Relief washed over Jack as he cut Mac free from the chair he was taped too. When he and the other agents had arrived at the compound, Jack hadn't known what he was going to walk in to. Seeing Mac alive, but about to be shot, had made Jack see red for a moment. Seeing Mac staring back at him had allowed Jack to exhale and relax enough to tease the younger man about spelling his name wrong and needing a nap. All was right again in Jack's world.

That was until the other agent's starting clearing the room and Jack moved to stand next to Mac. His friend was alive, but he was pale, his eyes looked unfocused and it was obvious he had been roughed up. It had been hell not being able to watch Mac's back the way he was used to. Not being able to tell the kid that he couldn't help him do the job had been eating at Jack, and guilt was a bitch. But Mac was sitting in front of him, mission accomplished. And that was always the end game. Complete the mission, stay alive, go home. Jack was ready for that.

"Come on, Mac," he said, patting his friend on the shoulder. "It's time to go home."

"Copy that," Mac mumbled, as he gripped the arms of the chair and pushed himself to his feet. Only he wobbled and would have fallen, as his knees buckled, if Jack hadn't grabbed him.

"Whoa, buddy..." Jack drawled, pushing Mac back into the chair. "You okay there, Mac?"

There was no reply, because Mac was too busy taking deep breaths and exhaling slowly.

Jack could tell the kid was fighting for control. He knew Mac and the kid was too pale, and unfocused. It scared Jack to see him like this. Kneeling in front of the chair, he asked, "Hey, bro...you okay?" But Mac didn't look at him or even twitch. So Jack cupped the pale face in both hands. "Mac...look at me!" Still no response and Jack was sliding from slightly concerned into seriously worried, when the kid visibly shook himself and the pale blue eyes finally locked onto his face.

"There you are," Jack stated, not even bothering to hide his relief. "What the hell did El Nacho do to you, kid?"

"El Noche," Mac countered, automatically correcting Jack. Even when he was more or less out of it, the kid was a stickler for details.

Which made Jack feel better that Mac was up to engaging in their usual banter, but he was still worried. Worrying about the kid was part of the job, it was second nature to Jack at this point. But this felt different. Nacho...Noche...whatever. I want to know what he did to you." Because Jack damn well knew something bad had happened. Out in the field, no matter what was thrown at him, Mac was solid as a rock. This mission had been different in so many ways, but there was something else going on and Jack was going to get to the bottom of it.

Instead of answering, Mac nudged Jack out of the way so he could stand up, although he was still wobbly. He didn't almost fall this time, but Jack could tell that remaining upright was a struggle for the kid, so he looped Mac's left arm over his shoulders and wrapped his own arm around the kid's waist. "Let's get the hell out of here," he stated, knowing it was time to back off for now. If he pushed Mac too hard, the kid would just clam up tight.

So they slowly made their way out of the compound, and all the way to the helicopter Jack could feel the fine tremors coursing through Mac's body. He could also feel how thin he was. Mac had always been lean and wiry, but strong and solid nevertheless. Right now, however, he felt thin and fragile...breakable.

Jack told himself to ignore all that and to just get Mac into the helicopter so they could get out of here. But once they were both ensconced in the back, he looked at his friend and stated, "First order of business is to get some food into you, bro. Lots and lots of food."

"Shower first," Mac shot back, as he curled into the seat, arms wrapped tight around himself, shivering.

"I'm going to find you a blanket." Jack was out of his seat and on the hunt before Mac could protest, because he knew the kid would do just that. Running back into the compound, where the DEA agents were going through it with a fine-toothed comb, Jack asked the first agent he ran in to if he had seen any blankets and a minute later he was back in the helicopter with a soft blue blanket.

It was a bit worrisome to Jack that Mac accepted being wrapped up in the blanket without putting up even a token resistance. If there was one thing MacGyver hated, it was being fussed over. It proved to Jack that he was right, something bad had happened to the kid. But he was going to bide his time for now, he would push for details when the time was right.

Smacking a hand on the back of the seat, Jack ordered the pilot, "Time to go." He was more than happy to get out of this place, but he wasn't as thrilled about the heavy silence that filled the vehicle. A silence he felt obligated to break. "So...bro...what do you want to eat for your first meal as a, once again, free man? I'll get you whatever your heart desires." Along with lots of cake and cookies and anything loaded with calories he could find, just to fatten the kid up.

"I'm not really hungry," Mac confessed, his voice muffled by the blue blanket cocoon he had created around himself.

For some reason that confession made Jack angry. Not at Mac, but at himself. Jack blamed himself for what had gone down. He should have been there, all the way, keeping Mac safe. The guilt made him terse as he shot back, "Bullshit, Mac! By the looks of you, you didn't eat a damn thing while you were inside."

Mac stiffened, looking as defensive as he sounded when he replied, "I would have, if they'd served anything edible for human consumption." And he sounded more like himself in that moment than he had since Jack found him taped to the chair.

"I hear ya, bro." Jack made himself calm down, because the last thing he wanted was to get Mac upset. The kid had been through enough. So he tried to lighten the mood. "Be forewarned, I'm going to make it my life's mission to fatten you up."

"Good luck with that," Mac countered, sounding more like himself for a moment.

Jack chuckled. "No kidding. Look at you, bro. If you turn sideways you'll disappear." He meant his words to be teasing, but at the same time he was dead serious. Mac needed to get some meat on his bones.

Mac actually snorted at that. "You're an idiot."

"But I'm your idiot," Jack replied, not missing a beat.

"Touche," Mac conceded. But it was obvious he wasn't up to keeping the banter going. One hand made it out of his blanket nest to rub at his temple.

Jack could see that his friend was hurting, but there wasn't anything he could do about it at the moment so he let it go and promised, "I'll shut now...let you rest."

That seemed to upset Mac. "No...I don't mind the chatter. It was...too quiet inside my cell. It left me with too much time trapped inside my own head." He shuddered, as if at a sudden, unpleasant, memory.

"That had to be scary, being trapped inside the ginormous brain of yours," Jack teased.

"You have no idea." Mac's tone was dead serious and his eyes were haunted.

Jack felt at a loss as to what he could do to help him.

Mac gave him an option. "So...tell me how you found me."

"That was all you and it was pretty slick thinking, bro," Jack stated. "Using morse code."

"It was a long shot," Mac conceded. "But I got lucky."

Jack chuckled. "Normally I would disagree with you and tell you that it's all about your skills. But, this time, I think luck did have her hand in the game. I don't know how else to explain the odds of an ex-Marine sergeant and his buddies heading into Mexico for a 'fun in the sun' weekend, being in your favor. But they just happened to be behind the sedan you were trapped in, and they saw your message...and you did spell my name wrong, by the way..."

Mac interjected at this point. "Maybe they read it wrong, because I am an excellent speller." He managed a shaky smile for a moment, then it faded as he said softly, "Jack...thanks for the rescue."

"It's what I do." Jack appreciated the sentiment, even as he brushed it off. "You'll have to send a keg of beer to Sergeant Stacker and his boys. He didn't hesitate to make the call, and Thornton got a team together ASAP and we were in the air minutes later."

"Good timing," Mac said, unable to hide the fact that he was still shivering.

Jack tapped the pilot on the shoulder. "How much longer until we land?"

The pilot held up five fingers, which meant five minutes. And, sure enough, five minutes later they were setting down on the landing pad atop one of the Phoenix foundations buildings. Inside were suites that were used to house agents, or for witness protection and other such scenarios as needed. Thornton had called ahead to set Mac and Jack up for the night.

It didn't take long to escort Mac into their suite, which had two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, a livingroom and kitchen area, and an armed agent keeping watch outside the door. Now that Mac was out of the super max and out of El Noche's clutches, they didn't expect him to be in danger, but the agency liked to play it safe. El Noche had a lot of friends who owed him a lot of favors.

Typical Mac, he had made his way from the copter to the suite under his own steam, but Jack had hovered beside him the whole way. The kid had wobbled dangerously a few times, but he had remained upright. Jack knew that it was pure stubbornness that had kept Mac on his feet, and he respected the hell out of him for it, but now he wanted nothing more than to tuck friend into bed and make him sleep for a week.

Mac had other ideas. "Do I have any clothes here?" he queried, the blue blanket still clutched around him and clashing horribly with the prison orange he was wearing.

He stood in the center of the living room and gazed about as if familiarizing himself with the place. It was a thing he did everywhere he went and Jack thought of it as checking out all the *nooks and crannies*, because the kid was always figuring out how to use his surroundings, and what they contained, to his advantage. But here and now Mac was safe, so he could decompress. Jack figured a shower and a change of clothes was a good place to start.

"Thornton sent over a duffle bag," Jack replied. "I believe it's in your room, the one on the left."

"Thanks." His gait still unsteady, Mac headed in that direction.

Jack waited until the door was closed to pull out his cell phone. He wasn't the least bit surprised that Thornton answered on the first ring.

Her tone was curt as she asked, "How's Mac?"

"I don't know," Jack confessed, because he really didn't. Mac never complained when he was injured or sick, and he loathed being fussed over, so it was hard to tell how serious his condition was in any given scenario. "Right now he's in the shower," Jack continued. "He's pale, exhausted, shaky. I know something's wrong. I know El Noche did something to him, but I can't even begin to guess what. And Mac being Mac, he's not talking."

"Neither is El Noche," Thornton conceded. "However, one of his hired guns sang like a bird. They water-boarded Mac with pure Nitrogen."

White-hot anger flared in Jack and he wished, with all his might, that El Noche was in front of him so he could strangle the bastard with his bare hands. He'd make damn sure the man died nice and slow. "Sonofabitch!" Jack hissed into the phone, then he scrambled to apologize. "Sorry".

Thornton laughed softly, not the least bit offended. "I know how you feel Jack, I feel the same. But - no - you can't kill El Noche. Just trust me when I say, that man will never see the outside of his jail cell ever again."

"There's no harm in making him suffer a bit first, is there?" Jack pleaded.

"Focus on Mac right now," Thornton countered, firmly. "I'm sending Dr. Taylor to check him over. He should be there within the hour."

Jack huffed a sigh. "You know how Mac feels about doctor's, even one's he knows." And the kid did know Dr. Taylor quite well, being as how he was the doctor who had treated Mac when he got shot. They had ended up sedating him after his surgery, keeping him out for three days to give him a chance to heal. Because the moment the kid woke up, true to Mac form, he had demanded to be released and had managed to escape his room and make it all the way down to the lobby of the private hospital before Jack had caught up with him.

Thornton was silent for a moment before stating, "Keep me updated."

"Copy that," Jack replied, before signing off and setting his phone on the coffee table. He then headed for the door to ask the agent to send out for sandwiches. He ordered Mac's favorite, grilled chicken on sourdough with a side of fries. For himself he ordered a roast beef on Italian with fries. That done, since he heard the shower running, Jack headed into his own room to change clothes. As he pulled on black jeans and a black V-neck sweater, he felt himself decompressing just a bit.

Returning to the livingroom, Jack turned on the tv, flicking through the channels. A good ten minutes ticked by before Mac reappeared. Jack watched closely as the kid walked towards him, his gait stiff, face still pale and looking shaky. He was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt with a hoodie zipped up, socks on his feet but no shoes. It took all of Jack's will power to remain seated on the couch. Every protective instinct he had, and they were strong and deep, welled up with the need to go to Mac, wrap him up in every blanket he could find, then lock him away from the rest of the world until the haunted look disappeared from the silvery-blue eyes, and he stopped looking so damn fragile.

Exhaling a calming breath, Jack forced a smile as he waved Mac over to the couch. "I think they have Netflix here. Feeling up to a Die Hard marathon?" He knew the kid loved nothing more than to pick apart the logistics of each movie, even though they both knew Mac considered each one a guilty pleasure.

Mac didn't reply for a moment, he simply stood in the middle of the living room looking lost. Before Jack could get up and go over to him, Mac shook himself and and made his way over to the couch. His usual, coltish, grace was lacking as he sat down slowly, tucking himself into the corner inch by painful inch.

"So...I ordered us sandwiches," Jack commented, finally looking away and focusing on the tv screen instead. Even though the kid was going to be pissed, Jack hoped that Dr. Taylor showed up soon.

"Okay," Mac replied, rubbing his temples with both hands.

Jack caught the action out of the corner of his eye and it worried him all the more that his friend wasn't even trying to hide the fact that he was in pain. "Headache?" Jack queried.

Mac shrugged, then winced. "I'm fine."

"Sure." Jack didn't believe it for one minute but he let it go. For now. There were other things he was more interested in talking about. "What happened at the compound, Mac?" Being blunt seemed like the best way to go, or so Jack hoped. "What did El Noche do to you?" He looked at his young friend and shook a finger at him. "And don't even try to tell me nothing happened."

"He wanted me to tell him who I really am and who I worked for," Mac replied, readily enough. Which was clever. He was answering without giving any kind of detail.

Only details were what Jack was looking for and Mac knew that. So it was time for Jack to distract the kid, redirecting his focus elsewhere so Mac was caught off guard enough to give a real answer. "So what did he do? Ask nicely? Offer candy?" Jack hoped that falling back into their teasing banter might do the trick.

Before Mac could reply a knock sounded on the door.

Jack rose smoothly to his feet. "So...that's either our food or Dr. Taylor," he drawled, decided that it was probably best not to completely blindside the kid about the doctor's visit. "I'm hoping it's the food. You?" Jack couldn't think of a better distraction at this point.

"Dr. Taylor better be here for you, Jack," Mac snarled, glaring daggers at the older man.

"We both know he's here for you, Mac." Jack wasn't going to pussyfoot around about it. "You're hurting and there's no harm in letting him give you the once over."

Mac's response was to redouble his efforts at glaring at him.

Jack winced. "Hold the glare, I'll be right back." Even as he headed for the door the knocking came again, louder this time. "I'm coming, hold your horses!" Jack called out. He was almost relieved when he opened the door to find an agent holding a take out bag. "Thank you, my man." Jack clapped the agent on the shoulder then snagged the bag. Closing the door, he strode back into the living room only to find it empty. No sign of Mac. Panic washed over Jack as he ran into the bedroom, skidding to a halt at the sight of his friend sitting on the bed and lacing on sneakers.

"What are you doing?" Jack demanded, even though it was pretty obvious. The real question was, why did Mac need sneakers on?

"I'm going for a walk." Mac's fingers finished with one sneaker and went to work on the other. "I'm feeling that whole, proverbial, 'the walls are closing in on me' thing. Small cell...small car trunk. You get the picture." Sneakers neatly tied on, Mac stood up and took two steps before he stumbled and it was only Jack's hand on his arm that kept him from falling.

Jack could feel Mac shaking and he tried to guide him back over to the bed to sit down.

Mac had other ideas. He got his feet back under him and tried to pull free of Jack's hold. "I'm good, thanks."

"I don't think so, pal." Jack refused to budge. "You just turned a whole new shade of pale I've never seen before. You need to sit down." He was ready to push Mac back onto the bed if need be.

"What I need is to get out of here!" Mac countered, planting his feet and twisting out of Jack's hold. He didn't hesitate but turned for the door.

The move would have impressed Jack, since he'd taught it to the kid, but instead he was shocked as he watched Mac silently crumple to the floor at his feet. Jack fell to his knees beside him, pressing two fingers against Mac's neck and feeling relief wash over him at finding a pulse. It was thready and Mac's skin was cold and clammy, which Jack knew meant his friend was going into shock.

"Hang in there, Mac," Jack whispered, even as he pulled the kid into his arms and rose smoothly to his feet. Mac felt way too light, and that worried Jack as he laid his friend gently down on the bed. Checking for a pulse again, Jack smoothed back a wayward lock of sandy hair. "You've got to stop scaring me like this, kid. Seriously. Knock it off." He hoped for a response, but Mac was out for the count. So Jack ran out of the room, and headed for the door. He would send the agent to find Dr. Taylor ASAP. But when Jack flung open the door, it was to find Dr. Taylor standing there with one hand poised to knock.

Jack grabbed his arm and hauled him inside, niceties would have to wait. "Let's go, Doc. Mac just collapsed on me." He practically ran into the bedroom, pushing Dr. Taylor ahead of him. The older man shrugged free, moving to the bed under his own power, and doing his doctor thing as he checked Mac from head to toe.

Pacing impatiently, Jack watched every move the man made, pausing at the end of the bed when the Doctor dug into the two black bags Jack only now noticed he'd brought with him. Five minutes later Mac was hooked up to oxygen via a nasal canula, along with an IV, with two bags attached to the pole Doctor Taylor had set up next to the bed.

"You came prepared," Jack commented.

"Thornton filled me in about the nitrogen water-boarding," Dr. Taylor replied.

Jack nodded, not the least bit surprised. Thornton was always thorough. "So how is Mac? He's going to be okay, right?"

Dr. Taylor didn't get a chance to respond because, with perfect timing, Mac started coming around, one hand lifting to pull at the nasal canula.

"Mac, you need to leave that alone," Dr. Taylor said firmly, as he gripped MacGyver's wrist and pressed his arm back down onto the bed.

"Hmmm...?" Mac mumbled, obviously not quite fully awake and aware yet. But his instincts kicked in and he lifted his other hand to try and push the doctor away from him.

So Jack came around to the other side of the bed and snagged that hand. "Easy there, bro. You need to keep still and behave. And stop scaring me, that would be good. I swear I sprouted a couple dozen more gray hairs watching you collapse on me."

Mac frowned, eyes narrowing at he stared at Jack then shifted his gaze to Dr. Taylor. It was obvious he was trying to track what Jack just said to him, his big brain sorting through the information until he finally reached a conclusion he apparently didn't much care for. "I'm fine," he muttered, trying to tug both hands free.

"You will be," Dr. Taylor allowed, as he released Mac's wrist but carefully checked the IV line to make sure it was still securely taped in place.

"Seriously, I'm fine." Mac tugged his other hand free from Jack's grip, using it to rub his temples before scrubbing over his eyes, a pout firmly in place.

He reminded Jack of a toddler at bed time, trying desperately to stay awake out of spite. So he couldn't help but tease, "Look to me like it's nap time for Mac. What do you say, Doc?"

Dr. Taylor was accustomed to MacGyver's behavior when he was injured, so he played along. "Absolutely. Sleep is the best medicine."

Mac glared at them both and opened his mouth to protest, but Dr. Taylor cut him off.

"Mac..." The doctor locked eyes with the young agent. "Thornton filled me in on what happened. You know, as well as I do, the affects pure nitrogen has on the body when inhaled in that manner. So you are going to leave the oxygen on and the IV in and I'm going to give you a mild sedative with a painkiller. When you wake up you'll feel a lot better. Keep in mind that you'll probably suffer headaches for a few days, but they'll ease up. Okay?"

Jack could tell Mac wanted to argue, but it became a moot point. Dr. Taylor was a sneaky bastard, and even as he was talking he was injecting the sedative into the IV, so the kid's eyes were already beginning to flutter closed. Jack watched as Mac visibly relaxed into the pillows, and a heartbeat later it was clear he was asleep.

Grinning at Doc Taylor, Jack asked, "So how long will he be out?"

"I gave him enough to keep a normal person out for about sixteen hours, so MacGyver should be out for at least eight, maybe less." Dr. Taylor looked amused as he looked at Jack.

"The kid does have a weird resistance to sedatives," Jack allowed. He also knew Mac had a freakishly high threshold for pain. If he said he was at a three on a scale of one to ten, then he was actually at ten or higher. Another oddity was how certain pain meds that would mellow out most people, made Mac hyped up and wired.

Dr. Taylor nodded. "Just keep an eye on him."

Jack rolled his eyes. Like he would do anything less. "You know I will. But give it to me straight, Doc. Mac is going to be okay, right? No permanent damage of any kind?"

"He should be fine," Dr. Taylor allowed. "Although, since he seems to like to buck the norm, give me a call if he doesn't seem to be getting better after a few days. He's going to have headaches, be tired and listless for a few days. And I'll be back in a few hours to remove the oxygen and the IV before he wakes up."

"Sounds like a plan," Jack said, as he walked the doc to the door. "See you later."

Dr. Taylor nodded, shook Jack's hand then walked out.

After closing and locking the door behind him, Jack returned to Mac's room. He pulled the armchair from the corner of the room closer to the bed and was about to settle in when he remembered the sandwiches in the other room. Jack ran out and grabbed the bag, raided the fridge for a beer, then made his way back into the bedroom and made himself comfortable. There was a small TV on the dresser across from the bed, so Jack armed himself with the remote, found the food network and he was content to eat and watch as Mac slept on.

Four hours later, after dozing off, Jack peeled himself out of the chair for a bathroom break. He was washing his hands when he heard a soft cry. Running out he found Mac thrashing on the bed, hands clawing at his face, the nasal canula clutched in his fingers. He was obviously trapped in a nightmare.

"Mac...buddy...wake up." Jack was beside him in a heartbeat, pulling Mac's hands from his face and and willing his friend to open his eyes. "Mac! Wake up!" His voice must have finally permeated the nightmare, because blue eyes snapped open and the kid stared at him in terror.

But the terror faded into recognition as Mac blinked at Jack, his taut body finally relaxing as the fight bled out of him. But he was panting harshly as he tugged to free himself from Jack's grip. The first thing he did once free was to sit up, wincing at the movement, before his hands lifted to scrub over his face. He cursed and stared at the IV taped to his left hand.

Jack knew what was coming and he grabbed Mac's right arm. "Leave the IV alone." He could feel the fine tremors that coursed through the lean body and anger washed over him in relentless waves. Jack wanted nothing more than to beat El Noche into a pulp at this moment. But the desire to pull the kid into a hug and protect him won out.

Plopping onto the side of the bed, Jack gathered Mac into his arms, ignoring the way the kid struggled against him. He simply tucked Mac's head under his chin and held firm, letting him wind down on his own. It didn't take long before he felt Mac's weight sag full against him, and thin fingers clutching his shirt. "It's all good, buddy," Jack crooned. "I'm here, you're here, El Noche's not here."

"I hate you," Mac mumbled, his voice muffled against Jack's shirt.

"I hate you too," Jack replied, relief making him feel a bit giddy. Mac was back. Still shaken, still in need of healing, but he was back. When he felt Mac pushing at him, this time he let go, chuckling as he stared at the kid who's blond hair was sticking up in ruffled tufts all over his head. Too bad his cell phone was on the bedside table. Mac looked like an adorable and cranky twelve year old, and the image totally needed to be retained for posterity's sake, and as future black mail material.

But Mac was good at reading his intention and he warned, "Take a picture and I will make you suffer in ways you can't even imagine, and you will never see it coming."

Jack believed him, so he stayed put. "You okay, bro? And be honest."

"I will be," Mac said, after a long moment where it was obvious he was struggling with a reply.

"I know that for a fact." Jack stood up and reached for the nasal canula, untangling the line. "You need to put this back in." He held it out.

Mac took it but only to drop it on the floor, before reaching out for the tank to turn it off. "I don't need it. Seriously, Jack." They locked eyes and sincerity shown in Mac's blue gaze.

So Jack took him at his word, slapping Mac's hand away to turn the tank off himself. "Dr. Taylor better back you up when he comes back," Jack warned.

"He will," Mac promised, idly picking at the IV tape on the back of his hand. He picked at it, but didn't pull it off. Jack considered that a win. Leaving the tape alone, Mac ran his fingers through his wild hair before asking, "What time is it?"

"Time for you to go back to sleep," Jack countered, not even glancing at his watch. "You should have been out for a couple more hours."

Mac shrugged. "I'm not tired-" he protested, but it was ruined by a jaw-cracking yawn.

Jack snorted. "You were saying?"

"So...maybe I'm a little tired," Mac allowed, looking sheepish and embarrassed. His eyes flittered about the room, looking anywhere but at Jack. After a drawn-out moment of silence he asked, "Did the food come? I'm kinda hungry."

"Yeah...sure, hold on." Jack was thrilled to hear that Mac was hungry and he'd put the kid's sandwich in the fridge. He ran to the kitchen, retrieved the sandwich and a bottled water and ran back in. Only to find the bed empty. Before panic could set in, Jack heard water running and he noticed the bathroom door was closed. He also noticed the IV line was hanging off the pole.

When Mac opened the bathroom door, he found Jack blocking him by leaning on the door jamb. He didn't even pretend not to know why Jack was upset with him. "I don't need the IV and I had to pee. Okay? I'm not going to break. I'm a lot tougher than that and you know it, Jack. I'm shatterproof." Mac was rambling and nervous, but holding his ground.

Which reassured Jack more than anything else would. He knew the kid still needed to rest and heal and deal, but he would get there and Jack would be there watching his back. Where he belonged. "Get back in bed, I've got your food."

"I thought we could go in the living room and watch a movie or something," Mac countered, not moving.

"There's a TV in here, see?" Jack pointed over his shoulder. "Bed. Now. Or I could carry you?"

The threat worked like a charm and Mac was back in bed and tucked under the covers in record time. Jack grinned as he snagged the food bag off the nightstand and dropped it in Mac's lap, along with the water bottle. He then reclaimed his own chair and a bag of chips he'd found in the kitchen cupboard on an earlier snack hunt. "What do you feel like watching?" He snatched up the remote and pointed it at the TV.

Mac was busy unwrapping his sandwich so he simply shrugged. "You pick."

"Terminator it is," Jack stated, flicking through Netflix and tapping the movie on. He glanced over at Mac and was pleased to see the kid taking a big bite of his sandwich. Feeling like he could finally relax, Jack shifted his chair so he could put his feet up on the corner of the bed and he settled in to watch the movie.

Time drifted by and Jack let himself get caught up in the movie, or maybe not, because something smacked him in the head, jolting him back to awareness so suddenly that he nearly toppled out of his chair. Catching himself, Jack scowled as he spotted an empty water bottle on the floor. Obviously that's what hit him. He scooped it up and turned around to find Mac grinning at him.

"What was that for?" Jack demanded, tossing it back.

"You snore," Mac said, as he deftly caught the plastic bottle. Immediately his started unscrewing and screwing the cap back on, his fingers unable to be still for long. "I couldn't hear the movie."

Jack wanted to argue the point, but he knew he did snore and the more tired he was the louder he got. He was exhausted, so he probably had drowned out the dialogue. He glanced at the TV to see that the movie was over. He grabbed the remote and clicked on the second terminator movie. "I'm gonna hit the little boy's room. Be right back." Jack slipped into the bathroom, did his duty, washed his hands and realized his eyes felt gritty so he splashed cold water on his face. That woke him up enough he figured he was good to go to make it through the next movie. But before he did that he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, glad he had remembered to snag it earlier. He sent Thornton a quick text to let her know Mac was doing okay, and he got back an immediate reply.

*Good to know. Take care of him.*

*You know I will* Jack shot back, before sliding the phone back into his pocket. He left the bathroom and was ready to settle in for the movie when he glanced over at the bed to see that Mac was asleep.

Jack grinned as he moved to the bed to draw the covers over the slim shoulders. The kid was curled up on his side, one hand tucked under his cheek, the other arm wrapped around the extra pillow. The visual was begging for a picture, but Jack kept his phone in his pocket. This was the MacGyver than no one got to see but him. The kid didn't like being vulnerable, not even in front of Jack, but when it was just them he felt safe enough to be himself, and Jack valued that trust. He would never risk losing it.

So after Mac was safely tucked in, Jack returned to his chair and settled in to watch the movie. He glanced at his watch and knew Dr. Taylor would be back soon to check on Mac. But for now, for this moment in time, all was right in Jack's world.

THE END