A/N: Thank you to everyone who has favorited, followed, reviewed, and even just read this story! I know that it took much longer to finish than it should have, and I am so thankful for the patience of everyone who stuck with it to the end! I definitely want to write more fics for this show in the future, and this was an amazing first venture into the fandom.
Quick note: I am neither a doctor nor a psychologist, nor a physical therapist. I'm relying on some of my own personal experiences as a patient as well as internet research, my undergrad psychology class, and perhaps a little creative liberty for this chapter. Please know that I tried to be as accurate as possible while still moving the story along, and forgive any mistakes!
And now, here's the conclusion to the story. I hope you enjoy! Please let me know your thoughts!
MacGyver - MacGyver
When he woke up, MacGyver was assaulted by a wave of pure terror before his eyes even had a chance to open. He didn't know why, but he was scared. His mind was foggy, distant, almost like it belonged to someone else and he was peering in from the outside. He hated that feeling, but that wasn't what incited the fear.
He couldn't remember where he was, what had happened, or why he would wake feeling so afraid. MacGyver knew that if he just forced his eyes to open, he would probably see something that would trigger his memory. But he was too scared to open his eyes. Despite the fear, he wanted to stay where he was, because he wasn't ready to face whatever had happened.
Maybe he could just slip back to where he had been, the darkness, and stay there a while. He could go back to sleep and feel nothing and dream nothing and maybe when he woke again, the fear would be gone, and all of this would be a dream - whatever this was.
But that was when he heard the voice. "Mac? Are you awake?"
It was Jack. He sounded exhausted, drained dry, and more scared than Mac had heard in a long, long time - maybe ever. But the pull of the darkness was so compelling, and he was so tired, and the fear was receding - maybe in the wake of unconsciousness, maybe at the reassurance that Jack was there, somewhere, with him.
No, Mac wanted to say. Just a few more minutes, and I'll be up.
He had almost drifted off into oblivion when Jack spoke again, his voice hoarse and hollow. "C'mon, bud. They're sayin' that you're healin' up pretty good, and that you're almost out of the woods. And they want me to go home, rest, but I can't. I can't until I've seen you awake, 'til I've heard your voice. I know they know what they're doin', kid, but I can't believe them until I talk to you, and you talk back. Please, kid."
The raw desperation in his partner's voice was what wrenched Mac out of the siren call of sleep. Jack needed him. And Jack faced fear and death and injury every single day to protect Mac. Even if it meant facing whatever terror had clutched at his soul when he first regained awareness, even if it meant remembering what had happened, even if it meant having to deal with it, Mac had to do it. Jack was always there for Mac. Now it was Mac's turn to be there for him.
It took all of Mac's willpower and strength to claw his way up from the semi-comfortable state he'd settled into, and even more determination to force his eyes open a crack. It wasn't, however, nearly as hard as he'd thought it would be to twitch his fingers, move his hand, reach out and touch Jack's hand. "J'k…"
The unadulterated joy and relief in Jack's smile was worth the effort.
It took about twenty-four hours for Mac to wake up completely, and to be lucid enough to hold any kind of a conversation. He would wake up, always seek out Jack, then drift back into a semi-drugged state. He was on a morphine pump at the moment, but the sedative had been lifted.
When he did finally wake up enough to talk back to Jack, it was clear that the kid was very confused, that his memory was spotty at best when it came to the hell he'd been put through. Weird, though, because the more lucid he became in his waking hours, the more disturbed he'd become when he was asleep. Nightmares plagued him, sending his heart rate soaring, the machines surrounding him beeping erratically, and Jack didn't know what was waking the kid up - the nightmares, or the machines. But after Jack would rub small circles on Mac's back, reassuring him that he was safe, that no one was going to hurt him again, and after Mac had calmed down, he still didn't remember. That both terrified and relieved Jack.
"You don't remember anything? Anything at all?" Jack clarified for what seemed like the billionth time, about a week after Mac had woken up for real. He'd just finished another round of physical therapy for his hands, and though he was still experiencing difficulties with his fine motor skills, getting his fingers to obey exactly what his brian was telling them to do, the physical therapist was pleasantly surprised and said that Mac was doing very well for all the trauma he'd been through.
"It's early," he'd said to Mac, who may have looked composed to the therapist, but Jack could tell that the kid was barely holding it together. The thought of losing any of the functions of his hands was unthinkable to MacGyver. "I don't want to give false hope, Mr. MacGyver, but with how far you've come in such a short time, I would say it is very possible that your hands may be able to heal completely." That had set Mac at ease a bit, but Jack was still concerned.
"No," Mac sighed, frustration evident.
"How long do these fugie things last, anyway?"
Mac quirked a half smile that didn't quite reach his eyes at Jack's butchering of the word. "Fugue state, Jack. And it varies. After all, this happens when something traumatic causes a person to repress a memory. Depending on the memory, the trauma, and on the person, that memory could come back on its own, or it could never come back. And trying to force it could cause irreversible damage, even the loss of that person's identity. They can regress back into childhood, become a completely different person… The mind's fragile, and we still don't completely understand it. I think Dr. Webb is right, that we don't need to push it. I'll remember when I remember, and if I don't… well, I guess I'll have to find some way to deal with it."
The kid sounded like he was quoting out of an encyclopedia, not talking about something that was currently happening to his brain. Jack closed his eyes briefly, trying to calm himself down. The fact that this was happening to Mac, literally the kindest person he knew, who put his life on the line every damn day to help people who didn't even know he existed, and who had been there for Jack, always, his best friend… It made Jack sick.
Mac cleared his throat, calling Jack out of his reverie. "Has, uh… has my dad come by at all?"
It was the weirdest thing, the way Mac's memory was working around the trauma he'd been through. The psychologist who'd been seeing him, Dr. Webb, had said it wasn't out of the norm for trauma patients to have selective memory regarding their trauma. Mac remembered finding his dad, even remembered that they were going after Walsh. Everything was a blank, though, after Walsh caught them.
Mac was incredibly smart, of course, and was able to fill in the gaps pretty well - he'd been able to assume pretty easily that Walsh had probably used him as leverage against his father, to make him do something, but he couldn't remember the specifics. He had no idea why his wrists were in such bad condition, why the doctors were having to rehabilitate his motor function in his hands. He didn't know why his chest was covered in bandages, being cleaned daily, why he was on so many rounds of antibiotics. He didn't know why he had a concussion, why he had bruises all over his body. He could guess, but he couldn't remember, and that, no matter how casually he talked about it, was obviously terrifying to him.
Jack tried not to look angry at the mention of James MacGyver - not at Mac's asking about him, of course, but the fact that the man was getting off relatively easy with Mac's not remembering what had happened. No one had let Mac see the state of his chest without the bandages yet, so Mac didn't even know about the disgusting message that Walsh had carved into Mac's flesh with his father's name.
"He came by this morning, bud, but you were sleeping. He didn't want to wake you up, but he did drop off your knife."
A distant look glazed over Mac's eyes. "My knife?" he asked, almost as if he were in a trance.
"Uh, yeah. He said he's had it for a few days now, just remembered that he hadn't given it back to you."
Mac cleared his throat, that distant gaze still present. "Can I, um… can I see it?"
Jack was getting pretty freaked out now, and hoped that he hadn't done anything wrong by mentioning the knife. He had deduced pretty quickly after killing Walsh and rescuing his kid that Mac had been tortured with his own tool, the Swiss Army Knife that had saved Mac's life, Jack's life, and a ton of other people's lives more than he could count. He'd had half a mind to chuck it in the trash as soon as James MacGyver had left it on the nightstand for his son. Jack had actually grabbed it, had his hand poised over the trash can, but he'd pocketed it instead. The knife was a part of Mac, and Mac should be the one to decide what to do with it. He'd thought, since Mac didn't remember, that it wouldn't be that big of a deal to bring it up.
He was beginning to think that he was wrong.
"Actually, kid, why don't you wait? What're you gonna use it for, anyway? You gonna repurpose the heart monitor into a Nintendo Switch or somethin'?" The joke was lame, but Jack was getting genuinely scared now.
"Please, Jack," Mac begged. "I can… it's right there, I can almost touch it, the memory…." And despite his words earlier about not pushing it, Mac looked truly desperate. "I need to know, Jack. Please."
Jack thought about what Mac had said earlier, about pushing a person to remember in a fugue state having the potential to cause irreversible damage, how it could revert someone to a child-like state, or erase their personality. "Maybe we should wait for the doctor, Mac…" Jack hedged. "I'll call Dr. Webb, see what he says."
"Jack." Mac looked into Jack's eyes steadily, unwavering. "I'm not going to lose my mind or anything. But I'm so close to remembering, my knife triggered something. And I need to know."
With shaking hands, Jack fished the knife out of his pocket and handed it to his partner, knowing that if Mac were wrong, and this broke him, Jack would never, ever be able to forgive himself. But MacGyver was so earnest in his pleas, so sure that he was not going to be altered by this, and he needed Jack. Jack couldn't refuse him, not now.
The moment Mac held the knife in his weak hands, it was like he was possessed. A blank expression blanketed his face, his eyes went bright, his breathing sped up, and it was like he was in a nightmare while awake. He was remembering, dammit! With a strength that Jack didn't think Mac possessed, the kid threw the knife across the room, curled in on himself, and began to hyperventilate, his breaths coming in harsh, quick, uneven gasps.
"Oh, nonono," Jack breathed, hitting the call button and bolting to his kid's side, holding him close, muttering reassurances.
Mac was remembering.
Ultimately, it seemed that giving Mac the knife might have been the best thing that Jack could have done for him, because after Mac had been sedated by the nurses who had rushed in at the call, Mac had awoken from the drugged sleep not in an estranged mental state, not as a child, haunted, yes, but remembering. It had been a risk, Dr. Webb admitted, but Mac had been right in that it was what he had needed. MacGyver, after all, knew his own mind better than anyone else could, and Jack knew MacGyver better than anyone else as well.
"Seriously, man, I'll get you a new one!" Jack insisted, watching Mac pensively glare at the SAK on the nightstand. "You don't have to keep starin' at that thing! We'll even get you a different color. They make 'em in blue now, I think. You like blue." Jack was rambling, but MacGyver had been fixated on that stupid knife for far too long.
"Seriously, Jack," Mac said, his voice strained but lighter than it had been in a while, "it's not going to help me to just get a new one. I've always had a Swiss Army Knife, and it's saved my life more times than I can count. Just because it was used against me, doesn't mean I should just throw it away. I have to overcome it, repurpose it for good."
"You do know you're a science geek, Mac, and not a psychologist?" Riley chuckled from where she sat next to Jack, her rig on her lap. Her fingers moved way too fast for Jack to keep up with. Mac shook his head and smiled, but Riley admitted, "But, according to this study done by a group from Harvard, you're actually right. There's a much higher chance of full mental recovery for trauma patients who face their triggers instead of avoiding them for the rest of their lives. But seriously, Mac, you don't have to 'repurpose' the knife today. We can put it away until you're ready."
"I'm seriously good," Mac assured her. "Now that I'm actually regaining more mobility in my fingers, I'm wanting to test out some ideas I have for improving the function of this bed. It raises and lowers just fine, but I think I can optimize -"
"Please tell me you're not already trying to disassemble Phoenix's medical supplies, Blondie?" came an exasperated voice from the doorway.
Mac grinned. "I'm just trying to make things work a little better, that's all Matty."
"Good to see you more like your old self, Mac," Matty said sincerely. Then she grew stern again. "But don't even think about taking anything in this room apart. You're supposed to be resting and recovering, not causing trouble for the people who've been working so hard to keep you alive."
Mac sobered at this. "I can't tell you how thankful I am, Matty."
Matty's expression softened. "We're just glad to have you back, Mac." She turned to Jack and Riley. "Dalton, now that Mac is well and truly out of the woods, you have to go home and take a shower, and sleep. You smell like a garbage truck and you look like you're an aspiring mime with those dark circles under your eyes."
"What are you talkin' about, boss lady?" Jack groused. "I've been sleeping and showering just fine here."
"Well, you need to go home and get some real rest," Matty insisted. "And Riley, I'm going to temporarily reassign you to another team. You're going to be needed for an op, so I need you in the war room ASAP."
"Got it, Matty," Riley agreed, shutting her computer and standing up. She leaned over and gave Mac a quick hug. "Glad you're doing so much better, Mac. I'll see you later."
She was gone.
Now it was just Mac, Matty, and Jack.
"Dalton, don't make me tell you again. You need sleep, and I'm going to need you for another op soon. I don't need you half-assing it on the field because you've been sleeping in a plastic chair for three weeks."
"Jack, seriously, I'm fine," Mac said, and he said it so earnestly that Jack almost began to believe him.
"All right, fine, but if anything - anything -" he punctuated his words by pointing a finger at first Mac and then Matty, "-changes, call me. Okay?"
"Will do, Jack. Now, go home."
With Jack finally gone, Matty perched herself in the chair he had occupied. "How are you doing, Mac, really?" she asked.
"I'm okay," Mac said, a little too quickly. At Matty's raised eyebrows, he amended, "I'm not okay, but I will be. I'm still processing everything that happened to me, but it's getting easier, especially since it looks like my hands are going to be okay." He shuddered. "It was… quite honestly, the worst experience of my life, but I knew that Jack would come, and he did. So…"
"Mac, your father left," Matty interrupted.
Mac blinked. "He left?"
"For now, at least. He heard what happened with the knife, and although you're doing better now, he feels that he's done more harm than good. Oversight is going back to the shadows. He thinks it's safer for you if he does." There was a slight edge to her voice that hinted Matty did not agree.
Mac blinked, shifted in bed, and then cleared his throat nervously. "I didn't even get to talk to him again. I've been asleep every time he's come to see me." He rolled his eyes. "I bet he planned it that way too."
"I'm sorry, MacGyver," Matty said, and he could tell she meant it.
"It's not your fault, Matty," Mac sighed. "My dad… he's really, really good at making excuses. He told me when I found him again that he left to protect me, but then he asked me to work beside him, so that doesn't track. And then he claimed he wanted to rebuild our relationship, but he didn't even stick around to talk to me after everything that happened. I'm realizing now that my father being Oversight doesn't really change anything. He may save the world, but he's a coward when it comes to family. And I don't need him anyway. I've got Jack."
Matty was quiet for several moments after he finished speaking. She knew that MacGyver was in a vulnerable state, with the pain medication, the trauma he had experienced, and the emotional turmoil he was going through. If he were at full health, and fully himself, he would certainly not have been so candid about his feelings.
Finally she spoke: "I know your father has made mistakes, Mac, and I don't deny that I'm angry at him for leaving when you need him. But I think he is so consumed by guilt that he can't face you right now. He does love you, but he doesn't know how to act on it."
Mac stared down at his hands. "Maybe," he said.
There was a brief silence. Matty stood up, preparing herself to leave.
Mac stopped her. "Even though things didn't go the way I planned with my dad, Matty, I wanted to thank you for leaving the clues to lead me to him."
Matty froze, dark eyes darting up to meet Mac's blue ones. "I don't know what you're talking about, MacGyver," she said evenly, but her eyes sparkled, and the corner of her lip twitched. "Now, get some rest."
And Mac was alone. He sighed, settled back into bed, exhaustion overtaking him. Before he drifted off, he glanced over to the window out into the hallway, and saw a familiar face watching him, and could have sworn he saw tears in the eyes that were always so calculating.
James MacGyver locked eyes with his son, then turned and walked away. It had been a mistake to come back, to eavesdrop on the conversation between his son and Matty, to want to reconnect with him.
Angus was right. James was a coward when it came to family. One day, he would come back. But for now, he would settle with the reassurance that his son was in good hands, hands attached to a partner who cared about Angus in a way that James never could quite figure out how to do.
He would have to find a way to deal with the fact that those hands weren't his.
And James MacGyver left again.
A/N: I can't believe it's over! So, this final chapter took on a life of its own and became more than I expected it to be. I was originally planning on Mac having a talk with his dad, but it didn't feel right, especially after all we'd seen of James up to this point. And I decided that it made more sense with the theme of the story to have James just leave without seeing Mac again, because he's so bad at emotions that he can't really function as a father. That allows room to highlight Jack's role as Mac's true father figure. Also, I realize Bozer didn't appear in this at all, but he just didn't fit in anywhere, to be honest. We can assume he visited Mac plenty, but I feel like he would have interrupted the themes and flow of the story, no offense to him. One more thing, I did make up the Harvard study. I didn't get that into my research lol!
Anyway, I made James even more of a jerk than the show ended up making him, but I'm okay with that. This is an episode AU, after all, and honestly, this seemed to go more with his MO as a father.
Please let me know what you thought! Like I said, I definitely plan to write more for MacGyver in the future! Thanks so much for reading, reviewing, liking, and favoriting! I love you guys, and stay safe and well out there!
~Emachinescat ^. .^