Jack felt relieved as he and Mac made their way to Medical. Matty had ordered them to go get checked out and Jack was grateful, because getting Mac to go to Medical on his own pretty much took an act of God. Jack knew that, for himself, he was fine and didn't need to be checked out, but he would do it to set an example for his young friend. Or, he would have, if his phone didn't buzz with a text from Matty to come back to the conference room.
Calling his boss, Jack complained, "I was just there. I'll come back when we're done in Medical." He really wanted to go with Mac because he knew the kid wasn't really feeling it, just yet, but he was hurting. Unlike Jack and the other Phoenix soldiers, the kid had gone into battle without any protective gear and it was obvious he had taken some hard hits. Hits from guys bigger than he was who were also in protective gear. It was pretty much a lose-lose for MacGyver.
"I need to see you now, Jack," Matty shot back, her tone brooking no argument. "It will only take a few minutes, so get your ass back here!" With that she hung up.
"Guess I'm going back," Jack commented, slipping his phone back in his pocket. He had put it on speaker so Mac could hear the exchange. "I won't be long."
Mac rolled his eyes, knowing exactly what Jack's issue was with leaving him. "I know the way to Medical, Jack. I'll make it there just fine."
Jack shook a finger at him. "See that you do. I'll be there in ten minutes to make sure of it."
"Whatever, just go." Mac stopped picking at his fingernails long enough to wave Jack off. "Matty is waiting."
"Dang it!" The reminder was enough to send Jack on his way. True to her word, Matty didn't keep him long, but even as he retraced his steps to Medical, Jack got another text, this time from Riley. Instead of texting back he called her, fearing that something might have gone wrong with Bozer. "What's up, Riley?" Jack asked, trying to keep the worry from his voice.
Riley heard it though and was quick to reassure him. "Bozer's fine, Jack. I mean, as fine as he can be after being stabbed. That's not why I'm calling. I just realized that I misplaced by back up lap top and I wanted to know if you'd check the Conference room for me. I'm pretty sure that's where I left it, but it's going to bug me until I know for sure."
Jack was relieved to hear that Bozer was doing okay. If anything happened to him it would absolutely wreck Mac. "I can check on it for you, no problem," he replied, because he got that Riley's computers were her babies and, after everything that had happened, she needed to know they were okay. "I'm literally just a few steps from there , hang on." He turned around and made his way back to the conference room, again, and was surprised to see that it was empty, seeing how he had just left Matty a few minutes ago. "Where should I look for it?" Jack asked Riley.
"I think I left it on the floor by the second chair," she replied.
"I do believe you're right," Jack replied, striding over to the chair and noticing the laptop on the floor. He scooped it up. "I've got it. You want me to bring it to you?"
Riley exhaled a shuddery sigh of relief. "No, it can stay there, I just needed to know where it was. Thanks, Jack." With that she hung up.
Jack did the same and slid the phone back into his pocket, tempted to turn the damn thing off. After setting the laptop on the table he exited the conference room and, this time, he wasn't going to let anyone else stop him from making his way to Medical. The first person he saw was Doctor Redmond, who had a red beard and was as big and hearty as Paul Bunyan. In truth, twenty years ago, he had been a professional wrestler. It was how he had funded his way through Med school. "What's up, Doc?" Jack asked, as he finally began peeling off his tactical vest.
"Anything specific you want to tell me?" Doctor Redmond asked, as he reached for a pair of gloves to begin his exam.
"Nah, I'm good," Jack replied. "A few bumps and bruises but nothing a few beers and a hot shower won't cure. To be honest, mostly I just need the shower."
Redmond crinkled his nose. "That you do." He reached for his laptop and began typing. "I'll clear you but don't make me regret it, Jack. Matty the Hun is a very scary lady and I don't want to get on her bad side." He was only half teasing.
Jack chuckled. "Always knew you were a smart man. So where's Mac? Did you clear him already?"
"I haven't seen the kid," Redmond replied.
"What do you mean you haven't seen him?" Jack hadn't expected to hear that, although a part of him figured he probably should have seen that coming. "He didn't even poke his head in?"
Redmond shook his head. "Nope. Matty called to say that you two were coming down and that was almost half an hour ago. I figured you would be coming in together."
Jack heaved a sigh. "I should have known. Don't go anywhere, Doc, I'll be back soon with Mac and I know he's hurting."
"I'll be waiting," Redmond promised, chuckling to himself as he watched Jack stalk off.
Twenty minutes later Jack was running out of places to look for MacGyver, the kid had apparently turned into a ghost since no one seemed to have seen him. Not to mention the fact that the brat wasn't answering his phone, even though Jack had called repeatedly and blown it up with texts.
Stepping into the nearest elevator, Jack stared at the buttons as he tried to figure out where to look next. Then it hit him and he punched level 2 for the labs. A few minutes later Jack jogged into the lab where Bozer worked and MacGyver spent every spare hour of his down time. There sat the kid, cross-legged, on the floor, next to the puddle of Bozer's blood. Obviously the clean up crew hadn't made it down here yet.
"Hey, Mac," Jack offered in greeting, as he crouched down beside his friend. It worried him when he didn't get any kind of response. That's when he noticed that Mac wasn't even staring at the puddle, he was staring down at his hands. Hands that were never idle were suddenly still as stone. "I'm not gonna lie, bro...you're scaring me a little bit. What's going on?"
After waiting for almost a minute, which Jack silently counted out in his head, he reached for his phone. "Okay...I'm going to call Dr. Redmond to come down and take a look at you." Before Jack could turn on his phone it was plucked from his hand. He stared at Mac in surprise, but the kid still wasn't looking at him.
Mac did rise slowly to his feet before stating, "I don't need to see Dr. Redmond, Jack. I'm fine." But he gave lie to his words as he turned to step away and stumbled.
"You don't look so fine," Jack shot back, rising up and catching Mac by the arm to steady him.
"I'm just tired, Jack," Mac mumbled, handing over the other man's phone. "It's been a long and, seriously, shitty day."
Jack slipped the phone back into his pocket as he muttered, "Amen to that. But you're still going to see Redmond. He's waiting for you."
Mac sighed, one hand lifting to scrub through his hair only to freeze then drop as he did a full body shudder. "I have to check on Bozer," he hissed, abruptly, spinning on his heel to head for the door. Only to find his way blocked by Jack who refused to budge, even when Mac glared at him.
"I spoke to Riley a little while ago and it's all good on the Bozer front," Jack stated. "He's going to be fine, Mac. He's tough, like someone else I know."
"I need to see him for myself," Mac replied, as he side-stepped around Jack, only to find himself standing next to the viscous puddle on the floor. Reflexively, Mac stared down at his hands, the skin still stained red with his best-friend's blood. Water - he needed water to scrub them clean again, not that he could ever scrub away the guilt he was feeling. That stain would last forever, as permanent as a tattoo.
Jack was more than a little bit surprised when Mac, instead of side-stepping him again, abruptly pivoted around and headed straight for the sink in the corner. He followed and stared as the kid turned on the hot water, grabbed the soap and began scrubbing his hands like his life depended on it. "What are you doing?" Jack blurted out.
Mac didn't look up from his hands as he countered with, "What does it look like I'm doing?"
"It looks like you're washing your hands," Jack shot back, ignoring the sarcasm Mac lobbed his way. He was about to make a smartass comment back when he realized water was steaming hot and had to be burning the kid's hands. Lunging forward, he exchanged the hot for the cold tap before grabbing Mac's wrists to keep them under the cold stream.
"Let go of me!" Mac hissed, struggling to pull at least one hand free so he could turn the hot water on again. Didn't Jack understand that he needed to clean the blood off his hands? That he needed to wash it away so that, maybe - just maybe - he could wash away what had happened and Bozer would be all right again.
Jack, however, wasn't budging. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he snapped, pulling Mac away from the sink only so that he could shake him. "You were burning your skin!" Jack yelled, looking down at Mac's dripping hands that were still red, so he shoved them back under the cold water.
Which made Mac struggle harder and he used a twist and heave move, that Jack had shown him years ago, to break free. Which turned out not to be the smartest thing he had done today, because the sharp movement made his ribs hurt, his head ache and he found himself suddenly swaying with dizziness.
"Mac?" Jack's anger fled as he watched his friend list and stumble. Instinctively he reached out to steady him. "That's it, I'm taking you to Doc Redmond right now." Hauling one of Mac's arms over his shoulder, Jack wrapped his own arm around the slim waist and practically dragged the kid to the door. He almost made it all the way to the elevator before Mac offered any resistance. As slight as MacGyver was, once he dug in his heels and refused to budge, he wasn't all that easy to move. Not unless Jack wanted to carry him all the way to Medical.
"Stop, Jack," Mac begged. "Just, stop."
It was the tone more than the request that made Jack release MacGyver. "What's going on with you, Mac?" he demanded, because he was more than a little bit worried about his friend. There was a hollow sadness in the kid's eyes that broke Jack's heart.
Moving to lean against the wall beside the elevator, Mac scrubbed at his eyes with one shaky hand before giving in to gravity and letting it pull him down to the floor. He sat with his back against the wall, folded arms propped on raised knees and let his forehead drop to rest against his forearms. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt so damn tired and helpless. Feeling Jack drop down to sit beside him, Mac took a moment before lifting his head and answering the question he'd been asked. "Bozer was supposed to make movies and become an award winning director, Jack. It was never part of the plan for his blood to be all over my hands. What happened today was never, ever, supposed to happen."
"I get that, I do," Jack replied, feeling a bit of relief as they finally got down to the nitty gritty of the problem. "But what happened today, pal...ain't on you. It's bigger than you and Bozer and the rest of us. Bozer should have been safe here, Mac. We all should have been. But I promise you, bro...we're going to find whoever is behind all of this and I'm going to personally kick his ass."
"I call dibs," Mac countered, because he felt he deserved the right to at least get the first punch in and he said as much.
Jack chuckled. "I'll let you throw the first punch," he conceded. "But only the one."
Mac almost found himself smiling. "We'll negotiate the terms later," he countered. But his smile faded as he picked at a speck of blood trapped in the corner of his thumbnail against the cuticle. All of his attention became focused on scratching it off, to the point where he made his skin bleed.
"Stop that." Jack trapped Mac's hand with his. He could feel how the kid was trembling and that kick-started his worry mode back into play. "That's it, up and at em, pal." Rising to his feet, Jack pulled Mac up with him before his friend could protest. "You're going to obey Matty's order to get checked out in Medical and that's final. Give me a hard time and I call her and you can deal with the Wrath of Matilda Webber all on your lonesome."
"You know I hate you, right?" It was a weak comeback but it was all he had, since he knew Jack had played him with the Matty card.
Jack didn't take offense, he knew that Mac was hurt and tired and feeling the heavy weight of helplessness that came when someone you cared about got hurt and you felt responsible. A feeling that Jack knew all too well.
The time Mac had gotten shot when the virus had been taken and they thought Nikki had died, Jack had thought he was going to lose the kid that night. After coming to, Jack had heard splashing and his heart had nearly stopped when he ran down to the water just in time to see Mac go under. When he dragged him out, MacGyver had been barely breathing, and Jack had spent two days sitting next to the kid's hospital bed and praying harder than he had ever prayed before.
Obviously, there had been a happy ending and Mac had fully recovered. Just like Jack knew was going to happen with Bozer, he just had to get Mac with the program. Which he knew was going to be easier said than done, because once the kid decided to embrace guilt he clung to it like a damn leech. But they would work on that after Mac got checked out by Doc Redmond.
Rising to his feet, more slowly than he would like to admit, Jack reached down to haul Mac up beside him. "Time to see Doc Redmond, bud." He was both pleased, and a bit worried, when MacGyver didn't even offer a token protest. Instead the kid just allowed himself to be led into the elevator. The ride to the 6th floor and the journey to Medical was made in companionable silence.
Dr. Redmond was waiting for them, as promised, his hazel eyes taking careful note of the way MacGyver was moving as the young man eased his way onto the exam table in the corner. "Any specific injuries you'd like to tell me about?" Redmond asked, like he always did. Only once had he gotten a - somewhat - direct answer, which had been when the kid had twisted his ankle so badly that Jack had nearly carried him to an exam bed. Although, even then, Mac had generalized his injury as having 'hurt my leg'.
"Not really," Mac replied, missing the knowing smirk that passed between Doc Redmond and Jack. "I'm tired and a little sore, nothing to worry about."
"Why don't you let me be the judge of that?" Redmond countered, easing Mac down so he was laying back. While he conducted his examination, Redmond chatted with Jack. He knew their conversation provided a distraction for MacGyver to focus on which made the entire process go more smoothly all the way around. It worried Redmond a bit how still the kid was, because Mac was usually a body in motion almost vibrating with the need to be moving and doing something. But at the moment he was lying still, almost too still, but at the same time his lean body was taut with tension - and pain.
Mac had remained as docile as he could during Dr. Redmond's exam, which hadn't been all that easy since the Doc seemed to locate every bruised and aching sore spot on his entire body. But when the pen light came out, Mac smacked it away. His head ached enough without making it worse. "Are you done?" he asked, pointedly, even as he made himself sit up in one, smooth, motion. Which meant biting his tongue as pain rippled throughout is body, ending with a stabbing ache in both temples.
Dr. Redmond shrugged. "Guess I am," he stated, knowing that MacGyver was about ready to bolt. He also noticed that the kid had turned a shade paler and his eyes had gone glassy. He was hurting.
"What's the damage, Doc?" Jack asked, because he knew Mac wouldn't.
"In general I'd say a mild concussion, bruised ribs and various other aches and pains that he's going to be feeling for a while," Redmond replied.
MacGyver scowled at the pair of them. "Translation, I'm good to go." Which he had every intention of doing. He needed to go see Bozer.
In a smooth move, Jack blocked his way. "Apparently your Doc Redmond translator is broken, Mac," he drawled. "I'm pretty sure what he said was you need to go home and get some rest."
"I'm not going home, Jack," MacGyver ground out. "I'm going to go see Bozer."
"I just talked to the Bozer's doctor." It was Matty who spoke up. She had entered a few minutes ago and she'd heard everything Dr. Redmond had said about MacGyver's condition.
Mac pushed Jack out of the way to confront her. "What did the doctor say? Is Bozer going to be allright?" Even as he asked the question, a part of Mac was terrified to hear the answer.
Matty took pity on him, seeing the worry in Mac's blue eyes, along with pain, exhaustion and guilt. Hopefully she would be able to alleviate some of it. "According to his doctor, Bozer did lose a lot of blood, but he was very impressed with the way you sealed the wound and they were able to close him up properly in surgery since no vital organs were hit. They're going to keep Bozer heavily sedated so he can rest and heal. It's going to be a long, slow, process...but Bozer is going to be fine. So you, MacGyver, are going to home and do some resting and healing of your own."
"I'm fine, Matty," Mac insisted. "I'll go home after I see Bozer."
"Riley is with him and he's asleep, Mac," Jack interjected. "Stop arguing with the boss, already." He looked at Matty. "So I assume we have the next two days off?" He figured she owed them at least that much given that she had called them into work on Cairo day.
Matty nodded. "For once, you assume correctly, Jack. Take MacGyver home and I'll see you both in two days." With that, Matty did an about face and exited Medical, a relieved smile on her face. MacGyver might be unorthodox, but the kid had saved the day in a big way and she was beginning to understand just how unique he really was. All the more so when paired up with Jack, so she had learned her lesson about them today. They were stronger together and Matty would make certain they remained a team.
Jack was pleased to have Matty's backing, for once. "You heard the boss, Mac. Time for me to take you home, pal."
"I have to get something first, I'll be right back." Mac scooted around Jack and was gone before the other man could even offer up a protest.
"Where do you think he's going?" Redmond queried.
Jack shrugged. "Hell if I know." He didn't have long to find out what the kid was up to, because in a few minutes Mac was back with the virus container in hand. "Huh...I actually forgot all about that. Where was it?" When they'd first headed out for Medical, Mac had been holding it, but Jack only now realized it hadn't been on him when he'd tracked MacGyver into the lab.
MacGyver studied the container, which was a reminder of how close he had come to dying today. His death in exchange for the lives of possibly millions? That was a no brainer. However, he was glad he didn't have to make that particular sacrifice after all. "I have a few hiding places here and there and I was going to keep it here until I figured out what to do with it, but I'll feel better having it with me."
"I admit, knowing you have it makes me feel better," Jack allowed. He knew how close the Organization had come to stealing the virus and he was relieved that they had it back under their control Jack trusted Mac to do what needed to be done to make the world safe from the deadly virus. "So, you ready to go home?"
"Is that my only option?" Mac countered, hoping he might be able to get Jack to change his tune.
Knowing why Mac was asking, Jack shut him down immediately. "Yes, that's your only option, so let's go, Bucko."
Deciding it would be easier just to give in, Mac let Jack guide him to the parking garage and forty minutes later he was walking into his house. Holding up the canister, Mac stated, "I'm going to put this in a safe place then take a quick shower."
"Sounds like a plan, I'm going to eat something then make use of your other shower," Jack replied, Go Bag in hand. While Mac wandered off, Jack raided the fridge, knowing that Bozer always kept it full of leftovers. After making himself a chicken sandwich, Jack sat at the counter to chow down. He had just finished eating when he heard the shower turn on and that's when Jack headed to the other bathroom for his own.
Ten minutes later Jack was dressed in clean clothes and on his phone ordering Chinese take out. He wanted Mac to go to bed, but he also wanted the kid to eat something first. Both issues were going to be a battle, but Jack was ready for it. However, he started to get a little nervous when fifteen minutes passed with no sign of Mac. Heading down the hallway to the kid's bedroom, Jack was ready to knock on the door when he heard voices. Well, Mac's voice. Leaning into the door, Jack tried to discern what he was saying, only for the door to open unexpectedly.
Mac quirked an eyebrow at the sight of Jack hovering in his doorway, but that was his only reaction as he continued speaking to the person on the other end of the line. "Thanks, Matty, I appreciate you trusting me with this. Goodnight." With that Mac hung up.
"Matty?" It was all Jack needed to say for Mac to understand what he was asking, and he knew it.
"I finally figured out what to do with the virus," Mac replied, stepping around Jack and heading down the hall and into the living room.
Jack followed him out, taking note of how pale and tired Mac looked as he grabbed a water out of the fridge then moved to lean against the counter. Dressed in sweats and a t-shirt that was at least two sizes to big for him and his feet bare, Mac looked all of about sixteen years old and he wore an aura of vulnerability that made Jack's heart ache. Still, he plastered a grin on his face as he asked, "So where are we going?" When Mac looked like he was going to protest, Jack held up a hand to cut him off. "Don't even think about it, bro. Where ever you go, I go. So, I'll ask again. Where are we going?"
Mac couldn't help but smile as he replied, "Siberia. There's a place almost impossible to reach with crevices that are miles and miles deep. I'm going to drop the canister in one of them and no one will ever be able to find it again."
"Sounds like fun," Jack countered, although he shuddered at the thought of how cold it was going to be. "When do we leave?"
"Two days," Mac replied, unable to hide the fact that he was a bit peeved.
Jack could guess why. "I take it Matty refused to let you leave tomorrow?"
Mac sighed as he uncapped his water bottle then took a swig. "She said I needed to take a day to rest."
"She's not wrong, you push yourself too damn hard, bro," Jack stated. "Tim to let yourself off the hook." Seeing that Mac's attention was drifting, Jack offered a distraction. "So is she letting us take the jet?"
"She is," Mac confirmed. He recapped his water bottle then drifted out onto the deck. The night air was warm with a gentle breeze and the night sky was so filled with stars that it glittered like diamonds. It was beautiful and peaceful, yet it felt unsettling after everything that had happened today.
Jack joined Mac at the railing, a beer in hand. "I ordered Chinese and you are going to eat every bite before hitting the hay. Comprende?"
Turning to look at his friend, Mac considered arguing but ultimately decided to let it go. Cairo day was almost over, again, and today had made what happened in Cairo almost seem like a walk in the park. And, like before, Jack had been there with him, supporting him even when they weren't side by side. So if Jack wanted to Mother Hen him a little, Mac was going to let him. He got lucky today. The two most important people in the world to him were still alive, and Mac was beyond grateful for that fact. Still, he couldn't help teasing his friend. "I wouldn't get your hopes up that I'll eat every bite, Jack. You tend to order enough food for ten people to eat at one sitting."
"I wouldn't say ten people," Jack countered, pleased that Mac felt up to bantering with him. "Maybe eight. And, not for nothing, Bro, but you seriously need some fattening up." The kid was tough as nails and surprisingly strong, but he was so damn lean that most of the time he looked about as easy to break as a toothpick. Which usually worked to Mac's advantage when confronted with bad guys, because they took one look at him and figured they could take him down easy. Jack enjoyed watching how surprised they always were when the kid took them down, using his brains and their own brawn against them. But that didn't change the fact that Jack would love to see Mac gain about twenty pounds of muscle. It worried him that in the past few months, starting with Nikki's supposed death and Mac getting shot, followed by Bozer learning the truth and all the issues that came along with that, the kid had actually lost about ten pounds he couldn't afford to lose.
"Earth to Jack," Mac drawled, realizing that his friend had zoned out on him. Not that he would complain if it got Jack to stop harping on him about being too thin.
Jack shook himself back into the moment. "Sorry, what was I saying?" He knew exactly what he had said, but he also knew Mac didn't need him to be a Mother Hen right now. He just needed a friend, and Jack was happy to be there for him.
Mac took the out Jack was offering, graciously. "I believe you were about to mention what movie you wanted to watch while we ate our Chinese."
"I've been wanting to watch Guardians of the Galaxy," Jack replied, knowing that his answer would surprise Mac.
"Seriously?" To say that he was surprised would be an understatement. Mac was expecting Jack to suggest one of his 'go to' movies that they always watched on Cairo Day. Anything starring Bruce Willis.
Jack nodded. "Seriously. You, Bozer and Riley keep talking about it and it sounds pretty cool. Just don't tell Riley I said that."
Mac made a face. "I'm not sure I can promise that, but I'll try," he teased.
"Fair enough, bro." However, Jack did have an ulterior motive for giving up his favorite movies tonight. "So, why don't you go get comfortable on the couch and take a little power nap?" He held up a hand before Mac could even formulate a reply. "Just to be clear, that wasn't actually a suggestion. You're hurting, my friend, physically and emotionally and you need to rest. So you're going to pop some Tylenol and stretch out on the couch. When the food gets here we'll eat, watch a movie, sleep. Then, when we wake up, another Cairo day will be behind us. Got it?"
"Got it," Mac replied, suddenly fighting off a yawn. Like the flick of a switch he felt the adrenaline that had gotten him through the past few hours, drain out of him in a rush. Feeling Jack's hand on his shoulder, Mac he let the other man guide him into the living room and over to the couch. Wincing more than a little as he stretched out, Mac exhaled a tiny sigh of relief when he was finally settled and let his eyes drift closed.
Jack knew Mac was fading fast, so he grabbed the bottle of Tylenol from the kitchen drawer and offered two tablets to his friend. "Take these," he ordered.
Mac opened his eyes and focused on the pills in Jack's palm. Weirdly enough he was still holding onto his water bottle, so Mac took the pills, swallowed them down, then let the recapped water bottle drop to the floor.
Moving quietly, Jack covered Mac with a blanket before taking up residence in the nearby chair. When the delivery guy knocked on the door just shy of thirty minutes later, Jack ran over to pay him. He was surprised, and a bit disappointed, to see Mac sitting up as he headed for the kitchen with the food. "Go back to sleep," Jack told him.
"I thought you wanted me to eat?" Mac countered, scrubbing at his eyes before running his fingers through his hair to smooth it off his face.
"I do." Finding Mac's Orange chicken, Jack brought it over to him along with an egg roll, then retrieved his own general Tao's. "Ready to watch the movie?" Even though he'd hoped Mac would sleep longer, Jack had found the Guardian's of the Galaxy DVD and put it in the Blu Ray player.
Mac nodded, since his mouth was full of rice and chicken. Tucking himself further into the corner of the couch, Mac used one hand to drag the blanket over his lap as he settled in to watch the movie.
Jack smiled as he watched the kid get sucked into the action on the TV screen, before finding himself drawn in as well. He was surprised by how much he liked the movie, and said as much, only to discover that Mac was sound asleep. Even though he was exhausted, Jack knew he wasn't ready to sleep yet, so he hit the bathroom then settled back in the chair to watch Netflix. He never noticed the remote dropping out of his hand as he drifted off to sleep.
Mac pressed both hands over Bozer's wound, desperately trying to stop the bleeding. But no matter what he did, the blood just kept flowing through his fingers, coating his skin, staining it red. "Hang in there, buddy," Mac begged his best friend. "It's going to be okay...you're going to be okay."
Bozer didn't reply. Instead his body shuddered for a moment before going limp and still, too still.
"No! No...No...NO!" MacGyver pressed blood red fingertips against Bozer's neck, desperately checking for a pulse. There wasn't one. Mac felt as if his own heart was about to shudder to a stop. This couldn't be happening. Bozer couldn't be dead. But his lifeless eyes stared up at Mac like an accusation. He had failed to keep his best friend safe.
"Mac! What did you do?" Riley stood over him, glaring down at them before gasping, "You killed Bozer! Oh my god! You killed Bozer!"
With a gasp Mac came awake, shaking off the horrible images of his dream. It took him a moment to remember where he was, and he fought with the blanket that was twisted around his legs. A moment later Mac was in his bathroom, hunched over the toilet as he puked up everything in his stomach and then some. When he finally stopped expelling bile, he flushed the toilet and rose, shakily, to his feet. Stumbling over to the sink he rinsed his mouth with mouth wash before brushing his teeth.
Still shaking, Mac realized he was sheened in a cold sweat so he stripped off his damp clothes and stepped into the shower, scrubbing himself clean again from head to toe. But just like the last time, he couldn't scrub away the feel of Bozer's blood off his hands. Even though they were red now from the heat of the water and the harsh scrubbing, all Mac could see was the blood that still stained them in his mind.
Trying to break away from his morbid thoughts, Mac turned off the water and toweled off enough to get dressed in fresh boxer-briefs and clean sweatpants. Pulling on a white t-shirt, Mac didn't care that his hair was still wet. He needed a drink, just one shot of whiskey to still the tremors that still shook him. Something that might stand a chance to warm him up from the inside. So he stepped into his closet and retrieved the bottle of Whiskey that Jack had given him on his twenty-first birthday.
Bottle in hand, Mac slipped into the kitchen for a glass before drifting out onto the deck as silently as a ghost. He didn't want to wake Jack. Pouring himself a generous finger of the amber liquid, Mac didn't hesitate in downing it in one swallow. He closed his eyes as the burn traced it's way from his tongue all the way down into his stomach, where it churned just long enough for Mac to think he might need to make another run to the bathroom. But then it settled into a spread of warmth that eased his trembling just a bit.
It wasn't enough though to stop his whirling thoughts and emotions, or banish the bloody images of Bozer that danced in his head. However he was able, momentarily, to trade his anxiety for anger. Anger at himself surged through Mac and before he realized what he was doing, he hurled the glass he was holding at the wall. It hit hard and with a cracking bang, before shattering into crystal shards that rained down onto the deck.
"Shit!" Forgetting that he was barefoot, Mac ran over to the mess and crouched down to start picking up the bigger shards of glass.
"Mac?" The sound of something breaking had Jack on his feet and running out onto the deck before he was even fully awake. He skidded to a stop at the sight of his friend crouched down and picking up what looked to be a broken glass. Flicking on the lights, Jack ran over to Mac. "What the hell happened here? And why are you wet?" MacGyver's hair was dripping and soaking his t-shirt. His white t-shirt. Earlier the kid had been wearing a blue t-shirt. Jack was about to demand an explanation when he noticed something that scared him a little. "Mac, you're bleeding."
That comment startled Mac to the point where he stopped what he was doing and froze. Sure enough, blood was dripping off his right hand in steady drops. He turned it over to stare at his palm, surprised to see a two inch gash. A shard of broken glass much have sliced it open, how weird that he never felt it. Mac flexed his fingers in and out of a fist and he was surprised to realize that it still didn't hurt, but the movement did make the cut bleed more.
Jack grabbed Mac by the wrist, hauling the kid to his feet. He had run into the kitchen to grab a towel and now he pressed it over the cut and held firm. "What are you doing out here? You do know it's three o-clock in the morning, right? And why are you wet? Did you take another shower?" The questions tumbled out one on top of the other because Jack had a tendency to babble when he was worried and, right now, he was seriously worried. It wasn't like Mac to be drinking shots of whiskey by himself, in the middle of the night, with his hair wet. It was even less like the kid to throw a glass against the wall, so Jack knew something had happened to set Mac off.
Not really expecting an answer at the moment, Jack focused more on the fact that the kid was trembling and his skin was cool and a bit clammy, leading him to believe that Mac might be going into shock. So he guided him into the livingroom and made him sit before wrapping the blanket around him. He then knelt in front of him before cupping the pale face in both hands. "Mac...look at me, bud." When the blue eyes didn't focus on him, Jack felt his stomach twist into a knot. "Okay...okay...here's what I'm going to do," he rambled. "I'm going to give Doc Redmond a call and see if he'll pop over." As a Foundation doctor, Redmond was always available for house calls.
"No, don't." Mac had heard everything Jack had said to him, he had just felt too disconnected to respond.
"Are you back with me now, bro?" Jack asked, relieved to see Mac's baby blues finally focused on him.
Mac frowned at him. "I never went anywhere," he mumbled.
Jack sighed and fought back a laugh. "Yeah you did, you got lost in that ginormous brain of yours." Seeing that the towel was turning red, Jack peeled it back and grimaced. "I think you're going to need stitches, pal, so Doc Redmond is going to be making a house call and that's non-negotiable." Jack had already pressed the towel back into place and pulled out his phone.
"Doc Redmond is on his way," Jack announced, a couple of minutes later. He had made the call on the deck, explaining Mac's condition and asking if there was anything he needed to do before Doc arrived. Having been told to keep Mac warm and keep pressure on the gash, Jack went to work replacing the sodden towel with a fresh, dry, one and wrapped Mac up in a second blanket before popping into the bathroom for a bigger towel so he could dry the sandy hair that was still dripping. Once Doc came and did his thing, Jack would see about getting the kid into a dry t-shirt.
For now he sat down on the coffee table, blocking Mac when he tried to get up. The kid hadn't protested when Jack had roughly towel-dried his hair and that worried him more than a little. He wanted to keep a close eye on him. "Where do you think you're going?"
Mac sighed. "To clean up the broken glass. I can't leave it out there."
"I'll take care of it later," Jack promised. "How's the hand feel?" The bleeding had eased up but hadn't completely stopped yet.
"It's fine." Mac still didn't feel any pain, all he felt at the moment was weirdly numb.
Jack wished he could see into Mac's head sometimes, although he knew he wouldn't like what he saw if he did. "Doc says you'll probably need stitches."
"Why were you drinking?" Jack decided to be blunt.
"I was cold." Mac figured he might as well be honest.
Jack wasn't sure how to feel about that answer, so he let it slide. For now. Checking the gash again, he scowled. "You did a number on yourself, kid. It won't stop bleeding."
Mac didn't mind. "It's okay, Jack. It's my blood, not Bozers." Somehow it made more sense in his head, but Mac was too tired to even attempt to explain it.
"Yeah," Jack whispered, because now he understood what was going on here. Or, at least, he was starting to piece it together. "I'm guessing you had a nightmare?" Which he would bet had been about Bozer dying. Jack had dreamed those particular dreams more times than he cared to think about.
"You're a good guesser," Mac replied. "And, no, I don't want to talk about it."
Jack patted Mac on the knee. "Fair enough, but you know I'm available if you change your mind."
Mac did know. "Yeah...thanks."
"Can I get you anything?" Jack wasn't liking how pale Mac looked, or the fact that he was trembling again.
"The remote," Mac requested. He needed a distraction.
Jack grabbed the remote and handed it over. He sat down on the other end of the couch as Mac surfed through Netflix and they watched the first Jurassic Park movie, in companionable silence, until Doc Redmond arrived.
Thirty minutes later Mac was stitched up, bandaged and tucked into bed wearing a dry t-shirt. He didn't fuss when Doc gave him a shot to help him sleep, he just curled up on his side and closed his eyes.
Jack walked Redmond out, thanking the man for the house call and feeling less anxious when Doc assured him that after a good night's sleep or, in this case, a good morning's sleep, Mac would be feeling better. After locking up, Jack went out onto the deck and cleaned up all the glass. Once that was done he turned off the lights and went in to check on Mac. The kid still looked pale, but a bit more peaceful, so Jack would take it. He tiptoed over to the armchair in the corner and settled in to keep vigil.
"You can't sleep in the chair, Jack," Mac mumbled.
"Why aren't you asleep yet?" Jack countered, moving back over to the bed. "You can't do anything the easy way, can you?"
Mac made the attempt to shrug, but it didn't come across all that well when one was lying down. "Where's the fun in that? And you don't have to stay with me, Jack, I'm fine."
Jack thought that was debatable, but he didn't comment on it. "I'm staying because it makes me feel better," he stated. "So go to sleep."
"It's a big bed, if you're going to stay then use the other side," Mac grumbled. "Just don't snore."
"Can't make any promises there," Jack countered, even as he did what he was told, making his way to the other side and stretching out on top of the covers.
Mac shifted into a more comfortable position before drawling, "I'll suffocate you."
Jack chuckled. "You're welcome to try. Now go to sleep already. Seriously." He could tell that Mac was fighting the sedative and it was making him anxious, until he thought of something that might help. "I promise to wake you up if you dream again."
There was a long moment of silence before Mac whispered, "Okay." He knew Jack would keep his promise, so he finally felt like he could relax and let himself drift into darkness.
"I've got your back, bud," Jack whispered, listening to Mac's breathing even out before letting his own eyes drift close.
Finally it felt like Cairo Day was over.