As they ran towards the bad guys on the beach, Mac heard Jack yell for everyone to take cover even as he saw the smart bullet heading straight for him. He shifted in an attempt to elude what would certainly be a kill shot, even as he felt a body slam into his, taking him down onto the sand.

Mac thanked Kono for pushing him out of harm's way, wincing as Chin stated that the bad guys had nineteen bullets left so he would probably be returning the favor.

Jack turned to Mac to remind him that he needed to think of something before the next bullet hit it's target, only for the words to die in his throat. "You've been hit!" Jack hissed, scrambling over to Mac. His eyes were locked on the blood staining the left side of the kid's shirt.

"What?" Mac stared at Jack in surprise, only to hear Kono and Chin echo his surprise. Then he followed Jack's eye line, staring down at his shirt and suddenly the stinging burn in his side made sense. Also the fact that he felt dizzy and his limbs didn't want to cooperate properly. "Crap," Mac whispered.

"I'm sorry," Kono apologized. Obviously she hadn't been fast enough to push MacGyver out of the bullet's path.

Mac shook his head at her. "Don't apologize. I'm pretty sure, if not for you, it would have gone straight through my heart."

Jack was checking the damage, ignoring the way Mac hissed in pain. "Looks like it's a through and through about an inch into your side and just under your ribs. We need to get you to a hospital."

"We need to stop the bad guys first, Jack," Mac insisted. As his mind whirred with ideas, several things happened. Like Jack and Chin shifted him so he was supported by a wall, and Chin offering up his shirt so Kono could use it to try and stop the bleeding.

"We need a plan," Jack stated. If they didn't shut down the bad guys, like Mac said, none of them were going to survive this.

Mac held out a hand in Chin's direction. "I need your laser sight," he requested. Once in hand, Mac turned it into a stronger laser so that Jack could use it to direct a bullet into the fuel tank of the bad guy's speed boat. He heard the explosion and the sounds of fighting that followed, but it felt rather surreal. Leaning against the wall, Mac fought to breathe through the pain that thrummed with every heartbeat. Add to that a mounting nausea, coupled with a dizziness that made him close his eyes tight, Mac willed himself not to fall into the creeping darkness that swirled around him. However, between one heartbeat and the next, he was swallowed up into the black.

Jack was beyond focused as he and Chin and Kono finished off the bad guys, but his main concern right now was MacGyver. As soon as they had the situation under control and the smart bullets in hand, Jack headed back to the kid. "Mac!" He fell to his knees beside the still form, reaching out with a shaking hand to check for a pulse. Relief flooded through him as he felt the soft thud against the pad of his finger, but it was thread and the kid felt clammy.

"How is he?" Kono asked, having dropped down beside them.

"Not good." Jack was already gathering Mac into his arms, not liking how light and fragile his young friend felt. "How far to the nearest hospital?"

Kono matched his stride as Jack carried MacGyver to the SUV. "I can get you there in ten minutes."

Jack paused to let her open the car door before he settled Mac carefully into the back seat. "You need to stay with Chin."

"Back up is on it's way, he's got this," Kono replied. "You stay with MacGyver in the back." With that she slipped into the driver's seat, waiting only until Jack was situated with Mac supported in his arms before hitting the gas pedal.

As promised, they pulled up in front of the Emergency room entrance ten minutes later, and were met by a medical team. Kono had driven with sirens blaring and had called ahead to let the hospital know they were coming in hot with an agent suffering from a GSW.

Jack didn't even get the chance to shift Mac in his arms before the car door was opened and medical personnel were lifting the kid out of the car and onto a gurney. By the time Jack got out and made it inside, the gurney was being wheeled into an exam room and a nurse blocked Jack's way.

"You can't come in here, sir," she stated, before yanking the curtain closed.

"Come sit," Kono said, taking Jack by the arm and leading him over to a chair in the corner. "Can I get you anything?"

Jack lifted a hand to scrub over his face only to stop when he realized it was stained with blood. Mac's blood. "I need to wash my hands."

Kono pointed down the hallway. "Bathrooms are that way."

"Be right back." Jack nearly ran to the men's room and scrubbed his hands until they were red from the heat and the scrubbing, and not because of MacGyver's blood. He then splashed cold water on his face, used a paper towel to wipe it off and headed back down the hallway, only to see MacGyver being wheeled onto the elevator. He ran to catch up only to be intercepted by Kono.

"They're taking MacGyver into surgery," she stated.

Jack felt his stomach twist into a knot. "Surgery?" he whispered.

Kono made him sit down again. "The doctor said he's in good shape, they just want to stitch him up."

"He lost a lot of blood," Jack mumbled.

"That's what the doctor said," Kono allowed. "But he also said that Mac was young and strong and he expects a full recovery."

The knot inside him slowly began to unwind. "That's good, that's a good thing."

Kono patted Jack on the shoulder. "Yes, it is."

"I should probably call Riley and Bozer," Jack said, pulling out his phone. "And Matty. I have to call the boss." He was about to tap Riley's number but paused. "You don't have to stay, I know you have a whole mess of bad guys to book."

"Chin and the others can handle it." Kono offered a warm smile. "I'm good to stay, at least until your friends arrive."

Jack was relieved. Truth be told, he did not want to be alone right now. So he made his calls, he paced, he drank bad coffee and told Kono some funny stories about his and Mac's partnership. Then Riley and Bozer showed up and Kono gave Jack a hug before taking her leave, along with a request to update her on Mac's condition.

The next ten minutes were spent explaining to Bozer and Riley exactly how Mac had ended up getting shot, followed by more pacing and bad coffee. Finally the doctor appeared, and Jack was relieved to see that he was smiling.

"Mr. MacGyver is doing well," Dr. Daniels stated. "He did lose a fair amount of blood so he's going to be weak and sore, so I'd like to keep him here for at least forty-eight hours."

"Can we see him?" Bozer piped up.

Dr. Daniels shook his head. "Not right this minute. He's in recovery, but we'll be moving him into a room within the hour. You can all see him then, but only for a few minutes. He needs to rest."

Jack stepped forward, ready to intimidate if need be. "I'm staying. That's non-negotiable, doc. You can talk to my boss if need be."

"I'm sure we can work something out," Dr. Daniels countered. His pager beeped and, after checking the message, he excused himself.

"I'll call Matty and update her," Riley offered, pulling her phone out of her pocket. She would go outside for some privacy and to stretch her legs a bit. "And I'll ask her to make arrangements so you can stay with Mac."

Jack sent her a grateful smile. "Thanks, Riley."

Bozer got up to join Riley. "I'll come with you. Maybe we can raid the vending machines on the way back." When he was nervous or worried, Bozer liked to snack.

"Sounds like a plan," Riley allowed, before smiling at Jack. "Be back soon."

"Okay." Just then Jack remembered Kono's request and another thought occurred as well. "Hey, Bozer!" When the young man turned back, Jack told him, "I'm going to send you Kono's number. Can you let her know how Mac is doing? She wanted an update."

Bozer nodded. "I can do that." He watched Jack pull out his phone and tap out the information, before feeling the buzz in his pocket.

Sliding his phone back in his jeans, Jack added, "Also ask her to make arrangements for you two at a nearby hotel. I'm sure she can hook us up."

"Consider it done," Bozer replied, before following Riley down the hallway.

Time seemed to tick-tock slowly as Jack continued to wait. He paced some more, considered another cup of coffee, but nixed it in exchange for a trip to the bathroom. Yeah, he'd had more than enough coffee already. By the time he made his way back to the waiting area, Riley and Bozer had returned.

Riley offered Jack a candy bar as she stated, "Matty is up to date and she made arrangements for you to stay in Mac's room."

"She moves fast." Jack grinned before biting into his chocolate. He was hungry, but still feeling too wound up to be overly hungry, so the chocolate hit the spot. For now.

"That's she does," Riley confirmed.

Bozer paused in munching on a bag of potato chips to interject, "Kono set us up in the hotel down the road like half a mile, and she said to tell you that she and Chin will be by to visit Mac in the morning."

Jack was pleased and he was about to thank them both when a nurse appeared.

"I can take you to see Mr. MacGyver now," she informed them.

"Let's go." Jack popped the last piece of chocolate into his mouth and he was ready to see his friend.

They rode the elevator up to the fourth floor before being led down a short hallway. When the nurse opened the door, Jack realized they were being ushered into a private room. "Matty's doing?" he guessed, in a loud whisper to Riley and Bozer.

Riley nodded. "She mentioned a private room. It's like she knew what happened before I called her."

"I think she's part psychic," Bozer stated. "So it wouldn't surprise me in the least." He looked about. "Nice room."

"Yeah," Jack said absently, all of his attention focused on the slender figure in the bed near the window. Mac looked pale and so small, with an IV taped to the back of his left hand. "Helluva way to spend your birthday, pal," Jack said softly, not wanting to wake his friend. To his surprise, Mac mumbled,

"M'sorry, Jack."

Unable to hide his surprise, Jack countered, "Sorry for what?"

Blinking hard in an attempt to get his eyes to stay open, Mac was finally able to focus on his friend. He didn't like how worried Jack looked and he sought to relieve his concern. "I know you wanted to throw me a party," Mac replied. "You can do it tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?" Jack echoed.

"Yeah...tomorrow." Mac frowned in confusion. "When we get home."

Jack felt himself relaxing even as a grin split his face. Mac wanting to go home already was a little bit of normal that he needed right now. It meant that the kid was going to be okay, but he was also going to be disappointed. "You do know you got shot, bud, right?" Jack prompted.

Mac scowled at Jack, at least he think he scowled. To be honest, he felt a bit floaty right now. "Yeah," he drawled. "So? We're going home tomorrow."

"Maybe the day after the day after," Jack countered, firmly. When Mac opened his mouth to protest, Jack shut him down. "That is non-negotiable, bud, and I will call Matty and have her make it an order, if necessary." He grinned when Mac closed his mouth and pouted, but then he tried to soften the blow. "But when we do get home, I'm totally throwing you the best birthday party ever!"

"Not too over the top, Jack," Mac requested, because he knew how crazy his friend could get when it came to party time.

Jack shrugged. "I'll do my best to restrain myself, but no promises."

Just then the nurse popped in. "It's time for your visitors to go, Mr. MacGyver."

"But I didn't even get to talk to Bozer and Riley," Mac protested.

"That's okay," Bozer stated, moving to the bed and patting Mac on the shoulder. "I just wanted to see for myself that you're okay. Get some rest and Riley and I will be back in the morning."

MacGyver gave Bozer the 'thumbs up'. "See you tomorrow."

Riley took her turn. "I'm glad you're okay. Sweet dreams, Mac." She leaned in to brush a kiss across his cheek then turned to wave at Jack as she and Bozer exited the room.

The nurse followed right behind them.

Jack pulled up a chair and made himself comfortable.

"What are you doing?" Mac asked, watching as Jack tried to settle his frame in the somewhat cushioned chair.

"Getting comfortable," Jack replied, giving Mac a look to let him know he thought it was a stupid question.

Mac got it now. "You don't have to stay, Jack. I'm okay." Shifting a bit himself, Mac bit back a soft moan. Moving was so not a good idea.

Jack was beside him in an instant, helping the kid get into a more comfortable position. "You know I'm not going anywhere, Mac, that's not how I roll. So close your eyes and get some sleep, I need quiet time so I can do some party planning."

"I'm going to regret giving you the go ahead, aren't I?" Mac mumbled, eyelids drooping as sleep began to reclaim him.

"You're going to love it," Jack promised. "Sleep." He waited until the kid's eyes closed and his breathing evened out before whispering, "Happy Birthday, brother."

Mac heard him and managed a mumbled, "Thanks, Jack," before drifting into darkness.

Jack smiled and smoothed the blankets over his friend before dropping into the chair. He pulled out his phone and started making a list. He was going to make this a birthday party that Mac would be happy to remember.

THE END.