy of Sun Tsu's "Art of War" and settled in for a long night of guard duty.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

At about 7 am, the previously agreed upon time by Weston and O'Banion, Pete joined the Irishmen to help seal in the sound around the bar. A small group would practice talking in various volumes inside the dining room while the rest worked on insulating the sound. Pete had been volunteered to be part of the insulators working to ensure that it was sealed for sound which gave him the opportunity to surreptitiously ensure that the gas would not escape or dissipate once pumped into the dining hall. Since it was tedious work, it took much longer than anticipated. But finally, the task was completed and the men went their separate ways, to work on other projects, to go to sleep, or to change for the day.

Pete made a lot of commotion about getting coffee at the bar across the street to ensure that anyone watching would take notice that he had left the hotel. Once the breakfast and coffee order was placed at the bar, Pete snuck out the back of the bar and into to the dining room of the hotel. Once he was sure that no one had seen him, he pulled out a map that Weston and Pete had drawn up in preparation for this deal. He found the agreed upon location and cut a small hole in the wall. Pete then set up gas tank next to the room before placing a small card table over the gas canister. He then found a long tablecloth and used it to hide the underside of the table. Pete had barely laid the tablecloth down before he heard Snake's voice nearing Pete and his work. Pete had just enough time to dive under the tablecloth before Snake came into the hallway. O'Banion's number two seemed to be surveying the work of insulation by the morning crew and he was running his hand over the wall. Pete held his breath, wondering if he would feel the need to move the table or inspect it. After a few minutes, Pete heard Snake pass by, taking no notice of the table or Pete. Pete peaked around the corner of the tablecloth and watched as Snake turned around the corner, still studying the walls. Pete carefully got out from under the table but as he looked up and down the hallway, Pete began to second guess how this table would look next to the dining room wall. After a few moments of consideration, he grabbed a pitcher of water and several glasses and placed it on the table.

Before anyone noticed, he snuck back to the bar and made a loud commotion ensuring that all would assume that he had not gone anywhere near the hotel lobby since the insulation tests of the morning. At that, Pete began chugging as much coffee as he could find. It was going to be a long day.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete watched as Brisco and the young man arrived early to set up. Since Pete was supposed to be more of a grunt man and part of the escape plan, he started walking towards the building after he was sure that all of the weapons, drawings, and "inventions" were loaded into the building so he could be a guard before the Irishmen decided to join the meeting. It appeared that Pete was none too soon as the Irishmen began to walk into the hotel dining room before Pete was even in place. Pete took his position but managed to find a way to catch Brisco's eye and give him a wink to assure Brisco that he was not alone. Unfortunately, Pete was joined by Playfair, the thief from the night before, and the hotel manager.

"Haven't you ever heard that three's a crowd?"

"How's that?" inquired the hotel manager.

"We got one of each party represented here, we don't need another body crowding this door. Don't you have some hospitality management to work on?"

The hotel manager's only response was a series of mutters under his breath as he stormed back to the front desk. "And then there was one," thought Pete. From the other side of the door, he could hear an added two voices in the room, when Pete peaked inside and caught a glimpse of the young man from the night before and an unfamiliar individual. Clearly, they had entered through the back entrance. The door closed again limiting Pete's look to that momentary glance. With the door shut, all Pete could do was listen to Brisco's tap dancing routine in an attempt to stall until Weston's arrival.

As if on cue, Michael arrived and pressed a note into Pete's hand as they shook hands before Michael entered the room to join Brisco. In order to read the note in private, Pete told Playfair about the water and glasses around the corner and suggested that he bring back a couple glasses of water. As soon as the man turned the corner, Pete read the note:

Doc will gas. Fi & Ma around corner as plan "B."

Pete released a breath and leaned against the door. It looked like Brisco and Michael had the tough job of entertaining the group, this "Doc" guy will gas the room, and Pete just needed to wait for the signal to take out any stragglers or to help load up the target and O'Banion. However, just as Pete started to review the next steps of his plan, he noticed two figures hurry upstairs. To Pete's surprise, it was the girl who had snuck out after Brisco the night before. The young man was familiar but Pete couldn't place him.

Within a few moments the young couple rushed back downstairs and started moving towards him. Pete tipped his hat and with a large smile stated, "The dining area is closed for a private event. We recommend visiting any other restaurant in town but I thank you to vacate the premises immediately."

Pete continued to study the young man. He almost looked like Bowler. Could this be little James all grown up? Just as the thought crossed his mind, the young man turned as though about to leave before quickly turning back and slamming Pete in the gut. Pete felt his body double over in pain but before he could register a sound, he felt a sharp pain at the back of his head. And then the room went dark.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete forced himself to push through the darkness. He couldn't tell how long he had been out but could only register a pain in his head and ringing in his ears. Suddenly, there was a gunshot, a woman's scream, and then the familiar sound and flash of light from outside. Pete, panicked, checked his wrist but was able to confirm that his was still on him. Were there two bracelets? Who had the other one? Was it Charles coming to bring him back to the future? Or was it a new prisoner out to capture Pete and other 'important people?'

Pete had barely enough time to process the questions before he heard a crash come through the wall. Fiona with Plan B, thought Pete. Pete took a quick look into the dining room and noticed that O'Banion was pinned under debris and another man was hiding behind a table. Pete couldn't see Snake and with O'Banion pinned, it meant that there was really only one threat in that room. With Michael, Fiona, Brisco, and the scientist it was four against one, which meant that Pete could investigate where he had heard the familiar noise of time travel. Pete turned around to find Playfair pointing a gun at him.

Pete raised his hands in surrender as Playfair motioned for Pete to remove his guns and to walk towards the hotel check-in counter. Pete unhooked his gun belt slowly and let it fall to the ground but did not take a step away from the door.

"Sending me to get water so you could double cross us!" scowled Playfair.

Pete could not help but give an impish grin before replying, "Don't worry. I won't tell mom and dad."

Playfair lowered his weapon as if he was debating whether to hit Pete or simply shoot him. After a few moments, the man glowered, "Move. I know that O'Banion will want to interrogate you; otherwise, you'd be dead."

Pete took two slow steps before an explosion erupted from the dining room. Playfair looked towards the dining room in concern and the momentary distraction was all the Pete needed. Pete leaned in towards Playfair before punching the man in his gut. As the man doubled over, Pete kneed the underside of the man's head and shoved him to the ground. As Playfair fell, his gun went off which caused a stray bullet to bury itself into the ground. The man tried to raise himself back up but Pete kicked him twice in the stomach as hard as he could. Pete then reached down and pried the gun out of Playfair's hand before firing a headshot in the man. "So much for diplomacy," mused Pete.

At the sound of a second explosion, Pete forgot about investigating the time traveler, picked up his gun belt, and rushed into the dining room. Just as he stepped over Snake's body, Pete had to almost immediately dive behind a table as the third man began shooting in Pete's direction. Pete unholstered his gun, ready to unload it on the man when he heard the sound of two men struggling. Pete peered around the table to see Weston wrestling with a man that Pete could only assume was Weston's prime target.

Seeing that the immediate danger was over, Pete stood to re-fasten his gun belt. Brisco and Weston carried the prime target out the hole in the wall created by Fiona. Seeing that O'Banion was still struggling under the debris, Pete began to move towards the secondary target. It seemed that without Snake and his gang to protect him, O'Banion had become a crazed man who had only now realized that he had wasted all of his bullets. As Pete continued his approach, O'Banion threw the guns in Pete's direction as a form of defense which Pete was easily able to avoid.

Within seconds Pete was standing over the pinned body of O'Banion whose eyes were now big as saucers as he realized that his fate was fully in Pete's hands. To further emphasize the helplessness of O'Banion's situation, Pete lifted his boot and gently pressed down on the concrete that was weighing O'Banion down. The Irishman stiffened not out of pain but as his level of anxiety had become almost unbearable.

"Are you going to give me any trouble?" hissed Pete looking down at the prisoner. The trapped man vehemently shook his head no and Pete lifted his boot off of the concrete debris. Satisfied that the man would not put up a fight, Pete was able to leave the trapped man momentarily to scrounge through the nearby car that Fiona had used to rescue her fiancé. Looking inside for anything useful proved lucky as there was a ribbon laying on the floor. It was probably some new fashion item that Fiona had purchased to stay in vogue but whatever its original purpose had been it was now commandeered by Pete who stuffed it into a pocket.

After returning to O'Banion, Pete quickly and easily lifted the debris off the man and gruffly picked him up. Pete then shoved the man to turn so that he could use the ribbon to bind the prisoner's hands together. Still wanting to prevent any possible means of escape, Pete pulled a bandana out of his vest pocket and stuffed it into O'Banion's mouth. Pete surveyed his work and when he felt that the ribbon and gag were secure, he dragged the secondary target through the giant hole in the wall and into the direction that Weston had just ventured.

Pete had barely caught up with the group across the street when Brisco demanded, "What the hell happened?"

"Not the time," grunted Pete as he pushed a petrified O'Banion alongside his unconscious co-conspirator inside the wagon. Afterwards, Pete climbed inside and began to scan the area for any other Irishmen who might try to stop the abduction. Within a few minutes the rest of the group piled into the wagon while Madeline, cigarette hanging from her lips, hit the reigns and sped out of the city.

Pete was only mildly aware of the explosion from Fiona's dynamite before he locked eyes with Brisco's scientist whom he had not seen up close until this moment. Pete instantly recognized him as the man from the dystopian future. The man who worked as a scientist in the lab next to Charles. For all Pete knew, this man was part of the conspiracy to kidnap Pete and to murder Jane. Pete thought back to the familiar lights and sounds, he had only heard one arrival or departure but then he had been unconscious. Maybe he didn't hear the second one. Perhaps he had used the gun sale as a cover to report back to Charles of Pete's location.

Pete felt his hands shake as he tried to push down his anger. His eyes flickered to the unconscious men at his feet. How long until I am abducted back to the future? Pete weighed the risk of disappearing in front of this band of people that he had worked with for a year against the risk of waiting to be captured. As Pete recalled the futuristic world of Charles, Pete felt that it was better to take the risk of disappearing in front of the group.

Just as Pete made the decision to go back home, he looked over to find Brisco studying Pete and Doc. Pete responded by rolling up his sleeve to reveal the bracelet. At Brisco's shocked response, Pete gave Brisco a wink before pushing a few buttons to disappear.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete was surprised as he forgot the last couple jumps with the bracelet had caused a bit of pain. While it was not enough to warrant any concern, Pete took a mental note that he might be coming up on his maximum number of jumps. Despite the pain, Pete found himself laughing. It had been too perfect to not mock Brisco before leaving. The man who was too busy drinking to talk with him. The man who never took Pete seriously when Pete actually had the most powerful invention in the world. Pete laughed again.

But then his mind shifted to the young man that Brisco and Weston had called "Doc." A shiver went down Pete's back and he wondered how long he would be safe.

A knock came at the door followed by the hushed voice of Ellie. "Pete are you back?"

Pete walked to the door before slowly opening it.

"You look like shit!" exclaimed Ellie as she pushed the door open to get a good look at him.

"I try," Pete responded wryly.

"I'll kick everyone downstairs out and close up early. In the meantime, head to the bar. I've got some food and a pitcher of beer waiting for you."

Pete followed her downstairs and began to eat as Ellie quickly closed up her bar. Between mouthfuls, Pete filled her in the highlights of the past year. While Pete was still not about to tell her about his overall plan, he did share the added skillset that he received such as blending in with various people groups to gain trust and creating various identities for himself, all useful tools to enable him to stay out of Charles' reach. Pete couldn't help but notice that Ellie perked up when she heard Brisco's name.

"How does Brisco fit into all of this?" Ellie mused aloud.

"You mean why is he trusting a scientist from the future?"

"Does Brisco even know who that man is?"

The question had not crossed Pete's mind. It was clear that Pete would need to further interrogate the scientist to gain a handle on what was going on. But before he caught up with the scientist, Pete would need to take the time to learn everything that Ellie had discovered. For the destiny that Pete had picked, he would need to know everything he can about the enemies of the future and the invention Pete wore.

"Alright Professor Ellie, let's start your T.E.D. Talk."

"Ted Talk?" asked a confused Ellie.

Pete took a nearby napkin and pen before writing out, "T.E.D. Talk = Travel thru Eras and Diverse regions."

Ellie smirked as she pulled out the journal before commenting, "TED Talk, Pete? That'll never go anywhere."

Pete shrugged before crumpling up the napkin and throwing it away. As Ellie opened the journal and began to share what she had learned thus far, a sense of relief washed over Pete. He had survived a year invisible to Charles and he had an ally to fight the madmen of 28th Century. His plan had a shot at working.

Pete studied Ellie for a moment before considering, "Maybe this is what having an empathetic co-conspirator felt like."

Part IV - Chapter 16 - Time Traveling Thief

Year 2170

Pete ensured that he arrived at the laboratory at night. No one was around and the lab felt darker than Pete remembered. Pete passed the cages that once held captives and found that Jayne's body had been removed. As Pete approached the center of the room, he noticed that it had been tidied. He began opening up various drawers, beginning with the one that contained the journal when Pete last searched for items of value in the lab. But the journal was nowhere to be found. In fact, there were not any papers anywhere. It looked like someone had cleaned out every scrap of paper from the entire lab. What is going on?

Then Pete noticed an all-white board nearby with words scribbled in the center. The wording was so small that Pete had to walk towards it until his face was only inches away from the board before he could finally read the words: GOT YOU.

Just as he read the words a chill went down Pete's spine and the lights went on in the lab. Pete turned to see the scientist in front of the door. His hair looked more frazzled than normal and his eyes were red from sleepless nights but what Pete was most interested in was the journal in the scientist's hands.

"Looking for this?" mocked Charles as he held the leather-bound book up so Pete could take in the scene.

Pete didn't say anything but simply stared at Charles as he tried to figure out how to resolve the situation. The plan of sneaking in and out with the journal and escaping without detection had been destroyed.

"You can only understand so much of the POS, without a teacher or instructions. Mind you, it looks as though it has ingratiated itself to your biology which it has not done with individuals in the past. While I am not surprised that it reacted differently to you, I had not anticipated it to so quickly bend to your will."

"How am I different?" Pete asked cautiously.

"The POS had to be turned on when I placed it on a lowlife's wrist and would only activate it when I set the coordinates or called it back. I have tried utilizing my computers and even implemented an associate's notes but nothing has worked to bring you back. I won't say that the bracelet has a soul but it certainly seems to be connected to you on a level beyond my ingenuity."

"So-you can't bring me back here?" inquired Pete.

"Not yet," he said smirking. "But I will find a way soon enough."

With that Pete decided that stealing the journal of notes could wait for a different day, if it was even needed now. He knew that he was safe and that he had a bracelet that could enable him to travel in time and space.

Pete turned his gaze from the scientist to the bracelet, "Oh the places we'll go!" Pete winked at the scientist before saying, "Home."

Charles smiled to himself before sitting back down at his computer. Pete would be back soon enough, Charles would make certain of that.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

1913 - San Francisco

With Pete's newly found freedom, he decided to test his limits and then to take advantage of this situation. Afterall, who knew how long he would have to travel before Charles solved the puzzle of bringing him back to the future? Might as well live life fully. Unfortunately, Pete seemed locked into the United States as a geographic area and his options to travel were the previous 5 years or and the only future time available was the time of his kidnapping. Unfortunately, he seemed unable to travel back to prevent his abduction or to give aid to the Pete of yesterday in the future. The future seemed to be locked in its time stream and Pete could not move ahead or behind that timeline.

While it was a minor frustration to learn that Pete would not be able to steal from European kings and queens, Pete was still able to make the most of his limitations. He would travel geographically to different parts of the country to learn about bank movements and then would go back in time to complete a robbery. It was amazing how free flowing the words would come from guards imbibed with enough alcohol, especially if the mission was over and secrecy no longer seemed to matter. Soon, Pete had amassed a fortune. He transitioned to use the same skill of growing his wealth to obtaining women out of his league. Pete was enjoying his new life and almost forgetting about the dystopian future he had escaped. And then it happened.

Pete was sound asleep after completing another successful raid when a bright light began to shine around him. The difference being, he had not told his bracelet where or when he wanted to go. Additionally, this time a pain started to move up his body. Not unbearable but certainly uncomfortable. He had just touched his toes to the ground and realized that he was back in the lab staring at the smug grin of Charles. Before Charles could do anything, Pete shouted, "Home!" Within moments the bracelet transported him back, this travel experience also contained the pins and needles feeling.

As soon as he landed back in his room, he grabbed his gun and hat before running downstairs to the bar. The bar was practically empty but Ellie was there cleaning up glasses, wrapping up for the night. "Ellie!" he managed to shout before running to the bar.

"The coming thing is trying to take me away!" he shouted.

"Pete, it was just a nightmare. Just sleep it off! You'll be fine in the morning!" she called over her shoulder, completely unphased by the panic in Pete's voice. However, just as the words left her lips, the light began to start again and the pins feeling started moving up from his toes. Within moments, Ellie was alone in the bar with her mouth open.

Year 2170

Pete appeared in the lab when he felt the jab of a stick being jammed into his stomach before a range of electricity began to overtake him. The shock sent Pete to the floor and Charles momentarily stopped the electricity to survey Pete, just long enough to say, "Thanks for making it easy for me to find you. People tend to notice thieves who appear and disappear out of thin air, especially if it's considered the greatest crime mystery of any time or any place."

As Pete caught his breath and looked up at the scientist, Pete noticed dark circles under his eyes and his hair had receded a lot, indicating that time had not been so kind to Charles since their last conversation. "You have become my new life's mission. I own your life and you will be part of my plan!"

Charles attempted to hit a button on the taser to continue to inflict pain on Pete but the button didn't work which gave Pete enough time to kick the feet out from under Charles. Within seconds Charles was on the floor with Pete but waving the taser around wildly with electricity sparks flying through the air. Pete had to get the taser away from Charles and he raised his gun to shoot Charles but heard the click of an empty pistol. Pete aimed again but his heart sank further as another click occurred without any help of a bullet.

Charles slowly stood back to his feet while laughing at Pete's misfortune. Desperate, Pete slid further away from Charles. As Pete moved backwards, he threw off his hat to better survey his location and to find anything that could assist him. He realized that he was near Livi's play corner as there were a variety of rags that had been gently placed around a circle drawn onto the ground - almost like a group of dolls at a tea party. Pete grabbed one of the rags and found that there were tiny stones hidden inside to give the rags a round and head-like shape. In a David vs. Goliath desperation, Pete threw the first rock which missed the scientist but managed to impale a screen.

Charles let out a vehement scream with eyes bulging, he began spewing every foul word that he could think of or create. During the barrage of words about the scientist's tenure and reputation, not to mention his work, Pete began to form a plan. Pete scooped up the rest of the rags and expertly threw the rocks at various pieces of machinery. In an effort to protect his computers, the scientist absently lowered the taser and hurried over to his precious data. The scientist only needed to turn his back for a second to enable Pete to rush up behind the scientist, yank the taser of Charles' grasp, before electrocuting Charles. Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple seconds, enough to knock Charles out but not enough to do any permanent damage. The taser must have been used once too often or maybe it had been scavenged for parts because it would not start again no matter how often or hard the button was pushed. The scientist seemed down for the count but Pete gave the man an extra kicks to the head and stomach to ensure that his enemy would stay down.

Pete did not have the time to do a detailed survey of the room but Pete's gut said that the scientist was probably in trouble with the bureaucrats as he was out of convicts to test on and Charles did not have a suitable traveler to go back into time on his behalf. Assuming that Pete would only have few moments of isolation and safety, Pete took advantage of the moment to turn his attention to the desk. He began throwing anything that looked like machinery onto the floor and stomping on them to ensure that they would need serious repair. Once he felt that enough damage was completed, he began to rummage through the desk drawers, again finding nothing. Panic began to fill Pete and he felt the sweat begin to slide down his back as he could feel the seconds march on. A scientist would have to keep a record or document of his work and experiments, wouldn't he?

Pete began to move around the room flipping over chairs, opening every drawer, and throwing everything that came up empty across the room. The scientist began to stir. Where would a sadist keep his documents? And then the realization came over Pete like a cold bucket of water. Pete slowly entered Jane's cell. He tossed the mattress onto the floor and found the journal with a couple folders of papers. Pete scooped up the papers before running back to his piece and hat. The scientist began moaning as he was starting to regain consciousness. Pete kicked the scientist in his lower back as a going away present. Looking at everything in his arms, Pete looked down at the bracelet and stated, "Ellie's bar." The pain was still uncomfortable and a little numbing and Pete recognized that he still had a few more jumps before the pain would begin to set in.

1913 - San Francisco

Pete arrived back at the bar in a flurry of light, sound, and loose papers flying around him. Many papers caught on fire as they had moved through time so Pete quickly began stomping the flames out in an attempt to keep as much of the data available as possible. Once Pete was certain that all of the flames were out, he took a deep breath but jumped at the sound of Ellie's voice.

"Pete, what the hell did you do?"

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Pete caught Ellie up on everything related to the future dystopia and what he understood about the bracelet thus far. He also detailed his conversation with Brisco which had lacked any helpful tips. However, Pete was careful to not disclose his recent crime wave of theft or female conquests. As the two talked, they took shots of whiskey and spread the papers and journal across the bar to review.

Ellie was the one who figured out how to release the bracelet. Based on notes in the journal, it was a simple process of holding down two buttons for 30 seconds and the bracelet would unlatch and slide off Pete's wrist. As it slid off, it felt as though part of his arm was being amputated. Not the pain of amputation just that the bracelet had made him feel whole, even more than his piece ever had. The reality that he could be attached to anything more than his piece caused Pete to shudder. Instead of putting it back on, he left it lying on the bar for the rest of the conversation. He would occasionally eye the tiny yet powerful piece of technology. After reviewing the notes for over an hour, Ellie made an odd face as she threw one empty bottle away and began to open the next.

"What's that face for?"

"Just thinking what our next step should be," responded Ellie.

"Our next step?" Pete asked while incredulously folding his arms across his chest.

"Yes, ours. I can help you with the science aspect of the bracelet," Ellie responded as she poured out the next batch of drinks.

At Pete's unconvinced gaze, Ellie continued, "You knew that Professor Wickwire let me attend his science classes over the years in exchange for wholesale alcohol-"

"That never really made sense to me," recalled Pete.

"Because I'm a woman or because I'm a bartender?" asked Ellie.

Pete shook his head while muttering, "Just felt like a forced plot device."

Ellie elected to ignore him and pressed on, "I know how people work but it's never fascinated me as much as what I'd learned from Wickwire. My knowledge and background could be an asset to you."

Pete processed her offer and debated giving her the journal or papers but decided against it. While he trusted Ellie more than anyone else in his life, he wasn't really open to allowing anyone to have more power than him. Especially after all that he had lived through recently. He began gathering up all of the papers and the journal and did his best to ignore the disappointment in Ellie's face.

"How do you fight someone in the future without allies?" pressed Ellie.

Pete ran a hand through his hair before shrugging. "It's not like I can enlist in the military without some kind of record going on file for the future scientist to find or be inducted into an underground spy ring to get training on how to build a network or fight an unseen force."

"Why can't you?" asked Ellie.

Pete laughed but stopped after a few moments when he saw Ellie's sincerity. "You're serious? Who is going to give me a recommendation? Pete Hutter, thief, gambler, and associate of many criminals, including John Bly."

"Former deputy and colleague to Brisco and Bowler..." countered Ellie.

Pete rolled his eyes as he stood up. "Ellie, there's no way that it would work." As Ellie opened her mouth to continue her argument he held up his hand to signal that he was done with the discussion for the night. He finished his last shot, tipped his hat goodnight and began moving towards the stairs.

In a final attempt, Ellie called after him, "Pete, did Bowler ever talk to you about spies?"

Pete turned to give her an incredulous stare. "No, why would Bowler talk to me about spies?" Pete began moving towards the stairs but after a couple steps he turned back to look at Ellie. "Actually, Bowler told me that Brisco was working with a guy east of here, Oklahoma, I think. I don't know a lot about it because that's not something people generally share with their deputies. Are you planning on sending him a reference on my behalf?"

Pete shrugged and was out of sight and up the stairs in a matter of moments. Ellie was left alone at the bar to begin to create a plan of her own.

Part IV - Chapter 15 - The Bar Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Year 1913 - San Francisco

Pete woke up like Ebenezer Scrooge in the Christmas Carol, patting himself to confirm that he was alive. As he looked around the room, he was able to confirm that he was back in his room in San Francisco, everything just as he had left it. For a moment he felt like dropping to his knees and singing Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus but then realized that it wasn't quite in his repertoire as the only word he knew was, well, "Hallelujah." Come to think of it, that might be the only word needed to sing the chorus but by the time the realization hit him, the fancy had left him.

Pete needed to figure out what the hell to do next, he looked for the paper that Jayne had tossed him but the writing still looked blurred and the back side looked unimportant so Pete tossed it into a desk drawer and forgot about it. Pete quickly changed his clothes to something more familiar but could not remove the bracelet. Pete tried yanking it off, utilizing his lock pick set, and even prying it off with pliers from an old bank job. Nothing worked. Frustrated, Pete walked over to his bed to find his gun, or Pete's piece as he affectionately called it. His piece rested on a silk pillow on his bed where she usually slept at night. In his hurry to pack before being kidnapped, Pete had left her to catch a bit more beauty sleep and had planned to pack her last. Pete held the gun a few inches away from his wrist and shut his eyes. It might be worth the loss of a hand to ensure that he would never have to go back to the lab again. Pete pulled the trigger but instead of the bullet going through the bracelet and wrist, it went ricocheting around the room before embedding itself in a wall.

"Why you spiteful piece of technological wristwear! How do I quit you?" Pete exclaimed in frustration.

With the inability to remove the bracelet and unsure how long it would take for Charles to fix his tablet and bring Pete back to the future, he wanted to leave the room as quickly as possible. He escaped his room and flew downstairs. One of the most attractive features of where Pete lived is that his small apartment was located above his favorite bar. It was night and most of the patrons had left for the day which put Pete more at ease. If he got drunk and accidentally spilled the beans about his trip to the future, he would rather do it with as few of witnesses as possible.

As Pete moved towards his bar stool, he felt a calm start to come over him. There is something to be said about having a place where everyone knows your name, it's enough to make anyone say, "Cheers." Even in this moment of anxiety, at least someone would know that he disappeared if he left in front of his small acquaintance circle. However, even this safe space and copious amounts of alcohol would not be enough to drown out his recent hell. Pete could write it off as a bad dream if not for the bracelet on his arm as living proof of the harrowing nightmare.

Pete passed a bar regular, a large man named Norm, as he took his seat. Pete motioned to Ellie, long time bartender and now proprietor of her own bar, that he would like a drink. Based on the pencil and clipboard, it was clear that she had been taking inventory for the evening before closing up but upon seeing Pete, she moved to the end of the bar and poured him a drink.

"Not to say you aren't welcome but didn't I hear that you were crushed by a hundred pound crab pot while king crab fishing in the Seattle area?"

"Oh that," Pete responded. "I guess that was a recent event for you, for me it feels like years ago. Besides, it simply resulted in adjusting my spine into place which was beneficial for my back alignment after years of equestrian transportation and allegedly acquiescing cargo from trains. I would prescribe the experience to anyone as it was the best feeling in the world afterwards."

"After, they got the crab pot off of you and assuming you live through the experience? Pete, you seem to continually be impervious to injury," Ellie replied amused but her expression studying Pete a bit more closely. It was clear that for all of Pete's humor, he seemed more shaken and his humor hollow. "I have to say, I've never seen you like this before. If I didn't know better, I would say that you look like you've seen a ghost."

"I have yet to see an apparition. Unless you count my Aunt Susie who visited me while I was recovering from water torture."

For a moment Ellie looked surprised but then remembered who she was talking to before chuckling and shrugging her shoulders. She poured a drink and as she passed it to Norm, she called over her shoulder, "You should write a book, Pete."

"'The Life and Times of Pete Hutter?' No thank you. Why would anyone divert energy and time on something so vain?"

"You're not the poster boy for humility, Pete."

"Just as long as you don't call me the 'father of empathicalism.'"

"Pete, I don't associate you with the words 'empathy' or 'father.'"

"Judging my parenting skills?"

"No, I just feel like your life would be the type of story where you would be kidnapped by some evil witch who would imprison you in an enchanted village, forcing your son to raise himself."

"Oddly tragic and specific but I can see what you mean." Pete finished his second drink as Ellie poured him his next.

"Haven't seen you since the funeral for Bowler."

"That also feels like a millennia ago," Pete paused before muttering to himself, "Maybe it was a millennia ago."

"Well, then you look pretty damn good for a man of your age."

"I do try," Pete said with a smirk.

"So, what has you down Pete?"

Pete took off his hat for a moment and ran his hands through his hair before putting his hat back on. "Ellie, if I had any inkling of where to embark on my recent history, as my bartender, you'd be the first to know."

"And why does my profession grant me that level of trust?"

"Best two people in the world is your bartender at night and the coffee maker the next morning. They're the keeper of secrets and the best lookin' people when you're needing spirited libation or treatment for a hangover."

Ellie smirked at him before pulling up a bar stool and sitting across from Pete. She poured herself a drink before beginning again. "Let's start with the basics. Who has you rattled?"

"A scientist devoted to lunacy and envisions me as some type of savior."

"Leaving the savior complex to the side for a moment, what does he want from you?"

"You mean what is his plan for world domination? He's not quite as simple as Bly. Bly kept his thoughts to 150 characters or less so we could all easily comprehend his plan. It was as simple as one rat asking 'What are we doing today?' And our brain Bly would answer, 'Same thing we do every day, try to take over the world.' It almost had a song to it. Meanwhile this mastermind is complicated. His delusions have delusions. There's no simplicity to it. If it was a melody, a songbird would pass out trying to tweet it to the world."

"He must be pure evil for you to hate him so much to compare him to Bly, birds, and rats. In fact, you typically have an angle to win with all individuals. For you to not have an angle is rare."

"Right now, my only goal is to find a way to permanently escape him, his lunacy, and his bizarre expectations. I just want to live my life and to live it for me."

"Regarding manipulative evil genius men and overcoming them, there's only one person that I can think of who could help. In fact, it's the same person that I have seen consistently look to the future and attempt to lasso it for positive use..."

"Professor Wickwire?"

"Brisco County Jr."

Pete looked at Ellie amused before commenting, "I should have guessed. Of course that's who you'd recommend," he paused before changing subjects. "Of all the women that I have met, you seemed to pair the best with him."

"Not Dixie?"

"Great singer and easy on the eyes but not the right partner, at least that's my opinion."

"Well, I'm not going to spend my life waiting on a man who never saw what he had in front of him."

Pete smiled into his glass as he finished his drink. When he set the glass down, Ellie was waving goodnight to Norm which enabled Pete to turn his thoughts to the man of conversation. As he mulled over what Ellie had suggested, Pete absentmindedly said "Brisco County Jr." aloud. At that, the familiar bright light and noise enveloped Pete.

When Ellie turned around, she noticed the bar was empty and assumed that Pete had simply returned to bed. While the exit seemed a bit rude, Ellie let the feeling go as Pete seemed a bit more tired and shaken then normal. She locked the door hoping that Pete would wake up in a better mood tomorrow.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -


Pete found himself in the middle of a Hollywood set as Brisco brushed past Pete. Pete looked around, surprised to find himself transported to not only a different part of the state but also to the following afternoon. Pete looked down at the bracelet on his arm, knowing it was somehow responsible. Suddenly, Pete was pushed by a figure running into him. Pete caught his balance and looked up to see a shocked Socrates. Socrates did a double take before rushing after Brisco.

As Pete watched Socrates and Brisco exit, he heard a female voice behind him, "Pete Hutter?"

Pete turned to see Lenore standing behind him. "Lenore Lonefeather," he responded in a shock. At that Lenore's eyes filled with tears as she fell into Pete's arms. Awkward and unsure how to comfort his former employer's grieving widow, especially as she seemed much more in control of herself at the funeral. All Pete could think to do was awkwardly pat her shoulder and awkwardly offer, "There, there."

Socrates slowly walked back and upon seeing Lenore crying, assumed Pete had caused the rush of tears. As he got close, Socrates demanded, "What did you do now Pete?"

"Lately, I have been the subject of a mad scientist's interpretation of an H.G. Wells' novel. But instead of having children of light and people living underground, he has the world trapped in boxes made of dreams and a single child of light," Pete answered truthfully.

Socrates gave Pete a puzzled expression before rolling his eyes and snorting, "Pete, you are drunk, partaking in opium, or you have finally become the craziest individual that I have ever met!"

Lack of sleep, recent trauma, escape from a dystopian society, and now Socrates' unwelcome condemnation, caused an anger to rise up in Pete. "Acting holier than thou might have been acceptable treatment years ago," he hissed, "But I was appointed a deputy and become a mostly law-abiding citizen over the years. Not to mention, I helped Brisco escape when you stood by to watch him die by firing squad, Poole."

At Pete's words, Socrates began to turn red with anger but before he could respond, Lenore took his arm in an effort to separate the two men's egos. "Where did Brisco go?"

"To a nearby bar that he frequents in search of 'the perfect drink'" sighed an exasperated Socrates. He looked at Lenore and seemed to decide that a change of subject was necessary for her sake so Socrates curtly asked, "Didn't I hear that you were back East working at some kind of tool and dye factory?"

"It got too boring for me."

"I have heard that machine work can be meticulous and monotonous," Lenore responded in an attempt to be supportive.

"No, I meant literally boring. I was the safety officer which meant that I was often the victim of metal fragments boring into my skin. I left after there was an increase in union riots and bombs at the factories I inspected."

Pete's response managed to silence Socrates for a moment which enabled Pete to ask, "What's the name of the bar?"

"O'Malley's on 14th," responded Socrates while still glaring at Pete. For a moment he turned to Lenore and tried to force a smile before continuing, "If you wait a moment, I should be able to hire a cab and we can catch up with Brisco together." It was clear that he did not want Pete to join the two which was actually preferable for Pete. He wanted to talk with Brisco without Socrates and his judgmental personality in earshot.

"I'll find my own way," responded Pete. He tipped his hat at Lenore in sincere respect before winking at Socrates mischievously. Pete went around behind a nearby building. Maybe all he had to do was think of a building or person and he could appear at that location. Pete closed his eyes and thought O'Malley's on 14th. Nothing happened. Pete rolled his eyes and then looked at his bracelet. "What is it going to take in order to get me to the bar?" Pete muttered in frustration.

A moment later, Pete appeared at the nearest bar on set. Pete took a look around and marveled at the speed of the transport. He turned his wrist over before saying, "Maybe you prefer me to audibly communicate to you in order to transverse across a geographic area?"

"Talk to who?" queried a nearby manicured man with perfect teeth in a 10 gallon hat who had clearly never seen a hard day's work in his life.

Pete looked up with irritation before saying, "Does it look like I am talking to you?"

The confused man looked at Pete with surprise before taking a step back but not so far as to stop staring at Pete.

Pete sighed before saying aloud, "O'Malley's bar on 14th." A moment later, he was outside said bar. Pete shook the feeling of awe and surprise off before walking inside. Sure enough, Brisco was sitting at the bar, drink in hand. Pete slowly moved to the bar and sat beside Brisco but he did not look up. It was clear that Brisco was lost in his thoughts.

Finally, after being ignored or unseen, Pete decided to see if he could get his attention. "Brisco County Jr." he said as melodically as he could muster.

Without looking up, Brisco responded with a resigned, "Hello Pete."

"You wouldn't still be searching for 'the coming thing?'" began Pete.

At Pete's question, Brisco flinched. As his shoulders relaxed he finished his whiskey and motioned for the bartender to start pouring the next. "Nope. I got out of that business years ago."

Pete was somewhat deflated as this was not the answer that he was looking for. It is not like he could share his experience with anyone on the street and it is not like he could travel back and ask the inventor to explain what was going on. How could Pete control this power? Beyond that, how could he ensure that he never went back to the awful doctor's lab?

Pete decided to start again, "I have something unique that I stumbled on-"

An easily angered Brisco cut Pete off, "While I would love to listen to another one of your rambling monologues about the universe or your odd opinions about art before having you screw me over for your personal interest or somehow leave me in the lurch, I'm not interested. Not now. Not anymore. I've been the hero, I've been the champion of the people, and what has it got me? Nothing. So, either sit here and drink or get the hell out of here!"

Pete opened his mouth to say something but instead looked down at his feet. It was clear that Brisco was more broken by the loss of Bowler than he was willing to admit. Brisco would clearly not be of any help; Pete was on his own. He thought about leaving right away but instead decided to stay for just one drink. Bowler was an exceptional individual; despite their professions as outlaw and bounty hunter, Bowler had given Pete a chance to be a deputy. Of course, both of the men knew it was because of Lenore's influence saying the Bowler owed Pete after helping to save Bowler's life. Pete was no saint but he did not cross the line of the law during that time and when Pete moved on, there was no animosity between the two.

"I was sorry to hear about Lord Bowler," before nodding to the bartender to pour three more whiskeys. To honor his former boss and Brisco's old friend, Pete lifted his glass.

"To lost friends," Pete said as the two clinked glasses, toasted the third glass, and downed the shots of whiskey. At that Pete left cash on the bar to pay for the drinks, tipped his hat, and left the bar. Pete left the building and had just enough time to duck out of sight before Poole arrived by hired car and quickly walked inside the bar. After watching Poole enter the bar, Pete took a moment to determine his next step and realized that his only option was to go back to where it all began.

He lifted his wrist and commanded the bracelet, "Take me back to Dr. Charles Sheppard."

Part IV - Chapter 17 - Ellie's Plan

It had taken several tries but Ellie finally got the reference letter written the way that she wanted. Something that gave Pete glowing recommendations while still providing honesty in his skills and what skills that he lacked. She left the salutation section blank as she could fill in the name later.

Ellie left the note on the bar before going to her small apartment beneath the bar. She opened her closet and rummaged through her various dresses until she found the one that she knew would work best. While most of the fashion had women's necklines above the collarbone, she found a dress that managed to show a bit more of her skin and could show off her curves a bit better. She changed dresses quickly and carried her hat, bag, and shoes upstairs. She placed the note in her bag and left her things at the bar before silently creeping up the stairs up to Pete's room.

She stood outside the door for a few moments, listening to ensure that Pete had gone to sleep. With all of the trauma that Pete had endured, she did not want to accidentally wake the man and have him shoot her. Ellie held her breath but could hear nothing on the other side. Ellie took a deep breath and held it as she noiselessly opened Pete's door. She stood for a few moments in the doorway listening to Pete's heavy breathing. He seemed to truly be in a deep sleep but luckily had left a small lamp on at his desk. Ellie noticed that the floor was littered with various treasures but luckily the bracelet was sitting just beneath the lamp.

Ellie tiptoed in the room but cursed herself for changing dresses. This dress seemed to make a small rustle sound with each step. She slowly moved across the room carefully ensuring that she avoided all of the various items strewn about the room. Ellie finally reached the desk and took the bracelet. She eyed it in the dim light and for a moment began to doubt the sanity of her plan. She closed her eyes to strengthen her resolve and strapped on the bracelet. She opened her eyes and felt the bracelet slide up her arm as it was clearly designed for a man's wrist. She turned quickly to move out of the room but had made the spin too quickly and lost her balance. Ellie managed to steady herself by grabbing onto the side of the desk but in the process, she managed to bump into a pile of gold coins which went flying off the desk and all over the floor. Her plan to avoid detection was now over with the loud ruckus she just made.

Ellie watched Pete in the shadows but he seemed to merely roll over. Ellie decided that she did not want to stay any longer than necessary and began to move out of the room, this time quicker. However, she had only taken a few steps before Pete suddenly sat up in bed. He turned his head and began muttering. At first Ellie thought she was caught and could feel her heart pounding in her throat. As she studied Pete in the dim light, she noticed that he seemed unresponsive. Almost like he was having a soft conversation with someone sitting across from him. "Pete is just talking in his sleep," thought a relieved Ellie. After he finished talking to whomever or whatever, he laid back down and turned his face back towards the wall.

"That's it! Forget being silent, I've gotta get the hell out of here!" Thought Ellie and she ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her. She had barely made it down the stairs, grabbed her shoes, hat, and bag before she saw a figure come running from the stairs towards her.

"Take me to 1912 to see Brisco in Hollywood," Ellie commanded the bracelet as Pete had done in his stories. As the light and noise began to fill the air, she could just barely hear Pete shout, "I knew I shouldn't have trusted you!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

1912 - Hollywood

Ellie landed in a mass of light and noise. She looked around but found that she had landed in tacky bar with a mob of people surrounding her and shooting blanks in the air. In all the commotion, it seemed that no one had noticed a woman appear in the middle of a crowd. A tall and heavyset man who was passing by managed to step on her stockinged foot. In response to the pain that he caused, Ellie elbowed the man in the stomach. The man seemed to only partially notice the attack as he seemed almost transfixed by two people that everyone was giving a large berth to.

Irritated by the inconsideration of the man who had stomped on her, she pushed past him and several other men in cheesy cowboy outfits until she found a chair that she could hobble over to. When she finally was able to sit down, she threw her bag and hat onto the tiny table and began to lace up her left foot. As she reached down to begin the process of lacing up her other boot, she decided to take a better look at the room around her. Ellie was mortified as she realized that she had not landed in a normal bar but was sitting in the middle of a scene being filmed on a Western themed set. The man and the woman that the group had been giving space to were miming their affection for each other. Based on the over exaggerated motions, Ellie had to bite her cheek to keep the laughter contained.

Ellie was only half way through lacing up her second boot when a short and bald man with a comically oversized cigar came up and softly stated that she had taken his seat.

"Find another!" hissed Ellie in a low whisper.

Ellie began focusing on her boots again and only half listened to the director shouting orders to the man in the white cowboy costume and the barkeep woman with the dress barely hanging onto the sides of her shoulders. Again, Ellie had to bite the inside of her cheek as she had never worn a dress like that as a bartender. The actors had then moved to predictable part of every movie choreography where a tragic and impenetrable force threatened the protagonists' love. Ellie stopped watching to survey her laced up boots when she felt a cigar being poked into her shoulder.

"Ma'am, you are in my seat. I'm supposed to be sitting there when the-"

"When the man with the large mustache threatens to shoot you and your dog if you don't force your daughter to marry the evil bad guy right?" Ellie stated while rolling her eyes.

Ellie did a doubletake when she glanced at his face, only now processing that the man she was talking to was wearing the oversized mustache known for identifying the archnemesis of all cowboys dressed in white. His eyes were filled with disbelief either for her outburst or his fear of not being where the director would want him to be.

"Are you quite finished?" hollered out the director.

Ellie and the man with the cheesy mustache turned to find that the leads had stopped their scene and the director was standing in front of his chair fuming.

"Just about," called Ellie, determined to not let the director intimidate her.

"Take five!" ordered another man who was sitting near the director.

The set began to move about and Ellie stood with bag in hand, ready to sneak away. Unfortunately, there were a couple of bespeckled and tense young men demanding who she was and how she had managed to sneak on set. They seemed just about to drag her off the lot when Ellie finally spotted Brisco.

"Brisco!" she hollered as he had seemed to be raiding the bar for some kind of liquor. Brisco turned around and his momentary shock was replaced with the charming grin that she remembered. He left the liquor and moved to Ellie's rescue.

"Sorry gentlemen, she's here to see me."

"Guests are supposed to be vetted before coming in and we should know about them ahead of time and-" the bespeckled man seemed ready to continue his lecture but paused when Brisco raised his hand to stop the list.

"I'm sorry, I forgot to give you notice," began Brisco. "If you have any further complaints, you can talk to my attorney and agent, Socrates Poole. I think he's wandering around a food table somewhere."

The man seemed determined to protest but Brisco suavely took Ellie's arm and led her away from the commotion. Ellie held her bag and hat at her side as she allowed Brisco to lead her away from the various people in charge of the set. Brisco walked her in silence until they had fully left the lot and he waved down a passing carriage. He muttered something to the driver before guiding her into the carriage and climbing in after Ellie.

"Don't you have to go back to work?" inquired Ellie.

"And leave you all alone in Hollywood? Not a chance," smiled Brisco. "Besides, as a consultant, I can pick my own hours."

"Must be nice," muttered Ellie. She took a moment to study him noting that he did not look like the broken man Pete had met a week ago. But then, Bowler hadn't passed away yet.

"I assume that you didn't come all this way to study me," commented Brisco, wryly.

"Well, I came to get your autograph," she stated, realizing that the bluff had sounded better in her head while designing the plan at the bar. Out loud and to Brisco, the story sounded lame and unlikely.

"Really?" asked Brisco with an eyebrow raised in disbelief.


"You came from San Francisco to Hollywood, wearing that dress, and all because you just want my autograph? A consultant's autograph?"

"Well, you're a consultant now and I'm sure that you'll be well known soon enough-"

"Try again," Brisco said with a smile.

Ellie cleared her throat and avoided Brisco's gaze before responding, "Would you believe that my nephew wanted an autograph from the famous bounty hunter, Brisco County Jr.?"

"Nope, try again."

To Ellie's relief, the carriage stopped and she could change the subject. "So, where are we?"

"Giving you a taste of Hollywood," explained Brisco as he paid the driver and helped her out of the carriage. She looked up and found that they were looking up at the Hollywood Hotel. Brisco guided her through the doors as he continued, "Based on what Socrates tells me, this is the place for the upper class of Hollywood."

Brisco led Ellie into the restaurant and she looked up at the ceiling to see the names of various movie stars above immaculate tables. She read the names above, noting people that she knew such as Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford, and Fatty Arbuckle.

"Thomas Ince, the director you pissed off earlier today, also loves eating here," commented Brisco.

Ellie laughed saying, "So you've moved from collecting bounties to collecting the names of various Hollywood celebrities?"

Brisco laughed as he led Ellie to a table. Ellie was moderately aware of Brisco ordering champagne as she continued to study the room, lost in the grandeur of the place. When the drinks arrived, Ellie set her hat down next to her, wondering why she brought the damn thing and if she brought it for appearance rather than function. As Ellie continued to watch various celebrity faces move about the room, she was lost in a state of awe until Brisco broke the spell by asking what she wanted to eat. As she turned her attention back to Brisco, she felt her face begin to blush. The way that he looked at her, it was if Brisco was finally seeing Ellie.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ellie woke up the next morning still at the Hollywood Hotel. As she processed the evening with Brisco, she momentarily thought about staying for an extra day to see how things would go. After all of the years of knowing Brisco, they had finally spent the night together and it was better than she had imagined. She was wearing a time traveling bracelet, Ellie reasoned. She could simply go back to the night that she had left and Pete wouldn't lose anytime for his mission and she could explore this new relationship with Brisco.

She looked over and found Brisco still asleep. She snuggled up closer to him hoping that they would have more time before he'd have to leave for work. There was a knock at the door which caused Ellie to sit up, suddenly worried about Pete's stories about the mad scientist.

"Room service," came a kind voice from the other side of the door. Ellie let out a sigh of relief, it was just the breakfast that they had ordered. She jumped out of bed and found a robe to slip on before opening the door. The breakfast tray was brought in and the bellhop left discreetly as though this were a common occurrence in the hotel. Ellie looked back at the bed to see that Brisco was awake and sitting with his feet over the side of the bed, rubbing his head as though he had a headache. Ellie moved over to him and sat on the floor to look up into his face. She placed a hand under his chin and moved his head to look her in the eyes.

"Hey, you hungry?" she asked. When Brisco's only response was to stare at her, she moved one of his hands towards her and kissed the inside of his palm. "Breakfast is here," she commented smiling up at him.

Brisco pulled his hand away from her before standing and moving to the breakfast table. "Smells good," he stated absently.

Ellie slowly stood noting the change in Brisco from the night before. "So that's it?"

"Look, Ellie, we're just friends," called Brisco from over his shoulder. "Last night, was, well-pillow talk, baby."

"Baby?" snorted Ellie with indignation.

"Well, yeah," Brisco stated still facing away from her as he dressed. "It's nothing personal, it's just that- we're friends."

"Of course," Ellie stated, working to hide her disappointment. "And last night was-"

"Fun but that's it. Besides, I'm here and you're in..." Brisco was stumbling through his excuses while he put on his shoes.

"San Francisco, I get it," Ellie replied as coldly as she could muster.

Brisco finally turned in her direction but still did not bring his eyes to meet hers. "Go ahead and start eating. I'll take care of the bill downstairs and I'll help you arrange a ride back to wherever you're staying."

Ellie was tempted to say, 'don't bother,' but realize that it might sound bitter and held it in. Instead, she moved to her bag and pulled out the reference letter.

"Before you leave, can you sign this?" asked Ellie. She unfolded it and placed it on the hotel room desk and held the pen up for his signature.

"You really just wanted my signature?" Brisco asked finally looking her in the eye.

"Yep, although I appreciate the extra service," she responded as detached as she could muster.

Brisco signed the letter without reading it and handed it back to her. As she put the letter away, Brisco broke the silence, "Ellie, I prefer to be alone-"

"Speaking of being isolated, don't you have a spy friend that you respected during your time working for the president? One that worked in Oklahoma or something?"

"Listen, Ellie-" began Brisco

"I get it, Brisco," Ellie interrupted. "You feel alone or want to be alone or whatever. I can't honestly say that I care," she lied. "Could you answer the question?"

Brisco sighed before replying, "Sure. Guy named Mike Weston."

"Thank you. Would you mind letting me get dressed?" asked Ellie as she turned to begin gathering her clothes from around the room.

Brisco opened the door to leave before Ellie had a momentary lapse of guilt and called, "Brisco?" He paused to look at her and she moved towards him cautiously, "No matter if you want to be alone, feel alone, or if you feel nothing for the people who used to be part of your life, call Bowler. Or write to him. Or something. And do it now. He's the best friend that you ever had and you won't want to let him go."

Brisco turned and gave the charming smile that she knew so well, "Sure, Ellie. Don't worry. I've got all the time in the world to catch up with Bowler." And he was out the door before she could say anything further. Ellie sighed but decided to let Brisco make his own choices besides who knew what paradoxes would exist if he were to actually listen to her.

At that Ellie, quickly dressed. She found herself rationalizing the night's events. Had she not spent the night with Brisco, he wouldn't have felt guilty enough to sign the reference letter without reading it which would have been difficult to explain. Her original plan to distract him with feminine wiles in an effort to ensure his signature had worked. Maybe a little too well, she thought. Additionally, his guilt gave her the name of the spy that Pete wanted to work with. Her plan to help Pete had worked better than expected, she mentally argued as she laced back up her boots.

Ellie looked in the mirror to quickly smooth her hair before picking up her bag and hat. She took one last look at herself but decided that Brisco might return any minute and she did not want to have any further awkward conversations with him. She took a breath and held the bracelet up before stating, "Home, the moment that I left." A familiar noise and blinding light filled the room and within moments, she was back at the bar staring almost nose to nose with Pete

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

San Francisco - 1913

"Miserable, malicious, double-crossing, female!" spat Pete. Even though Ellie had only been gone for a few moments, the shock of her theft was still overwhelming to Pete.

"Are you quite finished!" Ellie demanded as she held up one hand to shush Pete while holding her purse in the air.

"What?" demanded Pete.

She pulled the letter out from her bag and gave it to Pete. As he read the reference letter and noted the signature at the bottom, Pete slowly sat down.

"How the hell did you pull this off?"

"You said that you needed a reference, so that's what I got you."

Pete put the letter down on the bar and laughed, "There's hope for you yet! I'm corrupting you into a grifter, which might be my proudest accomplishment to date!"

"I'll stick to owning a bar, thank you!" responded Ellie. She took a look at the time before changing the subject, "I think it's about time to go to sleep."

Pete studied her for a moment before smirking to say, "Looks like you might have just rolled out of bed yourself."

Ellie did not respond but pressed the buttons on the bracelet and tossed into onto the bar. "Go to sleep Pete. We'll come up with a plan in the morning. She left Pete at the bar holding the bracelet and re-reading the recommendation letter. As Ellie closed the door behind her, she began to undress and fall into bed, determined to let Brisco go and focus on helping rescue Pete from a madman. Besides, Brisco would get his wish to be alone soon enough.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ellie had slept in later than she had planned to and woke up just before the lunch hour rush. Her staff had taken over the morning responsibilities but Ellie rushed past them and up to Pete's room. She found the door locked and became worried that he had left before they could discuss the next steps of his plan. She slowly walked down the stairs, feeling dejected when Pete's smiling face peaked around the staircase before teasing in his sing song voice, "Why Ellie! Are you looking for a scandal this morning? Rushing upstairs to a man's bedroom?"

"Are you kidding? No one would ever believe that I would slum it with you!" retorted Ellie.

"Ellie, I always knew you were too good for the men around you."

"That I am," she agreed as she brushed past him. "Although, it's good to see you." The two of them walked into the back kitchen. Ellie sat down as Pete looked around the kitchen to confirm that they were alone before he continued their discussion.

"Shouldn't be unexpected," replied Pete.

"How so?" she asked confused as she poured a cup of coffee. She held the coffee pot up to signal if Pete wanted any. He shook his head before continuing.

"You've harboring the name of my sensei, remember?"

Ellie smiled and took a sip before agreeing, "That's right," she paused for a moment before continuing, "And you won't get the name, until I am sure that I will be looped in as a partner."

"I don't need someone to travel around the country with me or to be part of whatever training journey that I take on."

"True. And what's more, based on the pain it causes, I think I'll stick to my time and place," agreed Ellie. "But you do need someone to learn all that they can about the bracelets so that you can focus on what you need to and they can learn everything about the bracelet and train you on how to best utilize them and maximize their potential."

Pete considered her words before finally nodding his head. Ellie felt it was more out of Pete's desperation for the name rather than her intellect but she would take the opportunity, whatever Pete's reasoning might be.

"On the condition that the bracelet stays with me," came Pete's caveat.

"That goes without saying," agreed Ellie as she held out her hand for the journal.

"Additionally, I had assumed domestic privacy when I became a lessee but I feel that must also be stated aloud after you snuck into my room and commandeered-"

"Borrowed," corrected Ellie.

"Borrowed without permission or knowledge of its owner. Also known as theft-"

"You would have much better knowledge of such things," interjected Ellie. At Pete's exasperated face, Ellie rolled her eyes. "Alright, alright," Ellie acquiesced. "I promise to stay out of your room, unless there's a fire." She grinned at Pete's frown but he surrendered and pulled the journal out of his vest.

"I already snuck the files into your room," Pete stated as pulled the reference letter out from another vest pocket and placed it onto the table.

Ellie scowled and indignantly asked, "Payback for last night?" Pete didn't respond but handed her a pen for her signature. Ellie was not quite ready to sign as she wanted more information. So she pressed further, "Pete, what's next?"

"The name of the spy in Oklahoma."

Ellie ignored Pete and instead asked, "When and where will you meet up with the spy?"

Pete sighed in acknowledgement that she would not easily provide the individual's name or ring. "Well, Brisco signed and dated 1912-"

"Oh shit!" interrupted Ellie.

"Actually, if I transverse to 1912 and avoid traveling for a year, it might be enough to hide me from Charles."

"And you will come back to San Francisco in a few weeks to give me time to actually study everything?"

"Naturally," agreed Pete.

"Anything particular that you want me to focus on learning first?"

"How to travel outside of 5 years? How to travel outside of the United States? How to go back to the future but at a date and time of my choosing-" Pete cut himself short when the cook came back in to start prepping for the lunch crowd. He stood and tapped on the letter on the table, signaling for her to complete the final part of the reference. out of his vest pocket and held it out for Ellie to complete. Ellie picked up the pen and began to fill in the salutation, "To Michael Weston."

Ellie read over her letter one last time but when she looked up at Pete, he was just finishing off the rest of her coffee.

"Thanks, Pete," Ellie responded sarcastically.

Pete merely grinned mischievously and tipped his hat before saying, "I'll see you in a few weeks, Miss Ellie."

"You're leaving today?" inquired a shocked Ellie.

"No time like the present," Pete responded as he tipped his hat and left the kitchen.

Ellie picked up the journal and began to read from the beginning.