Hands by Emachinescat

A MacGyver Fan-Fiction

Summary: Jack says goodbye with a handshake. But sometimes a handshake can mean more than a hug. Also known as my trying to reconcile the way Jack left the show with some deep introspection and gratuitous bromance.

A/N: I know that a lot of people have written "fixes" for the way that Jack and Mac say goodbye, but I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted to explain why, in their case, a handshake might say more than a hug. Obviously, I still wish with all my heart that we had gotten to see their actual goodbye (because no way did they not have their own goodbye before this), but this is my attempt at explaining the goodbye we got, though the lens of what one another's hands mean to each other.

There are references to events from all over the first two and a half-ish seasons, but they are fleeting, and the biggest spoilers come from of course "Father + Bride + Betrayal."

I hope you enjoy - please let me know what you think!


When Jack says good-bye, he hugs Bozer, embraces Riley.

He shakes Mac's hand.

This farewell handshake between best friends, partners, brothers in all but blood might seem, to the uninitiated, strange. Cold, even. Distant. But the fact is that just because Jack does not pull Mac into an embrace, their good-bye is not heartless, not meaningless. Indeed - this handshake has more heart and meaning in it than any hug ever could.

Their hands clasp, and stay that way until Jack turns to leave. The touch is familiar, comforting. It's a promise. Each hand holds that promise, to stay alive, to come back safe, to stay strong, to keep saving lives and to never stop thinking. All this is conveyed through a handshake, because Jack's hands have never let Mac down, and Mac's have never failed Jack.

Jack's hands are large, rough, calloused. They are strong, and have taken out scores of dangerous men and women, many while protecting his EOD nerd, then his partner and best friend. And yet, these dangerous hands are gentle when injuries inevitably occur in the line of duty. Somehow those warrior hands can gently stitch together a knife wound with the precision of a surgeon.

Mac's hands are smaller than Jack's, his fingers slender and agile, the skin softer, less calloused. They are strong and capable, constantly fidgeting, yet able to manipulate the tiniest component with ease and grace. They have the nearly inhuman ability to create something out of practically nothing.

But that is where the differences end.

Their hands are lifesavers, protecting countless lives, each in their own way. Yet it's so much more personal than that:

Jack's hands have saved Mac again and again, and he has had so much blood on them, literally and figuratively - literally, he's killed many men to save Mac, and won't hesitate to do it again; figuratively, he has had Mac's blood on his hands far too often. And even though during those times, he was doing his damnedest to keep that blood in the kid's body, it still stung like acid and never seemed to fully come off, no matter how long or how hard he scrubbed.

Back in the Sandbox, while the kid defused bombs, with a twitch of his trigger finger, Jack saved Mac. At Lake Como, Jack dove into the water, concussed, and his hands dragged a semi-conscious Mac from the lake, then held firm, steady pressure on the wound until backup came. He had a head wound, he was shivering and wet. But his hands didn't tremble as he fought stubbornly against Mac's life slipping between his fingers. He'd done the same when Murdoc "helped" the kid by shooting him, keeping the rifle trained on the psychopath with one hand, keeping pressure on Mac's shoulder with the other. He would have done it again, too, in the woods, during that training gone wrong, if he had been there. Jack still beats himself up for not being there for his kid, even if his other two kids had done a great job in his stead.

Mac's hands have also saved Jack - so, so many times, and though violence isn't his way, he feels that he has blood on his hands, too. Jack's blood, from when Mac believes he wasn't fast enough, or clever enough, or when he just wasn't there and Jack got hurt. When he was shot on Goat Island. When Mac had used Jack's heart to keep another heart pumping. When he hadn't been there to stop Jack from being tortured. When Jack had been captured and dosed with truth serum.

But his hands have saved Jack far more times than they have had his blood on them (though of course he sees the former so much more often in his mind). Mac has disarmed so many bombs that would certainly have killed Jack, with his steady, sure, and agile fingers. In the Sandbox, defying direct orders to leave and save himself. In the back of the truck, with Jack's foot on a pressure plate, eyes terrified, pleading. Don't let me die like this, hoss. In his own house, he and Jack sealed inside by the Ghost. He'd defused them all, and many more.

MacGyver's hands have made so many gadgets over the years, tiny miracle after tiny miracle that saved his life, his team's lives, Jack's life … over and over again. And when he doesn't have time to improvise, he does whatever it takes, uses his hands at whatever capacity, no matter the cost, to protect his overwatch. Mac spent weeks unable to use his hands, exchanging burn cream and bandages for physical therapy, after reaching into and pulling a flaming casket out of an incinerator with his bare hands to rescue Jack. But it was worth every ounce of pain, because Jack is still here.

Their hands are comfort, during times of grief, during pain and panic and flashbacks. Jack's hands squeezed Mac's trembling shoulders in solidarity when Frankie supposedly died… and when Zoey actually did. Mac has stood at Jack's father's grave and done the same.

Jack's hands rubbed small circles on his partner's back when Mac slipped into a panic attack after he was tortured by El Noche and on the agonizing flight home as the kid's muscles spasmed uncontrollably from VX nerve gas. His fingers carded through sweaty blonde bangs on the sidewalk as a drugged Mac - the only kind of Mac that would allow that degree of "parenting" - cowered away from the medics trying to insert an IV into his arm. And Mac's hands massaged the spasms and cramps from Jack's stint as the cattle to his torturer's prod, treated his bullet wound at the Naval base, and set broken bones. Mac's hands wrapped cracked ribs from their escape from the fallout shelter, apologizing - needlessly - again and again for what he had pretended to do.

Jack has let Mac's hands squeeze his own through the kid's own bullet wounds and broken bones - as Mac has done for Jack. Their hands ground one another through flashbacks of the Sandbox, of missions gone terribly wrong and of torture - whether it is their own or one another's.

Their hands are faith, and trust. Faith in one another, every day trusting one another's lives in the other's hands, able to do a job that could get them killed with the firm belief that they are protected. Faith in themselves, knowing that where one falters, the other will remind him of his worth.

Their hands hold so many things. Tears, blood, laughter, fear, pain, defused bombs and sniper rifles and chewing gum and random bits and bobs. They hold memories. A friendship galvanized through hardship, hard fought but so very worth it. A partnership that will last a lifetime. An unbreakable bond.

Right now, their hands hold one another.

Warm brown eyes meet blue, and though so few words are spoken, the remainder have either already been said when Jack first broke the news, or they don't have to be spoken out loud.

The handshake - this promise, this reminder, these memories and moments and this blood and this laughter and trust and faith - says it all.

A/N: Please let me know your thoughts? :) I loved writing this. Stylistically, I found that I was partially inspired by the short essay "Pride" by Dagberto Gilb and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. Hope you enjoyed - please review! :D Oh, and I've got another idea for a longer story that I'm developing in my head right now, so hopefully you'll see me again soon!

~Emachinscat ^..^