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.

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